The article was called “15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years” by Lydia Netzer.
Most advice, whether on love or business or politics, is based on the premise that we can just will ourselves into being rational and good and that the correct path to happiness is a straight line. These writers, in the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” school, are essentially telling you to turn yourself into a superstar by discipline and then everything will be swell.
But Netzer’s piece is nicely based on the premise that we are crooked timber. We are, to varying degrees, foolish, weak, and often just plain inexplicable — and always will be. As Kant put it: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.”
People with a crooked timber mentality tend to see life as full of ironies.
People with a crooked timber mentality try to find comedy in the mixture of high and low.
People with a crooked timber mentality try to adopt an attitude of bemused affection.
People with a crooked timber mentality are anti-perfectionist.
The mature people one meets often have this crooked timber view, having learned from experience the intransigence of imperfection and how to make a friend of every stupid stumble. As Thornton Wilder once put it, “In love’s service only wounded soldiers can serve.”