Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Reds Dish with Advice on Marriage


 LUCY BURDETTE: Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of John and me getting married. Thirty years! How did that happen? Last year at this time, John was in the hospital with medical problems, so I feel even more grateful this year. I hoped the Reds might help us celebrate with pictures of their wedding day, and best advice for folks just starting out. (Or really, people in the middle might use this too!)

A wise therapist once told me that there’s not really any such thing as one marriage. You and your spouse embark on what becomes a series of marriages, depending on how each of you might be changing internally, plus changes outside with family challenges, health issues, aging, money, etc. To make it through all this, keep talking, stay kind and calm, and focus on the positive reasons you married this person in the first place.  How about you Reds, advice for newlyweds?



HALLIE EPHRON: I hate to say it, but the most important thing is to get lucky and marry the right person. Not as easy as it sounds. I could have walked off with quite a few Mr. Wrongs.



Jerry was Right and his timing was impeccable. It helps if he’s easy to look at and laughs at your jokes. 



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I knew Jonathan was the one the moment I saw him. There’s no way else to describe this, and he felt the same way. We were “older,” me 46 and him 56, and I think that meant that we’d both been through a lot of experiences before, and realized not only what mattered, but what didn’t. 

Little stuff does not matter. If we’re feeling cranky, we just say–”I’m feeling cranky, it’s not you”. Individual items do not escalate into “you ALWAYS.”  We are both polite to each other–if someone does something small, like empty the dishwasher, the other always notices it, and remarks on it. We respect each other and we listen to each other. We take turns. I think he is fascinating and brilliant, and yes, he thinks I am funny, which is so important, because I think I’m hilarious but that’s not universally felt.

 We compliment each other every day. We are not one bit competitive with each other (except at Scrabble, another blog), and are truly supportive. We are patient with each other (although it doesn't feel like “patience,”) team players and good friends. We both think we are very lucky. And laughter, right?



JENN McKINLAY: Laughter. I often tell the Hooligans that the only reason that their dad and I are still married is because he makes me laugh. That’s a big part of it, I believe, but even more importantly, when adversity strikes, you have to jump in the fox hole together. Our marriage was a bit unbalanced as Hub suffered some big setbacks in the beginning, and I was always right there at his side. I thought I didn’t need him as much as he needed me. Then a crushing blow hit me, and lo and behold, I discovered my marriage had layers that I’d never even suspected. Hub kept me tethered with infinite kindness and patience, being there for me just like I’d been there for him. My advice? Keep your sense of humor and have each other’s back and you’ll be just fine. 



RHYS BOWEN: We were off to a rocky start as John was raised old school upper-class British–meaning you don’t show your emotions and the husband expects the wife to do the child rearing. He came from such a reserved background, boarding school at age 10, a father who only shook his hand, so I can understand how he turned out the way he did. Now he realizes how much he missed out on, not really knowing his kids. He has had so much more enjoyment from knowing his grandkids.


What has kept us together is sharing basic values on money, religion, ethics. Also we enjoy the same things–we love to travel, we love to get together with family and friends, and to laugh at British comedies. And as the years have progressed he has been so supportive of my career, my biggest champion. In fact the moment he retired he became a different person–much warmer, friendlier and encouraging. So perhaps the stress of work was an overriding factor.


Now he can tell the kids he loves them when they call him. He can be appreciative, in fact he tells me almost every day how lucky he is to have married me. So all’s well that ends well, I guess!



JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I would agree with everything said so far, and add 'practice kindness.' No matter how much you love someone, there will be days, weeks and sometimes even months where you would just as soon turn the garden hose on your spouse as talk to them. One of the most important things I learned in marriage counseling was to act loving, even when I wasn't feeling it. This does two things: it keeps your determination to make your spouse's life better alive. And, in the principle of fake it until you make it, you find that acting with love helps restore those feelings of love.


The second most important thing I learned was, if things aren't going well, get help! People often comment on what a great marriage Ross and I had. Well, that was because we worked hard at it, including going into couples therapy when necessary. If you have doubts about how well it works, take us as proof: we raised three fantastic children together and made it to our 30th anniversary.



