15 Years

Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of the first date between Krissy and myself, the day before that the 16th anniversary of my marriage proposal, and today, as it happens, is the 15th anniversary of our wedding. Yes, that’s right, we have a three day anniversary festival every year. It makes anniversaries easier to remember, if nothing else.

If you’ve been reading along for the last couple of days, you’ve probably gotten the (correct) intimation that even after fifteen (or sixteen, or seventeen) years, I am still insensibly in love with my wife and just about unbearably happy to be married to her every day. This is, of course, entirely true. What this elides, however — what this sort of lightly skips over — is that this happiness does not just exist; it was to be created and built and maintained. Six years ago, when I was giving marriage advice to others, I wrote: “Marriage is work. It never stops being work. It never should.” This is something I still think is true. Human relationships are highly entropic; you have to keep putting energy into them or they fall apart. Marriages are especially entropic because they operate at such a high level of commitment, and yet ironically I think lots of people assume that once achieved, a marriage takes care of itself.

It doesn’t. But marriage isn’t an object or a thing or a pet with opposable thumbs and the ability to open Tupperware to feed itself while you’re out doing something else. It’s a system, a process, a relationship. It’s not solid state; it’s got lots of moving parts. You have to tend to it or it jams up and stops functioning. So: Marriage is work. It never stops being work. It never should.

Work is not a bad thing, mind you. Work can be joyful and pleasurable and a thing which illuminates and gives meaning to every corner of your life. Work can be a very good thing. What makes it work is simply that has to be done.

I’m not going to give you a list of “work tips” because I think a) that’d be a little smug of me and b) different marriages are made up of different people and what works for us isn’t necessarily going to work for them. But there is one thing Krissy and I do which I think does have universal application, so allow me to recommend it to you. And it is:

Krissy and I say “I love you” to each other. A lot. As in, it’s typically the first thing we say to each other in the morning, and the last thing we say to each other in the evening, and the thing that gets worked into the conversation during the rest of the day. We say it because we mean it, and we often also say it because we mean something else by it. Depending on context, “I love you” means “I love you,” or “I need your help with this thing I’m doing” or “I can’t believe this is the fourth time I’ve asked you to take out the trash” or “thank you” or “I miss you” or “I am saying these words to remind myself that I do in fact love you because right now what I really want to do is SMOTHER YOU TO DEATH WITH THIS PILLOW” or “You should get me ice cream” or “You are a good parent” or “Damn you are HAWT” or any number of other things.

And you ask, why don’t you just say those things instead of “I love you”? For one reason, because generally speaking we could say those things to just about anyone (when, you know, appropriate), but “I love you” is reserved away for the two of us, so it’s a reminder of what we mean to each other. For another reason, in those times that we’re frustrated or exasperated or angry or tired, it lets the other of us know that even though we are frustrated or exasperated or angry or tired, that doesn’t change the fact that we love them. For another reason, as long as you mean it, saying or hearing those words never gets old. For another reason, saying the words gives you an opportunity to actually remember that you do love the other person — it’s another opportunity to cherish them in your heart, even (especially) when it’s an “I love you” of the “take out the trash, already” variety. And for a final reason, hey, you know what? We just plain like saying it to each other, and that’s all the excuse we need.

Saying “I love you” isn’t in itself a sufficient act of marriage work; words have to be backed up by deeds. Even so, I think saying “I love you” can be both performative and sustaining, the mortar between the bricks in the edifice of a married life. I’d say without hesitation that each of us telling the other that we love them, as often as we tell each other, has mattered to our marriage. It seems a simple and maybe even silly thing, but, I don’t know. If you’re too complex and serious to tell your spouse that you love them, early and often, I wish you joy in your marriage nonetheless. It works for us, we’ll keep doing it, and I recommend it to everyone, for every day of their marriage and life together.

In fact, go do it now. If you’re married (and even if you’re not), seek out that person whom you love and who loves you, and tell them that you love them. Pretty sure they’ll be happy that you said it. Which will make you happy. Which will make Krissy and me happy, on this our 15th wedding anniversary.

