Marriage is a Rope

Writer Andre Dubus, master of dialogue, of marriage and its dissipations, pulled over years ago on an interstate as a good samaritan, was hit by a car and never walked again. Last night, I again reread his novella We Don’t Live Here Anymore, and I was thinking of this story at my child’s school this afternoon.

The afternoon was breezy and sunny. The children, from little kindergarteners to the big sixth-grade kids, were outside, chalking on the pavement, playing basketball, swinging, avoiding the wasps stirring in the heat.

One element of Dubus’s genius is to illuminate marriage as a unique configuration between two people with no cliches – all the loving, lust, resentment, frustrated dreams – woven into a particular rope of a marriage. Any rope put to use has its strength tested: will the material fray or snap? Or it is woven well and truly?

When I was a child, jump roping on a school playground, I imagined infinity was the  blue sky, never envisioning our interior worlds are as mysterious as the endless sky. On the way home, I bought my daughter her first cremee of the summer.

In a marriage there are all sorts of lies whose malignancy slowly kills everything, and that day I was running the gamut from the outright lie of adultery to the careful selectivity which comes when there are things that two people can no longer talk about. It is hard to say which kills faster but I would guess selectivity, because it is a surrender: you avoid touching wounds and therefore avoid touching the heart.

– Andre Dubus, We Don’t Live Here Anymore

Hardwick, Vermont