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Forty-One Years of Eat, Pray, Love.

May 26, 2017

Not perfect, but good enough!

Another Way for week of May 26, 2017

Forty-One Years of Eat, Pray, Love.

The annual setting out of our tomato stakes is often a barometer of our marriage. We bicker about how far apart the stakes should be, whether they are straight, and move the stake back and forth a mere inch or so to get it just right. I feel like a have a reasonably good eye for spacing stakes evenly, although we can both get off track and the stakes gently wind a slow curve. As we age, the job becomes less a test of marriage and more a trial of physical strength getting the stakes in the ground.

If you’re going w-w-w-what is she talking about, a brief primer is in order on planting and raising tomatoes the Hershel Davis way. Hershel was my father-in-law—who modeled and instructed us in the fine art of growing tomatoes. He put out hundreds of tomato plants each summer and staked them all, tying the vines ever further up the stakes as they grew. He loved growing tomatoes and giving many away—especially if you praised them. He also sold some to local independent groceries or regular customers.

Daughter Doreen standing beside staked up tomatoes at our 30-year-home. And yes, that is even taller corn behind her.

My husband—great tinkerer that he is—went one better for awhile and put extensions on his tomato stakes so the plants could grow even taller. I think he was heading for Jack-and-the-beanstalk’s-giant territory. Stuart has to stand on a step stool in order to get high enough to pound the stakes into the ground using a device he made for the purpose, like a fence post driver. It is a heavy, hollow, steel tube, closed on top with handles on each side that you slide down over the stake to hammer it into the ground. We used to use wooden stakes but some years ago we changed to using metal fencing posts. The hollow steel tube clanging on the metal fence post rings out as we work like we were building a railroad. And feels like that.

So, each year I dread the setting out of the stakes. I dislike it as much for the marital spats it brings out in both of us, as for the hard labor it involves. If you’ve been married 10, 15 or more years I’m guessing there are certain annual rituals and tasks that you get a little heated about every year, too. Choosing or retrieving a Christmas tree, if you buy an actual tree each year. Packing the car for vacation. Figuring out where you’ll go on vacation. How best to shovel snow or wash windows. Or perhaps it’s cleaning the basement or garage that gets you going with irritations and squabbles.

It does get easier with time, because you know your marriage will survive the bickering, and can take it in better stride.

Last year we celebrated 40 years of marriage on May 29. How do we—and millions of other couples manage to keep their wedding vows for 30, 40, 50 or more years?

  1. You keep the vows because you promised each other you would.
  2. You find ways to practice daily love expressed through a kiss, a kind word, a special smile, a favor or deed done for your loved one.
  3. You make getaways—weekend trips or longer if you can—when it is just the two of you. You treat yourselves to the luxury of a nice motel or cabin or camping if that’s your thing, and enjoy the snuggles.
  4. If you’re not into traveling—just keep date nights when you put away your phones and find things to talk about, like you did when you were dating.
  5. If you have an argument, you let it cool and then both work at making up later with a genuine “I’m sorry” and repeating any of the love expressions in #2.
  6. You build memories as a couple or family which keep you hanging on even when the love feels in small supply.
  7. You get help if necessary when going through a bad patch, depression, grief, or a seemingly irresolvable conflict.
  8. You let your family support and help you in times of need—and return the favor for all those kin you keep close.
  9. You pray.
  10. You eat together.
  11. You just keep loving.

For my free booklet (sized to fit into wedding or anniversary cards), “Secrets of Long Marriage: Six C’s of Marriage,” write to me at or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850. Two or three per request as long as they last. Send one standard U.S. postage stamp for each booklet.

We used to put in stakes after the tomatoes were planted which is even harder. For the last two years we’ve driven in the stakes first. As with marriage, you learn things as you go.


What are your top 3 tips for keeping a long marriage going–or perhaps better said, keeping love alive?
I always love to connect with readers. 


For my free booklet (sized to fit into wedding or anniversary cards), “Secrets of Long Marriage: Six C’s of Marriage,” write to me at or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850. Two or three per request as long as they last. Send one standard U.S. postage stamp for each booklet

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



  1. Congrats to you and your beloved, Melodie. I posted one tip last year” “Watch your Words!”

    I’m sure I’ll have more to say when our 50th rolls around this year in August. This post oozes love without sugar-coating the negotiations of marriage.

    • So you’re coming up on 50, a few ahead of me. I will learn from your examples! Thanks for the compliment–I think kind words almost always help. Nice to hear from you again.

  2. Marriage is a high stakes venture, and you and Stuart have learned how to prepare the way for an abundant harvest. Congratulations!

  3. I like your clever word plays here! At first I thought–high stakes–yeah, sure, but gambling? Harvest? OH….. the tomatoes and more! I got it now. So fun, thanks for checking in!

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