I was thinking yesterday about my grandparents. My father’s parents. As a kid I thought they had the perfect marriage. They spent all their time together, although my grandfather would do his morning prayers alone and they were very well read (another alone “sport”). But, generally they were together. By the time they got here to Minnesota (they were from the Bronx), they didn’t drive and took cabs or the bus everywhere – together.
When my grandfather was dying, my mother gave me some good advice: “Ask him everything you want to know. Because once he’s gone, you won’t ever get another chance.” So, I started going for dinner and afterwards, I would sit in the living room talking with the two of them. I asked the usual questions: How did you meet? What was your wedding like? But, one day I decided to ask the big question: “I know how much you love one another, but do you two still have sex?”
At this point, they were in their 80’s. When we chatted, he sat on the couch. She sat in a nearby chair with her legs up close to her body — her arms hugging her knees to her chest. As soon as I asked the question, I saw her blush and smile at him. He looked at her with a smile on his face.
Before I give you his answer I want to say that their marriage wasn’t perfect. In fact, I think she put up with more than her fair share. But, she loved him and back then … well, divorce was not like it is now. I don’t think it was until they were older that he understand the importance of her in his life. But, you could tell that once he figured that out, he treated her like a gift.
“Honey,” he said, “Love and sex aren’t separate things. Love is about being in tune with someone’s needs, regardless of the form. The thing about getting older is that you get smarter and you realize that should put their needs in front of yours. So, my answer to your question is that I’m more conscious of and in tune with your grandma’s needs now, than I’ve ever been.”
She smiled at him. He died about 6 months later.
I’ve never forgotten this discussion. Here’s my takeaway: In a marriage or partnership (which is never perfect), its about needs. Whether it’s holding hands or something more. It’s making the other person feel as if they are a gift in our life (not that we are a gift in theirs). It’s just what we do with our kids … we put their needs in front of ours. Why not do that with our partners too?
Now that’s the conversation starter of the day! Enjoy this beautiful day.