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In chapter 4, Wilson realizes that he is “married in name only.” He and his wife are not really in love.
When he forgets his twenty-ninth wedding anniversary and his daughter announces she is getting married, Wilson begins to analyze his own marriage and is not happy with what he sees. He loves his wife, but he realizes his marriage has crumbled.
Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day. (ch 4)
Wilson wants his wife to fall in love with him all over again. As they plan their daughter’s wedding, a type of wedding they didn’t have, Wilson realizes that he and his wife both made compromises throughout their marriage. He loves her, and he wants her to know it. He realizes he hasn’t shown it. He isn’t sure if she still loves him.
Though it's a simple story, the book reveals some important truths about human nature. Marriage is a partnership. It takes work. To really be in love, you have to work at it. Wilson watches Noah and the swan he thinks is his dead wife and realizes that true devotion is much stronger than wedding vows.
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