Posted by: drrozkaplan | January 24, 2010

Am I the Only One for You?

Last weekend, my husband and I were listening to ‘This American Life’ on the radio as we drove to pick our daughter up from a friend’s house.  There were stories about relationships, and in one, a group of hard-core scientists, all young males, all single, was trying to figure out the statistical likelihood of finding an appropriate mate in Boston.  Their calculations were so convoluted that they came up with the answer that it was all but impossible for any on eof them to find a mate.

Several years later, one of them, of course by then married, was asked by his wife if he believed that she was the ‘only one for him.’  His answer to ther, having recalculated the whole probability thing, was that whe was probably one in a hundred thousand.  She was not happy with his reply.

My husband turned to me and asked me, faux-seriously, “Am I the only one for you?”

And I answered him seriously, “Yes, you are.  I’m sure when I met you that you weren’t, but now, after 21 years of marriage, you are.”

I know marriage gets a bad rap these days.  I know that more than one in two marriages fail.  I hear many of the stories from friends and from patients:  stories of broken hearts, infidelity, cruelty, indifference.  Still, people seem to want mates.  And even those who jump ship usually are looking for another boat to climb on once they recover from the shock of the cold water.

As one of those who have been with a mate for a while, I think about this:  over time, we have learned each others’ every nuance, mood, need and desire.  We are used to each others’ quirks.  Where else will I find a man who answers phone calls from unknown callers in a fake Roumanian accent, who makes the coffee exactly the right strength, and knows what kind of chocolate will get me out of a bad mood?  Who else will I ever be able to explain my whacked relatives to?  Who else would hold my head in his lap in exactly the right way when I have a raging migraine?

There are so many other things we share, so much of a life that gets built over years, experiences, travels, the raising of children, the deaths of parents, the disagreements, the melding of tastes, the compromises, the happinesses, and the disappointments.  It is not as though we have never fought, and fought hard at times.  It is only that the beauty has outweighed the ugliness, and the loyalty has outweighed the betrayals.

I hope I will still be saying the same thing at 50 years as I am at 21.  It is frightening to see the relationships that shatter after many years.  I remain a believer that marriage can work, even though I see that it often doesn’t and that some relationships are not meant to be salvaged.  But I also believe that there really isn’t only one perfect person out there for each of us, so there is always another chance.  And then we become more perfect for each other over time.

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