99 thoughts on “15 Years

  1. I’m going to agree with your sentiment around 120% John.

    Not meaning to bring dark clouds, but I think my previous marriage didn’t work because I did say it a LOT. Whereas my wife, well she just thought I said it too much and it meant nothing because it was overused.

    But I was saying it because, well, it was what I felt everytime I saw her. And hopefully – it’ll be the same thing I do to some other foolish love (someday before I croak :P).

    Happy triplicate anniversary both.

    I think I’m going to get in on this (though that does mean I’ve got two months to propose…hmmm).

  2. [Aaaand not_scottbot's clueless contentiousness, aside from getting his comment deleted, finally earns him a spot on the "moderated before posted" roster. Congratulations, not_scottbot! -- JS]

  3. Funny, this – it’s EXACTLY what I was thinking about just yesterday – and my hubby and I live by exactly the same rules. “I love you” is the first thing we say in the morning. “I love you” is the last thing we say before we go to sleep at night. And we say it in between times, a lot, too – and yes, it can mean a zillion different things in context.

    Happy anniversary, John and Krissy. May you be insanely happy together for many more.

  4. Happy Anniversary, you crazy kids!

    And my husband and I say “I love you” a lot as well. And I did tell him that again just now, via a chat window. His response? “Uh, I love you, too”. lol, he’ll get it when he reads today’s blog.

  5. Yay. Happy anniversary, and thank you for sharing reflections on such a happy marriage with us.

  6. My wife and I say to each other multiple times a day. It comes naturally to us. We also say it with just a touch or a smile. I am insanely luckily to have married her, I’m happiest I’ve been in my life, and gosh, it’s awesome.

    I’m glad you too are feeling awesome, too.

  7. Oh yeah; having been married for thirteen years, my husband and I are in the same habit, especially the one where you say, “I am saying these words to remind myself that I do in fact love you because right now what I really want to do is SMOTHER YOU TO DEATH WITH THIS PILLOW”

    I must add that we also say “I love you,” to mean, “I can’t believe you just told that joke/said something so silly,” and possibly, “I rule; you drool,” but that last one is because we game together.

    Happy anniversary. Y’all are a cute couple inside a Hallmark Card wrapped in a Thomas Kinkade painting.

  8. Hey, John,
    I’m yelling out HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! to you from the hot rooftops of Florida. As a romance author, you are my prime example of that much made-fun-of romantic notion, HEA (Happily ever after). Have a great day!

  9. You are exactly right — we’ll be at 35 years next month, and it’s just as important as it ever was. In fact, it may be more so now as we realize that we aren’t going to live forever. Nobody ever regrets having “I love you” as their final communication to a beloved. Many regret that it wasn’t.

  10. Happy anniversary! You two are an awesome couple and I wish you another 15+ years of marital wonderfulness. :)

    My soon-to-be- husband and I say the ILY phrase a lot, too. We both had failing previous relationships and now I know why – it’s those three little words that keep couples together. I truly believe that, too.

    Oh and I just told him I love you. I got an “aw” and an “I love you, too” back. :)

  11. This is why you deserve the big bucks, Scalzi. The Spouse and I do say “I love you” a lot, and “thank you” also. It helps in the way you were able to articulate, and the way I never could. I wish you both many happy returns of the day.

  12. happy anniversary!

    My wife and I do something every day that we both think helps our marriage a lot. We stole this idea from the movie “The Story of Us”, which is in and of itself a pretty good movie about what it takes to make a marriage run. (It is not a Hollywood story.)

    In the movie, there’s a scene where the family is sitting around the dinner table and everyone goes around in turn and tells everyone else what their “low” was for the day and what their “high” was for the day.

    We do “low/high” every night just before we go to bed, but it’s the same idea.

    Sometimes I know what she’s going to say was her low and her high. But sometimes we’re too busy during the day, or one of us is too busy dealing with the actual problem to call the other and tell them about it, or whatever happens that prevents us from touching base with each other during the day.

