Peggy suggested that I entitle this "Beauty and the Beast"


I had a few astonishing thoughts after I wrote my last post. One is that it was all true, and the second was that Peggy’s openness to experimentation—and my reaction to it—makes us seem young and adventurous. The third is that it shows that Peggy and I still have a loving relationship. Even so...

You might think that people would adjust to one another after 43-years, yet our life together is often difficult, although we’re as committed as any couple can be. After all, we’ve survived drugs, 20 years in an open relationship, two years in a group marriage, me getting busted for shoplifting, and periods when my mental state go pretty bizarre. Yet, I was never for a moment not committed to her, and I never really imagined that she would leave me.

As long as you have faith in your partner’s basic goodness and in her love for you, you can survive almost anything, and so we have. People can look at various problems we’ve had and say that, gee, such and such sure was stupid, or that must have been hard, or I can’t believe Peggy put up with you (people are rarely incredulous that I put up with her), yet here we are, together and in love after 43 years, and how many people can say that, people who are married to, presumably, normal people, and who are presumably normal themselves, with both being dedicated to some theoretically normal life in which they are: monogamous; sane; nominally theistic; in good health; and have adequate money, 2.3 children, a dog, a cat, a nice house in the suburbs, and no legal hassles? I would guess that many couples in long-term marriages have had it easier, but I think there are probably a lot more who settled for staying together without remaining close. Neither of us could stand that, and this has forced us to work things out, even when it meant beating our heads against the same wall for a decade or two.

The older we get, the more we know other couples who have also been together for a long time, but I think most of us remember an era when we knew a lot of couples who divorced. As sad as that was, and as stupid as their behavior sometimes seemed, I found it interesting, so I actually miss it in a way. The older I get, the more the drama in my life comes from within in the way of physical problems and limitations, so I wax nostalgic for those days when I got to witness a lot more of other people’s external dramas and a lot fewer of my internal ones.

17 comments:

All Consuming said...

You're both a beacon of love for me, there's a depth there that many may reach but few sustain, and if anything it seems to have grown stronger between you every year that's passed.
Love the picture too. Peggy reminds me of Ali McGraw (that may be spelt wrong bear with me), and you have something of a young Terrence Stamp about you.

Elephant's Child said...

I suspect that the only normal people are those we don't know very well.
And love that you and Peggy have worked at sustaining your marriage. And it looks to have been well worth it.

Paula Kaye said...

I am so happy that you and Peggy have each other. It sounds like you have shared quite a life together. My husband and I have the tightest marriage and bond of anyone that I know. I am getting ready to let go of him. I don't know where he is going or what I will do without him but I do know that life will go one. Good wishes for both of you...and positive thoughts!

Stephen Hayes said...

I find your last paragraph hard to accept. That is not something I'd be nostalgic for, the emotional suffering of other people. I know you've been through hell and back but i hope I'm not understanding this correctly.

lotta joy said...

In my 20's, a girlfriend explained why she couldn't be my friend any more. "I'm healthy, and you're....not." So she played tennis and I had surgeries.

In my 60's, a new bunch of old people, still with the attitude of their juvenile years, still mention that they (insert: exercise, ride bikes, drink, dance) and I'm....sick.

You may have lost sight of the fact that - although you're in a horrible spot at this stage,(and have been for quite a long time), some of us were here all along and never had the chance to cut loose.

I'd trade my past for your memories!

Snowbrush said...

"That is not something I'd be nostalgic for, the emotional suffering of other people."

Not all distress is equally interesting. For example, hemorrhoids would probably be pretty low on most people's list, which is why you never see movies about them. I just read a book about the WWII sinking of the USS Indianapolis after which 900 men floated around in the South Pacific for five days dying of wounds, exposure, dehydration and shark attacks. I found the book very entertaining, not in the sense of being fun but in the sense of being interesting. And so it is with hearing about people's relationship problems versus their routine colonoscopies. I wish they didn't have such problems, but, given that they do, I sometimes find them interesting, and, if somebody has to have them, I had just as soon it be someone other than myself. So, yes, I do miss hearing about problems that don't involve my friends' latest doctor visits for the same chronic problems that have plagued them for ten years and will probably plague them for ten more years. One reason I don't talk about my own such problems more than I do is that I don't want to bore people. Relationship problems can be boring too, but they are generally a bit more interesting than what aging people often talk about. Did I answer your question?

