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Why get married?

A conflict between convenience and covenant

Why get married?

(Krieg Barrie)

Seventh in a once-a-quarter series of short short fiction …

On their first day as Yale students, David and Aisha happened to stand next to each other in front of the Nathan Hale statue. She wore a hijab. He wore Bermuda shorts. They both read Nathan Hale’s reaction to the British army’s death sentence: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” David stared at Aisha and wisecracked, “My only regret is that I’ll have but one wife to gain for my comfort.” Aisha stalked away.

A year later they happened to sit next to each other in a Chinese 1 class. This time they both wore jeans. Aisha wore a scarf. When the professor said they’d need to spend two hours every day copying Chinese ideograms, David didn’t come back.

After graduation he joined J. Putterman, the company that sells golf clubs and clothing through a catalog with fanciful stories. David excelled at writing lines like, “After a hole-in-one, Absalom put on his authentic cowboy shirt. His hands looked bigger. Was that damsel over there giving him a come-hither look? Yes, and he knew what to do.”

‘Way to go, champ. How to weaponize the gospel.’

Meanwhile, Aisha went to China and taught English in Chengdu. She enjoyed the spicy smell of mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper in restaurants selling wontons and pork. She no longer thought much about Allah. Once, prodded by her best student, she visited a house church and heard a sermon comparing Jesus to Isa, the name for Jesus the Quran uses 187 times. The big difference: The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God.

Aisha found this “Son of God” concept weird but fascinating. She walked out with a Bible and read it. She was amazed that it made perfect sense to her. One year later Aisha flew home, expelled as part of a government crackdown on “American missionary-agitators.” Unemployed in New York, she grabbed on to the first job offered her—writing catalog copy for J. Putterman, reporting to David.

We need not list the cute incidents that happened on their way to falling in love and, as is now sadly customary, sleeping together while unmarried. Aisha periodically dragged David to a monthly Bible study and mused about covenant marriage versus consumerist cohabiting, but he told her, “I’m happy just as I am.” So let us cut to a May day one year later when David saw an email from Sheila, a cute intern. She attached her draft of a catalog tale starring a golfer whose shot slices over a privacy fence into a nearby backyard. Predictable result: The golfer climbs the fence wearing his Putterman Power Slacks and impresses a sunbathing damsel.

The story’s premise was slushy and the writing sloppy, but Aisha, now associate editor, tried to rescue Sheila’s effort. She gave up. David saw a way he could make it work and sent it forward to publication. As he brushed his teeth that night, David cheerily told Aisha what he had done. She exploded: “I spent an hour on it. She has no talent. When I’ve decided a story won’t work, why are you second-guessing me?”

David said he merely wanted to help a struggling young writer who happened to be female. The mattress he and Aisha shared had a featherbed top. Over the next three nights they created body-sized depressions on the left and right sides, with a ridge in the middle. On the fourth evening they went to Aisha’s Bible study, during which participants could bring up passages they had found particularly meaningful.

David read from Luke, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” David said, “When editing I always try to give young writers second chances.”

At the food break Aisha told him, “Way to go, champ. How to weaponize the gospel. Congratulations.”

When they reassembled, Aisha pointed the group to Judges, Chapter 19, where a Levite pushes his concubine toward vicious men who rape her: She dies. “Bet he wouldn’t have done that if they were married,” Aisha said.

The next morning David went to 47th Street in Manhattan, the Diamond District, and bought Aisha an engagement ring.


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  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Fri, 05/19/2017 05:50 am

    I was talking to a woman at work that I've known for 10 years. I knew she had been dating and living with a man for quite some time. She told me they were going to get married. Someone trumpeted a "Congratulations!" I blurted out, "Why?" Why get married after cohabiting for 10 years. She was taken aback. As was I. She was surprised at my silly question and had to think of why. I was taken aback that she didn't know why. She ended up saying they wanted to have kids and being married made more sense now. Of course everyone else identifies with and applauds her. I do but for different reasons. An office mate also chimed in that she and her current husband also lived together for 10 years before they were married. This woman is a lovely person and a good friend. But this cohabitation thing is now so ingrained in our culture that to even ask questions about it results in pregnant pauses, or worse. They often wonder what planet I am from. Fortunately we all get along, I don't judge but love and serve as much as possible. 

  •  phillipW's picture
    Posted: Fri, 05/19/2017 12:54 pm

    The gay "marriage" movement has only damaged the institution of marriage in America now to the point where it is virtually meaningless.  I've lost count of the number of peers who've been through divorce.  In fact, if I were to count, I would easily say that more of my peers have been divorced, versus being married and never divorcing.  I myself am included among those who have been divorced at least once.

    "No fault" divorce and the horror stories of women abusing the court system to get alimony and child support from a man, and literally making him destitute because of it have made many young men gun shy of marriage.  I speak from my own personal witness, as my older brother went through something like this.  21 years of marriage and 8 children later, my ex-sister-in-law met an attorney who encouraged her towards divorce, solely for financial reasons.  The child support she would collect from 8 children made divorce lucrative to her.  Not to mention, she was now entitled to half of my brother's Air Force pension for the rest of her life.

    It's stories like my brothers that many young men have heard and have witnessed.  With all of that in mind are you surprised that no man in his right mind would entertain the thought of marriage in our culture today?  It's almost like rolling the dice in Vegas, and hoping the dice come up 7 or 11.  But men know that the house wins, no matter what happens.  Some woman looking for a "baby daddy" and the monthly check that comes with it.  Thanks, but I think I'll pass on this for my own sanity and financial stability.