Elderly couples are always asked the secret of the longevity of their marriages. Their advice is often, “Don’t go to bed angry.”
I wonder how many of those people have gone to bed for decades with their feelings bottled up, insisting they’re not angry.
I wonder how many of them have just given up, resigned to spending the rest of their lives going to bed lonely even if they aren’t literally alone; but heck, they aren’t angry.
Sometimes I think longevity in a marriage is an empty accomplishment that people are proud of because they believe it’s noble to persevere at any cost once you’ve made those marriage vows.
Marital longevity might not be an empty feat if these people still love and are loved, but do and are they? Or are they being rewarded for not expressing anger, for pushing it down and learning to live with it, perhaps by keeping busy all the time so they don’t think about it? Perhaps they become beacons of virtue in their communities. Perhaps they produce vast arrays of baking, hot meals, canning and crafts — earning the “hard worker” eulogies we hear at so many funerals. Is it possible that after the disappointing loss of trust and intimacy in a marriage, people choose to stay in it, but learn to find other enrichments in their lives?
I bet there’s a lot of that going on, but it’s well hidden at the 50th anniversary celebrations.
I bet that not going to bed angry means going to bed many times without feeling a damn thing.