By Gwen S., Clarke
When October 10 rolled around back in 2010, the seismograph at Mount Palomar must have reacted to the stampede of couples heading down that slippery slope called a wedding aisle. The science of numerology decreed that the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth decade boded well for couples contemplating matrimony, making it an “AHA” moment for decision. So, there they went, in mind-boggling, all-time-record numbers .
My dictionary says numerology is “a system of occultism involving divination by numbers.” Isn’t it possible, in light of the current divorce rate, that something other than blind luck (though it worked for us 63 years ago), or an occult theory might be a good idea? Having seven grandchildren of marriageable age, I am on a mission to add stability to that shaky institution.
Have you heard the current buzz-phrase “mission statement”? It’s as ubiquitous as the disavowals after insurance company commercials. Hospitals, research facilities, and philanthropic organizations have mission statements. Schools have them, so do churches, civic groups, and banks. Even that mother of all missions, the Alamo, feels called upon to make the ultimate redundancy, a Mission mission statement.
Lest you think that I have a problem with an institution stating good intent and high-minded goals, let me assure you it’s just the opposite. I am having problems with society not seeing the forest while the cry of “TIIIIMBERRRR!!!!” is coming from all directions. It occurs to me that applying the concept of mission statements to one institution in particular could change the course of life and love as we know it. The ultimate institution has yet to be heard from: the institution of marriage.
It’s kind of a “Duh!” moment, when you think about it. Here’s a recipe for disaster: a man and a woman blithely planning to spend the rest of their lives together while raising yet another generation. And this contract for the future is based on what? Sex appeal? Sense of style? Peer pressure? Loneliness? Winning a website love lottery?
It’s altogether possible that satellites in outer space would record the reverberations were every couple on the verge of committing matrimony to simultaneously sit themselves down with a pen and yellow legal pad and try to thrash out a unified statement of goals. As a radio commentator once blurted out while witnessing an exploding blimp: Oh, the humanity!!!
It’s obvious that the concept of a Matrimonial Mission Statement hasn’t dawned on any one yet, or the greed-buzzards would already be circling. Imagine the marketing possibilities for bridal departments—embossed white leather notebooks (better make them loose-leaf!), gold erasable pens, even a computer game or two. You Bet Your Wife? The Splice is Right???
Who wants to wager that more time and consideration goes into selecting china and silver than determining which in-laws get visits on what holidays, or whether money for recreation should be a major budget item. Never mind the biggies like children, how many, how soon, how close together, and how the little darlings will be fed, educated, much less disciplined.
In all seriousness, let us sit and reason together. Some more salient topics for this new speed bump on the road to the altar might be politics, belief in the hereafter, or lack of same. What’s funny, or more to the point, what isn’t? Who should balance the check book? Take down the Christmas tree? (Our first one stayed up until May, and was a neighborhood curiosity.)
A few absolutes are in order, lest the debacle that put the Alamo on the map in the first place pale in comparison:
1. A united front in the face of friends, in-laws, and especially children, who have an innate mastery of divide-and-conquer tactics.
2. Whether belief in a divinity is even up for discussion!
3. What is the basic definition of basic necessities?
4. Is meal-time a matter of eating to live or living to eat?
5. Individual privacy. Said a friend whose master suite sported one small double bed, but two luxurious bathrooms, “I vowed to share Curt’s bed, but not his bathroom.”
6. Division of labor, or is there such a thing as “woman’s work”?
7. Money and the power of veto.
8. Educational goals.
9. Accountability—for time, for mistakes, for walkin’-around money.
10. What constitutes security?
Then, there are the “pickies,” like who controls the remote control? What papers and magazines are worthy of subscription? My mother was a gentlewoman in the truest sense of the word, soft-spoken and stoic. The only pieces of marital advise she gave me were never to be responsible for getting my husband out of bed in the morning, and having my own bank account. Small things that loom large in the historical perspective!
How many couples head down that quicksand-laden aisle with no more concern for the future than how long they are going to be paying for the wedding bash? (The going tab today averages more than $26,000—a fact that could lead to an elopement stampede, should some of that hot courting blood accidentally make it to the brain!)
How to begin this Mission Statement? How about “We, two people, in order to form a more perfect union…”
NOTE: A continuing writer for Blue Ridge Country Magazine for more than 20 years, Gwen Clarke has lived with her husband, Richard, in the Dobyns community of Patrick County since 1988. She has also written several feature stories for The Enterprise.