“An Impossible Kind of Love,” May 23, 2017

On the eve of our 12th anniversary, my husband and I attended a wedding for a couple who, like us, were people of a certain age getting a second chance at “happily ever after.”

Their ceremony included a reading of I Corinthians 13, “The Love Chapter,” a Bible passage my husband and I also chose for our wedding 12 years ago:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things….So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Those words speak clearly of an impossible kind of love made possible by the grace of God.

I was married for 30 years before losing my first husband to cancer. When I remarried 12 years ago, I thought I knew a lot about marriage. But every marriage is like those who enter it: Unique. One of a kind.

On the whole, a marriage is what we make of it, the sum of the love we give to it, day by day, year by year, over time.

But how do we do that? What does that kind of love look like?

Years ago, I asked readers to send me marriage tips. And boy, did they. I put all of their tips I could fit, with some of my own, in a column. Readers often request copies of it to give to newlyweds. Advice is fun to give and it’s cheaper than a toaster.

To celebrate our anniversary, I asked my husband to help me pick the best of those tips (plus some of our own) for: “How to Be and Stay Happily Married”:

1_ Put each other first. You’re the best thing that’s happened to each other. Act like it.

2_ Keep no secrets. Let nothing and no one come between you.

3 _ Pick your fights with care. Harsh words can be forgiven, but they’re hard to forget. Never raise your voice, unless you are lost or on fire.

4_ Fall in love every day. Kiss in elevators. Hold hands in movies. Flirt with each other at parties. Dance more than you sit. Smile at each other across the room.

5_ Never miss a chance to make a beautiful memory. Memories may not seem important now, but one day they’ll be gold.

6_ Count your blessings. Pray every day for each other’s best.

7_ Treat each other’s families like your own, only better. On your beloved’s birthday, tell your mother-in-law, “Thanks for giving me the love of my life.”

8_ Talk about important things, and not just about yourself. Ask questions. Pay close attention to what is said and not said.

9_ If you’re wrong, apologize; if you’re right, shut up. Being right can be a very lonely place.

10_ Never go to sleep mad. Talk until you get over it, or until you forget why you got mad.

11_ Laugh a lot together. If you can laugh at yourself, it’s easy.

12_ Never criticize, interrupt or correct each other in public. Try not to do it in private, either.

13_ Remember, we need love most when we’re least lovable.

14_ Never expect perfection or total control. Both are illusions.

15 _ When you don’t like each other, remember that you love each other, and act accordingly.

16_ Tell the truth, but always and only with great kindness.

17_ Kiss at least 10 seconds a day, all at once or spread out.

18 _ Be content with what you have materially, honest about where you are emotionally and always keep growing spiritually.

19_ Share chores. Forget 50/50. Do all you can and then some, but don’t keep track of who does what. If you keep score, you’ll lose far more than you gain.

20_ Be both friends and lovers; in a blackout, share a flashlight, then make your own sparks.

Finally, stay interested. It will make you more interesting. Lead your own life, but save your best for each other. In the end, you will know you were better together than you ever could have been apart.

Here’s to “happily ever after.”


  1. Cynthia Middleton says

    Sharon – I enjoy reading all of your columns in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette printed in Little Rock, AR. This column, in particular, is one I am printing and sending to some dear friends who celebrate their 50th anniversary on June 4, 2017. I was in their wedding and have stayed good friends with them all these years. Most married partners, or partners of any type, tend to take each other for granted after a number of years together. It never hurts to go over the points listed in your column. Who knows? Discussing your tips, I think, will cause my friends to rethink their 50 years together and see how wonderful things have been most of the past 50 years. Again, thanks for wonderful reading each Wednesday in my statewide newspaper!

  2. Stephanie A Herbert says

    <3 <3 <3 Great column.

  3. Kate Sciacca says

    Spot on as usual. We also let the kids see when we did not agree (not about them, with them we ALWAYS HAD a united front) – and they all recall (now with laughter) what is lovingly referred to as the “great Christmas fight of ’04. A word to the wise, do not begin a major home remodeling project the day after Thanksgiving and expect a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Ain’t gonna happen.

  4. Thank you for yet another awesome column. My feelings exactly.

  5. I read you advice on a happy marriage,
    very good, we will be married 58 years the 29th of this month. We’ve had a good life. we have had ups and downs and I wouldn’t change anything, but I’m never to old to learn. Thank you I’ve been reading your articles for very long time, Thank you for writing them. Have a long and happy life God Bless you both. Love

  6. Wish you were there when we were newly married. We were not perfect many days. We fell in love and broke into pieces many times. But we stayed together for 40 years like glue. For our own sake and kids our marriage blossomed and we cannot live one day without each other. Your words are so inspiring and I would follow them till my last breath.
    Love you Sharon. God bless you both for many more years of lovely married life!!

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