While sitting poolside at the Ritz one day last weekend, I met a fascinating woman. And as we chatted she introduced me to her husband. They have been married 43 years. Wondering what is they key to their success, in her heavy southern drawl she said in a conspiratorial whisper, "You learn very quickly what buttons to push. And later you realize you don't always need to push them." Shortly thereafter, along came her mother. Another beautiful southern woman equally as fascinating as her daughter. As we talked, she told me she celebrated her 68th wedding anniversary last December. And still talks about her husband like he is the best thing that ever happened to her.
As a child, my initial grasp of marriage was you sit in a tree, you kiss, then you fall in love, get married and have a baby. Voila!
Later, my concept of marriage could be summarized easily: Partnership and fun because that is how I saw my Mom and Step-Dad. My Aunt and Uncle (married 58 years this year) also demonstrated true partnership, a balance, and the amazing talent of being patient when you want to be impatient, and holding your tongue sometimes when you have more than plenty to say.
Obviously, as an adult I discovered that in order to have a true partnership, and fun, you have to accept marriage has a certain element of work included too. And somehow when we were singing that song about Kelly and Scooter sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g; the word "work" was not in the lyrics. In fact, the song makes it all sound strikingly easy. Sit in the tree! Kiss! Bravo! Now we know better. And while I know marriage is work, for me, this type of work is intrinsically more fun than work of other varieties.
And while we certainly don't have it all figured out, JMac and I give it our best effort. And I would love a future snapshot of myself sitting by the pool chatting with some sassy little whippersnapper, sipping my libation as I share sage advice on how to remain happily married after 68 (or even 43) years just like Ms. Frances and Ms. Amanda did with me that day. It was a great testament that love and longevity are not mutually exclusive. And that happily married is not an antiquated idea.
Since we are in our late 30's, I gather I will be all kinds of hellcat if we get to the 68 year wedding anniversary mark. Either hellcat or some strain of crotchety but 68 years is a fabulous goal to have in mind. The first one of us to get to that mark, be sure to share your secrets too.