A Most Excellent Mystery

Probably the worst part of the last month and a half to two months was that for various reasons my husband had to be at new house while I was in Colorado.

It’s not that I’m insecure in our relationship, or that I thought anything would break from being apart, but there was a terrifying, “broken” feeling, like I’d just been sliced in half.

I’d like to say that’s just habit, because we’ve been married 36 years, but I’ve never done particularly well when Dan is gone for even a few days. And honestly, from the way he looked when I got here, nothing was particularly all right at this end too. In fact, the last time I was gone more than two weeks, he not only completely rearranged the house, but the minute I came through the door, I was told to “never do that to me again.” At the time we were married 1 year. (I went back for degree-finalizing reasons, for a month and a half.)

The title of this post is from a quote about marriage, and somewhere I have a mostly written novel about a woman who marries an elf Lord which I used the title for, which is stupid, since of course it’s fantasy. Anyway, I might have to revisit that sometime next year.

Because marriage is a mystery and very strange. You go from being two to being one. This doesn’t mean you develop a mind meld, of course. Dan and I are very similar in conclusions, very different in methods, and it sometimes — in the rare times we really disagree — sparks fly like you wouldn’t believe it.

It is more that your sense of self goes from being one to being two. An entity of two.

This means you acquire a whole lot of new interests, and do things you might never have had any interest in, otherwise, and also that you learn and grow in ways otherwise unknown.

The fun part is this happens again with kids, but more so. At least for me, having the kids was almost a symbiotic relationship. For the first three years of their lives I LITERALLY could “Feel” what they were doing and where they were. This diminished year by year, but never fully went away.

We went from being a couple to being four. New interests were discovered, like older son’s weird fascination with elephants was communicable. Also, younger son’s very odd music tastes seem to be viral. And we took interest in things we’d otherwise never care about.

Now the process is reversing as the now adult sons cut lose. We’re going from being four to being two. We’re learning who we were, reaching back to before we had them, and what has changed.

And that’s fine, as long as we are together.

I know in the way of life and mortality someday one of us will have to learn to be one. Maybe. I’m still hoping for that “instantly at the same time.”

In any case, I intuit that will be far harder than letting the boys fly.

And I don’t know why or what magic this is. But there is magic there. And a mystery.

150 thoughts on “A Most Excellent Mystery

  1. I love this post and would probably say something gushy, but instead, I’ll bring out an odd piece of trivia I learned from a speech pathologist who was often called on to testify at criminal proceedings when they needed someone to do voice analysis. I wanted to know if you could tell from a voice sample of a child and a sample of that same person as an adult that they’re the same person, from the timbre or some other aural markers.

    She thought that was an interesting question and didn’t know of any research about it. “If I were asked, though, I’d analyze how they talk: prosody, inflection, and word choice. Because those are the things that are most likely not to change. And in fact, you can tell family groups by the shared patterns in speech, word choice, and intonation.”

    I never forgot that, and now I often listen to my family and notice how often we talk like one another. Not in what we’re saying, but the way we say them, the shared metaphors and the detritus left over from in-jokes that have frayed from full sentences to single words that will set us off. The way we inflect questions or skepticism.

    And that’s one of the smallest and most superficial ways we are yoked when we make families. Think of all the deeper ways, the ones we don’t understand yet. Amazing.

    1. When I first consciously met my father when I was 17, whom I had not laid eyes upon at that point for 16 years, I was amazed at how many phrases I had in common with him and his other family. I grew up near Boston, he lived near Chicago. Weird to thing linguistics are genetic.

    2. Once upon a time, Pa got a new car. Not just a new-to-us car, but an actual NEW-new car (after years and years and years and years of driving junk…) And quite oft he’d say, as he pulled out of the driveway, “I like my new car. Don’t you wish you had a new car?” When, eventually, I wound buying new, there was a moment when Ma & Pa & Sistaur were all with me and used that line. There was non-trivial amounts of laughter. When $HOUSEMATE bought a diesel (and Sistaur was present…) he used the modified line, “I like my diesel. Don’t you wish you had a diesel?” And Sistaur reacted with not only laughter, but also a comment along the lines of “Alright, he’s family.”

  2. I felt split whenever my wife and I were separated for any length of time. The longest, when she still lived, was when her dad died in 2002. She spent about 6 weeks in another state, with her mom. My wife died in 2018, and oddly, I started feeling that disjointed state a couple of weeks before she passed. As if her spirit did not have the energy to reach out to me.
    I’m fairly certain that the concept of quantum entanglement includes people as well as particles. It’s the only theory that seems possible to explain the phenomena.

  3. There’s an excellent reason for Ephesians 5:31.
    NIV “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

    Nobody seems to know how to detect it or measure it. But with real love, there is some kind of spiritual, psychic, psionic, whatever connection. Not just one flesh, but twinned spirits.

    1. “Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.”

  4. Six months after DH and I got married, I left at the beginning of January for a teaching job in another state. We spent six months living apart. I did have a spring break and an Easter break (Jesuit college) and I went home for those (week each). He came out for a long weekend over Valentine’s Day. Then, he finally came back to pick me up in late May. That was bad, but for some reason the three weeks I spent in Serbia a couple years later was worse. I remember that the first time I could phone home, from a pay phone, with a phone card in a 17th century Turkish fort, I cried when I had to hang up. I felt like I hadn’t seen him or spoken to him in over a year and it had really only been about six days at that point.

    Since then, I’ve traveled without him at least two or more times a year for 5-10 days and been okay. I’m always happy to get home though. The last year plus, now that I’m retired and we haven’t been able to travel, marks the longest time in over twenty years of marriage that we’ve never been apart overnight. It’s differnt. I like it, but it’s different than what we’re used to.

  5. Biochemically mated pairs act somewhat as glands for each other. The male provides needed testosterone and oxytocin, the female due to her cyclic nature is harder to decipher but clearly there is an input. Sorry to be indiscrete, but the organs involved are the most absorptive for chemicals of the entire body (do not get toxins in those places}. I do not mean to denigrate the spiritual bond but as in all things our bodies and hormones are inseparable from our minds and spirits.

  6. My one true love and I have been married 43 years. A couple for 45. We don’t even like sleeping in separate rooms, nevermind states or towns.
    We have had to be apart sometimes though because, life. But it is very hard. And I don’t suppose I would last long without him. I don’t really want to actually. Even though we have a bunch of kids and grandkids. It’s not the same. Not the same at all. He might be fine if I go first especially if he meets someone cute at my funeral -An inside joke between us that started when I had a stroke and I told him later that my biggest concern at the time was that I couldn’t speak well enough to call the cute widows in town to let him know that he might be coming available. I was serious about it then because I couldn’t bear the thought of him being sad and lonely. Now it’s a joke. But still.

  7. The fun part is this happens again with kids, but more so. At least for me, having the kids was almost a symbiotic relationship. For the first three years of their lives I LITERALLY could “Feel” what they were doing and where they were. This diminished year by year, but never fully went away.

    I’ve got a seed of a post in my head, about philosophy of kids.

    It’s a lot like the symbiotic thing you mention.

    The Half-Elf and I are a unit. The unit is now the Royalty of Elfland, unless we do some very major work to set it up so that you only get a portion. It is the Half-Elf, Fox and The Kids, otherwise.

    Heart of the inspiration, we went to a wedding, and there were only three other kids there. And their parents didn’t exactly BRING them, it was more like they visited for part of the wedding party.

    Our kids were there because we were there. It was set up to be conductive to having kids. The bride and the groom ASKED people to bring kids, etc, it was just… that wasn’t what they wanted to do.

    Few other events just really drove home that part of WHY they were so overwhelmed with one or two kids is that they set it up so you CAN’T just have kids– they built their lives around “if our kids are there, they MUST be the point.”

    Just realized that is really not a healthy thing for the kids, either.

    Really need to get that written….

    1. You know, when the kids were little, we took TWO weekends away from them to “rest” by the third we realized it wasn’t fun without them and drove back (an hour, okay?) to get them. From then on, our weekends away to rest included the kids, and are some of our BEST memories.
      OTOH by the time they were late teens, we started taking weekends alone, to rest and write. And by then it was okay. Just gave us time to concentrate on things. Also, we had an inkling we needed to refocus on being two, by then.

