I am hearing very discouraging things about the practice of marriage lately. I was in a writing workshop today and read ten memoirs, and many of them involved people who seemed to have zero affection for their husbands or wives. And on Saturday, a guy told me the usual about how yeah, he and his wife had sex a lot the first year of marriage, but now they just fight a lot. I guess I just don't know enough about it, but it seems to me that it takes long enough to date, get engaged, and plan a wedding that you should know enough about the person you're marrying to be able to figure out if you respect them and care about them, besides being attracted to them. And then that should last at least a little while.

I know that dealing with the same person for years can be hard, but I guess I'm confused by the people who seem utterly uninterested and who don't respect their spouses at all. I'm from a generation who fears divorce because of our parents, and often holds out for someone we think is really, really great, and we're criticized for it. But you need that level of affection to get through the hard times. When I see an old couple sitting at dinner and one of them puts his/her hand on the other's shoulder, that shows me he/she cares enough about the other person to still want to touch them affectionately as a matter of course. I can't think of a worse fate than committing to someone you only sorta like.

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