One Marriage, Made To Last — How We've Stayed Together A Half-Century

Photo: The author /
Melodie Tucker and her husband on their wedding day in the 1970s

Throughout our nearly five decades together, the days often passed slowly. But those first 49 years of marriage sure flew by!

We’re often asked “What’s your secret? How can we do that, too?”

People long for “the formula.” They yearn for “the magic potion.” 

As a relationship coach for 20-plus years and a wife for nearly five decades, I can recommend only this:

  • Prioritize each other.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Stay flexible.
  • Kiss (and more!) whenever possible. Never say no.
  • Disagree and argue (fairly!) when necessary.
  • Forgive one another.
  • Have fun and laugh together every single day.

It's work ... but so worth it.

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A half-century together, well-lived

Last month, we celebrated the 49th anniversary of that first fiery kiss that fused us together forever. 

As we progress through our 50th year of marriage, we can’t help but look back at the last half-century with wonder and joy.

Our daughters are in their 40s, both with kids of their own. 

 photo courtesy of the author 

We traveled. RV trips crisscrossed the US. Plus, we made it to France and Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Ireland. 

The challenges were handled, too. Weddings as well as funerals, losing some dear friends, family, parents, and facing our own health concerns.

We’ve achieved all life’s regular milestones together – education, careers, marriage, parenthood, retirement – what remains is the bucket list and the precious minutiae of daily life.

I share the essay below, written to my husband in 2001 for our 25th wedding anniversary, because back in those olden days at the turn of the 21st century, social media didn't exist and because now the internet is immortal and never forgets. 

Here’s his reminder of our first quarter-century together.

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One marriage — made to last

We've adventured over 25 years together on planes and trains and ships and buses as well as in one motorhome, two pop-up campers, four tents, four vans, nine family automobiles including one leaky T-Top Cutlass Supreme and one Durango Copper Pearl Mid Life Crisis Dream Machine.  

We’ve been everywhere. From the Space Center to Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Santa Margarita, San Luis to San Simeon to San Francisco, Seattle to Santa Fe to Silverton to Salt Lake City to St. Louis to Salem, Custer to Canada to Cincinnati to Chadwick, Cozumel, Costa Rica, and Key West.

The author and her husband on their 25th anniversary

The early years — kids and school and so much more

We've raised two kids, four dogs, eight cats, some kittens, some goldfish, six hamsters, two cockatiels. We've battled lice, ticks, termites, fleas, roaches, rats, snakes, spiders, scorpions, viruses and bacteria galore.

We juggled our careers between piano, voice, violin, baton, dance, acting, swimming and horseback riding lessons. 

Oh, and Girl Scouts and Brownies and ball practice and swim meets and parades, appointments, summer camps and science projects as well as the routine house chores, shopping, cooking, laundry and yard work.

We've clapped endlessly through orchestra (yes, Mississippi Hot Dog is still Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star), chorus, piano and dance recitals, swim meets, softball games, award ceremonies, plays, musicals, and science fairs.  

We’ve wheeled-and-dealed with teachers, administrators, principals, counselors, doctors, dentists, nurses, county, state and federal bureaucrats of all kinds.

We've dwelled together in one apartment, one duplex, one timeshare, three condos, three houses and six eternally long nights in the Wuesthoff Pediatric Ward.  

We dabbled with a rental property and a lot full of citrus trees that we did not build our dream home on.  

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The world was our playground

We've camped without electricity or running water and languished at the Trump Plaza — all in the same week. 

We've luxuriated at the finest hotels atop Las Vegas and San Francisco and feared bedbugs from the Friendship Motel.  

And we've bobbed on the Emerald Seas, the Tropicale, the Fantasy, and the Jubilee.

We've gazed at the campfire and starlight in Yosemite, the Redwoods, the Rockies, the Smokies, Lake Tahoe, Burne Caverns, the Grand Canyon, the Black Hills, Avalon, Hidden Valley and Cypress Cove.  

We’ve roasted at Niagara Falls and frozen in Valencia.

We've weathered hurricanes (and “himicanes”), lightning strikes, fire and floods. We've navigated through panic attacks, depression, cerebral palsy, impacted wisdom teeth, heart problems, menopause, scoliosis, staph infections, surgeries, pneumonia, chicken pox, car accidents, and illnesses with no name.

But there’s been no famine. I've created fantastic feasts, marvelous meals, salty suppers, funky fare, breakfast buffets, spicy spreads, sweet smorgasbords and simple snacks.  

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The simple joy of family

All the while you fixed faucets and fans and furniture and Fords and fuel filters and five million other things on the list! We've remodeled and redone and painted and nailed and sawed and stripped and sanded and stained.

There have been so many Diamond Days. The birthdates of our babies, Ventana Big Sur (twice!), Hayes Kansas, a stand of Pines in California. 

And some of those wild and magical days, nights and weekends. You know which ones I mean.

And so many holidays and parties!  My Yuletide lasagna, Halloween Horrors and Humors, Easter feasts, Valentine’s romance, birthday bashes, barbecues and picnics for the 4th of July and Labor Day and Memorial Day, and Ding Dongs and So Longs and now this: Our Very First Anniversary Party.

Then there’s been all the little carnivals, the county fairs, the state fairs, the Renaissance faires, Disneyland, Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens, Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, Blue Springs, Wild Waters, Wet & Wild, Six Flags, Magic Mountain, Williamsburg, Monticello, Biltmore, Hearst Castle. Summer by the Sea, winter in Tahoe, spring in the desert, autumn everywhere!

And our life’s work has enriched us beyond money. We’re a part of American history, from Apollo Saturn 5 to Columbia's first flight and Challenger's last.

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Like living in a poem

But the best is here. 

Family and friends so precious and dear

Those from far and those from near 

Who have mirrored our smiles and shared our tears 

Throughout the fun as well as the fears 

And people who’ve meant so very much to us throughout the years.

We’ve still so many future fantasies to fulfill. 

Professional pool games where they’ll call you “the Stud” now instead of “the Kid.” 

We’ll travel the country in our roving home and do Mars and Venus everywhere! 

And we will frolic free in France. Will there be a new room?  A new house?  College degrees? The lottery?  

Or maybe even sweet and cuddly grandbabies, who, of course, will have to call me “Mrs. Tucker.”  

Because that is who I am and who I always wish to be. It is one marriage, 

 I am “your lady,” Charles. Thank you for loving me and choosing to spend your life with me.  

I loved you then, I love you now and I will love you until death do us part.

Good luck and sweet dreams!

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Melodie Tucker is a sales consultant for YourTango Experts and a long-time relationship and life coach.