      1. I resent my BIL and his current wife, still, 31 years later. Because their wedding did not include kids, except one of hers. Not something we could miss as we would be the only ones from his family there. AND I couldn’t leave our son with my parents. He stayed with my Aunt and Uncle and their three children (12, 11, and 4) so he was fine. BUT … yea. We didn’t stop scheduling vacations around his schedule he was out of HS. Granted, a lot of our vacations (or at least mine) was being a camp and “extended” hike (also known as 80 miles 10 day backpacking trip) adult volunteer … (At least I got paid vacation time. When dad went it was leave without pay.)

        1. Dad had to be in Portland for a medical procedure. Which is why couldn’t leave toddler with parents.

        1. In Michigan during the ’50s, it was fairly common for the state parks to have a mother with children at the campground during the week, while the father would show up for the weekend. The parks at that time were pretty kid-friendly, but that wasn’t how we rolled. As long as we boys were young, we’d vacation as an intact family. Mostly, these were 1-2 week trips to state parks, but occasional long ones, either visiting remote family or just looking around the country.

          Once each of us boys hit a certain age, we’d not go any more. $ELDER_BROTHER had a job between high school and college, but contracted mono, so he had to bail from the job. So, he came along on one last camping trip. (Bitching all the way–not an unusual attitude from Dearest Brother. Sigh.)

          Since I was the youngest, my folks vacation trips shifted to them as a couple, or occasionally with Grandma Pete (Mom’s mother) along. Dad died my freshman year of college, and Mom sold off the tent trailer we had. However, after that summer job ended, Mom and I did one last camping trip with a borrowed tent. The camping experience was vaguely familiar, but not really the same. A lot of it was saying goodbye to a stage of life.

          1. We camped as an intact family too. Us 5, three girls, maternal *grandparents. Plus, while they were still younger than 16 (?), mom’s younger bother, and dad’s two younger brothers. We went every weekend from the start of fly fishing season on N. Umpqua until the end of deer season. Plus at least a week at Eagle Creek in Wallawa Mnts. Elk season got nixed when I was 6 weeks old. Tent camping in snow with an infant with an ear infection apparently is less than ideal … East side, week out of school, deer camp, for us kids, was cut when I entered middle school. Tent (two pole old style canvas, no floor, wood stove) camped until I was about 12, then we got an over cab pickup camper, not self contained. Staying home alone was not an option. I started spending summers on Aunt and Uncle’s “ranch” (40 acres) outside of Baker. Mom and dad sold their last RV in 2008; dad died early 2009.

            We started with their tradition of camping every weekend and long family trips during the summer; latter when we could (when one of you has to take leave without pay during summer with permission, permission isn’t always forthcoming). Weekends got happered as kid entered soccer/baseball/golf seasons, and scouting; especially boy scouting. Not that we stopped camping, just instead of two adults, one child, it was 3 to 6 adults, 8 to 30 youth, 12 to 36 backpacks, up to 18 backpacking tents, plus other gear depending on car camp or backpacking, rain, snow, sleet, or sun, one weekend a month for 10 months, plus summer camp and a week backpacking.

            * The last year grandparents went camping they were in their ’90s; 2003. Grandma did all the driving (little old lady who could barely be seen above the windshield of the pickup driving wheel). Grandpa was blind as a bat from glaucoma and cataracts, all but deaf, but he’d get out check out their camping site and put that trailer exactly where he wanted it, without help. Grandma shouldn’t have been driiving either past about 2000. Do you know how hard it is to get driver’s licences pulled?

            1. In the mid ’60s, my folks joined the NCHA (Nat’l Campers & Hikers Assn). The organization still seems to be around under another name. (Doing business as Family Campers and RVers) The chapter we belonged to was almost exclusively trailer users, with a mix of tent and travel trailers. I don’t know if pickup-based campers were common then and there.

              They’d do a weekend once a month not too terribly far from home base; get there Friday after work, break down after lunch on Sunday. Most of the venues were camping-friendly resorts, with occasional public parks, some run by counties.

              We went to the national “Campvention” in downstate IL in 1968. That one used the DuQuoin(I think) county fairgrounds, and the grounds were packed. I was young enough to have fun, and old enough to be able to help in the radio tent. At that time, they were using CB radios. As a new ham, I see that amateur radio operators are doing a fair amount of event comms.

              1. Had family friends that were involved in family camping clubs in the ’60s. If it wasn’t fishing or hunting, dad wasn’t interested; at least then. After they sold the salmon fishing boat and gave up the commercial fishing license, they were part of two different regional camping clubs. One of which my grandparents also were a part of. They tried to get us to join too. But we were already juggling too many schedules and we only had the one kid.

                1. The demographics of the club were skewed older. At least on the weekend trips, I think I was the only teenager (13-15 or so), with maybe a few preteens and littles. Then and there, the travel trailer people tended to be either well off or retired. One couple had an Avion, which seemed to be an Airstream clone. Another had a German import VW camper. No other RVs in the club, since those on the market were really expensive. (Before Winnebagos were common.) A few of us had tent trailers, with three being the Reliarts. (Not really reliable, and the brand disappeared after the hard-top trailers came out.) Almost nobody used family tents in the club.

                  I was Odd enough to enjoy the weekends.

  8. True Love (as mentioned in the Princess Bride 🙂 ) seems to be more common than William Goldman would suggest. Certainly my wife and I who have been married 37 years and a couple for 41 have enjoyed each others company. And yes neither of us like to be apart for long. I think the longest we have been apart was 2 weeks back in the ’90s when I’d go to DEC Palo Alto to work with the workstation folks for 2 weeks at a whack. Also the empty nest thing is hard, we had a year of it when both girls were in college, we never quite adjusted. Elder daughter moved back in (at our suggestion) when she first graduated as a teachers salary is not enough to live easily on in Metro Boston, though she may head out again in the future.

    1. I think one of the problems of Boomers, Gen X and part of Gen Y is we/they got out of the concept of multi-generational households. Prior to the Boom, having 3 to 4 generations (if they survived that long) under one roof was apparently the norm.

      Now society seems to be heading back in that direction. The economic forces of low single worker wages and high price of housing is part of it. But I suspect the socialist forces sapping our youth of ambition, self confidence, drive, and initiative while simultaneously depriving them of any real education or usable skills is the other half of the problem.

      1. A lot of the people who are living with parents, in my circles, are doing so rather than paying for someone to help mom/grandma/etc.

        And a lot of the parents remember how much they screwed up just because they were so LONELY, for no f’ing good reason other than “I’m independent, now!”

        Basically, a push-back on the pressure that one MUST be isolated or be a failure.

        1. Well we’re not old enough that we need Elder Daughter to take care of us (yet 🙂 ). Although we have a friend the daughters consider an extra “Aunt” who is about our age. The girls think we should find homes near each other (perhaps a pair single level ranch or similar duplex) where they can put us and keep an eye on us. Sometimes I wonder if you couldn’t find a piece of land somewhere to implement a version of the Benedict Option with several families of similar bent.

          And yes aside from the cost issues a single apartment would not have been good for her mental health, loneliness sucks and teacher to middle school students can be absolutely soul sucking, 8th graders are needier than you’d think especially in an urban environment.

          I don’t really remember the loneliness of independence. I did want to kill my first roommate from time to time, but I was married a year after Graduation. I moved out from my roomate and really only had my own apartment for about 3 months. My wife is a year younger so she was married (to me obviously 🙂 ~45 days after she graduated from College.

          1. I don’t remember the loneliness for a lot of it, either– the “lonely” I only spotted from a lot of people watching, and trying to figure out the pattern.

            Consistently, it was not be alone. Stupid dating choices, bowing to things they NEVER would consider if they had some emotional support, etc.

            …basically, society-pushed isolation from support structures that make it easier to refuse things that are objectionable. Almost as if the family itself is supposed to be considered toxic simply by existing.

            1. “Almost as if the family itself is supposed to be considered toxic simply by existing.”

