Arranged marriages and other musings about wedded bliss

The topic on Insight this week was Attraction. Lovely subject, attraction. I remember listening to Doctor Karl on Triple J years ago talking about pheromones and how The Pill messes with our sense of smell. This led me to theorise that the reason why most marriages end in divorce is because women are smelling the wrong partner because of The Pill.

Quick, get that Nobel Prize ready.

Anyway, while I don’t like the idea of an arranged marriage, I kinda get it. And this is something that Insight was talking about. Do we become attracted to people over time or are we instantly attracted to them? I think both. I liken mine and JJ’s marriage to an arranged marriage. We were 24, I was at Uni in the States, livin’ large, and so was he (livin’ large, that is). We’d known each other for 3 weeks, had been dating for 2 days, broke up and then got back together. And then the next day:

JJ: “Lookit Betty, this love is pretty awesome.”
Me: “Totally, JJ.”
JJ: “Well what are we going to do?”
Me: “Hmm. Well, you know I have to go back home at the end of the school year. I can’t overstay my visa.”
JJ: “Good God, no. You might end up at Guantanamo.”
Me: “Word.”

We eat another Sandinos soft taco.

Me: “Well you could come back to Oz and we could get married.”
JJ: “Can we have kangaroos at our wedding?”
Me: “Of course. They’ll probably just show up. You know they’re everywhere.”
JJ: “Ok then. And I already have a ring. I found it in the toilets at work. It’s real.”
Me: “Cool, I’m a simple girl.”

And the rest is, well, nearly 17 years is what it is. There have been fabulous ups and terrifying downs but what I think what’s always driven us is this idea that we’ll figure it out together as we go on. There are no rules. There was never any of this “don’t call before Wednesday” bullshit. No games. As my arranged-marriage pal at work said the other day: “You can’t take anything for granted. You’re learning every day.”

Because we’ve lived a great deal of our lives together, JJ and I have this agreement that if we repeat a story more than 10 years after its first telling, we will act surprised, as though it’s the first time we’ve heard it. I mean, we’re going to repeat tonnes of stories. The thing is, even now, when we repeat a story, there’s always something new to discover about it regardless of the amount of time since it’s first telling. There’s always something new to laugh about.

I’m an old-fashioned girl in some ways, so when this couple on Insight told of their 58-year marriage, it occurred to me that there was one thing they did that a lot of today’s couples don’t seem to do.

[Taken from the show transcript]

JENNY BROCKIE (host):  And Ross, what about you for Audrey, what was that initial part spark of attraction?
ROSS POWER:  …I looked at her and I thought well, she’s good looking, she had that radiant smile, nice figure, well dressed and I just had that feeling this is going to be good.  And we’d go to work in the tram and after a while you felt comfortable and then we went on that first hike and you can see that we clicked straight away, we felt that we were like two peas in a pod and even today we still feel like we’re two peas in a pod.
AUDREY POWER:    We’re joined at the hip.

ROSS POWER:   And we like to do everything together, doesn’t matter what it is or where we go or what sport we play it must be together.
AUDREY POWER:  We’re never apart.

I think that seems like the key – doing everything together. Not taking them for granted. Not over-thinking the relationship. Not analysing it. Just being with it.

An old friend of mine once berated me for not wanting to take a holiday alone, without JJ, because it makes me such a dependent wifey. Well whatever. I like to share things with JJ, ‘kay. And the result? I’ve been married nearly 16 years. And her? Um, twice divorced. Not that I’m counting.

I think we could all take a leaf out of Ross and Audrey’s love book.

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