Staying Married

Today is my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. In case you’re wondering what they looked like celebrating their engagement, wonder no further:

When I was a small child, I didn’t understand how I was meant to celebrate their anniversary and didn’t quite know what it had to do with me. Now that I am getting married myself, I see the fact that I didn’t understand their anniversary’s significance as really good sign: I never thought that there was any reason that they shouldn’t be married. I assumed that marriage was their normal state, as was staying married forever.

It so happens that I don’t think that simply having been married a long time is a great reason to stay married if things are truly and irredeemably terrible. I do think that to get married you have to be an optimist, and to stay married you have to be a fighter. I count myself lucky that I come from people who value fighting for their marriage over fighting in it, and who know what real commitment means.

(And in case you should think it’s only on my side: RP’s parents just celebrated their 34th anniversary! If they would like to supply me with a fresh-faced photo of themselves from the late 1970s I would be happy to post it here as well…)

So today I’m raising a glass to another 30 years for my parents, congratulating them, and wishing I could celebrate with them. Love to you, Mom and Dad!


And now for the interactive portion of the show: today I’m also taking that advice that you’ve always wanted to give but worried might make you seem overbearing and self-righteous! I’ve heard lots of advice on what it takes to stay married, ranging from “Don’t go to sleep angry” (which I totally don’t subscribe to…I believe in the healing effects of a night of sleep) to things that are not fit to print on a blog that my parents read.

Tell me, dear reader: what do you think it takes to stay married?

Reality Check

Tonight was the annual gala for my mother’s theater, Classic Stage Company. She has just been made President of the Board (i.e. Queen of New York and Also the Rest of the World) and was the picture of grace at the big event tonight.

As at every gathering of more than 2 people I have attended recently, I spent a lot of time explaining what RP and I will be up to in Kunming. This has got RP in a pretty bad mood recently – all of this chatter and praise and questioning, without us having actually accomplished anything yet. Nonetheless, everyone is so genuinely excited for us that it’s hard for me to begrudge people asking the same questions over and over…and occasionally someone does say something unexpected:

OLD FAMILY FRIEND (OFF): I think it’s so great what the two of you are going to do.

ME: Well we’re pretty excited.

OFF: I mean, [husband] and I had such a wonderful experience when we were living in Japan.

ME: Yes, of course!

OFF: The whole experience will either bring you so close together or completely break you apart. That’s what living in a foreign country does. [Swift exit to the bar.]

Gulp. Thanks, OFF. I’ve been so distracted recently with moving out of our apartment and worrying that I’m not qualified for my new job that I had totally forgotten about the explosive potential of China to end my relationship! Ahaha!

I’m not actually worried about this – I think. RP and I have taken a long time building our relationship and, when we make it to Kunming, will have moved our lives through 5 cities and 3 countries in 5 years. And although the last time we were in China together was a very shaky time for us, I like to think that it was nothing to do with China and everything to do with the fact that I was kind of a lunatic at that point in my life – three years ago and a world away from where we are now.

I think this is the beginning of a totally new phase of life for us; a break from a series of moves and jobs and undertakings that haven’t been what one or both of us wanted. This is us being brave, and being together.

Pastoral Detroit

Pastoral Detroit. (Courtesy of RP)