A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

Marriage: You’ve got to work at it

Me (September, 2010, age 58).  And now for something completely different.

Marriage is a subject people don’t typically turn to Marshall McLuhan for insight or advice.  But when you think about it, it’s not a bad idea.  After all, he was married for 41 years.  He and his wife Corinne had six children.  By all accounts their marriage was a success.

For those of you looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, here’s what Marshall had to say about the secret to a great marriage, when he was interviewed by Jane Howard for a close up article she wrote about him in Life Magazine in February 1965.  (By the way I found my Mrs. Right in 1976.)

Marshall McLuhan (February 25, 1965, age 54).  Don’t play the match game.

“Corinne, what did I say to that journalist, Jane Howard, about marriage?  Was I for it or against it?”

“Don’t be silly Marshall, of course you were for it.  Here’s exactly what you said.  It’s right here in this week’s issue of Life.”

Like any other relationship marriage must be remade by the contracting parties every day.  It’s a terrible illusion in people’s lives that if they don’t match each other exactly, they ought to drop everything and split up.  They don’t consider the possibility of making as an alternative to matching.  Any relationship can be a depth relationship, if you try and make it so.  People used to say, ‘Well I’m married, that’s that, put up or shut up’ – which I happen to think is a very good idea.  But now they get divorced – they drop out of marriage for the same reason they drop out of school, because they’re looking for a depth relationship, a profound role.

“Not bad eh?”

“Not bad at all, Marshall, not bad at all.”


Cordially, Marshall and Me



Jane Howard, “Oracle of the Electric Age,” Life Magazine, 25 February 1965, p. 99.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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