On Groundhog's Day my mom & dad celebrated their 33rd anniversary. (Yeah, dad is stepfather but he essentially raised us so he's more like my dad in everything except blood.) But that's not what this post's about. On that day I asked my mom about their longevity. I asked her if there was one thing she could say that contributed most to the success of her marriage what would it be? Her response did not surprise me...in fact, a lot of what I've been reading lately about successful relationships (marriages), has what she said and it is stated rather prominently in these articles. She said that she & dad share most activities together--they love to do the same things: sailing, traveling, golf, etc. That their level of energy is very similar. And it's true--when I think back over the years, mom & dad have always been together doing something. The doing together. In fact, my mom had great role models too--my grandparents who were married forever (72 years!), did everything together as well. I'm pretty sure that my grandmother was not quite the fan of sailing as my very obsessed grandfather was (hmmm..I wonder where I got that gene?), but almost every weekend until she wasn't able, she was out there with him on the Chesapeake, often sitting, baking in the no-wind doldrums of a bay summer, dishing out a full-course luncheon. Or golfing, or traveling, or the many other activities that they did well into their 80s--together. They saw the world together--made sure that their grandchildren learned to want to try new things & took us everywhere--but usually it was the both of them--
I think that's rare now & perhaps that's why many folks have that disconnect after a while--they begin to lead very separate lives. One goes & sits on the sofa watching TV when the other wants to go out & go to see music--and so the pattern begins. The destruction of the partnership--the separation. Of course having children creates a way different paradigm but after the kids are old enough to have their own friends & arrange their own "play dates", well, then you have one another again. Do you embrace it or are your lives so separate that you can't retrieve the togetherness anymore?
My ex-husband & I were completely different--he, so NOT a sailor, loved to be on the computer ALL OF THE TIME & me, I just wanted to be out in the world--disconnect. At first I enjoyed playing computer games with him but then my true nature took over--I wanted to be out in the mix of the world not sitting & watching it go by while playing computer games or chatting online with people thousands of miles away that I'd probably never meet in person. It just never got any better & we could not retrieve our togetherness & after a while we just didn't try anymore. I think that happens a lot--we didn't really share the same activities when we got down to it. All I wanted to do was get out & sail as much as possible & he had NO interest in anything water-related--even the beach held little excitement for him. When the family would go to the beach, we all have a collective mental image of him sitting in the living room with his feet propped on the coffee table, reading a magazine for most of the time while we went off to the beach or walk in the town, or go to any other number of activities. For someone else, I assume his current wife, it is OK, for me, no way & thus contributed to the downfall of our relationship.
Yeah, you don't do everything together--my BFFs' husbands join us occasionally for a wine tasting, & they certainly do not go shopping with us, but many, many other activities are done together. I look at my friend's marriages & I also see them doing activities together--having been married for almost 20 years--and their's are successful as well. There are the bumps to be sure, but, they are out there--skiing, seeing music, camping, whatever--but it is together.
Ok, so what this all boils down to is of course how it relates to the relationship that I'm building--where do we sit on this? I have mentioned before that Xing Fu & I have a lot in common--we both love being out & about--last weekend seeing Dr. Dog at the 9:30 Club & enjoying Ethiopian at Etete right before the show, case in point. But one of the biggies, one that a friend of ours once said & I've been saying for a while myself is "Never date a non-sailor." We spend our summers sailing and our winters thinking & talking about it. It is part of that common ground--the activities that we do & what we love to do together--I think that bodes well for our future, together.