My good friend, Sue, celebrates 55 years of marriage today. I asked her what, more than anything else, kept her and her husband together for so long.
“Compromise,” she said. “And friendship.”
“Oh, thank God,” I replied, “I thought you were going to say ‘hot, steamy sex,’ and then I’d be in knee-high animal waste.”
I need people like Sue to remind me of how marriage really works, of what you really need to be able to go out to dinner with the same mate five decades later.
Throw out infatuation. Throw out common interests. Throw out chemistry (for the most part). Throw out basically everything the media feeds us on what a relationship between a man and a woman should look like: the head rush, adrenaline, savage sex, chivalry, and the excitement and easiness of it all.
If I’ve learned anything from the marriage experts, it’s this: if you want to stay married, you have to work at your marriage like every other aspect of your life. You have to communicate and compromise. You have to bite your lip when you want to cuss, and you’ve got to be kind when you don’t want to.
Beyond Blue reader Peg, who has been married for more than 40 years, wrote this on the message board of my “Stay or Leave?” post:
Marriage is a discipline like any other discipline taken seriously (i.e., sports, dance, etc.) and each day I have to work at it. My Catholic faith keeps me going against the odds society gives us these days. I had to look deep into myself to realize my own shortcomings that contributed and contribute to a good relationship.