"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 wedding vows, which were not that much different than the traditional love, honour and to care for oaths.
At the wedding, one of the songs was the Michel Legrand composition, Windmills of Your Mind(1968). A song about the mysteries, complexities, and deceptions of life. That selection 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 debt-free 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. 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.