Good Marriages

My dad, Navaratnasingam Mohanraj, posted this today; it’s my parents’ 52nd anniversary. (Kevin’s parents’ anniversary too, funnily enough — happy anniversary, Ron and Ann Whyte! Congrats!)

I’m going to be 50 in a few weeks; between that and visiting some friends of thirty years this past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage, about how hard it can be to maintain a strong relationship for decades on end — in the old days, most of us didn’t live so long, you know?

Alex and I spent a while arguing on my last night visiting about what percentage of people we knew were in happy marriages; I was arguing the number was quite low.

I’m usually the optimist in such things, so I think he was surprised! But I think our society gives very little support for what really sustains a relationship long-term — through economic hardship, parenting difficulties, sexual challenges, serious illness, the sheer weight of all the days, one after another after another.

I also think I was setting my standards very high for what constitutes a ‘happy marriage,’ and perhaps that isn’t quite fair. Happiness, it comes and goes, especially when life is pressing on you. This past pandemic year, I’m not sure Kevin and I were really ‘happy’ much of the time. We had our heads down, taking care of the kids as best we could, getting through a traumatic time.

Maybe Alex and I should have been talking about ‘good marriages’ instead. A good marriage isn’t necessarily always happy. But a good partnership, whether it has the legal imprimatur of marriage or not, can support and sustain us when everything else in life seems like it’s bent on beating us down.

My parents, and Kevin’s parents, have good marriages. I’m sure they put a lot of work into them to make that so. I’m grateful for those models to follow, and wish them many more years of mutual support, and hopefully, quite a lot of happiness too.

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