I’m not exactly sure what got us started on the conversation. Somehow, though, in the middle of the day, my oldest, Abbi, and I were talking while driving in the car about marriage.
What’s the old phrase, “I’m a one and done kinda guy/gal”? I honestly always thought that was my situation. The conversation ventured into territory that, more than a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have tread: celebrity gossip. I hate it. I particularly hate how people tend to lump my work into the same category as the ghouls at TMZ who hire teenagers with Flip cameras to chase any famous person they see at LAX and ask them ridiculous questions. The fourth estate this is not.
But my conversation this day veered toward the fact that Amy Poehler and her husband, actor/comedian Will Arnett are getting a divorce. This actually saddened Abbi a bit. She is a huge SNL fan, even though it’s – to sound like a fuddy duddy – nowhere near as good as it used to be. In her 17-year-old mind this was a marriage that should have worked.
“Although,” she said, as her face took a pensive look, “they both are so freaking busy I could see how it could happen.”
But I looked at Abbi and basically told her I thought that was a poor excuse. Lack of time? None of us really has time. If you’re going to get married the idea is that you figure out those issues. I’m not trying to go on some sort of insane conservative “family values” rant here. I don’t tend to put my politics, middling as they are, into these writings. I do, however, stoutly shout that getting married isn’t something you just “decide” to do. Marriage, more than your career, is work. Tons of work. It’s not something to be entered into lightly. That’s what so many people do.
Without realizing it, my daughter had reached a conclusion I didn’t think she’d get without many, many talks.
“I’d rather marry somebody I was friends with first.”
Bear in mind, Abbi’s like me. Both of us loved Norah Ephron, but neither of us thought it was true that you cannot be friends with the opposite sex without . . . well . . . sex getting in the way. I have a number of female friends and I’ve never attempted to get in bed with any of them. Of course, I also realize I’m not exactly the most attractive specimen on the planet, so I don’t really believe that it’s an issue of attraction there, either.
But still, I go with Abbi there. Andrea, my wife, and I were very good friends before we stopped dipping our toe in the relationship waters and decided to just submerge ourselves completely. So many people think we just had “love at first sight,” particularly her friends and family. The thing is . . . we worked together and went out with friends and tossed sarcastic barbs at each other – not flirtatious ones, either – for those two years first. I was a friend, of course I wasn’t on their radar.
After marrying Andrea, I came early on to the realization that falling in love is easy. It really is. God help me, Garrison Keiilor will want to lynch me, but I learned that early on while in junior high in the musical Shenendoah. There’s a scene where the father is on the porch with his son, smoking a cigar, and the boy tells his father he’s in love.
“I know you love her, son, but do you like her?”
That’s the key, guys. You have to like the person you’re with. Love is easy, but if you enjoy their company and want to be around them all the time – you put in the work and the effort. Sure, there were times – a lot of times – that I didn’t like Andrea very much. I could be very pig headed. She could be very cruel. I could be unfeeling. But at the end of the day I always wanted to call her – when things went right, or wrong. She was my friend.
So maybe, as the saying goes, first comes love and then comes marriage. But I think the whole “you ruin the friendship” line is a cop out. If you’ve got those feelings already, the friendship’s either going to blossom to more or it’s doomed. There’s no going back.
I loved Andrea, and as hard as it was, we lasted 18 years. Would have been more had we had more time.
But as I said, love is easy. Friendship and love . . . it’s harder, but it’s amazing.