What's the secret to a happy marriage?
I ask this of many of my clients. My new ones, the grieving and the breathing ones. I used to ask people their opinions on the secret to a happy life, but when you've arrived to a house armed with a calculator, a box of tissues and a coffin book my original query seems malapropos.
I visited a newly widowed school principle recently. She said that the secret behind the strength of her thirty eight years of wedded happiness was that she let her husband be who he wanted to be. I wondered if that meant that he liked gimp masks and koala costumes. I smiled, thought about the super talented Tom Gabel (soon to be Laura Jane Grace) and I moved on.
When they acknowledge my question they get a look in their eyes, a particular poignancy. What follows is a pregnant contemplation of stand out moments, like a mental flick book of special events.
It's nice. I take them away into a peaceful meditation, if only for a minute.
There's something in having a one and only, even if you have to make up your own rules to get there.