Single on Valentine’s Day? Fall in Love Now…

midlife women valentines day tips for self love

So, it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re single and unattached. Can you still fall in love? Actually…YES! But how and who with? As one woman, who reinvented her life after 40, recently explained, she’s been hurt too many times so now she only wants “BIG LOVE.”

Big Love???

What she meant was not one-on-one romance, but love for the world…for the planet…for all the human race. You get, right? BIG LOVE.

I agree with the big love part – love for others who is experiencing life on the big planet the same time that you are. Also, love for those who went before – not only your direct ancestors, but all the women who walked a tough path and opened it for you. In my life I think about celebs like Katherine Hepburn, Mae West and other women who wouldn’t accept life in the roles others said were theirs. love those women. my idea is having BIG LOVE for yourself…your own heart, your own accomplishments, your own frailties. Being able to do that is REALLY BIG!

However, BIG LOVE can also be the kind of love you need to give to yourself. So many times we think love has to come from outside – loved ones, friends, colleagues, neighbors. Yet the truest and most satisfying love comes when you have BIG LOVE for yourself. Start here:

Valentine’s Day Tips for Women

1 – Make a decision to fall in love with yourself again.

Yes, that’s right – with yourself. Too many times we take ourselves for granted and make others a priority. Take some time to let your unconscious mind know how important you are…to you! A few years ago I found a children’s book (Take Heart My Child) that was beautifully written by the author for her unborn daughter. How can you not feel good reading, “May you strive to be happy, change your course if you’re not, Embrace the world’s colors, Colors others forgot.” Or, “And if you stumble or the path grows too steep, Take heart, my child, Trust yourself, take that leap.”

Taking some time to express your love for yourself – for how your body work and how amazing your mind is – those are great for your self-esteem and self-confidence!

2 – Take yourself out for a date (or, for covid, have a special dinner in).

Do you have a special food – like Maine lobsters or tiramisu? Treat yourself once in a while. Or go to your favorite place and order your favorite meal. Don’t think you’ll savor it alone in a restaurant, then do takeout and, when you get it home, set a nice table, put on music you love, and have a candlelight dinner. Follow it up with some chocolate red wine or hot chocolate spiked with peppermint vodka.

3 – Make it a good night.

After dinner, curl up with a good book, a favorite mushy movie or binge-watch a series on Netflix. My two recent favorites are Schitt’s Creek and Last Tango in Halifax. I also love watching The Holiday…with my favorite-ever movie line: “Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I  can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you’re behaving like the best friend.”

Falling in love is good – so go BIG…with the one person you are always with, who knows how hard you work, and who can appreciate you the most and the best.

One last thing…dont forget February 15th is Chocolate Sale Day!

If you’re a candy lover like me, you know that the day after Valentine’s, February 15, is a red-letter day for you because all the stores sell the Valentine candy at half-price and by the 17th, at 75% off. I’d love to not know that, but I do…and I stock up on Russell Stover coconut nests (in whatever form they’re in this year) and peanut butter cups. Yes, it’s true, I’m a little too excited about Valentine’s candy…

Have fun loving yourself this holiday weekend!

With love  and in victory,

Are you Starting Over, Reinventing for Your Next Chapter, or Making a Midlife Change?

Then join the Savvy Sizzle ‘No Regrets’ Master class!

In this 4-week class, I’ll take youStep-by-Step, through the lifestyle makeover that let’s you reignite the passion and excitement – and hope – you used to feel.

Are you feeling old, depressed, like your best days are behind you, and there’s nothing good to look forward to anymore? If you want to add some jazz and savvy sizzle and take those ‘shoulda, ‘coulda, woulda’ dreams and make them happen, you need to join my Savvy Sizzle Master class! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know when and how. Do it here: Newsletter

Looking to Connect with other Midlife Women?

