Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Deb: As I am writing this today, Friday, September 10th, Barbara and her husband, Phil, are celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary. So I thought this might be a good time to give props to that oft-maligned institution––marriage.

Having witnessed Barb and Phil’s marriage up close, I can tell you this. They are very much in love. And love is grand as we all know. They love one another and they are in love, which is a necessary combination if a good marriage is going to age well with time.

But, as experts and marrieds alike will tell you, love is not enough. Not nearly enough. Marriage––and I don’t think anyone who has been married or divorced will find this shocking––is hard work. It takes teamwork, which requires a solid, loving, respectful, silly, giving, and attentive team.

Barb and Phil are just such a team. Their marriage works because they function as a team in every way. Yes, they also thrive as individuals with varied interests but always as cheerleaders for the other’s pursuits. I have seen them celebrate––champagne corks to the rafters––when they are winning, and I’ve seen them rally with support and understanding when they are in a slump.

This bride and groom understood from the very beginning the value of romance. I do not claim to be privy to this firsthand of course, but if you refer back to the last blog-post, you will see just who discovered the lump in the breast. But canoodling aside, they date. Often.

Heaven knows, you can never recreate that first kiss that poets wax on about. But you can find in that millionth kiss an unexpected thrill. A thrill that combines sexual chemistry long since honed with the easy touch of security and stability. It is the kiss that replaces longing with satisfaction and hope with gratitude, and it cannot be underestimated.

I understand this because I am happy to say that I have just such a marriage.

But this post is about Barbara and Phil’s 22-year marriage. May they continue to grow in love until they look into each other’s ancient eyes, still a team for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

Happy Anniversary!

Barbara: Thank you, Deb! This is as beautiful an anniversary card as I’ve ever received. And I’m so glad you wrote about this because I do think successful long-term relationships bear celebrating––and also examining.

Not only have Phil and I been married for 22 years, but we’ve been together since I was 16 and he 18, making a grand total of 31 years. Deb and Colin might not have been together as long, but they’ve been married as long. So between us, we have some ideas on how and why a strong relationship works.

To echo Deb’s beautiful and heartfelt words, I definitely think the most important element by far is a sense of partnership. For which you obviously need two equally committed partners. If you think Phil and I or Deb and Colin have sailed on Aladdin’s magic carpet into the sunset for all these years, hate to break the movie ending, but there is no “happily ever after” in the real world. There is, as Deb reminded, hard work as you face your own demons, your partner’s demons, your children’s, relatives’, and close friends’ demons, never mind those of the world itself.

I think there’s also a part of us that expects our partners to follow some kind of life-script that we have in our heads, and when they don’t say their lines as they should, or if they play another scene entirely, we stumble around disoriented instead of improvising until we’re back on track. Or, conversely, one partner is fully committed to taking on any and all challenges only to find themselves the solitary cheerleader while their significant other stumbles around, not hearing (or caring enough to notice) that some lovable one is urging them back from the edge.

From the outside, I have seen Colin and Deb adapt and join forces at every major roadblock. From the inside, I can say Phil and I have done the same. Are we lucky? I think we certainly share the same amount of obstacles and heart-rending torments as any other couple. But we have also found ourselves––luckily––in relationships where the choice to adapt together is equally important to both partners.

And I think to make a partnership truly successful, you need to SPEAK TRULY and TRULY LISTEN.

I think you need to find a fruitful life outside your relationship, outside your home, and build your own happiness, then offer it up to your mate as the delicacy it is. And when offered a glimpse of your partner’s happiness, you should always celebrate it and never grimace, no matter how not to your taste it might be (um, provided it’s lawful and all).

I think you need to commit to waking up each day and looking at your beloved and realizing you do still love this person, would rather be snuggling with him or her than any other, and therefore will forgive transgressions, accept foibles, overlook annoyances, see beauty, celebrate strengths, and decide irrefutably: today, I choose again to choose you.

Happy anniversary, my love. As you well know, my choice is clear.


  1. Happy Anniversary, Barbara. I love Love Stories like yours- the ones where you work at keeping the love alive because you want it to stay forever alive and fresh.

  2. Happy Anniversary, Barbara and Phil!

  3. Happy Anniversary Barb.Congrads,It sounds like you all are very happy together.So Congrads on that. My great grandparents were together for 76 years. They got married very,very young. I think my great grandfather was 18 and my great grandmother was 16 so they were very young. 22 years is a really long time but it sounds like you all are very happy. I am not married at all but I have been with my boyfriend for a very long time. We are middle school sweet hearts. Anyways,Congrads on your anniversary.

  4. Thanks, guys!

    Any other ideas of how to make a long-term relationship work?

  5. Barbara-I wish you a FABULOUS anniversary! It sounds like a great marriage! They really ARE a lot of work, aren't they? My hubby and I MET 22 years ago this month, so we share an anniversary, if of a slightly different sort.

    And I had HEARD Deb was married to a 'famous guy' but I RECOGNIZE HIM! How fun! (he's hysterical, btw)

  6. Thanks Hart, He IS funny, and sweet too!

  7. Barb, we often talk about what a great time we had at your wedding! Blown fuses and all... great memories!!!! And to both you and Deb, this tribute to marriage was a wonderful post.

  8. Congratulations on your anniversary, Barb and Phil! MathMan and I celebrated 22 years in August and I still can't believe we've been together half our lives already.

    I love what you both have to say about marriage. Ours has been a challenge, but we are finally in a place where remembering why we wanted this to last forever is easy. We belong together. The work has been worth it.

    And, Barb, next time, I'm letting MathMan make the coffee.

    Deb, your husband has given my family lots of laughs. Please thank him.

  9. Best Wishes and Congratulations all around...Brava! Bravo! You both have got it right. Marriage is more than just love. It is a sprinkle of sharing, understanding, forgiving, forgetting, appreciation and repect. Rolled up together equals forever fun times in love. Bums and I are looking forward to our 15 this coming January.

  10. Dave (see above) made our beautiful wedding that much more memorable when some fuses blew right before our last dance, leaving our sound-system dead. He gathered all the guests around us and sang "You are so beautiful" acapella. It was a stunning finale.

    Lisa and lifewaves, you both seem to have found your grooves too. Which is so great.

  11. I found my partner late in life. But that is because I waited to find a life PARTNER. I didn't want a boss or a slave. When I relived that every time I looked into my future I could not picture it with out him there, I knew I had found him. My advice to all the young brides and grooms who asked how do you know they are the right one is, Picture the worst fight you have ever had, the kind where you could almost kill the other person. Now do you still see wanting this person in your life. If so then they are the right one, because believe me there will be times like this. You need to know you both have the strength to work through those times, and not just give up and leave. That is what makes a marriage last.


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