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I remember our wedding vows like they were yesterday, not three decades ago.  “To have and to hold, to love and to cherish….”  My memory still functions, but try as I might I can’t recall anything about “24/7, for ever and always.”  But that’s us — a round-the-clock couple. When people hear this, they almost always follow up with, “How do you do it?”

The truth, my fellow BA50s, is that there’s really no magic formula, except working at it and trying to think of little things to keep the fire going.

The short, sweet summary of our relationship is this:  Bernard started his own company a year after married. He struggled. I joined him to help out. Together, we grew the business – after all, it was for both of us. Fourteen years later we sold the firm and continued our 24/7 life together on a ranch where we fix fences, clear ditches, and drive tractors. We even began doing adventure roadtrips where — you guessed it — he was the driver and I was the navigator.

Looking back, I realize my life swerved in a direction I never expected the day Bernard and I began working cheek-to-cheek. Not only was I in uncharted waters, I was in the deep end barely able to dog-paddle. Entrepreneurship isn’t for me.  But marriage is.

And there was no way I was going to let work ruin my marriage.  Call it commitment, divorce-phobia, fear of failure, lack of imagination, my mantra has been vows are vows.

Keeping things sane when you’re together day in and day out isn’t easy.  In fact, I have to confess that there have been many rough patches.  When I’m grumping along feeling especially bleak, I remind myself that there are two words in that phrase and I choose to emphasize “patch” instead of “rough.”  That reminds me our difficulties are temporary, especially since nothing can be rough if there isn’t something smooth after it.

Whether it’s a normal day or we’ve had a fight — yes, there have been plenty of those — I look for a way to make things special, no matter how small.

  • Light the candles—for breakfast. Nothing warms up a tired face more than this unexpected surprise.
  • Run a bubble bath. Bring your favorite cocktails tub-side and invite your hubby to join you.
  • Shake up your routine.  I might organize a picnic lunch in the woods, get Bernard to build a fire for the evening, dress up for dinner and eat off our fine china, anything to challenge the status quo.  Just those small shifts are enough to spice up the rest of the day.
  • Take a walk together.  Getting outside where you can breathe or just walk in comfortable quiet calms us and reminds us why we’re life companions. More often than not, by the time we turn for home, we’re walking with our arms around each other, or his warm hand in mine.
  • Take time out for leisurely dinners (when you can). My home is a sacred space for me, a lovely haven where everything I look at makes me feel good.  We’ve developed a habit where Bernard reads at the kitchen table while I prepare a meal.  There’s something so profoundly nurturing and kind in fixing food for someone you love.  To me, it’s the ultimate gesture, speaking of love and forgiveness, of giving and receiving pleasure, all in one.
  • Find time for you. Sounds cliché, I know but sometimes to appreciate our husbands more, we need to get out of the house and be with our girlfriends. There’s nothing like lunch with a friend to revive me when I think I might snap over something ridiculous at home. I also travel alone when I can. A week’s vacation going to museums, shows and concerts is pure indulgence for me and pure hell for Bernard. So I go solo, yet always come home happier than ever to see him.

From the very beginning, I felt that the first thing I wanted to see when I wake up in the morning was Bernard’s face. Still, three decades is a long time. Many things have changed, in us and between us, over the years.  Yet I can say without doubt that, when I look at Bernard, hair tousled with sleep, lips gently smiling at me in the midst of a wake-up yawn, I’m happy.

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