Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Dear Readers: I was recently in the UK for a wedding. (It was my son’s, actually.) I was so impressed by what the Rev. Ben Bentham said to the couple standing before him that I asked for the text of his wedding blessing sermon. Some of his references were secular, if not entertaining, which was surprising to this American, because this, after all, was a Church of England ceremony. One portion in particular had resonance for me because it touched on a topic I am often asked about. Usually, the question is framed this way: “I love him, but I am not in love with him.” To be truthful, this declaration makes me want to scream. To all of you who have asked, or plan to, here is what the vicar of Sissinghurst has to say on the subject:

“In the film ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,’ Captain Corelli and a Greek girl, Pelagia, have, as Americans might put it, ‘made out,’ and Pelagia’s father says this to her: ‘When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roles have been so entwined that it’s inconceivable you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, not excitement, not a desire to mate every second of the day; it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. That is just being in love, which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left when being in love has burned away.’

“He’s talking sense. The reality is that love burns like a furnace for a while, but then settles, and then it has to be worked at. The romantic and sexual love described in The Song of Solomon has to grow up, to be adult. There is no future in being ‘in love.’ You have to learn to love. And unfortunately, our cultures seem to have not the slightest shred of maturity when it comes to that. Love in the media is all the burning fire, when what is needed are the strength and wisdom to go beyond being in love to loving.”


In other words, being “in love” is unsustainable. Amen to that.

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Q. It’s pretty well accepted, medically, that pregnant women should not drink alcoholic beverages. I have even been told aspirin is verboten. My general philosophy is that “everything in moderation” extends to pregnancy, as well. I am three months pregnant, and we were out with another couple, and I had a glass of wine. I thought the other woman would become apoplectic. She lectured me about fetal alcohol syndrome! I did not order a second glass, nor would I have. What are your thoughts?

Expectant Mother

A. I am not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I will say this: The thinking about alcohol and pregnancy has changed over the past 50 years. When I was pregnant, “in the olden days,” I drank, smoked, and took aspirin. My kids were perfectly fine.

The current thinking is that it’s best to avoid alcohol, though I do know women, like yourself, who have an occasional glass of wine, and I have never felt alarmed on their behalf. To fulfill your companion’s fears about fetal alcohol syndrome you would have to be hammered every day of your pregnancy. The second trimester is thought to be a particularly susceptible time, during which the baby can suffer adverse effects from the mother’s intake of certain things. A good rule to follow is to take as little medicine as possible during pregnancy, and of course, ask your doctor.

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