Monday, March 03, 2008

C'mon, Get Happy!

Let’s talk about love. Just a little bit. On Saturday mornings, I have a routine. I sleep in (schedule and dog needs permitting), get up and enjoy some coffee and oatmeal with raspberry jam and sliced almonds, and set about trying to organize the mountains of crap that have accumulated in my house into some semblance of order. While I clean, I listen to Whad'Ya Know? with Michael Feldman on the radio. It’s a quiz show, for those not in the know, and last weekend one of the questions went something like this:

Researchers recently discovered that people who have been married a long time are generally: a) less happy; b) more happy; or, c) if you have to ask this question, you have never been married.

Care to venture a guess? I actually guessed correctly: more happy. And I think I know why. Because by the time you’ve been married a ‘long time,’ several things have probably transpired: the toxic friends that constantly tried to corrupt your spouse have died of liver failure or lung cancer…your spouse has developed arthritis and can no longer operate a video game controller…your spouse has groused and bitched and gossiped so much they burned out their vocal cords…your spouse has developed some kind of illness that has turned them into less of an asshole because now they’re all reflective and every time they fart Mitch Albom puffs out and stains the couch. Also, you are now long beyond wanting to invest any time into landing a new ‘life partner,’ because the rest of your life is maybe ten more years and frankly, who has the kind of time to sift through annoying first dates when you’ve got a colostomy bag and only ten more Thanksgivings on deck? Not to mention you’re … how to put this delicately…well, your special girl or boy parts have probably seen better days. You’ve basically given up, because with your blood pressure, making a fuss is just not worth it anymore.

Okay, okay, I’m being a little cynical. You have also weathered many storms together. You have raised a family, or a series of dogs and inside jokes and home remodeling projects together. (Don’t worry mom, my girl parts are still in working order. There’s still hope.) There is, if you’re lucky, a deep and abiding feeling of affection for the person you have battened down the hatches and celebrated victories and analyzed thousands of movies and current events and family milestones with.

My grandparents had the kind of love affair you see on TV and either cry or get bitter over. After my grandfather died of cancer in 1997, my grandma spent years signing birthday cards just like this: Love, Grandma and :-). She couldn’t bring herself to sign his name, but she couldn’t bring herself to sign just her name, either. She lit a candle in his memory before every meal, and I have it on good authority that they still enjoyed “special alone time” long after they received their AARP cards in the mail.

They were a shining example of the “C’mon, Get Happy!” vote. Perhaps they’re actually in the minority, perhaps it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and walks on the beach, but they sure did make it look easy. So here's to the wisdom and happiness in love that age brings. It's almost enough to compensate for the wrinkles and that colostomy bag.


  1. i love all of your potential old-age scenarios.

    i'm optimistic that by the time i've been married "a long time", we'll be happier than ever because Hubs will have realized I'm ALWAYS right.


  2. aw, this is a great post.

    My grandparents are very much like you described yours. My grandpa's health isn't great, so I know the end is coming, and I worry about how Grandma will take it.

  3. I am sure we will have to deal with many unfun things in the future like colostomy bags and arthritis, but I am hoping for the deep and abiding love. Thanks for the laugh.

  4. Whadya know?
    Not much - You!?

    aah I do love me some NPR!

    Praise the Big Guys in our life!!
    Say - we should schedule a Play Date sometime soon.

    Cheers darling!

  5. why are colostomy bags always so funny?
    one time at a party I spread a rumor that my friend had a colostomy bag and it fell into the jungle juice. my other friend got so freaked out that he took the big tub of liquor and threw it out into the yard. that one still cracks me up.

  6. Interesting would be cool to have a camera to capture the reactions of different listeners to that survey...the ones who are sure the answer is "more happy," the ones who feel like the answer could only be "less happy," and the ones who hope that someday they'll get the chance to find out.

    I'm squarely in the "more happy" camp, but that might be because I was so demonstratively awful at doing life on my own :)

  7. You also don't have to find a date for weddings, you can forget to shave your legs and you can pass gas freely without getting uptight about the aftermath.

  8. Holy cow, did you hit the nail on the head with the private boy and girl parts not being fit for the light of day anymore.

    The thought of exposing my bits to anyone who hasn't slowly seen them go to bits and remembers them fondly from younger days is a bit daunting.

    I don't care how well landscaped they are.

  9. Oh gosh, that kinda choked me up there. Raising a toast to Grandma and :-). I'm guessing that they had their hard times, but they succeeded in overcoming them, which brought them closer together.

  10. >>Love Grandma and :-)<<

    Ok, that just breaks my heart.

    When I get old I'm going to sign everything with fictitious names.

    "Who's Penelope Pottybottom?"
    "I have no idea."
    "Well, whoever she is, she sent me $20 for my birthday."

  11. God, Jess! That list was hysterical. In fact, I can't wait. I'm trying to find a way RIGHT NOW to speed up the aging process. I think that it will be a big seller, no?

    I have a feeling that sipping Drano in the morning might be the key.

    Bravo and Brava to your Grandparents!

    I've just recently been in awe of my folks. They've been together for 53 years. And I heard from my sister-in-law that they are indeed, still gettin' busy. She told me while choking back vomit, but I was happy for them.

    But then again, I'm not sure that they KNOW that they're still getting busy.

    Anyway, I recently asked them what the secret was. And they laughed and took big swigs of their scotches and said that they ignore a lot...or more like my mother. SHE ignores a lot.

    So, are you coming out for BlogHer? Is that what you're going to San Francisco for? I might actually go up there for it. But, if you're coming out for awhile, you should come down here. Santa Barbara is 6 hours from the Bay.

  12. Well said! I put myself in the "more happy" category but if I had been asked that question 2 years ago I would've answered differently. Marriage is a series of ups and downs and constantly rediscovering your love for one another....and if you have a great marriage the "downs" will make the "ups" all the better. =)

  13. Sigh.

    Too bad relationships like your grandparents' are rarer than not.

  14. Anonymous3:41 PM

    I totally agree with what you're saying--the couples who have been together have weathered a lot of storms, which I think can bring them closer. But the cynic in me analyzes every statistic for flaws, and I have to say that if a marriage is not happy, it has a greater chance of failing, and so the happier marriages, the more fulfilling ones, are the ones that are more likely to last. Not that that's a bad thing.

  15. Ah - booklady took my thought and ran with it before I even knew she stole it. ;)

    My "long time" marriage of 17+ years didn't work out, but I still remember with great fondness the good tiems we had. You ceratinly can't escape the past, no matter how hard you might like to at times.