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Marriage

02/24/06 12:00AM By Madeleine M. Kunin
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(HOST) Recently commentator Madeleine Kunin discovered that marriage may be a little like a fine wine - age improves the flavor.

(KUNIN) When a young couple gets married, they start to dream about the family they will create, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

When an older couple gets re-married, like John Hennessey and I did recently, the family is all there.

We totaled six children and seven grandchildren, a brother and sister, and more. Almost all participated in the wedding ceremony by reading a poem, a prayer, a psalm or making music.

Unlike most weddings, this one included Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat" read by my three oldest grandchildren, each one reading a stanza.

And we did dance by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.

Getting married at our age, poses the question, which most people politely don't ask, which is "Why get married?"

Today, living together is so common that getting married is sometimes considered a novel idea.

Yet, people still get married even though today "living in sin" is no longer sinful.

One reason to get married is that it makes introductions easier. We still don't have a common language for the live-in relationship, struggling to use "partner," "companion," boyfriend or girlfriend.

The nouns husband and wife are understood.

Marriages are announced.

Living together is talked about.

Of course, the significance of marriage is much deeper than that.

I understand that people can be strongly committed to one another without marriage. I have always believed that and thought it was true for me.

In our time, and at our age, there is no pressure to get married for societal or parental reasons.

Therefore, the decision to get married is even more meaningful. It's a free choice made by two people who want that visible bond of love, sharing their lives as equal partners.

What is surprising is that in this age of relaxed social norms, family, friends, and even strangers, express unrestricted delight when they learn of our marriage. Their smiles embrace us with their warmth.

Perhaps expressing their joy in our joy reaffirms that love is possible at any age - a rejuvenating message at a time when love seems to be lost more often than it is found.

Perhaps, we are all romantics at heart, loving the love story that takes place in real life - the ultimate reality show.

Marriage, when the couple is young, conjures up the vision of endless days ahead.

Getting married, when the couple is older, means time is shorter; each day is precious for what it is.Carpe Diem.

Older couples bring separate pasts to each other, but often discover a happy confluence of shared values and experiences, leading to endless conversations about everything - from careers and families - to books read, movies seen, places visited, and political views held.

Most importantly, getting married at any age, means a belief in the future, wanting to share it, and promising enduring love.

This is Madeleine May Kunin. Madeleine May Kunin is a former governor of Vermont.
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