23 , 2006 | I have been happily
married for over fifty years. Within
those years I have seen everything
change with regard to marriage.
When I was a girl it was just normal
not to before marriage—now
it is normal to consent, and often
on the first date. Instead of sexual
pleasure being a treasured gift
that we give one another within
marriage, sex has become a recreational
How many baskets
did you sink? How many conquests
did you make? Keeping score becomes
the goal, and in this spirit of
competition commitment is forgotten.
freeing women, this casualness has
left them vulnerable and exposed.
Their femininity is not respected,
and dignity has no home.
years of marriage, I often find
myself giving younger people this
advice: "Just do it!"
(It meaning marriage, of course.)
But then they
ask, "Why should I?" I
know a lot of these points are obvious,
but in these times I think they
bear repeating. So let's start with
the following 18 reasons:
promotes good mental health: there
is less stress and more confidence
that comes with companionship
- someone to talk things over
with. With the extra help comes
a new contentment. At the very
least it frees you from the pressure
of finding someone to spend your
improves physical health: a good
diet, regular meal times and improved
sleeping habits prolong life.
With another person concerned,
you're more likely to keep doctors'
appointments, take prescribed
medication and discuss findings.
With a good and faithful partner
chances of disease from promiscuity
are greatly reduced.
looks after your emotional health:
with a new stability in life,
positive virtues such as loyalty
and courage develop. Marriage
gives an opportunity for love's
full expression and for that emotional
strength to grow. Of course, negative
emotions like jealousy and anger
still arise but they have a better
chance of being resolved.
brings out the best in an individual:
you grow together in patience,
understanding, unselfishness and
perseverance. You just can't do
that with a cat.
develops character through obligations
equals true friendship: one of
the big advantages of a lasting,
committed relationship is having
someone you can really let go
with and be yourself around -
because you know they'll still
be there tomorrow.
promotes economic stability: making
budgets, saving, discussing spending
and setting priorities - all this
is easier when you are accountable
to another person. When you make
decisions together, there is less
impulsive spending. That's why
married families are the most
promotes personal fulfillment
and productivity: it enhances
the creative abilities of each,
because necessity is the mother
of invention and with the division
of labor more is accomplished.
is a living organism: the unified
entity of marriage, "the
two becoming one," affords
an opportunity to participate
in something much larger than
"my own life." This
makes the simple tasks of everyday
life exponentially more exciting.
- To each
marriage there are moral, social
and political implications: it
takes you out of your own small
world and into a larger one. Each
marriage affects life profoundly
and eventually helps create a
more cohesive society. Marriages
make history, but it all begins
by making another person's happiness
important to you.
encourages and expands the scope
of your interests, many of which
may be shared, whether hobbies,
sports or pastimes, or, more importantly,
involvement in community affairs,
charitable or educational organizations,
and religious life.
is the best environment for the
raising of children. It makes
its mark on the next generation.
creates a family lineage, putting
you in touch with those who went
before and those yet to come.
Through marriage you are connected
to ancestors and become the carriers
of a tradition.
creates a social unit, encompassing
friends, extended family, neighbors,
friends of the children, etc.
One builds a home where that unit
develops compassion for others.
It gives plentiful opportunity
to protect and nurture, to surrender
our desires at times, and to be
present and just caring.
gives direction and spirit to
engenders respect: the community
lends weight to the couple.
reflects natural law; it's a formal
way of acknowledging the complementary
roles of man and woman, and the
great heights we can achieve by
loving and working together.
Choosing a Partner for Life and
Getting a Clear Picture
You would never
undertake a long journey without
a clear picture of the destination.
The photos in a travel brochure
have fired your imagination —the
pristine beach, lapping blue waters,
palm trees gently swaying in the
breeze; you can almost hear the
ice cubes tinkling in the lovely
glass goblet served by the smiling
waiter as you stretch out on the
lounge chair. You want to arrive
there. The hassles of the airlines,
of booking reservations, of organizing
the details, are seen as the necessary
steps for arriving at this glorious
place of rest. But the vacation
is a temporary situation. The holiday
resort will fade, as will the photo
in the magazine. Or it may turn
out to be a holiday in hell, in
which case you will want to get
out of it as soon as you can. Either
way, the disappointment is the result
of unrealistic expectations.
is we often don't start with an
honest picture of marriage. Like
the glamorous photo our romantic
vision is of an everlasting honeymoon
perhaps with darling, smiling cherubs
snuggled in our laps later on. The
realistic picture should include
our parents' marriage or a model
we aspire to. It needs to be realistic
in that, like everything else in
life, there are natural ups and
downs. Understandably this is difficult
when in the throes of romantic love.
for life. Traditionally the married
state was called wedlock. We can
view the lock as binding, entangling,
or as two threads joined. Each thread
has its own color, elasticity, strength
and beauty. Put together, the strength
and beauty are more than doubled.
If the goal
is unity and the lives are dedicated
to each other's happiness, the marriage
will be lasting and vibrant. Wedlock
is the action of lives joined in
embrace. These days, however, the
idea of permanence is considered
a forlorn hope.
right spouse is the most important
decision you are likely to make.
Unlike the choice of motel or hotel,
in which either alternative may
be fine, the choice of companion-for-life
must be made with discrimination.
