I have made a number of mistakes in my lifetime, and done more than a few things of which I am not proud. One thing I definitely do not put in the mistake column, however, is asking Kaye to become my wife. That she said “yes” and ultimately bore us two children who are a source of boundless pride are the two greatest gifts a flawed man can possibly hope to receive.
This coming Monday marks the beginning of our fifth decade as a married couple. For forty-one years we have loved and hated; fought and collaborated; told truths and kept secrets from one another. In short, we have done the things—good and bad– couples often do while making their way through life together.
She has always been the steady one. Me—not so much. Not for lack of trying, but I have chosen career paths that have been extremely volatile and, as a result, she has been the rock upon which our marital foundation is based.
Our emotional temperaments are a study in contrasts as well. Her rational nurse’s demeanor in most situations clashes with my sometimes volcanic temper. To her credit, Kaye does not back down when she feels she is in the right.
While I rarely admit it, she has kept me from doing stupid things that I would otherwise do without her disapproving comments.
I have been by her side to offer advice when asked and to comfort when needed. She has never failed to do the same for me.
The fact that we have even a modicum of financial stability is testimony to her usually subtle—sometimes less so—input into our monetary affairs. It’s also a product of her fierce work ethic, something I am proud to say both of our children have inherited.
Some might wonder what the secret to our marital longevity is. In truth, I have no earthly idea. I suspect it is the result of many things, indicative of the shear complexity of challenges that life throws our way.
Without doubt, one answer is perhaps unsentimental: we’re just used to being around one another.
As prosaic as this may seem, this is the basis of many long-lasting relationships. There are worse things than being comfortable.
It seems that while marriage is hard work, staying married is even harder.
Lately, more than ever, I’ve come to realize we should not take what we have for granted. We’ve seen many long term marriages abruptly come undone and the factors that seem to lead up to these dissolutions run the gamut.
Merriam-Webster defines love as: “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” I doubt anyone who is truly honest about a relationship as long-lasting as ours could ever attest to “constant” affection. I think it is more likely something that regenerates with the experiences we share.
What I can and will say on the threshold of our forty-first anniversary toast is: Kaye, I love you. Here’s to many more.