I told my husband, Peter, that our marriage was like stew — and that’s a good thing.
This is a second marriage for both Peter and me. We were both married for a long time and then divorced for quite a while. We dated other people and realized how tricky the whole process of finding a new partner was, after habits had been set and preferences settled.
When I met Peter, I was ready… I think. I had healed and spent time on my own and figured out who I was—single and over fifty and changed in many ways from the person I had been while married.
Peter had also done his homework. He was perfectly self-sufficient in every respect. He just wanted love. As it happens, this is something I had a good supply of. And so, we started dating and Peter asked me to marry him after only two months. We waited a year and got married on the one-year anniversary of our first date.
“I like stew,” Peter said, when I told him what I thought.
“It’s better than soup,” Peter continued. “But I like mine all mashed up with a food processor, and you don’t,” he added.
“You are ruining my metaphor,” I told him. Peter has a way of doing this.
Because I work at home and Peter is retired, we spend a lot of time together. Perhaps because of this, we actually do a lot of things separately that you might imagine we’d do together. Peter exercises in the morning. I exercise in the evening. Peter eats his main meal in the middle of the day and cooks it for himself. I cook my own meal and eat it in the evening. Peter spends most of his day downstairs while I am upstairs in my “writing room,” which is not actually a room, as it has no door and is open to the rest of the house. I like this. I can keep track of what Peter’s up to and holler things at him.
“I can’t hear you!” Peter hollers back. I know he can’t hear me — but I do it anyway. I’m convinced he enjoys knowing that I’m thinking about him.
Maybe our marriage is peculiar; I am in no position to say. Maybe every marriage is peculiar in its own way. My parents, who have now been married more than sixty years, have arguments in which they are in perfect agreement. My mother will state her case, then my father will state his. There will be some made-up antagonist hovering in the background, arguing against both of them. My parents invariably win these arguments and I am sure they feel satisfied with themselves when they vanquish their imaginary opponent. It’s a terrific strategy—it lets them vent a little of the frustration they would never consider taking out on one another.
I think a happy marriage is like stew because it starts out with good ingredients gets richer and more satisfying with time. It is full of lots of healthy things: humor and understanding and a profound desire to see each other happy. Peter and I both understand that our moods are our own but comfort one another when things aren’t going the way we’d like — when Peter’s knee is acting up again, when my writing doesn’t go as well as I’d like.
“Yeah, stew is much better once you’ve taken a food processor to it,” Peter insisted. “And it’s easier to digest!”
I had no idea what to do with that metaphor — so I let it simmer.