the mystery of couples that last

This summer 2024, my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. How come we were able to live together like this for so long? 50 years, half a century! Before us and around us today, at various ages, many couples do indeed “last”. How is it possible? How is this possible, when the short-term, disposable, small-talk, mobility, egocentrism and narcissism seem to dominate according to the newspaper articles and books that I can read…

So I “looked” at our families and friends; those who, despite the storms, disagreements or inevitable differences, have held on or are holding on. It's not about patriarchy. Those not-so-distant years when women lived under the authority (and financial dependence) of their husbands.

Since then, the pill has made it possible to control the number of births in the family and the prolonged studies of girls have given women the opportunity to access employment – almost on an equal basis with men -. It seems to me that it was in the 90s (perhaps before) that equal rights and duties of parents were established.

When I observe these long-lasting couples, what I see applies equally to the woman or the man. They have different roles, but, as we will see, interchangeable. One person embodies the stability of the couple, their solidity, their anchoring in reality and the other “flies” around it. He/she is there/not there, he/she takes risks, has fun or gets depressed, is creative, poetic, unstable all the more easily when he/she knows that the other – the companion, spouse, grown-up friend…- is there and waiting for him. In this complementarity not linked to sex, the most stable is not devoid of fantasies, dreams or inventions, but he/she has your back. More cautious, she/he takes into account the time, the context, the family and financial situation before committing…

Would the image be that of a tree – preferably pleasant – and a bird which has made its nest there and allows itself the daily flights which are otherwise necessary for it? “We must not break its wings”! This distribution of roles – a creation relative and common to each couple – can vary over time and depending on the context.

A health problem can lead to role reversal. Thus, in the caregiver/helped relationship new constraints appear. They change the functions and places of each person. It's sometimes difficult to accept.

When couples manage to stay together for a long time, it seems that each needs the other, each benefits from the presence and especially from the exchanges with the other, from the attention and the interest that the other brings to their life. difference. Dialogue is undoubtedly the condition, even if it sometimes turns into stormy, even dangerous debate. “Even the blackest cloud always has its golden fringe.” What is missing today is a nice term that takes into account the interchangeable “he/she”. A great opportunity for those who experience it!

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