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The joy of marriage?

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 13, 2022 6:36 am

What’s the story in a marriage? We get together with our partners out of lust, which, of course, we perceive as true love that gets deeper with each day. Then finally—starry-eyed—we get married.

Very romantic. Of course, there are little spats and quarrels, but nothing we cannot surmount because romance is still there. Then time passes. We get accustomed to each other. The romance all but dies, especially when the children are growing up. Of course romance recurs in spurts, but as the children grow up, their problems seem to become more paramount.

Finally, what happens as we grow old? We all get crankier with age. My husband and I got married almost five years ago. The first three years were blissful. He had eight children. I had four. But all of them are over 30. We had a lot of fun together. We went shopping, traveled together. Every day was full of laughter and joy until suddenly he got sick. Now we stay at home all the time. Our lives have changed. Sure, we love each other still, love each other a lot, but we don’t talk that much anymore because he doesn’t remember much.

I spend days seething. Then suddenly he does something extraordinarily sweet and all the murderous intent flies out the window.

He doesn’t remember that I still work. I write once a week and I make rosaries every day. My mornings are spent making rosaries. My afternoons are spent with him. Nevertheless, every day he remembers my name and calls me repetitively: “Tweetums. Tweetums. Tweetums,” he says, until I show myself and beg him to please give me time to do my work. Often he forgets quickly. So he repeats the call: “Tweetums. Tweetums. Tweetums.” Continuously, until I put on ear plugs and close the door so I don’t hear anymore. To be honest, there have been times when I have wanted to tape his mouth shut. 

“That’s like wanting to kill him,” one of my closet girlfriends said. Then we both broke down giggling. 

“It’s true,” I said, “sometimes I get pretty close to that feeling but then I sit in my little garden, convince myself he isn’t that well, breathe in the fragrance of sampaguitas until I have calmed down. Or out of the blue he says, ‘I love you very much.’ The wanting to kill just literally fades away.” 

“Before coming to visit you I accidentally read an article on longtime marriages. You know, my husband and I have been married for more than 20 years,” my girlfriend said.

“There are times when I am so angry and fed up with him I want to kill him or throw him out of our house and tell him never to come back. I spend days seething and trying to find the courage to throw him out. Then suddenly he does something extraordinarily sweet and all the murderous intent flies out the window. This article says that the desire for murder or for tossing out the person is normal in a marriage, especially a long-term marriage. We just have to learn to accept it. We love one day. We hate on another. But in the end we find we care deeply for the person and can let whatever errors slip past."

In the end, marriage teaches us how to handle each other’s crabby ways

“I have another friend like us—over 70, married, like you. She has been married to the same man for over 30 years. She describes him as having gotten ‘horrendously cranky.’ ‘He sometimes drives me up the wall,’” she says, “but why should I answer him? I know I also have my cranky moments. When I cannot take it I get dressed and take a long walk.” They live in Portugal. “Then I come home at around five and cook dinner for him. I just put the dinner on the table. I let him eat whenever he wants. Sometimes I eat by myself much later.”

Then she says this emphatically: “But, I am fortunate that I travel a lot, meaning we have lots of time we spend away from each other and sometimes that works well for both of us. My solution, therefore, is I hope I do not get too old to travel to visit my children all over Europe. Otherwise I will go crazy.” 

Of the three of us, I guess I have the best deal so far. My husband Loy and I still find a way of handling our cantankerous ways and making them pass. I am sure out there most of you have the same stories at play in your marriage. Some women play mahjong or bridge. Some watch dramas intensely. That’s one of the ways I handle my own irritations. My husband goes to sleep early in his hospital bed in the living room, leaving our bedroom to me. He has a wonderful caregiver now who keeps him company the whole night. 

In the end, that simply is what marriage is all about. It teaches us how to handle each other’s crabby ways. After all, what’s life without crabs?