Tag Archives: Long Marriages

Valentine’s Day – not only for the L-O-N-G Married

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On this Valentine’s Day my husband wants me to share with you the fact that he is disappointed.

By certain long-standing habits of mine that I refuse to modify.

  • One recent morning he came downstairs for breakfast and reached into the refrigerator for blueberries to eat atop his cereal. (as do I.)  What he found were two plastic containers of blueberries, side-by-side. One contained six or seven forlorn, slightly shriveled old blueberries. The other box was brand new – full of fresh, plump berries.

It was also clear, so he told me that evening  (he has an amateur sleuth badge from our mutual habit of watching far too many BBC detective shows) that a person he knows all too well had obviously opened up the new box of berries without taking the time to finish what was left of the old berries. Which is – according to him – a sad commentary on the differences that remain  between us even after almost 39 years of marriage.

That I would brashly dig into the sweetest of berries, because I knew I could leave it to him to polish off the older sad-looking berries.

And wouldn’t you do the same?

Given all of life’s difficulties (have you been watching the national news lately?), isn’t it reasonable, when presented with the choice, to go with the most tempting option?

I mean, I’m thrifty when I have to be – but when I don’t have to be, I do like to eat the freshest food first.

  • On a related note, he also likes to point out to anyone who will listen that I possess all of the necessary qualifications for immediate hire by whatever  division it is of the U.S.Department of Agriculture in charge of putting sell-by dates on food. Because he believes (wrongly) that a person can    confidently and safely consume food that is well past said sell-by date.

He quibbles with my predilection to toss out food that shows even the most recent of expired dates. We have – and I’m not proud of this – argued at length about what “sell by” means versus “use by.”

But don’t you also want to stay healthy?

I try to reason with him by explaining that if I were to eat very old food I could end up in the hospital – again.  (a place I do not want to re-visit having spent far too long there in 2012). If I were to become ill because of eating spoiled food, my husband would have to visit me in the hospital and that would cost him both time ( I can’t miss that much work!) and money (do you believe how expensive this hospital parking garage is?)

So I am only trying to be helpful by eating the freshest of food.

Unlike my husband who truly does love old food. And I don’t say this snidely. In all seriousness, he prefers to eat leftovers. Previously cooked food that resides inside little plastic containers inside our refrigerator for days, even for weeks, tastes good to him.

And if the most ancient of leftovers have a slightly blue tinge, all the better. (“it’s fine, it’s just like blue cheese. you like Roquefort cheese, don’t you?” he will say in his defense as he chomps down.)

Am I spoiled because I like to eat fresh food, prefer not to eat leftovers – and have a somewhat tightly wound approach to tossing out foods immediately after their use-by date? Perhaps so.

If he were a writer – he would want to edit this post – to tell you that his preference for older (a polite way of putting it) food comes to him by how he was raised. He is the child of immigrants who came to this country in the early 1950’s and worked extraordinarily hard in their factory jobs to raise a family who knew how important it was not to let any food go to waste.

I am a few generations removed from the immigrant experience and maybe that is why I am less thrifty about food than I should be. While my stay-at-home mom was hardly extravagant with her supermarket food purchases,  leftovers do not feature as large a role in my childhood memories as they do in my husband’s.

On this Valentine’s Day we consider ourselves lucky that we can share a laugh about a few old berries. Because last year was a very rocky one for us as parents. Life events tested our differing perspectives on far more serious concerns than the shelf stability of food.

It’s very important to laugh about left-overs. I highly recommend it to everyone, parents or not, l-o-n-g marrieds or not. Finding the funny in blue-tinged food can get you through the toughest of times.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, Aging, Family, Holidays, Husbands, Marriage, Men vs Women, Parenting, Relationships, Women

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do? – Old Cars, Older Marriages

wedding topper

My Detroit-born husband – after much nagging on my part (let’s call it what it is) – finally bid farewell to his beloved 1999 “sports sedan”.

