In his book of aphorisms, Human, All Too Human, Friedrich Nietzsche described “marriage as a long conversation” like this:
When entering a marriage, one should ask the question: do you think you will be able to have good conversations with this woman right into old age? Everything else in marriage transitory, but most of the time in interaction is spent in conversation.
In just under two weeks, I will celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary with Susan (and almost 33 years together). I can say with confidence that, yes, we still have engaging, stimulating, interesting conversations together. We always have, right from the start. Such is the nature of our relationship. We share, we talk.
Our first date, in the first week of a cold January, 1983, was dinner at a Japanese restaurant. There we talked and talked for about three hours, long after the food had been consumed. We talked about cats, life, books, jobs, friends, hobbies – everything.
We’ve been able to talk openly and honestly with each other ever since.
And we’ve also been able to share the silence, too. As I write this, we sit on the front porch, dogs lying at our feet, glass of light white wine on a patio table, Susan buried in her latest book, and a pile of books stacked beside me on a plastic table. The ability to sit in peace together and read, without needing more, without feeling isolated or ignored, is a strength we share.
Similarly, Michel de Montaigne considered the ideal marriage a union both of body and mind (Sarah Bakewell, P. 160).
Susan and I have both. We are each other’s best friend, as well as confidante, editor, fashion critic, dancing partner, singing partner (when we put on Sixties’ music or old R&B and crank it up while we’re doing dinner…). We share the same or similar taste in music, movies, pets, architecture, garden plants… none of the passion or romance has been diluted by the years (aside from what the inevitable effects of age bring).
(Okay, we do have our differences: I like to grown wormwood, avocado plants and agaves; and Susan doesn’t. She likes roses and I’m indifferent to most varieties. She reads detective fiction, legal and police procedurals; I read more non-fiction and scifi. She likes cats more than dogs, and I wouldn’t call a house without a dog a home. Vive le difference… but at least we both dislike Chardonnay and enjoy Zinfandel…).
“A good marriage, if there be any such, rejects the company and conditions of love, and tries to represent those of friendship. ‘Tis a sweet society of life, full of constancy, trust, and an infinite number of useful and solid services.”
A sweet society it is and, for the most part has been for more than 30 years. Best friends ever since we met; still holding hands when we walk the dogs together.
We got married in city hall, in September, 1984. Susan has tolerated and supported me ever since, with affection, wit and humour and amazing patience. I wouldn’t want to have spent my time with anyone else, in any other circumstances or conditions. I would not trade my years with my best friend for anyone or anything.