Albert Einstein, as brilliant as he was, compared himself to a small child who wandered into a great library.
He could vaguely discern that the shelves were arranged in some type of purposeful order, but all the books seemed to be written in foreign languages that he couldn’t possibly read.
Einstein, of course, was talking about the inscrutable laws of the universe, but he might as well have been describing marriage.
As of Monday, I have been exploring this vast library for exactly 12 years and one day.
And it has taken me this long to figure out that the shelves are, indeed, arranged in some kind of order, but I still haven’t the foggiest clue how the Dewey Decimal System actually works.
The deepest mystery of all is the one that is famously said to have stumped even Sigmund Freud: What does a woman want?
Over the years, my wife has now received 12 anniversary gifts, at least 10 of which she probably didn’t want. The other two, I confess, were picked out by my sister.
Luckily, my wife appreciates the effort.
And that pretty much sums up the one, small insight that I have gained in these last 12 years:
Marriage is like a T-ball game for 3-year-olds. Nobody’s keeping score because doing your best, and having fun, is what counts.
I used to wake up every morning worried that today would be the day that she finally figures out what seems perfectly obvious to everybody else: that she could’ve done much, much better.
Lately, I’ve begun to suspect that she has known it all along, even 12 years ago.
She married me anyway.
It’s like turning a corner in the library and discovering a whole new wing, full of strange and lovely artifacts from an ancient, exotic culture. I’ll never understand it.
Perhaps marriage, like all unsolvable riddles, is best described by what it isn’t.
Marriage certainly isn’t about finding yourself because you get completely lost.
It certainly isn’t about warm, fuzzy feelings because you have to keep going, even when you’re tired and grumpy.
It’s not about overcoming irreconcilable differences because the longer you look, the more differences you notice.
According to a recent poll, the majority of Americans think that marriage is primarily about "finding personal fulfillment."
I doubt it, unless the secret to fulfillment is to stop wanting it for yourself and concentrate on somebody else’s.
In a separate poll, Time magazine reported last month that 39 percent of Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete. And nearly half of people younger than 30 expect it to become extinct.
Maybe so, with more than half of marriages ending in divorce and four out of 10 children born out of wedlock.
But it’s like burning down the Great Library of Alexandria – the start of the Dark Ages.
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