Why Marriage Requires Amnesia – The New York Times


Marriage is a solution to many problems that creates endless additional problems. Marriage can cure your loneliness or make it worse. Marriage can make you feel a lot stronger than you really are and a lot weaker than you really are. Marriage can feel like a calming meditation retreat, a date, or a very long lunch with the most repetitive human who has ever walked the face of the earth. Each week is a little different from the last.

After my blackout, I tell Bill I’m going to need some time for myself. I can’t keep everyone glued together anymore. Bill apologizes. He says traveling has been stressful. He mentions that we have walked a lot, which is hard on his bad knee. He reminds me of how he broke his tooth on a piece of hard bread in Melbourne, a story he told every person we met because Melbourne.

“I remember,” I reply, wishing I hadn’t.

Marriage requires amnesia, mute button, filter on lens, shock absorber, blinders, bumpers, earplugs, nap. You have to erase these stories, misplace this tape, zoom out, slowly fade to black. I’m starting to spend more time in my head. I start to dream more.

Surviving a marriage requires personal care, time alone, time away, meditation, escape, selfishness. I can’t fault her for being nervousI said to myself as I walked around the island alone, headphones on, bird poo rains down every few yards. I can’t get mad just because he’s an ordinary mortal with flaws. When I blame him I just feel guilty and then I start to blame myself. But I’m just a simple mortal with flaws too.

After several nights on the island, Bill and I start telling the kids to go back to the hotel room after dinner and use their phones for as long as they want. Then we have a drink and watch the ocean without them. We are talking about the breakdown of each child of the day: what did the elder hated today? What decision did the youngest question?

During these discussions, I encourage Bill to be more like me: Give up control. Relax. Let these birds make their noises and they will calm down quickly. When you treat them like they hurt it only gets worse.


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