There’s hardly a couple more dear than Sandra and Bob Sallin. They live in LA, and when I was recently down there working with a client, I had the pleasure of spending two evenings with them in their home. I’d met Sandra before up here in the Bay Area. You may know her through her blog, Apart from My Art. She’s a fabulous writer with an endless amount of stories that will captivate and delight you. She may look familiar to you because I wrote a post sharing arty style notes about her and our friend Cindy Hattersley from Cindy Hattersley Design.
When I found out that Sandra and Bob were one of the sixty couples included in Ari Seth Cohen’s latest book, Advanced Love, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It was on my list anyway—who has done more for bringing attention to women with advanced style than Ari? No one. I’ll add it to my collection of his Advanced Style books.
Hearing good advice twice
What I couldn’t have predicted was how Bob and Sandra’s advice in Advanced Love echoed something Mom and Dad said when I interviewed them for their 60th wedding anniversary. Sandra and Bob talked about how important it was to listen and talk to each other. Sandra says, “People see us having lunch together, and they’ll say, ‘How do you two have so much to talk about? You have been married for so long.’ We just have the best time together.” And Bob adds, “We really do.”
You know how wonderful it is to spot familiar things? Things that bring back positive memories and feel like home? It can be scent, like the smell of lilacs purchased in spring at the Sonoma Market. The fragrance reminds me of the near tractor-sized lilac bush outside Mom and Dad’s bedroom window at the lake. It’s pure yum.
Or taste. When my niece made banana bread for me on a visit to Fargo, tears rolled down my cheeks. It was Mom’s recipe. The golden color of it and the sweet, nutty taste made me remember the hundreds of loaves of banana bread she made for our family. There’s nothing that comes close to Mom’s banana bread.
So visiting with Bob and Sandra in their beautifully curated home, filled with art and antiques, sitting across a coffee table from me, sharing life stories, turning to look at each other, grinning, laughing together gave me that homey feeling. I’ve seen that kind of loving response between a man and a woman before. I’d recognize it anywhere because I saw it up close and personal with Mom and Dad.
The key to advanced love: listening and talking
Mom and Dad started each day drinking coffee in the blue recliners in the living room, talking, reminiscing, amusing each other, laughing. At noon they’d gather in the front porch. More coffee, more talking—more comfortable together than apart. In the evening they were in the sunroom in their berry-colored recliners, talking about the day’s new stories. Weather, politics, entertainment. And from 11 pm to 1 am they were back in the blue recliners, having intimate conversations. They might talk about kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, but they’d be back to recalling the years on the farm in North Dakota and the relatives and neighbors from back home.
So when Sandra and Bob tell us in Advanced Love how they have so much to talk about after 58 years of marriage, I get it. It’s for real. This is no exaggeration.
I adore Sandra, Bob is a total love, and I’m crazy about the two of them together. I remember after visiting Mom and Dad at the lake, Russ would say, “We need to talk more.” It was true. They made talking together look like having your favorite dessert every night.
When I came home from LA I sat down in my recliner, Russ was across from me in his big velvet chair, and we talked…about Bob and Sandra. I’ll never have 58 years of marriage like Bob and Sandra. I won’t have 64 years of marriage as Mom and Dad had. I started late; I met my perfect love at fifty. I’m still a beginner at this coupling thing, but I’ve got the best role models, don’t I?
Sharing Mom and Dad’s relationship secrets
At the party for Mom and Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary, I wanted to give every attendee a party favor. So I sat on the floor one night with pen and paper while Mom and Dad were in the blue recliners, and I asked them questions about a long marriage. I typed up their answers and printed the interview on pretty paper, rolled them into a scroll, and tied them up with a ribbon. When the guests left, each one took a scroll from the basket.
I want to share that interview with you. You’ll easily spot the part that resonates with Bob and Sandra’s advice.
Don and Alma on 60 Years of Marriage, July 2011
What qualities are necessary to be married 60 years?
Don: Have a positive attitude. Humor goes along with that.
Alma: We had the ability to laugh at ourselves.
Don: Take a day at a time. If you have a down day, wait 48 hours. The sun will shine again.
Why did you marry Don?
I just knew he’d make these real cute babies.
Why did you marry Alma?
She had a wonderful smile, a wonderful disposition and was fun to be with. I was looking forward to a mate and togetherness.
Why it works
Alma: We’re each other’s best friends. We can trust each other and bare our souls.
Don: And have an honest discussion.
Alma: There’s always someone there to help you whether it’s physical or emotional.
Don and Alma: We’ve been lucky and we’ve been blessed. We’ve had lots of good friends all our life and good family to back us up.
Don: We’re always concerned about each other.
Alma: We worry about each other. That’s the sad part that happens now and then.
Best tools for getting through tough times
Alma: We’re more optimists than pessimists. If one gets down, the other one pulls us up.
Don appreciates Alma for …
She finds the clothes for me to wear so I depend on that and her cleanliness in our home.
Alma appreciates Don for …
I’m real content going with him in a car because I think he’s a very good driver.
Don and Alma: We always have something to talk about. We love staying up until one in the morning with the lights out and music on and just visiting. When we reminisce, it’s about the good things, not the bad. We omit the bad things that have happened and remember the good times.
Alma: I thought after two weeks of marriage we wouldn’t have anything to talk about.
Don: That’s a good one! That is absolutely precious!
Their advice to others
Don: Enjoy life!
Alma: We’re thankful for every day and look forward to many more. We’ll never get enough.
I remember just before I met Russ some advice Dad gave me. He said, “Brenda, find someone you can sit on the porch and talk to.” Wise words.
Dear friends, have you experienced advanced love? What do you know about love now that you didn’t know twenty years or more ago? I’m so eager to hear your comments!