Half a life

Posted Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Divorce and Marriage, Not South Carolina Specific, Of Interest to General Public

I was 9,930 days old when I married Karen Anne Klickstein on December 30, 1989.  As of March 8, 2017, I had been married 9,930 days–half a life.

That day’s approach had me reflecting on the meaning of marriage. I spend much of my time working with people in unhappy marriages. Sometimes they are certain their marriage is over and are ready to move on (and elsewhere). Sometimes they struggle over whether and how they might repair their marriage. Sometimes the end of their marriage comes as a shock that makes them question the very validity of their perception of how they’ve lived their life. No one–even the folks on their 6th divorce–ever really expect to be in my office when they first arrive.

The institution of marriage is both deeply unnatural and deeply human. Intimately living with a single other human being for the majority of one’s adult life is extremely rare are among sexually reproducing animals and does not appear to come naturally. Yet almost every culture has developed some form of pair bonding for household creation.

The concept of marriage is not necessarily tied to parenting. In Genesis, both the first human couple and the first Jewish marriage did not initially anticipate child rearing. God created Eve as a helpmate for Adam–sex and childbirth not becoming part of their relationship until after they ate the forbidden fruit. Abraham marries a quite elderly, and apparently barren, Sarah. While child rearing clearly had some impetus for the creation of marriage, even the ancients recognized a significant companionship aspect to marriage. Even if one marries with the expectation of raising children together, one also marries for companionship.

Choosing early in one’s adulthood to have a companion for life is a remarkably optimistic act. Every lengthy marriage will be filled with frustrations and disappointments. Before one marries one can try to anticipate what those frustrations and disappointments might be–and forgo the marriage if what one anticipates is too much to bear. But humans have a remarkable ability to surprise. Every wedding is a leap into the unknown.

I was nine years into legal adulthood, and a long way from maturity (likely still am), when I decided whom to marry. While I thought I put a great deal of thought into whom and when to marry, my 54 year-old self is shocked at the brashness and naivety of my 27 year-old self. This doesn’t mean I regret the marriage–I don’t at all. I am simply shocked that I ever felt ready to spend 50+ years in close quarters with another human being–and was quite thrilled that another human being might feel ready to do the same with me.

For someone who makes a nice living helping folks tear their own marriages asunder, the concept of marriage continues to fascinate. I’m completely uncynical about weddings. Hoping and expecting that one’s life may be immeasurably improved by spending countless days [yes, I know I’ve counted–humor me] in close proximately and mutual co-dependance with another person may be the defining characteristic of being human.

8 thoughts on Half a life

  1. Joe Mendelsohn says:


    JOE M

  2. Bernie Ferrone says:

    Well spoken. You are certainly blessed to have the marriage that you have. Enjoy this day!

  3. Tamar BenArdout says:

    Greg-a truly delightful post! I love and admire you and Karen’s relationship. You are inspiring.

  4. Matt Stimac says:

    Well said Greg. It seems to me after being on this planet for 73 years that the hardest thing to do is be married and coexist with another in the same house for your entire life. Somewhere along the way two people quite trying and as the marriage slips into oblivion the only recourse seems to be divorce and then before you know your right back in the same situation. A never ending cycle. Speaking for myself I feel and find myself as poor husband material. I find my freedom from being in relationships that end up hateful rather than fulfilling isn’t worth the effort to try and save a fruitless situation. I envy people that have the ability to live together and stay married for their entire lives. With that said I also find that most marriages that have stood the test of time have not been that harmonious. Right now my peace and my freedom from strife is paramount; that and helping my son becoming a young man and being with my three daughters and my grand children. I do not envy your job Greg seeing families torn apart on a daily basis. God Bless you for helping people at a terrible time.

  5. DAD says:

    Greg great post and congratulations on the milestone of 9,930 days of marriage to Karen. As Mom and I approach our 55th anniversary (over 20,000 days of marriage to the same woman) there are times when the thorns of the roses prick the marriage a bit but then when reflecting on what is important in a marriage the roses just like the marriage are beautiful with a sweet fragrance.

  6. DAD says:

    Greg I loved your blog comments. Congratulation on your double half life. Half pre marriage and half post marriage .As your father who next month will have been married 55years (over 20,000 days) I can certainly attest to the mired of issues that come up in a long marriage. As they say marriage and life is not a bed of roses but even though the rose has thorns and occasionally can cause a painful prick the rose in the final analysis beautiful flower lovely to look at with a sweet fragrance.


  7. L.A. Brigman says:


    Interestingly, the when Eve (which means “life”) joined Adam (which means “earth”), it is true that she was designed to help and care for Adam. And had she done so — never succumbing to the serpent and tasting the forbidden fruit, perhaps the earth would be a beautiful and pristine paradise. But because she sought to know the unknowable; to dive into the mystery and seek out the greatest pleasure and knowledge that she could, and then convinced Adam to join her (because Adam needed a little nudge to be productive), sure, she may have doomed the earth, but that, my friends, is living. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  8. Mindy Schneider says:

    You are the best.
    I enjoy reading everything you publish. Your articles are so educational and so well written.

    Thanks for giving all of us, something worth reading.

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