Love Notes: Liz & Ed – Married 30+ Years (part 3)
You’ve been married more than 30 years. What’s the best part of being married, would you say, for you?
Liz: I think the best part of being married is being married. It’s so hard to describe. You know the first thing that I liked about it was suddenly I wasn’t thinking about my life in terms of one year increments. I could think about my life in five, ten, twenty, thirty, fifty year increments with somebody. Right? Because I never, when I was just living with someone, I never could see in the future, because you didn’t know if you were going to be with that person or not. But suddenly when you were married, you did. So that was really nice. I thought, ‘Oh, ok. We could do this and we could have this.’ You could actually create a future. That was really cool. I think that was the best part about being married.
And now, part of the best part, is actually seeing that happen. Just even now talking to you, I’m present to, ‘Wow, how cool that was.’ You know? I’m just really present to how amazing it was, falling in love and things that we planned and how they actually happened or it turned out even better than we thought and how fast it went. Just being able to create a future and fulfill on a future is one of them.
The other best part is that no matter what, you know that somebody’s got your back. You know, every marriage, I’ll just speak as if I know, but from my perspective, I assume every marriage is going to have their ups or downs or moments or stuff. It’s kind of like a garden, you know? It’s changing, and you’re rotating it. Sometimes it’s blooming, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you’ve got some, you know, infestation. It’s not looking so good, and you’ve gotta get rid of them. Then you clean it up and you get it blooming again. And then it matures and the trees start to really take shape and have shade and you’re like, wow. It just matures really well. So it’s never like the picture perfect flower garden. It’s always changing.
And that’s, I think, part of the beauty of if you look at a garden that’s been around for a long time or it’s intertwined with mature trees and stuff. You know that no matter what, they always have your back. And despite the ups and downs and no matter where you are in that kind of cycle of the garden, when the push comes to shove and you need somebody to be there for you, they’re there no matter what. Of course they’re there. Death in the family. Whatever that is. Something with the job. Something where you really need somebody to be there, they’re there, and you know that. Even if at the time you have your petty disagreements, or you’re fighting, or you’re whatever. Whatever your problems might be at that time, when it comes down to who’s there for you, they are. And that’s what I like the best. That’s my favorite part. That that person, you can really count on.
What are some of the most challenging things about being married and making it work?
Liz: I would say it’s, I’m trying to think of how to say this. Now, I’ll just speak for myself. And I’m really present to it after Ed and I both did the Landmark Forum this weekend. It’s that the stuff that you find yourself getting annoyed at, it’s not anything that’s new, but it starts to annoy you. And just running those complaints about stuff, letting that become the context of your marriage as opposed to what you’ve built and your love for each other being the context of the marriage. Because there’s always going to be stuff that’s annoying. Maybe there’s a marriage out there in television land somewhere that’s perfect, I don’t know. I really haven’t met one yet. But there might be. I mean, in movies there are. But I think you’ve gotta work on it. And people grow and change and sometimes you’re going in different directions, and then you’ve gotta be sure to always kind of come back a little bit. Then you want to go in a little bit different direction and you’ve gotta come back a little bit. So you have to know when to give the other person some space, when to say we’ve gotta pull back a little bit. Right? And so there’s that.
And keep the respect for the other person there. Because for me, if I don’t respect someone, I can’t love them. And that really goes hand in hand for me. Respect and love. And if I lose respect for the person, then it’s hard to love them. I think each of the parties has to stay interesting to the other person. You have to bring something to the party. How are you growing and developing and keeping yourself alive as an interesting person with something to talk about and to contribute other than what’s on TV and/or having just your petty complaints. If you’re excited and inspired about something, then you’re going to be an interesting person to be around. That’s my feeling to a happy marriage. And to keep that other person engaged, and as much as you want to share what you’re up to with them, you’ve gotta let them share what they’re up to with you. And sometimes, it might not be that interesting. And you’ve gotta make it interesting. Really.
My husband is really great at being interested in my stuff. And I have to say I’m not as good at it as he is. He is interested in a lot of stuff that he probably would have had a better wife than me who’d be interested in sports. He loves sports. And I’m sort of tolerant, like, ‘Ok, what’s in the sports page this morning?’ And I’ll really try to be interested.
Liz: Honestly, you’d be a better match. And, he’s really intellectual. And I am, too, but we’re intellectual in different areas. And he’ll be really interested in the minutest details of something.
He’s a natural teacher, and he’ll want to explain them to me and the significance of something. And sometimes you just wanted to have a vodka tonic and watch Dancing with the Stars. And you don’t want to hear about Applied Learning Theory. But it’s important to him. And you’ve gotta let him tell you.
That’s what I would say, the challenging part, and what you’ve gotta do to make it work. It’s the give and take. Total, total give and take.
Are there any other keys to making the relationship work?
Liz: Yeah, I think it’s just the give and take. Well, a couple things that I think really work for me as the key to happiness is to want what you have. That’s really it. You know? Want what you have. That’s one, keep choosing your partner. The other one is, and I don’t always do this. In fact, sometimes I do this. But I remember in time to do this. I remember before it’s too late to do this. But if you treat the relationship like you’re 100% accountable for it, then I think it’ll work. I just know for me when I’m being that way, suddenly, so is he. And when I’m being stingy and withholding and tit for tat, I’m doing too much, you’re not doing enough, how come I have to be the one to do this?, then he starts keeping score.
And when I just give all that up and just be completely giving freely and be 100% accountable for making the relationship work, suddenly he is, too. I think your spouse can be a mirror image of you. Whatever you’re doing, they’re going to true themselves up to that. They’re going to rise up to that way of being. And if you’re lowering yourself, the tide is going to lower and it’s going to rise with wherever you’re at. That’s kind of what I’ve seen, at least in my relationship. So I’ve really taken on being accountable for that. If I want the marriage to be going really well, I start having the marriage go really well. And when I start being shitty, it usually starts to get pretty shitty. Pretty much, it goes the way I go, oddly enough.
Miss T: Isn’t it funny how life works that way?
Liz: It is. But it’s so easy to forget. So easy to forget and get resentful. How come I’m doing all of this? Why do I have to be the one? Then you go, oh, because I’m the one here.
Miss T: So anything else you would like to share?
Liz: No, I think that’s it. Thank you. This was fun.
Miss T: Thank you.