Marriage is a State of Mind – Cedar Sanderson

Marriage is a State of Mind – Cedar Sanderson

I have long been a fan of Dorothy Sayers. I don’t recall when I first read one of her books, but I know that I just recently read one of her essays on feminism and it sparked a thought – several thoughts, really – in my head. I wrote some of it down in Are Women Human? which is a composite of her essay of that title and my own thoughts.

As I was reacquainting myself with not only the fictional romance between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, but the true life of Dorothy Sayers, I was forced to reflect on my own life and relationships. There are some parallels to where I am now, and looking back, I can see clearly in hindsight where my path has taken me. You don’t see it, while you’re walking it. It’s only later that you can piece it together fully, no matter how well planned you think you have your life.

I was married relatively young. I met the man I would shortly marry when I had just turned 19, and he was 32. I was, as I joking say now, insane. Not literally, just a very sheltered young woman who fell for the oldest trick in the wolf’s book: I don’t have time to waste on dating. Will you marry me?

Do I regret it, looking back with clarity? No. I have four beautiful and smart children I love that would not exist as they are had I not decided that I would be a dutiful daughter and become the housewife I was supposed to be. I’d been discouraged rather firmly from following my chosen career paths – from science, by the brute force of being told that I would not be allowed to graduate highschool until I did what was expected of me – and from the military by being told that enlistment was the last thing I should do (and this coming from two people I trusted implicitly). So I did what everyone wanted. I thought.

I went to work, he went back to college. He’d finish his degree, and then I would finish mine, turn and turn about. I’ll skip the long tortuous story, because anyone who has half a brain knows how this story ends. I’m going to finish my degree in a little over a year, 21 years after graduating high school. He never finished his, dropping out of school again six months into the marriage.

Marriage, if it’s done right, is a beautiful friendship. It is two souls in support of one another. Friends first, then lovers. I still believe that, with all my heart, because it is a truth that transcends all the bad marriages in the world.

I can’t say why all marriages fail. I know what I have seen, and experienced.

You can’t do it alone.

If only one person is carrying all the weight, the precious bonds of matrimony are going to attenuate, and in time, fail. The marriage might not dissolve, but there is a gulf between the partners that deepens and widens.

You are alone if the other person in your life tells you that you are worthless, that you are crazy, that you aren’t pulling your weight. You are alone if they demand constantly, but refuse to meet your needs. Even worse than flat refusal, if they constantly promise, but never fulfill those promises. “You can do that in five years.” Becomes never, and you stagger on under the load until one day you collapse, pressed flat, and under your feverish cheek the floor is so cool and you close your eyes and pray for the end to come quickly as you try to breathe.

Personal Honor comes with a reset button.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s stories about Ekaterin and Miles may have saved my life. I’ll probably never talk to her in person, and I wouldn’t tell her this, because it’s very personal and sounds overdramatic. But it was in the story of a woman married to a man who left her wondering ‘am I crazy, or am I crazy?’ that I began to find the clarity to see where I was and who I had become. Then, in a scene set in a dusty attic, when Miles gestures toward his belly button and asks ‘doesn’t your honor come with a reset button?’ I finally understood. It was not the end of me, of my honor, if I broke my vows under duress. To continue would be the end of me, and I had already come to grips with that. To die to self in the service of others is necessary and even good. I’d held that as a mantra for years at that point. To risk my children? To know that even if the other person in my life ended his as soon as I walked away, it was not my fault?

I pressed the reset button.

Having reset my honor, I needed time to grieve, to heal, to come to grips with my brokenness. Not that you ever are restored to what you were. That you can, in time, aspire to kintusukori. During that grieving time I tried to tackle another relationship, and made the same mistake. I was too loyal. I overlooked the little lies, until I was confronted by big lies. I walked away again.

I swore I’d never do that again.

I’d intended to live out the rest of my life alone. My children, my father who shared a house with me (my parents were divorced for years at this point), so not physically alone. But there was still a hole in my life.

I leaned on the support of my friends as I struggled to support my family. My once-partner had survived our breakup and seemed to be turning his life around but had no interest in supporting his family. I worked and worked some more, and at night when I was too tired to sleep I talked with my fingers to friends all over the world. One of them, an acquaintance for years, was going through a similar process, escaping a toxic relationship that had all but killed him in spirit if not in body.

