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Jan 13 2012

Comfortable, Predictable, and Safe

One of the biggest advantages of a long term marriage (20+ years) is that it is comfortable, predictable, and safe.

One of the biggest challenges of a long term marriage is that it is comfortable, predictable, and safe.

*sigh*

Yeah, it’s confusing.

Comfortable becomes complacent. Predictable becomes boring. Safe becomes smothering and restrictive.

Sometimes.

Other times comfortable means you can just relax. Predictable means you don’t have to deal with the stress of constant change. Safe means the experience of both physical safety and emotional safety.

Usually, you experience it both ways at different points in the marriage.

Some people deal with this situation well. Others don’t. Most get divorced because they can’t stand it. Many find relief by cheating. Others drink or find some other way of dealing with it.

Sometimes it’s all you can do to just hold on to get through the hard times, the years of feeling invisible and realizing that the life you’re living is not the one you want.

If you deal with it by cheating, most folks just don’t get it, and (if anyone knows) you get subjected to pot shots from the cheap seats – moral judgements made by people who simply don’t know what it’s like and moral judgements made by people who do know what it’s like, but have chosen another way of dealing with it, therefore allowing them to feel superior.

The big payoff comes for those who weather the storm – no matter how they have to do it – and grow through it.  The payoff is a lifelong, intimate and special connection with another human being.

Imagine that the only way to get to heaven would be to have to walk through parts of hell and purgatory to get there.  That’s what I’m trying to describe.

If you have been married for decades and you have never gone through any of this and you don’t really know what I am talking about, you are a very fortunate exception to the rule.

I’m reading a book right now  in which the author refers to marriage as a “people growing institution.” Experiencing wedded bliss at all times is not the point.  Growing together over decades as you walk through mud and fire and flowers and sun—all while raising a family…that is the point.

Together you experience the best and the worst of who you each are. And you choose to love each other anyway.

That is the point.

7 comments

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  1. Anonymous

    Interesting post, given my current situation. Been together w/my wife for almost 20 years. 9 months ago, I got the “I love you, but not in love with you speech.”

    Instead of “weathering the storm” and figuring out how to deal with the changes we’ve both made (we married young) over 20 years, she chose to lie & cheat. As such, I filed for divorce a few weeks ago.

    Unfortunately, today’s culture values “happiness” (whatever that means @ the moment) over responsibility, commitment and maturity.

  2. Luna Moon

    Although I fantasize about my lover leaving his wife, I know it would change the dynamics of the relationship between him and me.

    I love the safety and comfort of my marriage. We’ve been married for 21 years. I’m fortunate because my husband is truly a decent guy…inattentive, but we’re trying to work on that.

  3. Clem

    Very spot-on here.
    You managed to hit all the important parts and guidelines.
    23 years, a few affairs, a life-changing event, then a divorce.
    You capture it all for me.
    Gonna keep this, look it over from time to time to see what I’ve learned as live goes on…

    Thanks

  4. Ryan Beaumont

    From the book Less Than Zero:
    Where are we going’, I asked.
    ‘I don’t know’ he said. ‘Just driving.’
    ‘But this road doesn’t get anywhere,’ I told him.
    ‘That doesn’t matter.’
    ‘What does?’ I asked, after a little while.
    ‘Just that we’re on it, dude.’

    In life where you are going is sometimes less important than who you are going with. If you are happy with who you are with you are in pretty good shape.

  5. Anonymous

    I don’t agree with you’re take on your critics. Spend enough time in this corner of the world and you’ll come out thinking that morality is nothing but an individual’s preference. But I love what you say here: “Imagine that the only way to get to heaven would be to have to walk through parts of hell and purgatory to get there. That’s what I’m trying to describe.” It’s just the today so many of us find it easier to pursue our pleasures than commit to experiencing purgatory for a bigger purpose.

  6. jam

    i’ve been married 33yrs. he’s my best friend and cant imagine life without him. he has low sex drive and medical problems. i have needs so i’ve been with my FB for 11yrs. gets better with each time we’re together. no my husband doesnt know about FB. i’ve experienced a ffm; mmf; and a gang bang. a few things i’ve not tried just have to wait and see what happens. i’m also, looking for a ltr male; female and a couple. if it happens it’s meant to be if not life will not end. i love your blog. keep up the good work.

  7. Kat

    Anonymous 1/13 7:09 – I’m sorry about your marriage. It’s truly a tragedy when a family breaks up. I certianly can’t, and won’t, minimize your experience and the pain it has caused you.

    Luna Moon – Exactly! The dynamic would change completely. My husband is a great guy, too, and things are changing for the better with us. The effort actually pays off sometimes. 🙂

    Clem – I’m learning as I go like you. I only wish I was better at learning from my mistakes. :-/

    Ryan – “In life where you are going is sometimes less important than who you are going with. If you are happy with who you are with you are in pretty good shape.” That says it for me. Thank you. 🙂

    Anonymous 1/14 1:53 – I don’t disagree with you at all, but you can’t fairly judge someone else’s situation until you’ve seen what their hell and purgatory look like, can you? I’ve never claimed that cheating is morally right,just that there are worse choices a person can make in dealing with an extremely difficult situation. Which is worse – a husband who completely ignores his wife’s needs over years (or decades) treating her like his servant or a wife who keeps the family together and treats her husband well in spite of his behavior, but chooses to have an affair to get some of her needs met so she can keep her sanity? It’s a temporary bandaid, but is her behavior worse than his? Both are not being the best of spouses.

    jam – Thank you! I understand what you mean completely when you say about your husband, “he’s my best friend and cant imagine life without him.

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