Steven and I have celebrated many wedding anniversaries. While we’re proud of that accomplishment, longevity isn’t the only important factor. What’s most meaningful is that the love, trust and commitment we have shared over the years has grown deeper and richer.
LIFE LESSON: It’s hard enough to make a relationship work when both people want the same thing, but it’s impossible when they have different agendas. Figure out who you are and what you want. If you’re looking for a man who only has eyes for you, who wants to put a ring on your finger, you won’t find him at the Playboy Mansion.
The problem occurs when a woman thinks she can change a man, and then is disappointed when he doesn’t think like her. People will show you who they are—more by their actions than their words. Leave the charmers behind and look for the real-deal, someone who is looking for a commitment, someone who deserves you.
When I met Steven it didn’t take long to see that he had a kind and tender heart, a generous spirit, a strong moral compass, and a good work ethic. Still, when we got married neither one of us knew the courage, fortitude, willpower and determination it would take for us to keep our vows to love one another for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.
We could have bailed out many times; instead we always tried to grow and become better people.
Many people have the wrong idea about what it takes to have a happy marriage. You may have married the wrong person, but if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you might end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat them wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. It is more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. Whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.”– Zig Ziglar
Steven loves me with all my faults and I love him with all of his.
I love you, for putting your hand into my heart and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite so far enough to find.”– Roy Croft
No relationship is all smooth sailing; nothing worthwhile ever is. We experienced some promising springs, satisfying summers, bountiful autumns, and bleak winters. We’ve had our share of sunny, blissful days, along with some foggy patches when we weren’t sure what lay ahead. There were times when our hearts felt a chill no matter how high the thermostat was set, and other times when our love kept us toasty warm even when a howling wind was beating at the door. We’ve faced treacherous storms and seen the most magnificent rainbows together.
I think of marriage like I think about living in my home state of Minnesota. You move into marriage in the springtime of hope, but eventually arrive at the Minnesota winter that is cold and dark. That’s when some of us are tempted to give up and move south. The problem is that our next marriage will enter its own winter at some point. So do we keep moving on or make our stand with this person, in this season? That’s the question we face when our marriage is in trouble.”– Professor William Doherty, University of Minnesota
LIFE LESSON: We can’t stay in the “honeymoon” phase forever. At some point, reality sets in, and we see each other’s faults and idiosyncrasies. But if we’re truly committed to each other, we learn to accept our differences and compromise. We learn to listen with our heart, as well as our ears. We try to speak with kindness, instead of impatience, because it’s more important to be happy than to be right.
Loving Steven, and being loved by him, is what allows me to go bravely out into the world and conquer my fears—jump out of a plane, climb to the mountain top, scuba dive in the ocean, stretch beyond what I think I am capable of doing, face new challenges, and embrace new adventures.
There is no other place where I will feel as cherished, no better shelter than in his arms, no greater safe haven than in his heart.
Steven and I had a big church wedding with a dozen violinists and an operatic soloist. The bridal party consisted of five bridesmaids, five groomsmen, a maid of honor, a best man, a flower girl, and a ring bearer.
As much as my new husband didn’t want to, he suffered through not just one, but two first dances, as we swayed to Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” and “Truly.”
It was a beautiful day, full of hope and promise, but like the alchemist who can turn lead into gold, it took going through hard times together to mold, forge, and transform our young naïve love into a mature forever love.
However, on the last day of our honeymoon, I got a glimpse of how deep Steven’s commitment to me was.
We spent nine glorious days in Mexico horseback riding, para-sailing, exploring, and shopping. Our nights were filled with romantic dinners, moonlight dips, and walks on the beach.
On our last day in Puerto Vallarta, we decided to have lunch in a lush, jungle setting at a popular, thatched-roofed, open-air restaurant called Chinos Paradise that was built into the side of a mountain.
Steven and I were still basking in the glow of newlywed bliss as we enjoyed a leisurely lunch. (When I look at this photo of my gorgeous young husband, I feel so grateful that we knew each other then.)
Just a few feet from where we were seated several local boys were jumping off a ledge into a large pool of water at the base of the waterfall about 25 feet below.
After lunch Steven and I meandered down to the large stream bed full of large boulders and cascading waterfalls where we stripped down to our bathing suits and frolicked in the warm water.
When we returned to the main area a few kids were still jumping off the cliff.