We talked, a lot, but it was friendship, a meeting of the minds. He encouraged me to write, something I had been stunted in for years. It was like watering a wilted plant. I encouraged him to get away from the situation he was in, reminding him as I had learned – honor is important, yes, but when the other side of the equation has no honor? – and he did make a break.

Time passed. I managed to get a week to myself, with the plan of writing. I knew that if I stayed at home I would have a million distractions and the kids would come home early… I went to stay with my friend. A writing retreat, and it was. But it was also the beginning of an Odd courtship. Because we are both Odds. We fit well together, mentally (minds out of the gutter!).

Never From Gratitude

You’re wondering where I was going with Dorothy Sayers, now that I have wandered through most of my adult life. As I was reading her this last month, I realized that the reason Harriet Vane would not marry Peter, despite him being desperately in love with her, was that she thought she was only grateful to him, and gratitude is not enough for a marriage.

I found myself living with my dear friend rather suddenly. The plan had been for a summer spent working, making money with my business nearer cities – and serendipitously, we would find out if we were suited to one another. We knew that we were in love – I never doubted that – but I was afraid that he wasn’t ready, and I was being pushy, or clingy, or… Or that I was making a mistake again. But there I was, with no place else to go, and he took me in.

It could have been a bad scene. Up above I sketched out a few lines, and I could practically see my audience on the other side of the screen wincing as they read the set-up. He could easily have come to resent me being pushed on him with little warning (two weeks!) and nowhere else to go, and because I had started school and given up one of my jobs, no money to go anywhere else. I spent months asking him if it was ok. Did he mind my having come to him like this?

Sarah told me once that she had known the moment she saw us together, that we were meant to be together. I’d laughed. It had taken me nearly a year to even admit I was in love with him, and longer before he told me he’d loved me for…

It worked. Marriage, you see, is a state of mind. The legalities aside, which are picayune in the scope of things, knowing that you have a true partner, one that will pick you up when you trip and fall, who will love you unconditionally no matter how you make his sandwich… that’s the important part.

And yet…

I’d never thought we would get married-married. We were already husband and wife in our hearts and souls. Honor, after all, is what you know about yourself, and reputation is what others know about you. Another truth from Lois McMaster Bujold (wise woman, and one whose writing I study). He’d reached a certain age without ever giving his hand in marriage. I had, and after thirteen years had forsworn myself. Simply having gained a partner was enough, and a sufficiency to the end of our lives together. Not that I wanted to be able to walk away. I am not capable of that sort of lightness.

When he asked me to marry him, in an oblique way with a casual tone, you could have knocked me over with a feather. As I was driving at the time, I settled for being grateful there was no traffic and a clear sky. I realized something in that split second. It does matter.

Oaths

We speak oaths in front of witnesses for a reason. This is a tradition since before men made words on paper, or even stone. Speaking only one to another, we can use the same words, and mean the same things. We can hold ourselves to the words, and the one we spoke to, we are accountable to.

In the presence of witnesses, the words gain a gravity, a force, that causes them to bind tighter. We can chafe against those bonds, or recognize that they give us a certain freedom.

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” –Robert A Heinlein

Marriage is not a prison. It is a home, with two hearts in it. Later this week, my First Reader and I will sign the deed, so to speak, of that home. As we stand up in front of witnesses and repeat oaths that bind us, so also are we joined not only that we know, but all others do, as well. It’s not gratitude, nor is it coercion. It is friendship, and mutual admiration, and a thing so lightly called love.

Love is ever elusive to define. I was taught, years ago, that love was wanting only the best for the one that is loved with no expectation of anything in return. I was also taught that there are three loves, as defined in Ancient Greece. Philos, brotherly love, was the love between friends, siblings, comrades in arms. Agape is a holy love, the love of God for all mankind, a pure love that transcends any worldly concerns. And Eros is the love of sensuality, the attraction that sparks and leads to passionate embraces.

A marriage, I was taught, should combine all three of those into a cohesive whole. It’s not, I know now, easy. You must work at it, and you cannot do it alone. There will be days when the oaths you swore – before witnesses or simply in the dark of night to one another – are all that keep you together under one roof. If both of you aren’t holding tight to that, if all of this is based on gratitude for a home, for friendship, for sex; if that all there is, then it will fall apart.

