Article by Juliet Young
When I say miraculous I am not talking about meeting a knight in shining armour who swept me off my pretty little feet, then rode us across the Channel on his faithful dappled steed without getting its hooves or our toes wet, turning water to wine every night for dinner, thereafter happily living a life of smiles and hugs and lurve.
What I really mean is that it’s something of a miracle that, after almost thirty years together, we are still here, still a Mr and Mrs Same Name, still definitely a couple. A couple of very different, hard-headed personalities who have amazingly stuck it out for the long haul. So far in any case.
I’m sure this must be a modern-day miracle because, Holy McZoly, it hasn’t always been easy. And that can be classed as the understatement of the last two thousand years, at least.
Analysing my long-lasting relationship
So, if I try to analyse this long-lasting relationship what do I find? An enormous amount of ups and downs, ins and outs, chutes and swings, and roundabouts. In other words we’ve undoubtedly been on every ride at the Fairground of Marriage and although we have often thought we might fall off or at least spew up our candy-floss all over each other, we have actually managed to hold on tight and come out the other side unscathed, clean, and still smiling. Or at least not crying. Not much anyway.
How on earth have we done it? That is a very difficult question which I can only begin to answer. There is, I believe, at least part of this miracle which we can put down to our family history. My parents are still (miraculously) together after sixty years. His parents were (very miraculously) together for over fifty years until my lovely mother-in-law unexpectedly died last October. My father-in-law may never get over the pain of this agonisingly abrupt and final separation.
Do long-lasting relationships run in our genes, like pale eyes, hairy toes, or other traits of character? Maybe so. Or have we just learned over the years that marriages can in fact last a lifetime, even when, at the precise moment that you are thinking such a thought, you’d also like to strangle your partner and run for the hills?
Grass isn’t always greener
Or have our peers’ experiences of marriage and divorce taught us that the grass is not always greener on the other side? It can, in fact, be very dry and brown and caked in dirt or mud or all sorts of other nasty excremental stuff. We have now quite a few friends who sorely regret separating from their ‘awful’ first husband or wife, only to find out that their latest version is twice as terrible in areas they had never even imagined the first time around. Perhaps we just don’t fancy ever walking across that dirty brown lawn. Our grass is surely green enough on this side of the fence already? A bit patchy, but green enough.
Or maybe, quite simply, the fire we lit as young twenty-year-olds in 1988 has never really gone out. It has wavered and quivered and puttered itself to near-death. Sometimes there are absolutely no flames visible to the naked eye, just thin, grey tendrils of intermittent smoke. At other times however, it is roaring and capable of setting the whole house on fire. Then something happens and a bucketful of anger will all but extinguish the beautiful blaze. But just as we are about to give up hope of ever re-igniting it, we see the tiniest of embers under the ashes. By gently blowing on it with breaths of hope and care, and adding twigs of tenderness and forgiveness, topped with a great big log of love, we can usually bring it back to life.
Then by fuelling it with silly laughter, walks holding hands, cold entwined feet in bed, heads laid on laps watching TV, sushi twosome dinners, lazy lounging weekends, and a huge common desire to stay together through thick and thin, we see the flames arise once more.
There are tiny miracles in the most normal of our moments together. And if we keep trying to see the best in each other and how important this relationship is to both of us then maybe we can manage another thirty years together. Until we’re eighty!
Now that’s really what I’d call miraculous.
About the author:
Juliet Young is the author of the blog – omgimfifty which she decided to create on turning fifty last year. She describes it as a self-indulgent observation of moments which make her laugh or moments which make her cry at this new stage of life.
Originally from Glasgow, Scotland she now lives in France with her husband and two daughters. She works in an English language school when she is not writing. Her next plan is to start working on a full-length comical book about being married.