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Reiss’ Pieces

Richard Reiss: 37 — a prime number of years to celebrate an indivisible marriage


"As a prime number, 37 is indivisible. A good marriage is indivisible, too. Life may try to divide us but somehow, with a lot of love and a little grit, we remain a unified front," writes Eagle columnist Richard Reiss.

The number is 37 — as in five days ago my wife, Paula, and I, celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary.

It’s a good number, although not a milestone like 25 or 50.

Twenty-five was great. We took a cruise and went to France, barely getting by on $1,000 a day. Fifty, however, as wonderful a milestone as it is, frightens the heck out of me. I’ll be 78. Go ahead, tell me it’s only a number. It’s not. Sorry, septuagenarians. I have mixed emotions. Mostly, I worry that I won’t be able to ride my bike anymore. Nonetheless, in the USA, where 750,000 people get divorced every year, 37 years of marriage ought to mean something.

I did some digging. I dove deep into the World Wide Web and its pages devoted to numerology. It turns out that 37 is a very positive number. It represents new beginnings, creative solutions and bold decisions.

I should feel good about this, but do I really want a new beginning after 37 years of marriage? Can I think about it for a while? We’re kind of set in our ways. What would be new? A new haircut? I’m thinking buzz-cut. A new suit? Nope. I gave those up when I retired. How about a new attitude? If it means I can no longer be a curmudgeon, forget about it.

I know — I will sleep on the left side of the bed instead of the right. For 37 years, I have occupied the same space which, I must admit, has been extremely comfortable. But hey, I can be bold. I can change. What wonders will reveal themselves to me on the left? Will my worldview shift? Will my marriage be better or worse? Will my restless nights turn into deep sleeps? All I need is for 37 to direct me to a creative solution and a bold decision and I’m in.

Numerology says seeing the number 37 frequently is a sign that our guardian angels are trying to communicate with us. I’m listening. Hello? Are you there? I haven’t heard anything yet but, then again, 37 hasn’t come up that often until now.

What if I deconstruct the number? Three is a symbol of joy, progress, growth, inspiration, creativity, skills, sensitivity, broad viewpoint, change, love and self-expression. I’m not counting (yes, I am), but that’s 11 attributes. The number 11 is associated with spiritual awakening. Now, we’re getting somewhere. Is not 37 years of marriage spiritual? If not spiritual, then certainly mystical.

And, what of seven? With seven we get enlightenment, development, self-belief, knowledge, purpose, intuition, empathy, inner wisdom and psychic abilities.

The number 37 is starting to look pretty darn good. Up until now, I had no idea how fully actualized I was as a human being. In fact, I’ve been testing my newly discovered psychic abilities and I believe I’m making progress. I’m working on that Jedi thing, trying to get people to do what I want them to do by simply saying what it is I want and waving my hand. For example, I said to my son, “Our anniversary is coming up and you want to take us out for dinner.” He responded by saying, “Your anniversary is coming up and I will gladly take you out for dinner since last month you gave me your credit card.”

Then I tried Paula and said, “I want a dog.” She said, “I want you to not want a dog.” I said, “I’d like a nice Labradoodle to cuddle up with at night.” She said, “I’d like to cuddle up at night, too, but now you’re on the wrong side of the bed.” I said, “I think I need a hug.” She said, “Here you go, babe,” and hugged me. See, it’s working.

A lot can happen in 37 years, and I’m the first to admit that Paula and I have been alternately blessed and challenged. Yet, through it all, she has been a wonderful wife, mother, adventurer and friend. She is strong and smart and loving and caring, and I am lucky to have her at my side.

Today, I feel blessed, but I am often reminded of what a very wise person once said: “If life were easy, it wouldn’t be difficult.”

As a prime number, 37 is indivisible. A good marriage is indivisible, too. Life may try to divide us but somehow, with a lot of love and a little grit, we remain a unified front.

Love and grit are two things and, as everyone knows, two is a partnership. After 37 years, this partnership is still going strong. Of course it is. The numbers don’t lie.

Richard Reiss is the author of “Desperate Love: A Father’s Memoir.” He lives in Canaan, N.Y., with his wife Paula. He can be reached at rpreiss63@gmail.com.

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