In the end, it’s all come down to this. I am his, and he is mine. We are two, yet one. We live, and in living, love. Scars knit, baggage balanced, we take our chances that life holds more joy than sorrow, if only we can be in it together.

“Dum vivamus, vivamus!”

77 responses to “Marriage is a State of Mind – Cedar Sanderson

  1. c4c

  2. Beautiful post Cedar. I had to wipe away a few tears because yes, I was with my heart and I do know that oaths matter. Plus it took me until 27 to meet him and I had given up on finding a partner.

  3. Beautiful essay, Cedar!

  4. A love story. Got any extra kleenex?

  5. Excellent. May many blessings find you both, and may you weather storms together. May adversity assail you in vain.

  6. Kitteh-Dragon

    Those of us who and love you both, knew a *very* long time ago 🙂 We were waiting for you two to see it 🙂 Congratulations! We would love to be there! We’ll be dancing at your wedding in spirit. Much love always!

  7. Jeff Duntemann

    Bravo! I was fortunate enough to meet my soulmate when I was barely 17. We’ve been in love for 45 years, and married for 38. Not everyone is so fortunate, fersure. But I’ve noticed that whereas I know a number of people in successful second marriages, I know almost none in successful third or fourth marriages. I think by now you’ve learned what you need to know to make it work forever.

    I also recommend the book The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis, which expands upon the Greek notion of three loves. I reviewed it on my blog 12 years ago: http://www.duntemann.com/may2003.htm#05-28-2003

    I would (and will!) say good luck, but from here it sounds like your luck has already been good indeed.

    • I know one in a successful (30+ years) fourth marriage, so it is possible, but it is very rare. I’ll also note that it was only about five years between her first and fourth marriage.

  8. Well, that dredged up a slew of memories, both painful and glad.

    I am so happy for you and your Odd Other, and like Kitteh-Dragon, I’ll dance at your wedding in spirit.

  9. Just beautiful! I congratulate you and wish you all the happiness in your upcoming marriage.
    I don’t want to admit it gives me hope, but maybe it does, a little. I went through an extremely painful divorce after 23 years of marriage, one I didn’t want, though looking back I know he was always wrong for me and I should have wanted that divorce.
    At this point I am resigned to being alone for the rest of my life though, too much baggage. I think it happens for other people, but won’t for me, for some reason. Maybe I just don’t dare hope.

    • My husband didn’t meet me until he was 52, and they weren’t exactly stress-free and careless years. Work on being – not necessarily happy, work on being at peace with yourself. And then, if someone comes along, you’ll be happy with them. If not, you’ll be happy without them. Either way, *hugs* Here’s hoping to slowly shedding baggage, and wounds on the heart subsiding to old scars.

  10. A beautiful story to start my Monday.

  11. There has been a recent commercial on TV. Not sure what they’re selling, a brand of automobile maybe. But it’s a wedding party with the intent of holding the ceremony in the open at the top of a mountain. Of course it’s pouring rain.
    So the groom grabs his bride and the necessary other parties, packs them into a vehicle, and drives to the mountaintop where in the midst of the wind and rain they have their ceremony soaked to the skin and grinning ear to ear.
    Late last week the prediction for Chattanooga was better than 50% for rain showers on Thursday. Today they have dropped to less than 25% and are calling for mostly a clear sunny day. Gonna rain like crazy the rest of the weekend of course, but it would appear that Someone looks on your coming union with favor. And if it does pour down, like that fictional bride and groom you will still speak your vows and celebrate the public demonstration of the union you already possess in your hearts.

  12. reddragonhawk

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.

  13. We modern, secular humans tend to look on oaths as quaint, old-fashioned. Our politicians tend to honor them more in the breach. But our ancestors knew — words have power. All out of proportion to the weight of the breath it takes to utter them. It’s an acknowledgement of the epochal invention that is language, the magic of the transmission of thought from one mind to another. With your commitment, you move the aether, it is no small thing you have accomplished, building this marriage. Good on you both. All the best.

    M

    • Oaths had power because they had consequences. They were part of the law.

      We only have vestiges of that in modern American law; perjury is probably the most of it.

    • Even if one does not believe in a Supreme Being, violating one’s given word carries a price in reputation. In close-knit societies or business communities, an oral agreement or handshake may carry the same weight as a written contract, because the reputational consequences for a word-breaker are so severe.

