Saturday, January 4, 2020

Project Everlasting: The Search for America's Greatest Marriages

24.  #OneThousandBookReviews

This book is written by Mat Boggs.  He starts out by talking about how his favorite movie as a kid was the cartoon Robin Hood and how he was a hero and won the heart of Maid Marian.  And how he wanted a Maid Marian.  He talks of how his parents got a divorce and how awful it felt.  Then when he was in college he found out his grandpa was dying.  His grandparents had been married 63 years.  He wanted to spend time with them.  So he started spending one day a week with them.  One time as he was locking up the car after they arrived somewhere he watched them shuffling ahead holding hands.  And time stopped.  He became fixated on their hands.  And he finally got it.  He realized they truly still loved each other.  And it wasn’t just that people from their era always stayed married.  His grandpa would still tell people, “Isn’t she beautiful?”  And she would still laugh at his jokes he told countless times.  He wanted more than anything in the world what they had.  He wanted his Maid Marian.  He decided he would criss-cross  the country and find out from the marriage masters how to make marriage work.  He would talk to people who’d been married 40 or more years. 
He went with his best friend Jason to 25 different cities across the country and over 12,000 miles in a giant RV…all in 9 weeks..But they actually spent 4 years working on it.  Project Everlasting:  The Search For America’s Greatest Marriages…Their adventure landed them on national television.  And thousand of applications came in from people wanting to be interviewed.  “The couples who inspired us run their marriages on a foundation of respect, commitment, and sharing.”  They interviewed 250 marriage masters.
“Look for someone who has the same value system, especially in regard to money and family.” Make sure you have the same priority system.  Marry someone with the same religion to avoid problems later on.  Friendship is what you need to look for.  “Someone you can talk to for hours on end.  Someone who will love you at your ugliest….when gravity starts to work wonders on our bodies.”
The first story he tells is of a couple who couldn’t even speak the same language and married after 10 days and were still in love and married over 50 years later.  They tell their children that if they do that they’ll kill them.  But it worked for them because they had love on their side. 
“The challenge in marriage, the challenge of love, is not changing our spouse to fit our list.  It is changing our list to fit our spouse.  If you think your going to change the person you married, think again.  You’ll have enough trouble changing yourself, if that’s even possible.”  These are the things the marriage masters told him. 
“Fighting is inevitable, but it should never be about winning.  It should be about finding the best solution to a problem and knowing when its time to let go.”  “you can’t change people.  In life you have 2 choices:  You can be right or you can be happy.”
The marriage masters told them what’s missing from today’s marriages is commitment.  We need to remind ourselves why we married the person to begin with and that there was a reason we fawned all over them in the beginning.  We need to put ourselves back in that mode. 
One couple told a story of how the husband had gone through 12 years of severe depression that affected his health and eventually lost his job.  One day he suddenly couldn’t see out of his eye.  They went to the doctor and found out he had a tumor growing on his pituitary gland for the last 12 years that’d caused the depression and health problems.  They removed the tumor and his eye sight came back and the depression left.  That whole 12 years his wife was so sweet to him and never called him lazy or said he wasn’t trying hard enough or doubted him.  He says he is the luckiest man in the world.  His wife is his rock. 
This one guy tells of how the first time he kissed his future wife his toes curled.  And every time he kissed her his toes curled.  He was like, “I have to marry her!”  She was extremely extroverted and popular.  And he was introverted.
They were embarrassed to ask the marriage masters about sex.  But were told, “Real intimacy stemmed from romantic friendship.”  They were told “Physical intimacy waxed and waned.  But in a great marriage, they said, romance never dies.”  “In other words, sex is the reward of building real romance, not the other way around.”  “One couple described romance as the spiritual unity they experience while watching the sun melt into the ocean; another, as the laughter that comes with a shared moment of joy.  It’s deeper and richer than simple sexual intimacy.  It yields a greater connection and much more rewarding sex life.”  “The path to this romance, the Marriage Masters told us, is not paved with hook-up sessions but with acts of friendship.  Fueling friendship ignites romance.”
“We met couples that found passion through dancing, skating, weekend getaways, and simply setting aside time each day just to be close to each other.”
