To Have and to Hold...
I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
- Rita Rudner
This has to be my favourite quote about marriage and it was definitely true when I got married many years ago. I was reminded of it when I recently found out, that my grandparents have been married for 76 years.
Yes, you read that right: 76 years. It’s a number that seems completely insane to me, given the disposable society we now live in.
When they got married, my grandmother was just 12 and my grandfather, 14. They got married as children, without, I expect, even an inkling of what it means to want to annoy another person in the way Rita Rudner describes.
Marriage is a strange thing. I read an article once that said that we were all doomed to marry the wrong person. Turns out, we’re hard-wired to choose a partner that reminds us of our parents. We choose this partner in the hope that they can somehow heal our childhood wounds, by giving us what our parents were not able to.
But rather than it being the fairy-tale that we expect, what ends up happening, is that our partners wound us all over again. Being married to someone for 76 years really is testament to how you can not only learn to live with those open wounds, but learn to accept them and heal yourself. I think it shows tremendous character and the true meaning of unconditional love.
Interestingly, when we first meet our significant other, we see only their positive characteristics - we “fall in love”, based on our projections. Then, as the relationship progresses, as we start to see more of the whole person; we project more negative traits.
I know that when my relationship ended after 20 years, I sometimes wondered how my partner could have changed so much. The truth was, he hadn’t – it was, as Patanjali of yoga sutra fame would say, merely a projection of my own mind.
So how does one see the whole picture from day one? Simply by letting a person show you who they are, without clouding it with emotion. As one wise, elderly patient of mine shared, everything you need to know about someone can be observed on the first date. Even with someone on their best behaviour, you can see it all, if you’re just willing to pay attention.
But getting back to this 76 years, it reminds me of something I heard in a Richard Gere movie once: this idea of someone being a witness to your life. The old romantic that I am, I think that’s pretty special.