Steven, who was a surfer and scuba diver, turned and said,“I’m going to do that. Take my picture as I jump.” This wasn’t a daring feat for my athletic husband, who quickly charged up the hill, jumped, and safely returned to my side.
It was when I got the brilliant idea to do the same thing that things went terribly wrong. I don’t know if it was the margaritas, my desire to impress, or my need to conquer my fear that caused me to have a lapse of sanity.
“Now it’s my turn,” I said. And before I could change my mind, I was trudging up to the top. When I looked down at the specks of people below, a voice inside my head shouted STOP! But for some reason I ignored my intuition which was trying its best to keep me save me.
With reckless abandon, my feet left the ground. I’d like to say I jumped into the water straight and clean, but I didn’t. As I leapt off the ledge I was afraid gravity would slam me into the cliff, so I arched my body away from the wall, and with feet splayed, one arm stretched out and one hand holding my nose, I did a belly flop!
In the photo, you can see the young boy in the water looking up at me possibly in disbelief or fear of what was going to happen to me.
He was right. The impact was so great it felt like I hit concrete. My first thought was that I crushed my lungs. I floated to the surface like a limp ragdoll, and tried to cry out to Steven, who had just taken this photo. But all I could do was make guttural sounds like a wounded animal, and then sink back down in the water.
Quickly realizing something was wrong, he dove in and gently guided me to the edge of the water where a few people who had witnessed my plunge rushed over. One lady offered me a sugar cube so I wouldn’t go into shock.
Shaken, I could only take shallow breaths as my bruised lungs tried to recover. We were waiting for the taxi to come and take us back to the hotel when suddenly I turned ashen and started gasping. My husband thought I was going into cardiac arrest. Holding up my naked finger, I cried in disbelief, “My wedding ring is gone!”
While I became frantic, Steven kept a level head and tried to retrace our steps in his mind. He reasoned that the ring could have come off anywhere in the streams we’d been in, but most likely it came off when I hit the water. After offering me some reassuring words, he made several attempts at free diving, but without a mask, the water was too murky and deep.
“Losing your wedding ring on your honeymoon is a bad omen,” I said as the pain shifted from my bruised lungs to a sickening feeling in my stomach. “Maybe it’s a sign we should never have gotten married.”
“The only thing I can think of is to rent scuba gear,” my husband said, valiantly trying to offer a solution.
Now there’s nothing more irritating to a hysterical person than someone who says something they perceive as stupid.
“Scuba gear! Are you crazy? Where are you going to get that?” I yelled.
Before I knew it, I was crying in the backseat of the taxi, while Steven was patiently explaining to the driver in sign language what he needed. By then I was so distraught that I was becoming increasingly annoyed by my husband’s calmness.
Somehow the taxi driver understood the situation. On his way to pick us up, he had seen the van belonging to his friend, who owned the local dive shop, parked at the beach. Ten minutes later, Steven was explaining to Miguel, who just came out of the ocean with ,two Americans, that he was scuba certified, and he needed to rent a tank of air. Miguel said he only had a little left in each tank, but he agreed to go with us to Chino’s Paradise and help search for the ring.
By the time we got back to the restaurant, the sun had started to go down. When Steven and Miguel walked in, carrying masks, fins, and air tanks, they were greeted by a group of people who had witnessed my near-death experience.
The daylight was fading and we were leaving the next day. Steven and Miguel quickly strapped on the scuba gear and disappeared. I couldn’t bear to watch their air bubbles slowly crisscross the pool of water, so I walked away. My doubts were greater than my faith, but I kept repeating a prayer my mom taught me as a child to Saint Anthony, the Patron Saint of Miracles.
While I was doing that, Steven was calculating where I landed when I jumped. The water was so murky his face was two inches from the bottom as he methodically scanned the water, including the area near the waterfall where the turbulence was churning the sand. After fifteen minutes, the tanks of air were almost empty.
Just as Steven wondered if the ring might be lost forever, he noticed one grain of sand that was just a little brighter. Reaching in, he felt a surge of Adrenalin as he felt the ring that was almost completely buried. Gripping it tightly, he started his ascent. When his arm broke the surface of the water and everyone saw the ring between his fingers, they started cheering and applauding.
Suddenly I heard the echo of a woman’s voice. “He found it! He found it! He found it!
In the distance, I saw Steven coming toward me. In what felt like slow motion, I ran over rocks, across the stream, my arms outstretched.
