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Holidays, Home & Weddings
There are waves of weddings in every life. First it’s you and your peers. Then, a couple of decades later, there’s a mini-wavelet of second marriages. Another decade on, it’s the turn of all our kids.
David Brooks wrote a lovely piece in the NYT this weekend, lamenting the fading prioritisation of marriage. From being a cornerstone of life, it’s become a mere capstone. An optional cherry on the cake of a well-lived life. People now rely more on their careers for self-actualisation, and put relationships second.
But as most happily married people will tell you, and as all the happiness research shows, good marriages are a mega-vitamin boost to health, happiness and almost every other indicator of human wellness. It should be a top priority in life. I did a TED talk on Conscious Coupling: Dual Career Couples in the Age of Longevity, arguing that we would do well to bring all of our considerable focus on leadership skills and gender balance home. We over-focus on work at our peril.
In an era of AI and automation, we’ve kinda handed this finding-love function (like so many others) over to the bots. Between 20 to 30% of long-term relationships now start online in the US (I’d be curious to know what the stats are like elsewhere in the world). And it sometimes sounds, to listen to many of the young women I know, more like Hunger Games then Match-Made-in-Heaven magic.
Not surprising then, that marriage rates are declining all over the world.
So it’s lovely to see the kids walking down the aisle. Finding each other in the vast universe of possible futures. Vowing to be each other’s best friends and supports forever. It’s moving and inspiring and touching. It roots around deeply in the essence of what makes us human - relationships, community, kindness.
I watched one of my oldest friends dance with her daughter to celebrate her passage into committed coupledom. With the echoes of decades of discussion about love and marriage, divorce and heart ache, kids and careers, health and happiness, I saw in their well-rehearsed steps a whole coded language of generational transmission.
To hold onto all the balancing acts that life throws at you. To find love but also freedom. To fight for your voice while supporting someone else’s. To build a home with heart by sometimes having to leave it and start again. To believe enough in the future to invent it and birth it into being. In the end, most of us give it a try at some point. Some of us, multiple tries.
Have been re-reading Marilynne Robinson’s Lila, one of the lovelier contemplations of married life I know. As a brave and risky attempt to counter profound human loneliness by building a bridge to another inscrutable, impossible-to-understand other.
The personal has always been political. And as we look at our fractured countries, angry voices and divided genders, home is where the heart is formed and found. Love is what will save us all in the end. Lack of it the deepest wound. And courage the will to try and find it, feed it and nurture it. So that you can pass it on.
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