Linda said...

Group marriage? How did that work? Why did you leave it?

Myrna R. said...

I've been married 46 years and though externally, I'm sure people see us as 'conventional', we're not really normal. Is anyone? My husband and I have had many zigzags in our relationship. But, like you, we never questioned our love for each other. Life is mellow now. And that's nice. But, we still fight, have dreams, and mostly make love - in all its facets. So glad you and Peggy have had such a full marriage, and close relationship. By the way, I see no beast in the photo - just beauty.

PhilipH said...

Smashing photograph; dashing groom and beautiful bride.

Patricia and I were wed on 8 July 1958, about 8 months after we met at a ballroom dance studio.

I'm now chief cook and bottle washer - general factotum - owing to Pat's disability but we still care for each other after 56 years.

Charles Gramlich said...

You've both definitely had a more adventuresome relationship than I would likely be comfortable with.

Robin said...

What a great post! I don't have the years together that you and Peggy have... yet, Chris, (my Ex and now, Boyfriend)have traveled some of the same paths... for 20 years.. we have survived passionate love, distance, (he now lives in NY, while I am in CA), betrayal, loss of work - then, slowly, coming back together...(it all started at KJ's home...) love intensifying... and now, he is my strength as I recover from my accident. I know I don't suffer the pain you do...but, my pain is still tangible and may last for the rest of my life. Chris has been a rock through all of this... (I know you can relate)... all I can say is, *Ain't Love Grand* and..mysteious - o!

Check out *La Traviata*, Act I,
"Un di felice, eterea" ! ♥♥

Snowbrush said...

"we're not really normal. Is anyone?"

I don't know. I think someone said in response to this post that a "normal person" is simply someone you don't know well, and although this seems to be true, what is "normal"; how would you really know that no one is that way; and just how "abnormal" are most of us?

"Patricia and I were wed on 8 July 1958, about 8 months after we met at a ballroom dance studio."

Peggy and had our first date in August and were married in December of '71 by a priest who didn't think much of Advent marriages because he said he had never seen one that lasted.

"You've both definitely had a more adventuresome relationship than I would likely be comfortable with."

We're legends in our own time.

"Group marriage? How did that work? Why did you leave it?"

It didn't work very well for internal and external reasons, but the most obvious problem was that the other woman and I fought all the time. We had hoped to find another man as well, but we didn't last long enough. I'm not down on the concept as I think it could be wonderful, but it's a bit late for Peggy and me. What finally put the one we had to an end was that Peggy said she had had enough of listening to Vicki and me fight all the time, and she moved back to Oregon (we were in Minneapolis), and I followed her a few months later with the blessing of Vicki whom had had enough of me just as I had had enough of her. It was really quite sad and ugly, but I would still like to be friends if she would. However, she never ended a relationship but what she cut-off contact altogether.

Snowbrush said...

"I find your last paragraph hard to accept. That is not something I'd be nostalgic for, the emotional suffering of other people."

I read the post against and made various changes, one of them being that I changed the word entertaining to interesting. I hope you understand that it isn't other people's suffering that I'm nostalgic for but for a period in my life when I wasn't so preoccupied with my own problems, with my own problems not even being that interesting although they certainly are consuming.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I'm not certain anyone is really "normal." Maybe on the surface, but living with anyone brings out all kinds of crazy. That's why I prefer dogs!

Helen said...

Love the wedding photo and your version of "Tails of the City" ~~ we are burning up over here in Bend! How about you?

Snowbrush said...

"living with anyone brings out all kinds of crazy. That's why I prefer dogs!"

If people are crazy and dogs aren't, and you've with dogs, they're living with a crazy person. Poor dogs.

"we are burning up over here in Bend! How about you?"

By the end of this week, we will have used up our ten days a year of 90+ heat just within two weeks, so I guess we can look forward to a cool August. Ha.

Rob-bear said...

Strange. I saw something, somewhere a few days ago about how to treat normal people. You kinda have to take pity on them a bit.

For those of us who are at least partly insane, things may go better. Or be ore understandable.

Congratulations on 43 years with Peggy. May you have many more that are equally intriguing and energizing.

Blessings and Bear hugs!