              I’ve seen feminists make that argument.

        2. In the early 20th century, all the discussion of adults still living in their parents’ home tended to assume that the child was looking after the parent. (At least that I’ve read.)

          1. Some of my dad’s brothers (and more of their wives) are STILL upset that he went and got married instead of doing that for their parents.

            I did watch the crud my aunt got– including from the relatives expecting her to do all the work– when she brought mom’s mom into her home instead of maintaining a separate household and being over there most of the day and night.

            1. Do not think the extended family found out, but in 2002, when grandma found out the company I worked for went bankrupt, she told mom that I could just come down during the day and take care of her and grandpa. Mom just told her “Not happening”. Mom had to quit being mad to tell me. We did not tell either my dad or my husband, because my reaction was “not a chance in hell heck”. I could barely stand to be in the house by then. (It took not only clearing it out, but gutting it to the studs and a lot of products to seal off what couldn’t be removed). She also told grandma they could sell and move down the street from her and dad. Grandma refused.

              Took mom, and I, a bit surprised. Because one story grandma raised us on was how grandpa’s parents expected him to quit school after 8th grade, to stay home, run the hard scrabble Montana homestead, and take care of them. His older siblings interfered and got him into town, HS, and eventually mechanic training. His siblings thought that was horrible and so did grandma when she found out. Then she pulls the above. What the heck? It isn’t like they were across town, a few miles/minutes away. They were 50 miles south.

        3. Mom was living in a retirement community in an extremely blue metro area. For reasons, she’s now living in a rental house with $ELDER_BROTHER, his SO, and occasionally his son. It works fairly well.

      2. I joke about us having a roommate. We do. Our 32 year old son. We never see him, except Sunday, because he is on a different schedule. He has enough money saved that he can afford an apartment even now, without a roommate. (Not that he’d get approved for one because they’d look at his net monthly income to housing percentage and would reject.) Then too, his schedule doesn’t match with apartment living. He sleeps from 5 AM to 2 PM. Would be parking at 3 AM … A problem in *neighborhoods, let alone apartment complexes. Our neighborhood is relatively quiet.

        * On Nextdoor – “Someone is driving into the neighborhood at 1 – 4 AM.” or “Someone is running the streets super early in the morning.” … Note, NOT our specific area, close, but not our streets. Our son does occasionally run when he gets home. Me, in comments responding: “You know, don’t you. That people work swing. Right? That swing means getting off and home after midnight. After getting home, they just might want to go for a run.” Get a lot of “What she said”, then comments get turned off.

        We were married just before my final term finishing my first degree. So I have never had an apartment on my own since college.

        Anymore a lot of home plans have not only a primary suite, but a Junior Suite, and probably bedrooms with shared bathrooms, accessed through the bedroom, that is not used by guests. Because of this trend.

        1. I suspect, by now, I have neighbors who realize Night Work Happens. And, I suppose the ones most likely to squawk don’t dare, being of the… methylated persuasion.

          1. Or have to get up well before daylight to make it to work in other cases. That said even when I was on night shift my neighbors never seemed to care thankfully.

            1. One thing I did find was that while walking at night might trigger some folks (there’s a reason I have a BRIGHT YELLOW jacket… too many walk in mere twilight in dark clothes), bicycling doesn’t. Might be that there is a light so it’s more obvious, but I suspect it’s more that, as slow as a bike is, it’s faster than walking and doesn’t trip that “he must be casing the place” response.

              1. Son runs with a blinking light. But, yes. My biggest fear. There have been some interesting conversations on the Nextdoor app about suspicious vehicle stop/go activity in the early hours … You know. What the paper person is probably doing? Those that think neighborhoods are quiet all night, are wrong. The school activity isn’t happening, but 100% no activity? They are wrong. Doesn’t mean suspicious activity doesn’t happen, it does, we are on the outskirts of Eugene. Our neighborhood is flanked both on the 4 points of the compass with roads that are routes for homeless, including the river and one rail line. But, for whatever reason, we rarely see homeless in the neighborhood (at least here in the center where we are … OTOH we are within visible distance of one of the grade schools).

      3. I’ve already got a room designated for when grandma (MIL) can no longer live on her own. When I found the SO, I knew they came as a unit, even if she didn’t.

        I’m not sending family off to some home to be stored away like cord wood until they go.

        1. It depends.

          Grandfather-in-law came to live with inlaws until he couldn’t use the facilities on his own. They started with temporary nursing home care when they were gone on their summer salmon camping trip, or when they did the caravan tour up the Alaskan/Canada Hwy.

          MIL went into an apartment in assisted living, on her own, she set it up, after FIL passed away. She lasted 5 weeks, maybe. She then went to live with her oldest daughter. Eventually went into nursing home when she needed more help than SIL could handle. Not alzheimer’s but some sort of dementia.

          My BIL’s (sister’s husband) mother stayed in her own home until it was no longer safe for her. Debilitating alzheimer’s. They tried volunteer process with her in assisted living apartment. Then as she got progressively worse she’d get more care but not moved. That didn’t last. She moved home. Until she was hospitalized and all her doctors flat out told her she wasn’t going home, and she wasn’t going into non-medical capable households. By then she’d lost the spot she’d had in the other better facility. The new location, didn’t go over well, and was not what she needed, but the only option. Then they found the correct option, and couldn’t get her moved because of covid. Fun times (NOT).

          Grandparents were committed to nursing homes after they collapsed in their home. Grandpa died in hospice a week later, followed by grandma two weeks later (morning after grandpa’s funeral).

          My mom will die at home. All three of us have a room for her if it comes to it. More difficult for her here, because we will not give up the animals. Nope. Not happening. So far, she’s 87 in 17 days, she’s fine in her single story mid-century ranch home, a mile from us, and 2 miles from another sister.

          My other BIL (hubby’s brother) wife’s mother is also still at home, at 91. Her autistic, brain damaged, brother also lives at home. An Uncle is living in a insulated shed, in the backyard, he is 93; SIL is trying to get him into a veterans home. The brother needs to be in a group home, but if they try to force it, he’d be homeless instead. No one wants that. BIL and wife, have their 5th wheel parked at the house for the duration. The house was suppose to be just their base between snowbird southern locals and their camphost gigs. Guess what they are not doing now … they are 68 and 73.

          It really depends.

          1. My great-grandmother stayed in her own house pretty much until she died, although she had help come in. Both my grandmothers were placed in a very good care home because… they really needed a lot more constant and medically expert care than their kids could provide. One rattled us badly because she stopped being able to remember whether she’d taken her medications, and she was… not willing to accept other testimony as evidence that she really shouldn’t take them again.

            As you say, it depends.

          2. That is true. And it depends on the people and the situation. And a lot can happen between now and then.

            People being people mean there’s never a one size fits most solution 🙂

          3. My mother’s father died in his 70s. A couple years later, my father died. Two years after that, Mom and Grandma sold their houses and combined into a a two-bedroom house. I was staying in one of the bedrooms when not in college. It wasn’t a workable solution with Grandma, and she ended up bouncing back in forth living near or with her two other daughters. Not a fun time.

            Eventually, elder abuse was a problem, and Mom and an aunt were able to get Grandma into a nice retirement home near the aunt’s place. They split the monetary and medical powers of attorney, and the retirement home lasted until Grandma developed Alzheimer’s. She went into a memory-care center near the retirement home, and it worked until Grandma passed. (All three sisters reconciled; I gather that the relevant husband was quite the bastard…)

            Mom is now 98, and in shaky health. Haven’t discussed end-stage options with $ELDER_BROTHER ($ELDEST is estranged because reasons), but I’m guessing it’s likely to end up as in-home hospice. Rehab centers and such in her state are hotbeds of ChiCom virus infections (three Let’s Go Brandon’s for the vax-virus-variants), so home is safer. I’m at the wrong end of the country to have direct involvement, and Flyover County would not be a viable option for Mom.

            1. In home care for BIL’s mother wasn’t an option. Even though she and they could afford it, there was a perfect location for her and in home aides, the doctor’s strongly suggested against it. She was better off where she was even though it wasn’t full memory care facility. When she died TPTB tried to get BIL and his sister to okay counting her death as “Due to Covid”. They refused.

