A young person asked me to write about marriage. They've been married about 20 minutes - OK, maybe it's been a year or two - and like most married couples have experienced their fair (or unfair) share of ups and downs. Like most of us.

Thing is, I'm no more an expert on marriage than anyone else. In a few short days my wife and I will celebrate the 30th anniversary of getting all gussied up and saying I do, I will and yes dear. That does not make the little woman or me an expert. It just means that we have found ways to stay together (and avoid harsh outcomes like the aforementioned little woman strangling me).

So I'm happy to share my observations on married life with my young friend, as long as it's clearly stated for the record that like most husbands, I don't have a clue.

First off, marriage isn't easy. Maybe for some it is, but those are probably the same folks who can hear Disney employees tell them to have a magical day for the 50th time in 15 minutes and not want to pull their mouse ears off their head and stuff them into their little mousey . . . never mind.

Marriage is 24-7-365. It is constant. Always there. Never going away. Oh, I suppose for some folks, that's not true. Actually, if you look at statistics, it's not true for one out of every two, but hey, I'm a hopeless romantic so let's be optimistic. Let's also hope that of those one out of every two, they aren't married to each other.

If you want an easy answer, how about this: You would do well to remember a lesson my grandparents understood so very well (regardless of the subject). You get out of something what you put into it. No more, no less.

I know what you're thinking, that's too simple. OK, it is. Besides, that would make this the shortest column I ever wrote.

So let's get back to a word from a few lines up, constant. In my oh, so clueless opinion, that's the key. Marriage, my young friend, has to be constant if it is to be successful at all. It cannot be turned on and off like a light switch. It can't go on when you want the safety and illumination provided by the warm glow of light and back off when you want things that only come out after dark. It's the lack of constancy, I believe, that allows light and dark to mix, leaving things a muddled gray. Nothing grows well in gray.

This is not to say that feelings and emotions are always constant. Far from it. There are definitive highs to marriage as well as lows. Just know that it's not the peaks and valleys that are the norm. What is? Constancy.

If someone doesn't want a constant relationship, a constant companion, another opinion besides their own, a warm body to put cold feet on, a person to share the bathroom with and argue about who gets the remote, then why get married in the first place? If it's not about constancy, then dating would be just fine. It would certainly be less stressful. Might even be cheaper, too.

But then there would be no constancy. And it's in that constancy where the core of marriage dwells. Are there bad times? Sure. It's life, right? Goods, bads, ups, downs. You get that. But understand that constancy is where a connection with another person takes root and grows. Truth to tell, it cannot be obtained in any other way. It can't be bought, borrowed, faked or stolen. Each partner gets it the old-fashioned way, they earn it. They earn it by showing up each day, by being there for someone other than themselves. They earn it with good deeds and bad. They earn what they get and get what they earn, usually. (I say usually because like life, there are no absolutes). Things tend to even out over time because it's over time where the relationship is built, torn down and built back up. During all this there is love and passion and happiness and confusion and anger and frustration and every other emotion you can think of. I hate to be repetitive, but don't forget, it's life. Life goes up and down over time, right? Over time? Sure.

Time is the one thing that so many don't give marriage and yet it is the only thing that can give constancy.

So my young friend, there is your story on marriage. It's about time and constancy and getting out what you put in. Sorry if you were looking for a magic answer. If you want magic, find someone with mouse ears. And try not to stuff them anywhere.



Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.