Learning Hurts Me Not

"The constant happiness is curiosity" - Alice Munro

Lyle Elmgren

Lyle Elmgren
Saskatoon, Canada
July 20
Lyle Elmgren
Economist, University career, father, investor, researcher, history buff, silver life master at bridge, editor, author, cinephile, and dancer teacher/participant. I joined OS in July, 2012. My friends call me Encylopedia Elmgrenica.


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FEBRUARY 7, 2013 2:04PM

Marriage: What Vows?

Rate: 2 Flag

"Oaths are words, and words are but wind." - Samuel Butler   

Nathan Naive and his cousin, Melvin Muddle, were in their early 20's when they pondered what attracts men to women and what produces successful marriages. They concluded the attraction was due to kindness, honesty, intelligence, beauty, humour, and the desire to have children; and that the keys to successful marriages were mutual admiration, respect, commitment, compassion, and deep-caring.

They also read many quotes about marriage. A perplexing one by William Shakespeare was, "When my true love swears that she is made of truth I do believe her; although I know she lies." Hmmm.
Most of Nathan's friends were already married and his parents had just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. At age 25, down the aisle it was for Nathan and Natalie.

As was the cool thing to do in the 70's, the couple recited their own custom-made wedding vows.
One of the songs chosen for their wedding was the Michel Legrand composition, Windmills of Your Mind(1968). That song about the mysteries, complexities, and deceptions of life turned out to be prophetic.
Natalie was an attractive and personable woman, who had university degrees in Education and French. Nathan had a high paying position in academia.

The golden rule had worked well in Nathan's single life and he thought it would also work in marriage. He soon learned the words: fine, whatever, go ahead, thanks, and nothing were not always to be taken literally. The couple got along well, despite the odd dispute.

After one of these spats, Nathan received a letter at work from his wife that said the following:

"My Darling Nathan,
I hope this little note arrives at a time when you are in need of a little boost.

I would like you to know that I think you are the greatest. I may not always seem appreciative of your ways, but deep down, I love you dearly.

Please don't stop the little pats, kisses, and loving gestures. Little things mean a lot!

Love & kisses, Natalie."

The couple were deeply committed to raising their two well-behaved, attractive, and high-achieving daughters. After fifteen years of disciplined spending and saving, the couple had paid off the mortgage on a three bedroom bungalow and had two paid for modern cars.

Entering year eighteen of marriage, Natalie presented Nathan with a Marriage Report Card. Nathan exclaimed, "How very sweet of you, dear." Natalie had assigned him A's for good with the children, financial provider and fidelity, but, an F for spousal attentiveness. The couple had grown apart. A separation and divorce ensued when the children were age seven and nine.

Being a perfectionist, Nathan so hated failure of any type. Feeling of despair, self-doubts, and isolation set in. He sacrificed much of his social time to care for his two daughters. Nathan believed that any caring father would do the same.  

As it was for Nathan, and many in today's society, lack of commitment to the real meaning of marriage vows is commonplace.  

"A marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time." - Anne Taylor Fleming.

Author tags:

marriage, divorce, conflict

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I loved this paragraph: he golden rule had worked well in Nathan's single life and he thought it would also work in marriage. He soon learned the words, fine, whatever, go ahead, thanks, and nothing were not always to be taken literally. The couple got along well, despite the odd dispute.

That growing apart thing is so sneaky. Things seem to be rolling along nicely when he suddenly starts staying up later (to avoid going to be at the same time I do, thus eliminating the likelihood of intimacy) Your story is so sad and so ubiquitous. Great job of writing it!

A poignant and true testimony to the disappointment inherent in most marriages. True love and romance can only hold a couple together for so long. Pretty soon life pressures, especially children and work, intervene. To work at the relationship consistently is so hard and rare that we marvel at those who made it through 50 years. Yet, if we ask them how they did it, they say they settled by lowering expectations, forgiving weaknesses and misdemeanors (or more), and just staying when others might have left. And they are happy enough.
L , in the Southwest. I admire your posts and I look forward to reading your future articles. Lyle is learner. Thanks a lot for your advise, really.
Thanks , Dr. J. I look forward to your next posts. You and I have l
have likely, Been TO THE BEACH.

Take care.

BTW, I am well over this adventure. Life is good.

Take care.
After having been married five times and living common-law another eight times, all I can say is that the secret of a successful marriage was known only to my last wife (of 23 years), and she took that to her grave with her. I'm still as much in the dark as ever........


I think my divorce was primarily due to the pressures of work and the changes that raising children entailed. This is what you said as well. Thanks . Lyle
Skypixie0 . There is little comfort 'in the dark.'
Always remember what my sainted grandmother used to say, "If you can't find true love, fuck whoever's handy."

Granny was ahead of her time.......