      4. I come from a culture that takes multigenerational houses for granted, and while I am dedicated to this idea I also think you need the right mindset for it to be successful. Transplanting it onto the American model doesn’t work: it needs the concepts of honor (both bringing honor to your family, and honoring your elders) to work. Otherwise you get layabout children who never grow up, and parents who seem to think that their kids are kids forever.

        It’s that vital transition between ‘I am a child, living with my parents’ to ‘I am an adult, and my parents live with me’ that seems to trip people up.

        1. mine too. Part of the issue is I was supposed to be the old maid who lookd after the parents.
          HOWEVER it’s important to realize even this model breaks down in modern age. See Italy and Guido who won’t move out of grandma’s basement. Portugal isn’t much better.
          Becaue honor is now uncool.

      5. I have my 78 year old mother living with me, as I don’t feel it’s safe for her to live alone. I know it’s causing me problems with the dating life, but I’ll be dammed if I bend on that one.

    2. 3 billion or 6 billion, either is a large enough number that true love should have everyday.

  9. The wife is my lifetime achievement award and I got awarded it when I was 26.

    I spent most of the first 20 years of our married life in the road. I essentially commuted from London to Hong Kong for a year and NY to Chicago for three. I dragged them all over the world until we finally said enough 15 years ago. With all that, the wife is the anchor of my life. She’s one of those people that “do” and I’m hoping that my putting her into position to do will get me some sort of credit with the big guy — I’m going to need it.

    Working from home as been — interesting — and I think a return to some sort of commuting is necessary. Too much togetherness. On the other hand, just the two of us being able to go out has been a revelation as we get to know who we are instead of just being mum and dad.

    We’re 33 years in and hoping for 33 more.

    1. we too hope for another 36. For one we have books and music to write.
      BUT we love working from home. To be fair, not same office, etc. But we walk together at lunch. It’s nice.

      1. Yeah in the first part of this covid nonsense my wife and I were back to back in what had been the “parlor” about 8 ft apart. She was teaching Freshman college level Chemistry I was writing code. Very exciting when meetings overlapped. She still used the lecture hall voice in teaching, and she complains I type really hard 🙂 (learned on manual typewriters and then VT100’s). Elder Daughter was upstairs in what had been her younger sisters bedroom. teaching math to 8th graders. I now have an office up in that “spare” bedroom and wife and daughter have returned to teaching in person. That works much better. Kitties come and supervise me, especially the black one. I am apparently highly incompetent and need constant supervision 🙂 .

  10. My bride and I knew each other for four years before we finally paired up (we met when I was 17 and she was nearly 21, so THAT wasn’t gonna work yet) but once we did, it was off to the races. She moved in with me a month into ‘dating’, and two months later she was pregnant with our first child. We spent the next 39 years raising kids, chasing college degrees and careers, working our tails off, and never really made any time for just us.

    Come 2021 and Covid, she had enough of the BS and retired from nursing in early September. I scaled back to part-time status, working remotely from home. We left a miserable blue state for a marginally red one just weeks ago, to be close to the kiddies. And it occurred to us that, aside from a few vacation trips through the years, we have never spent days on end together, 24/7, until now. For decades we were more like strangers passing in the night, but now we can’t avoid one another.

    Not wishing to jinx myself, but I am suddenly put in mind of the tale of the Calico Cat and the Gingham Dog. Maybe the kids will swing by one day and find nothing left of Mom and Dad but a pile of lint.

    1. 🙂 If I’d taken DH home when we first met, he wouldn’t have lived long … I was 17, he was 22. Six weeks later I was 18, but then 3 months later he was 23. We started dating when I was 21, married when I was 22 and he was 26. It will be 43 years in about 6 weeks.

    2. My wife and I first met when she was 14 and I was 18, CYO. We met again five years later, and married 2 years after that shortly after she graduated from uni.

      The fact that we met through CYO is a source of endless amusement among our friends who didn’t meet through the CYO, which functioned as a wedding agency for young Catholics.

  11. Wow! Such a pleasure to read the testimony of so many good, long marriages. The weremate and I married seven weeks after we met. Coming up on 34 years now.

    He’s had to leave me all alone for a couple of weeks at a time while he’s been fixing up the cozy little dream condo in Florida. So I spent the evenings alone binge-watching Archer, which I generally don’t, because Archer gets on his nerves. One makes lemonade wherever possible….

    1. Well between my sisters and I … Us: 43 years this December. Middle Sister: 38 years this month, October. Youngest Sister: 33 years, last month, September. Maternal grandparents: 72 years; and finally Parents: 53 years before dad died. I can keep going … Even my BIL, who is 31 years with his current wife, never mind that this marriage is the 3rd for each of them.

    2. Man, I was so proud of hitting the 20-year mark this summer, and now I feel like a youngun. 😀

      Due to various family Issues, I dated mine for about five years before deciding he was safe to marry. I should’ve listened to the family dog from the start. (He met the dog about 8 months into the relationship. Our livestock guardian dog, 120 pounds of “I take my duties VERY SERIOUSLY”, looked him over for maybe three seconds, turned around, and sat on his feet.)

        1. They do! Our late lamented Large Large Dog (Small Large Dog is still with us) loved everybody. Ever. He would climb into UPS trucks to get in the driver’s lap if they didn’t fend him off. *One* time I was walking him and passed somebody that he gave the stink-eye to and promptly went on my other side to avoid. (Companion dog. Not guard dog. He was quite clear on that.) But somebody that HE didn’t like…yeah. I gave that individual a wide, wide berth.

      1. We hit our 20th this summer, but had been dating 7 years prior to then. About a year before we married, Dot Com Bust (V1.0) hit her, and I got my layoff notification shortly before we married. We were considerably too old to raise children, much less conceive any. We’re raising yet another puppy (the fifth dog since we met), our second border collie. May God help us. 🙂

        Princess Kat wants to out outside.

  12. We’ve been separated briefly 4 times over the last 43 years. First 3 times I could “grin and bear”. But between 2003 and 2005, it was dang hard.

    First time was the weeks we were moving from school to work. He was able to go immediately, but I had another 3 weeks of classes and finals. Sure we were together when we found the rental, then he was back for moving items the following weekends.

    Second, was after the huge layoff in ’82 and they were “hiring in the oil fields”. He and another co-layoffee went looking for work (did NOT find any, thank goodness) and they ended up working for another timber type outfit in southern Oregon. Almost moved (went looking, housing was impossible with 4 cats and a dog). He got called back to work up north.

    Third, was the transfer to Eugene. He had to be here in March. I was finishing up the programming program and we didn’t look for rentals or move until June. Bonus company paid for this move.

    The last time was 2003. Another transfer, this time further north. Hubby refused to move kid as he was starting HS. There were other reasons too, but that one was the primary one. Even him being home every Friday night, and not leaving until OMG AM on Monday Morning, it was a long, long, long, 18 months.

    I refused to be that *high maintenance spouse that needed help every time I turned around that couldn’t be provided from 600 miles away. We were partners. But dang it was hard. It wasn’t like he was deployed either (that came up in parent/teacher conferences as to why dad wasn’t there “Working 600 miles away, not divorced, not deployed”). We both hated it.

    * We knew one spouse that was very high maintenance. The separations were built into his job. They knew this when he took it. He also was not deploying anywhere. Just like we knew when we chose not to move and him not to quit. But we knew it had an expiration date. Either when he retired at 55 (with full benefits) or he managed to get transferred back; the latter happened.

  13. Touching post, as well as the stories from all the other couples here. 🙂 I’ll keep my commenting light since this is a subject that’s vexed me for a while… Eighteen years or so since my last pseudo-relationship and living with just cats for 13 years isn’t good, I can say that much. Being caught between so many toxic local cultures, to say nothing of toxic national cultural trends in a lot of areas, hasn’t helped either. I just hope waking up to what I need to do for myself so late isn’t going to keep me from getting a good marriage of my own. Maybe when the dust settles in the new place…

      1. I’m getting better at holding on to it, I’ll say that much. It’s just that my odds are pretty grim, especially with a strong aversion to being a stepfather for a lot of reasons, which is just about my only realistic option within my age range (other than an older wife with fully grown kids, which is a different kind of unappealing). Not impossible mind you, just…not good, especially given the local cultures and why I’m hoping the new place will be better.

