Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Loving You Whether Times Are Good Or Bad, Happy Or Sad

There was a sweet feature in the paper about a married couple in their nineties. Carol Graeber is in hospice. Melvin Graeber's next door in assisted living, and visits her every day. He calls her "my baby" and she calls him "my boy." There's a photo of him kissing her as she lies in her bed. I had the same exact reaction as everyone else did. (1) They are adorable, and (2) eww. Wrinkly-lip kisses.

Dave and I go for walks holding hands. I think younger people out there look at our gray hair and relaxed skin and think we're adorable, too. There's something about affectionate old people that twists the part of the heart that longs for connection. We make assumptions in their favor. But are they still together out of devotion, or cussedness? Are they holding hands because they're in love, or because it makes it harder to take a swing? This is where the Graebers nailed it. They were both in agreement: the last thirty-five years of their marriage have been wonderful, but the first twenty-five years were touch and go. That's what they said.

If the young people do think we're old, they're just seeing things a little more clearly than we are. We're still looking at the world out of eighteen-year-old eyes and holding to our end of the contract by staying forever young, and wondering why the Devil didn't get the memo. Deterioration shocks us. Memory betrays us. We never saw it coming.

The love part is easy. I married a man who welcomed me with a blast on a bugle whenever I came home from work. Who tells me I only have to eat three carrot sticks, but slides in a replacement whenever I take one off my plate. Who is man enough to admit it when I get off a better fart than he does. Who has been telling me I'm beautiful long after it ceased to apply. Who has already made sure everything I'll ever need or want is on hand and running smoothly, and has done it so quietly and reliably that I probably don't even recognize the half of it.

Who can be irritable and anxious. Who can give in to despair. Who might have had a little drinking problem. His wife had one, too. His wife, who is amusing but self-centered. Who is more than willing to let someone else do the grunt work. Who can be dismissive and rude.

That's the real beautiful thing about a long relationship. Not that two people have lived a life of sunsets and chocolate and honeysuckle. But that they have learned to trust that their worst will be tolerated long enough for their best to emerge. That the gnarly bits as well as the rosy goodness will still be greeted by a bugle at the door.

Yesterday Dave and I celebrated our 29th anniversary. Some of those years were touch and go, but most of them have been wonderful. I've signed on for the rest. The best.


Dave makes dinner.

                                                   

134 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary. May you have many many more years of blissful marital combat. Dave's got moves.

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    1. No combat. Dave told me early on "no hitting." He was skeert.

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  2. Best anniversary "card" ever. We're 11 years further down the marriage road than you, and you might want to watch out for a few more potholes and washouts, but you've got the right attitude, and my money is on you and Dave hitting the front page (or whatever serves that purpose at the time) with one of those wrinkly-lipped kisses.

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    1. Washouts? Oh dear. Anyway I'm starting to think he's liable to live forever (his vital signs are those of a sixteen-year-old Japanese gymnast) and I'll be the only one with wrinkly lips.

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    2. Also, his mustache is bigger than yours,so who could tell?

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  3. Happy anniversary! Yeah, the first 25 years can be a bit rocky :-)

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  4. Congratulations! Hope you continue to enjoy the next 29 years!

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    1. Thank you! I hear there are problems associated with old age. So I'm going to stick my fingers in my ears.

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  5. Happy anniversary and many more. Dave can dance! and cook! Your turn next, and Dave can hold the camera.

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    1. Oh dear. I dance like an epileptic bear, and my main cooking ingredient would be peanut butter.

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  6. It's easy to fall in love and think it will last forever. It's a lot harder to accept each other for what they are and help each other become all each of you can be.

    Wish your insights could be made into a mandatory course since most people have no idea and it seems to be accidental that a few lucky people figure it all out on your own.

    Congratulations for spending 29 years working on a beautiful relationship.

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    1. Thank you. I should add that we were together for seven years before that, so we're logging some big time now.

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    2. OK, you're cutting the gap considerably now. We were together for 3 years before we got married, which takes us to 43 and you're up to 35...crap. I can't tell you guys much of nuthin', now that I think about it!

