One of the things my husband does to tease a laugh from me, is to change the sound of his voice and imitate the late, Fernando Lamas. Joe gets a twinkle in his eye, does something comical with his eyebrows and delivers … “You know darling … you look marvelous”. If you haven’t heard this phrase repeated with a thick accent then you’ve missed something.
Life’s an everyday turn of events beginning with normal routines, mundane chores, platitudes, and a robotic-feel to scheduled agendas. What to do to make it seem fresh and without contempt? Believe me and most would agree, that what we once thought was quirky can suddenly become irritating. I have heard this message three times in the last two days: “Men marry women thinking she’ll never change and women marry men thinking they will change”. What a terrible recipe for marriage. Understandably, from where I sit, I recognize the absolute truth. Add in close proximity and that long ago honeymoon, after twenty years or so (many times much sooner), it’s a wonder anyone stays married at all. It surely takes commitment.
Marriage is a contract of promises, vows, hopes and dreams. During the wedding itself, we get hints about later on. Lines like … till death do us part … in sickness and in health … and obey (what?)! I had to obey my parents for two decades, why in the world would I want to have to do this all over again? But marriage is like this and soon after the honeymoon bliss is done, we find ourselves falling into everyday patterns, carving out plausible rituals of washing clothes, washing dishes, taking out the trash, having to juggle budgets and learning to do without some of those items we shopped for before combining lives.
I remember hearing an actress in a movie admonish the normally bright young girl, who was thinking of marrying the romantic good-looking man who’d swept her off her feet. “Honey, you’d better have something to talk about when the romance wears off”. These words dismayed the girl who didn’t believe her older and wiser relative. But knowing in her heart that this feeling will last forever, she runs off and marries the rogue anyway. Soon after she wakes up. Take to heart this old adage, “Marry in haste … repent at leisure”. They might have something there. Perhaps getting to know a potential spouse a whole lot better is prudent, even wise. Gee Whiz! Just try telling present-day kids this. They seem to want to do everything fast … who has time to contemplate logic when romance is in the air?
Long courtship’s have been known to be a big help to many married couples. You had time to discover how the other reacted to things, gained insight by hearing their opinions, figured out if you liked their character traits and saw if they had strange habits that might not sit well with you. Having said this, there are those few men and women who have agendas. They intentionally hide their faults or schemes (beware of deceivers), but for the most part, people are honest and taking time to learn the nature of a potential mate is pretty sound advice.
Now … back to the reason I began this. Getting along with a partner is exciting and thrilling and mundane and sometimes boorish. It’s work. There are good days and not so good days. It is a give-and-take relationship requiring constant compromise. We must also be vigilant, protective of our happiness against threat from outsiders. Couples must learn to balance it all. Including in-laws, pets, kids, their activities, the world economy with global warming thrown in, not to mention the political campaign to think about, it can drive even the most reliable and sane, loving couples to have arguments.
My best advice is to have something to fall back on … like a sense of humor, dining together, respect, compassion, truthfulness and love. Humor brings levity and balance better than most anything I know. Joe makes me laugh. And yes, we still hold hands, just as we did from the beginning. After all … we had friendship with the benefit of a long courtship, and it has really paid off.