Marriage, and whether or not to marry, is the topic of Anne Roiphe’s memoir. In it, she explores the traditional marriages in history; the sexual revolution and its impact on marriage; the additional issues that children bring to the marriage; and how divorce and remarriage impact the individuals, the family, and the future.
In Married: A Fine Predicament, she explores each of these topics by describing examples from history, from books, and from her own experiences.
Talking about marriage, by necessity, also involves analyzing the different kinds of marriages and the expectations in each. For example, some marriages allow for infidelities, while others cling to monogamy. The author describes how the need for monogamy might seem contrary to some of her own experiences, like being a “revolutionary, a lover of freedom, a rebel against conventional bonds.” Yet in marrying her second (and last) husband, she realized, after getting to know him and his values (he felt disloyal if he dated more than one woman at a time), that she could not violate such a man’s trust.
After a thorough and detailed description of the various contemporary kinds of couples, from the living together to the married, and all the formats in between, she states:
“Marriage is not the only way to be respectable these days and social power is possessed by those who mock the rules (rock and rap stars, movie stars, wealthy men) and social disapproval carries no real sting in urban America and less than it used to across the land.” She goes on to say that “marriage can answer one human problem better than any other solution yet divined. It can assuage our loneliness.”
Obviously, this author is in favor of marriage, despite is many flaws and failings. She is not anti-divorce, as she writes that sometimes the ending of a marriage is the best solution for all.
Personally, I have experienced marriage and various forms of companionship in between, and while I have, finally, at this time, decided that my individual journey works best for me, I can see the appeal that others find in the institution. Sometimes the children of divorce suffer permanent trauma, but at the same time, the children in unhappy marriages may sustain life-long damage as well.
My conclusions are that each of us has to decide what works best in our own lives, and hopefully have the courage of our convictions.
This thoughtful, provocative, and meaningful exploration earned five stars from me.