Join my Victory Chicks Private Facebook Group

Follow Victorious Woman on Facebook:
Follow Annmarie on Instagram: or Twitter:

Subscribe to Victory Chicks Radio & Podcasts:​

Can You Fall in Love Again?

valentines tips for single's and couples
Valentines card with decorative paper hearts and pink flowers. Vector illustration

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s that time of year for…chocolate! And, oh yes, for celebrating love. Frankly, not everyone in a relationship is happy about doing it. Covid confinement has been rough on many relationships. Last year a woman said to me, “I just can’t look at his face anymore” and recently a woman told me she let her sweetie know, about sex, “I’m done with that.” Neither of those is conducive to cuddling and love talk. However, most likely that’s NOT you, so you have options.

Valentine’s Day Tips for Couples

Even if you and your sweetie have been together for a while, with a little planning, Valentine’s Day can open up a whole new set of possibilities. Here are some suggestions that could help you “feel the love” this Valentine’s Day:

1. Have a Plan!

You and your sweetie have a couple of days, so talk about it together. What do you want to do? Sometimes starting with “if time/money/kids weren’t an issue, how would we spend the day?” Sometimes just talking about that is fun. And maybe it will jog some ideas in your head. Also, the anticipation of something special – for now or for the future – lifts your spirits.

Here are a few practical ideas:

  • …Plan for takeout or to cook a special meal together
  • …Get some hearty appetizers that you can cook at home and plan an appetizer-only extended Happy Hour (instead of dinner)
  • …Is there a special movie that gets you in the mood for romance? A favorite for me is Somewhere in Time. I have it on DVD but I’m pretty sure it’s on Netflix
  • …What about going through old pictures together…of vacations or special trips. Going back over those old memories of your good times together is like greasing the engine of your car – it minimizes friction and allows things to flow more smoothly between you.
  • …Do you need a sitter? Get one for just an hour or two. Then take a long drive together to someplace where you can stop and watch the sunset – but first stop for hot chocolate at the convenience store (Philly locals know Wawa has the best – unless you make your own).

2. Be NICE!

When you’re together a long time, it’s easy to forget to be polite and appreciative. Being treated with respect and getting a thankyou from time-to-time is something everyone wants – and you and your partner are no exception. One woman told me that she started to notice the things her sweetie was doing. They were little niceties that he always did – like making her a cup of tea at night. She realized that she’d gotten so used to those things that she stopped thanking him. One night, as he put her tea on the end table next to her, she looked him in the eyes and said, “You know, I don’t always say it but I appreciate it when you make me tea at night – and it’s how I like it. That makes me feel special.” She said the look on his face almost brought tears to her eyes. When she realized that tiny little courtesy made him feel so good, she started looking for other things. It took him a few weeeks, but eventually he starated doing the same. Those little things reingivorated her marriage!

So…when you’re making your plan, include an agreement to say please, thankyou, excuse me – even if you agree together to focus on being nice just for the day. And don’t forget to add and “I love you” once in a while too!

3. Share a Soft Touch

A soft touch from a loved one can be like gold! Remember when you were “new” together and s/he would brush the hair off your face and you liked it so much? Or how just holding hands made you feel good?

Something as simple as stroking your hand or face, rubbing his/her shoulders, a long hug, or a snuggle in bed – are the small things that say “I still love you.” Soft touches can be both soothing and healing. No, it doesn’t have to lead to sex (unless you want it to happen). 

When was the last time you two held hands?

Making Valentine’s Day special doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive or over-the-top crazy. In fact, the longer you two are together, the less all those “externals” matter. What most people want in marriage is the love and respect that results in true intimacy – emotional intimacy. That’s how you can fall in love all over again.

You can choose to let love be all around you this weekend. So go for it…and enjoy!

