The Christmas date

If I’m being flippant and someone asks, “What’s the secret to a happy marriage?” I quip, “That’s easy. Marry your second wife first.”
But I have a better answer. A serious one.
“Don’t stop dating,” I will tell a young couple on their wedding day. I told it to my son and his bride last July. I tell it to my daughter and her husband all the time.
Courtship is crucial to falling in love. We go out for dinner, take a ride in the country, go skiing and linger in the lodge over hot chocolate, meet for coffee, skip off to New York City just for the heck of it.
Then we marry and stop doing all of these things.
Even in good, solid marriages, however, where couples become loyal partners it’s important to keep behaving like boyfriend and girlfriend.
I’m lucky to have had an example of that for nearly 50 years now. It’s my sister Sheila and her husband Paul. I bring it up today because in all probability the two of them will be going on a date tonight. They will go to the movies,
Going to the movies on Christmas night has been a ritual for them since they started dating in the early ’60s. They’ve told me it is something most of their peers did back then, too.
And they will be attired the way dating couples were in those days. Sheila perfectly put together, as she usually is anyway, and Paul in jacket and tie.
Which reminds me of something I once read on a plaque in a friend’s office: Formal courtesy is even more important between a husband and wife than between total strangers.
That’s by Robert Heinlein. Yes, the science fiction writer, noted for Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land.
Some give Heinlein credit for popularizing the concept of “pay it forward” way back in 1951.
Heinlein knew two of the most romantic words a husband and wife can speak to each other are “please” and “thank you.”
I suggest giving them a try.

Ed Ackerman