Onward and upward. time passes quickly here in Los Angeles.
It passes especially quickly in show business, which eats up your time like a ravenous tiger coming upon a limping gazelle in a deserted savannah in east Africa.
Time passes doubly quickly when you are past middle age, which my wife and I are.
When you’re 30 and you use up a year writing a screenplay, then another year going from studio to studio to sell it, and then another year litigating to keep the entity you sold your screenplay to from stealing your credit and your pay (and this can and does routinely happen), then, if you assume you will have a work life of another 40 years, you have used up about, very roughly, a few percent of your work life on this one project.
But if you are 60 and have the same sort of Hollywood travails, you have used up about one third of your remaining work life. My point is not to avoid Hollywood.
It can be a lot of fun. I’ve done it, and while it’s often like torture, it is also a lot like party time. But most of us don’t go into Hollywood.
Most of us, however, either want to get married or do get married.
If you get married while you are young and realize it was a mistake, you can get out of it while you still have enough time to find another spouse and make that marriage work.
To do that, you should have some idea before you actually say "I do" of whether the marriage will last.
I, your humble servant, have some useful experience.
I got married when I was still a student (a law student) and got divorced only a few years later. However, when I remarried, I remarried the exact same woman, my glorious wife, Alexandra Denman, and now that marriage has lasted happily for 55 years.
The difference was experience. I learned what worked and what did not work in my life and loving companionship. My wife is fantastically beautiful and always has been.
But I learned that her beauty was not enough to make the marriage last.
Now, I will shift gears and tell you what I learned in the few years we were together the first time. I start with a brilliant saying from one of the smartest human beings I have ever met, Ona Murdoch Hamilton.
Ona’s apothegm was simply that the surest way to learn if you have a long future together is if you really enjoy yourself when you are together just for the few hours or days you have together before you get married.
This sounds simple but is really extremely deep.
It would warn you, for instance, that if your future spouse drinks too much too fast, it’s a "beware" sign.
It would tell you that if you have powerful philosophical differences — for example, one a conservative, one a leftist — there is trouble ahead there, too.
If your future spouse is a slob, then unless you have live-in help, stay away.
If your future spouse spends too much and does not earn a dime, then unless he or she has inherited money, also stay off .
I will have many more soon. But overarching everything is God’s great gift to those wise enough to accept it: patience.
To accept what your spouse has and does, and still love her for who she is, is among the greatest gifts the Lord God has given us.
Ben Stein is a writer, an actor, and a lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes hired him as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.
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