With love  and in victory,

Annmarie Kelly, speaker, author, lifestyle influencer for women over 40

I’m Annmarie Kelly, award-winning author, speaker, and lifestyle expert. I’m also the founder of The Victorious Woman Project, the empowerment resource for midlife women looking to make a change in their life or their relationship. Check it out…it’s full of helpful and inspiring articles, interviews with fabulous women who have been there and done that, and also classes and other tools that will help you find and nourish your inner spark. Oh…and that’s also where you can get one of my inspiring and motivating self-help books. Victorious Woman: Shaping Life’s Challenges into Personal VictoriesVictory by Design, and marriage game-changer, The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm.

I know how the past year has challenged you – body, mind, and soul. They’ve challenged me too. It’s been hard on everyone! But there’s good news – the future is what you make it! So it’s time to look forward to better days. And you can start RIGHT NOW. 

Now’s the time to uncover the happiness and passions you put on hold. 

You can make 2021 your best year yet!

Join the Savvy Sizzle ‘No Regrets’ Master class or the 30-Day Relationship Reset class.

CONNECT with other VICTORY CHICKS in a Private FaceBook Group

Follow FYM on Facebook:
Follow FYM on Instagram:

Get free tips & advice for midlife:
Like VW on FB:

Subscribe to Victory Chicks Radio & Podcasts:​More about Annmarie Kelly:
Follow on Twitter

Strike up the Band & Light the Fireworks!

new midlife reinvention & relationship advice website launched

Hi and Happy February!

Well, I’ve been listening to you. I heard your frustration when you couldn’t find something on or Or about how long pages took to load or that pages were confusing.  That’s annoying for me too. I know when you go online, you want to get info you can use, and find it fast and easy – but you said that wasn’t happening with my sites.

I heard you. You were honest and I appreciated it.

I really want you to have a good experience with me. So I fixed it. Well, technically-speaking, Webmaster extraordinaire Kris fixed it. We took what you said and made changes. The most notable change is that we put Victorious Woman and Five Year Marriage together in one easy-to-use place and one easy for you to remember url:

Big Changes for Easy Navigation

Here’s some of what we did: we made both blogs – the personal empowerment tips and fabulous-marriage tips – easily perusable and accessible on the home page. Like my Dear Abby critique for telling a woman to suck it up even though she’s not getting what she wants in her relationship (and aren’t you tired of being told that?) and how remembering Nancy Drew got me thinking about midlife reinventions.

Also, if you want to look at life reinvention or five-year marriage ideas, we created “hubs” for your convenience. From the homepage, you can toggle between FiveYearMarriage with videos from the Not Your Mother’s Marriage show and VictoriousWoman witih audios from my Friday Happy Hour with Annmarie Kelly shows.

Curious? Take a look:

I hope you like it and I’d love to hear what you think. Here’s some early feedback from others on the new benefits:
– Clean. Easy to navigate. – Anne
– It’s so much clearer! – Wendy
– It’s concise, and easy to maneuver to many great topics, interviews and your books! – Maryann

Do you agree or disagree? Can I add your feedback to that list?​ you’re just one click away from a treasure-trove of good news you can use! I can’t wait to hear what you think about

With love  and in victory,

About Annmarie Kelly, Midlife Empowerment Guru

119220321_823127521762972_6491381989416264119_oI’m Annmarie Kelly, award-winning author, speaker, and lifestyle expert. I’m also the founder of The Victorious Woman Project, the empowerment resource for midlife women looking to make a change in their life or their relationship. Check it out…it’s full of helpful and inspiring articles, interviews with fabulous women who have been there and done that, and also classes and other tools that will help you find and nourish your inner spark. Oh…and that’s also where you can get one of my inspiring and motivating self-help books. Victorious Woman: Shaping Life’s Challenges into Personal VictoriesVictory by Design, and marriage game-changer, The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm.

I know how the past year has challenged you – body, mind, and soul. They’ve challenged me too. It’s been hard on everyone! But there’s good news – the future is what you make it! So it’s time to look forward to better days. And you can start RIGHT NOW.

Now’s the time to uncover the happiness and passions you put on hold.
Find out how you can Work With Me.

You can make 2021 your best year yet!

