in this post, if you're interested) respectively, our older selves so closely approaching the length of my parents' 48-year marriage, but now we're within easy striking distance of that, and it's quite possible we'll manage the marriage longevity of his folks. Luck and commitment and determination and perseverance, if you were to ask for secrets that make it work. Love, of course, but so many couples begin with love and many even part still loving each other. A sense of humour. For us, shared values as well as a willingness and ability to compromise. Honesty, fidelity, trust. Sharing activities but allowing each to have, also, separate pursuits and friendships. A willingness to accept temporary discontent, a wisdom (learned, gradually) to recognise that one is unlikely to be happy all the time. An ability to love a stubborn or angry or depressed partner just as much as an ebullient, nurturing, generous one -- for better or for worse, right?
There's no secret, in other words. But there is constant shifting and adjustment and adaptation and flexibility -- and a sense of wonder at how you're changing, individually, but also in tandem, and yet remaining recognisably the same, river-like perhaps, or like a deeply rooted, ever-growing tree. And luck. I always come back to that. At 21, I don't know that I thought long or hard or wisely about my choice of partner, and we committed to spending our lives together after dating for fewer than three months, were engaged by six months, married in less than a year.
Luck, that is, and what we each brought to the marriage in terms of our individual genetics, personalities, family backgrounds, education, and experience, such as those could be at such a young age. So that I hesitate ever to give advice about what makes a marriage work or even whether keeping it working is good for either or both of the partners in it. Unquestionably, both of us abandoned or rejected other possibilities at various times of our lives to become and to remain married; individual sacrifices were made along the way; it hasn't always been easy. Yet I continue to believe that my marriage has been the central nourishing and supporting element in my adult life, so far (as a mostly lapsed Catholic, I might even say it has been the Sacrament, conferring Grace, it was consecrated as 42 years ago) but I would only recommend marriage to anyone else with some serious provisos.
There's no doubt at all, though, that I'm celebrating our 42 years together as an achievement and as a continuing joy. The plan at the moment is to pedal through the glorious August weather to various favourite spots in the city, stopping along the way for our breakfast, lunch, and, depending on how the quads and hamstrings hold up, maybe even grabbing our dinner on the way home. There will be no candlelit tables in romantic restaurants, but my undeniably ageing, yet still good-looking, Groom, brought home a bundle of sunflowers and another of fragrant lilies last night.
So off we pedal, steadily and happily, into our 43rd year together. . .
(and in case any of you wondered about my daughter's family in Italy, they slept right through the earthquake, never felt a thing. We're hugely relieved, of course, but so sorry for all those whose lives have been devastated.)