DEBORAH CROMBIE: Wow, I think we should go into marriage advice business! We are just a couple of years behind you, Lucy, as we just celebrated our 28th. Rick made me this graphic.


So obviously I agree that a sense of humor is super important, although it's not something that usually tops people's lists when they are looking for "romance."



But just when I am so annoyed at Rick I can hardly stand it, he'll make me laugh, and then whatever I was aggravated over doesn't seem nearly as important. And simple kindness and shared values can't be stressed enough.


How about you Reds? What's been important in your relationships? Or heck, things that haven't worked? Any advice for newlyweds or those out looking?

_._,_._,_

88 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary, Lucy!

    Such wonderful advice here from all the Reds . . . John and I are very lucky. We’ve always supported each other in whatever in is that’s important to each of us; we know we’ll always be there for each other. I think it’s important that you don’t let hurts or frustrations or sadness [or whatever] cause you to withdraw; talk to each other about what bothers you and find a solution that works. And never forget to say, “I love you” . . . .

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  2. You all have such good advice, advice I would give, too. Philip and I have been married 45 years, 46 in October. I read that and think, you have got to be kidding. That's a damn long time. And, it's definitely been up and down and taken work to get to this point. But, we are at that lovely point that we have shared most of our lives together, all but 22 years, and we have the same points of reference and memories. That's nice. The kids are in their 30s and we have a granddaughter, so that makes life so good. I do think that sense of humor and being polite, like telling your spouse thank you for doing things, are important. I think you also have to be the one to do something extra and not keep score. Maybe my husband doesn't especially deserve a nice gesture on a given day, but taking him a piece of cake and cup of coffee when he's not expecting it makes both of us feel good. Being grumpy is fine, as long as you admit that you're grumpy and to just overlook it, please. And, my husband and I have never had anything we couldn't talk about, good or bad. We are both rather stubborn on our views, but we admit that, too, and find a way through it. Marriage is not for the faint of heart, but most things worthwhile aren't.

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    1. 45 Years is amazing! I especially love the idea of doing something nice even if *he doesn't deserve it* at that moment!

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  3. Happy 30th anniversary to you and John, Roberta!
    And to the REDS and readers: Blessings that you have had long relationships! Great advice: laughter, kindness and learning to deal with the ups & downs together is key.

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  4. Lovely stories, Reds, and much happiness to all of you. Sweet pictures of your younger selves!

    After I extricated myself from an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage, I was so lucky to find Hugh. We were both in our fifties and, as Hank said, we'd already learned a lot from all the years behind us. There is so much that simply doesn't matter, and kindness goes a long way in dealing with the things that do. After eighteen years ours is still a relationship in progress, and I'm sure it always will be. He makes me laugh and is never mean. I'm a lucky woman.

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    1. “He makes me laugh and is never mean.” Thank you for warming my heart this morning, Edith. Elisabeth

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    2. There is a lot that doesn't matter--it takes a while to realize that!

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  5. Happy 30th Anniversary Roberta and John! These are all great advice. I've always heard communications is the cornerstone of a good marriage.

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    1. thanks Dru, and so true for all relationships, not only marriage.

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  6. Congratulations to all of you. I teared up a bit, reading your loving wise words. Happy Day to Roberta and John btw. Did you all get together because so many of your SO's were named John ?

    I knew Ed was the one from our first date, and loved him until the day he died. We were married for 16 years, and remained good friends until his death. I think counseling for the divorce was as important as the premarital counseling before we got married. Respect and laughter were the key. It was bittersweet in the end, but I am so glad he was part of my life.

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    1. sorry for your loss--you have such an interesting viewpoint about divorce. Not everyone could gracefully manage that!

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    2. That anonymous was me. Most of you know why it was truly a 'no one's fault' divorce.

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  7. Happy Anniversary, Lucy and John!

    Jonathan and I are going on 25 years. Someone told us that the secret to a lasting marriage was kindness and generosity. My response: "Then we have a chance because Jonathan is kind and I am generous." We are a pair, not "one."