Connect & Follow

CONNECT with other VICTORY CHICKS in a Private FaceBook Group

Follow FYM on Facebook:
Follow FYM on Instagram:

Get free tips & advice for midlife:
Like VW on FB:

Subscribe to Victory Chicks Radio & Podcasts:​

More about Annmarie Kelly:
Follow on Twitter

A 3 Step System to Achieve Your Goals

Watch this video, I tell you the 3 steps needed to accomplish ANY GOAL!

This system ALWAYS works, but you’ve got to work the system.

The steps sound easy, but knowing exactly what each of the steps are for you can be a little tricky – so tune in and find out what this ‘guaranteed to work‘ system is and how you can apply it to your goals!

It’s time to stop feeling like you’re getting old and your best days are behind you.

It’s time to get your goals – and your life – on track so you can BE MORE of who you really are, DO MORE that makes you happy and fulfilled, and HAVE MORE of the life you’ll love living EVERY DAY. If you liked this video, you can dive into these concepts even more in the Savvy Sizzle “NO REGRETS” workshop.

Marriage Conundrum: Is Living Together the Answer?

is living together difficult - relationship advice

More and more couples choose cohabitation as “common law” couples instead of getting legally married. They believe common law gives them some legal protection. It doesn’t. That might have been true in the past, but now…not so much.

There are currently only eight states in the US that still acknowledge common law marriage (CO, IA, NH, SC, MT, TX, KS, UT). However, most of those have specific provisions, e.g. around dependent children. In recent years, six states that previously recognized Common Law Marriage (PA, OH, IN, GA, FL, AL) don’t anymore, unless it’s a pre-existing arrangement.

Marriage vs Common Law – Why does that matter?

First of all, when a couple makes the decision to live together, it’s easy. Maybe they want to test their compatibility. Or it’s convenient, logistically or financially. And usually the couple is hot for each other, so it’s fun and cozy.

That why the fabulous Susan Sarandon decided to go the living together route in her relationship with Tim Robbins. She’s been quoted as saying she liked the idea of “choosing to be with somebody” and she “thought that if you didn’t get married you wouldn’t take each other for granted as easily.” Her ideas were good ones.

Life, Marriage and Change

The fact is that life changes. Also, people being people, they change – jobs, careers, feelings, opinions…everything. Children are born and start growing up. Money problems happen. Personal problems surface. Whether you are married or cohabiting, the problems are the same: money, uneven sharing of responsibilities, sex issues, lack of boundaries, alone time, and more. That’s life. There’s no getting around it.

Living together – married or not – doesn’t stop problems. It also doesn’t make them easier to resolve. People are people and have varying problem-solving skillsets. Problems come up and need to be dealt with together.

Sarandon and Robbins, in spite of their good intentions, split after twenty years.

Traditional marriage may not be ideal but neither is living together

When you live together, the level of commitment is different. As a result, you are less likely to experience the same level of trust and satisfaction that marriage partners do. At the same time, you are cheating yourself out of some of the legal advantages to marriage like tax benefits, health insurance, and inheritances.

Those might not be as important to you as they will be to your children. In addition, unless couples who have children together also have signed paternity agreements, there is no legal obligation on the part of a father to take care of his children.

Is there a better way? Yes!

When I chose to live with someone, it was because I’d fought hard to become independent and self-supporting. Personally, I didn’t want what I saw too many of my girlfriends do, that is, give up their personal power for the sake of the relationship. Also, I didn’t want to feel stuck in the marriage. And, financially, my social worker boyfriend wasn’t making as much money as I was.

So we lived together, and frankly, I would have continued to do that – to my own detriment, and the detriment of the relationship. There were things I didn’t understand then, or even think about that were very important.

However, after a year of living together, my sweetie wanted to get married. I just couldn’t say ‘yes’ to doing it. At the same time, I didn’t want to have a life without him.

It was a conundrum for me…until I got an idea.

