Chapter 20 Summary
In “The Tenth Tuesday: We Talk About Marriage,” Morrie has continued to decline. He now requires oxygen to be supplied to his lungs, his coughing has become frightening, and Albom cannot help remembering Morrie’s prediction that he would die when the disease started to affect his lungs. Albom brings his wife, Janine, to meet Morrie after the two of them talk briefly on the phone. As Morrie looks at their wedding photos, he shares a story from his time teaching in Detroit when he allowed a surgeon to watch him teach. In return, he watched the doctor operate on a woman. Just as the surgery began, Morrie had to leave because he could not stand the sight of blood. Yet now, Albom reflects, Morrie is enduring ALS.
Morrie and Janine talk. Janine is a professional singer, and she is usually shy about singing casually for people. Surprisingly, she sings a Ray Noble song that was popular in the 1930s for Morrie, which leads Albom to reflect how effectively Morrie causes people to drop their emotional guard and to share with him. Furthermore, Albom finds that Morrie is able to appreciate his wife’s singing on a level that he cannot. Albom goes on to discuss marriage.
What Albom has observed is that marriages in America are breaking up so often that it has become commonplace to encounter married men out with women who are not their wives. Morrie laments that marriages seem to be failing in a culture where people so rarely encounter real love. He explains that many people do not know what they want from their relationships or do not know how to take part in a real relationship. In contrast, Albom notes, Morrie and his wife, Charlotte, have been married for forty-four years. When Albom asks whether there is a way to tell whether a marriage will work, Morrie says things are not that simple. However, he suggests that respect, compromise, and common values are important. Morrie concludes that everyone should strive to marry. Morrie concludes with one of his favorite quotes: “love each other or perish.”
At the end of the chapter, Albom suggests that Morrie is like the Biblical figure Job. Job’s faith was tested when God took away his house, money, health, and his family. When asked about his thoughts on God’s testing of Job, Morrie concludes with a smile that “God overdid it.”