I have a theory about men who are married to the same woman for a long time, and that theory is that she never changes (in his eyes) from the woman or girl he married.
I think the seed of this was planted when at age 20 or thereabouts, I met a man who’d married a beauty queen when he was 24 and she 19. At the time, they’d been married over fifty years, and I don’t know, but I’m certain that they’re both deceased by now.
He’d been a soldier in the British Army (he was a WWI veteran), was still a good-looking man and carried himself with that erect bearing that is unmistakably the look of a senior NCO — in his case, a sergeant-major. His wife had, as the saying goes, not aged well: she’d put on a lot of weight and her once-beautiful face was now moon-shaped. The only thing still beautiful was her hair, which was long, thick and grey, permanently worn in a plait down her back.
But he loved her; good grief, he loved her more than any man I’ve ever known to love a woman. One night, we were sitting in his living-room, both a little tipsy after dinner, when he suddenly said out of the blue, “You know what, boy? I know that _________ is old and overweight. But the only time I ever see that is when we go out and we’re with other people. When we’re at home all alone together, all I can see is the beauty queen I married back in 1922.”
I don’t think he’s alone in this, in fact, I think there are lots of men like him. The popular meme these days is that men divorce their wives as they get older, to “trade up” to a younger, more beautiful woman. That would certainly be true among the rich and famous set — because, let’s be honest, wealth and fame gives them the opportunity to do so, especially when those younger women throw themselves at their, ummm, feet.
But not every man is rich and famous, of course — let’s be honest and say that most men aren’t rich or famous — and among those men, and especially those men who have been married to the same woman for a long time, the very thought of “trading up” is not only ridiculous, but outrageous (i.e. likely to cause outrage). Men like my sergeant-major friend.
I’m going to illustrate the point by looking at a rich and famous man who hasn’t traded up, and has been married for sixteen years to his second wife (his first wife, to whom he’d also been married for about the same length of time, died of ovarian cancer). His name is Pierce Brosnan, and his wife’s name is Keeley. Here they are on their wedding day, in 2001 (they met in 1999):
Here they are today:
…and here they are at some red-carpet affair:
Whenever you see them together, they’re holding hands, or are walking arm-in-arm, or they’re kissing like damn teenagers.
Now I’m going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that Pierce Brosnan could have “traded up” on more than one occasion. In fact, I’m pretty sure that he could have had his pick from, oooh, about half a million women all over the world, had that been his intention. Yet he’s still married to Keeley, and he obviously still only sees the woman he married.
In case you’re wondering about the title of this post, the full sentence written by John Keats is:
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
As for me… well, I’m one of those men.