What I knew I could do was be married for a while to see how it  would go. I picked five years. Then I figured, if we still liked each other, we could get married again – for five years. I explained my idea to my boyfriend, and he agreed to give it a try. The Five-Year Marriage was born.

What Sarandon liked best was the idea of choosing to be together and not being stuck. In the Five-Year Marriage, we can choose each other again at the end of five years…or not.

Does it make our marriage perfect? NO!

What the Five-Year Marriage does do is remove the “‘til death do you part” stranglehold that suffocates many marriages. It gives couples the flexibility to adjust to life’s changes together. It keeps the power even – one person (often the woman) doesn’t feel the need to give herself up for some issue in the relationship unless he is doing the same.

The Five-Year Marriage fosters relationship equality

Equality in marriage is something unique. It isn’t  sameness – because partners are two very different people – and bring very different strengths – and limitations – to the relationship. So equality has to be thought out, decided, and revisited. It’s a dance you have to do, and sometimes it’s not to music either of you like. You learn.

An interesting consideration: if you knew you would only be married for five years, would you choose a partner the same way or think differently about him/her? I’d say ‘yes’ and I say it with experience. The man I was engaged to when I was a twenty-two-year-old schoolteacher living with my parents was the perfect fit for the “good girl” I was then. I’m glad we broke up. I would have been unhappily married within ten years.

Reality and today’s couple

In this 21st century, the future of marriage is uncertain. Traditional marriage is clearly obsolete, especially for smart and savvy women and men who are already comfortable with taking care of themselves and living on their own terms.

If you are thinking about bypassing traditional marriage, living together may not be your best bet. If you are willing to consider an unconventional and unorthodox way of being together, the Five-Year Marriage is the agile marriage. It gives you most of what cohabiting does, and all the benefits of marriage.

That’s a win-win…right?

Does you Relationship need a reset?

Check out the 30-Day Relationship Reset Masterclass and keep your relationship healthy and strong!

Is There An App for Your Relationship?

Happy New Year message - five year marriage

You hear it all the time: “There’s an app for that.” That means that there is some application – like GPS, voicemail, food planner, etc. that, when you click on it, takes you directly to the program you want. You probably have the WAZE app on your phone. As soon as you click on it, WAZE asks your destination and then gives you turn-by-turn directions for getting there.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a app like that for your relationship? Maybe you do…

For many years, every year, I’ve picked one word that is sort of a “theme” or “directional” word. It’s typically something aspirational, designed to be “directional” and draw me forward, like: focus, love, do it, and believe. Think of it like putting your destination into the WAZE app – it helps you get and stay on track.

A few years ago, I shared my word with my spouse and suggested the two of us pick a couple’s word. We did, and the result was very interesting.

Selecting a Couples Word. What Happened Next

At first, our word (actually two words – better together) was something we said when we traveled, particularly for one of my speaking engagements. I prepped the work, and Joseph helped with setup and the all-important moral support. Then it came up when we were figuring something out for his business. It worked for us – we were better together!

When our moms were both in their last years, we were “the one” in our families who took up the caregiver mantle. “Guilt-free” was the word. Many times we were exhausted from from doing things like fixing my mom’s house so she could move to a retirement center, or moving his mom (3 times!). Some nights we would get into bed and wonder how we did it. Joseph would say something like “but we can put our heads on the pillow without guilt.” When they  died, we were truly guilt-free.

We also found that our word helped when we had a family meeting, or problem-solving, and even when we were arguing. One of us would bring up our word for that year and (just like WAZE) it got us back on track. For example, if we were disagreeing about some expenditure for the house or businesses, or had to make a decision about some opportunity, we used our word as a guide. Like…will doing this take us closer to [our word] or further from it.

Relationship Strength 2021: How to Find Your Word

For me, it usually takes a couple weeks to come up with my word. I start by doing a mental review of the year. Then figure out how I feel about going forward. It’s much the same when Joseph and I figure our couple’s word. It’s mostly like this:

  • What was good about this year?
  • What could have been better?
  • What’s coming up in the new year? and/or
  • What do we want to see happen in the new year?

