Today was our 20th wedding anniversary. I know, right? Pretty exciting to make it this far. And, even better, to know for sure you’ll likely make it another 20 and then some.

Students and others often ask: “What’s the secret?”

No secret. Although I’m pretty sure about one thing after 20 years of my own marriage and reading most – but surely not all – of the research on happy marriage/relationships and taking in most of what the experts have to say on the topic:

Nothing as a couple will work if you can’t figure out how to be, sustain, maintain, become, stay, and then fight for your lives to continue to be two healthy individuals.

And by health we’re talking about the whole deal: psychologically, socially, physically, mentally, spiritually, economically .. and the list could go on.

And you do know such efforts will come back around to serve you well, right? In a magically selfless way. Trust me.

Today – yay! – we honored our own work (hard work, almost all of the time) toward staying healthy individually which has, no question, given us the chance to stay healthy together for — but who’s counting? — 7,300 days.

And like most things in long-term relationships, the plan today didn’t quite work out as expected.

I had hired a quartet to deliver a singing love card. We had a similar group sing from the balcony at our wedding. (It’s a ritual!) They canceled last night at 9:30 p.m.


But plan B arose with the sun this morning.

At 2:15 p.m. I left work. And quickly ran – literally – home. Panting, I turned the iron to “silk/cotton.” Heat up. Faster, please! It was a flurry about the house, but a calm and giddy one. I anticipated what was next.

One mile in the car and I arrived at my husband’s university. It’s now 3:05 p.m.

He looked a bit surprised. Because I had my wedding dress on. Oh my!

Yes, it was a tight squeeze. Please zipper, don’t pop.

We skipped (not really) to the chapel. And stood on the alter. And as we lit our original wedding candle, the president of St. Catherine University — Sr. Andrea Lee — was gracious enough to join us. She was all smiles. You’d never have known she was very late for a board of trustee finance committee meeting. She read one of our wedding readings from the original paper on which it was typed (I store them in my sock drawer). The famous David Haas happen to be in the building. He joyfully sang a little verse. And read another piece. Yep. I know, right? If you don’t know David Haas, quickly look him up. A few friends from St. Kate’s fluttered in to take a photo or two. Thank goodness for iphones. Our dear pal Stacy helped coordinate the whole thing with, well, all of about 2 hours notice.

It was magic. And ultimate health.

We kissed and committed to staying real – and real healthy – for another 20 or more years.

Then we had pizza and wine down the street. It was now 4 p.m so we had the restaurant to ourselves. We read our readings again. And chatted with our kids on our iphones. And my dear friend for life sealed the day with the most perfect little gift: a framed version of the card we received 20+ years ago as we prepared for our marriage. On it is written the advice we use each day to, yes – you know what I’m going to say – stay healthy and kind to one another. It doesn’t always work. Today it did. Amen for that.