Over the last 31 years, I’ve taught about 2,000 students at George Washington University. My classes have focused on politics and journalism, but many students maintain that the most lasting lesson they learned from me had nothing to do with the coursework.

It is an adage I repeat often during after-class gatherings at off-campus watering holes: Who you marry is the most important decision you ever make in your life. Nothing else is even close. There’s always another degree or job or city. There isn’t always another partner to share your life with. And since I was married for 53 years before my wife Cokie died three years ago this week, I have some credibility on the subject.