Michael Sean Quinn*

David Whyte is a poet, lecturer, sometime MBA professor (at least of sorts), and other things as well. See www.davidwhyte.com. 

He has written an unusual and brilliant book entitled THE THREE MARRIAGES.  This book is not about being married three times. 

He suggests the idea of trying to balance life–something that lawyers have been taught is the route to a healthy life–is a mistake. It’s too distant, too judgmental, too lacking in immediacy, intuition, emotions of various sorts and too lacking in love. 

Whyte is not portraying or preaching Christian doctrine, but there are strains of versions of it here. He his even closer to the romanticism of Blake, say, and other poets like him, many of the Nineteenth Century. (When you hear the phrase “three marriage” put infidelity out of your mind, dispose of Mormonism, and think not of the song “Three Coins In the Fountain.”)

The metaphors Whyte uses for his view–for giving portraits of his idea of love are at least two. One of them is marriage. He suggests that life should consist of at least three marriage-like connections, sometimes over lapping: (1) a deep connection one to another and back again, e.g., a spouse, (2) a second intimate and deep connection to one’s work, and (3) a third to oneself. He then suggests that each of these marriages and the whole trinitarian group of them should be explored through what he calls conversation–a wonderful metaphor-image, if ever there was one.  Notice that this type of conversation is not discussion or argument. Consequently, Whyte leaves behind the idea of relationships built on empiricism or quasi-scientific bases. 

Here is a passage from is book. It is mostly a quote, but I have adapted it slightly so that it explicitly applies to lawyers.  It is to be found on his pp. 80-81.

A real work, like a real love, takes not only passion but a certain daily, obsessive, tenacious, illogical form of insanity to keep it alive.  Once you have experienced the real essence at the beginning of the affair with a work, the task, as in a marriage, is to keep the work, the company [or the firm], the initial image with which we fell in love, alive. We want to be surprised again and again by where our work takes us and what kind of person we are becoming as we follow it. Like a love, or a sense of ourselves, we can nibble and negotiate at the edges but the central core of the relationship is actually nonnegotiable. A real work cannot be balanced with a marriage in a strategic was, a little it on that side, a little bit on the other; it can only be put in conversation that marriage, as an equal partner. [Notice that argument and the rationality that goes with it is not part of the package. msq] All the strategies for making them work together will come from understanding that central conversation. And what is that conversation? What is the thing called the self that drives home from a work and walks through the door into a relationship? Who is it that goes out the door in the morning and leaves a loved one, a husband, a wife, a daughter, a home behind and looks to the new future in the day? 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now one may wonder whether one’s self has a central core and one changes and evolves only by nibbling at the ends. The only solution for dealing with question is to begin by having a conversation with the book itself. 

*Michael Sean Quinn,
Law Office of Michael Sean Quinn AKA
Quinn and Quinn
1300 West Lynn Suite 208
Austin, TX 78703
Office Phone: 512-296-2594
Cell: 512-656-0503
Fax: 512-344-9466
Email: mquinn@msqlaw.com