Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 22, 2004

Happy anniversary, hubby!

Art and I have been married 16 years today. In a way, it seems like a long time ago that we said our vows, but in another way it seems like only yesterday. Funny how time and memories merge to skew a person's perception of the days going by.

Whenever I see write-ups about couples celebrating 50, 60 or even 70 years of marriage, I always wonder how they can stay together so long. I doubt that we make it to our 50th - Art would be 94 and I would be 85 - but I hope we can make it many more years.

If anyone were to ask me the secret to a happy marriage, I would say that a constellation of things ensures success in matrimony. It's humor sprinkled with kindness, a comforting routine mixed with occasional surprises, a partnership based on mutual respect for the strengths each brings to the relationship.

For instance, when we work on house projects together, Art gives the orders and I'm the go-fer. When we travel overseas, Art gets us there with his map-reading skills and I use the little bit of French, German and Russian I know to translate signs and menus. When we work on family history, he concentrates on document details and I tend to see the poetry of how the details fit together.

On our10th anniversary, I gave Art a booklet filled with photos of our wedding, our family birthday parties, holiday celebrations and reunions, our international travels and our cottage adventures in Wisconsin. I included comic strips that reminded me of our quirks, different parenting styles and things that drive us crazy. He's a morning person; I'm a night owl. He leaves tools out; I clean them and put them away. He tells jokes; I couldn't remember one if my life depended on it. He prefers cash; I write checks. He loves to drive; I like getting there.

We met through mutual friends, who were my neighbors when I lived in Manhattan. Dorothy was always trying to set Art up with women she knew. He refused all of Dorothy's suggestions, including the one whose husband had just run off with a stripper. Finally, partly out of frustration, she asked, "Well, I don't suppose you'd be interested in a 32-year-old pregnant widow, would you?"

Art was intrigued - and saddened when he heard about my situation. My first husband Jerome died in February, the same month Art's Dad had died. Art sent me a dozen coral-colored roses and on the note wrote, "An empathetic admirer. Ask Dorothy."

I did - and the rest, as they say, is history. Art and I corresponded a few times in the year after Jerome died and then we started dating a year and a half later.

Although I wouldn't have chosen the circumstances which brought us together, I'm glad Art turned down the woman whose husband ran off with the stripper. Happy anniversary - and may we have many more!

Art and I at our wedding reception at the Manhattan Holidome, left, and a recent photo, right.

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