31 In Women Now

Advanced Love Up Close and Personal

Advanced Love by Ari Seth Cohen

Reading about my friends in Advanced Love


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.

Sandra's arty style

Sandra loves polka dots


iPad bag as handbag

I love polka dots, too!


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.


Sandra and Bob Sallin

Sandra and Bob share advice in Advanced Love


Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad share their advice on advanced love


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?


Sandra and Bob share years of love

Sandra helps with Bob’s scarf


My mom and dad

Mom helps with Dad’s top buttons (his arms won’t lift that far up)



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.


Mom and Dad

Love on its way to being advanced



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

Don: Communication

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.



Ari Seth Cohen writes about love

Recommending this lovely book


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!



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  • Reply
    February 28, 2019 at 3:55 am

    We may have found our “Don’s” later than Alma did but we found them! Beautifully written and I really loved learning more about your parents. Miss you Brenda!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2019 at 4:19 am

    2019 means 40 years married to my guy. People ask how I can “stay married” so long. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. It’s not a chore to stay married; it’s a gift to have a relationship that is so solid, so much the fabric of my life, that I choose him every day.

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Ramona, those are tender, sweet words. What a blessing!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2019 at 4:51 am

    Thank you for this! Where can we order this beautiful book?

  • Reply
    Linda B
    February 28, 2019 at 5:02 am

    What an inspiring post! I have been married for 37 years, but I like to remind myself that we have been together since I was 19 and my husband was 21–so 42 years total. We met in college. We had to finish growing up together! But we did, and we have been so blessed. My husband retired a month ago, and I will retire later this year, and we are looking forward to many new adventures together–especially the arrival of our first grandchild in June.

    Looking at the generation before us: my husband’s father sadly passed away not long after he retired. How sad that was! But five years later my mother-in-law fell in love again, and she and her gentleman friend of 14 years are a treat to be around. I find real inspiration in the fun that they are having in their 80’s, and the love and respect they give each other.

    My own parents have been married for 63+ years, but that is not as happy of a story. It was always a stormy marriage, with occasional moments of sweetness along with the terrible times. There were some truly unbearable years recently as my father slipped into Alzheimer’s, and his temper got even worse, and my mother didn’t always react well. But now, that phase has passed, and finally there is a sweet last chapter for them. My parents have lived in a memory care unit for a year now, in rooms across the hall from each other. My mother is also slipping into dementia. . . It is hard to see all this and yet, the silver lining is that they are finally gentle with each other.

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 11:15 am

      I read this with such interest, Linda. I’m so glad you shared the generations of love and relationship in your family. What a gift it must be for you to see the gentleness between your parents now. And your mother-in-law story! What a blessing! And of course, your story of love. I’m so excited for you. And on that grandchild note, I’m going to join that club in May, just a month before you. Exciting times. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    February 28, 2019 at 6:22 am

    I was lucky to meet my SO at 30 (after a disastrous first marriage for me), it’s been 28 years (well it will be, in 3 days!) and perfection. As you say, he is not only my lover but also my best friend, the smartest man I know, the biggest hearted too, and we do talk a lot! All I can ask for is many, many more years like the past 28…

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 11:12 am

      How wonderful! I’m so happy for you. It’s tough to get out of a disastrous marriage and have the hope that another can be great. I love hearing stories about that happening. Thanks for sharing your wonderful love story with us!

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    February 28, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Awww…this melts my heart.
    I never had this example in my life so it was hard to mirror it. But finding someone who just fits with you makes life so much better. I have been blessed to find that later in life. 15 years ago to be exact. And my life has never been better.

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Jodie, even with that example it’s hard to mirror it! They made it look pretty darn easy. I’m so happy for you and the love in your life. