I've been reading about a poor disappointed unfortunate who's questioning whether or not to remain married or strike out on her own with her three children. Complaints include boredom, money issues, emotional stagnation, ongoing sadness over a failed affair, whatnot. I see my old self in her, and I've done some thinking over the last few weeks, with the following result.
What in the world do people expect from marriage? How, possibly, could a twenty-year-old marriage be the same as a first-year marriage? Would you want it to be? And, if you chose badly in that young flush of infatuation, why would you upset your whole life based on a new obsession? I didn't get married until I was twenty-nine. I had lived enough to have begun to learn that romance is not love. Some years later, we had a little refresher course in that lesson. Nor is lust, although certainly lots of fun, love. And, I offer that . . . perhaps . . . in the long term, exciting and romantic love is not the most important requirement for a stable, comfortable and happy married life. Possibly I'm more satisfied than some with the stability of a settled married life because by nature I like routine. I figure if you live with anybody for more three weeks, the thrill of togetherness pales. No longer do you delight, your heart all a-pit-a-pat, your breath short, at the thought of reunion after a hard day at work. A nice sense of anticipation, yes, some days. Other days, maybe lots of days . . . it's on to the Home Chores and a ritual of "How was your day?" "Fine." and after a few hours, off to bed. G'night, kiss, snore.
Every now and then, you read interviews with old people who've been married for decades and they usually have some pretty practical advice. They hardly ever count gymnastic sex as one of the ultimate requirements, for example. I like the old marrieds who say laughter is the thing that kept them together. Laughter means nobody's taking him/herself too awfully seriously. Nothing good lasts forever, but nothing bad does either, if you're willing to laugh at it and let it go.
I knew an old married couple who enjoyed each other's company tremendously. She was very fat and deaf and he was dapper and witty. They would tell stories of having lived through the Great Depression, they and their eight children eating pancakes for supper every single night because that's what they could afford. Remembering, he'd say he never wanted to see a pancake again, and the two of them would laugh with, I imagine, satisfaction and relief that they'd kept going on, one foot in front of the other, for a long, long, time, and had made it to the other side. Laughter isn't simply amusement; it's also mutual congratulation.
I like it when those long-marrieds talk about respect too. Simple courtesy goes a long way. Husband takes the garbage; I thank him. I change the sheets; he thanks me. It's good to let somebody who's supposed to do these things know that the work's appreciated.
It is my belief that anybody who's been married more than five years has been through some kind of Disillusionment Hell, and I think that rule does not exclude people who lived together prior to marriage. The Prince gets a little rumply, the Princess gains a little weight. The Prince fails to notice and react with warm sympathy to some welling silent tears of a sad mood. The Princess fails to . . . oh, whatever us Princesses fail to do.
Oh, boo hoo.
Nobody stays a Prince or a Princess forever. People are people. Life goes on. If you plan on being married in another year, another five years . . . if you meant any of that stuff you vowed (see definition of "vow") on your wedding day, then grow up, allow your spouse a failing or two, just like you do everybody else you know, and think about something else until that turns into a big fat disappointment and you can go running back to discuss it with the person with whom you swore to spend your life.
Believe me, the grass ain't no greener over there on the other side of that fence. Not once you get a real close look at it. It looks all fluffy and soft and cushiony from here, but you can bet there're sand fleas or nettles in there that, after a while, will be just as bad as what you have in your own yard.
Another WTF moment at the 7MSN
12 hours ago