Monday, August 20, 2012

Driving a happy marriage

            My mother and father were married for sixty-two years, a pretty amazing feat, considering they knew each other only eighteen days before they were married. Theirs was a WWII Navy romance, meet, marry and love like there were no tomorrows, because for them, there might not have been any. But, they had more than 22,000 tomorrows; some good, some bad, some unforgettable and a lot of them just plain funny.

            I’ve been with my husband more than half my life, which seems pretty monumental, yet I know decades together does not always a happy marriage make. Commitment has nothing to do with a piece of paper downloaded off the internet, then signed and filed with the town you’re getting married in; it has to do with endurance. My father was a humble man and the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. My mother…she had an answer for everything and her answers were always right, even when she was wrong. My father was okay with that, and often took the blame for being wrong, because he loved her, was a master of endurance and he was in it for the long haul.

             I’m wondering at what point the bliss, which we call connubial, reaches its marital tipping-point; the instant at which a couple has been together so long that bad habits, become simply annoying, and the annoying ones are considered quirky and cute. Personally, this wedded point of no return basically means I’d rather put up with my idiosyncratic spouse instead of training a new one.

            Because I didn’t marry until I was thirty I was pretty much used to doing most of the guy-stuff around the house myself, like changing light bulbs and cleaning snow off my car. Because I was so used to being in control, attempting to give that up, and failing so miserably at it, has been an ongoing thorn in my husband’s side; principally among my control-transgressions, driving.

            I like to drive, not just because it is something I enjoy doing but because I like deciding the velocity and trajectory of the vehicle I’m in. Is it because I choose to exceed the posted speed limit, no, it’s because I like to be in control of the object in which I am housed as it’s being propelled down the blacktop mere inches away from other vehicles racing to keep up or get ahead of me.

            After a particularly hyperbolic exchange regarding my husband’s parking ability, (I always tell him where to park and how best to accomplish the task), I asked him, “How do you operate this vehicle when I’m not in it to tell you how?”

            “I simply ask myself,” he said, “what would Carolynn tell me to do?” I just love a man with a sense of humor.

            Maybe that’s the answer, not the sense of humor part, the just ask me part; I tell him what to do and how to do it, and he does exactly what he wants to do. And that, my friends, is what makes a long and happy marriage. It worked for my mother and father

            I do bow to my husband’s expertise often. He’s amazing with a hammer and nails, the man could build a ten room colonial from the scrape wood stored in our basement.

            I have a sign which hangs on the wall in our kitchen above the back door: “If a man is alone in the woods and speaks, and there is no wife to hear him, is he still wrong?

            Unlike my mother I admit, I’m not always right, I’m almost always right.

            Enough said.


Cooking on a Budget said...

I love this article to death. It's funny and comical and so true. You always have a way of making me smile.

Jennine G. said...

Haha, this is great! The description of your parents' personalities sounds exactly like my husband and I! And the driving thing? I don't mind him driving, but you better believe I'm going to critique it the whole way! (Especially where and how he parks! My car is still new enough to be careful with!)

Hannah said...

This post was hysterical - as was the last one about your husband being sick.
My mother once told me "Men are all the same - their mothers just give them different names." In my experience this has been mostly the case, though not always in obvious ways. It seems to me the difference between women who can be happy in relationships accept this, laugh about it, and work with it, rather than becoming cynical. I think your parents illustrate that, and your own marriage.
And I can only imagine what men say about us, and hopefully they can accept and laugh about it too.

Anonymous said...

Only someone who knew your parents and how they operated together could appreciate the utter accuracy of your first paragraph. Your dad was one of the kindest, most generous people on the planet; it would never have occurred to your mother that her opinion wasn't his as well. They set an example for all of us who knew them, especially you and your brother.