From self-help books about moving cheese to Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura or any of the pseudo-shrinks in between, few ever find anything more than debit card receipts, frustration and a deepening sense of self-loathing whose voice sounds like Morgan Freeman.
“Have you lost your ever-lovin’ mind?” it says. “You can learn more about love and happiness from an episode of Good Times than from these quacks.”
That’s your conscience talking.
I’m guilty of it, too. When it comes to unlocking the mysteries of marital bliss, I look to one man: Garth Brooks.
Hold on … just hear me out.
True, the country crooner defines cheesy, but that doesn’t mean his music is without merit, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Exhibit A: “Unanswered Prayers.” This little ditty about a happily married man who runs into an old flame during a high school football game speaks volumes about how sometimes love is best when it’s unrequited.
As of Friday, Oct. 22, I have been married for five years.
Five years! That’s longer than it took for me to quit smoking.
This from the doofus who, as a misanthropic college kid, once railed openly about the “fraud of marriage,” while also talking about how “contentment led to spiritual and emotional death.”
For some reason drinking keg beer out of a trash can had turned me into a dark poet the likes of which would’ve gotten Anne Sexton elected Miss Congeniality.
It was also the voice of the young, dumb, easily wounded and often distrustful. Sadly, I believed what I spewed, mainly because I’d loved and lost (and no, it ain’t better), so I decided to give up on the whole thing.
Sure there were other relationships, but everything had an expiration date. I even once proposed to a girl — totally hypothetically and accidentally, only she missed that part of the conversation. We broke up three days later.
Marriage wasn’t something I wanted. It seemed too hard, too old-fashioned, too contrived, lasted too long and getting out of it required signatures and paperwork. The deepest commitment I’d been willing to make was sharing a dresser drawer. Now, that’s romance.
I was a hypocrite-in-training. All it took was one blind date to show me the flaws in my philosophy and set my life on course.
Since that first date and the six-month courtship (including a brief break-up that built the foundation for a strong friendship), My Lovely Wife has brought me more joy and happiness than I thought possible back when weekends started on Thursday afternoons and five hours was considered a “full load.”
She is the love of my life.
True, it’s not all poetry, champagne and love songs. Sometimes it’s leftovers, beer and reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but no matter what happens, we face this world together … and that’s what makes life worth living.
While I may have never run into any ex-girlfriends at hometown football games (thanks to those restraining orders and the fear of being pelted with corn dogs), sometimes I still thank God for unanswered prayers … and the one that came true.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com.