Christopher Hitchens: Can You Predict A Successful Marriage?

Whether he’s the one can’t be known, argued twice-married writer, Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens passed away this week at the age of 62.

There are some lessons that can’t be transmitted down the generations, and the most conspicuous of these is the choice of your life partner.

There’s no damn heritability. In fact, this is a case where you can’t even profit by other people’s mistakes. Which of us has not seen a friend whose parents didn’t get along make the very same blunder? Which of us has not seen a person from a happy family ignore her mother’s fine example? Which of us has not known a couple, contentedly living in sin, fly apart as soon as they tie the legal knot? All I have learned, from absorbing moisture on both shoulders, is that what you find out about others is almost never what you would have expected. And as for yourself…

You learn as a child that a paper cut can be more painful than a badly banged elbow, and that a tiny injustice can ruin your whole year, and then you forget this as life gets bigger. And then you learn it all over again. The domestic devil is in the details: The negligible thing that wasn’t even worth mentioning. The annoying remark at the dinner party. The uneven division of labor. I don’t need to go on about this; everybody knows, and has their cherished instance. (Did I just actually write cherished?) If pressed to give an example—and gallantry becomes my enemy here—I do recall how, in the case of someone very dear to me, a certain unpunctuality and forgetfulness seemed to be a vital part of her carefree charm. Fine, as long as you don’t mind that much about punctuality yourself (it’s a paltry virtue, but excuse me, I do possess it). Funny how small things can become really quite big ones. Read more…

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