It was a cold and wintry night as the four friends hurdled round steaming cups of coffee gazing into the roaring fireplace made of burnt bricks and iron fittings. Montreal in January was very cold and the friends wouldn’t have wanted to be around at this time of the year.

But they had no choice. Tom, their close friend had just lost his wife of twelve years and they were obligated to be with him. And so, they had come from around the world, Ade from Abuja in Nigeria, Terry from London, Bruce from Hong-Kong and Larry from Australia.

Tina’s memorial service was just eight hours away and the friends sat, discussing life generally. They had been very close friends since their days at Harvard, some fourteen years back and they had kept close contact. They met once a year to review their lives, take and give advice and plan for the future.

They sat discussing in hushed tones. It was bad enough that Tina was dead but coming to terms with the fact that she committed suicide was another matter entirely.

“My God, how could it have happened?” Ade blurted out suddenly. He had been quiet while the others tried to make light conversation. They turned to him.

“I know they had problems, but this?” He explained.

“I’m sure Tom loved her.” Terry remarked, confused as well.

“They shouldn’t have gotten married to start with!”

Everyone turned to look at Bruce, the smallest in size. He was Chinese and could be brutally blunt.
“They weren’t meant for each other!” He concluded, shrugging.

“I wouldn’t say that”. Terry protested, ‘They were happy at first.”

“Most newlyweds are happy. Problems don’t start until the novelty wears off” Everyone knew that Ade was contemplating Divorce.

Larry rose from his chair. “To be honest, I’m not sure marriage is such a swell idea. Sometimes I think I would have been better off celibate!”

“Marriage has its ups and downs but I think it’s better than being celibate” Bruce was with his second wife.

“You’re a fine one to defend marriage” Terry chided. “I sure hope you know what you’re doing this time around. I still think you’ll end up growing old all by yourself!”

“At least I’m not cheating on my wife!” Bruce countered and everyone burst into laughter.

Ade stood up and went towards the fireplace. He removed his gloves and spread his hands over the glowing fire. “It’s a shame really” He stated staring into the fire.

“What?” The other three chorused.

“Well, look at us. The five of us went to the best University in the world, we were all excellent students, and we’ve achieved quite a lot and made quite some money. How come none of us is happily married?”

The friends all kept quiet as they thought over Ade’s question for a few minutes.

“Well, we’re not alone; I’m told that over 55% of marriages end up failing, worldwide!” Terry commented.

“Yeah, but let’s focus on ourselves for a minute. We’re well read, leaders in our countries and in our careers. Shouldn’t we have done better with our marriages?” Larry wondered.

“Maybe we married the wrong women.” Bruce remarked.

“Maybe we didn’t get any education on dating and on making the right choices in love relationships!”
Everyone turned to look at Ade who was still staring into the fire.

“We’ve all made a success of our careers and businesses because we spent years in school getting information on our careers and learning how to make the right choices. We succeeded because we put that knowledge into practice.”

“Think about it,” he continued, “How much did we all know about dating and marriage when we started dating? It was just trial and error. We hoped things would turn out fine. The funny thing is, none of us would make an investment without a proper analysis and some expert opinion. We don’t depend on luck with business deals but we gambled with our marriages!”

There were a few minutes of silence. Larry was the first to speak. “You know, I never thought of it in that way”

“I don’t think anyone of us ever thought of it that way!” Bruce agreed. “And I thought I knew everything!”