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Story 4: Keeping Love New

Dear Mary Ann (I guess it's OK to call you that since I'm not your student anymore),

Can you believe Gilligan and I will be married in only a month? I am so excited! He's the greatest guy ever, and I owe you big for helping bring us together.

The pictures you sent arrived today. You did a great job on the bridesmaid dresses. The girls look beautiful.

There's something I've been wanting to ask you, and I hope it's not too personal a question. I have to know: How have you two stayed so much in love for so many years? I've never seen another couple married more than six months as devoted as you. Our botany class used to call you Dr. Dearest and Dr. Darling behind your backs, because of the way you talk to each other. You are like newlyweds!

I want that for us, too. Please tell me how you do it! Don't you ever fight?

Write back soon!


Laura Jean

Dear Laura Jean,

We are almost as excited as you are about the wedding! Roy and I want the best for our dear friend Gilligan, and that's you.

It was so sweet of you to ask our girls to be junior bridesmaids. They absolutely love the dresses -- even Patty, who until now had never voluntarily put on a dress in her life. And bless you for choosing a style that's so easy to make!

I thought for a long time about how to answer your question, because I've never had to think about loving Roy -- I just do. It's like trying to tell someone how to breathe; it just comes naturally. But maybe this will help.

You described us as being "like newlyweds," and I believe that's the key. Never forget how love feels when it is new, and strive to give your beloved that feeling every day.

I'll always remember the way Roy looked at me on our wedding day. And every day I find myself giving him that very same look: the one that says, "You are the most precious, beautiful thing I have ever found" -- because he is.

There will be disagreements, of course, but they don't have to turn into fights. Holding onto that feeling of new love can guide you through the rough spots. When Roy and I disagree, I remember that this is the man I love more than anything on earth, and the last thing I want to do is hurt him. I keep in mind that what I want is to explain my thoughts and feelings, not put down his or make him feel worse.

Mrs. Howell told me once that the most dangerous weapon in an argument is the word "you": "You did this, you did that, you always, you never ..." and the gentlest, most effective one is "I": "I'm hurt because ... I feel angry when ... I want you to understand why ..." She is so right!

And once you have children, don't listen to anyone who tells you, "Never argue in front of the kids." Children need to see that couples can disagree, even get angry, and still love each other.

The other night, Patty's friend Holly called, in hysterics. Her parents have always  followed that "not in front of the kids" rule, and Holly happened to walk in on them arguing. She was sure they were about to divorce, because as far as she knew, they never argued! Roy and I heard Patty calming her down: "No, really, everybody's folks argue. Even my folks. That's right, Mr. and Mrs. Mushy!" We had to run outside so Patty wouldn't hear us laughing!

Needless to say, you should also let the children see you make up -- except for those times when you make up in the bedroom, of course!

Speaking of the bedroom, the best advice I can give both of you there is "Never demand, never expect, always offer." As you lie down together, ask your darling, "What can I do to give your day a perfect ending?" Then do it, whether the answer is "Make love to me," "Let me sleep" or something in between.

But here's a little secret: There have been times when Roy has asked me that question and I was about to answer, "Let me sleep," but I was melted by the sweet concern in his voice and that dear, loving look -- that look he gave me on our wedding day -- in his eyes. There is no aphrodisiac more powerful than true, sincere caring.

And there it is, dear. Keep your love new, and it will last as you grow old.

Hug Gilligan for us. We will see you soon.

Mary Ann

P.S. Which one am I -- Dr. Dearest or Dr. Darling?

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