Can it save a marriage?
Swimming pools and romance have been linked together for as long as lovers have held hands. Most everyone has a memory involving a love interest (or a hopeful love interest) under a moonlit night in the enticing vicinity of a swimming pool. And if they haven’t, they’ve surely dreamed about it. The possibilities for romance fill the anxious air, as a promising moment hovers over the scene, awaiting only the zing of Cupid’s arrow to inflame it. So, yes, the pool as romantic stimulant has doubtless stirred the waters of hot passions over time. But we wondered, does the amorous allure of the pool actually ever serve as the elixir that saves a couple’s marriage teetering on the brink of survival?
Well, yes and no. Consider the following two tales:
In 1937, Pauline Hemingway, the wife of legendary novelist Ernest Hemingway, in a last-ditch bid to keep their marriage from falling apart, had a swimming pool constructed for him as a gift—the first pool built in the Florida Keys—while Hemingway was off in Spain covering the Spanish Civil War. The lido came at a cost of $20,000—two and a half times worth the couple’s Whitehead Street house in Key West. Hemingway’s reaction wasn’t what she’d hoped for. When the author returned, he reportedly took a penny from his pocket, tossed it on the ground, and told her, “You might as well take my last cent.” Pauline recovered the penny, having it preserved in cement and glass. Many years later, the artifact became a popular tourist attraction after the house was converted into a museum. Unbeknownst to Hemingway at the time, Pauline hadn’t spent one cent of his money in constructing the pool. An heiress, she was independently wealthy in her own right. Rumors still endure that the author married her for her riches. Alas, the pool failed ultimately to keep their marriage from falling into the deep end.
Another author, R. Harper Mason, met his future bride, Vertis—an acquaintance of former President Bill Clinton—at a public swimming pool in Smackover, Arkansas, when she was 16. Apparently, the enchanted pull of the pool worked its intoxicating magic on the pair, who celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2010.
And it likely wasn’t just coincidental that Mason wound up writing a book on the recipe for a quality marriage!