BRAD CLEMONS: Marriage is satisfying, not a trap

Thursday, March 17, 2011 | 12:51 p.m. CDT; updated 8:40 p.m. CDT, Saturday, March 19, 2011

This week holds the 15th wedding anniversary for my wife and me. Being a milestone year, the event justifies a decent vacation and some reflection.

When we married I was 20 and she was 18. People often ask me why we got hitched at such a young age, and I tell them what I’ll say here – I needed to grab her up before she went off to college and realized she could do better. Some people laugh away the comment as if I am joking, but people who know both my wife and me just smirk and say some variant of… “Oh. That makes sense.”

Although I cannot speak for her, one of the main reasons the years have gone along so well for me is because I still find her attractive. Let me illustrate:

The other day I was in Wal-Mart and was not aware that my wife had come back over to my side of the building. I was minding my own business, meandering the music aisles and putting my favorite rock artists’ CDs on top of the pop CDs, when this cute little gal rounded an adjacent corner. Seeing only her backside, and as my wife had recently cut her hair, I was caught off guard. My inner hard-wiring went, "HOLY MOLY!" My training quickly countered with, "BOUNCE THE EYES! BOUNCE THE EYES!" I immediately had to think of unpleasant things, "NAKED BIGGEST LOSER!,” NAKED BIGGEST LOSER!,” "COLONOSCOPY!", "ALGEBRA!", “MADAME PRESIDENT PELOSI,” “MADAME PRESIDENT PELOSI”. With a couple seconds of crisis control and Lamaze, I found the right state and looked forward again to continue my innocent meandering. By then my wife had turned around and I realized I had just accidently lusted over my own wife. How awkward.

I may have found the one variety of love mainstream movie, music, and network programming have never explored: accidental monogamous fidelity.

Another likely reason we are still content is the bond borne in the trenches. We have been dependent on each other so often through fifteen years that we are essentially conjoined.

In literature, readers love books that have character depth. Deep, dynamic characters only come with detail, conflict, and time - to reveal not just a physical description for an isolated purpose, but the mind and soul. Readers have a voracious curiosity and loyalty for a round, realistic protagonist that could never come with a bit and easily forgettable role.

Bit and easily forgettable roles for mates are equally unsatisfying. It has been my experience that sticking with one person in detail, conflict, and time creates a very satisfying relationship. Despite what media portray and hormones desire, having one dedicated mate facilitates the superior need we have for "exclusive" companionship, "private" intimacy, "preferential" appreciation, "undivided" loyalty, "special" knowledge. We want to be wanted by someone who wants us with an obsession so unexplainable it makes us realize the preciousness and uniqueness of this person. We want to feel selfishly chosen and wholly preferred.  We crave the safety of devotion.

And ultimately, when conventional logic says that we shouldn't have all our eggs in one basket, the truth is, having all our eggs in one basket really makes us love that basket.

Noting the Hallmark-ey feel of this article, I will end quickly before all my chest hair recedes. This article is not to pooh-pooh people who have not had the blessing of a healthy marriage or have chosen not to have one. In fact, in whatever stages of marriage we seem to have walked gracefully, it was by grace; and in whatever stages we flailed and wailed, it was by grace.

But by whatever means, on this milestone week, I celebrate my bride. I am a grateful man.

Brad Clemons is in a relationship.

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Teresa Meyer March 17, 2011 | 7:29 p.m.

Brad: Congratulations on 15 years of marriage. That is an accomplishment in these times. My husband and I celebrated 25 years last June. You are so right in your article. Marriage is so satisfying and I would not trade mine for the world. I am glad to see a male come out and admit he wants stability. Too many times, males think that "playing the field" is the way to go but in reality monogamous love is what human beings were designed for and more should seek out. A few years ago, a study was done that said couples that were in jeopardy were happier five years later if they stuck with it and stayed together than couples that opted for divorce. I see too many marriage these days threatened by so many outside forces. Couples need to make a good decision on the front side and be willing to work at it all the way through. Thanks for your article. Nice job!

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear March 17, 2011 | 8:27 p.m.

I also congratulate you, Brad.

And I don't want to get real mushy, but being married for a long time is hard work. I know that from personal experience.

It is so odd...I just feel better when I am near my wife.

I am a pretty science oriented person, so I'm not sure I believe in 'love', but I can feel this, I don't know how else to describe it.

But I know how I feel. It is a good feeling.

And I hope every person can eventually find someone like that in their adult life.

(Report Comment)
Betsy Murphy March 18, 2011 | 1:34 p.m.

You sound like a luck guy, Brad. Marriage used to be 'what everyone did', but these days it seems to be mostly limited to well-adjusted middle-class folk.
BTW, stop picking on Algebra, and whatever you do, don't use it with 'colonoscopy' - it's hard enough to get students to warm up to the subject!

(Report Comment)

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