I have been married for over 53 years, so I am always prepared for people to ask: “What is the secret to a long marriage?” No one has asked yet but when we celebrate our 75th Anniversary at age 97, journalists will be legally and ethically required to pose the question. The answer is different for each person and it changes over time. When I was young, I told everyone that my wife Mollie was a free spirit and planned to run off some day and disappear. I hoped this notion would take root in the collective consciousness of family and friends and help me avoid being the primary suspect if she turned up missing. After the dawn of the Century of Constant Surveillance, going missing became more difficult because we have tracking devices embedded in our hands and cameras recording our every movement. We cannot be erased from social media even if we die.
As the years together add up, I have begun considering whether long marriages require two people with rigid belief systems who stubbornly resist change no matter how strong the case is for flexibility. Or perhaps the secret is merely two people who can never admit mistakes or who are too boring and lazy to change old habits. Mollie is inspecting my draft and wondering why I am trying to annoy those who do not have long marriages and insult the ones who do. We make a great team. She keeps our marriage alive by asking provocative questions like that. And I provide the rigidity by ignoring them.