      Somebody who promises all sorts of things with no intention of making even a good-faith effort to honor them may eventually find that any promise (s)he makes — even the ones made in earnest — will now have the same perceived value as a used condom.

      • A contract is useful in that it forces the parties to think through the ramifications of what they’re agreeing to and to anticipate potential areas of difficulty. Almost no contract can comprehensively anticipate all challenges and resist a determined effort to violate it; it depends on the good faith of the contracting parties.

        TL:DR version: if a man’s given word is no good, neither is his contract.

        • My father taught me “It’s always who are the folks, and what’s the deal. Never the other way around.”

          There are some jobs where the money (while good) is not worth the corporate culture. There are some clients that businesses I’ve worked for found better to fire – to refuse to work with – than to spend the time and frustration of dealing with them. There are some friends who turned out to be so high-drama, so often, that I found it better to let our friendship slide into the past.

          The worth of a man’s word is the weight of the trust you can put in them. We still use that trust, at the heart of everything, from finding a good mechanic or babysitter, to trusting the weight of the words written by reviewers on Amazon products… to trusting that the consistency of Kraft Mac n’ cheesy will satisfy the picky toddler.

  14. Thank you for sharing that moving article with us. Some reflections:

    (a) I believe it was Keirsey of the Keirsey Temperament sorter who proposed a classification of relationships into four categories:
    * mindmate
    * soulmate
    * playmate (not just the bedroom, but also other recreational activities together)
    * helpmate (contributing to the household etc.)
    Every relationship is a “linear combination”, if you like, of these four.

    (b) As I see it, the best foundation of any manage is utter honesty to each other, which presupposes complete honesty with oneself.

    (c) Marriage as an institution — aside from a state of mind — is also a contract. If one of the partners is in “grave breach” as your 1st husband appears to have been, then the partnership becomes null and void.

    (d) We’ve been married for 22 years and counting. We’ve gone through a couple of tough spots, but if you’re honest with each other and communicate well, that which does not destroy your bond will make it stronger.

    More later, daughter calls.

    • Continued:
      Re: (a) The ideal “balanced” relationship would have strong components of all four. In practice, even in very successful ones, one or two components may predominate. It seems like your new relationship, for instance, has a very strong mindmate component — this is very important for “odds”, I suppose.
      As another example, I’ve known at least one couple here where the partners were diametral opposites in every way (e.g., she a left-wing activist, he — now deceased — a general turned stridently right-wing politician) but came and stayed together (until he had a fatal stroke while swimming in the sea) essentially from instantaneous and extreme physical attraction — so that was almost a pure “playmate” relationship, with some aspects of helpmate at the household level.
      Your 1st marriage appears to have been (based on your description) so one-way that I wouldn’t even attempt to analyze it by components.

    • One more thing, Cedar: like you, I absolutely love Bujold’s characterizations. And Ekaterin Vorsoisson is one of her most memorable creations.

  15. I am glad to know things is working out in ways you can enjoy. Sometimes it is necessary to go through Hell to learn to appreciate Heaven.

    • “Light would have no meaning without darkness” — who wrote that again?

      • Sounds a bit like C.S. Lewis-

        “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

        There’s also a bit in Second Corinthians close to that, but I think he was just using the familiar phrase for a different end.

    • The Other Sean

      I think I heard somebody sing something similar to what RES just said:

  16. This was beautiful, Cedar. Wishing the two of you many years of happiness together.

    And you could do far worse than following Peter and Harriet into matrimony. I have every good line in ‘Busman’s Honeymoon’ underlined and dog-eared.

    You might even like Pride’s Children (out one of these days soon). “love was wanting only the best for the one that is loved with no expectation of anything in return” is the underlying basis of the story, though it will take you a long time to get there.

    • My all-time favorite is still RAH: Love is the mental state in which “the other person’s happiness becomes essential to your own”.

      • I have always hated that quote as it means that as soon as one person is unhappy neither person can ever be happy again.`

        • Bear in mind that humans are far more fungible than strict logic rules. The quote is a philosophical and psychological description, but no such description can encompass the entirety of a person’s mental state.

