Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mid-Week Musings

Secrets to a Long-Term Marriage

There is a class of recognition that I've come to think of as "Dubious Distinction Awards." You may have one or two of them packed away and disintegrating in a box under your attic eaves. I count among mine, citations for "Perfect Attendance" and, my favorite, from a cooking contest, an award for "Oldest Contestant". In both cases, all I had to do was show up, and I guess the just showing up part, helps to explain why I'm asked for advice about long-term marriage. Bob and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary this week and the number of years we have been together leads some to believe I know more about marriage than I really do. Actually, I'm as awed by that number as they are. Bob is a scientist, and while I am many things, no one has ever accused me of being scientific. A friend once observed that if Bob and I were asked to chronicle the end of the world, Bob's final entry would be, "Destruction began at 1030 as a shock wave traversed the planet," while mine would read, "O God, the humanity." Suffice it to say, we are very different people. We married young and the odds against our marriage lasting even five years were pretty slim. I think they stopped short of casting lots, but few thought our marriage would last as long as it has. Everyone except us.

We had some things going for us. We were raised to believe that marriage was forever. The only escape hatches were labeled addiction, abuse, and adultery and vows were taken seriously, even by the young. As I look at marriage today, I can't help but wonder why anyone would commit to it, if not for forever. A marriage requires work and no one leaves it without scar tissue, so I'm a firm believer in living together until there is a reasonable assurance that your affection and devotion to one another can withstand difficult times and be forever. If I had one piece of advice to share with those contemplating marriage, it would be to make sure you both don't go crazy at the same time. There is a lot of crazy, even in the happiest of marriages, and the scales of give and take rarely balance. Marriage is not a fifty-fifty proposition, no matter what the experts tell you. One of you will always give more and work harder than the other to make your marriage work, but in a good marriage the person bearing the weight shifts back and forth.

Male or female, try not to get lost in your marriage. Give each other lots of elbow room and keep on learning. Ten years into a marriage, the person sitting across the table from you will not be the same person you married. If you've kept up with each other, there will be activities and friends you still share, but it is important to grow and retain a healthy sense of self apart from one another. It will make you happier and more interesting, but despite having said that, it is also important to "work" on your marriage, remember how to flirt and keep those shared interests on the front burner. Never coast. Make it a point to set aside or create "we" time. You will need that when children come. Head into parenthood on the same track and agree on what you want for them and how you want them to develop. If you exhibit it no where else in your life, create a united front when dealing with the children. They will chew you up and spit you out, if they can play you against each other. One of the greatest periods of strain in a marriage occurs when the nest empties, so in the years leading up to that deafening silence, make sure that husband and wife can still be found beneath the mask of mom and dad.

Above all else, laugh lots and develop a healthy sense of humor. Work on developing a sense of balance and learn to separate the wheat from the chaff of married life. Pick your battles. In my own search for balance, I've developed a personal mantra that I have, on occasion, been known to say through clenched teeth. At any rate. in hopes that it will contribute to your sense of equilibrium, repeat after me, "In the light of eternity, this is a small thing." Sometimes it actually works.

Marriage Wisdom Gathered Over 50 Years

By Colbert I. King for the Washington Post

Tomorrow, July 3, 2011, my wife, Gwen, and I will reach the big “50.” That’s right: our 50th wedding anniversary, a milestone some friends believed would never be reached, not with the saintly Gwendolyn marrying the likes of me. Use this link to read the rest of this very funny story which you will find here.

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                One Year Ago Today:                                                      Two Years Ago Today:
                   Oatmeal Carmelitas                                                            Strawberry Mousse

                Three Years Ago Today:                                                 Four Years Ago Today:
      Minced Lamb with Glass Noodles                                   Sumaterta - Icelandic Summer Tart


Lori E said...

Happy Anniversary. What a wonderful post. I love it and so enjoyed reading every word.
Our marriage will reach 33 years in July.
Humor is one of our strongest connections and we joke that we both make fun of the same things after we leave a gathering. We feel the same way about most of what goes on and yet we really have very little in common other than respect, kindness, trustworthness and humor.
We mostly don't like to do the same things at all and that is okay because we give each other the space to enjoy the things in life we enjoy without one of us begrudginly following along.
Again... congrats on a successful marriage. I like your attitude.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Happy Anniversary! I think you have found a few real kernels of wisdom there!

From the Kitchen said...

I'm going to ask my children to read your Mid-Week Musings words today. The Baker, too. Thank you!


We Are Not Martha said...

This is a perfect post! "Make sure you both don't go crazy at the same time" really may be the best marriage advice I've heard.

Happy anniversary to you and Bob :)


Penny said...

Happy Anniversary Mary and Bob. All you expressed is so true. It will be 49 for us this year.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Happy Anniversary, Mary and congratulations on getting to a 52nd milestone! Your advice is dead on... and, I'm still chuckling about the part about not both going crazy at the same time 'cause there is a lot of crazy in a marriage. ;) Thank you. blessings ~ tanna

ramblingtart said...

You are a treasure, Mary XOXO Your words today made me laugh and get teary. :-) Just what I needed as I head into year 5 with my Bear. :-)

Lori E said...

You have hit the nail on the head for sure.
We have been married for 34 years and together for 41 years. Oh how we have laughed and that is the part of marriage I choose to remember most.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Happy anniversary Mary & Bob. You have expressed so artfully what I believe a real marriage should be and how it manages to work. We're right behind you at 47 years in November.

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