image: University of Chicago Magazine - logo

link to: featureslink to: class news, books, deathslink to: chicago journal, college reportlink to: investigationslink to: editor's notes, letters, chicagophile, course work
link to: back issueslink to: contact forms, address updateslink to: staff info, ad rates, subscriptions

  > > Editor's Notes

  > > Letters
  > > Coursework
  > > Sketchbook


Not just for fairy tales anymore

image: Departments headerWe all know how fairy tales, at least many fairy tales, end: "They lived happily ever after." The ending I remember best occurs in the story of a humble couple who do live happily to a very ripe old age. When death comes, it comes quickly, gently, and with a final, magical twist. Husband and wife die at almost the same moment, and at the doorway of their neat little cottage, two flowering trees spring up. Happily ever after, indeed.

image: Clip art of dancing couple

When one in two marriages end in divorce, such a side-by-side march into eternity is, if not the stuff of fairy tales, far from a guarantee. And yet, in what Samuel Johnson called "the triumph of hope over experience," people continue to marry, remarry, and otherwise look for lasting love. This spring, Magazine readers whose fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love--and how to find and keep it--can also turn to two new books by authors with Chicago connections.

For a Great Books approach to the topic, try Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (University of Notre Dame Press, 1999), edited by two U of C faculty members who met on the quads as students, Amy and Leon Kass (see "Coursework," page 6). The Kasses take classic texts as the starting point for discussions on the meaning of marriage and the ethics of everyday life. Their "unapologetically" pro-marriage anthology is "intended to help young people of marriageable age, and parents of young people now and soon to be of marriageable age, think about the meaning, purpose, and virtues of marriage and, especially, about how one might go about finding and winning the right one to marry."

Meanwhile, a new book by a lecturer in the U of C's psychiatry department tackles the issue of finding the right person using more of a "self-help" mode.

"I never expected to write a self-help book," admits Sam R. Hamburg, who's been a marital therapist for 22 years and the husband of U of C anthropology professor Susan Gal for 27 years. But that's what Hamburg has done, and Will Our Love Last? A Couple's Roadmap will be published by Scribner this May.

Hamburg is a down-to-earth, transplanted New Jerseyan who listens to NPR while walking the family dog, and reading his book is a lot like talking with him. His premise is simple: "The key to having a happy marriage is to choose the right person for you in the first place."

His premise is simple:
"The key to having
a happy marriage
is to choose the right person for you
in the first place."

Well, duh, as your teenager would say.

But choosing the right person--someone who'd be a friend if he or she were not your lover--gets complicated, in part by romantic love. Often dismissed as mere infatuation, the stuff of spring and moon beams, it is just as real as lasting love, Hamburg argues, and just as powerful, making you feel deeply in sync with your partner. But because romantic love does fade, marital happiness and thus, to a large extent, marital longevity‚ depends on true compatibility. Positing three dimensions of compatibility, he offers exercises for determining where you and your partner fall on each compatibility scale. Compatibility isn't enough, he warns: "Bad News [abusive personalities and so on] is like a royal flush in poker. It beats anything."

Taken together, the books offer a useful prescription for spring (and for all seasons): Don't be afraid to fall in love--and don't forget to ask the hard questions. -- M.R.Y.

Global Warming.
We would like to thank the 4,875 readers who responded to our request for contributions with a blizzard of gifts.

When we dug out from the pile of white envelopes, we discovered a total of $129,516.80--all of which will help underwrite the Magazine's costs. We still have a few gargoyle-in-a-snow-globe premiums on hand; for details, see

link to: top of the page

  APRIL 2000

  > > Volume 92, Number 4

  > >
Good guys finish first
  > >
Edward Hirsch Levi
  > >
U of C Folk Festival
  > >
The prophetic art

  > > Class News

  > > Books
  > > Deaths

  > > Chicago Journal

  > > College Repor

  > > Investigations



uchicago® ©2000 The University of Chicago® Magazine 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637
phone: 773/702-2163 fax: 773/702-2166