The key here is to agree together. If I want a word but Joseph isn’t buying into it (or vice versa), it’s not going to be very powerful. The word has to have meaning for both of you.

Finding Your Own Relationship Word. What Can You Expect?

When you two come up with your word, it’s interesting. In The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm, I talked about BUZZWORDS. Your word for the year becomes one of your buzzwords.

Say it’s “better together.” Whenever you do something really good, you can share a “better together” moment. Whenever you get stuck someplace – like, maybe your budget or with the kids – you can ask what would make you be “better together.”

If this is your first year with a couple’s word, take your time but also pay attention to the magic it brings. And have fun with it!

Let me know how it goes….by commenting here or posting on FB/FiveYearMarriage

Happy New Year!

A Marriage Phrase that Pays?

Marriage Phrases that Pay

Is there such a thing as a marriage phrase that pays? Pays what? Pays in fostering more love, good feelings, a sense of partnership?

While we all like hearing “I Love You” in marriage, it might not be the most important thing you can tell your spouse.

In a Huffington Post article, reationships editor Kelsey Borrensen listed eleven “love” phrases are part of your love and marriage vocabulary?

#9 is one my spouse and I learned about twenty years ago. We often say it in jest, but when it fits, saying it has meaning and smooths our anger-based tensions.

Which one is your favorite or go-to phrase?

In Maine, Restarting the Book

Today I’m sitting in the living room of Windward Cottage#5 in Town Hill. I know this is vacation, but a lot happened recently about The Five-Year Marriage™ book, so I took the original manuscript (which I copyrighted in 1995!) with me to see what I want to do.

What happened is that I’ve been getting nudges to bring this book out of mothballs and do something with it. It started in 2009 when Professor Lisa Jobs asked my publishing group for a project for her publishing class at Rosemont College. Since Victory by Design came out last year, I was going to give the class that or something to do with Victorious Woman.

At the last minute, I decided to give them Five-Year Marriage™. I unpacked it from the box it’s been in since I moved in 1998. I found the original book proposal and from that put together the information Lisa asked for. I visited the class in late September and again in December. The class did good work and was encouraging. Also that year, journalist and author Helen Goltz wrote an article about the need for five-year marriage™. It was published around the world, including in the New York Time.

You would have thought that would have been enough to give a kick in the butt. It wasn’t. I was taking care of my mother and Joseph was taking care of his. I forgot about it.

In the past two years, I’ve had more nudges than I can count. A few weeks ago I had breakfast with friend and publisher Donna Cavanagh. She was pushy about getting it done.

So, here I am on the sofa, looking out at the beautiful Clark’s Cove. I just read a couple passages from the 1995 version. Joseph read them back than, but after 20 years, it was like reading them for the first time.

So…I’m restarting. Let’s see where the writing takes me this time!

Just Married!

Navigating a difficult marriage

Wedding #6 almost didn’t happen.

For months Joseph and I worked on planning the marriage. By late August, while we were on vacation, everything  was in place. We were excited about going forward together – again. But when it came to planning the wedding, we dragged our feet. It was early September and we had an intention and the celebrant, but we had no plan and no place to go. We started making calls.

Among the places we wanted to have our wedding was the world-renowned Longwood Gardens. They were clear from the first moment: they don’t allow weddings – even one as tiny as ours. There was also the Newman Center, West Chester University’s Catholic center for the students. Father Nordeman was receptive and very gracious. He said he could marry us after the daily 4:30pm mass. However, that meant the Reverend Pattie Painter, whose victory through multiple cancers is chronicled in Victorious Woman!, couldn’t do it. In the years since Victorious Woman was published, we’ve become friends, so Joseph and I really wanted Pattie to perform our ceremony.

