This weekend found me in the company of a number of not-yet betrothed young men. One had jumped the broom, but most were simply considering making the move. Indeed, my long marriage (longer in most cases than the entirety of their lives) sparked curiosity. Why do some marriages last when others do not? That answer, if a complete one exists, certainly eludes me. So, my response to them skipped the existential and went directly to the tactical.
Marry well, if you can, but always expect to find, and seek, compromise. Make little note of your partner’s peccadillos, and hope they will do the same. Find room in your lives for each other. There is joy in knowing that the other person is there, always attentive to you and your needs. If we focus on the inconvenience of our lives, aren’t we missing something far more important?
Try to constrain your annoying habits. They are probably not good for you – besides too much, even of a good thing, may reduce its pleasure when you do indulge. Remind your spouse that a vice indulged at home is always better than one unseen. Clean up after yourself – every time and without exception.
But most of all, tolerate imperfection. Cigars smell. Men stink. And, I’ve never really liked the aroma of strong perfume. It makes me sneeze. So, what? If my bride loves the fragrance, I love it, too. Perhaps I might buy one that is easier for me – but I would never take that happiness from her. I carry my own very pronounced imperfections. Those in my life who love and accommodate me have come to understand that truth and value my happiness, as do I theirs. In this there is no horse-trading, scorekeeping, snarky comment or resentment. And, why should there be?