Editors’ Blog

Weird Job: Soul Mate

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

By kathy

Valentine’s Day is just a week a way, and over at the PopuList we’re asking for your 100-word stories about the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love. From The Christian Science Monitor comes a love story either get you super jazzed about this, ahem, “holiday” or reconsider your commitment to your life partner. It’s a fascinating article about couples who have been married for long haul … like longer than five years.

I know five years is considered an eternity these days and by Hollywood’s standards, getting through an entire month of marriage is a feat. And so, after reading this article and thinking about how our society views marriage and relationships, I’ve decided, and you may disagree (do tell!), that marriage, for better or worse, is a weird job. Here’s an excerpt:

One of my favorite spectator sports involves watching long-married couples interact. Their gestures and mannerisms, comments and silences, form a private language, spoken and unspoken, that each pair has honed during their 50 or 60 years together…

With their easy familiarity and quiet solicitude, these couples serve as unsuspecting examples of patience and enduring affection.

There can be moments of impatience, too, of course. You might see it in the “What’s taking her so long?” look on a retired husband’s face as he waits—and waits—on a shopping-mall bench for his wife. And you might hear it in a wife’s voice as she chides her husband for forgetting something.

Sometimes there are late-life role reversals as well. Perhaps a wife does the driving now, while her husband plays an unaccustomed role as passenger. Or he takes on domestic duties by helping with the shopping and cooking. Such are the accommodations of long-term marriage.

I think it’s safe to say that marriage isn’t what it was; the article touches on this fact, saying that 60 years ago, there weren’t the extravagant (translation: your father spent way too much money on one day) weddings or whinnying bridezillas roaming WE TV. Getting hitched was serious business, and one you couldn’t easily walk away from. You actually had to work on your relationship or deal with the situation because divorce wasn’t an easily accessible option.

This, of course, could be really good or really, terribly bad.

Yes, yes. I understand…we’re a different generation with different needs and expectations from our potential mates. We no longer have to get married in order to be taken care of; and for many, living together is really no different than marriage (minus those sweet tax benefits).

But as couples prepare to celebrate their 30th, 40th, or 50th Valentine’s Day, you can’t help but wonder what their secret is. After all, these are the folks who have no doubt been through better and worse and stuck together.

Marriage sure isn’t easy. It’s scary, it’s hard work, and it’s weird. But I suppose that’s what love is. You can read the piece here.

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