They interviewed a couple in their late 70’s that’ve been married 55 years.  The couple took them to one of their dances they go to.  They danced with the energy of teenagers to songs from yester year…Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Swing, everything.  The 77 year old husband wore a pin-striped suit.  The 75 year old wife wore a black skirt that was split to the top of her thigh!  LOL  They commanded the dance floor.  Everyone was staring at them.  They pulled off moves the college age authors of this book couldn’t even do.  The couple told them that shared interests are important.  And that they go out dancing 6 or 7 nights a week until closing time!  The wife told them they come home and snuggle up in bed watching old movies together in bed till 4 or 5 in the morning!  The wife patted her husbands thigh and said, “I don’t know if other women my age feel as sensuous as I do.  I can’t get enough of this man.”  A 30 year old couple came up to congratulate them on their “phenomenal dancing” and asked them if it was their anniversary or what they were celebrating.  The husband responded, “The joy of life together.”  By midnight Jason and Matt (the authors) were exhausted and their heads were pounding because the music was so loud.  They left after saying good bye.  Later the couple in their 70’s told them they stayed and danced till 4 in the morning!  Jason and Matt said, “The old fogies that night turned out to be us.”
Another couple told them, “Romance is making memories – the kind of memories that only the 2 of you understand.  What I love about marriage is the private world that Al and I get to share.  Find something that is yours and never let it go, that’s how you keep the romance alive.”  For them it was the old song called, Star Dust. 
The next part of the book is about respect.  It tells the story of a couple married 50 plus years and how at one point the wife started having crazy religious beliefs that the husband couldn’t understand or respect her for.  They separated for 4 months.  And he couldn’t stand being separated because he still loved her.  He bought some of the religious books she was reading and called her up saying he would like to discuss them and get back together with her.  He now respects his wife and listens to her talk about her spirituality even though he doesn’t always understand.  He still respects her. 
The author Mat, also talks about how he lost respect for his best friend he was traveling in the RV with doing all these interviews.  Jason would chew sunflower seeds and spit them into a cup, or spit them into the RV toilet, clogging it.  Plus Jason was always late for everything.  Mat got angrier and angrier.  Then he realized he didn’t respect Jason and that the Marriage Masters were always talking about respect.  He realized he never got mad at them if they were late.  And that he had much more patience and respect for strangers than he had for Jason. 
“Emotions follow behavior.  You need to be loving even when you don’t feel it.  Love ebbs and flows.”  The problem with Mat’s relationships was that he only liked the first part of them.  The part when your absolutely infatuated.  When the infatuation died he thought he was out of love.  One of the marriage masters gave him a book called, The Art of Engagement, that talked about the different stages of love.  And that infatuation was only the first stage.  And that after it passed your heart could still be just as full. 
I think the problem our culture has is that we confuse love with infatuation.  And I think that is because we want to feel extreme emotions.  I think we fear being bored.  I think we feel that if we don’t have extreme emotions that were not fully alive.  Maybe that is why democrats and republicans are at each other’s throats.  And why politics gets more hostile every year.  We’ve forgotten the magic of ordinary days.  We can be calm, cool, collected and content at the same time.  We don’t have to have extreme emotions.  There is magic in the ordinary. 
One couple told them, “Nothing is beautiful alone.  It’s beautiful only when you look at it with someone else.  And if that someone else is Mim (his wife), then it’s really beautiful.”  Love is, “finding and sharing the moments made beautiful only because of the special person who’s been at your side forever.”
“One couple in their early 90s – married 70 years! – drove over 250 miles just to meet with us.”  Mat asked them what their advice was for the younger generation.  The husband looked him dead in the eye and said, “I’ve worked two jobs my whole life, never had a fancy car or a big home.  But I have an amazing family and a wife who loves me…in my mind, that makes me a wealthy man.”  A few days after the interview they got an email from his granddaughter thanking them for the interview and telling them that he had passed away. 
Jason says, “The true beauty of lifelong marriage isn’t expressed in the measure of gushy-gushy affection these senior citizens were able to emit for us on the couch, but rather in the history of their courage.  As they showed time and time again, lifelong love is not for the faint of heart.”
I highly recommend this book.  It was really good.  5 stars

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799.  Flowers in the morning sun #OneThousandReasonsToBeHappy