          Basically, the sentence is intended to impute a high, enduring correlation, as opposed to a weak and/or transient one. Once it is perceived that the partner is unhappy, the simple fact of working on correcting that difficulty can actually work to improve the emotional state of both. With a weak or transient correlation, there is not as much impulse to improve the other’s state of mind, as it does not impinge as strongly on your own.

          • Keep in mind that there is a place neither happy nor unhappy, merely between the two. There is much to be said for contentment, without going so far as to be happy.

            • Perhaps a better expression is that Love is the mental state in which “the other person’s pain is painful to you.”

              • Or as the popular phrase has it: “when she’s cut, I bleed”.

              • Reminds me a little of the Positive Golden Rule (“do as you would be done by”) vs. the Negative Golden Rule (“What is hateful unto you, do not do unto any other. That is the essence of the Law: the rest is elaboration.” — Talmud, Shabbat 31a). I definitely prefer the Negative Golden Rule: if the other person is a masochist, he can spare me the “doing as he would be done by” 😉

                • I share your preference, although I would proffer a different example:
                  Just because you are willing to forego your freedom and your rights in exchange for a comfortable collar and daily bowl of porridge, do not think to deprive me of mine.

                  There is probably something in Kipling about a wolf saying this to a dog …

                • That’s why Christ’s new commandment was so revolutionary. Not merely “do as you would be done by” but love one another as I have loved you.” Hoo. with a side order of Oh. Boy.

                  • Heh. OTOH, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” is actually a direct quote from Leviticus 19:18 (“ve-ahavta et re`ekha kamokha”)

                    • I thought the Bible discouraged self-love?

                    • Heh. Actually, at least the Torah does not explicitly address auto-eroticism at all: the real “sin of Onan” (Gen.38:10) was that he refused to uphold yibbum/Levirate marriage, his obligation to father a child with the childless widow of his deceased brother. Because the child would bear his brother’s name “lest his name be lost” and not his own, “he spilled his seed on the ground” and “this was evil in the sight of the L-rd”. Rabbinical commentaries refer to this as a form of coitus interruptus§, not “bashing the bishop”. Despite that, the modern Hebrew verb for “to [self-pleasure]” is “le’onen” (from Onan), and “me’onen” (used rarely) is roughly the equivalent of “w*nker” or “tosser” in English.
                      Yibbum itself (probably a formalization of a pre-existing custom) was a way of ensuring the woman had somebody to look after her. In Deuteronomy 25:5-10, a procedure is established for the woman to decline the yibbum. An entire book of the Talmud (Yevamot) is dedicated to the complex issue.
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yibbum

      • But even thought that is true, there are going to be times when giving someone up for their own good IS harder – and necessary.

        At any rate, it is a perennial topic in fiction. And perennials are the ones we keep coming back to, and keep writing.

        Don’t get me wrong – RAH is one of my loves, but IMHO (such as Stranger…), he often tried things that didn’t really work – except in the pages of his books. It is hard to find relationships between more than two that are really equitable and fair – and work for long times.

        • The things he wrote about in Stranger are not anything I would personally try at home.
          That said, giving somebody up for their own good… is perfectly consistent with that quote. In fact, I’ve been in that movie myself at least once, where I concluded “if you really love that girl in any way, let her go, since you will just make her miserable if you marry her and then YOU will be miserable”.
          It’s actually the very dilemma my male protagonist in WTHRTM is dealing with — except that there the reason is age difference rather than incompatibility.

        • re: “equitable and fair”: at any given point in time, or as time averages? 🙂 I’m sure the balance fluctuates over time in most cases (e.g., because of external factors): still, my personal ideal is to at least *strive* to have the time average be close to equitable.

  17. I met my Lady while I was dropping out of college. I should have gone to another college, but I’m happy with what I have, and I wasn’t really of the right temperament to be a scholar. We lived together for a while, and married shortly after she graduated. That was three decades ago.

    In the intervening time, we have seen many of our friends panic and start frantically searching for somebody, anybody, to marry. It hasn’t been pretty. They join dating services, and three weeks later they re talking seriously about somebody they’ve seen twice. And we bite our lips and DON’T say “Are you kidding me? You don’t even know if you can sit through this person’s favorite movie without running screaming from the room.”

    I married my best friend, at an age when I was far too young and dumb to do anything that smart deliberately.

