A couple of years ago I received a nice letter from a writer at Esquire magazine informing me that my book, Before You Say "I Do", was being included in a list of the top 20 pre-marital counseling books of the decade. I thought this was great stuff, until I realized that there were probably only 20 pre-marital books published in the decade. But it was great to make the list and to be included alongside some of the classic volumes like The 5 Love Languages.
Every now and again my wife likes to remind me that, although I've written a lot of material (books and magazine articles) about marriage, I'm no expert. She tells me I don't know what I'm doing . . . so how can I presume to help others find lasting joy and happiness? Isn't that why people use eHarmony.com instead of buying my book?
"You're no expert," my wife reminds me.
"Hey," I tell her, "I'm an expert, baby! I know what I'm doing in this marriage gig. I made a list. You want lasting joy and happiness based on the nine principles of compatibility . . . you go with eHarmony.com. You want hot lovin' every night, you go with me!"
Of course, she laughs. What else can she do in the face of such extravagant lies? And how can a man like me convince others that marriage isn't 90% boredom, 9% restaurant selection, and 1% poetry? That's why I wrote the book . . . to explore these dark places others won't talk about and expose the myths that eHarmony.com, Match.com, and FindYourSoulMateAfterYourThirdDivorce.com won't touch.
I'm wondering if those old European nations didn't have it right centuries ago. Some dad bribes another dad in a neighboring village to take his daughter off his hands . . . and a marriage is born. The two people move into a mud hut together, are showered with gifts of dull cutlery, cheap towels, and espresso makers and, in time, learn to love each other. That's because there is no one else to love, and because the nearest Sam's Club is over five hundred miles away. They make a go of it, have fourteen children, two dogs, and a pony and live into their eighties without the benefit of social security or AAA motorclub.
When their great-grandchildren ask them, "How did you stay married so long," the old couple just shrugs and says, "That's what marriage is. What else is it supposed to be?"
That's the book I'm writing now. But it won't make anyone's list. And my wife will never go for it.