I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Tag: Marriage

You’re Still The One!


On the Vastness of Marriage

It is our wedding anniversary. Twenty-two years. It seems like yesterday that I greeted him at the altar and met his eyes. And felt so much emotion. The same thing happened on the day we met. And again this morning. Overcome with love, honesty, awe. I turned away – too intense – the passion that I feel for him. Too busy, too embarrassed, too embedded in our daily habits to act on that emotion.

I could complain about him. After 22 years, there’s a lot to complain about. He doesn’t dance. He’s stubborn. He makes me look like an extrovert. He votes Republican (but not for Trump, have no fear!).

But then, he could complain about me. That would be a long list.

We could have given up. We’ve had our share of fights. Though I avoid conflict and he tends to be unyielding. That can be a bad combination and I have been known to stomp away with frustration and fury.

We could have sought other mates, someone who shared more common interests. Would he be happier with someone more outdoorsy and adventurous? Would I be happier with someone who was more interested in dance and theater?

Maybe. There are always what if’s. You can spend your life wondering if you should have taken the other path.

But we haven’t given up. We haven’t sought other mates. We choose each other. Still.

What makes us stay? Loyalty? Commitment? The mortgage? The children? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And friendship. And love. And respect. And unshakable passion. Not the I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off of the first phase of infatuation. No, it’s a slow and steady burn.

Pride plays a significant role. I am proud of my husband and proud of our marriage and proud of our family. I think he’s the most intelligent person I know and the most capable. When I am clouded and swayed with weighing the pros and cons of every (every!) decision, I appreciate his decisiveness. He’s funny, a good cook, reads more than I do, and likes to play. He has set good life priorities: Love a few good people, have a good time with them, and appreciate every day. It would be easy for me to get distracted by pursuing other people’s dreams and goals for me, but he is a beacon of clarity.

Appreciation plays a significant role. You can wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else. Or you can marvel at how good you have it. My husband is rock-solid in his love and pride for me. And for our children. I have it good.

Forgiveness plays a significant role. We all make mistakes. We all are a little weird. We all need our space. He says one reason he fell in love with me is that I laughed at his jokes and forgave him his bad jokes. Well, I’ve made much bigger mistakes and he has forgiven them. Shared reciprocity.

We joke that my husband embodies impatience. Smarter, faster, more determined that most, why wouldn’t he be impatient? He pulled himself out of a destructive youth and put himself through college, why wouldn’t he hold others to as high a standard? But he is gentle and patient and forgiving of the people he loves. Deeply compassionate, he will sit by us as we try and fail and try and succeed, cheering us on.

Marriage is a dance, with each taking turns and supporting the other.  Marriage is a partnership where we inspire and encourage each other to be better. Marriage is vast. Filled with shared history, shared dreams, shared pain, shared joy. That it’s been twenty-two years stuns me.

With appreciation, forgiveness, patience, and love, we meet each other in the middle, at the altar of marriage, an intimate bond, a sacred bond, between you and me. Abiding love and deep passion ignite when our eyes meet. Still. After all these years.

Happy Anniversary.

All The Single Ladies


Hey Romeo, Don’t Post Naked Pictures!

The other day, a young woman in my life posted a photo from an online dating site of a mostly naked man opening his door to potential girlfriends. I mean potential sexmates. The young woman’s caption was a sarcastic salute to the pitfalls of online dating. She got me wondering. It does seem difficult for young people to forge deep and committed relationships. Of course, if all the guys are immature and unattractive and think posting a naked picture of themselves will entice a mate, then, well, whatever, I have no words.

I feel for the beautiful, smart, funny, ambitious, adventurous, deeply caring young women in my life who would like to be in a relationship.  There really is no one good enough for them. Wait, what? How can that be? Surely my son will be a good, honest, sensitive, loyal, loving young man. Someday. There must be some good men out there! Have they buried their goodness under pressure to showcase their sexual prowess? Online? It’s difficult to let your personality shine when you have to sell yourself with a fabulous photo or catchy caption or impressive profile.

I met my husband on a group skiing trip. The group was a bicycling club in my area that skied in the winter. Although I spent 10,000 hours in grueling ballet classes as a teen, I was not a sports-oriented athlete. Discovering outdoor activities as an adult was a bit of a revelation and a fun way to be social. I met a variety of congenial people. And I met my husband. There was the shock wave of eye contact and the frisson when we shook hands and more body language and subtle contact when I maneuvered a seat next to him at dinner. We were able to get a sense of each other in the company of mutual cohorts doing an activity we both enjoyed. It was very conducive to romance.

Of course, in my day, I suppose the common way to meet people was at a party or at a bar. This too can inspire that eye-lock across the room and lead to romance, or a one-night-stand with an immature Romeo looking for just a sexmate. Maybe things haven’t changed very much. I certainly had better luck meeting people through friends and activities. Luck in the sense that it was safer, and the other person was generally a potentially good fit.

