This is Kent.
I’m not really the sentimental type, or if I am I generally don’t share it with random strangers, but, Valentine’s Day is a day reserved for sentiment. That and sorting out Hallmark’s bottom line for the quarter.
I was thinking today about my marriage to Melissa, which will have endured for 24 years at the end of May. That’s a really long time in marriage years — most people don’t make it that long. It’s a duration of marriage beyond a lot of people’s conception. I certainly have friends my age who have been divorced more than once during that period. Of course, I have friends who died of heart attacks, cancer, AIDs, too. Shit happens.
So I guess it’s something to be proud of, on some level. I don’t really feel like the quality of my work on the project has been extraordinary, but I’ve sure done a lot of it. I continue to love and admire Melissa above all other women, and we’ve mostly made our peace with each other’s idiosyncracies. But in a lot of ways, the way you get to 24 years in a marriage comes down to a negative — you don’t break up, even when you feel like it.
Of course my romantic history can be summarized thusly — meeting Melissa when I was 17, having a few random collisions with other women that never amounted to much, starting to go out with her when I was 19, and getting married 5 years later. I can honestly say that I have absolutely no experience with breaking up with anyone. So if it seemed like the only course of action, I’d have to google the subject for pointers on how it’s done.
We’ve had our crises, and arguments, and blowups, and the going is rough from time to time, but it’s never gotten to the point of googling yet. Melissa has been very patient with me, and when she’s bugging me, I figure it’s my problem, because when it comes to doing the right thing with and to other people, she’s the brains in this operation.
In the recent movie “In Good Company” the young guy asks the older guy how he’s stayed married so long, and he says “pick the right person to be in the foxhole with, and when you’re out of the foxhole, keep your dick in your pants.” That sounds about right.
None of the above sounds very romantic, but I think most romanticism is hooey. Sure your brain makes some kickass chemicals when you first get together with someone, but it wears off. I think a lot of people go from relationship to relationship because they miss the buzz. It’s really a whole nother thing when you just, like, keep doing it for the long haul. You’re a family, with all that implies. No paradise, but something good and true, and as constant as anything in this world can be.
Now I’d never encourage anyone to stay in an abusive or dishonest relationship. But if you’re just unhappy, or discontented, in a relationship with someone who is an good person, you owe it to yourself to maybe stick it out and try and get past those feelings. After a while, like, say 20 years, it starts to get easier. And then you’ve done something that most people find hard. Like running a marathon, only with no shin splints.
So maybe I’m a little proud of us.