    And “low/high” is a good way for us to check in with the other and get to know their day’s experiences at least in brief.

    And sometimes a “low” is something the other person said or did or didn’t do that day. And the point of the exercise isn’t to finger point or blame or whatever, but to simply report “that hurt” or “that made me sad” or however it made it the low point of your day.

    It’s a good way for us to connect and its a good way for us to wipe our slate clean every night.

  13. I think I have a cavity now.

    :-) Just kidding.

    I think its great you two are still so crazy in love. Congrats to you both.

  14. Saying it a lot probably helps, but I have a theory that proximity and number of Cats also has something to do with it.

    I don’t know any couples with two or more cats who have gotten divorced.

    Weird…

  15. I just started reading your blog and I’m so glad I started in time to catch this triple anniversary. Today’s is a particularly insightful post.

    Congratulations!

  16. Happy phosphorus anniversary!

    Or, if you name them with something more traditional than the Periodic Table, happy crystal anniversary!

    May you stay happy together well past gold in both sequences.

  17. I’m getting married next weekend and I am stealing huge chunks of this post. Thank you SO MUCh John – you’re making writing my vows a lot easier!

  18. Aw, look how beautiful Krissy looks in her wedding dress!

    In other news, you used to have hair.

    Happy Anniversary, and here’s to many more.

  19. This is wonderful; congrats to you both! I just emailed this to my fiance; we get married in 9 days! And we, too, make sure to say “I love you” often. Happy happy!

  20. The concept that marriage is work and needs to be continually invested in to succeed is something that our culture seems to have sadly forgotten.

    Thank you for reminding people! I wish this was on the front page of every newspaper.

    Happy Anniversary!
    May you have many more happy anniversaries!

  21. This Saturday would have been our 16th anniversary. I love you, John Peterson.

  22. Happy many anniversaries!
    I’m glad we’re not the only couple who does that. :) I don’t think there’s been a day since our first few months of dating (where we might’ve been too shy to say those three words) that we haven’t told each other “I love you.” Beyond that daily affirmation, I’d have to say communication is possibly the second most important ingredient to a relationship.
    Equally important is to know when to slay the grumble monster and when to let it grumble itself out. :D

  23. 10 months on Monday for us! I figured saying “Yes” to his proposal had been sound judgment when we both thought that having The Sagan Diary as a wedding favor would be totally cool. :)

    Congrats to you two who are so right for each other!

  24. Do you also say it to your kid? Mine is barely 1.5 year old and I tell him regularly that I love him. Usually while we hug. He loves hugging. My kid is a big fan of hugging.
    Of course, my wife and I say it to each other regularly too. It’s important. I just think saying it to our kids is important too.

  25. Congratulations to both of you. I was raised in an “I love you”–heavy family, which tradition has carried over to my own marriage, and yeah, it’s true. It doesn’t dilute the sentiment so much as it reminds you to keep effectuating it.

  26. John@0: “different marriages are made up of different people and what works for us isn’t necessarily going to work for them.”

    John, I agree with everything you said, but I think this bears a little bit of expansion. Saying “I love you” is incredibly important, but it’s equally important to listen to your beloved. Not just when she says these words, or even any words at all. Listen to her, watch her, observe her, study her. Learn her. Learn the ways that speak loudest to her. (They’re not always spoken. “Show, don’t tell” doesn’t apply just to writing.) Learn how to tell her “I love you” in a way she’ll believe, and appreciate.

    It took me many, many years to realize I didn’t know my wife half as well as I thought I did, as I should have. I nearly lost her because of it. But I did love her, and that gave me the motivation to learn. For a while the only thing that held us together was determination and a serious lack of fiscal responsibility. Eventually, though, I learned, and changed, and she learned that I really did mean it when I said “I love you.”

    Now she’s gone, for reasons beyond our control. But I’ve been granted a second chance, with a lady who understands what took me years to learn – and who is the best listener I have ever known. She hears me say “I love you” a lot, and she believes me as I believe her. It may be work to maintain a relationship, but when you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work.

