Percy Sledge: When A Man Loves A Woman
Last week, I went to a cocktail party celebrating the wedding of my wife’s cousin. It was unusual, in part because the bride and groom were in their mid-40s and getting married for the first time. Also, they aren’t going to be living together, at least not right away. Having been married for less than a month, the bride remarked to me that she found married life easy, and didn’t understand why people complained about it. I’ll assume that she was making a joke, because she’s a very smart woman. My only advice to her, speaking as someone who has been happily married for more than a quarter century, was that she should make sure that her husband was her best friend.
Which made me think about the fact that my wife, who is my best friend, and I have had incredible role models. Both of our parents have been happily married to their best friends for decades, and it is a rare thing these days for kids like mine to have parents and two sets of grandparents who are still married. The conventional wisdom is that 50% of marriages end with divorces, but that statistic is actually outdated and inflated. A recent article in the New York Times reported that the divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since. The article noted:
About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce.
So, maybe my potential grandchildren will not see a similar spate of divorces, which I think is a good thing, because of the reasons why couples are staying together (for the most part, not for religious reasons or fear of disapproval).
There are many things that I remember about my wedding, which, I remember to have been a fun party. First, how beautiful my soon-to-be wife was. Second, it was hot. Very hot, but she didn’t seem to sweat. Third, how I had not a single moment of “cold feet” (and not because, as I may have mentioned, it was hot). And I remember the first dance (to the extent I actually “danced”) with my wife to this great love song by Percy Sledge, who sadly passed away recently. (By the way, the original version of the song was re-recorded because the horns were out of tune. But the revised version was, through an error, not released, so the hit song is apparently flawed. I can’t tell, but I’m a drummer).
For some reason, over the years, my wife has commented to me about how she would have done things differently at our wedding if she was doing it today. And I get it, because our tastes and situations and attitudes have changed, but it always seemed to me to be a waste of time to think about it. What’s done is done, and we enjoyed it then. Interestingly, though, I don’t think that she said she regretted picking this song. Because it really is about a man loving a woman, and not vice versa. Not to mention, most of the lyrics are about the love-besotted singer overlooking the woman’s bad behavior. And if you know my wife, you know that she is a true feminist, so it wouldn’t have surprised me if she had reconsidered that choice.
But it is a soulful love song, and I agree with its first lines:
When a man loves a woman
Can't keep his mind on nothing else
He'll trade the world
For the good thing he's found
Another memorable thing about our wedding was the toast given by the maid of honor, the very same cousin whose cocktail party we attended last week. As I have previously discussed, , my wife and her cousin traveled up to Connecticut for the wedding a few days before I did. It was during one of the hottest stretches ever recorded to that point in the Northeast, and the two of them sang together in the car. I believe (and I didn’t mention this the last time) that they had car trouble, making the fact that one of the songs they sang, R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” very appropriate. Her cousin worked the song into the toast, and last week, my wife returned the favor in her toast. So, here, as a bonus, is the other song that reminds me of my wedding. And it is a video, uploaded to YouTube by the record label, not a link, because the last time, I got in trouble.