    We met at the bridge table, set up by bridge friends. Our courtship and most of our married life has included tournament duplicate bridge --as partners! This is not common and I am proud of it. The bridge table is a micrcosm for life and certainly of ours together. Playing bridge well requires respect, forgiveness, the capacity to learn, agree, disagree and enjoy. It was possible because we never tried to be "one" but more working pair with varying talents. Jonathan is a mathematician who loves the card play. I am a philosopher who loves the language of bidding. And we are both teachers. When we began to be students of one another we got much better. So the lessons from the bridge table would be to focus on the problem. Don't sweat the small stuff. Listen. Respect

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    1. What a wonderful story! Taking lessons from bridge to life is so smart.

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  8. Happy Anniversary Roberta and John!

    Thank you Reds for sharing your stories and your advice. We were in our 30's when we met and Irwin was divorced with a 3-1/2 year old daughter. I had not married any of my mistakes, but I had learned from them. I knew he was the right one for me almost immediately. I knew what kind of marriage I wanted and when Irwin finally decided to try again, I knew that it was on me to make it work.

    Everyone sees things differently. We all have different backgrounds and experiences that make us who we are and understanding that goes a long way towards making peace with those differences. Humor helps. Cooling off before discussing a serious matter is a good strategy. Being a support for one another during tough times is essential. We are married 41 years now. We vowed to "grow short" together and that is happening, too.

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    1. That "growing short" thing is happening here, too, Judy!

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    2. Thanks for sharing your good advice Judy, and so smart of you not to marry your mistakes:)

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  9. Happy anniversary, Roberta and John! 30 years, a lifetime and an instant.

    Gary and I are completely opposite personalities. There are times I look at him and think, hum, we have so much land, I could find someplace to hide the body. Then we laugh, and are grateful for our relationship. Respect, love, kindness, consideration, and a healthy curiosity about the other's point of view are key for us. And of course, never stop learning!

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    1. We KNOW you're a mystery writer Kait LOL!

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    2. Kait, laughing so hard here. Nice to have lots of land and options! There sure are days when it is harder to "feel the love."

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  10. Happy anniversary!

    During the pandemic, we experienced more togetherness than we had since our first cramped two room apartment with bikes parked on the balcony (no car). Last Thanksgiving, we spent a week in DC visiting our daughters and separating to do our own thing during the day. Heaven! I photographed every garden in the Mall/Capitol Hill area and spent two hours in a bookstore, all by myself. Togetherness is great, and so is alone time.

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    1. this is so true Margaret! I suspect most of us saw more of our SO than we had in a long time...

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  11. Considering the only three real attempts I made at even being in a relationship of any seriousness are collectively known as "The Disaster", "The Aftershock" and "The Regret", I think everyone here will understand that I have zero to offer by way of advice on marriage or even a relationship.

    Let's face it, some of us (ME!) are just not cut out for anything other than being alone when it comes to (as Frank Sinatra sang), "love and marriage". And while that may not be okay with some, I'm fine with it. Better alone than a living, breathing version of "Married with Children".

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    1. I'm glad you know yourself and are ok with it Jay!

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    2. Or as I like to say, better to be alone than to wish that you were!

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  12. After more than 40 years of marriage, with a on-again/off-again 3 1/2 year relationship before that, there are still struggles. I was with two friends last night, both with marriages the same vintage as ours, and all three of us have gone through some stuff with our spouses. Any advice I would give newlyweds is that pairing up with someone for life ain't all skittles and beer, and that quote about many marriages in one is dead-on accurate. And I would also use an old saw that fits here: it takes two to tango. BOTH parties have to work at a marriage, not necessarily equally, but it's more successful if they both give 70%. And being "right" is not important, or at least not as important as it may seem at the time.

    Loving the wedding pictures! And it is funny that so many Johns and Jonathans are the male halves of your partnerships. Happy 30th, Roberta and John! Blessings, and good wishes for many more happy years together.

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    1. thanks Karen, and thanks for your additional words of wisdom. We didn't screen writers by their hubs' names:)

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    2. Good advice, Karen. You cannot possibly know the future when you begin life together. Some people have more external pressures on their marriages than they can handle. But, giving 70% is a good measure and a strong desire to succeed is absolutely necessary.

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  13. After reading all of this advice above, I now see where i went wrong the first time. So my advice would be, first of all, follow your gut. If it is important to laugh and he doesn't make you laugh, call it off. Even if it is at the last minute, because in the long run it will save a lot of people a lot of misery.

