Generous Orthodoxy  




Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Jane Fonda (!!) tells us why lifelong marriages are important

It is poorly understood, in our culture, that marriage is not just for the benefit of the individuals concerned, but a cornerstone of the whole human family. A most unlikely witness has come forward to testify to this. On the occasion of the publication of her new autobiography, Jane Fonda, who is said to be an active Christian believer, sat down with New York Times reporter Todd S. Purdom for a long conversation. After discussing her three disastrous marriages, her alcoholism and her activism, she spoke of being introduced to Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter by then-husband Ted Turner. Apparently they were influential in her conversion. "They were practicing Christians," she told Mr. Purdom, "and they were smart people I respected."

After considerable discussion of her mother's suicide, her famous father's unwitting cruelty, and her traumatic adolescence, Mr. Purdom asked her if she had had a hard life. She said, "It's been very complicated." He said, "Isn't everybody's?" Ms. Fonda's response ends his artful account of the interview, as follows:

"Nobody's had a simple life, but I know many people who've had"—and here she pauses to compose herself—"a normal life, and what I mean by that is a life without major crises and traumas, without any deep psychological wounds, and there are people who have been happily married to the same person and I love to be with them and I wish so much I'd met someone with whom I would now be celebrating my 40th or 50th wedding anniversary." (The New York Times 4/5/05)

What's important here, it seems to me, and profoundly encouraging for couples who are wondering if they are going to make it to their next anniversary, is this striking testimony to the upbuilding effect that long marriages have on everyone that they touch. Jane Fonda's word "happily" can be questioned—-there may not be very many "happy" marriages—-but a long, stable marriage is a great gift of God to his world, and couples who are granted this grace can quietly rejoice that they are often a comfort to others.