I first met Danica and Milic over 13 years ago. They were already affectionately known as “the grandparents on the mountain,” because the name of the small village where they live, Suhodol, means “dry hill.” To reach it, you have to drive on a steep trail, and during harsh winters, there’s no way to get there by vehicle. They don’t have running water or indoor plumbing, and like many people in the area of Croatia bordering Bosnia, they have a sad story of fleeing from war and destruction, living in refugee camps, and finally returning home to their village and their burned-down house and having to start building a life again at an age when people usually retire.
I recently had the opportunity to be around a couple who had 35+ years of marriage under their belt. Watching the way they interacted with each other raised the marriage bar for me.
As we gathered to enjoy a meal outside, Jen came to the serving table to get a plate for Greg. “Greg loves asparagus!” she said, excited to be serving him something he enjoyed.
I was born in the hometown of Romeo and Juliet. Every day on my way to school, I used to walk past the famous balcony where Shakespeare has the pair exchange passionate vows after a party. I recently returned to Verona, in the north of Italy, and passed by again—but the thick crowd of tourists made it almost impossible to get near the famous balcony. I noticed the walls around were covered with signatures and it seems that the city has to periodically repaint them, so as to allow more starstruck tourists to write their names. The street hosts a number of shops that sell love-related souvenirs.
In the romantic movies I watched while growing up, the whole universe seemed to pause when Mr. Right met Miss Right. From then on, apparently the only things they required for survival were doses of staring into each other’s eyes and embracing, preferably in some dreamy exotic locale.
Like many others, I believed this was a true picture of falling in love. But real life doesn’t work like that. I never found that perfect “Mr. Right”—at least not the Hollywood variety—but I did meet my own movie star.
"Mari-i-i-i-ie!" My husband Ivo's stressed voice rings through the house. "Where did you say my green shirt was again?"
“It’s in the closet, on the left side, between your white shirts and your jacket.”
“I can’t find it!”
I follow his voice up the stairs and into our room.
My husband Daniel and I live with our four children on the 13th floor of an apartment building in Taichung City, Taiwan. Needless to say, the elevator is a part of our daily lives.
It had been just another normal, busy day, with most of my time and energy spent keeping the kids happy, fed, and out of one another’s hair. We had all been out together, doing what I don’t even remember, and were coming home. We stepped into the empty elevator, and one of the kids pressed the button. The number 13 lit up on the panel, and the doors closed.
I recently watched the movie Love and Other Drugs, a romantic comedy based on Jamie Reidy's memoir, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.
While I thought the film was a mixed bag, it did have a down-to-earth kind of love story that wasn’t your typical movie romance or a common Hollywood storyline: young and beautiful Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) has an incurable degenerative illness—Parkinson’s disease. That sort of made up for the parts that I didn’t enjoy, because in real life, in the real world, in real relationships, things like that happen.
I'm on my third marriage--a fact that I don't normally mention in the presence of newly married couples. I'm grateful for my first two marriages because they resulted in several beautiful children, my most precious treasures, but for me the third time has been charmed.
When my second marriage ended, I thought that was it, that I was now a single mother and would have to just do the best I could from then on. I was soured on the marriage experience and didn’t expect there to ever be another man in my life, but I was wrong.