It’s always interesting to get inspiration about a topic such as marriage from an unexpected source – in this case rock music.

As an aside, marriage is a topic that’s been written about to death and one I normally avoid writing about. The only book on marriage that interests me is Erma Bombeck’s A Marriage Made in Heaven: Or Too Tired for an Affair. She tells the details of her 45+ year marriage and the book is refreshingly free of advice and “make marriage work” mantras.

OK, back to marriage and rock music. It’s not a very Hallmarky way of going about it, but one can learn a thing or two about marriage from some of the songs U2 has released over the past 30+ years. And from their lead singer Bono, who has remained faithfully married to his childhood sweetheart for almost 30 years.

Rock music often speaks of romantic relationships at a base level (sex) or the other extreme of sappiness. Fortunately U2 doesn’t take that approach.

In a Rolling Stone interview in 1987 Bono said:

“Rock & roll, it seems, is caught up in juvenilia. Relationships are at the level of sex in the back seat of a Chevrolet. Now I’m interested in what happens further down the road — the violence of love, ownership, obsession, possession, all these things. And I think rock & roll is wide-open for a writer who can take it all down.”

This is why U2’s music has been helpful, because it explores the gray areas and the painful areas of marriage that make it hard to remain committed.The U2 song All I Want is You is a meditation about this commitment to his wife Ali.

Here’s what Bono has to say about commitment:

I don’t think being married to someone is so easy, really. But I’m interested in the idea of marriage. I think it’s madness but it’s a grand madness. If people think it’s normal, they’re out of their minds. I think that’s why a lot of people fall apart, because they’re not prepared for what it is. Once they’ve made that commitment, they think that’s the end of it, now they can rest easy.

Grand madness. Yep. Pretty much.

I’ll have more posts from time to time in this U2 Primer on Marriage series so stay tuned.

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