The Secret


The Secret

To a Long & Happy Marriage






My husband and I created a simple, romantic anniversary celebration at home. Thoughtfulness is everything.


He gave me red roses. We exchange cards with love notes. We took our border collie on a hike. It feels so good to walk the mountains while enjoying picturesque scenery. My thoughtful husband suggested we lunch by the river. The river runs parallel to our cabin and is visible from the upper deck. It is a simple walk from the garden. Listening to this quiet nature sound is a little pleasure. Sweet scented clover and mint grow by the bank. Our dogs are near us, enjoying the sunshine. My husband brings down an easy set up portable table he’s put together. We use the comfortable bench by the water’s edge. This is so lovely. No sidewalk Paris café was enjoyed more.


Indeed we had a most romantic trip to Paris in celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary. I didn’t think we’d make our 12 month in the planning anniversary trip. My husband’s 96 year-old father had a stroke about 6 weeks before we were to fly out. I thought, really God, he’s lived 96 years and this is your timing.


Except for actually marrying me against his parent’s wishes, my husband has seemed to always put his folks first. He and I taught an engagement class where the teaching goes to put one’s spouse before one’s parents. To no avail I pointed the irony out to my husband. It has always been an ache for me that in our marriage what his parents wanted, was what mattered. Regularly his mother was very unkind to me but my husband wouldn’t stand up for me against his mother. I felt like he was constantly apologizing to them for marrying me. It took my therapist to point out to me, “But he DID marry you Julie.”


And knowing the guilt my sensitive husband was raised with, for him to go against their wishes was indeed astonishingly amazing. Perhaps, if I had the occasions of her unkindness to live through again I’d let her know that she was being inappropriate. But hindsight is unavailable in the moment and sparring isn’t in my temperament. What I know for certain is that neither my husband nor I appreciated our parents using guilt as a parenting tool and we did NOT raise our offspring with guilt.


Being judged is wrong and hurtful. It is sad that individuals are not allowed their own feelings. People on the outside assume they know what’s going on. I was somewhat doubtful we would actually go to Paris. I didn’t feel guilty. My father-in-law was 96. He had lived his life and we were excellent children to him.  I shared with my husband how a mutual friend had the same experience with her dying father and a planned cruise with her husband, except her father was actually able to tell her to go. My husband nodded.  Our adult son and daughter were with their grandpa and he was surrounded by Hospices care. No good would come of us canceling our trip and yet I begin to feel I was coming down with the flu. My understanding, retired nurse girlfriend said, “Julie, once that plane to Paris takes off your flu-like symptoms will disappear.” And that is indeed what happened.


Upon arriving in Paris, seated at a café holding my husband’s hand, the best picture ever is taken of me. Natural hair, no make-up, I am glowing. We eat and drink and laugh and breath. We are on our way to find the tower. We are alive.


Off and on throughout our trip my husband shows me text messages of how nothing’s changed with his father’s condition. Somehow my love’s spirit isn’t broken with the too often reminders of what is happening across the pond.  I shared with a couple of our traveling companions what was going on and other people’s attitudes towards us.  Without fail they said, “But surely your husband’s dad wouldn’t want you to cancel your trip!” I don’t know about that and back in the states, we were judged for not canceling our 40th wedding anniversary celebratory trip to Paris. My husband didn’t want to or we would have. I can appreciate that he didn’t want to see his dad’s death. It is no one else’s business; yet again judgment ran rampant concerning us. My father-in-law communicated to us frequently how he was very much aware he was that it was his son and me who visited most regularly. Our son and daughter were with grandpa in the hospices section of the retirement home. There was nothing to do but wait. Of course we changed our plans not to return home from Paris but to fly into the airport near my 96-year-old, dying father-in-law. I’m remembering how several times my husband’s dad tried to make travel plans to Hawaii with his wife. Sadly he had waited too late as her irrational fear of the unknown kept them from traveling.


Unsure what COVID will be like in 12-14 months,  we talk of the hopeful, possibility of safely flying to Europe next year in celebration of our 45th wedding anniversary.  This 44th year we happily take in the cool air and warm sunshine, all our senses fully engaged as we enjoy lunch by the river, at home, together.


For us, going out to eat has mostly been reserved for special occasions. Since COVID we don’t go out. We have somewhat recently discovered Hello Fresh which is the best of both worlds. The ingredients and recipes for meals we wouldn’t cook ourselves are delivered to our door. This way we get to eat something different, yet at home. My husband thanked me for getting us a special anniversary dinner, which he prepared.




While we haven’t eaten red meat regularly in decades, these spicy meatballs caught my attention for something different for us to enjoy for our anniversary dinner.




A perfect addition to our garden is the fire pit, built by my husband. This was my birthday request last year. Fires are mesmerizing and romantic. We had fun during our son’s visit last month using it to make s’mores with our grandchildren. My husband suggested we light it and enjoy the twilight of the evening in our garden. Even the moon cooperated in creating a romantic ambience for our anniversary celebration enjoyed at home.




The two of us are alike at the core which keeps us cemented together but we are very different human beings, which leads to miscommunication.  Of course we disagree which sometimes leads to a fight. We see almost everything in opposite ways often making communicating very hard; but we keep trying. We are together because we want to be.


The magic formula is: a marriage can only be as good as the 2 people involved are willing to make it.


Comments? Experiences to share?


“May you live all the days of your life.”  J. Swift

Living in the Mountains

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6 thoughts on “The Secret”

  1. Wow, Julie, I never knew! My mother in law also advised Larry not to marry me because of my type 1 diabetes. She told him I would not live long and could never have a child. As you know, I proved her wrong on both things. We just celebrated our 50th anniversary!

  2. What a beautiful story. Happy you went to Paris to celebrate your 40th anniversary. Love your magic formula–it is so true.

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