For years I have been jealous of the attention (and the expenditures) he showered upon his automotive mistress. On weekend afternoons he could be found spending quality time with it in our driveway. He polished, shined and tinkered. When winter snow was forecast, he rushed outside to place a specially configured cover upon his adored vehicle, while my car was always left naked in the driveway, exposed to all icy blows.

Our friends thought it sweet that JP lavished so much attention on his old car. He keeps his old car around, isn’t that nice, just as he keeps his old wife around.

Let’s put a stop to the old car/old wife parallels right there. Although old cars and even older marriages may  share certain qualities.

While JP was online researching replacement cars, I became fascinated by the tempting descriptions of the “optional” add-on packages. How could we possibly choose between the “luxury line” package, the “modern technology” package or the “premium sports” package? Each is made to sound so alluring.

But choose you must. And years later, as the aging car enters its’ tween years, you realize you made it through without falling for “luxury”, “modern” or “premium.”  Somehow you learned to manage without the “Venetian Beige Dakota Leather Upholstery With Exclusive Stitching” or the “Palladium Gray Interior Trim.”

Marriage comes with its own set of choices. Without torturing this car metaphor too much, we choose a spouse based on the new options he or she presents. Packages of personal qualities. Of course, what you don’t want to anticipate at the time you marry is all of the wear-and-tear your marriage will go through. The initial gloss on all newlywed packages inevitably fades.

So how do long marriages survive – or even thrive?

If I knew the answer to this question, I would share it with you here. Or rather I would write a best-selling book about it, make a zillion dollars and win a Nobel Prize for my ingenuity.

Sadly, I only know the answer as it applies to my marriage.

We started talking about this last week at a meeting of my writers’ group.  The six of us – women ages 48 to 64, who all happen to be married to the same man we each started with,  have been writing about marriage.

We agreed that long marriages are based upon making accommodations.  What can we can live with – and what we cannot. There is a point that some of us get to where we feel we have accommodated enough. How do you know when or if you have reached that point?

One of the younger women in our group commented that I seemed to have a happy marriage. Has it always been that way, she asked?

Of course not. If only you had known me a decade or two ago, I told her, in the middle of my working-mom, career-super-stress, difficult-child-raising, husband-frequent-arguing years. Back then you would not have thought my marriage seemed so happy.

For me, marriage grew easier as I got older. With fewer relationship borne peaks and valleys. That I was able to better tolerate the smaller stuff – and that the bigger scary stuff that will happen puts all of the smaller stuff into perspective.

This is not always the case, I know. Divorce among older couples is on the rise, according to an article in the October 30, 2015 New York Times.

“Late life divorce, also called “silver” or “gray” divorce is becoming more common and more acceptable. In 2014, people age 50 and over were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990…and for those over 65, the increase was even higher.”

And what is the biggest reason for the increase in late-life divorce?

“The changing status of women”.

Women, according to the research, are more willing to take the decisive step of divorce; men don’t want to rock the boat.  Older women expect more from their emotional lives and if they are not satisfied with them, are more likely to leave an unsatisfactory marriage, even if it may mean financial uncertainty.

This conclusion did not surprise me: Women, as they grow older, still want more out of their personal lives and are willing to take risks to get it.

Let me take a minute here to reassure JP – if he happens to read this – that I consider our marriage emotionally solid. And I think he does too.

But I applaud women who make life-changing decisions later in life to pursue a deeper emotional relationship. My friends who have divorced are all the better for it. It takes great courage to leave the known for the unknown. To really rock the boat of your family’s foundations. And come out thriving on the other side.

If only I could offer the secret to long marriages to the younger women I know. Staying together and forging a satisfying deep bond as the years pass is not easy. Making fortunate choices in the initial selection of each other’s personal packages helps.

And yes, I guess, just like with old cars, shining, polishing and tinkering, showering attention on the older marriage helps too. Perhaps the automotive metaphor is not as tortured as it seems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Aging, Baby Boomers, Female Friends, Husbands, Marriage, Men vs Women, Midlife, Relationships, Women, Working Moms, Working Women, Writing