        1. I’m a bit older than you, and having been trying to find another partner for a couple years after I recovered from my divorce, I”m going to say stepchildren are going to happen. Whether it’s a 50 year old mother with a five year old of her own, or a 40 year old grandmother with her grandchildren. It’s always going to be a package deal.

          1. Basically, don’t pass on the partner of your dreams because of who they bring with them, and don’t let whatever experience you have with step-parents poison your future. And I say this knowing if I were to meet my stepfather I’d want bail money on hand.

            1. Sorry but this is something I have a very deep aversion to and I cannot compromise on. If that means I have to be the male equivalent of a crazy cat lady so be it.

                1. Four myself, including a Balinese mix rock star, so I’m pretty much already there. 🙂 I know it’s not impossible for me to find someone possibly younger and compatible without them at my age (38) but it’s so unlikely I figure I might as well just resign myself to the cat life.

                  1. Tradition in our home is that kittens come in pairs. We have twice overlapped new kittens with the remaining member of the previous pair. Somehow an older cat seems to train/ civilize the juniors. So I guess for us its like the counting for the Holy Hand grenade of Antioch. Three is the number of cats and three is the number you shall count to. Neither shalt thou count to four nor two excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out.

                    1. Ours used to be five. Whatever happened, we ended with five. Then son moved out. He has two (official cat and not-our-cat) We have two. Unless younger son is supposed to get one real soon, we’re due for a kitten.

                    2. Four seems to be the most consistent number for me. After C joined the family the 16 year old seniors who I’d had since they were newborn kittens passed away, the black brother passing on his own in October and his sister the Queen needing to be put to sleep in January. I firmly believe the first one held on long enough to see me recover from eye surgery, not wanting to leave nursing duties entirely to those kids R and C!

                    3. One of our two cats took it upon herself to disappear 4 weeks ago. The worst part is not knowing what happened to her. I suppose she still might turn up one day, but she and her sibling were pretty dim, even for cats, so I’m not hopeful. We live in what I call the “one acre suburbs” and there are lots of trees around, not to mention hawks, foxes, fisher cats and bears. She had a nametag, so I would hope that if somebody had found her we would have been contacted. So she’s probably gone.

                      We’ve generally been a two cat family, but we now have dibs on two mostly-Maine-Coon kittens that will need to be transported in December (the mom escaped and had a non-approved encounter). So we will be a three cat family then, according to the scriptures 🙂

                    4. Very sorry about your missing cat. It is hard when you do not know where they are. We’ve had 3 do this to us. One the neighbor knew where he lived and left us a note when we were not home. We went over to get him, he was 20 years old. Another we hadn’t had him very long. He and his sister were 100% outside cats (we’d let them in when we were home but …) because we were only suppose to have the one dog. He just showed up one day. We fed. The next day he was in the garage with his sister (never figured out how they were getting in and out). Then at work found a liter of 14 day old kittens, brought one home. Immediately let in the sister, brother never showed up again. Found out months later that a few houses down the street he’d been sleeping under a car and he’d gotten ran over. They were super upset because they thought he was the elderly neighbor’s cat who had gotten out while she was gone. When she got back and they went over to say how sorry they were, she goes “my cat is fine”. It was chance we found out. Our third cat was 16 and sick when he disappeared. He slipped out of the house on us. He was another bottle fed baby. I still think someday he’ll come home. I know he won’t, not the point. It has been 25 years since he disappeared.

                      mom escaped and had a non-approved encounter


                    5. I wanted to reply to Spero but there is no reply there (WP Delenda Erat!). Sorry to hear of you lost kitty it is distressing. On a hopeful note they often come back and are not quite so feckless as similar sized canine counterparts. As it is nearly Halloween I have a story of finding a lost cat. The Cat in question was called Tigger, a brown mackerel tabby with white chest and paws, a white tail tip and two little white patches on his back. He was one of our barn/semi-feral cats and I had handled him from when his eyes were closed. He was big for a barn Tom, perhaps 15 pounds and lanky. Somewhere about 5th grade he disappeared. This was sadly too common we lived near US route 1 which although only 2 lane speed limit was high (45MPH?) and we lost many cats to that. In addition at about 2 years old Toms would tend to leave the clowder and head out. We looked for maybe 3 months locally but figured he was gone. About 2 years later some friends and I were trick or treating. We were getting old for this (7th grade) and so decided to make a big night of it (Not a heck of a lot to do in coastal Connecticut as 12 year olds in the 70’s). There was a large development of homes about a mile and a half from our hones that mostly had older women and they were known to give out first rate treats (full size candy bars, home made Popcorn balls and Candy apples that no one would touch today). We came to one of these houses and a very nice 50-60 something lady was giving us treats. All of a sudden I hear a Mrowr? from inside the house and out trounces an immense cat. It was Tigger bumping and loving me. He had become domesticated and his once lanky frame had filled out, 18-20 lbs but still not fat. His markings were clear assuring me it was him. I explained to the lady how I knew the cat, she did offer to return him, but I said no, he seemed happy where he was and did come and visit a couple times. Tigger was a long way from where he’d started and had crossed several busy streets. Cats range far farther than we suspect.

                    6. Cats range far farther than we suspect.

                      There have been some case studies on that, using GPS cat collar trackers. They roam way further than their owners suspect be it rural or residential.

                    7. First study-clump found that– same one that declared cats were birdie genocide, I think it came up here at one point, mostly because the guys who actually did the study were very open and their findings got hijacked.

                      They found that the cats that folks offered as being really active hunters that went a long way were almost always really active hunters that went WAAAAAAAY further than they’d been thinking when they said “a long way!”
                      I seem to remember one of the hilarious footnotes was something like “well, we’re not sure how far she went, but when the collar fell off she was headed THAT way and gaining speed” for a cat who ditched the collar way far out from how far they thought the max range was. 😀

                      When various groups got enough funding to do blanket collar applications over a LOT of animals in a lot of places, it turned their expectations upside down:
                      “I was surprised at how little these cats moved,” says lead author Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “Most of them spent all their time within 100 meters [330 feet] of their yard.”
                      (Example of prior study hijacking follows with all the mandatory genuflection to required conclusions so I didn’t even mind the blocked-reading-more-until-you-subscribe thing, but the name should be enough for interested folks to dig up more.)

                    8. Going with “It Depends” …

                      Regarding the bird genocide thing. Sure some of our cats go after birds. But interestingly enough not until birds went after them. One cat was a bird hunting savant. Neighbors got irritated he’d hunt the invasive starlings. He’d had probably left them alone, but the stupid birds would regularly dive bombed him. He’d wait and get one of them doing that. This happened in our front yard! He did get a humming bird once, bird was suicidal. Had to be, it was just before he died, he was not hunting anymore. He didn’t kill it. He was 20 years old.

                      Our current cats are confronted with Turkeys. We do have hummingbird and other non-starling type birds, but those aren’t the ones the cats catch if they are bird hunters, they get the starlings. In general they bring home mice, rats, and snakes. I’d rather they not hunt the snakes let alone bring them home. Seeing dead mice is okay. Would rather not see the rats, dead or alive.

                      In general, most our cats do not roam that far. Two reasons. We try to set their territory early. Then use the wet environment to limit where they want to go, or try. Twice the cats surprised us. One loved snow. One loved the rain. Neither roamed far. We know where they come from when we call (with treats in hand). We know where their not GPS collars are found (or did until I quit putting tags on them). Most favorite spot? The yard behind us has a Koi Pond. They can’t get to the Koi (protected against raccoons, skunk, and possum = protected against cats), but they can watch the Koi swim. Neighbors get a kick out of them doing this.

                      Right now we only have one who goes out. She goes as far as the side neighbor’s backyard. Jungle that it was (been cleaned up a lot). The other 3 will be roaming before this winter season is done. I’d like to have a way to keep them 100% in our backyard only, but that isn’t happening.

