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Thu, Feb. 20

It's here! The Top Five List for Wedded Utopia

Today on Valentines Day, I sure can't share any marriage wisdom with you from my vast wealth of experience, because I have none. It's a pretty sure bet I won't make my 64th wedding anniversary, like some of the couples in our Valentines issue. But newspaper types are an observant lot, and I have taken careful note of some of my favorite couples down through the years, in case I should ever happily find myself with a "Mrs." in front of my name.

My friends have all kinds of ways to keep their marriages long, happy and spicy, as do the couples who brought us their photos and stories for today's issue of the PV Tribune.

One of my friends, who would surely maim me if I identified her, gave me her short and sweet version of how to keep a marriage together.

"We fight naked and never go to bed mad," she said. While that is probably in the category of "more than I need to know," she had my ear. She told me their fights never last long, because by the time they get all their clothes off, they are laughing so hard they can't be angry any more. Her other secret? Put all the money in one pot.

"If he wants something, he gets it. If I want something, I get it," she said. Sounds like there's a good bit of trust involved there. They should know, they've been married for 27 years.

Another couple I know has been married for over 30 years. They still look at each other with a twinkle in their eyes, and greet each other with pleasure when they've been apart. The wife says it's because they are careful to observe the niceties with each other. They say "please" and "thank you" and remember the little courtesies that after all, we'd do for anyone we like. When I am around them, I also notice that they speak to each other with courtesy and respect. Makes sense. After all, shouldn't we treat the person we are supposed to love above anyone else with at least as much care as we would any other human being? "You always hurt the one you love" isn't the key to the door of wedded bliss, obviously.

Most of the happily married couples I know credit God for their successful relationships. So do many of those who brought their photos in for this issue of the Tribune. Lesson: When life is more than you can handle, it helps to have a resource bigger than you, your spouse, or your doubled troubles.

Many of the couples who tell us their secrets of success today cite their ability to give each other some space. That "trust" thing keeps cropping up, doesn't it?

Right near the top of the list of the happy couples I know is a sense of humor. Don't start a relationship without it. However, the humor does get a bit crazy at times! I have one friend whose husband has a toilet paper obsession. He is not comfortable unless there is a roll on every holder and a 12-pack in the bathroom cabinet. His wife occasionally hides it all, just to keep him on his toes. She also recently told me that she never lets him completely figure her out. Just when he's getting really comfortable, she says, she does something totally out of character to throw him off. "He likes it," she says. Must work, like my other friends, they've also been married for 27 years.

My mother lost my stepdad Jim three years ago to cancer after a 20-some year marriage. I think I learned from Jim how powerful love can be. Jim was a divorcee Christmas tree farmer from Michigan who lived in Mexico during the times he wasn't cutting and selling trees. He swilled a bucketload of Corona daily and spent his time fishing. Then he met and fell in love with my mom. He quit drinking cold turkey, and never took another drink for the rest of his life. He and my mom enjoyed a happy, trust-filled marriage. She was able to return his dedication by staying strong by his side through his 8-month battle with lung cancer.

Mom is happily married again to an old friend who also lost his longtime spouse to cancer. Her advice for a happy relationship is to give each other plenty of space, which of course involves a big dose of trust, and to maintain a healthy sense of humor.

There you have it from my astute observations - the Top Five List for Wedded Utopia: Faith, humor, trust, freedom, and respect.

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