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Secrets of Staying (Happily) Married

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Marriage had definite benefits, yes, though mystery and excitement may not have ranked among them. Then a chance meeting caused the author to look at her long-standing relationship with fresh eyes.

By Julianna Baggott
Couple walking down a road holding hands Frederic La Grange

Over the next 14 days, I made the acquaintance of countless people. In Birmingham, Alabama, an older southern woman told me her father had been one of the ministers whom Martin Luther King Jr. had addressed in his “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” On a cross-country flight, a World War II vet, while recounting the war, started to cry.
I cried, too. He said, “It’s hell to get old and cry like this when you don’t want to.” By the end of the trip, I was weary. On the flight back home, I decided to rest. But the stranger next me, a 20-year-old named Brian, wanted to talk. He had one subject: Amy.
Brian and Amy had been best friends. They knew each other as babies and dated in high school. She was studying to become a nurse. Brian had left Amy in Massachusetts two years earlier to install car windows in Seattle, escaping difficult parents. He expected Amy to follow. She didn’t. When he heard she was engaged, he bought a ticket. He was flying home to tell her he loved her, to win her back. His story was so compelling it had gotten the attention of two flight attendants―a man who looked like a soap star and a stunning African-American woman who seemed to be six feet tall. Both had old-world flight-attendant glamour.
The male flight attendant, Chad, had firm ideas about women. He also seemed to have firm ideas about hair products, tanning beds, and many other things that didn’t fit into Brian’s world. Chad said, “I’ll tell you how to win her back, if you want to know.”

“You don’t want to know,” the other flight attendant said. Her name was something like Gazelle.

Chad was undeterred. “You get a box of rose petals, furry handcuffs, chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate syrup. And you get a hotel room, a nice one…”

“Amy isn’t going to fall for rose petals and furry handcuffs,” I said.

“Women always fall for it,” Chad said.

Gazelle interrupted. “But Amy may not want to be swept off her feet. She’s getting married to someone else.”

“What if she’s not even happy to see me?” Brian said.

“Do you love her?” I asked. He nodded.

“You’ve got to give it all you’ve got,” I said. “You have to be honest with her. You need the right words. And I can help.”
Read More About:Life Lessons

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