Just a moment earlier I’d had a huge realization that the ring was only a material possession, a symbol of something eternal. It could be replaced. What was really precious was something that couldn’t be bought – the love of this special man.
As we came together, Steven scooped me up in his arms and kissed me. Then he put my wedding ring on my finger for a second time. “It’s an omen that we should be together forever,” he said with a triumphant smile.
That evening we had a celebratory dinner. We were going home in the morning and thanks to my husband and his determination I didn’t have to leave Mexico without my wedding ring.
Steven gave a lot of people at Chino’s Paradise a gift that day. He showed all of us what it means to never give up, even in the face of the impossible.
Over the years, his strength, his positive attitude and love have never wavered. He has always been there cheering me on, celebrating my victories, helping and comforting me when when my mom had a stroke and my dad passed away, and life was unbearable.
Susan Sarandon said something poignant about her husband (Richard Gere) in the 2004 movie, Shall We Dance that I’ve never forgotten.
Why is it that people get married? Because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet. What does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything…the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.'”
I’ve been so blessed to have the gift of time with Steven. Not everyone has that. Remember the Waylon Jennings song, “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places”?
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent, unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting.”– George Elliott
For those who love romantic quotes, here is one about maintaining your individuality in a relationship, while bringing out the best in each other.
A soulmate marriage does not at all mean that you have found someone you match up with on all the cards – on all the issues, on everything. That would be the most dull thing to imagine. Instead, it means you’ve found someone, and they don’t ever want to blow out that little light inside you. And you feel the same way about them.”– Diane Sollee
This second quote touches me deeply as it talks about becoming so entwined, so connected that there is no separation between the two.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride. I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.”– Pablo Neruda
Endless Love is not some unattainable fairy tale. It’s what happens when you connect with someone’s inner spirit rather than their outer facade. The real magic happens by recognizing the sacred in the ordinary, the mystical in the mundane, and the spiritual in the extraordinary. It’s where the better for worse, richer for poorer, in sickness and health is put to the test. Endless Love can happen to any two people at anytime. It requires work, but brings such great rewards.
Read the original honeymoon story as it appeared in Luxury Las Vegas magazine.
Thank you Marsala, I had to share this information with someone close to me that is having difficulties in her relationship. Timely and appropriate. Thank you, Cindy
Hi Cindy, I appreciate the comment. It takes two people to make a relationship work, but it always starts with each of us being willing to look at our own faults and how we sabotage our own happiness perhaps with unrealistic expectations, egos, etc. There are so many great books, videos and workshops out there that I’ve read and listened to that have helped me grow. Keep checking and I will post some. While there are some marriages that people should definitely walk away from, there are many that are worth saving and transforming into an Endless Love. Check out my older posts. The one I did on Wynonna was very much about relationship to oneself.
I remember it like it was yesterday darling. After you lost the ring you said something that inspired me to search until I found it. You said, “I’ll never eat Mexican food again!” When I heard that, I knew failure was not an option!
Seriously though, thank you for this beautiful post. You inspire me everyday and I am so grateful that we share our lives with each other. Except for the ability to breathe, that is my greatest treasure (and I’m still not sure which one rates the highest).
Steven, you just showed why you will always be my Endless Love…
Mind-blowing. This is the sweetest and romantic thing I have ever read. I am glad you guys found that *True Love.* Not many people find such an amazing feeling and get to spend their whole life growing and exploring with a person who has those feelings for you too! I am glad I met Steven and hopefully someday I’ll meet you! I loved how you said “… but like the alchemist who can turn lead into gold, it took going through hard times together to mold, forge, and transform our young naive love into a mature forever love.” Congratulations on your 28 years of a successful loving marriage.
Thank you Jonathan. It’s definitely about growing together as well as separately. I found that as I became less needy and more independent, interesting, and self-actualized, the more attractive and desirable I was to Steven. The more I became my own person and accomplished things on my own, the more we had to share and the more I had to contribute to the relationship.
Marsala, just so beautiful, wise, and true like you…
As I myself journey through life with a man “witnessing my life” (next year I will have lived with my husband for half of my life), reflecting on the times of good and bad are a reminder of who I am, who I am becoming and the choice of who I want to be. Your lovely writing reminds me that as adults we are still developing, changing and have to think about “what does it mean to grow as an adult?”
Thank you for sharing your inspirational musings!