Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Politics + Happy Marriages
Everywhere I turn as of late, conversations seem to be focused on the formidable financial woes this country is now facing. Those troubles, combined with the contentious political race for the White House, have made it somewhat difficult to have a peaceful + civilized meal with a diverse group of friends, without it turning into a passionate, heated debate, where I actually ponder over my molten lava cake, whether I might need to drop my dessert fork to break up a middle-aged suburban melee. I--having been through enough this year already--am doing my very best to stay neutral, peaceful + calm, as there is no use wringing my hands over "stuff" that is out of my control. Instead, I am trying to focus on the joyous things that are going on in the world--and especially in my life--and am pleased to report that there are still plenty of happy and positive things to celebrate.
With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, and the average union lasting only seven years, it's refreshing when you catch wind of a marriage that somehow beats those grim odds. Today, my parents--Barbara and John--have been married for fifty years. That number actually makes my jaw drop, as I can barely find it in myself to spend fifty minutes with someone, much less fifty years, but somehow these two people have made it work, and oh, how I wish I knew the secret of their success.
It would be so easy if there was an illustrated manual on how to make a marriage last, but alas, one does not exist. Instead, I like to believe that the secret to my parents long union is simply...tolerance. My theory is that both realize that neither of them are perfect--that they have different opinions, and tastes, and ideologies, and they respect those differences without tension, hostility, or judgment. What I've witnessed over my forty-four years is two people learning to live, and let live; I can come up with no other secret sauce to this statistic-defying, long, healthy marriage.
In my ideal world, we would all follow this peaceful path of tolerance, where opinions could be spoken freely, without worry, and where molten lava cake could be leisurely consumed without the fear of fisticuffs breaking out over after-dinner espresso. But for now, I'll simply have to settle for my parents--not my dining companions--for inspiration.