    But I think you know that already.

  27. For your anniversary, I am going to share a tip with you and your readers that has been incredibly valuable to me and my husband. We celebrated our 16th anniversary in May. When we had been married about 10 years, we were obliged to go through marriage preparation courses in order to have our marriage re-solemnized in our new church. (Long story, not going to get into it here.) It was mostly pretty ridiculous to be going through these with the other “engaged couples” after ten years of marriage, but one thing made it worth the price of admission. They taught us a communication technique called “the floor.” We got a little magnetic thing that looks like a piece of old time linoleum. We were instructed to talk to each other about anything we wanted. The only rule was the person holding “the floor” was allowed to speak uninterrupted, and the person listening had to wait until they were done, and then REPHRASE what they had been told before they could respond. This is also called active listening. Well, we were talking about fairly inconsequential stuff–nothing we would ever argue about. And even so, it was laughable how often our rephrasings of the other person’s statement were WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I am a smart person, highly verbal, and yet I was hearing my husband wrong quite a large percentage of the time he was talking to me, and vice versa. We now use the active listening technique very frequently, and I even think we were maybe a bit off the rails at the ten-year-point because of our imperfect communication. I think this helped us get back on track so we could have happy 15th, 20th, etc. Happy Anniversary!

  28. Benjamin:

    “Do you also say it to your kid?”

    NEVER. She goes through life without ever once hearing it from our lips. Her future therapists are already salivating. No do we EVER say “I love you” to anyone else, lest the apparatus of our marriage fall completely apart.

    More seriously: Seriously? This actually needs to be explained? I already deleted a message earlier upthread for rather obnoxiously trying to make the same point, but I assumed that person was just being a bit of a contentious jerk, because he’s been such before. I do assume most people understand that there is context being applied here, and I think this sort of “clarification” ought to be entirely unnecessary.

    I recognize I read as irritated here, but honestly. I thought it was fairly clear that I was noting that I don’t say “I love you” to every person I know or meet, not that I never say “I love you” to anyone else but my wife. The former interpretation makes sense, the latter really doesn’t.

  29. So very, very true. So much so that I think I will share something from my own marriage, and I think it’ll illustrate well exactly how Marc and I communicate.

    It was a tough day several years ago, and he was handling getting our car fixed. We’d exchanged a few emails about it, and were getting to the end of, “what was wrong with the bloody car.” The list was pretty long, and I responded to the most recent issue with:

    >okay, next?

    And Marc’s response was:

    They just finished the supplemental 5-point test, and apparently I’m hopelessly in love with you.

    That’s just how we roll, and it’s worked out well so far ;)

  30. This is all so true. Marcia and I will have been happily married 30 years come September, but we’d both been married twice before. It not only requires constant work, it requires it from both people.

    Oh, and just because a marriage falls apart after 40 (Al and Tipper Gore) or 48 years (Benjamin and Jane Spock) doesn’t mean it wasn’t really wonderful most of that time. Unless you were part of it, you really don’t know.

  31. I’ve known you for awhile.

    Just so you know:

    1) When we first met your girlfriend we (my wife, me, others at the Sandy Hill home) thought you two made a wonderful couple. While I can’t claim I told the world you would get married, have a wonderful kid, and would stay happily married…none of this is all that surprising. I think you and your wife complement each other quite well and both have a practical yet driven attitude to correct any problems in early stages.

    2) She’s great but many of us are proud to know you and think of your marriage not so much in terms of “John is lucky to have her” but more in terms of “She is great enough to deserve John.” (crap, forgot to call you Scalzi there…possibly this is a literary device to call attention to the importance of the point.)

    3) This is weird but your high school was full of kids from broken marriages. Even while at the school I wondered if this meant we all were going to have less respect for marriage then the average kid from mentally healthy families. Oddly I think my assumption was completely wrong. It seems most of us married late (by average standards) and were extremely careful to pick the right match. I wonder if somewhere deep in our brains there is a thought of “I won’t do that to my kids.” At my 20th reunion I was shocked to see how many were in long-term marriages and how few have been divorced. Statistically my class is really an outlier compared to society in this area. (This isn’t to brag, it just might mean we rebelled against really screwed up families).

