Life is not all roses
Kindness and commitment keep a marriage going long after romance has taken a back seat.
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