The Story of a Happy Marriage

I love being married.

It’s so great to find that one special person

you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

Rita Rudner


“Five decades and five children ago…” is how my parent’s love story would begin to be told. Today, as they celebrate their almost half a century together, I wonder what requires greater strength and courage: keeping it together or walking away?

Novelist Ann Patchett was a child of divorce and suffered through an early divorce of her own.  In the midst of the turmoil of her first marriage, she recounts (in her collection of essays This is The Story of a Happy Marriage):

Standing waist deep in the swimming pool, I received a gift–it was the first decent piece of instruction about marriage  I had ever been given in my 25 years of life. “Does your husband make you a better person?” Edra asked.

There I was in that sky-blue pool beneath a bright blue sky, my fingers breaking apart the light on the water, and I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Are you a smarter, kinder, more generous, more compassionate, a better writer?” she said, running down her list. “Does he make you better?”

“That’s not the question,” I said. “It’s so much more complicated than that.”

“It’s not more complicated than that,” she said. “That’s all there is: Does he make you better and do you make him better?”

This conversation cleared Ann’s resolve to leave her husband. She vowed never to remarry to save herself from any more pain, not even after she met a wonderful man whom she dated for 11 years.  Until the day he suddenly fell terminally ill and she realized her logic could not save her from losing him in other ways:

The fact that we came so close to missing out, missing out because of my own fear of failing, makes me think I avoided a mortal accident by the thickness of a coat of paint.  We are, on this earth, so incredibly small, in the history of time, in the crowd of the world, we are practically invisible, not even a dot, and yet we have each other to hold on to.  When we do things differently, and very often we do, I remind myself that it is early a matter of right and wrong.  We are simply two adults who grew up in different houses.

I continue to think back to Edra, standing in that swimming pool on a bright day in summer. “Does he make you a better person?” was what she asked me, and I want to tell her, Yes, with the full force of his life, with the example of his kindness and vigilance, his good sense and equanimity, he makes me a better person.  And that is what I aspire to be, better, and no, it really isn’t any more complicated than that.

Ann’s reply is exactly how this lucky Powerful Goddess describes her own gem of a husband.  And he’s tall and handsome, too!

Click on “Leave a comment” (above left) to describe what you love best about yours.












© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


Lucky Guy

Sometimes I’ve believed 

as many as six impossible things

before breakfast.

Lewis Carroll


Two decades ago, my husband confidently announced the wedding date he had chosen guarantees that he will always remember our anniversary.  Lately, giving him frank reminders 2 weeks prior and 2 days prior only made me feel like an iPhone alert to no effect.   So the night before D-day, I finally asked, “Do you want to go out tomorrow?”  He was still sweetly oblivious to the occasion and asks, “Why?  We’re going out with friends this weekend anyway.”  Grrrr!  I finally confronted my laptop to make dinner reservations and grab the last 2 seats to Nora Ephron’s latest (and last) Broadway play, Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks–which my Prince Charming had summarily dismissed as unlikely at the last minute.

My daughter woke me up too early the next morning with a three course breakfast on a rolling cart, complete with flower candles, hot tea, and a printed menu.  She couldn’t convince her dad, the early bird, to get over his aversion to breakfast (and lounging) in bed, so she and I fed each other the meal she has lovingly prepared.  She lay her head on my tummy and asked if I remember how a decade ago she was floating around in it.   I meant it when I told her “You are my best anniversary present!” expecting her usual “I know.”  Instead, she said, “I’m your gift for putting up with Dada!”  And so very well worth it!

Lucky I don’t heed my mom’s advice to “marry him first and change him later.”

Lucky the qualities I married him for are still the same qualities I love about him today, despite seeing the other side of the coin.

Lucky I’ve learned to keep eyes open to the beauty of the one I wake up to everyday–because wouldn’t you know, being married to Mr. Early Bird means I usually wake up to me!

Click on “Leave a Comment” to share how you’ve been so lucky.




© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

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Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother



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