Vermont’s historic legislative affirmation of gay marriage is a beautiful thing. But that doesn’t stop me from rolling my eyes. That we debate the appropriateness of the heart’s elemental impulse to join with one’s beloved suggests just how young we are in the scheme of human evolution. Heck, a turnip should be able to marry a basketball if such an act increases the world’s love supply.
Now there’s a dangerous possibility.
Imagine what would happen if boosting the planet’s woo-woo quotient were indeed the criterion to marry––or, more significantly, to stay married. Our nation’s divorce rate (50 percent, give or take) suggests a whole bunch of us might not make the cut.
Just as we renew our driver’s license, we and our spouse would have our heart’s union assayed every so often. Don’t laugh; we have the technology. Check the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, or the 2009 TV drama “Lie to Me”. And if we’re not generating good vibrations, our marriage license is suspended til we wise up.
A man goes to a minister I would enjoy and says, “Well, it’s confirmed. I can’t stand my wife. What do I do?”
The minister says, “Love her.”
“Maybe you didn’t hear me, padre,” the guy says. “It’s like demolition derby at my house, only without the fun. If we don’t split up, we’re going to end up on Jerry Springer.”
“No problem,” says the minister. “Read the fine print. No one gets married because they know what marriage is all about. We get married to find out. And one of the things we find out is that love is a choice. Whether you stay married is small potatoes compared to whether you love. It’s love, not marriage, that determines whether you die with a smile on your face.”
“That seems a bit much,” the man says, “especially since my wife’s unlovable.”
“Really?” says the minister. “How would you know? Are you Doctor Omniscient, the great arbiter of what’s lovable and what’s not in the universe? Or are you really saying that you haven’t figured out how to love this particular person, that you refuse to let go of whatever prevents you from loving her? May I tell you a secret?”
“One I'll rue, no doubt."
The minister laughs. “Your life is going to be beyond your wildest dreams the day you get that loving your wife has nothing to do with her. Or whether you’re married to her. It’s all about you, and who you choose to be.”
“How annoying...not being able to blame someone else for my misery.”
“All part of the ‘Great Nonsense’,” says the minister. “Placing our most sacred possession, our attention, on stuff that frustrates us rather than on our heart’s desire. Focusing on anything other than, say, being a person of kindness, or being the best something-or-other we can be, or creating a wonderful business––that sort of thing.”
Vermont’s state legislature was the nation’s first to say that marriage is no longer an exclusive club where the price of admission is sexual preference. And as big a deal as that is, it’s a small step to where I feel we’re headed some number of incarnations down the evolutionary highway. Then, marriage will be a club that’s actually much more exclusive, and a lot more fun––one reserved solely for sweethearts of any description who share a passion for the never-ending adventure of learning what it means to love.