Life is not all roses

Kind­ness and com­mit­ment keep a mar­riage go­ing long af­ter ro­mance has taken a back seat.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SENIOR - By MARY EU

THIRTY- FIVE years ago, I mar­ried a man with to- die- for looks and life is never the same again. We are quite close in age. We were born un­der dif­fer­ent Chi­nese zodiac signs – he is a Snake and slith­ers his way out of chores he prefers not to do and hisses men­ac­ingly when pro­voked.

I was born in the Year of the Mon­key and am cu­ri­ous, cheeky and ca­pa­ble of dish­ing out a trick or two. We dis­agree with each other most of the time and it is a won­der we could pro­duce three lovely daugh­ters be­tween us.

Mar­riage is a com­mit­ment you make ev­ery day of your mar­ried life. It is get­ting up in the morn­ing and see­ing the man on the bed snor­ing in his pa­ja­mas. His den­tures are on the night­stand and as you lis­ten to his snores rack­ing into a crescendo, you com­mit your­self to an­other day of mar­ried life.

Aside from the fact that he is a great cook and a re­spon­si­ble hus­band, Al­pha Male does not have an iota of ro­man­tic genes in him. So he turns into a grass snake come each Fe­bru­ary when the clar­ion call for ro­mance is high.

He slith­ers into our out­door store­room where he could cam­ou­flage with the tools, dis­carded fur­ni­ture and junk. He knows that he is in safe ter­ri­tory as I sel­dom ven­ture into that part of our house where things are in­con­gru­ous, hap­haz­ard and past their glory. He braves meal­times in case I should bring up the sub­ject of roses and gifts to be placed on my al­tar of fem­i­nin­ity.

What’s with the roses to show some love and ap­pre­ci­a­tion? Whither a bot­tle of per­fume to show some TLC? Had I mar­ried a tight­wad?

And just when I thought I had mar­ried a Scrooge, he does some­thing so kind, so em­pa­thetic and bor­der­ing on the ro­man­tic ( like ex­am­in­ing the harm­less in­sect bite on my arm and smooth­ing oint­ment on it) that the mem­ory of it sus­tains me through the re­main­ing days of Fe­bru­ary.

There is cer­tainly no way of learn­ing about a per­son thor­oughly un­til you ac­tu­ally live with him. Man­ners are nor­mally im­pec­ca­ble be­fore mar­riage as we want to im­press each other dur­ing courtship. I be­lieve that ev­ery mar­riage is unique be­cause of the dif­fer­ent set of cir­cum­stances that shape it.

Dur­ing the ad­just­ing phase of my mar­riage, we live side- by- side in the mar­i­tal trenches and ex­change ver­bal bom­bard­ments, dent­ing each other’s self- es­teem. It looks like we have both sur­vived the mar­i­tal rag­ging. Now we are like two vet­eran sol­diers, lean­ing on each other for sup­port.

Hubby and I en­ter a phase where we de­lib­er­ately jab each other as we pass in the hall­way. At my age, I am al­lowed a lit­tle mad­ness. I slice his neck with the side of my hand. Some­times, I give him a sud­den thump on his buf­falo hump and he cries, “Ouch!” much to my de­light.

He re­tal­i­ates by squeez­ing me tight in a strong em­brace un­til I gasp for mercy. “Don’t mess with the bor con­stric­tor ( bor means “wife” in Hokkien, a pun on the word, “boa”), he hissed into my neck. So much for home- grown en­ter­tain­ment.

Does ro­mance count in long mar­riages? It is a re­sound­ing yes from me but if you were to ask Al­pha Male, he would sim­ply snort, re­fus­ing to give dig­nity to the ques­tion. When it comes to hus­bands who are past 60, look for kind­ness over ro­mance. Trust me, kind­ness comes from a faith­ful and lov­ing heart.

As in most long­stand­ing mar­riages, we run high on laugh­ter and low in ro­man­tic ges­tures. In any case, I would know that Alzheimer’s has set in when Al­pha Male buys flow­ers for me. He is thrifty to a fault and cer­tainly will not spend his pen­sion on some­thing that with­ers in three days.

Let’s just say there are mo­ments when I think hav­ing some­one to com­mis­er­ate with your ag­ing angst or sim­ply to scratch your back at night, is more im­por­tant than a bunch of roses in my Bo­hemia crys­tal vase. In lieu of roses, he pre­pares break­fast, goes mar­ket­ing and cooks most of the meals. Dur­ing a re­cent power fail­ure, he fanned me while I tried to get some sleep. His ac­tions speak louder than a dozen long- stemmed roses. Yeah, but still! Old is gold is a plat­form for read­ers aged 55 and above to share their wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence and take on life. E- mail star2@ thes­tar. com. my. Pub­lished con­tri­bu­tions will be paid, so please in­clude your full name, IC num­ber, ad­dress and phone num­ber.

Life is a walk in the park if you are do­ing it with the right per­son. — Reuters

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