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  7. Yayyy! Whooop, whoop! Right on! Way to make it work!! And he's a great dancer, too.

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  8. Sweet. God that man can multi-task. And happy Anniversary!

    Ok, so I only have about five years to go before things get really good? Oy. Maybe I should suggest a bugle at the door. That should get us through to the other side. (I'll bet it helps to be a good dancer, too.) ;)

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    1. We have two bugles and two taxi horns. Be prepared!

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  9. What a lovely post---Congratulations and I wish you many, many more years of fun and togetherness. You two do seem to have a lot of fun. Good for you!

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  10. Happy anniversary. What a beautiful post.

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  11. Happy Anniversary to two of my favorite old farts. And I mean that literally.
    Wonderful post, and wonderful dancing Dave!

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    1. Uh, she does mean that literally. Go with your strengths, I always s ay.

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  12. Replies
    1. There are so many ways to take that...

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  13. Wonderful post. :) I've been married for 24 years. Sometimes it's been work ... most of the time it's been joy. :)

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    1. See, one more year and you'll be hitting your stride!

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  14. Happy happy anniversary! Your descriptions of the ups and downs of married life has 'nailed' it!

    Dave's moves are really nice ... lucky you! ;-)

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    1. He's fun to watch. Also it's important to watch him. In case.

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  15. Well, Dave almost lost me until the big 'CLAP' towards the end. All dorky white men need at least one clap in their dance video to make it successful... LOL Loved this.

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  16. You really have to take the long view with marriage, which is why ideas like this are so preposterous.

    And it looks as though we share a spousal height differential! Larry is 14 inches taller than me, so our photos look similar.

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    1. Hey, that was a great post. I'd missed that one. And what does it say for those of us who never intended having children? That said, Dave told me on my fortieth birthday he was trading me in for two twenties.

      We're only 13 inches apart. So you look WAY goofier.

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    2. Trade you for two twenties? But is he wired for two twenty?

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    3. Yup, the ol' Mutt and Jeff- and it feels so good snuggling in under his are....

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  17. We have been together just few months longer than you two. It is magic-aLL.

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  18. Oh happy day! Congratulations on surviving and prospering! I had nearly 39 years with my sweet baboo - 25 years of wedded bliss (well...) preceded by dating and living-in-sin while my mom called him her "friend in law".

    Since his passing I have had to develop a stable of men to attend to my needs. Not what you think. I need a general handy-man, a carpenter, an electrician, a plumber, a lawn-maintenance guy and a carpet cleaner. Apparently I should look for a dancer, too. Dancin' Dave's got moves.

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  19. Congratulations you two, and it's nice to hear someone tell it like it is :)

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    1. The way it is, isn't so bad after all. That's the gift people can give to each other: the freedom to safely be themselves. Which ain't all good.

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  20. Let's see--awwww! Ewww--wrinkly lips kiss. Did I get that right?
    Anyway, happy anniversary you two old birds.
    Yes, marriage is a constant work in progress, an act of will every day, and sometimes every moment. It can be annoying as hell, but also hugely rewarding. And it sure beats whatever else there is out there.
    So, I say--let EVERYONE get married!

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  21. Congratulations on your achievement!

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    1. Aw. And I've always been (told I was) an underachiever.

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  22. Many blessings on your 29th. We're approaching our 12th and I agree, times are not always great but we have reached the point of feeling very safe. I can't imagine life with him, nor he with me. And he still calls me "beautiful lady" when it too has long ceased to apply. Ain't having a good man grand? lol

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    1. You meant "without him"...right? And yes indeedy, it is grand.

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  23. many smiles on your anniversary celebration...I don't stop by often, but EVERY TIME I DO, I walk away "better"
    Shawna

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    1. Hmm. I think I have a suggestion for making you best of all.

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  24. Happy Anniversary, Murr.

    And this? "Not that two people have lived a life of sunsets and chocolate and honeysuckle. But that they have learned to trust that their worst will be tolerated long enough for their best to emerge." This is brilliance, and I wish I'd written it first...

