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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity



Crystal

January 2nd, 2008 by Maureen McHugh

Geeks in Love
You don’t have to have gotten married at the New Year to be a Brainiac, but apparently it helps. Bob and I got married on January 2. (We wanted to get married on January 1, but the mayor was busy. Our suspicion was that it had to do with sports on TV.) I had ideas about marriage being a contract rooted in capitalist obsessions with property and was deeply ambivalent about the whole thing. On the other hand, I had (and have) a sincere appreciation for the importance of ritual in the human psyche and you don’t have many more fraught opportunities for ritual than a wedding. Bob just asked me to wear something other than blue jeans. He said he was wearing a suit. So I broke down and bought a cream colored suit which I subsequently wore to work.

It was, in fact, a contract rooted in capitalist obsessions with property.

But it was also a ritual of extreme importance. When the mayor spoke the vows, I had the sense of something deeply irrevocable happening. Not that I didn’t know of lots of people who got divorced. Not that I wasn’t aware of the utter fragility of those vows. But they were vows, and somehow that meant that this moment would leave a mark, would be scored on us in someway. Tribal scars of the psyche. It was a test of our optimism, I guess. I am not, by nature, an optimistic person. It was like playing a high stakes table and putting money down. Win or lose, you’re putting it on the table.

Tonight we went out with the boys to celebrate. It’s our fifteenth. Which is crystal. (Not as fun perhaps as the 3rd Anniversary, which is leather. But better than the 7th, which is wool. Or, if you’re modern, desk sets. Who is in charge of that, anyway?) There are things no one can tell you about marriage. When it works, mysterious partnership, there is the utter pleasure of being an expert at this one thing, being with each other. Knowing the rhythms of another as you know yourself. The sound of breathing, the physical cadence of a heartbeat. I know Bob across the room without my glasses. I know the way his shirts fit across his shoulders, and what it is like to touch the back of his shirt with my fingertips.

I’ve seen how awful a bad marriage is. There is nothing more lonely than being alone in a marriage, I think. But we are made for this pairing, however imperfectly we do it. However much biology says we are also made to push at it’s boundaries. It is something that suits me better and better with age. And I am grateful.

Posted in Bob Y., Daily Life, Maureen, Personal History | 10 Comments »

10 Responses

  1. Bradley Denton Says:

    Wonderful, Maureen!

    Congratulations to you and Bob! May you be happy forever (despite the grouchy cranks you’ve fallen in with on Saturday mornings).

    Crystal, eh? You know where they make really GREAT crystal?

    (I’ll give you a hint: It ain’t Oklahoma.)

    Happy Anniversary!

  2. Barb Says:

    From one set of old married folks to another – hurray for you guys! It’s been kind of nice over the holidays to look around at family and friends and realize that we are surrounded by quite a few long and happy marriages.

  3. Rory Harper Says:

    Congrats, Bob and Maureen!

    Yeah, not that my opinion matters much, but I think you guys are a good match, too.

    I obviously don’t know how to do happy marriage myself, but I suspect it has something to do with hooking up with somebody that you’d still hang out with even if you weren’t, you know, actually married to them.

  4. LauraJMixon Says:

    A great post, Maureen. Happy Fifteenth!

    Crystal is cool; all kinds of interesting things are made out of crystal. The nineteenth is bronze. Maybe I should get Steve a Bronze Age tool…?

    I know what you mean about having mixed feelings about marriage as an institution. It’s got all kinds of baggage glued to it. But yeah,I like having a partner and companion. And I sure like being married to the person I’m married to.

    Ditto parenting.

    I feel very, very fortunate.

    PS It was great get to meet you finally, in meatspace, and Bob, also. Thanks so much for your hospitality!

  5. Maureen McQ Says:

    Okay, confession time. We went out to dinner. I had a couple of glasses of wine. Bob said, ‘You know what you forgot? It’s Wednesday.’

    I came home and posted. It’s all true. But you know, it’s a little like Drunk and Dial. Drunk ‘n Post. Or at least Buzzed ‘n Post. But he is a great guy. And Laura, like I said, I didn’t believe Steve when he mentioned we had never met face to face. But he was right. I just FELT like I knew you. (And you utterly charmed my family.)

  6. Caroline Spector Says:

    Congrats you two!

    I know you mentioned this the other day.

    It *is* different when you stand up in front of your family and friends and say, “I take YOU.” (The Dude swears it wasn’t any different for him before or after. (Yes! We were living in sin before our marriage.))

    May you both have nothing but wonderful anniversaries.

  7. Madeleine Robins Says:

    Congratulations to both of you. Having finally met Bob, I’d say you’re well matched in all the good ways.

    Spouse and I will be married for twenty years come the end of May. I’ll be out of town. He’s such a tolerant fellow.

  8. Steven Gould Says:

    We were living in sin, but engaged, for a few months before. We were looking at rentals (fall of ’88) and we liked one but the woman refused to let us rent it because we weren’t married (yet.)

    Bryan, Texas. What can you say.

  9. Casey Hamilton Says:

    “a contract rooted in capitalist obsessions with property” Yupperdoos.

    When Ed and I got hitched, we had a Top 10 list. One reason was so that I could get health insurance, and he could get a tax break.

    Well, okay, there was also because Dan Quayle said it was the right thing to do, but that was the throw-away line.

  10. Ken Houghton Says:

    The best presentation I saw this weekend at the AEA was Michelle Tertilt‘s “Women’s Liberation: What’s in it for Men?” (draft available at link above, under “Research.”) The model may be a little simple (supposed to be) and the presentation may have underemphasized (or it may not have) the rise of education (e.g., from 3 years to 5 on average). Abstract excerpt:

    “Women’s rights are closely related to economic development. This is true both across countries, where women have most rights in the richest countries,
    and in time series data: women have slowly improved their legal position in parallel with fast improvements in the standard of living.”

    The origins are undeniably property-rights based, and health insurance is a good reason now, but the benefits of partnership are greater than both of the above.

    Congratulations!

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