It’s wedding season, which means it’s anniversary season. My spouse and I met, loved, agreed to co-housing, decided to marry, did so and then decided to continue to be married. It’s the usual story, with individual quirks and kinks along the way. He puts up with my weirdness, I put up with his.
We’ve agreed not to fight about some issues. For instance, it does no good to discuss whether Richard III or Henry VII disposed of the princes in the tower. There are no real facts to justify a conclusion, and we have our minds firmly set — and not on the same side. We also don’t discuss a solution for peace in the middle east. We played a war game once, but only once. We fight by different rules.
My parents were married to each other for over 65 years. I don’t aspire to that (I’d be over 100, and I don’t think there are any longevity treatments to keep my brain and body working together forever). My spouse, of course, intends to live forever, and when asked will just respond ‘plastics’.
My love isn’t my first love, of course, and nor am I his. We married when he was over 40, and I was in my mid-30s. I wouldn’t have wanted an unused partner. I learned from those earlier entanglements, as did he.
But what did I learn? Well, I learned that while marriage is a partnership, it’s an uneven one. One partner can need more support, more appreciation, more attention than the other. The good news is that — it isn’t always the same partner. Sometimes I feel as if I’m giving 75% of the labor, sometimes I think he’s giving 100% of the attention. Hey, it’s not about fairness, it’s about giving.
And that’s the secret. We each (all of us) give what we think we’d want. Our ability to understand the desires of others is limited. So, we pay in our own coin. But there has to be a measure of understanding about the other person to make things work. My list favorite exchanges of (material) gifts includes the time my parents gave him a circular saw (because I wanted one, and they’d never give one to me!) and the time he gave me an ironing board (because my old one had broken).
The non-material gifts are better, of course. He’s tidy; I’m more easily distracted. He washes the clothes, having discovered that almost all of the (routinely) washable clothes are his. I paint, repair, and do other things to make our home work better and be more beautiful in our eyes.
I wouldn’t change a day.