    Pearl

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    1. Sooner or later, Pearl, we'll both write whatever the other one was going to write. And there will still be more! When I put in something about Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys), then worry.

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  25. Yeah, what Pearl said. This is the sanest piece of yours I've read, but I loved it. Thank you. Indigo

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  26. Congratulations! I've been married 48 years... but the last 30 have been to the right guy... (let's not talk about those 18 years with the wrong one)... needless to say, your post made me smile... even grin and chuckle a little. Happy Anniversary!

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    1. And of course it is possible to have been married to the same guy for 30 wonderful years and 18 bad ones. I think the important thing is the order you do that in. Thanks!

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  27. Wonderful love letter, Murr - and not just to Dave but to what you two have created...and are still creating...together. Happy anniversary.

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  28. Aw! Ain't that sweet! The Portland love-birds, together for 29 years.

    This August, the River City Bears will make it to 43. if we live that long.

    Love the story of Carol and Melvin, too! A pair of sweethearts!

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    1. I'm pulling for the Bears to make it another month! You can do it! (I'm not suggesting anything here.)

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  29. "...they have learned to trust that their worst will be tolerated long enough for their best to emerge." I like that. And I loved the video! (DH and I will celebrate our 45th this Jan)

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    1. Who gets married in January? Now we know.

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  30. Your mention of remaining forever young jumped out at me as at my son's wedding last month, the one song they had someone sing was Dylan's "Forever Young." Congrats on hanging in there. Last month, my husband's anniversary greeting to me was, "FORTY YEARS?!?" It took me three weeks to realize that this was our 39th anniversary, not 40th. But as my husband said, "Same thing."

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    1. I told Dave every anniversary after the first was the Diamond anniversary. So every year he'd take me to a baseball game.

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  31. Happy twenty-ninth anniversary. You two look so great together. As the song says:...the world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by.

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    1. Here's hoping the world will begin to welcome ALL of the lovers. Since more than enough time has gone by.

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  32. As a serial monogamist, I have been married for 32 years -to 3 different men.And I can say with some authority based on experience that there are good years, and bad years, and great years, and so-so years, and some downright forgetful years where nothing happened at all! But the best times throughout are the moments when you realize you're in the right place at the right time with the right person- who doesn't even look sideways anymore when you fart. (Cuz' he's deaf- means he can't hear alot of other stuff you shouldn't have said either!) True all. Happy Anni

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    1. There are some good points and some bad points to deafness. We are exploring them now. Some of Dave's farts would rattle Helen Keller.

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    2. Dern! May have to reassess my thoughts on hubbie's mild/formerly annoying hearing loss. Thanks for the wake-up Murr dear, and happy 29. We just had a wild wine dinner for our 39.
      BC

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  33. Crazy kids these days ;~) Happy Anniversary, Murr and Dave!

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  34. Murr, you have the coolest stuff! I gotta get me one of those dancing omelette-flippers for my kitchen!

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    1. Sometimes things get overdone during a long song.

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  35. I'm impressed - no pizza delivery involved.
    Congratulations!

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    1. That's one thing wrong with having a Dave. I miss pizza.

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  36. Happy Anniversary! We were late for you wedding, thank goodness it rained and we got to see the vows! What a wonderful description of marriage. I'm going to share this with our kids!!!

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    1. Lordy, did it rain. My Polish friend said her tradition says that's good luck. We got buckets of luck.

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  37. I am with Pat. One of those in my kitchen would make me smile. The first 30 yrs of my marriage were great, but the last 6 have been very trying. You are so lucky!

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  38. Happy A, my friend. And that wrinkly lips were my also my first thought when I saw that picture. Then I slapped myself and looked in the mirror. Where did those damn wrinkles come from?

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    1. I know, right? I didn't want to admit it.

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  39. Happy anniversary, Murr and Dave. One of your best blog posts ever. Brought tears to my eyes. To be long haul happily married is as close to Heaven as most of us will ever get. Ella and I were married 30 years, 1 day and 22 1/2 hours. If Tanya can make 80 and me 90 we'll have our 30th also. 60 years married is the new 50. Hugs and many many more happy years.

