Why I'm Not Celebrating National Marriage Week

Since I write about marriage and relationships, I felt a bit out of the loop when I learned on Twitter that National Marriage Week was in full effect. But once I began mentioning to friends: Hey! Did you know it's National Marriage Week?, I figured that their blank stares and side-eyes meant I wasn't the only one who didn't get the memo.

The National Marriage Week USA site lists a bunch of events so I said to myself,  Hm...let's see what National Marriage Week events are going on in the city of Boston -- the largest New England city and the tenth largest metropolitan area in the United States!  I began scrolling through a list that was supposed to show me events in my area, but it really just showed me events in everyone else's area: Texas, California, South Dakota, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Texas, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, oh, and Texas.

So figured it would just be faster to put in my state and -- voila! -- a whopping two events appeared.  One in Dartmouth, Massachusetts which my husband had to explain wasn't THE Dartmouth but more like THE Dartmouth's stepcousin, and another in Holbrook, Massachusetts, a suburb about 20 miles south of Boston.

Now, considering that the stated purpose of National Marriage Week is to strengthen marriage, I assumed any associated events would be just that: an opportunity for couples to strengthen their marriage in substantive ways.  Maybe an opportunity to set aside the distractions of the week to sit face to face and connect.  Maybe a couples rub down that might lead to you know what.  Heck, maybe even a room with one of those 7-foot champagne bathtubs like in the Poconos! But no, one of the events was essentially a Saturday evening potluck followed by a viewing of a two-hour, Focus on the Family webcast.  

No disrespect to Dartmouth, Holbrook, or strong marriages, but on this one...I'll have to pass.

The Key a Successful Marriage Union: Separation

It's official.  We're Brendan James groupies.

Our latest BJP (Brendan James Pilgrimage) took us to New York City for Rock Talk Presents: Brendan James.  Part performance, part intimate conversation, Rock Talks allowed the audience to listen in on a conversation between Brendan James and 2011 Emmy Award winning news anchor Phil Lipof; interweaving a discussion about his career throughout a performance of some of his newest songs.  

So with my sister-in-law in tow, my husband and I trekked over to Feinstein's at Loews Regency and settled into our booth for the evening, a room that looked like it doubled as the set of Mad Men.  After giving Phil a pep talk (he found out we came down from Boston and told us he's from Newton, Massachusetts), we enjoyed another great Brendan James performance while turning my sister-in-law into a believer.  And in typical Diver fashion we made our presence known by shouting "TARHEELS!" and "GO PATS!" when the interview questions turned to sports, and by punctuating with end of songs with: "You betta SANG!" and "Dat boy good! (And my husband's best "Nigerian" translation impersonation: "Deh boy iz good!")

For those of you who don't remember Mr. James from my previous post, he's a fellow Tarheel, my favorite "white-guy-with-a-piano," the singer-songwriter my husband stumbled upon one day on iTunes and as been playing on repeat ever since.  Over the last year we've seen him perform live at least 3 or 4 times.  And from one show to the next, he's remained the same humble, down-to-earth, and approachable person who takes time to meet and connect with his audience.  

Our favorite Brendan James story thus far is when my husband ran into him in between sets at a show and requested his cover of Jamie Foxx's Blame It.  Considering we were in Londonderry, New Hampshire at the time, Brendan was a tad skeptical about how it would go over with the crowd. But I had complete confidence that white people still love hip-hop.  Yes, even in New Hampshire.

But what impressed me most about this particular show wasn't so much Brendan James' music, but another theme that came up repeatedly during the interview: his marriage.  He spoke often about his marriage in light of his own parents' divorce and the demands of his music career, particularly one that requires him to spend a significant amount of time on the road and way from home.  As in previous interviews, Brendan mentioned that his wife does not travel with him because she has her own life and interests aside from his work as a musician (to which I'm sure I let out an "Amen!").

When asked about his thoughts on the current state of marriage in America, Brendan acknowledged the reality of increasing divorce rates and declining marriage rates while at the same time expressing hope.  He's optimistic that his own generation -- having experienced the impact of divorce first-hand -- will be even more committed to stem that tide.  And personally, I hope he's right.