Thursday, March 12, 2009

A glue that really sticks

On March 11 42 years ago, Bob and I fell in love forever and irrevocably. And I know this is true just from the look in his eyes. Sure we have our differences. But in the long run they don’t matter. What matters is that after all these 42 years we are still together and as much in love as on that first night.

So, I wonder now what has been the glue that has kept us together. Is it that we were both married before? We had practice runs, so to speak. Is it that Bob and I sowed all our wild oats while we were in between marriages? Is it because we were both older when we tied the proverbial knot? (We got married three years after we fell in love. Our 39th wedding anniversary will be in May.) All of these things I suppose are true, but not unusual by any means.

At the outset, we certainly had a lot going against us. Both of our sets of parents objected. Mine because Bob isn’t Jewish and has never had any intention of converting; his because they still were in love with his former wife. We had absolutely no money between us on our wedding day. He was paying alimony to his first wife and paying off a loan for an investment he had made. I had recently been laid of from my job of seven years. And, initially we lived in Riverside where I spent much of my time at home alone and depressed. It was there that I had my first panic attacks and my second miscarriage (my first was during my former marriage). I often tell people that these times were so hard that we had to use my unemployment checks to pay for our weekly groceries, and our once in a while going out for dinner treat was Taco Bell. So, certainly we didn’t get off to a very good start. But, as a result we learned to cope with the many hardships and disasters the next 42 years would bring us.

But, I won’t enumerate those. I’ve written about those to death already. This post is about the glue that has kept us together.

Maybe it’s just the obvious. Love. And I shouldn’t look for anything more concrete than that. I certainly know what it looks like when I look into his face. I wonder if he sees the same thing in mine. I hope so, though I know I’ve been much less able to express and show my love than he.

I also think it’s in the way we give each other space and accommodate each other’s needs – without a hint of jealousy. Early on he came willingly along in my desire to have children. And he agreed to raise them in my faith, because he wasn’t as ingrained in his as I. Now, he gives me space to exercise and write and go off for days to writing workshops while I never complain about his golf dates or his dinners out with friends. We are independent, yet we spend an enormous amount of time together. In the last several years we’ve worked together many times, and even that doesn’t get in our way. Even at those times, we know to give each other space. I regularly tell people who ask where he is at work that I have no idea. I don’t keep his work schedule, and he doesn’t keep mine.

So, there’s another answer. Respect. We respect each other’s time and expertise. We joke about it, but Bob really has been an advocate for the advancement of women in our society. He’s never denigrated my place in the home or at work.
Another is sharing. When we first had children and I was mostly at home – except for working part time as a real estate agent, he and I created a sharing style. We agreed that what he and I did during the day was equal, and when we were home we would share in the work of our children and home.

Another thing that has mattered in our lives is that each of us has brought in an income. His has always been more than mine, but I’ve certainly contributed my share. And we are both mindful of spending and saving, so we have the same values. Sure he complains when I buy an outfit I don’t really need, and I complain that he spends too much money on wine, but in the long run we’re equally responsible – and generous with each other.

So, here’s the list I came up with:
No jealousy
Same values

These are the components of the glue that has kept us going these 42 years. And, I suspect they’ll keep us together many more.

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