Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Something very important in a marriage

A FB friend posted an update about meeting an elderly couple at an airport who have been married 56 years.  She said couples from back in the day knew how to do it, and couples nowadays don't.

On some levels, I agree.

We have long been a disposable society.  Get one plastic fork for the entree, use it, toss it, and then get another plastic fork for dessert.  But we are also a "next best thing" society.  I mean, one must get a new cell phone even if the current cell phone one has works fine.  Or maybe works 93% fine.  We are in a constant loop of replacing stuff we have even if what we have doesn't have holes in it or hasn't completely stopped working and really, truly does need to be replaced.

D and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage in the fall, and I think part of the reason we stay together is because I am a "It's not better than what I have" person, and he is a "I like to eat Raisin Bran person."

Whenever I feel frustrated with him or marriage in general, I remind myself that if I didn't have him, I would likely have someone else who would do things that would irritate me and likely in ways that irritate me far worse than the ways in which D irritates me.  If you live with another human being every day for years upon years, they are gonna irritate you.  If I didn't have D, I might have someone who watches sports constantly.  Or demands sex 3 times a week.  Or harasses me to work full-time and bring in some more money.

If D didn't have me, he might have someone who expects him to go shopping with her.  Or wants to work full-time outside the home and expects him to pick up the slack.  Or talks and talks in an endless chatter that never stops.

I'll keep what I have, thank you very much.

D stays with me because he has to be absolutely, utterly stinking miserable for him to make changes in his life.  He likes routine (even more than me, I think).  Anyone who only recently requested granola for breakfast after having eaten Raisin Bran every morning for years is not going to ditch his wife.  (At least he better not.)

My parents will celebrate 40 years of marriage this fall.  Before D's dad died in 2004, he and my MIL had been married 37 years.  So D and I learned something from them.

And one thing I think both of us learned is to keep our mouths shut.  Sure, D and I get frustrated with each other.  We both mumble very, very quietly under our breath at times.  But yammering about how annoying the other person is doesn't engender affection or loyalty or love.  Complaining to each other about each other doesn't change each other.  It just pisses each other off.

Sure, I could say to D every time I do laundry, "You never fling your socks all the way out after you take them off so they end up in a bunch and stay wet longer."  But who cares?  I can fling them out myself.  Or they can stay bunched up and perhaps never get fully clean at the toes.  They aren't my socks, after all.  After doing his laundry for almost 14 years, I should know by now that this is the way he takes off his socks, and he's not going to change.

And is it really worth having a discussion about anyway?
(I end up flinging food particles on our bathroom mirror when I floss my teeth and he doesn't say anything about that.  That's just the way I floss my teeth, and after 14+ years he knows that isn't going to change either.)

Being content with what (and who) you have.  
Keeping your pie hole shut.

Secrets to a long, mostly happy marriage. 


Kelsey said...

I think there is a lot of truth here Carrie. I love this - there are a lot of things that can be truly wrong in a marriage. I wonder how many people actually do break over the stuff like the bunched up socks?

Imagine if people dumped their kids when they were being frustrating. Oh wait, no one would still have any children!

Keri said...

Wise words here, my friend!

The only thing I will add is a point that I heard in a sermon recently. It used to be that the average person's circle of the world was fairly small, so there was really little chance to meet someone new to compare your spouse to, or to tempt you to leave for something better.

But these days, with everyone being much busier, running kids to and from activities (and relating to other adults while there), being on Facebook (often with old boy/girlfriends, as well as current acquaintances of the opposite sex), the internet in general, cell phones and private emails, chat rooms.....a person has MUCH more opportunity to a) meet someone who looks to be better than one's spouse, and b) get to know that someone without one's spouse finding out about it.

The remarkable ease with which a person can meet and "fall in love" with someone else makes it staggeringly easy to have an affair or dump your spouse for someone else, as opposed to in our parents' generation. Not only did people not get around and meet as many other people as they do now, but without technology, that left letters and home or work telephones for communication, which made it harder (and probably therefore less tempting) to carry on an extra-marital relationship.

I had never thought of that before, and it really struck me how much those factors have likely contributed to the downfalls of today's marriages.