The Good Life – What Makes it Work

I think one of the best things about being in a long-term committed relationship, growing old together as a couple, is the variety of small routines that you fall into along the way, and the multitude of small ways in which you come to rely on each other. For example, I know that on most evenings, after a long day of slaying dragons in the corporate workplace, my partner (who works as a freelancer at home) will have created a welcoming and comforting environment for me to come home to. On chilly winter evenings, there will often be a fire glowing in the living room hearth and a tasty meal waiting for us to enjoy as a family. In the summertime, there will perhaps be a picnic basket ready to take to the beach or a bottle of white plonk cooling in the fridge.

For his part, my partner knows that he can rely on me do most of the social organizing in our lives, since (being a right-brain creative type) he has little interest in or aptitude for logistics.

Throughout our sixteen years together, my husband and I have gradually found and developed the roles that suit us best. And in our relationship, the roles that we’ve taken on over the years have little or nothing to do with traditional gender-based stereotyping. He does most of the cooking, and I pay the bills. He takes out the compost and recycling, as well as does the grocery shopping, while I change the oil in the lawn mower. Together, we work in the garden and the laundry room side-by-side. We take turns with the heavy lifting of parenting an eight-year-old child.

When I was younger, I heroically believed that there should never be anything but unending romance in a relationship. I looked at the way my own parents conducted their relationship, and thought how boring it must be to live like that. Of course, there must be a healthy dose of romance and adventure in every relationship in order to make it work. Besides the pots and pans waiting to be scrubbed, there must be the occasional night of wild abandon, when you feel again all of the electricity that brought you together in the first place. On the whole, though, what makes mature, loving relationships rewarding is the comfort of knowing that you have someone who cares about the minor troubles and pleasures encountered in your life. Someone who knows how to properly massage your feet, who can always get you to laugh at yourself, and who knows that you like a sprinkle of Demerara sugar on your grapefruit.

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