The veteran English teacher in me loves this title borrowed from New Yorker cartoonist, Liza Donnelly and Michael Maslin’s collection of the same name. Read one way, it sounds like marriage is being described as a cartoon (ha-ha funny). Read another way, the word cartoon becomes an imperative command for us to lighten up, cartoon our marriages. Both ways work for me. Probably because the veteran wife in me – we’ll be married 43 years this month – has learned the importance of being able to step back, take myself less seriously, and find humor in my/our sometimes ridiculous behavior.
Cartoonists help me do this, and over the years, both my husband and I have collected some favorites. I love the one that shows a man and woman about to ring the doorbell before going into their friends’ house for dinner; the caption says, “Just please don’t be yourself.” Another favorite, one that appeared recently in The New Yorker showed a husband, wife, and child lost in a rainforest. The caption has the father saying something like, “Alright, I’ll admit that we are lost. But we can’t lose sight of the most important thing, and that is whose fault it is.” Then there’s my all time favorite by Liza Donnelly that has the woman saying to the man, “So when are we going to talk about not talking?”
Trust me, I’m not trying to talk you out of working on your relationship issues with a good therapist. Any counselor worth her salt, though, helps us see sometimes stepping back and making light of our problems can help us, in the long run, grow our capacity for love.