Soon after reconnecting with a friend from decades past, I could tell that he and his wife have one such relationship. Here is his story...
Secrets to a Successful Marriage
by Jeff Hickey
I will be the first to admit I am lucky. I have told people I am thankful each and every day that I had the great fortune to meet Karen and the good sense to fall in love with her. Ours was and is that rare, and some would say mythical moment, of love at first sight. After 27 years, I call it something else . . . serendipity. It was meant to be.
But to keep that spark, to nurture it, to make it grow, it takes more than the passion of the beginning, or even the later understanding that it is real. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know what has worked for us.
First and foremost, there is trust. You have to let your partner be himself or herself. They have to be free to find their own path; secure in the knowledge that path will always lead back to you. They have to be free to have their own friends, lead their own lives, and pursue the dreams that matter most to them. For some, this is difficult. Too many marriages are controlling, even if that control is seemingly well intentioned. I’ve known people who love their spouse, without a doubt, but their marriage fails because they discourage or put restrictions on individual growth. All of us, as individuals, must be allowed to grow without guilt or having to carry the insecurity of our partner. The old saying is appropriate . . . If you love them, let them go. Believe me, if your partner knows without a doubt that you love and trust them, the time you spend with your partner will be happier and the rewards might even surprise you.
And that brings a key word into play. Surprise. You must continue to play and surprise each other. This can be something simple, or it can be elaborate. But the best surprises often are both. Let me tell you about my favorite surprise. A few years ago, about a month before our anniversary, which happened to fall on a Saturday that year, Karen told me she had a surprise for me. She said that on the given night, I was to make sure our children spent the night elsewhere. Of course, that was enough for me, but Karen had more in mind. So that warm summer evening, with the children gone, and me certain that I was ready for anything, Karen began to unveil her plan. First, she set up a standard sized throw rug on our back deck. She set candles all around it. She sat me down in a deck chair and told me not to move or look around until she said so. She set up the video camera. Kinky, I thought. This was going to be fun. She made me wait until it was dusk, with deep blue twilight sky, and the scent of a nearby jasmine plant filling the air. She lit the candles, and went inside, reminding me not to turn around. In a few minutes, I heard the camera start and then I heard music. It sounded like . . . belly dance music. Within seconds, out she came, in full costume, and performed a completely choreographed belly dance for me. She finished the dance, ran inside, changed costumes, put on different music, and performed another, completely different belly dance.
I was more than shocked. I wasn’t even turned on . . . yet. I didn’t know who she was. She’d never belly danced. She didn’t even like to dance. She’d always been kind of klutzy. And where had she developed abs of steel? I knew every inch of her and the only six-pack I knew was in the refrigerator. Who was this woman?
Turns out, she’d been taking belly dance classes after her work for six weeks with this in mind. Karen would tell you it was the most flabbergasted I’ve ever been and she is correct. I needed time to regroup and decompress. I could hardly speak. Karen couldn’t even tell if I enjoyed the dances. I got up, went into the bathroom and closed the door. I needed a few minutes with things familiar to me. Of course, I recovered pretty quickly when I realized I was going to spend the night with the belly dancer.
Someday, perhaps, I will tell you how I’ve surprised her from time to time, but it always comes back to trust. I trusted Karen was coming home late those nights for a reason. I let her grow on her own. She surprised me. And our love grew. It continues to grow.
(Jeffrey Hickey is an author, which is probably how he was able to write this great piece in about 15 minutes! Thanks so much, Jeff - and Karen, too. I would love to share the stories of other fabulous couples. I hope all of you will spread the word. I welcome your comments and emails!)