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Slices of Life: Marriage is a really long race
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Hollywood actress Jamie Lee Curtis has been married for 31 years - consecutive - to the same man. Exclamation point. In Hollywood, this is a big deal. Heck, it's a big deal anywhere.

Putting up with someone - and more importantly them putting up with you - for a really long time requires patience, endurance, courage, a case of recurring temporary amnesia and the ability to put up with cold toes in bed.

Because, let's face it, other people (and their cold toes) can be annoying. When you are married, you are often one of those other people. The ability to ignore and forget about the annoyances helps your spouse (and you) to not bring bodily harm upon one another (or do something nasty like use their toothbrush to clean the toilet). I am grateful almost daily for my husband's recurring temporary amnesia because I am not easy to live with. None of us are.

As far as marriage and longevity goes, thankfully my husband is stubborn beyond words. He's stuck with me for a really long time. We've been together for more years than a marathon has miles. And marriage is a marathon - in the best-case scenario.

When you run a marathon (which I've never done, to be fully disclosed here) I imagine you start out strong. Those first miles click off with ease. Our first weeks of marriage were practically like a honeymoon. Easy and breezy with no kids or mortgage payments involved.

We even took a couple trips to Vegas during our fledgling years. And you know what they say about what happens there.

Then real life hit. Bills. Births. Business. Busyness. The middle miles (or years) contain their fair share of challenges, because you can't catch your breath to think, much less love, on a person like they deserve. Despite the leg cramps, dehydration and exhaustion we forged through it together - or mostly together. Somewhere between burping babies and balancing the checkbook - right around mile marker 14 - we developed a rhythm, and we just kept going.

Now, more than a few years later, we've been married a really long time. With that accomplishment comes a few perks.

The annoying habits that used to bug you don't so much anymore. You've probably adopted some of those habits yourself.

You appreciate the little things your spouse does to make your day easier. Like making the coffee or making the bed. You try to think of more little things you can do in return.

You've learned he dislikes emptying the clean silverware from the dishwasher so when you are emptying the dishwasher together you do that part first so he doesn't have to.

He keeps tabs on your car's gas gauge and fills it up for you when you get down to about a quarter of a tank. Ditto that for oil changes.

Household chores were long ago divided and decided. You let him empty the garbage. He lets you sweep the kitchen floor. You can't imagine trading, but would and could in a pinch.

When you've been together a long time, you share memories that can't ever be shared with anyone else ever again. Things like human beings (that you created) entering this world. Deaths - of family, friends and even beloved pets. Experiencing things like that together changes your relationship. It deepens it. Time works that way as well. In a good way.

My husband and I have been married a really long time. There have certainly been bumps in the road, but we've always managed to continue moving forward. Step by step, mile by mile, we're in this race together. I know I'm glad to have someone running beside me. And after all these years and all these miles he still takes my breath away. A good race will do that to you.

- Jill Pertler's column appears Thursdays in the Times. She can be reached at