My mother likes to refer to my father as “my first husband”. Recently, my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Although being married for 60 years probably is rather unusual, it isn’t necessarily an accomplishment, per se. But my parents’ marriage is a reason to celebrate. They really love each other! When my father walks around the dinner-table, he kisses my mother on the top of her head (I don’t know what he does when we’re not around). When my father is out of the house, my mother listens for the key in the door, and rushes over to open it for my father. They are happy when they are together. It’s a joy, and a comfort, to know that through all the challenges life has thrown their way, they have had each other. They argue, and disagree, sometimes. They are really good at compromising and they trust each other completely. That’s the thing to aim for, finding a spouse you can trust and whos’ company you enjoy.
Personally, we are silly people, and we can amuse ourselves with a farting machine (yes, I’m the proud owner) or unbearable puns. Other people may enjoy other activities, such as Wagner operas, although I don’t see why. It’s expensive and boring. For two Wagner tickets you could easily get 20 farting machines. And ours has a remote control. You can never get an Isolde with a remote control.
Loving your spouse is a gift, but also a decision, and to an extent, a societal norm. In India, till this day, most marriages are arranged by the parents. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for a second think that marriages should be arranged, but I do think that parents should teach their kids that finding a spouse is all important, more so than a career.
Finding the one person, doesn’t always work. Some people don’t want a life-long partner, and others are not fortunate enough to find one. In a serious relationship, there is always a need to compromise, but you can’t compromise on who you are in a relationship with.
Many years ago, my friend came to Israel for her honey-moon. Very casually, she said she hopes her marriage will work out, but if it doesn’t, they can always divorce. Do you want to guess if they ended up divorcing? I don’t think there is one particular type of person that can make couplehood work. But there is the pre-requisite that you have to be committed. You wouldn’t hire a person for a job if you think he doesn’t intend to do the work, or if you sense that you can’t trust him. Same thing goes for relationships. Attraction is good, good fincances are good, social standing is good. But not that important. Your soul can’t lean against those things, when life sucks. Or laugh with a fat bank account till you cry.