What keeps couples together?


I miss Patmos

July 21, 2012

Second day of residency at the Lied Lodge

We attend the graduating student lectures and readings as a group. The faculty attend as many of each other’s lectures as they can amid reading student work and preparing for workshops and of course, preparing for their own lectures.

During the time you aren’t reading, eating, listening or drinking, you’re mostly asleep. There’s little down time in which to wonder, “Why am I here? What is my purpose in the force?” and of course, “Are those people over there laughing at me? Or are they just laughing?”

I met an older fellow in the hallway this morning. He was not so well pulled together and his hair wasn’t combed. He was walking slowly and struggling with his bag but he declined help. He said he had it all under control. He told me that his wife works at Wendys and she was having a hard time at work, so he treated her to a night at the Lied Lodge, and he said he was also taking her for a pedicure. He said he’d been married 11 years and that if more guys treated their ladies well there wouldn’t be so many divorces. I said, “You definitely know how to treat a gal right,” and he smiled. He was pretty pleased with himself. Meeting him made me smile. I like his verve.

Relationships require a lot of work in the beginning. Figuring out what the other person wants. She likes oysters. A lot. He likes nobody to touch his white socks so stop “loaning” them to your kids. And then there’s figuring out what they like for fun. Making some compromises. Listening.

The middle part of the relationship takes a lot of work too. Here’s the part that takes the most work.

1. Compromising about differing parenting styles with the kids. One is usually stricter than the other. You have to figure it out. And the raising of the kids is something you’re probably going to be deeply involved with until they’re 25 at least and then not as much, but there are still going to be ongoing compromises. Do you invite everyone for the holidays? How much do you help them when they’re grownups? How much do you keep your mouth shut?
2. Having time to spend together. I am amazed at how little time couples spend together. I don’t think one day a week is enough. Or one evening a week, but maybe for some couples, they get along better if they don’t spend time together. My hubby and I like to be together.
3. Money—figuring out a way to compromise on money. Lots of couples disagree on how money should be spent. You have to work that out.
4. Fun—do you have any? Can you figure out something you do for fun that’s the same? If you go on vacations separately and/or take trips separately that aren’t work, or have completely different ideas of fun. He likes golf. She likes running. If you never have fun together, that’s not good.
5. Travel/vacations—Ideally you can do this together. If not, it’s going to be tough sledding

If you can get these five things under control, you should be able to sail through the middle parts unless something catastrophic happens that sets you adrift.

Relationships are what we think about as writers. What keeps people apart? What brings people together? Sometimes it’s very unlikely. What makes anyone put up with anyone else? Humans don’t want to be alone for the most part. Alone sometimes, but then we want company. That desire for human contact is what human entanglement and stories are all about.

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Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The biggie: do you share a passion outside yourselves and the management of your family, which you adore for its own sake?

    • I couldn’t agree more. Passion will carry you forward.

  2. I agree with your thoughts. It is sad to see someone who held on to nothing and wished they had someone to call friend and who loved them. Thank you.

  3. So true! Especially the part about the socks…

  4. This is great insight, Kate. Thanks for sharing. Sounds right to me!


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