Saturday, 18 July 2015

when you've been married for a long time...

"There are no half measures in love, only all or nothing. And if it doesn’t make you tremble or go..." “There are no half measures in love,   only all or nothing.   And if it doesn’t make you tremble   or go mad at the very thought of its absence, you should move on.”  - Beau Taplin

I read quotes like this one above and I wonder quietly to myself - do we expect too much from love and marriage in the world we live in today? Have we put ourselves under a ton of pressure to be on top of our love game all the time for fear we may lose if we aren't always fervently full on?

There is so much focus on mad, passionate love and being wildly excited every moment. There is a mountain of advice out there telling you to run for the hills if it's anything less than fireworks and bells and whistles. Quotes abound on finding your soul mate and being entwined together every moment for the rest of your life. I wonder whether this focus negates long term/in it for the long haul love and marriage. Is it a factor in the prevalence of divorce we see today?

I don't want to rain on anybody's parade - I'm sure there are people out there who have been married for decades and are still making mad frenetic love like rabbits three times a night. I assume there are people who found their soul mate and have never had a cross word between them. I presume there are couples who can't bear to be apart for more than a few hours because they miss each other. I've read about all these people, but they don't seem to be part of the world of marriage I'm in, or even the marriages I see around me. These marriages are much more pragmatic - two independent people sharing the ups and downs of their lives and doing their best to not drive each other crazy - and at the same time committing to the journey with love and affection and warmth and humour to make it all worthwhile.

do we need to be constantly drowning in passion?

The nights of wild, abandoned passion are fewer and further between now days. A good night's sleep becomes the holy grail and takes precedence at times over the lusts of our youth. There is still a deep and abiding love and attraction, but "drowning in passion" and "being ravished" often takes a back seat at the end of a long day - and we know that there's always tomorrow night (or the weekend). We aren't the teenagers that we were when we met, or even the carefree 20 year olds, life has changed pace but we're not dead either - just a little slower on the uptake at times!

Thirty plus years of being with the same person means that we know each other well - we've laughed and cried, fought and made up, liked and disliked, agreed and disagreed, and compromised on issues a million times - and will probably do so a million times more. But we are still together. Lust is a wonderful thing, but strong, abiding love and respect have been the glue that has held us together through the years. 

I know that there's plenty of women out there getting their second wind (or third, or fourth) because they have re-married or because they have a new partner and the flush of romance is rekindled and I envy them a little, but it's expecting a lot from my poor husband to provide me with the same kind of excitement that I would get from a brand new guy. And part of me doesn't really have a desire for that kind of flash flood, "does he or doesn't he?" new love feeling. I am very happy in a contented, settled relationship with a man who knows me inside out and still chooses to be with me after all these years. 

I guess all that makes me sound a little dull - but one of the best things about midlife is that it doesn't matter how I sound, I love my life (and my husband) and I am really happy for others who have the those fire crackers while I stay with the tried and true. Despite the shout outs to flamboyant, flaming lust, no-one has to prove themselves anymore because we are all grown ups and there is still a strong voice for committed, long term love..... Although I'd like to think that within the long haul there is more "bright and shiny" happening than "dull and lifeless" because there might still be another 30+ years to go!

21 comments:

  1. I think there's way too much pressure being exerted to hang from the chandeliers at our ages. Umm..no. I had those days, they were fun and these days are equally fun. Who needs a chandelier to come crashing down NOW?

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    1. Yay Carol! I'm glad I'm not the only one whose chandelier days have toned down a little :)

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  2. Hi Leanne....lots of good thoughts about marriage and relationships here. I'm another one of those who have been married a LONG time...it will be 38 this fall. I am extremely fortunate that we are both very compatible and Promotion-focused (meaning we are very future oriented and optimistic) so that helps us address the world and challenges the same way. But yeah, after 38 years the "passion" has definitely subsided to say the least....but the thing is, the love making now is so much MORE satisfying because we know each other so well. It is a trade off but I wouldn't want to EVER go trying something new just for a little bit of that lust and passion that you mention. Thom is my best friend, lover and partner in so many things that it might not be shiny or bright but it is anything by dull and lifeless either. That's the way I hope to keep it. ~Kathy

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    1. So glad you agree Kathy - we have all this passion shoved in our faces, but there is so much to be said for being happy together and knowing that the other person is with you for keeps and still loves you after all this time :)

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  3. What a lovely post, Leanne. My husband and I married late - he was 51 and I was 41 - and the first time for us both. We've been married 8 1/2 years now. I think in all marriages, trust, the security of love and companionship take the place of the intial passion. We feel blessed to have found each other!

