Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday's Words for July 15, 2009

Yesterday, my beloved and I marked our 37th wedding anniversary. In honor of this auspicious occasion, we went out to dinner last Saturday night.

We don’t often talk about the state of our marriage. Not that we don’t talk, for we do that all the time and about many numbered and varied subjects. We generally just live our marriage, though, every day. But Saturday night, we were discussing the fact that we were still together after marrying far too young, and in the face of the prediction—by just about everyone who knew us—that our marriage wouldn’t last.

Most of the single friends we had when we got married moved off to live their own lives, and we haven’t heard from any of them in years. My beloved and I still see, on a regular basis, one of the guys he was friends with as a teen, and we’re very fond of both him and his wife. I, myself, have recently re-connected with a couple of my girlhood friends—one who has never married (and was actually my first friend), and one who has been widowed.

Of course, this really is a small world, and we have had some news, from time to time, of some of our other friends we haven’t seen in a lot of years. Of the couples that married not long after we did, none are together today—with each working on at least their second “significant relationship”. Yes, that gives us a slight sense of justification. I was a week shy of my 18th birthday and my beloved had recently turned 19 on our wedding day. And here we are, all these years later, still together.

Mostly, though, we just feel sad, and maybe a little confused by these failures. So we began the other night trying to figure out if there was a secret to staying together that we had somehow stumbled upon.

The first item we agreed on as being conducive to a long and successful marriage is mutual respect. Not just respecting each other as human beings, but respecting each other’s right to have an individual identity. We have never lived in each other’s pockets, and have always allowed each other the space needed simply to be. We have varying interests—things we’re each involved in that the other really doesn’t have any desire to get into. We each listen patiently as the other expounds on this interest, despite the fact that really, we’d just as soon roll our eyes. Respect. Don’t do without it.

Along with respect, patience is a very necessary commodity. You have to be patient with each other. You have to allow each other to make mistakes, be imperfect, be human. That sounds simple, but it’s not. I, for one, fall down in this one more than I should.

Patience also means you don’t throw in the towel the first time you hit a rough patch or face a crisis. You persevere and work through it.

You have to understand that, being married, while you have a right to remain an individual, you don’t have the right to be selfish. You won’t get your way all the time. Maybe you won’t get your way even half of the time. There are no score cards, here. If you want to have a long, successful marriage, you can’t be putting yourself first all the time. There’s an old saying that if you want your husband to treat you like a queen, then treat him like a king. And that is very, very true.

“Do you know what else I think has helped us remain close?” my beloved asked Saturday night. “I think the fact that, right from the beginning, we were both readers.” I bet that was one that didn’t make many people’s lists. My beloved doesn’t understand anyone who doesn’t read. He once asked me, “What do these people do in the quiet times?” I had no answer for him.

Often, the only entertainment we’ve been able to afford were paperbacks. Each payday day we’d go to our local book store and load up on them. Twenty-five dollars bought us enough reading material for a good couple of weeks. And since mostly we like the same books, it worked well.

We had a pleasant time out together Saturday night. We talked about life and marriage, people we had known, different places we had been, and would be going soon. We ate a wonderful dinner, and even took a quiet ride through some of the areas of town we like, looking at homes and yards and gardens. And then we went home, got into our comfortable clothes, and headed in our opposite directions: he for the television, me for my office.

Ah, the joys of true love. May yours bloom as long and as comfortably!
The doors are open and the mask is off. Are you ready?

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