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Secrets of Staying (Happily) Married

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Marriage had definite benefits, yes, though mystery and excitement may not have ranked among them. Then a chance meeting caused the author to look at her long-standing relationship with fresh eyes.

By Julianna Baggott
Couple walking down a road holding hands Frederic La Grange
I’ve been married for about as long as the average life expectancy of a hearty Labrador retriever, and the thing I miss most of all about being single is meeting strangers. I love strangers the way Byrd must have loved Antarctica―because they’re uncharted. I don’t linger in bars anymore or linger in general the way I did when single, and so I don’t meet many strangers. Without going on dates, I don’t get to hear strangers tell their life stories over artichoke-cheese–dip appetizers. When I was dating, there were too many stories and too much artichoke-cheese dip. But now I’m wistful for those times. I’ve even heard that retired coal miners miss the claustrophobic feel of a mine shaft from time to time. (I guess everyone misses their youth.)
I got married young and had children immediately. My husband was the breadwinner. I was at home with the kids, running a boarding house for foreigners out of spare upstairs bedrooms. I was so desperate for strangers that I imported them: Koreans, Brazilians, a few Germans. I barely ventured out of the house for years, except to playgrounds with other mothers I knew from the neighborhood. We wore denim overalls and compared teething remedies―inhabitants of a baby-centric world.
Then my husband and I ended up swapping roles. He quit his job to become a stay-at-home dad. I had written a book and suddenly had to occupy the role of a professional out in the world. My book-tour itinerary took me to a dozen cities over the course of two weeks. I was obliged to follow it.
I dressed in the manner of a professional: black boots, a suede skirt, makeup, a bona fide hairstyle. In the Philadelphia airport, a man sitting off the main thoroughfare looked at me. I tried to place him but couldn’t. Another man, sitting nearby, looked at me, too―equally unfamiliar. And then another. Too late, I realized that the men I was looking at were sitting in an airport bar. They were strangers―the creepy, ogling variety―but strangers nonetheless. The entire airport was filled with strangers! Oh, how I’d missed them so!
Read More About:Life Lessons

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