I was recently listening to the Beatles song Eleanor Rigby on a road trip with my daughter. Mostly because we only had two musical options in the car at that time, bad talk radio or the Beatles #1 hits CD that has been in the car for three years. I always think I can't bare to hear the songs one more time and then I get into it and before I know it we're listening to Long and Winding Road one more bloody time and I'm singing along.
When Eleanor Rigby came on I was surprised my daughter didn't ask me to flip to the next song. She is hyper-sensitive to songs or movies that are too sad. Yesterday, I caught her singing the song to herself. Clearly, she'd taken the whole song in, the entire picture of loneliness. Father McKenzie, Eleanor, the dirt from the grave. All the lonely people.
There are so many lonely people that if you even have one kindred spirit in your life, one soul to talk with, count yourself blessed. This is my preamble to talking about marriage, which Leonard Cohen described as (I'm paraphrasing, but only slightly) 'the hardest thing ever'. I don't want to sound ungrateful for my marriage or any of my relationships. I am thankful for all of them. But, what I will say is Leonard Cohen is a wise and respected human being and he makes a point.
My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. This is a milestone that few couples make these days. (Though there must be quite a few couples making it to 60 because that is the milestone you have to make to get a letter from the Queen, or this may be more a reflection on the Queen's staff keeping her workload to a minimum.) I know my parents could not have survived 50 years together without a sense of humour and of course a few tactical maneovres to get through the rough spots. Like chicken.
A lesbian friend of mine was talking to her mom about a complicated relationship she was in. After listening, her mother replied that being with a man was easier. "Men are easy because you can just put them in front of the TV with a plate of chicken and they're happy." That is a marriage tactic that likely served her well.
My husband's aunt and uncle are in their 90s and happily married. They recently returned from a cruise where two of the best features of vacation were the 'lovely beds'. The Auntie described to me how fluffy the pillows and duvet were. How clean the sheets, how comfortable the mattress. But they were single beds, so they slept separately.
When the Aunt and Uncle returned home to their double bed in Wales, the first night back there was a silence. As they adjusted to their own bed (presumably not as cosy and comfortable), the Uncle quietly, dryly said into the darkness "Well, this is not going to work."
"He still makes me laugh Elizabeth," is how she ended that story.
See, flex that funny bone people, it will save your relationships. Also, (and I'm not saying this is part of my regular repertoire) I have to go make sure the cable bill is paid and thaw some chicken for dinner.