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  14. Ray and I just celebrated 39 years together. Most of those years have been great, but we did go through some dark days after he lost his job of 32 years. A job that, thanks to computers, is now obsolete, forcing him to reinvent himself...not his strong suit. He hated the job he got and brought his foul moods home with him. But a few years later, he found a new job he really liked. It took a few years more to get beyond the emotional PTSD for both of us. Now we're back to laughing together and loving together. And we LIKE each other. I'm so grateful neither of us gave up.

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    1. Congratulations Annette for making it through tough times

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    2. Liking each other is maybe even more important than loving each other.

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    3. External pressures can be very challenging. So many people have faced much worse than we ever have. Your story reminds me of some times for us. I am so glad we made it through. Liking one another is key!

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  15. Happy anniversaries to all! I would add to the above good wisdom that generosity is important -- generosity of spirit and with all things personal and material. A relationship (of any kind, really) is a give and take across a chasm of possible misunderstandings; it's largely generosity towards the other that gets us through.

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  16. Jungle Reds: Congratulations to all of you! So happy that you all found the right person!

    Love the photos of your wedding days!

    Diana

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  17. Happy anniversary! We are a few weeks shy of celebrating our 39th anniversary of marriage and 40 years together. Up, down, and sideways, but we are still together enjoying the journey.

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  18. Congratulations Lucy Roberta and John. Here’s to thirty more!

    We will celebrate 26 years this month, and I think the most important things are being able to say:
    Thank you
    Forgive me
    I was wrong
    You are right
    What are you reading?

    And share the love of dogs and cats and other people’s babies.

    And empty the dishwasher

    Ann

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    1. Dishwasher for the win!!! LOL.

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    2. thanks Ann, I love the dishwasher too. Emptying the kitty litter would be even better:)

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  19. Happy anniversary, Roberta and John. And thanks to all of you for sharing such good advice. Husband and I are coming up on our 49th, which seems impossible. (How did we get to get to be so old?) Naturally we've had some ups and downs but here we are. Laughter and commitment, I think, is what made it possible. The best advice I ever had on this came from my dad and I used it in my wedding toast for daughters. He and my mother had a remarkably solid, loving marriage that lasted until their last days. They were just kids when they married but they had good instincts. "People say marriage is a 50-50 proposition but it isn't.It works out just right when both people are giving 60%."

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    1. 49 years is wonderful Triss. I find the 60% number so interesting. I guess the point is don't expect to give only halfway...

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    2. Exactly! If both are giving that EXTRA bit of whatever,generosly - love, effort, support, caring- there will be just the right amount.

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  20. I didn’t think marriage was in the cards for me after living through my mother’s two disastrous ones and witnessing my aunts and uncles (her siblings) go through similar ugly divorces. I’d been proposed to twice before and ran away from those relationships as fast as I could, thinking I was cursed by my family and was doomed to failure… Then Matt came along when I wasn’t looking. We got married on my 39th birthday, and Russell was born later that year. And now I can’t imagine life without them. Fifteen years together, twelve married, lots of ups and downs, but the foundation is solid. We are best friends and always come first for each other. I’ve been battling rare cancer all year and Matt’s been right there, helping me every day. I feel lucky he showed up when he did in my life, when I was finally convinced marriage might not turn out to be a complete disaster.

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    1. What a lovely comment, Shawn. Sending healing vibes for better health soon.

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    2. What a lovely story, Shawn - Having been down that road I'm vigorously wishing you the very best.

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    3. A wonderful story Shawn and we are all rooting for you returning to 100% healthy!

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  21. Congats, Roberta! My John and I met in high school and got married after graduation from college.
    We’ll celebrate 47 years in August. I think our secret has been trusting each other explicitly. Fortunately, I’ve never doubted the fidelity we have and that’s a wonderful thing

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    1. A story like yours amazes me because I had absolutely no idea how to be in a relationship when that young. Congrats to you!

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  22. All great advice and at some point in our marriage we've experienced all of it. The one thing that has helped enormously in keeping our relationship happy. ...separate bathrooms!

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    1. That's a really smart addition Jerry, thanks!