                    9. With cats, we should probably not discount “the cats were deliberately screwing with humans, SOMEHOW.”

                      It just utterly delights me that cats managed to BOTH go waaaay further than the “reasonable” folks thought possible, and stay waaaay closer to home than anyone figured. By being individuals. Is there anything more Cat?

                      *I* would get a kick out of watching cats watch koi! 😀

                  2. You are only 38. I know plenty of never been married ladies in their early to late 30s in my Church Singles groups. In fact it’s my perception there are many such persons. Is there some criteria that makes finding one impossible? This is my view from Huntsville AL.

                    As a maidan of 43 years, finding someone to start a marriage with is very difficult. I’m crushing on a 38 year old right now, but I don’t know if I have a chance, he’s sending mixed signals. I feel like I probably am mistaking friendship signals for potential romance. But I never for a second thought that 38 was too old to find a never been married women. I expect the perfect early thirties girl will appear, and my hopes for an end to traveling this life without a friend and lover to share the journey will evaporate again.

                    1. There aren’t many in my area, no, plus the few that are have kids and see my other responses about that.

                    2. My personal observations are that divorcees with children are extremely aggressive in looking for new husbands.

                      I’m sorry that your area doesn’t seem to have very many women that share your values. I still think your area probably has unmarried conservative women that don’t actively date.

                      There is a 30 something evangelical Christian who loves Pokémon and Anime, who lives down the street from me, I have tried and tried to get her to start to online date, but she is scared of online dating rape stories.

                      I don’t want her to have what happened to me happen to her. I tried online dating for the first time when I was 39, and there were still men that wanted family’s that would respond to my texts, but once I turned 40, it was 20 something boys looking for a sugar mama for a fling, or older men that didn’t want children and were very materialistic.

                      My friend will never meet a guy unless he befriends her at Church or the Anime Club she goes to. So keep your eye out for a girl in your hobbies and at Church and remember that women that aren’t on the pill look substantially younger than ones on it. So don’t automatically think a girl is too young for you.

                      If you stay open to marriage, you will find the right person someday. I believe that for myself too, I just go through these periodic phases of feeling sorry for myself.

                      I’ll be praying for your miss right
                      to appear.🙂

                    3. Unfortunately. all too often the conservative women I meet find geeky hobbies to be off-puttingly weird at best and, in the case of the more religious one, flat-out Satanic at worst and the women with geeky hobbies unfailingly range from hard left Woke and/or socialist to not necessarily ideologically left but still sympathetic to them and they always vote Democrat because “at least they care” and “right-wingers/Republicans are so mean/so crazy/so scary/want to force their religion on everyone/only care about big corporations.” I also don’t do church at all. Christ’s salvation is a real thing, I can’t deny that anymore, but the church? I have many, many issues with it and don’t see it as being anything but a net harm for me personally. Which makes the fact that I tend to draw Church Karens who are completely unappealing on all levels all the more vexing for me. Of course, I plan on a rather large move, so there’s little point in me pursuing it right now. I just still haven’t gotten full control of my tendency to gripe about the subject yet. =P

              1. I understand your aversion.

                My memories of being a stepchild make me exceedingly reluctant to inflict myself on someone else’s children as a stepmother, even though I suspect that I would be far, far better than my former stepmother was. I’d consider a widower, because there’s no ex involved, but never a divorcé.

                Not that all of this isn’t theoretical anyway, because I live like a hermit and have exactly zero idea how to meet people, much less how to go from casual acquaintance to anything more intimate.

                1. That’s a large part of it for me, too. My now-former stepdad was a Vietnam vet who was in the military for 25 years and brought it with him into the household. Not what an Odd kid needs at all and it’s a big part of why my black dog is so big, vicious, and well-fed. Other things include my own sense of boundaries (a bit difficult to articulate even when I’m not worn out from running around all day) and, as selfish as this part is going to sound, the feeling that I’m once again, hypothetically in this case, having to clean up someone else’s mess that I didn’t ask for in a huge way and that hits my internalizer’s feeling of “Enough! I’m through dealing with other people’s problems!” button harder than just about anything I know. I know that’s a harsh and unfair way of putting it since there are situations involving the death of a parent or two genuinely good people who just couldn’t make it work in the end but those situations…aren’t very common around here, to keep things relatively diplomatic. Thankfully everyone seems to be shocked that I’m in my late 30s rather than late 20s so I do have that going for me at least. Maybe things will work out after all, and I hope they do for you too.

                2. I work 3 am to on average 4pm, days off Tuesday and Saturday, but go to sleep at 5:30-6:30 most days. I still manage to meet women occasionally, though it’s through hitting four different dating apps.

                  As for how to switch from casual to intimate without youthful hormones overcoming good sense, that I’m clueless on.

                3. Take about four to leaving a response, let’s see if I can get anywhere before I give up and delete my post, again.

                  Sarah, two touching and nearly tear jerking posts back to back- thank you.

                  Here’s my rain on the parade post I’ve written and re-written-
                  My boyfriend and I started dating 18 years ago the summer after I graduated high school and we still haven’t moved on (or in) together. We’re content, comfortable, and stabilize each other, filling that “nearly married” spot, but family is a much high priority for me than for him. I try to avoid TMI but I’m at analysis paralysis- I know what I should do, but I don’t want to choose either obvious path.

                  1. This is a tough one and any advice would be wrong. I would only say that you are correct that you have to choose and non action is a choice. Perhaps, and only perhaps, you’ve answered your own question when you say you know what you should do. Only you can answer it since only you have skin in the outcome.

                    Perhaps a joke. Women marry men thinking they’ll be able to change the men and are upset when they don’t, while men marry women thinking the women will never change and are upset when they do.

                  2. As BGE says, I can’t really give you advice. On the other hand, you wrote this post for a reason. You must be looking for something here.

                    So, based solely on what you posted, some questions occur to me:

                    • Are you getting what you need from the relationship?

                    • Are you content with the current situation?

                    • Will you be content if the situation does not change? For the next year? The next five years? 10 years? 20 years?

                    • Is he getting what he needs from the relationship, as-is?

                    • Is he content with the current situation? If so, for how long?

                    • Do you think he will want to change the situation? When might that be, if ever?

                    The answers to those questions might help you figure out what you want to do, if anything.

                  3. There’s questions to be asked, but we don’t need the answers, you do.

                    Does it work for you?
                    Does it work for him?
                    Have you discussed this to verify?
                    Is your relationship and individual… fortitude? (I guess, missing a word here) strong enough to put up with family and societal pushing to change your status one way or the other?

  14. Other half and I…clicked. Which sucked, at the time, because he had a long-term, serious girlfriend. It worked out because she decided to see other people, then kicked him to the curb. And we’ve been together ever since–married for 17 years, and together for…twenty-three? Twenty-four? Something along those lines. He’s my prosthetic conscience, and I’m his organizational skills (what little I’m capable of, at least). We are each other’s best friend.

  15. It’s a common trope for couples to live happily married for many years, only to separate after a few decades or so, when the kids move out and they become “empty nesters.”I have seen this several times myself. Thoughts? As far a “mommy ESP is concerned, this may account for the supernatural ability for a mother to hear her baby cry, and immediately announce. “She’s hungry” or “He needs his diaper changed.” Without any analytic thought at all. This cry is undecipherable by any other human being, up to and including the father.

    1. I can tell and I’m a father. The hungry cry is different from the dirty cry is different from the tired cry is different from the bored cry. e.g., the hungry cry warbles. All of them are very different from the I have colic and you’re gonna pay cry that my daughter had. Then there’s the different forms of puking and so on.

      1. A *lot* of parents have the “NO THAT IS TROUBLE ON ALERT!” response down flat, even when their grandkids are much bigger.

        Some will still do the “shouldn’t you go check her?” thing, but on the thankfully rare occasions one of ours drew blood or was otherwise in Real Pain, it was amazing how you could tell who’d raised kids because they were half-sprinting in that first half second of OH, CRUD!

        1. ^^THIS^^ and “It is too quiet …” vibe. There is also the “we were kids once too, you know.” May not remember the infant, toddler, or young child years, conscious ly. But subconsciously, something is triggered when you have that first baby.