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    1. Thank you. We started late. I don't know if we're going to make it to 60.

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  40. Good for you two! Congrats! And good luck on the next 30!

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  41. Happy anniversary, Murr! Virginia and I were "born married". At the end of March we celebrated (quietly) our 41st anniversary. This entry in your blog embodies and succinctly describes why and how we're still together - and still crazy - after all these years.

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    1. I didn't say nuthin' about no crazy. Oh, right, that was in all the other blog posts. 41! Congratulations.

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  42. Congratulations, you two! It makes me happy to know some smart folks get it right the first time. I wasted 13 years with the wrong guy before I finally wised up and found the right one.

    Hubby and I have been together for 14 years now, and the worst day of this marriage was still miles better than the best day of my previous one... even though he doesn't have Dave's dance moves.

    And wrinkly lips are no big deal. It's the kiss that counts. :-)

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    1. I don't know about getting it right the first time. I didn't marry the first fifty or so.

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  43. Happy anniversary! It's wonderful that you list 'cussedness' right up there with 'love' and 'long marriages'. And, your husband deserves an extra carrot stick for allowing you to put his dancing on the internet. What a charmer!

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    1. Hmm. "Allowing." He doesn't see my posts before they're up. This is a trust issue, isn't it?

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  44. Look at all those wonderful comments from people who get it. Beautiful, honest, tender post, dear one. There is an evolution to love, isn't there... Thank you :)

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  45. Lovely post. Happy Anniversary to you two. We're still holding hands too -- and every bit as gnarled and wrinkly.

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    1. Maybe that's what holding hands is about. Keep us facing in the same direction.

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  46. Congratulations to both of you! After 45 years John and I have had plenty of touch and go times as well, but this growing old together thing does have positives - i.e. with whom else could I possibly share this artifact that passes for my body?! Our key to keeping it going is a (hypothetical) contract that we renew each year. When things are rocky, there is comfort in knowing the renewal time is approaching. Of course, by the time it arrives the forgetfulness of old age pays dividends as we blissfully sign for another year. So far so good!

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    1. There is definitely something to be said for forgetfulness, but I don't remember what it is. Sign on.

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  47. You lovesick fool. Now you've gone and infected the rest of us.

    Oh, all right. I was already infected by my own guy. Congrats to you both for having the patience and ability to find appreciation that are essential to long-term companionship.

    Your opening paragraphs had me thinking, "Yea, and then there are wrinkly couples like my 77-year-old mom and her 88-year-old husband who have only been married a year and won't have enough time to realize how much they would have driven each other nuts, given a few more years together."

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    1. I have an uncle who married for the first time at age 78, and it was the greatest love I ever witnessed.

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  48. I love this post because it is very very interesting.Thanks you very much for shearing this article

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  49. Beautiful Murr, and I can totally relate. I just wish it didn't take me so long to find my better half. But maybe? the good news is that he never saw me at eighteen, so the way I look now is as good as it gets.

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    1. You remind me of one of my better life strategies: I was in such rotten shape at age twenty that I'm STILL healthier now, so I don't need to be running marathons to regain my lost youth or anything silly like that.

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  50. We're behind you apiece (16 years come November) but a lot of this hits home.

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    1. Sixteen years is starting to put something together. I think a lot of our crappier years were behind us by then.

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  51. What a cutie he is, dancing and cooking like that. You are a lucky woman. And he is a lucky man. Guess that's the idea, huh?
    Congratulations. I am sure you have many more of these happy times to come. And yes, everyone deserves such happiness.

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  52. So many things I love about this post, but my favorite line is this: " Who is man enough to admit when I knock off a better fart than he does."
    I mean - that? Right there? Is everything you'd ever need for 60-plus blissful years. Happy anniversary,you two!!

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    1. I don't know if you NEED it, but it sure comes in handy in this house. We can be highly competitive.