    4) You went to our wedding. Other than my sister (which really screws up the point above) I believe every couple who attended our wedding is still together 15+ years later. (Do not underestimate the powers of Yosemite.)

    5) She packs heat.

  32. I tend to speak very softly. A long time ago, I told my wife that if she ever didn’t hear what I was saying, she should just assume that it was “I love you”. Because it probably was, and if it wasn’t, it should be.

    18 years and counting…

    And maybe it’s just me, but “the first thing we say to each other in the morning, and the last thing we say to each other in the evening,” reminded me of the V’ahav’ta.

    …and you shall speak of them when you sit at home,
    and when you walk along the way,
    and when you lie down,
    and when you rise up…

  33. Well said, John. My husband and I constantly say I love you, and it also can mean things besides “I love you.” We’ve been together nearly 5 years now, and married for two years this coming Monday. For us, I love you comes as naturally as breathing. We say it in the middle of the night in a barely decipherable murmur when one of us changes positions. (I think those are my favorite, because there’s no ulterior motive, just pure love.)

    However, the most important thing we do is appreciate what the other one does. We always say thank you, even for stupid little stuff. Thanks for taking out the trash. Thank you for getting the dishwasher going. Thank you for getting me a soda. Not only do we really, truly appreciate what the other does for us, we make sure to let the other know it.

  34. One other thing that has helped my relationship with my husband is to have a good, trusted, close friend to whom you can vent. It saves my husband from the heat of my emotions and also helps me with perspective and to frame exactly what bothered me and why. Often, I figure out that it’s my problem anyway.

    My daughter has met the guy who I strongly suspect will turn out to be her long term mate. They are disgustingly cute together and say ‘Luv you’ all the time even when teasing each other. I know that they have their arguments but not what they are about (really don’t need to know). I told her not to worry, it’s when they stop trying to work it out that she should worry.

  35. My grandparents have been married 58 years, and my Gramma says the trick is that each person puts in about 75% of the work.

    Happy anniversaries!

  36. My husband and I are big on I love you also. I also try to be good about telling him how much I appreciate him and all of the wonderful little things he does to make my life better on a daily basis. Because seriously, I think he knows me better than I know myself sometimes.

    Congrats to you on all your anniversaries!

  37. congratulations to you both. and thank you for reminding me that sometimes “i love you” is the most important thing you can ever say or hear. :)

  38. Congrats to you both! I’m still looking for my “I love you” person. Oh well, someday, someday.

  39. Oh my god, it’s Sansa and Tyrion!!! (That darkening in the lower right corner doesn’t hide the fact that you are on your tiptoes.)
    Happy 15th!!!

  40. Happy Anniversary! What a beautiful love letter these past posts have been.

    I really enjoyed the love story and the depth of a man’s love that was portrayed in the Old Man’s War series. Is it a stretch to believe that the love in the story had to be inspired from your own heart, belief sytem, experience? Though I swear that I don’t like to read romances and don’t believe in happily ever afters, I’m a sucker every time, and the books with love sneaked in (marketed as Science Fiction, or historical novel, or Fantasy, or Suspense, etc.) end up being my favorites.

  41. Oh yes. Saying (both verbally and non-verbally) “I love you” is beyond importance, as are really listening and paraphrasing, and sharing. I’ll add laughing. Not at each other (unless there’s clowning), but with each other at the world, ourselves, circumstances.

    Something I didn’t mention yesterday is that we bicker. Politics, how much red pepper to add, whether the movie was good, … even when we agree, we almost traditionally squabble about our agreeing.

    May you have 15! more happy triple anniversaries, and then decide to just stop counting.

  42. Awww, happy anniversary! Sean and I are coming up on #3. And we say (or text) “I love you” all the time, too, for many of the same reasons. I shudder to think of how boring this would be to any top secret agents monitoring our texts and emails. :) Hopefully this means we will be as happy, and together, as long as you and Krissy.

