Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Appreciatively Resigned"

What is the most reliable component for a lasting relationship? I guess the one who could possibly know the answer is Daniel Jones, the editor for the "Modern Love" column, who has read thousand upon thousand tales of couplehood.

The title of his article, "Good Enough? That's Great," is pretty much my own mantra in nearly all things. 
There are many who choose to quash their unfulfilled desires, to accept their marriage for what it is and figure out how to feel O.K. about it.
. . . You can’t have everything, they argue. Be grateful for what you do have.
There’s a temptation to dismiss quashers as being in total denial, but they aren’t. They just don’t see the point of wallowing in self-pity when they have accomplished what they hoped to in terms of marriage, family and career. As with most personality types, there’s a spectrum, running the gamut from the bitterly resigned to the appreciatively so . . .
What a difference a spectrum can make, though, because those at the other end of the quashing range — the appreciatively resigned — seem to be among the healthiest and happiest of the marrieds.
. . . Like Dr. Seuss’s Whos down in Whoville who hold hands and sing after being robbed on Christmas Eve of all their food and possessions, the appreciatively resigned rise each morning 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.
"Appreciatively resigned." Has a nice ring to it.

Jones goes into detail about "the restorers," the couples that sense when their relationship is getting a little off track and go on the offensive, which sounds rather exhausting. Date nights, outings, exercises, all the things that leave me irritable and overtired. I think I like that "appreciatively resigned" thing the best. 

"The restorers" get there too anyway: 
From their research they will learn how their boredom may ebb and flow before finally leveling off into the pleasant hum of old age. They’ll become experts in the ways men and women have driven each other crazy for all of eternity. They will have hugged and kissed and danced and date-nighted until they can hug and kiss and dance and date-night no more. And although they will have had some good times that made them remember why they fell in love in the first place, chances are they won’t exactly have turned back the clock in terms of reclaiming that ever-elusive passion.
Inevitably, as the intellectually curious people they are, restorers will return to their original and most perplexing question: How much do we have a right to expect from marriage? Is this simply as good as it gets? We do care about each other. We love our children. Health is generally good. Can’t we just be happy with what we have? And isn’t there a risk that in pressing for more we’ll turn something pretty good into something really bad?
Another thing I have learned: Many matters cannot be achieved by sheer will alone; sometimes, they have to slowly mellow at their own pace until they become a refined vintage.  

As studies have shown, marital ecstasy doesn't stick around forever. But when it flows away, leaving unexciting devotion in its wake, isn't that a fair swap? 

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