HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: It was hideous. Stuck. On on the world's narrowest airline seat o n American flight something-or-other to Chicago--for TWO AND A HALF HOURS.Delayed, plane broken, spirits low. I am basically not a chatty-with-strangers person, but in that sort of situation, fine, I'll talk. And in this case, I learned something. Nothing less than the secret to the universe.
What is it you say? Well.
The guy I was sitting next to, professorial, natty, was on his way to deliver a paper to the mucketys at University of Illinois. Turns out, he's the director, and has been for 10 years, of something like the world's longest running study of marriage. At Harvard. They've interviewed hundreds of people about what makes a happy marriage. And what doesn't.
So I said to him--wow! You know the secret of the universe!
He admitted, he did.
What is it?( I of course asked.)
Forty-two, he said. (You'll recognize Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.)
After he realized I got the allusion, we laughed, and I said, okay, but really, tell me.
Now usually in a post like this, here's the time I would tell you what he said.
But first--what do YOU think?
HALLIE EPHRON: Oh, I KNOW I KNOW! PICK ME!!
It'a form of blindness, said the woman married for forty-plus years. We find each other's maddeningly annoying traits adorable.
Plus he eats what I cook and laughs at my jokes. The perfect spouse.
RHYS BOWEN: I've also been married for forty plus years now and sometimes I think staying married is easier than getting divorced because we're so used to each other. But we're on the same wave length. We can finish each other's sentences, say the same thing at the same moment, laugh at the same jokes and enjoy doing the same things. And even better than Hallie's spouse, mine cooks and shops and makes me tea in the mornings. He's also great with money--generous but not wasteful. What more could I want?
ROSEMARY HARRIS: You're all so nice, I'm tempted to say, get 'em when they're old and they don't have enough juice to run around much anymore. But I won't.
We agree on the big stuff - politics, religion, money, sports - but we have a lot of different interests/opinions that we don't necessarily share and I think that keeps us from boring each other.
DEBORAH CROMBIE:Hmm. We've been married eighteen years, but have known each other for--yikes--forty-one years. Can it really be that long?
The big secret to staying together? Integrity, for one. It's hard to stay married to someone you don't trust and don't respect. We agree on most of the big things.
No matter how irritated we may be over little things, we generally get over it pretty fast. He makes me laugh. AND he fixes my computer. Now if I could just get him to cook and to bring me tea in bed...
Then there's just the general ability to rub along together, which sounds so easy, but isn't. I can't wait to hear what Hank's expert said!
LUCY BURDETTE: "Feelings, oh, oh oh, feelings..." The secret has to be
sharing what you're feeling about life and yourself and your partner and
your relationship, but in a kind way. What else could it be? Even John
is trained now after 20 years tethered to
me. When I ask him what he and his buddies talked about for 5 hours on
the golf course, he says: "Our feelings of course. Especially, how we feel about
our relationships." :)
HANK: Great guesses. It's pretty interesting. And turns out, there are a couple of secrets. (If I understood correctly!) One is--staying healthy. Healthy spouses have better marriages so stop smoking, eat right, exercise and watch the drinking. Also--there seemed to be a correlation in the perception that there were shared positive experiences. And there wasnt much fighting--spouses seemed to realize how the argument would eventually end, so they simply ended it sooner and were fine. And there's one more thing. What do you think it is, Reds?
(And as the author of The Other Woman, I can ask you--what do you think Mrs. Petraeus must have said? We'll give a copy of THE OTHER WOMAN to a lucky commenter!)
( Happy Veterans Day to all, if that's what you say on Veterans Day. We are very grateful.)