A relationship is like a shark,” Woody Allen famously observed, “If it doesn’t keep moving forward, it dies.” So, how do you keep a relationship swimming forward … the day after Valentine’s Day?

Well, it helps if your partner is someone who is able to change and grow. This kind of ideal person is described in a song on U2’s album of the year, called “Original of the Species.”

The song first says you want your partner to “please stay a child somewhere in your heart.” This isn’t easy for many adults. Well, except me, because emotionally I’m stuck somewhere around 15. But we don’t want to let this ideal partner down and sing words like, “I’ll give you anything you want, except the thing you want.”

Actually, it’s OK that we fall short sometimes, because this ideal partner doesn’t need you to complete them anyway. And, even though they’ve been raised a certain way and come from a particular background, they are able to re-invent themselves. “You are the first one of your kind, and you feel like no one before.”

This evolving partner is so delightful to be with, you can’t help singing, “I want a lot of what you got, and I want nothing that you’re not.” It takes a lot of talking and togetherness to keep the relationship swimming forward, but we want the real person”not the phony one. Nor do we need (note to myself) someone saying stupid things just to fill silence.

So this person is so beautiful, you assume it’s obvious to everyone. Which leads to the song’s climactic chorus, “Everywhere you go you shout it. You don’t have to be shy about it.” We know many beautiful, giving people here in Forest Park. They don’t have to be shy about it, but it makes them even more endearing.

Anyway, I think some marriages fail because the couple is only treading water, or sinking. I was talking to a divorced person who said their spouse not only wasn’t swimming forward, they were doing the backstroke. Marriage can give us confidence and allow us to mature, but sometimes partners don’t grow at an equal rate. This sends them searching for the second marriage.

Some of these subsequent marriages work out because the person says, “I’ve finally found the one I was looking for.” But, hey, if you’re lucky enough to have a partner who is an “Original of the Species,” they are already becoming that person you’ve always been looking for.

Picture two young people getting married who don’t know each other very well or have much in common. Over the years, they learn to compromise and adjust. In fact, the wife becomes such a good sport, she goes to all these things she used to dislike: classical concerts, photo galleries and even historical programs.

She is not only swimming forward as a mother and wife, she’s an asset to the entire community. I’m telling you, “Everywhere she goes she shouts it.” And sure, she may be shy about it. But don’t hold back: “Come on now, show your soul. You’ve been keeping your love under control.”

May we all be so fortunate to marry an “original.”

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.