Crosswords, Long Marriage, and Glue
According to one of my older sisters, and psychology books, long marriages go through several stages. My favorite analogy is one that compares marriage to traveling West. The first stage is the honeymoon along the Atlantic coast beauty and then a few bumps through the Appalachians before hitting the vast Midwest for years of plain old hard work keeping it all together. The Midwest stage was followed by the upheaval of the Mid-life crisis of the Rockies before finally seeing the Pacific Ocean where all would be peaceful until your last days. I guess then a person would be walking on the beach and just drift into the ocean.
I am not sure about the ending, but I can see the allegory of the travel as marriage stages require a certain amount of movement in order to make it to the “long marriage” stage. Most marriages get stuck in the difficult work of the Midwest. Not a lot to see except a bunch of corn and soybeans. Mile after mile. Get up. Go to school and work. Do homework. Cook supper. Go to bed and repeat. Day after day. Mile after mile.
If marriage longevity is based on travel, then we have been all over the world and back a few times. In our long marriage we have conquered the pain of infertility, met all the requirements for adoption, raised seven children and one grandchild, consequently marking time in the Midwest for far longer than a sane person should. We have mastered the legal system for active teens on probation, lived through detached retinas, cancer, and multiple reconstruction surgeries, not to mention a ten-year long “adventure” in the Rockies for the mid-life crisis. We are still together.
The glue for most long marriages are the few things we all do to remind us of who we are and why we stay together. Our bonding glue is the crossword puzzle from the paper. I suppose the premise is: If we can sit down together and complete a crossword puzzle then we are OK. He reads the clues out loud and I try to answer. Now and then I get to write.
Recently we took a series of road trips for surgical reasons. On one trip he was driving and I got to call out the clues and write them down. I noticed that the pen would not write so I looked at the nib. There was some gunk on it. I rolled the edge of the paper and pulled the nib gently through the folded edge of the paper. It left a mark.
“Hmmm…,” I said.
He glanced from the driver’s seat. “What are you doing?”
“Ahhh, something is on the pen.” I held the pen up and looked closer. “What in the world is on your pen?”
He coughed from the driver’s seat and started to say something.
“Wait a minute! This is ear wax!”
Cough, Cough and a big “harrummpp” came from the left side of the car.
“This is your pen and I can see ear wax inside the barrel of the pen.” I turned and held the pen in the light for him to see.
“Uhhh, well, maybe it is SOME wax. My ear was itching.”
“So, you scratched it with the end of your pen?”
“Yep,” he kept his eyes on the road.
“Is that why I never get to write? Your ears itch when we do crosswords?”
And now you know. The real glue to our long marriage is a little dab of ear wax at the end of each day.