The wife and I were married more than 14 years ago. Our rabbi was a lovely man who braved a snow storm to help us tie the knot. During the ceremony, between Catherine and I walking up the aisle and breaking the glass, the rabbi said something I’ve repeated a solid 764 times: “In marriage, two become one.”
I’ve repeated this when I’ve burned the chicken. “Well, it’s on both of us. Remember—the rabbi said two become one.”
I’ve repeated this when I’ve left the bathroom smelling particularly bad. “Well, it’s on both of us. Remember—the rabbi said two become one.”
I’ve repeated this when I’ve missed a deadline, yelled at one of our kids, spilled laundry detergent all over the floor. embarrassed myself in public. “Well, it’s on both of us. Remember—the rabbi said two become one.”
Truth be told, it’s bullshit. Marriage is a partnership, not a merging. I vividly recall the aftermath of 9/11, when I needed to walk the city and see the flyers and smell the rubble, and Catherine needed to stay inside and watch anything on TV but the news. We are very different people, with different ways of thinking, different approaches to certain problems, different ways of handling stress and joy and family strife. Again, marriage is a partnership, not a merging.
What marriage also is, however, is a shedding of self. We spend much of our lives focusing first and foremost on self: My career. My clothing. My car. My apartment. Then, one day, you fall in love, and you realize (oddly at first) that you want your partner’s success more than your very own; that if she’s able to soar, you’d be beyond giddy. That, truly, is marriage.
Wait. I’m babbling. I usually call her “The Wife” here, but “The Wife” is named Catherine Pearlman, and yesterday evening—after months upon months upon months of stress and angst and struggle—she submitted the draft to her first book. Catherine works as a family coach, the the text is (without giving away too much) an instructional guide to parenting. It’s truly dazzling work, and as I’ve watched her late nights and pained expressions and strings of self-doubt, I’ve repeatedly found myself thinking, “Wow!” Just—”Wow!” I mean, I know how hard it is to write a book—but at least I’m a journalist. Catherine is a first-time author without a formal writing background (but with a book deal). Yet somehow, she pieced this marvelous work together, chapter by chapter, and created something that (I promise you) will blow you away.
When she started writing, I liked that Catherine would know how it feels to sit before a laptop, desperate for 60,000 words to appear. But that vanished, and by the time she submitted the draft, I was simply overcome with pride.
The pride of a husband.