  43. I love reading your posts on love and marriage; thank you for writing them and putting them up for us to see.

    Further, I have to say it amuses both my husband and I very much that your posts over the past few days reminds us both very much of our own relationship; we’re nearly to our first wedding anniversary, and I both hope and intend to continue working towards greeting our fifteenth with the grace and enthusiasm that you and your beautiful bride have managed.

    Many, many happy years to you both!

  44. Congratulations; our tenth is coming up soon.

    Real research has shown a couple of consistent traits for successful marriages. I’m paraphrasing my own understanding of them, but they include: never be contemptuous or mocking of your partner (you’d think this’d be obvious but it’s surprising how many fail) and to talk inclusively–”We like this, we do this.” Couples that don’t are much more likely to fall apart. I’m sure you and Krissy do this. We try consciously to do this (well, I know I do it consciously; possibly my wife does it without thinking) and seem very happy so far.

    (It also helps that we are well-matched in eccentricity….)

  45. This sappy love stuff is all well and good, but I’m gonna cut to the chase. Did you get her any good loot for the anniversary? We’re talking material goods here, sir. You know, the important stuff.

    I kid, I kid. Happy anniversary to you both!

    Also, pass my thanks on to your wife. That pic of her snarling with the iPad motivated my man to buy me one. I had wandered off to do laundry and had that blog entry up on my monitor and he noticed it. He asked who that was and I explained. 3 weeks later, I had my very own iPad sitting on my desk when I woke up!

  46. Okay, I did. She was out in the garden watering the plants, I was snug, warm, catching up with my favourite geeks’ blogs. I went out, delivered that message. Have to say it was one of your most excellent ideas.

    17 years, 13 days ago.

  47. Eridani @ 55

    Your guy understands. This motivation by some of us hopelessly in love types have a category all their own. Some examples include:

    Bringing home flowers cause it’s Thursday, not cause it’s a specific holiday.

    Suggesting stopping for coffee before doing the grocery shopping. Hanging out and chatting instead of taking the coffees along.

    and

    Fixing supper when the wife did 3 hours of overtime and is obviously exhausted. (and she won’t say but the carpal tunnel is flaring up again)

    These are not subtle cues but I do have friends that don’t get it. They are the ones complaining about their relationships.

    That doesn’t seem to include anyone commenting here. Congratulations to John and Krissy and all of the rest of us that “work” at it.

  48. M. Scalzi,
    Thank you for the reply, although seriously, I wasn’t expecting any. Also, thank you for not deleting my post without explanation!
    Of course it doesn’t need any explanation. It’s just that I never heard my parents say it. I didn’t need it, they have always shown love to me. My parents aren’t the type to say it out loud. I don’t think I need therapy because of it. Growing in a loving environment was enough, I hope, for me to become a psychologically balanced adult.
    I really just asked out of curiosity.

  49. My son is just getting to the age where once in a while he gets annoyed by my saying “I love you” — but as I told him that the day he was born and I told him that he’s going to hear me say it to him every day I talk to him for the rest of my life. He was still a little annoyed, but (a) that’s too damned bad and (b) he paused just long enough before he became annoyed to show me he was happy about that.

    I’m also with our host about saying it to my wife. Every day, morning and night, without exception.

  50. I thought that John Perry’s feelings for his wife had to be based on some serious real life love, and here’s the confirmation. It’s no surprise to me that the Romantic Times gave your books good reviews!

  51. Married 22 years, we still say ILY daily, as well as do other little things daily that say “I’m thinking of you today.” Nothing big, maybe just an email during the day when one of us sees something that reminds us of the other, but something that says, you’re on my mind, every day.

  52. Happy Anniversaries!

    Totally agree with the marriage is work (and a labor of love) and saying “I love you” frequently bit. My hubby & I do both, and we’re coming up on our 14th anniversary.

