just for fairy tales anymore
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
premise is simple:
"The key to having
a happy marriage
is to choose the right person for you
in the first place."
duh, as your teenager would say.
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."
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. --
We would like to thank the 4,875 readers who responded to our
request for contributions with a blizzard of gifts.
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 www.alumni.uchicago.edu/magazine/about/subscriptions.html.