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  53. Well all the best years are still ahead of you, right?
    It really is worth those moments. I am spoiled to bits these days with all the gourmet cooking hubby's decided to do! Just a bit too much into the sauce now and then.

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    1. Who? Him or you? Either way, I hear you.

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  54. Dude, you rock. This was a most exquisitely rendered,um, rendering of long term love and marriage and commitment.Just beautiful
    We're going on 32.And I think they mean it when they say we're beautiful. I do.
    Hold hands forever and kiss in abandon.

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    1. I'm going to take your advice and take him at his word. See how it feels.

      It feels weird.

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  55. So sweet.. love his dancing dinner preparation. Happy Anniversary to you. :)

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    1. Kind of too bad Amy Winehouse had to die for that video.

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  56. Happy Anniversary! I love that you still hold hands, we do too, 26 years later. And that picture of you two from the back could be us, with our 14 inch height difference and finely tuned fashion sense.

    Strangely, my husband likes to dance while he cooks too. And he's a better cook than I will ever be, but I have never tried the dancing trick. And I won't.

    May you have many, many more.

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    1. Whatever you do--dance, or no--don't mess up the "husband cooks" trick. And by "finely tuned fashion sense," I assume you mean my Red Sox hat.

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  57. Hope to see you holding hands 29 years from now (well, if I can see that far by then). Happy Anniversary! The wonder is not that some couples we think are perfect get divorced; but that any of us stay together at all! Love, not to mention staying power, is indeed a mystery. We just celebrated our 20th.

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  58. Excellent, Melissa! And you eked out a kid, too. That usually heightens the danger.

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  59. Is it still too late to comment on such a sweet post?!? Just found your blog a couple of minutes ago and now can't even remember what site I was on--how sad!! Anyway, certainly agree with the person who said being happily married is as close to heaven as we might ever get. We're heading to #37 in Oct. We chuckle to know we share the date with Bill and Hillary and Luis Tiant pitching the first game for our Red Sox in the World Series (which 3/4 of the guests were in the bar watching during the whole reception!) and never knew until many years later that we missed George Carlin and SNL's debut because we were so happy to finally be on our honeymoon and drinking Busch Bavarian on the sea wall at Virginia Beach (I've always been a cheap date!) Obviously, your post reminds many of us how blessed each year of marriage becomes. Congratulations and many more!

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    1. Was I at your wedding? 1975, baby, I'll never forget it. And Luis Tiant (that's St. Luis to us) is one of three people I have autographs from. (The other two are Cliff the mailman on Cheers and Captain Beefheart. Eclectic.) Congratulations to your own fine self.

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  60. I think I love your husband. I have to remember that relaxed skin thing when I go to my 40th reunion next month...

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    1. Hey, we're the same year! If no one's cheating, everyone should be relaxed around the skin.

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  61. Damn, I'm so late with my congratulations!

    Though we've only been married 3-3/4 years, Peter & I have been together now 32-1/4. I'd say fewer than 16 of those have been rocky but not all in one piece, more hour by hour. More pebbly like.

    We love you two.

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    1. We love you two too. And I love that you count the quarters.

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    2. Really terrific post, by the way. Except that getting all weepy at work isn't among my favorite things to do.

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    3. :) Well, at least you were reading my site while you were supposed to be working. My work here is done.

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  62. OK been off for a while. July is very busy for me and I don't really see my computer. Love your attitude towards staying together. Lots of kids ask how hubby and I stay together when so many marriages fail and I tell them I married my best friend. We've been married 23 years as of the 8th of July and together for 25. Our friendship has gotten us through more than our passion ever could have. Nothing better than sitting and talking over the day and laughing together so hard your eyes are leaking. We've had family members say we have too much fun together, we say there is no such thing as too much.

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    1. Congratulations!

      But there IS stuff to get through. I think if people say there isn't, they have some kind of weird magical relationship of the sort that usually sickens everyone else around them.

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    2. Oh yeah lots of stuff. We've been through three plant closings, four heart attacks, major stomach surgery and raised two young men through it all.

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