    My parents don’t. But they’ve still made it work somehow. Part of it might be that they’re of a different generation. Part of it definitely is that they share things that they love. However it works, they’re hitting 50 years in a week and a bit. My dad’s parents made 65 years before death did them part. Every marriage is different. One of the key things that I’ve taken from the long marriages in my family is that compromise is essential.

    My hubby and I also have this sickeningly sweet “I wuv yooo!” routine that we go into every now and again, that makes friends complain they’re about to die from sugar-shock!

  53. I will quote my own poem here and offer the warmest congrats!

    “Those startling, nervous instants
    Of a vow given, that incandescent kiss
    That makes two lives one
    And welds them to a purpose;”

  54. MY husband is out at a dinner making a speech. As you suggested I have just sent him a text saying ‘I love you’. I rather suspect that he will spend some amount of time wondering what the heck I mean by that…we have been married 38 years (heehee).

  55. It’s good to be married, isn’t it?

    I confess we also say I love you all the time.

    But every now and then I have to wake her up in the middle of the night to confess that I did not smother her with a pillow.

    In truth, I think it’s the small things that matter the most. There are more of them, by far. Taking those seriously helps keep a regular maintenance of our marriage and provides some good practice and a strong foundation for the occassional, and inevitable, big things.

  56. This is almost unbearably sweet and awesome. Congratulations and well done to both of you (for what it’s worth coming from a complete stranger).

  57. Reporting back from duty: I had to use a combination of texting and Skype, but the “I love you” got through to my guy. Thanks for the nudge. And mazel tov to both of you!

  58. so….uh… every four years the world cup will be on at the same time.. uhmm… interesting…

  59. The difference between my first marriage and my current one: The first time out, “I love you” was an effort. Now it’s how we communicate. Suffice it to say, I’m very happy now, and largely because of all the things you just said.

  60. I keep coming back and re-reading your anniversary posts these last three days. They are lovely! Thanks so much for sharing them. =)

  61. Congratulations to you both!

    And I’ll be forwarding this to my parental units now…

    They do marriage counseling (along with a bunch of other stuff) and say a lot of the same things!

    This July will be their 34th anniversary, and I count myself as incredibly lucky to have parents who are still so very much in love with each other. And I know they’d say the same thing you do, you have to work at it!

  62. I haven’t read the comments, but I wholeheartedly agree with John’s philosophy on this issue. My wife and I say “I love you” probably dozens of times a day, and it can mean everything John listed. I think she did feel how often I said it was a bit silly at first, but it wasn’t long before she got it. Now five years in I will swear by it.

  63. Well said.

    Marriage is work, and commitment, and that’s why it shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

    Congratulations, and many more years to you both.

  64. As to the marriage as work, I cannot remember if it was Ruskin or Morris who distinguished useful Labor from Toil:

    1) creates or affords sufficient leisure to enjoy its fruits

    2) joy in the process of working

    3) a personal connection to what is produced

    If you can say that about your marriage, you probably are having a successful life.

    Congratulations from a fellow 15er this year (beat you by more than a month, nah, nah).

  65. Depending on context, “I love you” means “I love you,” or “I need your help with this thing I’m doing” or “I can’t believe this is the fourth time I’ve asked you to take out the trash” or “thank you” or “I miss you” or “I am saying these words to remind myself that I do in fact love you because right now what I really want to do is SMOTHER YOU TO DEATH WITH THIS PILLOW” or “You should get me ice cream” or “You are a good parent” or “Damn you are HAWT” or any number of other things.

    YES.

    In my marriage (the fifteenth was our one monthiversary–w00t), there are also times when it means “I cannot see you but suspect that you are nearby and so I am going to attempt echo-location.” (“I love you” as marco polo). This works well in the apartment, but occasionally draws odd looks in public.

  66. It is a wonderful thing that you two are so in love.

    However, if after three straight days of explainin’ this, in great detail, accompanied by glam shots of you with your beautiful wife, you are only starting to worry about sounding smug *now* … well, you may have missed the bus on that one.

  67. I keep coming back to this post to see how others have added in their thoughts.

    It’s awesome.

