Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Waiting Room Thoughts: Marriage

The other day, I had to bring my wife to the hospital for surgery. This is usually way more difficult (emotionally) for me than it is for her. As a nurse, she is at home in the hospital and her familiarity with procedures and the overall atmosphere makes her sort of nonchalant about the whole process. (She's home and doing very well now.) 

Me? They say: "We have your phone number. The surgery will take about two hours. You can go home or to a Starbuck's and we will call you when it is done. She'll be in recovery for an hour anyway." Nope. Ain't happening. 

I have to stay in the waiting room. Something feels wrong about being farther away from her than necessary during a major operation. So, I spent three-and-a-half hours (she took longer than usual) pacing, watching awful morning TV programming (why are soap operas lighted so minimally?) and absently reading a Star Wars book that a student had given to me. ("You HAVE to read this Mr. Mat. It's great." Any decent teacher knows that this means I really did have to read it. Fortunately, the dude who wrote it is, at least, a pro; the book is what my favorite professor used to call "chewing gum for the brain" -- not a bad time-killer, in the end.)

It's always an emotional moment, sending one's loved one back into surgery, especially now, at the tail end of COVID, when one is not allowed into the pre-op room. (For my wife, it's "Meh. It's surgery." For me, it's, "Things happen. Anaesthesia is dangerous. People get infections...")  I always feel a quick, strong rush of emotion after she is gone. As I sit down, I usually reflexively say an "Our Father" to myself because, while I have never really been the religiously demonstrative type, I have always been faithful. It's at that point that I am generally able to pull myself together. And fret...with some modicum of dignity. 

Sitting in waiting rooms does lead one to think, though. And think, I did. 

We were the first ones there, arriving at six in the morning, so I watched husband after husband bring his wife in. I saw at least five long, affectionate, embraces goodbye. I heard accompanying, whispered, I-love-yous. I saw the husbands sit (they didn't want to leave, either) and wring their proverbial hands, staring uninterestedly at morning talk shows. They cared, as I did. They were in love, as I am. They were married these women, in the truest sense of the word: joined together, body and soul, and the breaking of that connection hurt. Daily life might not do it, but risk (or, at least, perceived risk) brings out the bond. 

Of course, these five husbands and myself are only anecdotal evidence (only a sample of the massive population of the world) but it raised a question: If these randomly-gathered people and myself are so clearly in love after so many years, how real is the media portrayal of the decline of marriage?

TV and Internet are dangerous windows. They are, in the end, a tiny portal of information, filtered through a tiny representative portion of the world's population, represented by the producers, writers, presenters, etc. They are the gatekeepers of information. They don't represent the collective voice of the world, at all. And neither do we six husbands represent all of the husbands in the world, but a quick, random sample might just imply that marriage and love are okay and they, the media, who have always favored the grim over the optimistic, might just be forcing a tainted characterization. 

If fifty percent of marriages fail, it doesn't mean the other fifty percent are not good, real, good-old-fashioned bonds, right? There is a lot of love out there. Maybe it's not so dire. 


  1. This piece gives an in depth look of how strong Love is between the husband and wife is and really symbolizes the vows that you say on your wedding day “in sickness and in health” yet another great piece Mr. Matt

    - A student from your 8th period class