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Annie Lowrey
Economic policy reporter for the New York Times.
Economic policy reporter for the New York Times.


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A year ago, I got engaged. A week ago, I got married (yep, that's me and +Annie Lowrey in the blurry picture attached to this post). And in the time between the two, I learned something that I wished I had known before: A lot of people like being married. In fact, they love being married. They just don't mention it very often. At least not until you join their club.

Getting engaged was like receiving admission to a secret society. I found myself suddenly and constantly being pulled aside for the most outlandishly romantic confessions. There was the political science professor who told me, "I realize almost every day that marrying my wife was the best thing I've ever done." The policy analyst who emotionally told me marriage is the finest institution man has invented. The many, many, many people who offered a formulation I had never heard before: "You're going to love being married."

My parents are divorced. Growing up, almost all of my friends' parents were divorced. And there was nothing in the culture to suggest that was anything less than the way of things. Movies and television shows focus on two things: happy weddings and unhappy marriages.

Marriage is presented, essentially, as a tradeoff: you gain a partner, but you lose your freedom. The person is the reward and the institution the cost. No one ever says, "you'll love being married." Marriage itself is never presented as the prize. If anything, it's presented as an anachronism: an economic arrangement that made sense before birth control and feminism and looser sexual mores but has outlived its usefulness, and is now being slowly squeezed between cohabitation and divorce.

And yet, despite the myriad other options available, slightly more than half of all Americans over the age of 18 are married. For gays and lesbians, the right to be married, the right to join an institution that appears to make no sense, has been a central demand of a decades-long struggle. There's even evidence that married people are happier, healthier, and richer than their unmarried friends.

To someone looking in on marriage from the outside, the tension between these two sets of facts seems dramatic. And then you join the club. And suddenly, all the married people in your life pop out of the woodwork to resolve it for you, to explain that they don't just love their partner but that they love being married, that there is something unique about marriage that they find important and beautiful and fulfilling.

I'm not denying the reality of bad marriages here. I'm not saying everyone should get married. In fact, I'm not making any point about anyone else's choices at all. But until I got engaged, I had never heard other men say that they loved being married, or even that they liked it. It's an odd secret for people to keep. It doesn't even seem like a secret people liked keeping. The confessions were emotional and unprompted and surprisingly numerous.

And they were, for me, a nice corrective to everything I thought I knew about marriage. I wished that I had heard this sort of thing earlier. And so I'm telling you.

As for me? I've been married for a week, so take my experience for the little that it's worth. But yes, I love being married, too.
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I got this note from John Ritchie, Dennis's brother:

Dear Rob--

As Dennis's siblings, Lynn, John, and Bill Ritchie--on behalf of the entire Ritchie family--we wanted to convey to all of you how deeply moved, astonished, and appreciative we are of the loving tributes to Dennis that we have been reading. We can confirm what we keep hearing again and again: Dennis was an unfailingly kind, sweet, unassuming, and generous brother--and of course a complete geek. He had a hilariously dry sense of humor, and a keen appreciation for life's absurdities--though his world view was entirely devoid of cynicism or mean-spiritedness.

We are terribly sad to have lost him, but touched beyond words to realize what a mark he made on the world, and how well his gentle personality--beyond his accomplishments--seems to be understood.

Thank you.
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