    I also wonder what the average number of ILY’s is today compared to three or 4 days ago. I’m thinking the sample is spiking.

    I get up before my wife, and this morning I leaned over, kissed her forhead, and said “I love you”. Then I was able to watch her smile at me in her sleep.

    This is a most excellent day.

  68. Marriage certainly is work.

    For me, it’s most of the time the kind of work that makes you go, “Yay! I get to go to do work, now!”

    And sometimes isn’t. And the sucky-kind-of-work is just as important. Not MORE important than the fun kind of work, but definitely no less.

    My wife and I are now at eleven years and counting. Best eleven years of my life.

  69. Depending on context, “I love you” means “I love you,” or “I need your help with this thing I’m doing” or “I can’t believe this is the fourth time I’ve asked you to take out the trash” or “thank you” or “I miss you” or “I am saying these words to remind myself that I do in fact love you because right now what I really want to do is SMOTHER YOU TO DEATH WITH THIS PILLOW” or “You should get me ice cream” or “You are a good parent” or “Damn you are HAWT” or any number of other things.

    And this is one of the many reasons I enjoy this blog. That is about as perfect an explanation of communication in marriage that I’ve read. And funny to boot.

    My wife and I have been married for 12 years – long enough to know what every “I love you” means. The best part of marriage is knowing someone that well.

  70. Happy tri-anniversary to you both. Wonderful post and saying “I love you” is something my partner and I do too, every day and often several times each day.

    And yes, it is *work,* and the best work. I’ve said often than our time together has been in turns the hardest and easiest work in my life and always worth every single second.

  71. “I love you” also means “Damn, you cook excellent steak.” Or tri-tip, or salmon… Did I mention a tendency to low blood sugar in my family? :D

  72. Gosh, you sure were a dapper young man back then.

    But I suspect that Krissy married you not so much for that reason as because she correctly recognized that you had the potential for turning into someone who could write that piece about marriage.

  73. and my congrats to those from everyone else

    In a few days my wife and I will be at 5yrs and I agree with what you say. at least 70% of the time that I talk with my wife I call her Love or Dear, with the inflection meaning everything from a simple “I Love You” to “We’re already running late, why are you choosing now to change your skirt for the 4th time?”

    The other thing that I think helps long term is kisses. When you wake up, before you go to sleep, when you get home from work, because you walked out of the room and came back, any reason and no reason at all, kisses can make a lousy day bareable, a good day great and a great day exceptional.

  74. Well put. I’ll be celebrating 21 years of wedded bliss in September, and I’ll add that although “I love you” can be said in a hundred different ways without words, the words still need to be said everyday as well.

    Congratulations, and many more years of happiness.

  75. Thank you for saying so perfectly what I have experienced for years. I was married at 18 and my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in January, and we are still giggly and gooey for each other. At different times, people have asked me our ‘secret’, and I know that his workmates regularly ask him for advice, and honestly, sometimes the answers feel a little…trite. Not taking each other forgranted. Working on our relationship. Saying ‘I love you’ often. Respecting each other. Partly, I think, because they seem so obvious. But *this*, this details the ‘secret’ so well.

    And congratulations to both of you!

  76. This is at least the second time I remember hearing this advice, and I remember the first time because my wife and I do it ALL THE TIME, when I levae for work, while I was deployed to Afghanistan (chatting, not talking, but same thing), everyday on the phone. We have only been married for 6 years but one could be forgiven for thinking we were like newlyweds. It is, to date, the most pleasurable work I have, the Work that is our marriage. Sometimes, it doesn’t even seem like work, sometimes it does, but it never feels like a waste of time. Thanks for reminding of the sentiment….Those of us deep in practice must occasionally be reminded of what it is we’re pratcing adn why we’re practicing it…

  77. I was looking for this post today because it’s nearly my (third) wedding anniversary, too, and I believe this post to be a pleasant, poignant meditation on the proper appreciation of one’s spouse. So, thanks for writing it, and happy 19th first date anniversary. :)

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