Bells ring, spirits play, allegro is our mood today, Susan and I have been married for 25 years. It is traditional to say that those years were the best years of our lives, and in a real sense they were. But the truth is that it is some kind of minor miracle that we survived as a couple that long. In a way, our marriage has been one long argument.
The arguments were never about the great bugaboos of married life: money, children or, heaven forefend, infidelity. There was never any question that either of us engaged in the latter, or that we were satisfied with our economic status, or that I shared Susan’s love for her son who was eight when we married. Moreover, we furnished three houses together with comparative ease. Rather, the arguments had to do.... Oops, I can’t remember, but they must have been important because we both agree there were a lot of them. Whatever their substance, they were somehow resolved with a kiss, a hug and a giggle. "Never go to bed angry" should be posted on every married couples’ wall.
We are both alpha personalities. When alpha personalities go on a long safari together, one of them is likely to be eaten by a lion because they disagree on the direction the lion is coming from. Fortunately, our lions were more like pussycats. Inevitably, we ended up adopting them.
Come to think of it, there was the time when I forgot to pick up Susan’s then ten-year-old son from in front of his therapist’s office. After waiting a half hour, the poor kid had to interrupt the therapist in his next session to call me. As you can imagine my irresponsibility was discussed at some length that evening. Happily Justin has grown into a wonderful young man with a wife and son of his own, and is probably a better father than I ever was.
The question of which one of us is to put the live lobster into the boiling water has troubled many marriages, including my first one. Susan has never reported to me who did it in her first two marriages, although her first husband, whose parents were Orthodox Jews, was unlikely to have created such a problem. Her second husband was of Italian Catholic heritage. He probably dumped the lobster in without a problem. In my own case, I too dropped the lobster but I laughed while doing it, which resulted in a mild contretemps.
Music has often been an irritant. We both like music, especially, in my case classical music, but we have sharply differing opinions over the sound level. Susan thinks that music should somehow be felt but not heard. I think it should be played at concert level and damn the neighbors. You can develop an enormous amount of heat over this question.
Then there is often a question of gender. Obviously she is a woman and I am a man but it is not so simple. Susan is also a feminist with much experience in succeeding without male help. She won eight local Emmys during her five or six years in Philadelphia broadcasting as a producer/director. She since has gone on her own successful business career as an advisor to people concerned with building public and/or private housing and facilities for seniors.
Feminism is also one of my causes and I obviously knew who I was getting when we married. However, there is feminism and then there is feminism. Her version is that she does not willingly take supervision by or even suggestions from any male. Me? In my business career I had endless female staff to assist me and I grew to expect gratitude for my paternalism to these “girls.” Not now, I don’t. Paternalism in husbands is not usually welcomed by the fair sex, no matter how men think otherwise. Trust me on this. I’ve been banned from table and bed several times to correct my attitude and it stands corrected.
You must not take any of this as a complaint. I think the first requirement of marriage is that you love each other. If you do, than the fact that you are different people and occasionally rub each other the wrong way is part of the fun and excitement of being married. It is hard to imagine either of us staying married to people we found bland.
Susan is a wonderful, loving, caring and family-oriented person who brought our disparate families together in one really great whole. She has saved my life emotionally and sometimes physically. My gratitude to her is immense. She is a great English-Canadian-American beauty. And I will always love her.