I’ve looked for it many times to re-read but have never been able to find the story again.
It was an interview with a man in his late 80’s. His wife of 60+ years had recently passed away. He was asked about how his marriage had been such a success for so many decades. He responded that it was easy, he had been married to 8 different women and it was always exciting to embrace each new woman that arrived for however long she showed up for.
He went on to describe his first wife, full of energy and ideas about a family and a dream house. He liked seeing her different hairstyles and outfits. Her energy for life lit him up and they were fun friends.
The second wife had a few children, spent years juggling bottles, diapers and naps (hers and the little ones). Her clothes and hairstyle seldom changed but he enjoyed it messy and unkempt. He loved to watch her soft, nurturing ways. Sometimes they ate cereal for dinner and it was that wife who let him know he needed to learn how to cook. He’s grateful for that now. His third wife spent less time in the house and more time driving the carpool and volunteering in the kids’ classrooms. He said he didn’t often spend a lot of time with this busy wife but remembers that she was a blonde for a few years. She started working a part- time job and he admired her tenacity.
His fourth wife mourned an empty nest, began working full-time and he said he became close friends with this new wife, sharing new life experiences.
His fifth wife decided to start a garden, which they enjoyed together. She frequently met up with friends, and he couldn’t remember her hair style but remembers that he spent more time running his fingers through it.
His sixth wife was focused on being a grandma. She retired and decided to begin a yoga program to stay limber and keep up with the grandkids. He thought it a good idea and joined her. She cut her hair.
His seventh wife decided to write a memoir and take up ukulele lessons. They ate breakfast every Monday at the same cafe.
His eighth wife slowed down a lot, yet enjoyed her church groups who surrounded her in love when she became unwell. He appreciated all the friends she had made over the years because they were now there for him.
By now the interviewer had caught on to the joke but decided to ask, which wife did you love the most?
"I loved them all equally in different ways. I watched each wife embrace a phase of life and I marveled at each for their uniqueness and as I embraced each woman, she returned the embrace even stronger. We brought out the joy in one another as we stood side by side supporting, encouraging and cheering one another on. Life was easier, full of love and respect and that’s why we were married for 68 years."
I once read a quote by David Deida, “Intimacy is about growing more than you could by yourself.” I don’t know his name, but Mr. Eight Wives shared a beautiful story illustrating intimately growing together with a partner. I have no doubt that it took effort and attention to remain happily married for nearly seven decades. My guess is that they had implemented communication skills and specific agreements and practices to cultivate a healthy, harmonious and mutually successful partnership.
Dan Siegel, author and clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, whom I’ve looked to over the years for masterful wisdom on relationships, names the 4 S’s for healthy relationships. They are to be:
Being seen is a way to say that we feel understood. Physical safety is, of course, important and so is emotional safety. Without emotional safety vulnerability is not possible and it is through vulnerability that we bond. A healthy relationship soothes our nervous system. Holding a hand, making positive physical contact each day creates space to approach one another with more curiosity and less judgement. Security means to feel safe and stable. We have a human need to feel that our partner is sticking with us through the ups and downs.
People are are social creatures and, by nature, most desire connection with others. It’s inspiring to consider that wherever we are in any relationship, improvement, healing and deeper connection may only be an S away!
Happy Valentine's Day.
Much Love, Amy xo