Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Penguin Love

Last week Gene Weingarten used his nationally syndicated newspaper column to profess his love to his wife of twenty-five years. I don’t have quite that big an audience, but here is my tribute.

Today is my wedding anniversary. When people ask me how long I have been married, rather than doing the math, I just say, “All my adult life, and then some.” I met my wife when we were fifteen, and we started dating seriously at the end of our junior year in high school. We’ve had fights, some as recently as last week, but we have stayed together all that time, even when we were apart.

This is actually our nineteenth anniversary. Bill Cosby once wondered why anniversaries divisible by five are more important than other years. I think making a big deal out of prime number anniversaries would make more sense. Look at the sequence for the first fifty years:

Fives: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50
Primes: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47

Not only do you get more. They’re front-loaded towards the early years, which may help couples through the hard early years.

If you have seen The March of the Penguins, you know that penguins don’t celebrate anniversaries because they are serial monogamists. They mate for only one season, but for that season, they are the some of the most self-sacrificing devoted parents in the animal world.

Women seem to like the fact that the males actually hatch the eggs while the mothers go off and gorge themselves on fish. But once the mating season is over and their chick is self-sufficient, the penguin parents part ways forever and seek out new mates the next season. I don’t see penguins replacing swans or other mythically monogamous creatures as wedding cake toppers anytime soon.

Two of the most cherished foma in our society are that true love lasts forever and that everyone has one true soulmate. The divorce and remarriage statistics give lie to this. We are closer to the penguin serial monogamy than we care to admit. I prefer to look at the 50% divorce rate in glass-half-full mode. LOTS of marriages do last a long time and survive the raising of children. I intend to make my marriage one of those.

My son leaves for college in three years, but I am not going to go searching for another penguin. I’m too in love with the one I have.


Vics said...

I think a first marriage is like a first love - you never forget it, it hurts like hell when it's over but the second is so much better because you've learned from it.

...At least I hope so.

Spock said...

Hi here from Michele's. That was beautiful in a strange sort of way!! So glad you aren't a penguin!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post! Happy anniversary:)

Anonymous said...

I think you're right in that we don't have only one true soulmate, but they're much rarer than people think. And we're pretty easily blinded into thinking that someone with whom we're merely compatible is our "soulmate".

It sounds as though you've done well the first time around. Not like us ordinary schmucks.

Have a truly Prime (heh) Anniversary!

Star said...

Happy Anniversary. We were 15 and 16 when we met, 35 years ago. We've been married dor 33 of them, or a s you say all of our adult life.

Anonymous said...

oooh, I *like* the prime anniversary idea, not least because my third is coming up. I think you should make up a list of appropriate gifts for each.

I've decided to make my soul searching birthdays the dozens rather than the decades because they seem to belong to me rather than being so culturally contrived.

I've never been a believer in the soul mate concept, even when I was a young
un. Love is work, like anything else.

Last but not least, Happy Anniversary and congratulations.

Suburban Turmoil said...

That is wonderful. I hope you have a great anniversary and many happy years to come.

Michele sent me.

Anonymous said...

Ahh... if only all men were as amazing as you. Your wife is very fortunate. Wonderful post!

Shannon said...

I saw your blog from Michelles, nice thought Penguin love....Happy anniversary

Bonvallet said...

Happy Anniversary! Now I envy that kind of relationship. Meeting when you are young teens and staying together through all the years. Aaah.

Panthergirl said...

Aw... that is really great. (and that penguin love scene had me blubbering. I guess it should have been whales.)

Anonymous said...

auww that is soo sweet !
nice writing!!
my girlfriend calls me her penguin too :$
i think its soooo cute :):) she makes me smile all the time
there`s not better one than her ..

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