The people who live behind me have an interesting marriage. I know this because I listen to them all the time--it's impossible not to. At this point in our relationship, they are, in my mind, The Loudey's, and because they both have the ability to project their voices across the neighborhood, I'm pretty sure plenty of others are privy to their discussions, too.
The Loudey's behave appropriately as neighbors, in a friendly but good fences way. They wave and say hello but don't intrude on my talks with the children and or peer through the wall of bamboo that serves as the visual boundary between our yards.
Athletic and attractive, it seems the Loudey's are among the charmed individuals who've retired at around the age of fifty. Not sure how they managed this, but I intend to look into it. I suspect, however, it has something to do with two professional incomes for about thirty years. Oh, and a lack of progeny. Kids are the best thing I've ever done, but they are expensive little critters. So that they don't lie awake at night comparing the tuition costs at various Texas colleges might explain the fiscal and physical health of the Loudey's.
According to Judith Wallerstein's influential book, The Good Marriage, there are four models for long-term, successful marriages: traditional, rescue, romantic and companionate. There are relative weaknesses for each--the traditional types focus so much on raising kids that they dread the inevitable empty nest; the rescue types learn to push each others' buttons and end up hurting each other in the precise manner of their original emotional wounds; the romantics are so into each other that they ignore their kids; and the companionate folks turn into roommates who get the yard work done but have a television in their bedroom. But when they work well, couples who successfully practice these models have the sorts of unions the rest of us envy.
The Loudey's live an orderly life; my dad, who serves as my own personal yardstick of landscape tidiness, marveled at the kemptness of their property, insinuating they might be a bit over the top. They walk together at regular hours, he charging ahead with a large walking stick, she behind with Bo-Bo, the chow dog. Bo-Bo is, from what I gather, the center of the Loudey's universe. "Hello, baby bear!" she trills. "Look how cute he is!!!!" From him, "Hello, baby dog. You're so smart." They banter happily with one another about real estate prices and perennials, and so far I haven't heard a cross word between them.
This is in contrast my yard: fourth-grade boys blowing up water bottles with the pellet gun and me telling Gus, our neurotic terrier, that he is a total idiot and a pain in the ass. I'm also enjoying having fun friends over, and of course we all become a good deal more clever and amusing as the evening progresses, so we're not exactly quiet neighbors. But by the time we all grow hysterically funny I am pretty sure the Loudey's are in their bedroom watching Jon Stewart. But maybe not. Even us eavesdroppers don't know what goes on behind closed doors.