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    1. Wow Corinne - I am so impressed that you found each other and that you were both first cabs off the rank for each other :) You are definitely blessed to have found each other!

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  4. I am so with you. My husband and I will be married 34 years in August and I consider us bright and shiny even though, at this point, we are way past the new love stage. I am very grateful for this old love.

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    1. Me too Lois - we came close to losing it a couple of years ago and I am so glad we hung on and have what we have now! A little bright and shiny is a good thing :)

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  5. I have to agree with everybody else. I think the most important part to any long term marriage is friendship. That one person in the world that you run to first whether it's good or bad.

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    1. Exactly Rena - I'm always happy for others to still have all that passion blazing away, but there is a lot to be said for friendship and knowing the other person is always there for you.

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  6. When I got married at 26, I really thought it would be for life. But by 38 I was divorced and was fine with the idea of being alone. The first marriage was way too much work and I was exhausted from it all. Then I met a man who made me laugh...a lot...and I realized that was all that I really needed to push through any of the other crap. We have been married almost 10 years and there have been things we've had to go through that were not fun but at the end of the day I know I can get into bed and he will inevitably grab my ass and I just laugh :)

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    1. Hi Beth - there is nothing like a good laugh to cover a multitude of sins! I'm so glad you found a keeper second time around :)

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  7. My husband died unexpectedly fours years ago on Christmas Day. One of my girlfriends said "we had it all: the romance, the friendship." I miss it every day. Imagine if your husband were gone in a blink? Cherish him!

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    1. I am so sorry Brenda - I think about stuff like that and it scares me silly. I'm glad you had it all for as long as you did, but I'm still so sorry you haven't got him around anymore.

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  8. That's one of those quotes that seems profound until you stop and think about it and realize it's WRONG. I had a very brief "lust" marriage at age 21 which lasted a whole year and a half. Nowadays we just would have lived together, come to our senses and moved on, but that was then. At age 28, I married someone with whom I'd been "just friends" for 10 years. He has been my love and best friend (I know, so cliche) for 34 years. We still have some passionate moments here and there, but mostly, we "just" have that deep, abiding trust and love that is there in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, in good times and bad....you know the rest. In every marriage, barring an unfortunate plane crash or other catastrophe, one spouse is going to survive the other. Usually, the surviving husband or wife will be very sad and will grieve, but they will not go mad.

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    1. That is so true Suzanne - deep abiding trust and love are what see us through - the wild passion is nice but much harder to build on long term.

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  9. Such a well-written, thought provoking post Leanne! Fortunately, for me, before I married I had come across the quote "Marriage is work". And it is - no matter how wonderful, how in love, how passionate a relationship is, sharing a home and life with someone requires compromises, understanding and work. Without this viewpoint, instead of the one of your quote, it is quite unlikely that many marriages could last more than a few years!

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    1. my point exactly Susan - we get a lot of expectations thrown at marriage now days - sometimes it can just be about working together and sharing life and loving each other.

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  10. I've been married for the years now. And I noticed that for many couples the 10-year-mark is the decisive point. Just look at all the Hollywood couples separating (Ben Affleck etc), it's usually around ten years. It's the time when you kind of decide: is the person laying next to me the person I want to spend the rest of my life with or let's just forget about it and start a new life, it's still time. I think after 10 ten you kinda know whom you're with, you know all the habits, annoyances, but also the good traits. But I also think that hose people who think marriage is a bed of roses are naive. Passion that wears of eventually has little to do with real love. Real love is devotion and going beyond the physical. Loved your article Leanne, as usual! Very well thought through and deep:)

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    1. thanks Abby - I agree with everything you said - there is so much more to long term marriage than wild passion and I think that people go looking for more when they don't realize that.

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  11. The thrill from fireworks is their brevity. If a firecracker kept firecracker-ing, you couldn't look at it anyway. This is our fortieth year. The bright and shiny has morphed into the warm and comfortable. And I'm singing the praises of the warm and comfortable!

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