A few years back, it seemed that a lot of couples were either getting divorced, thinking about separating, or in a real funk.
But something has changed: more of Smartmom’s friends are in relationships that are stronger than ever. Even Hepcat and Smartmom — after 17 years — are starting to get the hang of it.
Just last weekend, Smartmom, Hepcat and the Oh So Feisty One attended a 10th anniversary jubilee for Dadu and Gluten-free. These friends, who abandoned Prospect Heights for a humongous Victorian manse upstate, home-school their kids, participate in a farm cooperative, and have enough space to write, create art and make animated movies.
At their local Unitarian congregation, more than 100 nearest and dearests heard the couple renew its vows and celebrate what has been a remarkably successful and productive marriage.
Audience members were invited to light a candle and say a few words about the couple,
“I’ve liked them since I was two,” said the couple’s 7-year-old daughter.
“Marriage is a tricky game,” added a friend, a local carpenter.
“There is really a lot of love in your house,” said Gluten-Free’s brother, tearing up.
After the vows, the couple smooched, the Unitarian minister declared them still married and the guests ate a gluten-free chocolate cake replica of the Catskill Mountains with handmade figurines of the family climbing upwards.
The beauty of the ceremony naturally made Smartmom wonder what her friends and family would say if she and Hepcat renewed their vows:
“You guys seem to muddle along,” one might say.
“We thought you’d own a house by now,” Mrs. Kravitz would no-doubt taunt.
“Do you still fight as much as you used to?” another would say.
Back on Third Street, there is more evidence of strong marriages all around Smartmom. A good neighbor recently underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer and lost all of her hair. After the first chemo treatments, Smartmom noticed that her husband had gone bald, too. But he hadn’t lost his hair to chemo — he’d shaved his head in solidarity with his beloved.
Smartmom was deeply moved by her neighbor’s gesture. But it left her wondering: would Hepcat shave off his hair (what little is left of it) if Smartmom lost hers?
Third Street provided yet one more example of marital stability. “In sickness and in health” doesn’t even begin to describe the strength of the Kravitz marriage.
When Mr. Kravitz’s kidneys malfunctioned, he was told by doctors that he would have to be on dialysis for the rest of his life if he couldn’t find a donor.
His father and his sister immediately volunteered, but his father was too old and his sister, a smoker for many years, was deemed not healthy enough.
Then, Mrs. Kravitz, his wife of 11 years and the mother of his two children, came forward. It turned out that she was the ideal candidate: a perfect match in excellent physical condition.
In the weeks preceding the transplant, Mrs. Kravitz underwent a battery of tests (including psychological evaluation). She passed with flying colors and was good to go.
On twin gurneys, they were wheeled into adjacent operating rooms. Mrs. Kravitz’s kidney was removed first and ferried next door. The doctors didn’t even take out Mr. Kravitz’s other kidneys; he now has three.
With each passing day, he’s feeling stronger and better. He can work from home now and take walks to ConnMuffCo for iced coffee.
Loving. Brave. Romantic. It’s hard to find the right words to describe Mr. and Mrs. Kravitz.
Again, all this love got Smartmom to thinking: Would Hepcat would give up a kidney for her? For that matter, would she give a kidney to him?
In both cases, she knew the answer — but just hoped that she would be as brave as Mrs. Kravitz if it ever came to that.Given all the love in the air, Smartmom recently asked Hepcat if he would want to have a vow-renewal ceremony on their 20th anniversary.
Clearly, he was uncomfortable. After much groaning and a look of complete and utter distress, he said, “I think we’re doing pretty well without that.” And in an exasperated falsetto he added, “Do you really want one?”
At this, he pulled her close and hugged her against his sweaty black T-shirt.
She had her answer. Every day is a renewal of their marriage vows. Making breakfast. Shopping at the Food Coop. Attending Teen Spirit’s rock ’n’ roll gigs at Liberty Heights Tap Room. Bi-weekly couples therapy. Ordering pizza from Pino’s.
In sickness and in health. And if they could just remember their vows, they might even say them to each other every now and again.