Call after call, rejection after rejection untel, less than a week before our special day, Joseph called the Tyler Arboretum in Media PA. They couldn’t have been more welcoming. They told Joseph we could have our ceremony anywhere on the grounds.

Quickly we called the Reverend Pattie from Vows of the Heart. She was “on hold” for September 24 and waiting. She started preparing our ceremony, asking what special poems or writings we wanted. I asked for the Apache Wedding Blessing and Blessings for a Marriage by James Dillet Freeman. We’ve used both of those at each of our weddings, so both are very special to us. We also chose the poem, Love by Roy Croft. It was Pattie’s suggestion but it sent chills up my spine because I first read that poem when I was a teenager. In those often-lonely days, I would read it often, telling myself that it was just the way I wanted love to feel. Who knew, so many years later, it would be just that…how I felt at my 6th wedding. Another tribute to the power of visioning!

It was Friday when we started calling special people and inviting them. Joseph called his twin, Tom. I talked to my cousin Maryann and asked if she and spouse, Richard, would join us; both of them are special to me and to Joseph. Joseph also called his friend, Pat, the widow of Danny, Joseph’s best man at our first wedding. Danny died suddenly, of a heart attack, shortly after his 50th birthday. Joseph still misses Danny and it was important to include Pat, whom he knew as long as he knew Danny. Maryann, Richard and Pat could make it.  Tom and his spouse Pat could not. It was pretty small group, but we love the people who were there and know they love us. And that’s what we wanted – a day filled with love.

OK, we had the celebrant, ceremony, location and guests. Joseph took his tux to the cleaners but I had nothing to wear. I looked through my closet and nothing seemed like the right thing for our SIXTH wedding. I started to panic.

Twenty-five years ago, there was no “online” to come to the rescue. I was glad this time there was! After about an hour online, looking only at places that had brick and mortar stores in my area, I found a purple lace dress I liked at Dress Barn. I called a local store and a really helpful woman said she’d look. When she got back on the phone, she was upbeat. “Yes, we just got that dress in and we have your size. Do you want me to put it on hold?” It was a happy moment – the dress I wanted, in my size, in a store near the Tyler Arboretum.

Our wedding day was coming together.

Next I called Maryann who agreed to join us to help us pick out a spot at the Arboretum. She lives around the corner from the gardens and has spent a lot of time there. I knew she’d have a good idea for the right spot. A shower and some breakfast later, Joseph and I were on our way.

First stop was Dress Barn. I tried on the dress and wasn’t sure it fit right. I tried on a few others, but they didn’t do the trick. So I tried the first dress on again and went looking for the saleswoman. As I did, I passed a customer who looked me up and down and said, “Ooooh, that looks beautiful!” OK, I was feeling a little better. I went back to the dressing room and looked again. I saw another saleswoman and asked her if she thought the dress fit right. She asked what I was wearing underneath. “Bra and panties,” I answered. She was shocked when she said, “No Spanx…no nothing?” She assured me that, once I put some foundations in place, the dress would fit beautifully. She was right.

Then we picked up Maryann and went to Tyler Arboretum. Maryann was a great guide and took us to different sections of the garden so we could think about how private it would be, how it would look for pictures, etc. The sun was shining everywhere and the setting was so peaceful. After about an hour we found the perfect place for us. It was a little cubby spot, full of greenery, on the side of one of the buildings.

On the way home, Joseph and I stopped at our favorite local Italian restaurant. We wanted to make sure we reserve just the right table for our “wedding reception.” We scored exactly the table we wanted!

We had just one last stop, to Charming Charlies, in search of “just the right accessories” for my dress. The good thing about Joseph is that he doesn’t just hang out in a corner being annoyed, he asked what I wanted (something that sparkled in the sunlight); he helped me find it.

When we got home, I had an email from Reverend Pattie. She’d written a beautiful ceremony. It included everything we wanted. She suggested that two of our guests do two of the readings. We loved the idea!

