What does a good marriage have in common with good writing? Consider these rules from Strunk and White’s the Elements of Style: “Place yourself in the background.” “Avoid the use of qualifiers.” “Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity.” “Do not overstate.” “Do not explain too much.” To which I’d add: Show, don’t tell – though an occasional “I love you” never hurts. And avoid the passive voice – especially of the passive-aggressive variety.
The comedian Henny Youngman’s most famous one-liner was “Take my wife – please.” But he and his wife, Sadie Cohen [above], were apparently very close. She didn’t mind being the butt of his jokes and often accompanied him on his tours. I read recently that Sadie was terrified of hospitals and, during the prolonged illness that led to her death, Youngman had an intensive-care unit built in their bedroom so she could be looked after at home. When she died, they’d been married more than sixty years.
— Sy Safransky’s Notebook, The Sun, March 2015