The Amateur Marriage - A Wartime Wedding

Marriage During Wartime - This One Occurred In Baghdad

Sgt. Joshua Klassen, a native of Pocatello, Idaho and Lori Klassen, a native of Portland, Ore., both members of Headquarters and Headquarters Company 18th Military Police Brigade hold hands as their marriage vows are blessed by Chaplain (Lt. Col.)
Sgt. Joshua Klassen, a native of Pocatello, Idaho and Lori Klassen, a native of Portland, Ore., both members of Headquarters and Headquarters Company 18th Military Police Brigade hold hands as their marriage vows are blessed by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) | Source

Stuck In Adolescence

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage describes a mismatched couple that fights out six decades of married life. They do not form individual identities or a sense of a couple, socially, within a larger community. Each fights for dominance in the marriage.

An individual is made up of his or her nationality and ethnic background and the ways in which they satisfy basic of food, shelter, love, and recognition). They are further defined by what groups they join, religion, political leanings, and jobs and careers. However, an individual sees himself in one way, while others see him another.

Conflict also defines a personality as an individual part from others. One may become anti-child-abuse or anti-war, for example. Sigmund Freud felt that identity is biologically based and ended by the end of adolescence.

Erik Erickson broke away from Freud, believing that identity can develop through social interactions as well and does not end in adolescence. Many follow his ideals.

Source

Stuck at one Stage

Erikson studied Native Americans and developed his "Eight Stages of Man":

  1. Trust (baby),
  2. Autonomy (toddler),
  3. Initiative (child),
  4. Identity (adolescent),
  5. Intimacy (young adult),
  6. Generativity (Productivity: middle age), and
  7. Integrity (old age).

The famous scientist believed that social and biological elements complement each other to give people crises to remedy in all 8 stages. Remedy leads to maturity and non-remedy results in being stuck at one phase. The couple in Tyler's book are struck.

WWII Marriage - 1942
WWII Marriage - 1942 | Source

Love at First Sight, Fighting Long Term

In Tyler's book, Pauline and Michael Anton meet in just before WWII in Baltimore. Pauline jumps from a streetcar to join a patriotic parade and cuts her head, so she dashes into Michael's family-run grocery, looking for help.

Michael, a more conservative personality, is shocked by Pauline's drama and falls in love at first sight.

Just in their early 20's, they marry, but remain adolescents. Michael must go to war, but is shot in boot camp, and comes straight back. He and Pauline have three children and move to the suburbs. They fight constantly over the years and get nowhere in their relationship. Each takes pleasure only in winning an argument.

Pauline is constantly abrupt, flying off the handle. Michael stew in anger silently about tiny things. Nothing is remedied in 60 years' marriage and the Antons each becomes an old teenager.

The Antons? -- This marriage is anorexic.

They isolate themselves from social interactions that would help. They fight, each trying to win in order to be The Winner, therefore a worthy person. Unfortunately, no one ever wins. Mike is Polish Catholic, Pauline is Protestant; neither will budge. Pauline believes that two souls should combine as one; Michael; that they should remain separate but walk in the same direction. The marriage fails for six decades with a flighty woman and a cold distant man.

While marriages of their friends grow via individual/couple maturity through the usual give and take, the Anton's marriage is stuck in feuding. Tyler paints their friends' growing marriages as fruit trees:

"Marriages are like fruit trees...After a time they meld, they grow together, and it doesn't matter how crazy the mix is, peaches on an apple tree or cherries on a plum tree; still if you tried to separate them you would cause a fatal wound."

Meanwhile, the Anton's marriage is a "gnarled, wizened, whiskery tree you see on wind beaten cliffs where there's not enough soil or water." The Antons? -- This marriage is anorexic.

Source

How to Grow Up

Over the decades, they become entrenched in useless mindsets, unable to develop past the mid-twenties, psychologically. The miss all of the intimacy, generativity and integrity that lies ahead in life. When he does think about the marriage, Mike sees that "all those young marrieds of the war years...wise and seasoned... until only he and Pauline remained...the last couple left in the amateurs' parade". He saw themselves as "more like brother and sister than husband and wife.

In dysfunctional families, some members may develop identities despite their family stagnation and toxicity. Such hardiness of personality is about control, commitment, and challenge and can form if people can follow these and related ideas:

  • 1. AAAA: Accept Anxiety -- Act Anyway.
  • 2. Separate fantasy and reality -- get real.
  • 3. Set goals/priorities.
  • 4. TTT: Think Things Through -- see the consqeuences of your choices.
  • 5. Make choices to match your values. This is integrity.
  • 6. Set boundaries, but be flexible.
  • 7. Ask for what you want and need.
  • 8. Trust yourself -- don't let others define your reality!

Some dysfunctional individuals gain these skills through self improvement study and/or counseling, but the Antons do not. Even when they decide together to parent their grandson Pagan, rescues from the drug culture, they fight. Pauline says their fights can be patched up here and there and Michael sees these them as a bottomless pit beyond repair. The Antons decide just to tolerate each other until Michael leaves the marriage.

Altogether, this novel contains intimate and detailed character development of two people that struggle through life without ever growing up or giving in. They each want to win a battle intheir own mind and neight does. It is all sad and awesome at once -- and much like people every reader probably knows.

© 2008 Patty Inglish

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Comments 11 comments

Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

Great hub Patty! I love Anne Tyler, and just read this book last year. I stumbled upon one of Tyler's short stories in an anthology. I've been collecting her novels ever since.


sminut13 profile image

sminut13 8 years ago from singapore

this is such a great hub with tons of information. looking at your hubs, at times it makes me feel this is how a pro is. grins thanks for sharing


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thank you, Stacie! I think the first one of read of hers was Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. I;d like to read the short stories.

sminut13, thanks for the praise. I read 250 pages about overy night. It helpe me write!


KEVAL1 profile image

KEVAL1 8 years ago

hello

how ru ?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

i iz fine, where iz ur hubz?


charismaseeker 8 years ago

Trully inspiring Post. I would be glad, if you could visit my site about self development http://betterlife-seeker.com/

Thank You Very Much


Wanderlust profile image

Wanderlust 8 years ago from New York City

thank you for a great analysis Patty. you actually inspired me to read this book, i don't think that i've ever read Anne Tyler. what else by her would you recommend to read?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Wanderlust - Anne Tyler's books are innovative and handle subject matter in a penetrating way, from new angles; they remind you of people you might know that are struggling with life and make what may seem, like "odd" choices at times.

Read "Morgan's Passing", which was the first one of hers that I read; and "The Accidental Tourist", "Ladder of Years" and "Back When We Were Grownups." "Digging to America" is going to become a classic of American Literaure, I am certain. She has a collection of short stories I have yot yet read, and I am looking for a copy.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy Anne Tyler


best of the web profile image

best of the web 8 years ago from US

Good one…

Thanks for sharing


Wanderlust profile image

Wanderlust 8 years ago from New York City

thank you Patty...


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, hope you like them.

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