          Used to get a kick out the scouts. The scouts complaint was “They” (scoutmaster and assistant) “know what we’re going to do before we do!” A bit over the top, but not by much. Not the scouts fault that the scoutmaster and assistant in question, were once 11 – 18 year old boy scouts themselves. All the two had to do was go “What would we have been doing?” and go head it off (or go participate … the brats). Not only that, they were forbidden from telling tales from those days. The rest of us were against them giving the current scouts any ideas. They did not need the help.

        2. I am starting to wonder if I’ll figure out different cries and so forth by the time I have grandkids!

          My pattern-matching may not be the best, but we usually get there eventually.

          1. I didn’t want to go TOO far in the weeds, but part of why I laugh so much about it is that — it’s like a rattler. All sorts of things trigger my “THAT COULD BE a rattle snake!” And I always respond to it as if it is.
            But an actual rattlesnake completely bypasses my “it could be” filter and I tend to figure out what happened *after* I have reacted.

        3. A…tangent, if you will, but I’d be fascinated to see if anybody else has noticed it. In that “FICUS is creepy around kids” supercut, I noticed about 60 percent of the parents getting that Stance. The spine goes up, the shoulders square, the chin tucks. I can imitate it, but I can’t *stop* it when it’s genuine. I’ve personally only felt the Stance coming on when somebody’s moving on my kid with intent. (Not necessarily evil intent – the last time was a nice teen guy who couldn’t have known her six-foot self was too young.)

          Long story short, that many people hitting that “someone wants my kid, all systems go!” posture would have kept me from ever, ever voting for that man if I’d intended to. Just an interesting thing I noticed.

          1. I complained once about my 18-month-old “aggressively not sleeping at me over the baby monitor”.

            I was RIGHT, too. Dead silence, but when I went in she was sitting bolt upright in her crib and scowling furiously at the door. 😀

        4. Great grandmother would call when things were off. Perhaps she called even when not, I do not know, but I recall that when I was in the hospital around age 5, my folks got a “What’s wrong?” call from her.

      2. I was able to understsnd to a limited degree, while my wife was a supernatural witch. the closest metaphor that strikes me is a blind man that can detect light and dark and SOME colors, as compared to a hawkeye 20/20 human.

  16. One of my favorite Greek myths is the story of Baucis and Philemon, the elderly couple who were visiting by several disguised gods, and brought out the best of everything their poor household had for them, not knowing at all who they were—just that they were guests and guests were holy. So the gods revealed themselves and offered them a reward. And what they asked for was that they would die at the same time, so that neither would be left alone. C and I have long thought they could have asked for nothing better.

  17. First met my wife Michele when I was 18 and she was 16. She was (and still is!) a really beautiful sexy woman. So I of course made a move, and was promptly, but gently shot down. “I don’t date non-Jews.” At the time, I was trying to sort out exactly what was my spiritual home, and Judaism was one of the possibilities. But I took it like a gentleman, and didn’t try to b/s her about it. We became good friends. Fast forward several years. I was on the West coast, recently returned from Vietnam, still in the Corps. I had in the meanwhile converted to Judaism. I was renting a room from a couple that Michele and I both knew. She was still on the East coast where we both grew up, and word was she was getting married in about two months. We got a call from Michele.
    “Can I come out and stay with you guys?”
    “Of course, but aren’t you too busy getting ready for the wedding?”
    “That’s off. He hit me. No one gets a chance to hit me twice.”
    So she came out. I let her sleep in my room, and I slept on the couch. That lasted 3 days, and the couch wasn’t being used. 4 weeks later, we got married. It’s a rebound relationship, and those are always iffy. It will be 50 years in December, so we will see how it works out.

  18. It is very hard to go from two to one. I still feel cut in half (less so as the years go by). But I think that we fill each other spiritually and emotionally. Until one is gone we don’t realize how much we have lost.

    1. And on a serious note– the only reason I’ve lived beyond his end is because I promised him to continue. He was worried that I would just give up. Plus the doggy has been a life-saver.

  19. We hate being apart, too. I am looking at a whole week without my Beloved, very soon, because of work.
    Yes, it is a Mystery, and we were told it was exactly that.

  20. On topic part:

    I’m a big fan of marriage, I just don’t seem to be very good at it. Both marriages sure felt like twoo wuv, but after about five years the decline set in and both ended in huge emotional disasters for me. I haven’t had any relationships in the six years since the last divorce, and I think I’m still kinda broken. It would be nice to have some companionship (and regular, um, intimate activities), but the last woman I dated did not take “I like you but, nope, ain’t getting married again” well.

    As for parents, there was briefly a question of taking in my dad once his dementia manifested last year, but after some discussion with social workers et al. it was easier to find him a care home in Anchorage rather than try to transplant him to Seattle, and it would have been a constant nightmare of sleeplessness and inability to work if I had.

    Semi-off topic part:

    After six months in the care home and a gradual physical decline to go along with the mental decline, my father rather suddenly went into respiratory distress yesterday and passed away peacefully last night with his long-time partner and his unofficial niece at his bedside. I had already booked flight/hotel/car, hoping I could be there, but I didn’t make it. Pop stopped recognizing who I was when I was up to find the care home last April, so it would have been for me, not for him anyway.

    I’m in the Anchorage airport right now, and it’s much changed since six months ago. There’s no gauntlet of Covid testers to get through, and even though the rules say I should have had to provide proof of vaccination, nobody asked about it either in Seattle or here. As we were waiting to taxi to depart, the captain reminded the cabin that we had to wear masks for the whole flight, but it was in a tone of “it’s federal law, we have to enforce it, sorry”.

    Many more of the Anchorage airport concessions are open (although not still not all), and lo and behold there’s actually salt, pepper, and ketchup at the table at the restaurant I’m at, instead of those stupid single-serving packets. I haven’t seen the rest of the city yet, obviously, but hopefully it’s less insane than Seattle, which admittedly wouldn’t be difficult.

    1. Sorry for the loss of your father. Sorry you didn’t make his side in time.

      Mom called when she knew dad was going down hill fast, at 11:30 PM. We made it over before he passed away (we think*). He was not conscious that we were there.

      OTOH when my FIL called, his brother called and said “Call and say ambulance just left with dad, he’s had another major heart attack. He needs to be here yesterday.” Hubby had already left work (before cell) told him when he got home. He made it from Eugene to Bend in record time (his words “straightened a few curves on hwy 126”), but did not make it to Bend before his father died in the hospital. I did not make the trip with him as I was very, very, very, pregnant. Driving between Eugene and Bend was not something my bladder, or stomach, could do without multiple stops. Honestly, we were surprised FIL made it that long, after his prior heart attack the prior September. But, he was bound and determined to see this next grandchild born. He missed by 6 weeks.

      * This happened in mom and dad’s home. There was no medical personnel present. We think we know when he passed, but we really, really, do not. Mom called hospice. Hospice had the appropriate people there the next morning (how it works/worked when in hospice).

      1. I’m pretty sure you’re not a believer, but I’ll add your father to my prayers tonight.

        Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him, and may he Rest In Peace and may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest In Peace. Amen.

  21. Thanks for sharing this Sarah. Made me count my blessings. Met in 6th grade. Started dating as a gag as juniors in high school (gave me his class ring which he never got back.) Graduated from college June 3, married June 4. Married 56 years until his death. Other than feeling like a giant claw ripped my heart out of my body, after almost 3 years alone I am finally able to embrace the happy memories. I would live it all over again if offered a chance. Have 2 wonderful children and 2 grandchildren.

    Both of our parents were married once to each other until death. All sets of grandparents married once to each other. SIL married once with 4 kids. One of my sisters married once, no children by choice. Other sister had 2 boys, died too young of cancer, divorcing serial adulterer husband telling him she didn’t want to die married to him.

    I believe long marriages are one of life’s great blessings. Knowing that through good and bad, you always have that one partner who loves you regardless of circumstances. In today’s increasingly uncertain world, that matters!!!

