Friday, May 1, 2009

It Happens Every Seven Years

So, I got to thinking about this after reading a post at Frog and Toad are Friends entitled Don't Marry a Jerk. Well, actually, it wasn't much of a post, because blogger Beck deleted it because someone had written to her that it was hurtful. She just left the most basic part of it up, promising to rewrite it in the future and repost.

Way to make me totally curious about what she'd written!

She ended her mostly-deleted post by asking this question:
What are you saying (or what will you say) to your kids about having a good marriage later on?

I read the comments. Some very good stuff there. Lots about the importance of communication and appreciation. I found myself nodding in agreement to most of it.

But you know, sometimes despite people's best efforts, they grow apart. I was reminded of a play I saw years ago, Force of Nature. Professor X and I were observing our annual pilgrimage to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2000. Playwright Steven Dietz' publisher provided this synopsis:

A play of extravagant romance and combustible desire, FORCE OF NATURE brings together the "perfect couple"—Edward and Charlotte—with two persons from their past: a beautiful young woman and an older man, Edward's best friend. Beneath the placid exteriors of their lives, a storm is awakening—a rush of dangerous passions which shall alter their lives forever. Freely adapted from Goethe's Elective Affinities , FORCE OF NATURE is a lush, eloquent drama about the consequences of desire and the power of destiny.

One review of the play explained
The play takes its name from Goethe's question whether such human artifacts as dams (or marriage) can contain such forces of nature as flooding streams (or flooding passions). James Edmundson, the director ..., has transformed this into a lyrical dance of words and a minuet of interactions accompanied by Schubert's sonorous piano and strings.
There's a good review of the play here from when it was put on a few years later in San Francisco, which notes:
Force of Nature discusses many ideas that must have shocked the German public 200 years ago, such as destiny, free will and the fickleness of the heart.

I actually don't remember much about the play besides the fact that excellent actors Robin Goodrin Nordli and Michael Elich were in it. And that I thought of some married friends who were struggling with the aftermath of his adulterous affair. But there were some lines of dialogue that have stayed with me. One of the characters talked about how people change. How they become a completely different person every seven years. Maybe you've heard that - that our bodies' cells cycle out at different rates, but like a snake shedding its skin, by the end of seven years, we've rid ourselves of all the old stuff. We're totally different people! I mean, it's one thing to say that a married couple can grow apart, but this is a real twist on that. It gives an entirely new meaning to the expression "You're not the person I married."


I wanted to end our sermon for today with an exciting popular culture reference, maybe even a clip of a movie or music. The Seven Year Itch? Nah, too obvious. You've Changed by Billie Holliday? A youtube search yielded this.

I'm unfamiliar with the German Euro-trance band, Groove Coverage. But I think the video is a real kick. And the song has a nice beat; it's good to dance to.

I give it a 7.


Mandy Southgate said...

I would say "Don't cheat, always admit when you're wrong and don't believe that divorce is an option". Then I would say that if their partner cheats or abuses them and can't or won't stop or get help, then walk away.

TBM said...

Adding "say you're sorry and don't go to bed mad" ;-)

Best to be best friends with your spouse too. Well, it works for us.

Interesting food for thought as usual, FF!

themom said...

thanks for the invitation to your site. I love the video also. I never divorced my husband - just to make him squirm I guess. I don't carry around a day to day anger, just when a "former" in-law starts something. Maybe it is intentional to get me. At least on the blog they won't know that it does to a degree. Come back again soon. Thanks for the input.

dianne said...

As you know I am the last person to give advice on relationships...I just keep on hanging in there waiting for some good and some consistency...all a bit one sided, but I hope...

However I will say that keeping the lines of communication open and diplomacy always helps.

I liked that song, nice beat, that is what I would call a bad case of 'emotional eating'. ♡

Ah how happy life would be if love ran smoothly sometimes. ♡

Fantastic Forrest said...

Emm - well said.

JaPRA - yes, friendship is important. It reminds me of a funny line from What's Up Doc which I'd share with you if I could remember it. Must have more coffee first.

themom - I'm glad you came over. Don't let the turkeys get you down!

dianne - ah, yes, diplomacy. Honesty is all well and good, but we all could benefit from care in how we approach things. Glad you liked the vid!

susan said...

Over the long term marriage in most cultures meant being a chattel. Unless she entered a convent (willingly or not) a woman could look forward to a life of frequent childbirth and utter servitude. It will take more than one or two generations for equality and respect to undo the history. We must endeavor to re-invent ourselves as the situations prescribe.

Fantastic Forrest said...

susan - you're right. I, happily, haven't experienced those types of stresses, and neither did the previous immediate generation in our families. But there's no doubt that there are many marriages even today that are based on those philosophies. It's a subject for another post; perhaps another whole blog! I'm not the one to write it. I'm sure you'll concede that there are plenty of marriages where the woman abuses her husband in some ways, though, so the women as chattel thing doesn't help to avoid that. How do we help our children identify a good lifelong mate, advise them on how to keep their marriage strong, and realize that sometimes, no matter how careful they've been, it's time to cut bait? Those are the questions I'm chewing on here. (Heh, get it? Did you watch the video?)

susan said...

There are definitely women who abuse husbands but I imagine they're far outnumbered by the old-fashioned kind and probably brought up in families that practiced domestic violence. I was born in England and remember my parents telling me about families where the mother had died and the eldest daughter would take on the full role of the new mother. It wasn't uncommon just a few generations ago and probably happened in this country too.

It is an interesting subject but I don't think I'm ready to take it on as a separate blog either. So far as raising our children is concerned I think the best thing is to give them good examples, foster honest communication, offer birth control to the girls and keep your fingers crossed they finish college before considering marriage. Marriages are always stronger between equal partners but nothing is guaranteed and at least if a woman finds herself as a single mother she'll have the ability to support her family. I've seen it happen too many times that girls start longing for babies and a man in concert with their hormones but before they have a clue.

Oh yes, I did watch the video and found the images somewhat disturbing but valid. Before my second (and successful) marriage I once arrived home from a trip earlier than expected and found a boyfriend (who had his own place) in my bed with one of my friends (who had her own apartment). I threw them both out but didn't eat the furniture although I may have felt like it :-)

Dave King said...

Does a good marriage that goes bad become a total disaster? You'd think so, listening to some who have experienced it.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Susan - sorry to bring up bad memories with the video. That must have been hideous for you. How bizarre that they chose your bed. How fortunate that you discovered this before the relationship lasted another minute.

Dave - there certainly is a lot of bitterness out there. I've known some folks who have maintained civil relations with their exes, but in the majority of breakups, it seems at least one of the parties is very angry. Maybe I put too much in this post. I was hoping for some thoughts on the every seven years thing. Perhaps I'll revisit that some time.