I think the secret to staying married to the same person for 35 years is tolerance; that is, flexibility and acceptance when confronted by your partner’s quirks and oddities.
At our house, for example, I am very tolerant of Tom’s habit of keeping critters in the refrigerator. Often when I am searching for the ketchup or trying to maneuver a spot for the milk, I have to push aside little styrofoam containers full of leeches and nightcrawlers and waxworms. I get a little creeped out when I see those slimy leeches doing their synchronized swimming routine through the opaque cover—but I remind myself, “tolerance, tolerance,” and assure myself that in many cultures, insects are considered delicacies. Women in some Asian countries have refrigerators full of scorpions and silk worms and dung beetles, ready to stir fry in the wok for supper.
While I have to tolerate Tom’s fishing bait in the refrigerator, he, on the other hand, has to tolerate me. I’m forever pecking away at the computer or scribbling notes on the margins of my crossword puzzle books or just in general adding to the world’s superfluous supply of words. But does he complain?
Last week I asked him, noticing that he never pecked and scribbled, “What do you do with all your thoughts??” He considered carefully for a moment. Then he raised his eyebrows at me and replied pointedly, “I suppress them.”
So much for tolerance. Those leeches might get a roller coaster ride down the garbage disposal one of these days.