Resigned Acceptance? Or, Happily Married?

I suppose I should have known  from the start when he signed my first birthday card, "from, me."

Alas, my husband is just not the romantic type.  No champagne and red carpet of roses on our anniversary (and our 20th comes up in March!).  No trip to Kauai  on my 60th (which also comes up this year).  His idea of a romantic evening is lobster -- in front of the TV.

So that's why I consider myself one of those living in a marriage of "resigned acceptance."  According to Daniel Jones, who edits the "Modern Love" column every Sunday in The New York Times, we're probably the happiest of the married.

Say what?  His point is that most of us see the passion sputter out of long-term marriages and what is left is often either resentment or this acceptance of how things are and just being grateful for it.  As he puts it, with his headline, "When Good Enough is Great."

Now I'll admit I hoped through the actual 30-plus years we've been together that Larry would suddenly develop the idea to buy me a diamond necklace for Christmas.  Or send me flowers just because.  Or even, make dinner one night when I was tired. (He did, however, get take-out for the first couple of nights after I broke my wrist!)

But what I'm slowly coming to realize is that that's just not who he is.  Oh, I was angry and resentful for quite some time, what Jones calls "the bitterly resigned."  In fact, up until about the middle of last year.  I don't know what happened but suddenly something clicked.  Yes, I'm married to a man who will probably say "I love you" three times in my life (I've already had two), but he's also kind and gentle and a great father, and sometimes even a great husband, too. 

What I've had to recognize is that his love comes through in other ways.  Like allowing me to watch "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" when Bill O'Reilly (!) or tennis is on.  OK, we haven't really quite gotten there yet but soon.  Saying how much he admired my suck-it-up-ness when I did break my wrist and went through very painful treatment (try having your bone jammed back in your wrist about 30 times). 

Helping me through my mother's sudden death and uncomfortable funeral, surrounded by my estranged (and hostile) siblings.

And taking joint pride in our 12-year-old, who will never go anywhere with us anymore because we embarrass him, or at least I do, telling the teachers he really likes that he does, or bragging about acing honors math and reading at a college level (I don't say I don't know where he came from, but I don't).  

No, Larry's never going to be at home waiting for me with candles and the bath running in the distance for a scented, soothing soak.  But I've realized something about myself, too.  I don't really want a man like that.  In my dating past, when I had someone too overly thoughtful and concerned (read: smothering), I ran.  

Yes, he's probably the perfect one for me.   There, but not too.    I guess it's as Jones says.  It's no longer quite as exciting, where you wait by the phone for his call (in those days, no cells).  Or stand on the terrace eight floors up and  feel nervous in your stomach seeing him come up the sidewalk.  Or even, swapping swimming and sunning for unrelenting hours of tennis on all the summer holidays (Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day), because you're with him. 

The appreciatively resigned rise each morning, says Jones, not dwelling on their marital shortfalls but counting their mutual blessings, whatever they may be: a shared sense of humor, an exchange of kind gestures, the enthusiastic pursuit of a mutual interest. Somehow they have managed to grow together rather than apart.

And you know what?  It truly is, good enough. 


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