My Ithaca shirt comes to Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, New York
During these Times of Corona, Hannah and I make it a point to avoid crowds. Hey, we are 72 and reside in the danger zone, age-wise. Fortunately, we live in Maine, a less populated place to live through a pandemic.
So, it can be no surprise that in the early evening of July 1, 2020, we come with subs and drinks to a distant part of the beach at York Harbor to celebrate our 48th anniversary.
As we sit looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, a mother and her college age daughter pass by. Earlier when I had passed them on the beach, I had commented about their playing Bananagrams (a free flowing variation of Scrabble that I recommend), which brought a smile of recognition to their faces.
Now, 30 minutes later, the two women pass between us and the incoming tide. I say to them, Hannah is celebrating her 48th wedding anniversary. Never knowing what off-the-wall thing I might say to draw attention to myself, Hannah just smiles.
On a mountainside in Montecito, CA
Mom smiles back and says, What’s your secret? Hannah and I each have no quick answer but get out that we were just lucky.
After, I think that I want a better answer than that so I can articulate and reflect on the marriage Hannah and I have.
Meeting as first-year students at the College of Wooster, we dated off and on for five years. In February of 1972, I proposed to her once I got my first real job as a fourth grade teacher at Holdemann Elementary School in Tempe, Arizona. Married the following July as 24 year olds, we had much learn about being a couple.
So, what’s our secret?
Pickleball in South Carolina
One, we did get lucky as the stars aligned; for she as an upstate New Yorker and me as a Jersey boy happened to go to the same little liberal arts college in Nowhere, Ohio. So, good fortune certainly got the ball rolling.
Two, we learned how much we enjoy an evening glass of wine together.
Three, we learned that we love being active together. Be it hiking the canyons and mountains, walking the beach, biking country roads, or pickleballing.
Four, we don’t shop together.
Five, we are learning that we are not in competition with each other; we don’t need to be better than the other, be it in parenting, generosity, or service to others. Hannah is Hannah, I am me.
Omi and Poppa with Max (above) and Owen
Six, we are learning to assume the best about the other’s intentions, comments.
Seven, we learned to kiss each time one of us leaves the house.
Eight, I learned when someone compliments Hannah to me (say about her generosity or sweetness), I never joke or am sarcastic (by saying something like, if you only knew!) but respond with some variation of, You got it. She’s the real thing.
Nine, Hannah cooks, I do the dishes.
Ten, I’m not sure what this means, but in conversation when Hannah is not around, I never refer to Molly, Robyn, and Will as my kids. They are always our kids. I sure as hell didn’t raise them on my own.
Omi and Poppa with Brooks (center) and Reese and Charlotte
Eleven, we’ve learned to let the other one spew without offering advice. Listening is what the spewer wants more than anything.
Twelve, we agree that we found gold living two winter months in Carpinteria, California.
Thirteen, I hang the laundry while Hannah is the problem solver around the house.
Fourteen, we learned that we both have a common interest in reaching out and making connections with many of the people we meet. We are relentless. If we were to have headstones, they would say, They tried.
Fifteen, we learned not to take our good marriage for granted. We have learned to speak up when we are wondering what the other is thinking or has done.
Sixteen, we agreed that our family was a priority over our careers. We valued experiences together over things.
This is no recipe for others, just what we do. As you can see, there was a whole lot learning going on.
Maybe that is the secret.