Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
When I began dating and tried to imagine being married, I wondered what could a couple talk about after the first few months? We would’ve already shared our best stories and jokes. The excitement of discovery would be ended. We’d know each other’s body as well as our own. So where would we find the thrill?
Just now, I asked my husband what has surprised him most about being in a marriage/relationship of 40+ years. “I never would’ve predicted how fun it is,” he told me. “The time has gone so fast. We’ve faced good times and bad times together. It just keeps getting better.”
Raising children distracts a couple from the day-to-day of marriage. I think of the scene in the movie PARENTHOOD when Mary Steenburgen and Steve Martin are in bed, beginning foreplay. They pause to discuss the kids’ dentist appointments. That’s typical of the early years of marriage. The kids are a constant topic, usually first, because building healthy adults is a temporary yet overriding responsibility. We took our charge very seriously, but we didn’t make it the raison d’etre of the relationship.
My husband and I always took time for one another—usually during the day when the kids were at school. We avoided using babysitters as much as possible. We had anniversary lunches instead of dinners and intimate moments around the house instead of in a fancy hotel. Our stolen moments took us hiking in the mountains or swimming at the community center. Generally, the kids, as teens, opted to skip hiking or swimming with us. And that was fine.
Our worst times were initiated from outside our union, so they pulled us closer as we struggled to maintain perspective. The challenges that came from within were more difficult, but they, too, gave us a stronger bond. We cared enough to tell the naked truth. As we glared into the other’s eyes, we knew staying together was a choice each of us was free to make. Staying together was worth the trouble.
Friends tease us gently for our reliance on humor, but a good laugh can dispel all sorts of demons. Now, as we face our final chapters—hopefully together—we need humor more than ever. We’ve always paid attention to one another, to our changes, and supported those changes. We bolster the interests and egos of each other. Each of us is open to new ideas.
What would I tell those who haven’t taken this long journey? I would say be sure you’re taking it with a best friend, someone you trust and who trusts you. Know you won’t be everything to one another, and you’ll make space for other friends because you need other friends. A bad marriage is like hiking with a spiky burr in your shoe. It doesn’t get better.
If we still have years ahead, my husband and I will face them as we have faced the time that came before. We’ll try to stay balanced, giving one another permission to be human. Our daughter lost her husband a couple of years ago. The agony of that loss reminded us of how exquisitely fortunate we have been to have company on our long road. We’re determined to share with others from the warm base of our lives. And one day we will use our memories to give us the courage to separate.