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Style Magazine

Love & Marriage

Jan 31, 2014 05:19AM ● By Style

Illustration by David Norby, © Style Media Group.

What makes love work? In my case, it’s my wife Vickie.  I’ve never been able to prove it, but I’m pretty sure she gets some sort of secret charitable tax credit for staying with me. Nothing else explains it. Nearly 24 years together and from our first day on, I still wake up every morning pleasantly surprised she hasn’t ditched me for some dude with a Harley.   

But in this month of flowers and chocolates, what makes it work for others?  

Jana Jarvis says she and Mark, her husband of 29 years, couldn’t do it without humor. “We laugh. A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot.” While they aren’t always on the same page, she says they’ve learned to “enjoy the differences instead of being frustrated by them.” She also notes their relationship has clearly defined roles. “I am the heart; he is the head.” In my case, I believe I would be the part you sit on, but I’m off point.

Humor in fact, comes up a lot. Rich Carlson notes his wife Jen “...laughs—even when the jokes aren’t funny.” And Vickie Caputa’s husband, Steve, “makes [her] laugh no matter how bad the circumstances are.” Given that Steve has survived cancer and no less than a heart transplant, that’s saying something.  

While staying in touch is key for the busy lives of school teacher Kristi Kandt and her corrections officer-husband Darral—“we work hard to communicate and say ‘I love you’ often”—she says they also are sure to “...make time for each other. With kids, work and insane schedules, I love knowing we can reach for each other and let everything else go for a while.”  

Some were able to sum it up in one word. According to Susan Mauer-Sullivan, it’s integrity. “I trust him and he trusts me. We both know we’re not going anywhere.” Just knowing that, she says, makes it easier to pull through the rough patches. For Kathy Tobin Rogers, it’s loyalty. “As the wife of a law enforcement officer, I’ve seen more than my share of marriages fail. Chris has never faltered—never given me any reason to doubt his love and commitment to our family and me. We took our wedding vows to heart and we’re in it for the long haul.”

Carlson says if he were to narrow it down to just one thing, it wouldn’t be a word but an action. After 35 years, he says his wife, Jen, “...still stands next to me. Not in front or behind, next to me, no matter what the circumstance. That’s pretty darned cool.” He also brings up another common sentiment among the guys. “I never forget to use those three little words that seem to work magic...‘I was wrong.’” Ron Dockswell agrees. “Not necessarily saying but demonstrating that when I screw up, ‘ were right and I’m sorry.’” Todd Ostrander put it more succinctly. “It helps being able to admit when I’m an idiot.” And 41-year marriage veteran, Tony Asaro, says it’s “all about hope, faith, commitment and forgiveness.”  

Also among the fellas, recognizing who is boss helps too. Bill Forslund says he’s learned to “...just smile and do what you’re told,” and Derek Beaulieu says he tries to adhere to the saying “...a happy wife is a happy life.”  

All of these were great answers, and anyone in a successful relationship can relate to at least a few of them. But I think my favorite overall response was the shortest. It came from eight-year marriage veteran Kirsten Vernon. She emailed to say her husband, Jake, “pauses the TV to look at me when I talk to him.”

Now that’s love.

But still, don’t forget the flowers and chocolates.

Find more of Tom's Takes here, and make sure to catch Tom on the Pat and Tom Morning Show on New Country 105.1 or follow Tom on Twitter @kncitom.