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A Conversation with Chris and Harry

In this episode, Chris and Harry discuss why marriage is not for them. Chris says his views against getting married do not stem from fear of commitment. He has been in long-term relationships in the past, but simply doesn't have the desire to take on the marriage mold. His two sisters are married with children and he says spending quality time with them is rewarding enough for him, rather than creating a family of his own.

Harry's parents have been married for nearly 50 years, so he grew up believing marriage and children were expected of him. Each time he came close to tying the knot, his father advised him to be cautious due to the difficulty of his own marriage to Harry's mother—which led to Harry's decision to remain a bachelor most of his life. Although Harry is happy, now that he's in his 60s, he is nervous about getting older and not having a partner by his side.

Harry and Chris say there are pros and cons of being unmarried—for them, the good outweighs the bad. They acknowledge there's a strong possibility their stance on marriage could change as they continue getting older, but just as long as it's on their terms.

Transcript

Chris Smith:

I have two sisters that are much younger. They got married and they had kids. And being around my nieces and nephews who I—they're a blast.

Harry Zinn:

Yeah.

Chris:

But being around them became amazing birth control for me. It's not like I'm against any of it. Is it possible to happen? Sure. But I'm not going to—I've got to be like—it's got to be a home run, slam dunk. I've got a really, really know.

And actually I'm very social. I actually love people. I'm very social. I love to help people.

Harry:

Yeah.

Chris:

I love kids. I love animals. The thing they always say, "well do you have a commitment problem? Is it like a Peter Pan syndrome type situation?" And I would say I'm an extremely, extremely late bloomer.

Harry:

I was as well. Still am.

Chris:

Which I think may explain some of that. In my mind, I'm like 30 still. But its not like I'm afraid of committing to anything. Whatever I do, I'm full speed. I'm very honest. I'm very loving. I care very much, but I just don't have it in me to do it unless I really, really, really want to.

Harry:

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and the same type of life structure is what you're expected to have back there. You graduate college. You get a job. You get married. You have 2.5 kids. You play golf. You have a heart attack and you're done.

Chris:

And start it all over again.

Harry:

And start all over again. And so, like yourself, I never subscribed to that.

Chris:

I'm a high school teacher. So it's not like I don't do that now, but I did it for a while. And you would think that I would be all about all those things. And actually, I'm a great teacher and trainer. I train people as well.

Very good at it, and leading, and presenting a message. But it's just, maybe because it's—and it is more important to me than just a job. So I wish I could find a way to connect that to a relationship or to kids.

Harry:

When I was in my 30s—that period of time, 30 to 35, where you're not really a kid anymore—all my friends back home were like, "where are you going to get married? When are you going to get married? What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you?" And now some of them are on their fourth marriages.

Chris:

Yeah.

Harry:

They're all calling me saying, "You know, you're our hero. You get to do whatever you want. I got kids that hate me. My wife hadn't had sex with me in 10 years." And there's a lot of that as well.

Chris:

My longest relationship, I've had two that were kind of on and off, and they were both only a year and a half long. And one of them was not healthy. I just feel like it's never been the right thing.

Harry:

When I do meet a lady and I say, well, I'm single and I'm 61. Of course, the first thing they think is—

Chris:

You've been married.

Harry:

—"How many times have you been married? How many kids do you have? Do you like girls?" You know, so you get all of that. And I'm like, yeah, I'm good with all of that. I just, it's not something that's happened to me yet.

I came close to getting married, I thought, a couple of times. And I remember I called my parents and they were on the phone and they were both congratulatory. And then the next day, my father called me and he said, "are you by yourself?" I said, "yeah, Pop. What's up?"

Let me preface this by saying my mom was a saint. And he said, "son, if I had to do it all over again. I'm not sure I would do it." He goes, "it is work." And he's talking about my mom. They were married for 48 years. And like I said, she was just this side of Mother Teresa.

So a lot of my friends, they'll say to me, "you have no idea how lucky you are that you don't have to answer to anybody, that you can just pick up and go and do whatever you want." Well I told a story about my friend Irving who was 91 when he passed away. And he was a bachelor his whole life. And he said, "I don't have any regrets. I've had a great life." And then when he got to the nursing home at the end of his life, he looked at me one day and said, "I have no one. I don't have anybody here. I have no family." Therein lies my situation is, what do I do if I start getting more frail and the wheels start coming off, as they say. Who's going to be there?

On the other side of the coin, I don't answer to anyone. If you called me and said, "hey, we're going scuba diving and Papua New Guinea in four days." I'd say, "let's go." So I can go and do anything in the world that I want to do and not have to answer to anyone. I don't even have a dog or a plant.

Chris:

I don't either. I think it's the same reasons.

Harry:

Because I just—if things ended for me today, which please, I'm not requesting that, I mean, I've done some amazing things and I want to continue to do that. The thing about being at 62, I had another friend of mine who's my same age that called me recently and goes, "I'm really struggling with this mortality thing." So that starts playing into it. And I think that might be a different thing between us. As far as the age factor is, you start thinking, wow, if I make it to 82, that's only 20 more years. In the last 20 years went by like that.

Chris:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's—the exact same thing that's crossed my mind quite a few times actually.

Harry:

And for me, I'm the last one in my lineage.

Chris:

Last man standing.

Harry:

I'm the last man standing. So if I don't get married, my bloodline is over and done with which—that's troubling. I mean, how much emphasis should I put on that? I'm not sure. But it's the end of the line of my family.

Chris:

Well, like they say, whoever they is, there's somebody for everybody. Even you and I.

Harry:

They've been telling me that for a long time. I'm starting to wonder if they have any idea what they're talking about.

Chris:

Any idea what's going on. Yeah.

A:

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