Keeping the Fire Burning

Mark & I 1979

Mark and I 1979

Marriage use to be new, fun and exciting. There is definitely a shift change that happens in romance over time. Not that this is a bad thing—just reality as far as I know it. I’ve been married for 35 years in June. Sounds and feels like a long time until I compare it to my parents who have been married for 63 years.  How can you live happily ever after? This is what I’ve learned from my experience.

Physical contact is important.

I will never forget how much I missed physical contact with Mark for the three months he was in his coma. Sure I could hold his hand, but he was not capable of holding mine and I missed it! After my collarbone healed from our car accident, I was anxious to help the nurses and aids bathe Mark, rub lotion on him, and transfer him in and out of bed. I wanted so much to touch and care for him. I needed that closeness. The nurses and aids were willing to let me help and I loved doing it.

I’ll never forget the first time I slipped into the twin size hospital bed next to Mark, hoping no one would care. It felt so good just to be able to lie next to him and since the nurses didn’t kick me out it became a routine. I have never taken for granted the need for physical contact since those lonely long months after the car accident.

Mom and Dad 2014

Mom and Dad 2014

I love to see my parents holding hands as they walk or sit on the couch next to each other. To watch my father help my mother out of a car, down steps, or out of a chair is endearing. They have grown in tenderness with each other over the years. It is clear to me that they love one another and appreciate the time they have together. I am grateful for their example.

Positive reinforcement is a must.

Mark is especially good at accentuating the positive. He always makes me feel wonderful.  He calls me S.U.G.A.R. and spells it as an acronym for Sweetheart, Unmatchable, Girl of my dreams, Awesome, Reason to live. He often reminds me and others who will listen what S.U.G.A.R. stands for. I love it and it makes me feel so special.

I’ve also noticed when I tell Mark he looks handsome, he sits up a little straighter and holds his head a little higher. We all need and enjoy complements.

Express appreciation for the other.

Mark and I 1995

Mark and I 1995

Every relationship is different. It’s not possible for me to have a relationship like my parents, but I am capable of having a loving relationship. Mark and I aren’t able to travel to far away romantic destinations or even go out for a romantic dinner and dance. But I can provide a romantic dinner at home and turn on some music so we can sway back and forth. I believe that no matter where you are in your relationship you need to appreciate it for what it is.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be a caregiver for Mark. I know that by caring for him my love as grown more than I imagined possible. I appreciate every bonus day we have together. When a person only has a five to ten percent chance to live and no chance of coming out of a coma due to the extensive damage to the brain, you know every day is a bonus day.

Sure there are some things I miss about the early days of our marriage, but I wouldn’t trade them for the love, peace and contentment that are relationship as grown into.