A successful marriage is a mystery, especially to the people who are living it. Whenever I hear anyone giving out advice about how to succeed in this incredibly hard but wonderfully worthwhile task, I always take it with a grain of salt. At least we don’t hear as much of this as we used to, because so many of the pontificating political pundits who used to be nattering on about morality have been literally caught with their pants down (having been found to have had mistresses, or sometimes “misters,” on the side). A while ago, I wrote a diary about how a marriage between a Lefty and a Righty works, on the theory that this is a metaphor for ALL marriages. Now I want to talk about temperature.
Like everyone, Whitley and I are sometimes hot and sometimes cold. The trouble is, we never seem to be at the same temperature at the same time. When we lived in New York, where the winters are bitter and the summers steaming, I was colder than he was during the chilly months and he was always hotter than I was in the warm months. I never could figure out how, as a multiple-generation Texan, he could be so bothered by the heat–you’d think it would have been bred out of him by now.
Then we got to those troublesome years for women, when “hot flashes” arrive. I was ALWAYS hot, even though, since we lived in Texas at the time, we had central air conditioning. At night, Whitley would sleep under a down quilt folded in half, while I threw the covers off and steamed like a baked potato.
Now we live in a town where everyone says you don’t need air conditioning. I find this to be true only about 350 days of the year, and the rest of the time I’m hot. But my hot flashes are over, and I find I’m not nearly as hot as poor Whitley, who throws our down quilt, which now covers both of us, off his side of the bed, while I cuddle under my half of it. I tease him and say he’s going through MAN-opause.
But it got me to thinking: WHY can’t two people who love each other as much as we do ever seem to be the same temperature? It’s as if there is something essentially contrary about hitching your life to someone else for a long period of time. Are we trying to do the impossible?
Upon reflection, despite what those “happy talk” guests on daytime TV shows keep saying, I think it’s true that a long time liaison of two people IS impossible. Even if they have lots of things in common, just because one is male and the other female, they are basically different.
The situation reminds me of an old man and his old dog that I saw while recently while sipping a cup of coffee at an outdoor cafe. The dog and his owner were about the same age, when you consider there are 7 dog years for every human one, and both had lived a long time, obviously together. The dog was exhausted from his walk and had lain down on the sidewalk, refusing to get up. He stayed that way no matter how hard the man tugged on his leash and the old man, being rather frail, could not tug very hard.
I didn’t stay long enough to witness the end of that particular standoff, but I didn’t need to because, having been married a long time, I know how it ended: The old dog, having made his point (I’M TIRED) finally decided he could get some supper if he got to his feet and the old man, who had gotten the message, took him home, where they settled down together to watch TV as a content old couple.
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