When Tuesday the 24th came, I left home early for some beautifying. On my way home, I stopped at Lorgus, our local florist. I talked to Mary and asked her if she could make a boutonniere for Joseph.  No problem. Then I slid in the request for a small bouquet for me. “When do you need it,” Mary asked, never expecting I would answer, “this afternoon.” I was thoroughly prepared for Mary to be annoyed and tell me I was crazy. She didn’t (though she did sort of roll her eyes).

Once she adjusted to the last-minute request, Mary took me around to the refrigerators and asked what I liked for color and style. I was ecstatic! I paid the bill, agreed to return in a couple hours and left. A few hours later, Joseph picked the flowers and, when I saw them, I couldn’t believe how perfectly Mary put together the just right bouquet for me.

It was mid-afternoon when we got to the arboretum. The sun was shining brightly and the weather was crisp and clear – a perfect fall day. When we got to the spot Joseph and I had chosen, and because I’m so used to be the speaker/workshop leader, I felt suddenly “lost” for what to do and had a moment of panic. Of course, I didn’t need to worry. With just a few words, Pattie took charge and got everything in place. Immediately I felt myself relaxing into her most capable hands.

While Joseph and I looked at each other, Pattie celebrated our love and commitment with the words she’d written. Maryann did a reading and so did Pat. Richard took pictures and so did Pattie’s spouse, Tom. Joseph and I wrote our own vows and said them. I surprised myself when I got choked up while reading mine to Joseph. The commitment two people make is always so intimate. I find that the longer Joseph and I are together, the more meaningful our commitments to each other are. I also think we are more and more grateful to be together, and grateful that we still choose each other.

Then, before we knew it, Joseph and I were married!

We popped open a bottle of bubbly, had a toast, and took pictures. Then we all headed to the restaurant to celebrate our new union. Being with people who are so special to us was a true blessing. The wine and scotch added to the sparkle. Also, Richard has a business relationship with the owner, so we got some extra-special treatment.

Then, all of a sudden – that fast – our wedding day was over. When we got home, we opened some gifts and cards and heard a precious email from our friend, Sue, who was traveling in California…and thought enough to call and leave a warm message.

Wedding #6 has very special memories with special people. But the most special part of the whole day was that Joseph and I chose each other…once again.

Giving Up Husband and Wife

23104176_s“I’ve been marriage twice,” Marnie, a fifty-ish solepreneur, said before admitting, “It was the same both times – great for the first couple years and then they started to get demanding and possessive. I felt strangled.”

Yet, when talking business, said she was bogged down with all the detail and administrative work that came with delivering her expertise. They were things she hated doing but that had to be done. “I need a wife,” she laughed.

Her callous, sexist words made me bristled. And, at the same time, I understood. In her mind, just as in the mind of the vast majority of people, a WIFE is the person who handles the details of a marriage. She serves without being served.

In Marnie’s marriages, she became “a wife” and, within a couple years, hated being one.

To me, “wife” is a four-letter word. I don’t use it about others unless I must. I NEVER use in reference to myself. “WIFE” is a word which  implies certain tasks. It’s like “HUSBAND” a word that boxes a man into the role of  going into the workplace and becoming the bread-winner to support the family. The husband rules.

Meanwhile, the wife takes care of the household details – everything from making shopping lists and medical appointments to organizing couple events, family social events, sending birthday cards to staying on hold for hours with doctor offices, credit card companies, insurance companies, etc.

In this day and age, many couples are less traditional than their parents and grandparents. Yet the stigma of the “husband” and “wife” words can still box them into mindsets and tasks that don’t serve their marriage.

What to call yourself instead?

SPOUSE. The word is a mental shift out of the sterotypes. It honors the relationship you and your partner share.


FYI:  Be prepared for some Neanderthal attitudes from both men and women, but hold your ground. Many times I’ve been questioned about using the word spouse, but when I explain why, most people (men and women) agree. It’s one of those “teachable moments” opportunities.