    I owe some kindly god a lot of incense.

    • “You don’t even know if you can sit through this person’s favorite movie without running screaming from the room.”
      Actually my bride of 23 years did run screaming from a movie that I was enjoying. To this day she does not understand what I see in the works of Robert E. Howard. I continue to point out that some of her favorite movies have body-counts higher than Conan the Barbarian. It was the violence to children of the opening scenes that she could not stand. I could get passed that for the story that follows. We found enough else in common that we look forward to the next 20…

  18. I married my Emily because I wouldn’t make it without her.

  19. First thing first:

    I won’t be at LibertyCon this but congratulations. There is going to be a pretty special girl at your reception and at the earliest opportunity I owe your fiance (well, at that point husband) a drink for his help in meeting her. (I kinda wonder if we would even remember what I’m talking about if you That much being said…

    I wasn’t there for your first marriage but your situation doesn’t sound a whole lot different from the woman I was married to in some ways. I don’t blame you for getting out. I once did a humor piece for a website that I used to frequent that stated that divorce stood for “Dude! I very obviously really can escape!” and it sounds like it applies. Like you I had a partner who was not a partner, who did what SHE wanted instead of what WE wanted and refused to so much as listen when I got upset about things.

    So I’m happy for you, and others like you, for finding the right one on the second try. May you find the happiness that you deserve.

  20. Lovely sharing. and pretty much ditto. Would expand, but zzzzz

  21. Well done, and well said.
    Re: honor, and resetting thereof – my thought of it has more to do with commitment to the contract between us: so long as the contract is intact, I will do all I can and more; if the contract were broken, so would be the requirement in honor to fulfill the commitment. “Reset button” encapsulates what you do then, but there’s no need to feel you’ve broken your honor in such a case – and it seems you found yourself in such a case, indeed.
    Re: “love was wanting only the best for the one that is loved with no expectation of anything in return.” — at the emotional & motivational level, absolutely. In the day-to-day level of working out agreements, compromises, etc. it is good for the marriage to expect both give and take… not limiting yourself to going just halfway, though, because our empathy is always imperfect and one must often believe one has gone 2/3 of the way to have achieved your own halfway meetings.
    After 50 years married to the same beautiful lady, I still can’t say I know everything about it – but we continue to learn, every day.

  22. OMG, Ms. Sanderson, that was just BEAUTIFUL. Having been together with my werehusband (of different species) for 28 years now and married for 27 1/2 of them (sometimes it does happen fast!), I can appreciate what we both learned from the bad stretches as much as enjoy the harmony we achieved. But now that we have to witness an offspring trying to find her way through a very toxic “romantic” relationship, an eloquent framing of the stakes and goals involved – like your essay and some of these thoughtful comments – is very helpful to have.

  23. Blessings to you, Ms. Sanderson. We have been forgiving each other for 33 years now, probably she more than I. But when asked the secret on their golden anniversary, one couple replied, “Amnesia!”.
    I hope you have found the one, and that the two of you find infinity pleasant.

  24. Congratulations to you both!
    My wife and I have been together 32 years and married for 30 of them.
    There have been a few times along the way when all that has kept us together has been our vows. I don’t think of them as chains as they are often portrayed, more like lifelines if my experiences are anything to judge by.
    Marriage is never carefee and requires work and constant attention.
    It is rarely 50/50 but as long as the ebb and flow is fair, then that’s alright.
    Happiness is great, contentment is better.

    • I know a few couples that have *never* had rough spots — but they are generally unusual in some way.
      One example are one of my academic mentors and his wife. They grew up in the same small New England town and basically were around each other since elementary school, deciding to be a couple in high school. You could say that, as they grew up and their identities formed, they molded to each other’s. They’ve been married for 45 years now. Both really nice people.

  25. Salutations and felicitations, and may you never be stuck in bus or railway stations.

  26. I don’t recommend rotten relationships, but the beauty of surviving one is that you never underestimate a good one. Spouse and I are going on 35 years together–best friends who still enjoy merely sitting on the deck talking to one another.

    May you encounter every blessing in your new marriage.

