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An annoying round of applause

January 6, 2010

A relatively new member was introducing himself to my local Rotary Club the other day.  He told us where he grew up, went to school, career achievements, all the basic information.  Next he went on to tell us about his family.  “My wife Laura and I have been married twenty-seven years.”  And the entire room broke out in applause.

It never fails to annoy me.  Like we should give this guy a trophy for staying married to the same woman all that time.

I really don’t see how marital longevity is to be regarded as an achievement that deserves more admiration than say, how much money someone earns.  Don’t people realize that couples who stay together – assuming their marriage is a good one – are simply more fortunate than so many of the rest of us?  

Or let’s assume that the couple made each other miserable for a good many of those twenty-seven years.  Does the applause suggest there was something virtuous in staying unhappy, just to avoid the dreaded “D” word?

Personally, I’d rather applaud an act of courage, than years of long-suffering virtue.

Am I missing something here?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Smith permalink
    January 7, 2010 6:33 pm

    I get your point, Jessica, but comparing it to “how much money a person earns” negates the whole premise. Being a Bernie Maddoff or an Enron or UBS executive certainly isn’t comparable to an act of courage. Want to rethink this one?

    • January 7, 2010 9:01 pm

      Always glad to have your comments, Linda, even if you disagree with me.

    • January 12, 2010 7:40 pm

      Please note my response to both your and Like a Single Mom’s comments on my recent blog entry.

  2. Karyn permalink
    January 12, 2010 11:01 am

    I think they were lucky AND they deserved a round of applause. Even the best marriages require positivity and dedication, and constant vigilance for identifying and trouble-shooting potential problems.

  3. likeasinglemom permalink
    January 12, 2010 3:06 pm

    This is an odd commentary. Who said anything about the amount of money people earn and, is the amount of money people earn really a true reflection of their value or contribution or worth? Methinks there’s a hint of “early experience” tainting an otherwise lovely thing….why not clap for a guy who has been married when so many marriages fail? The knee-jerk reaction to minimize the marriage (ie they made themselves miserable, or “stayed unhappy” rather than divorce) is what makes married people think unmarried people are damaged.

    • January 12, 2010 7:39 pm

      Dear Pamela and Linda,

      Like Harry Reid, I believe I may have made a “regretful choice of language” when I compared admiration for the length of a couple’s marriage to how much money one earns. Of course they are unrelated. My point was simpy this: if we don’t applaud someone for the size of their income (and we don’t, rightly so), why are we applauding the length of a marriage? What troubles me is regarding the length of a marriage as some kind of noble achievement that many of the rest of us, despite the best of intentions, failed to achieve. Let me just say that for those of us who will never be able to boast that kind of track record, it can be hurtful to sit there listening to that applause. It is for me, every time.

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