That’s my favorite argument from Charles Darwin on why one should get married. Other arguments, pro and con, can be found here.

I should think this would dispositive refutation of the position that “once you have to make an argument for [marriage, having children, other culturally normative life choices] the argument is already lost.” Darwin, after all, went on to have a long and happy marriage, over the course of which he sired 10 children. Reason and love may keep little company together nowadays, but Darwin’s example at least shows that they can do so, now and again.

As for A.J. Jacobs’ Valentine’s Day Grinchiness, well, what’s love got to do with it? Grinchiness is always seasonally appropriate – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, Independence Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday; I can’t think of a holiday, sacred or secular, whose sentiments couldn’t deservedly be taken down a peg. But I would strongly advise him to brush up on his Shakespeare before cavalierly asserting that the bard was either the “king of romantic love” (really? the man who wrote “men have died from time to time, and the worms have eaten them, but not for love”?) or had a “pretty crappy marriage” (might want to check in with Germaine Greer on that hoary but largely unsupported assumption). Indeed, there are few writers I can think of who do a better job of articulating the cross-currents of passion and practicality within marriage and without than Bill Shakespeare.

And, of course, he could also write this:

In love
Who respects friend?

All men but Proteus.

Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
Can no way change you to a milder form,
I’ll woo you like a soldier, at arms’ end,
And love you ‘gainst the nature of love,–force ye.

O heaven!

I’ll force thee yield to my desire.

Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch,
Thou friend of an ill fashion!


Thou common friend, that’s without faith or love,
For such is a friend now; treacherous man!
Thou hast beguiled my hopes; nought but mine eye
Could have persuaded me: now I dare not say
I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me.
Who should be trusted, when one’s own right hand
Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus,
I am sorry I must never trust thee more,
But count the world a stranger for thy sake.
The private wound is deepest: O time most accurst,
‘Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst!

My shame and guilt confounds me.
Forgive me, Valentine: if hearty sorrow
Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
I tender ‘t here; I do as truly suffer
As e’er I did commit.

Then I am paid;
And once again I do receive thee honest.
Who by repentance is not satisfied
Is nor of heaven nor earth, for these are pleased.
By penitence the Eternal’s wrath’s appeased:
And, that my love may appear plain and free,
All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.

So much for Shakespeare’s Valentine.