Sara Whitman

How to Survive a Long Marriage

Filed By Sara Whitman | January 29, 2008 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: child care, kids, LGBT families, long-term relationships, lovers, marriage, relationships

While I was standing in line at the grocery store, I was looking over all the magazines. What engages people today- I mean, do we really care how Larry King is trying to combat heart disease?

I saw one headline that read something like "How to Survive a Long Marriage." My guess is it really read, "Love and happiness for years to come" or "The Secret to Successful Marriages" but that's not what I remember.

Funny how that works, your brain reads one thing, your mind takes in another. Like how Obama wins South Carolina and suddenly he's winning the race.

I thought about the article, and what I would write. I have been married 17 years and it feels more like survival, most of the time, rather than success. Success, to me, is more about roses, winning and an achievement that has a beginning and end.

Unlike the war in Iraq, with a questionable beginning and no end in sight.

I see it more as survival. We've survived each other. We've managed to love each other even though every illusion has been stripped away.

Actually, continues to be stripped away.

Because while there is a beginning, there is no end. We continue to grow, evolve, at different rates. Core issues- the ones that start to harden after the first six months of being together- take the form of socks on the floor or dishes left in the sink.

If I looked at my marriage and tried to determine if it were successful, I would have to say no. After 17 years, we still bicker. A lot. We know what our core issues are and they still can send us down the rabbit hole in a heartbeat. We've both quit, at different times.

I have looked at my wife and thought, I don't even remotely like you right now.

I know she's felt the same.

But have we survived? Oh yes.

While we were away over Christmas, with four other couples, all in long term relationships, I looked around and realized, Damn. We're all miserable. Some more than others, to be sure. But no one is basking in love and happiness.

We've all survived.

How to? I have no idea. Having kids is no guarantee. A good therapist always helps but therapy is about effort from both sides. It's about digging in and if your partner is healthy enough, making it work.

Big if.

So, it's not perfect. Sometimes we don't like each other. We're often miserable.

The reward? Well, my wife just looked over at me and asked me, Why do we have children?

This is our standard question to each other when we want something we know we can't have because they are in the other room, radar on and tuned to the minute we have a private moment.

Um... I dunno. Why?

Because I looked at the fire, and at you and... I wish I could take you upstairs right now.

There's that part, too.

I have no idea how we've made it this far. Not really.

But I'm glad we have.


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Wow - am I the only one who knows exactly how you feel?

Thanks for such an honest post, Sara!