Of course, not many of us are blessed
with a range of suitors to choose
from, but even if you only ever
receive one proposal, you still
have the choice to say "no,"and
it would be better to say no if
he was not suitable rather than
marry just for the sake of it.
is obvious or not, we have a clear
path in life, and there are road
signs along the way to give us the
right direction. But love—the
raging, passionate kind—can
lure us on to the wrong road, one
with huge potholes. Inertia has
the same effect: you are on the
right road and something carries
you off without a struggle. Falling
into a marriage will either keep
you in a hole for life, or necessitate
a tough climb out: divorce courts,
alimony, joint custody, misery.
It takes a long time to get back
on the right road.
is the tool you need, so dating
is an important step in getting
to know each other. But remember
that dates can be unreal situations.
Each one is on his or her best behavior.
All women I
know are attracted to a "type"—well,
my husband was not my type. There
were no sparks, fireworks or magnetic
pulls. It was more the quality of
his behavior, his respect for women,
his good manners, his ambition,
the way he spoke that acted as the
It is very
important to see the person in a
variety of situations. See him with
his family, see her with her friends,
watch him relate to children, note
her response to traffic jams, see
how he handles irate clients and
disappointments, how she handles
success and responsibilities. How
does he take care of his possessions?
What is the inside of her car like?
Keep your antennae focused. Don't
be lulled into the dreamy vapors
of candlelight romantic dinners
at a restaurant.
The clues you
pick up will be the signposts to
future behavior. You'll see the
good and the bad —the important
thing is to observe, and to not
fool yourself that it will be different
after you are married. Bad behavior
will only be worse. If he is sloppy
and drinks too much, or if she is
shrill and abusive, it will not
change. Keep every highway open
to observe his/her behavior in as
many places, times of day, and situations
as possible. Spend time with each
other's friends, explore tastes
in books, TV, music, sports, etc.
There should be no great surprises
One of the
first things I noticed about my
husband was the way he treated his
grandmother, full of love and respect.
Of course, being from Maryland,
and having been educated in Virginia,
he did have somewhat southern manners.
But love and respect cannot be faked.
We build reputations
as we move along, so pay attention
to how someone is regarded by co-workers,
friends and family. This is not
to suggest that every moment be
one of judgment, or that criticism
is beneficial. All I suggest is
that your eyes be open and your
mind clear of any illusions about
how you would like things to be.
I know it is very difficult to be
rational when falling in love, but
that doesn't mean we have to be
blind to glaring faults. There is
a great deal that can be overlooked
and accepted but major character
flaws like cruelty, obsessive behavior,
and dishonesty cannot be swept away
like the morning dust.
emotions are unreliable. They fluctuate
constantly, taking us on up-and-downhill
rides. So much depends on our state
of health, the weather, hunger,
what happened two minutes ago, the
news broadcast, etc. Emotions are
powerful, and they can move us into
the most dedicated work, or activate
our trigger fingers. They cannot
be depended upon for accuracy in
choosing a mate.
physical characteristics dependable
qualities on which to make a judgment.
We all know how bodies are subject
to change. Fat/thin, smooth/wrinkled,
with hair/balding, are some of the
obvious alterations possible. A
great physique can dissolve into
blubber. It's wonderful if there
is a strong physical attraction.
I'm all for sparks and electric
charges, but sex flowers and deepens
with love and devotion. So, go for
character, not a character.
That is why
you need to know about family relationships,
friends and role models. What does
he avoid? Does she have regular
contact with her family? Does he
fall apart under adversity? How
does she handle confrontation? What
gets him depressed? How determined
is she? Does he give up easily?
Is he honest to the waiter when
something was left off the bill?
Is she loyal to those close to her,
or does she spread gossip about
of spirit is so important. I remember
one of my suitors took me out for
a hot dog. That man was very rich.
My husband, on the other hand, and
at a time when he was drawing a
salary of $75 per week, bought me
a compact from Saks Fifth Avenue.
It was not the money spent that
mattered, but somehow this act of
large-heartedness registered. To
this day he has provided the means
for many men to start their own
businesses. The generosity extends
to time and counseling. A miser
is always afraid of losing something.
My husband's credo has always been,
"The more I give, the more
I get." It applies to love
as well as money, and it always
the decision about marriage all
comes down to trust. This was a
man I could trust with my life.
He has taken my life and guarded
it as his own. And I have done what
I can to support him in all his
a valuable facility which may develop
with the practice of observation
but it is not always available to
the young. What foresight did I
have at nineteen? None, really.
I can only say that in some unknown
way something within me was watching.
My husband's good qualities just
registered. In making the most crucial
choice of your life, go with what
you know to be true and lasting.
Is this someone I can count on?
Will she be there for me in sickness
and in health? Will he protect my
physical, mental and spiritual needs?
Will she support my decisions? Will
he protect and cherish me? Because
the flash, the flush, the razzle-dazzle
will not last.
Use every facility
in your arsenal —watch, listen,
and don't ignore your instincts.
Be still and listen to your heart;
and trust that with cool reason
you will choose well.
was born on Long Island, graduated
from Hunter College, and married
in 1952. The Foxes have 2 children,
both happily married, and have lived
8 years in Sydney, and 12 in Canada.
They visited Israel for the first
time in 2003 and moved there in
2004. Mrs. Fox's upcoming book,
Right to Marry, is being
published in Israel by Litom Publishing