SOMETIMES, I think it was martial arts training that made me this way. You see, when you study martial arts—you’re taught to always be “on guard.” But perhaps, the real culprit is the man who brought me into this world.

I once asked my father why marriage contracts couldn’t be renewable and he replied, “Marriage contracts can never be renewable because if they were, no one would renew.”

Recently, the subject of marriage came up. It began with one of the golden girls relating how foolishly she ribbed someone that she should be thinking about getting married soon as she was approaching 40. This woman met her ribbing with an interesting comeback. “Why? Can you tell me at least one benefit of marriage?” To her horror, she could not think of any.

To torment the girls, I decided to throw the question to them. My question was met with a deafening and revealing silence.

Finally, someone asked the person who had been married the longest (32 years) to speak up. “Come on,” one of the golden girls eggs her in jest, “if you can come up with a really good answer, Melanie will finally get married.” With great reluctance, the veteran finally spoke up. “Well…if you think it will make you happy, then go ahead and get married. But you really don’t have to.”

“What kind of an answer is that?” one of the golden girls cries out. “That is not an endorsement of marriage. That is a validation of Melanie’s lifestyle.” We all ended up laughing.

“If you are intelligent, hardworking and well-off, there are no benefits of marriage,” my father tells me. The man born in 1925 is actually the enabler of my unorthodox ideas about marriage. And yet, he can also be soft on his stance.

“No one is ever ready to get married. You just have to dive into it. It makes no sense to want to know everything about a man because if you did, you wouldn’t want to marry him. No man is without flaw or failing. In order to marry, you must allow yourself to be carried away by love, not logic.”

This was advice given to me by my father some twenty five years ago. And in my usual “don’t tell me what to do” fashion, I did not listen to him.

When I’m not in love, I’m a victim of my rational mind. And when I am, I’m a victim of my runaway heart. How do you fall in love without losing your mind? How do you keep your head and fall madly in love at the same time?

My 92-year-old father sometimes follows my 88-year-old mother around the house. “Just looking at your mother makes me happy,” he tells us. “That is love,” my mother’s nurse wistfully tells me. “But you have to wait 60 years for that to happen,” I cynically tell her.

Happy 61st wedding anniversary, Ma, Pa. I don’t know how you do it but I guess that is love. I can’t do what you do but as I don’t have 60 years, I guess I really don’t have to worry.