The other day at lunch one of my friends who is happily married was discussing the upcoming family holiday in which he would be spending time with relatives. I will never forget his illustration about marriage. He said that marriage is like being in a cold pool and pretending the water is fine so that you can watch your friends jump in and see the look on their faces. I'm not saying he's right, but I understand.
There goes somebody's miracleA few nights ago, a young person and I were discussing his future relationship milestones over some cocktails. His questions were innocent enough and I was happy to answer, but I struggled with providing an objective view without being too objective (if you know what I mean). How can you give a clear picture when you know that whatever you say is going to be skewed because of the taint you have surrounding you? Do you just punt? Decline? Provide a list of caveats and clauses?
Walking down the street
There goes some other fairy tale
I wish it could happen to me
But I look at myself Wonderin' if i'm just too weak
To have such faith in myself
-- Somebody's Miracle by Liz Phair
Ultimately, I just want my friends to be happy. And for many of them a marriage is the best way to find that and I encourage them towards that end. When you know they aren't ready for it, how do you communicate that without it being wrapped up in your own perceived issues with marriage? In my heart, I don't really think I have issues with marriage as a concept. Poor choices, and a negative experience by one should not reflect on the whole and I'm usually pretty good at separating them. But there is nothing to say that the person listening realizes I am capable of speaking fairly. They don't always know that I truly have their best interests at heart and when I give input it is using my perception of their value system and preferences. My own tastes don't really factor into the discussion.
Just to be clear, I don't subscribe to the rest of that Liz Phair song. I just like miracles.