    1. I believe long marriages are one of life’s great blessings.

      In my fairy tale retellings, I generally have a fairy tale hit a kingdom every two or even three generations. This gives the couple from the first tale a happily ever after ending in deaths at an age full of years before the next tale makes life miserable (for a time).

  22. My parents were high school sweethearts. He was born in August, she in October, so she was a year behind him in high school, but yes, when she graduated, they married right away. They stayed married for 49 years through thick and thin, and yes, Dad did not do well without Mom around. At one point when I was in high school, Dad, who was working for Saudi Aramco at the time, was supposed to spend 6 months over there. He got as far as Amsterdam before turning around and coming back home.

    It took Dad several years to recover from Mom’s death, and he still misses her terribly.

    1. Mom and Dad were HS sweethearts too. They briefly broke up when he was in college, but it didn’t take. Soon he was traveling to Portland regularly. They move home and married not two years later, summer of ’55. late summer of ’56, dad’s college wanted-to-be-girlfriend shows up to find him married, with a very pregnant wife.

  23. My grandparents were married for 50+ years. Grandma had Alzheimer’s for years, and was finally put in a home because she was so far gone and so unstable. Grandpa died within a month; turned out he stopped taking his heart medicine and had a heart attack in his sleep. Grandma was in the facility when all of the family were there talking about the funeral of grandpa. (For reasons.. she was not brought to it.) They thought she didn’t understand anyone or anything anymore, didn’t seem to recognize anyone. She died the next day, less than a week after grandpa had. Something still on her knew. Neither of them had a reason to go on without the other.

    1. I strongly resist putting my wife in a home. To me that would be a modern equivalent of abandoning her on the ice. I may have to do it if her condition become more than I can handle but I will go kicking and biting all the way.

  24. A little late to the party here…

    “I know in the way of life and mortality someday one of us will have to learn to be one. Maybe. I’m still hoping for that ‘instantly at the same time.'”

    My wife has dementia. Probably about stage six. Consequently, I think about being alone again more than once a day. I don’t look forward to it but I managed for years before I met my her and I reckon will survive after she is gone. If I were a believer, my only prayer would be that I live long enough to take care of her until that day.

    “If you live long enough, you will witness the death of everyone you love.” — Sam Harris

    Like all of you reading this, my wife and I were sentenced to death the day each of us was born. Even if the promises of the transhumanists turn out to be true, it is still unlikely I can survive the heat death of the Universe. That may be billions of years in the future but it is still inevitable. It is, arguably, counter-intuitive, but in accepting the eventual end of my existence — no matter how remote — I can appreciate it while I have it.

    So yes, all the people I love are going to die someday. The best I can do is love each of them as if today is to be the last day I will ever get to spend with them.

  25. Can I add one more story? This post is more than coincidence for me,as the spouse is away on what was supposedly a 10 day trip, now turning into a 3+week adventure…. The first week was kinda fun, I didn’t cook once, but now I am thinking of him every hour. This month is 39 years since we were introduced by the previous boyfriend (oops!). It was instant knowledge in my heart, I can clearly remember his face,that first look/he took a few days 😎 . by 6 mos we were on our way cross-country together, our first big adventure.
    There have been more cross-country moves, children to raise, hard times and joys always together…
    I have self-identifed as Odd long before I saw the term used here, but now we joke he’s much further along the spectrum, having been “proffessionally ” IDed. It has not ever been easy , in fact it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but now as retired empty nesters, as our little boat continues to bob along the waves it is such a blessing to have a partner. We share a world of our own. I can’t wait for him to get home.

  26. My story is different from most of those here but I feel it fits in anyway.

    My wife S and I met online. I wasn’t looking for anything personal, just someone to help me by acting as a “test reader” for a technical book I was writing.

    We spent about 6 months on that project, and for the first 3 months or so, I was enormously careful not to get into any personal discussions, since both of us were married and I took my vows seriously.

    However, at some point in the project, S got annoyed at the fact that she was doing all this work for someone who wrote “like a robot”, as she described it. She knew I had a pretty good sense of humor because I had used it in an apparently fairly successful attempt to keep the very technical material from being as dry as dust. So why was I being so “robotic” with her?

    The answer, of course, is as I said before: I was being careful not to get into personal discussions because I was married and wanted to remain faithful.

    But her sister egged her on to get some personal reaction to me, including getting her to send me a (perfectly safe for work) picture of her, and asking for some personal interaction with me.

    So I sent her an essay that I had written about a college reunion, which was full of emotional reactions that I had experienced during the reunion. This made it clear to her that I was far from robotic, but nothing further developed for another month or so.

    Then one night, I was having chest pains, and my wife said “Don’t wake me up if you have to drive yourself to the hospital.”

    S is an RN, so I called her for advice, and after describing my symptoms, she said “It doesn’t sound like a heart attack, but if you need anything, call me.”

    After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I was married to the wrong person.

    So I called her back and asked her “If we were both single, would you be interested in a more personal relationship with me?”

    There was a long silence, and I said “If that was the wrong question, forget I asked it.” She said “No, it’s okay. Yes, I would.”

    Then I went into the other room and told my wife I wanted a divorce. I proposed marriage to S the next day, if I recall correctly.

    This probably seems a bit risky, especially considering that we had not met yet, although we had spoken on the phone a few times.

    She said, “We have to meet first before I can answer that.” So we made plans to meet, which were a bit complicated by the fact that she hadn’t told her husband about this situation, although he knew about the book project.

    We met a couple of months later, and things went very well. She wanted to wait to initiate her divorce until her daughter graduated from high school the next summer, but I didn’t want to wait, and talked her into starting it right away, which I probably should not have done.

    My divorce took about a year, as there was a waiting period and I got some resistance from my wife, although I didn’t try to get any of her assets, which were much greater than mine. S also bent over backwards to be fair to her husband, with my complete support, since after all it wasn’t his idea to get divorced. Why should it be worse for him than it had to be?

    We have spent very few nights apart since I moved to her area, and I don’t believe it has ever been as long as a week in a row. Both of us are still in pretty good health for our ages but we know that can’t last forever. We’ve had a couple of health scares that have gotten us thinking about what will happen when and if one of them is the real thing. I’d prefer that we die simultaneously but I realize that isn’t terribly likely.

    All this started in 1995 and we have now been married for almost 25 years, as happily as anyone else I know.

    1. Sounds like my BIL and his current wife, just passed 31 years, on their 3rd, each marriage.

      Do not know about her two prior marriages, other than she has one child from each prior marriage. His first marriage lasted < 1 year, and one child, at age 19. Second marriage was 15 years. Even though I was there for it (kind of *preoccupied with other stuff), I don't know why they divorced other than he met his current wife. I suspect it was related a bunch of things that happened over the last prior years, not the least of which was his mother's stroke that meant his parents moving into town, out of their dream retirement home. Finally his dad's near death heart attack, and lingering. Okay the lingering was probably our fault … he was damn sure going to live to see his youngest child's first born get born. (Didn't make it, surprised medical how long he did make it.) Especially after the **miscarriages of prior years. (See *preoccupied above.) Which meant BIL moving in with his parents.

      ** We weren't going to say anything until after the first of the year, when we were past the first trimester prior miscarriages. But when you explain that the umm, purging, wasn't catching (and it wasn't just mornings), and there are two nurses in the family, including one that is your MIL, they kind of caught on and made us announce early.

      1. We weren’t going to say anything until after the first of the year, when we were past the first trimester prior miscarriages. But when you explain that the umm, purging, wasn’t catching (and it wasn’t just mornings), and there are two nurses in the family, including one that is your MIL, they kind of caught on and made us announce early.

        Ooof, different family cultures– even the SUGGESTION of someone who as WORRIED about losing a child being encouraged to announce earlier than they were prepared for, much less someone that had already lost kids, would have resulted in blood flying. POSSIBLY metaphorical.

        1. Definitely not happy about it. Baby born following June. This was Thanksgiving. We’d just gotten confirmation. I was barely pregnant. But no one expected FIL to make Christmas let alone till 3rd week into May. So we really couldn’t beg off that I was sick, even for the one day (we had to move that weekend too), because what I had wasn’t catching. (Darn it.)

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