  27. Professor Badness

    Congratulations and best wishes!
    Having had far to many friends/family in bad relationships of varying types, I am overjoyed to see you finding your happily ever after.
    My Lady (Masked Pain) and I have been married for eleven years now. It can be hard work, but the sheer joy of being together has helped us through many hard things.
    When pain and tribulation come, as they inevitably do, it is the solace of our other half that gives us the strength to soldier on.
    P.S. And I am also still analyzing how Bujold does what she does. I can but hope to be half as good one day.
    And…I’m going to have to use kintusukuri at some point. It is simply too beautiful of a concept to pass up. I will have to attribute you as my source,

  28. ” There will be days when the oaths you swore – before witnesses or simply in the dark of night to one another – are all that keep you together under one roof.”

    This is so true. There is a reason that there are far fewer successful “common law marriages” than legal and/or religious ones.

  29. I’ve sent you congratulations a few times before, but here goes again. May you find the happiness together you were denied previously.

  30. My story is different.I found my Great Love, only to have her die unexpectedly after only a few years. It was a blow that nearly killed me. ended up on the streets, drinking my life away. What saved me? I got mugged.. Somebody conked me on the head with a pipe. I ended up in the ICU with a hemorrhaging brain.I was there a few weeks. One of my docs later told me tha tI was two weeks to a month away from dying from the massive amounts of vodka I was consuming.

    After years of never even imagining being able to even find sexually attractive, much less love, another woman, I did find one that I both lusted for, and loved.

    I said all that, so I could say this; Evil deeds inflicted upon you can have positive results. Were I a believer, I’d call the swinger of that pipe an angel sent on a mission by the Big Guy. But I’m a heathen, so I just call it Fortuna. 🙂

  31. Reblogged this on Spin, strangeness, and charm and commented:
    In the comments to a poignant guest post by Cedar Sanderson on marriage, relationships, being denied happiness and finally finding it, “RES” coins what I would call “the negative Heinlein rule”.

    Robert A. Heinlein famously defined love as the mental state in which “the happiness of another person becomes essential to your own”. RES instead proposed, “the state where another person’s pain is painful to you”.

    This is reminiscent of the distinction between the Positive and Negative Golden Rules.
    The Positive Golden Rule states: “Do as you would be done by”. If the person in question is a masochist who enjoys being tortured, I’ll pass.
    The Negative Golden Rule, given here in its Talmudic formulation (Shabbat 31a), instead states: “That which is hateful unto you, do not do upon another. This is the whole Torah: the rest is [but] elaboration.”

    On Heinlein’s original quote, commenter Wayne Blackburn reflects:
    “Basically, the sentence is intended to impute a high, enduring correlation, as opposed to a weak and/or transient one. Once it is perceived that the partner is unhappy, the simple fact of working on correcting that difficulty can actually work to improve the emotional state of both. With a weak or transient correlation, there is not as much impulse to improve the other’s state of mind, as it does not impinge as strongly on your own.”

  32. It is posts like these that make me think I may be missing something of actual value. I’ve never been able to comprehend these sorts of higher emotional relationships. Friendships, yes, marriage and / or “love” no.

    I have generally figured that there must be something too it, since I see people going through hell when it falls apart but then they jump right back into it as soon as they can. Those same people seem to be perfectly rational outside of that and traits of the majority can’t be an insanity.

    The other parts of a relationship seem to create more points for conflict or maybe just the higher expectations. I’ve had the same roommate for over a decade and we have had fewer issues (none, really) then the apparently happily married folks I know.

    But I’m drunk and rambling (I really don’t write anything sober, I find it painful, ya, most here probably cant relate to that one) but I am glad you have found someone you want to be with.

  33. One more thing: no discussion of this subject would be complete without my personal bard, Neil Peart. Here is “Ghost of a Chance” by Rush, with complete lyrics:

  34. Oops, let me try that again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgqkhArHBHM
    (Pity there is no “Delete” button on comments.)

  35. Geoff Withnell

    I would say that being friends is an absolute prerequisite for a successful marriage. I am a fortunate man, having been married to my best friend for 43 years.

  36. Doug Northcote

    Well bloody said! Wonderful wisdom in this. And yes, agreed as well with the points from Lois Bujold. She’s been a huge help in my life as well.

  37. Congratulations! I am glad you found each other.

  38. Congratulations, and I wish you and your beloved all the best!

    (And I rather wish I’d said so on the day you posted it, which was my 13th anniversary. Yeah — I’ve been lucky. :))