I caught a tip in a men’s magazine counseling guys on how to meet a woman at the gym. The advice was to go slow. Identify a woman who was open and smiling and not just intent on her workout. Then make one comment about the gym and go away. Then, next time, bring up a movie and see if she responds in a way that invites dialog. Then, next time, invite her out on a date. Slow, gradual, over several encounters. The magazine explained that men tend to come on too strong which turns off the woman and shuts her down. Yes! Hey Romeo, don’t post naked pictures of yourself!

Out of curiosity, I started asking people I know how they met their significant other. A few had stories of friends who had met online, but most of the people I spoke to had met their mate through a friend or on a trip or through an activity. We all expressed relief that we did not have to figure out online dating and deal with the anxiety around what to post and how to meet someone compatible. Some of the young women say that online dating has been a fun way of bonding with other young women, laughing at the ridiculous options. The men have buried their goodness under pressure to showcase their sexual prowess or financial success or intellectual achievement or whatever is trending at the time. Honestly, the women have too. Buried their real selves. Under a protective layer that they think is worth presenting to the dating world.

I hope the young people I love form deep connections with lovers and friends. Most of the young people in my life were brought up with parents in traditional and committed relationships and strive for that themselves, or think they should strive for that. They are all quite capable and independent and, I hope, happy. It is possible a traditional marriage with children is not going to happen for them. Certainly not with Romeo and his ilk.

Let’s face it, marriage is hard and not for everyone.  But there are so many ways to create a loving life with deep connections. There is more and more support for single people embracing their autonomy. 44% of adults over 18 are single and many prefer it that way. More and more co-housing communities are being created. But it can be difficult to go against traditional social norms, especially if that’s how you were brought up. And if you want to have children, it really is smoother to embark on that adventure with a partner.

How to find that mate? Well, not only do you need to be yourself, but you need to be open to another person’s self. And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get off social media and take up some social activities.

Cartoon Credit:  Rob Cottingham

The Dance of Marriage



Marriage is hard. It is easy to understand why couples decide to call it quits. It is perhaps easier to be alone or to try to find someone else who has the characteristics your spouse doesn’t have but that you wish he did have. Of course if you find that someone else, that other person will be missing some other desirable characteristic. And while your own problems/issues/neuroses may be masked in the euphoria of a new and different relationship they will reemerge sooner or later, leading to serial monogamy without the joy of a deeply committed and evolving marriage that weathers the challenges.

For my young readers who believe in the romantic notion that there is only one soulmate to hold out for, bah! Disabuse yourself of that ridiculousness. No one person is your perfect mate. But do choose wisely. Choose someone who is responsible and loyal, loving and funny, a partner in parenthood (should you decide to have children), a friend, and someone who gives you that frisson of passion, even after 21 years of seeing you at your worst. And at your best.

I saw the Paul Taylor Dancers perform Eventide. I went with my 20-something niece who is at the age where some of your illusions have been burst but you don’t quite know who you’re going to be yet. An exciting and hopeful and confusing age. (Aren’t they all?) I didn’t go with my husband, because enjoying dance performances is one of the characteristics I wish he had but he does not.

It is a very beautiful dance that a 20-something can enjoy, but may require being 50-something to appreciate. Paul Taylor choreographed Eventide when he was my age. Interesting.

It opens with 5 couples. (All male-female, which is notable because Taylor has made so many wonderful dances for all sorts of combinations of people!) In the beginning, the couples look the same and move in unison to the same choreography. And then. Each couple dances their dance. The story of their relationship. Or perhaps it is five phases of one relationship. There is the woman reaching for another lover while her partner movingly invites/pleads/demands that she stay with him. Compliant, she tries to stay, but her body language is distant and resistant. Their dance ends with her tragically alone, with neither lover. There is the woman returning to her lover apologetically. Can he forgive her? Can he trust her? Can they love again? Cautious. There is the couple ecstatic in new love. Each movement thrillingly joyful, in unison, inseparable.

Haven’t we all been there? The excitement of new love where you can’t bear to be apart. The temptation of another love or another path that promises to be different, better, more right. The unequal balance after one partner hurts the other, betrays the other. The deep comfort and bond and friendship and simmering passion of a long marriage.

If the beginning of a relationship is an ecstatic dance in unison, the eventide of a relationship has more complex choreography. Frequently, after the kids arrive, you divide and conquer, creating parallel lives that forget to intersect. When the kids leave, you’ve forgotten how to intersect. The dance moves from unison to parallel solos to, if you choose, a wiser mature love with special moments of intersection and connection. You may need to revisit some of those earlier dance steps in order to remember.

My husband and I are looking to weave back together. We have each changed after 21 years of marriage and our relationship has changed. Sometimes we marvel at our longevity given our many differences. It seems to work best when we treat each other like we love each other. To talk, to listen, to hold hands, to look each other in the eye, to laugh, to be proud, to compliment each other, to be polite, to be kind. We’re revisiting things we liked to do when we were dating, like finding new recipes and cooking together. Then we go our separate ways. And come back together again. It’s a dance.

Photo:  Paul Taylor’s Eventide

%d bloggers like this: