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Shiny, happy people

Michael Boylan's picture

Do you know what the gift for a 10th wedding anniversary is? Tin.

Or aluminum.

Industry and their lobbyists, am I right?

After many hours, secretly working in our new and improved basement workshop and craft area (thank you, in-laws), trying to craft an amazing 10th wedding anniversary gift with tin, aluminum foil and other shiny and cheap materials, I’ve got nothing. I realize that I’ve got eight more days until the actual anniversary, but you could give me 80, 800 or 8,000 and it will always look like a dull and crinkled mess. Or an ash tray and Sabine, my wife, does not smoke.

Instead of asking her to pick up a filthy and dangerous habit, I think I’ll just do what I do and write a column.

If you asked me 10 years ago where I thought Sabine and I would be as a couple, this is probably where I would have guessed. We’re firmly established in our careers (or as firmly established as one can be in the newspaper industry), we have a couple of kids and a house. We’re healthy and happy. We are “living the dream.”

Last week I interviewed a couple that has been married for 70 years. To make it that long, they have been fortunate to stay strong and healthy but it was also clear that they still lean on each other and are still as good of friends as they were when they first met. They credit their faith and “never going to bed angry” as some of the things that have helped them reach such a momentous milestone.

I started to rack my brain soon after the interview for the things that have helped Sabine and I make it 10 years. Yes, it is only 1/7th of what The Williams’ (see the story in the July 13th issue) have done, but I don’t think it is anything to sneeze at.

Anyway, if you’re a newlywed, thinking about getting married or are just curious and came across this spot looking for Sallie Satterthwaite’s column and found me here instead this week, read on for the things that I think lead to a successful marriage.

1. Start as friends - Long before there was any romance between us, Sabine and I were just classmates. We tried to start a school paper at our middle school. It didn’t happen. We “dated” for a week or two, breaking up at a school dance (our first date) and then just had classes together through middle school and high school. There was a kiss at a post-prom party in 1991, but that’s another story.

2. Share interests - Remember that thing about the school newspaper - you should, it was only a paragraph ago - well that was one shared interest and eventually we both wrote for the high school paper. Sabine was more into it than I was (Isn’t it funny how things turn out? I work at a newspaper now and she works for a bank), but it was just one of the clubs that we were in together. We were both active in theater in high school and soon after we got married, we got involved with community theater in the area. It was one of the best things we did. We built friendships with other people and stayed busy, but we also were able to see each other in different lights and appreciate the efforts that we put into different productions.

3. Have your own interests - Sabine loves to dance. I don’t. I took ballroom classes with her way, way back and was a (mostly) good sport, but it was too slow for her. She danced competitively in and after college and I was so clumsy and slow that she wanted to lead and spin and go faster. It’s not for me. She has open license to go and dance whenever and wherever and really with whomever she wants. We joke that we are looking for a nice gay man, who is searching for a female dance partner to go salsa or ballroom dancing every now and then. It’s a joke, but not really. She would go and I would be ecstatic. Dance is my kryptonite and watching sports is Sabine’s. At home, she can just pick up a book if I have a game on or go to the other television, but at a game, forget it. She finds the games to be boring and the weather to be either too hot or too cold. I also like horror movies and bad movies and she likes chick flicks and romance novels. There are times when we leave each other alone and just do things that we want to do. Those times are nice. Not as nice as the times when we are doing things together, especially when we’ve got the kids in tow and have a full fledged family outing, but they are nice just the same.

4. Do your chores - If you think that you are going to get away without doing a lot of household chores in your marriage, think again, because unless you have a neat freak with a lot of time on their hands, you are going to have to do dishes, laundry, sweeping, dusting and more. And so what? It takes more time and energy to grumble, pout and argue about a simple chore like the dishes than it takes to just shut up and do it. And you know what, the next time you forget to do it or fall asleep on the couch before you can get around to it, chances are your partner will pick up the slack. If everybody tends to do their fair share, doing an extra round of laundry folding or picking up won’t kill you.

5. Do the little things (and the big things) too - Little things are the kinds of tips and tricks that you see in magazines all the time - i.e., leave little love notes in their car, buy flowers for no reason at all, etc. It sounds hokey, but it works. Think of it this way - if you got in your car one morning and found a chocolate chip muffin or a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card with a little note, wouldn’t that make your day? Of course. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or any, to show your loved one, you’re thinking of them, so make their day as much as possible. As for the big things, sometimes you have to make a grand gesture - like on a birthday or an anniversary, as an example - so you swing for the fences and really overdo it. You say something like this -

You and I are proof that there is something going on in the Universe - Fate, Destiny, a higher power, something, because when I look at the roads that brought us together and led us here, I am amazed and so profoundly appreciative of how lucky I am to be married to such a wonderful woman. You are a great wife and mother, but also a great friend. These 10 years have been wonderful and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 and beyond have in store. I love you.

Don’t forget that. You always have to close with those three words.

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