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    2. Jerry, that's my husband's recipe for happiness, too! Separate bathrooms. My best advice about marriage after 47 years is "just let it go".

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  23. Got a little teary reading this post. Lovely. 🥰

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  24. 53 years and counting. No advice. Just love and caring. Saying thank you and please.

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  25. Felicitations <3 Once upon a time, my high school students were discussing whether it was even worth getting married since it seemed to them that no one stayed together. I told them of several long-lasting marriages of storytelling friends and promised to ask their secrets at our event that weekend. Their advice was have some shared interests and some non-shared, and respect each other's non-shared interests. If I could time travel, I'd give them this blog as well. <3

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  26. Oh the photos! Made my morning, for sure! Thanks for sharing, and congratulations to you all! I think I fall in Hallie's camp--luck plays a part in meeting someone special. Timing is everything and so is trusting your instinct.

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  27. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 29, 2022 at 11:38 AM

    Empty the dishwasher ! Yes! It makes me so happy! and it is definitely the little/not little things like that that matter!

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  28. Blogger gave up on my identity and I didn't realize it until I'd posted a few responses as anonymous. But Blogger and I are reconciled now, although I personally think Blogger is a BRAT.

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  29. Happy Anniversary, Roberta (Lucy) and John. Hub and I are watching the Hooligans navigate their first serious relationships and we've noticed that finding a person who "gets" you and all your oddities makes such a difference in how long a relationship lasts :)

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    1. Yes who gets you, but also who likes and enjoys your quirks most of the time!

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  30. Jenn, it is so interesting to watch them, isn't it? Small towns around here, and many young women still taught that finding that fiance' and having a dream wedding is the most important thing you can achieve after high school/college. But finding someone who takes the time to 'get' who you are--yes, that's showing maturity and knowing yourself first.

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  31. Never stop laughing together. At each other, at the world. Humor is a great balm for all the aches. Thanks for the great advice and inspiration. Love you all. And has Hank would say, xoxo.

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  32. Congratulations, Roberta (and John!)! Such great advice here. I'll add support and adaptability, and finding at least one thing you both enjoy doing together.

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  33. Frank and I are coming up on 50 years this August. There have been times when I could have cheerfully beaten him to death with a fly swatter. Staying married means you have to be able to adapt. Marriage is not a 50-50 relationship. At times it's 90-10 and you just have to be patient until the odds change. Frank has done some pretty dumb things over the years (he is a man; they can't help it) but he's faithful, dependable, caring, and one to have around in a crisis. Every time he takes off to his acreage in East Texas I tell him not to do anything stupid. Last time he was there he tangled with ground hornets but that was on them, not him. Most importantly we have both evolved over our years of marriage, adjusted to the changes of life, and still can make each other laugh.

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  34. Reading all of these comments makes me smile. Something I'd add: Pick your battles. There will be differences most of them time, there's no point battling over them. If you kvetch all the time your partner won't know when you really really mean it, and you need to make sure that they do.

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  35. Happy anniversary, Roberta and John!! Loving everyone's comments today!

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  36. Happy Anniversary, Lucy and John - and all the Reds celebrating!

    It will be 44 years for us in September, 48 since he started saving a seat for me on the bus to high school.

    Our biggest lesson? Communicate! And only one of us is allowed to be crazy at a time. We've had our rough patches - some days we *really* don't like each other much - but we choose to keep loving each other and to make it work. And somehow it does!

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  37. congratulations Cyndi--that's so sweet about the bus!

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  38. Happy Anniversary! I've seen so many gems above, many things I would've added. Our 43rd is in about six months. We started as co-workers who'd become friends. Our first actual date was to the then new Kentucky Horse Park. We went for a picnic but forgot to take food.

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  39. Congrats to all of you!! Love rules!

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  40. Happy anniversary, Roberta! I love all the photos and agree with everything you all said from finding the right man to growing together.

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  41. Beautiful post from all of you. Thanks

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  42. Congratulations to all! Jeff asked me to marry him in college, and I said, "Ask me later, we're too young." Twenty years later he did and we're going on 34 years. Amazing how kindness and a hug can cure a snark. I've been blessed and sounds like many of you have as well. Like writing with edits and do-overs and all but kill your darling!

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