When single people ask me what it's been like to be married for a modest six years, I tell them it's amazing, but that it's also hard work. It can be difficult to compromise when you just want your way and harder still to raise a child and not always be in agreement on the best way to handle, let's say, a major toddler meltdown. But these concerns are a drop in the bucket compared to what former NBA player Bob Cousy and his wife of 63 years, Marie "Missie," endured. Imagine getting married and having your spouse spend your wedding night playing basketball. Or living the first few decades as a married woman and new mom raising two daughters more or less solo because your husband is touring with his team. Can we agree Missie was one dedicated wife?
It may have taken a few years, but when Missie was diagnosed with dementia, her husband proved he was worth his weight in gold. He has, in the process, set a new bar for what it means to actually work at having a good marriage.
Although she passed away just last week, Bob took care of Missie for the 12 years she suffered from dementia and hallucinations. She yearned to feel independent, so he had her station wagon shipped down to Florida so she could see it in their driveway and think she still drove. He planted artificial red flowers in their garden and did all of the household chores, but made her believe she did them. Every morning, Bob laid out Missie's pills, newspaper, fiber bar, and a banana on the kitchen table before gently waking her. He sat by her side while she took up to three hours to read her newspaper.
And the best part -- the part that kills me -- Bob says the most romantic part of their marriage came at the end. That they held hands for the last 20 years of their lives.
Other couples, like Matt and Julie Muircroft, have similar stories of how one partner put in this much work to ensure their partner was happy and that their relationship remained rock solid. Each time we hear about them, it should remind us that marriage is a journey. I know I worry sometimes that my husband and I will lose that explosive intensity that defined our dating days, but the truth is I only appreciate and love him more as I see him develop as a dad and evolve into a more mature person.
What are some of the ways you've worked hard to keep your marriage strong?
Image via renee/Flickr