Sunday, October 26, 2008

Family and Friends

Sometimes strange things bring people together. Few people ever get to choose their family members; if they did, many of us would be making regretful decisions in that area too. As it is, the closest thing to family we get to choose is a mate. Apparently, if the divorce and remarriage statistics are to be believed, many people are not too happy with their choices.

Not unlike parenting, no foolproof guidelines come with marriage. Oh, to be sure, the bookshelves overflow with parenting and marriage books that claim to give the best advice for a successful marriage or perfectly obedient children. This is where we throw in the sale of the oceanfront property in Arizona . . .

Once a parent, always a parent is just a fact of life. But once a mate, always a mate doesn’t necessarily compute. Yes, some children may end up in Nebraska after their parents decide that parenting just isn’t their bag. But fewer children are dumped than mates any day. But parents don’t just happen to “meet” their children somewhere and “fall in love.”

A young man I once met told me that he did not understand how people just “fell in love.” At the time my naiveté scored off the scale, but the example of my parents and grandparents gave me a little bit of an idea that once was enough.

The young man I mentioned was walking with me as I brought my horse back from a pasture. In our walk we met up with an older woman who lived near the pasture with her husband. I spoke to her and happened to ask her how long she and her husband had been married. I don’t remember now how many decades they had been married, but I said she must really love him. She gave me and the young man a funny look and said, “Luf, luf! What is there after luf?”

That old couple had met when she was just a girl, and she worked just as hard as he did until they died. That is not to say that they were gloriously in love or even happy with one another. I never knew whether they were or not, but women her age never left their husbands in those days.

I wonder if they were still friends. One of the most wonderful aspects of marriage, in my book, is being able to have a dear friend who knows me better than anyone else. That is not to say we always agree or otherwise get along perfectly, but it does mean that I trust and would rather be with my mate more than anyone I know.

Strange circumstances may bring couples together, but finally it is the mutual trust and friendship that keeps them together. Both the trust and the friendship are choices.

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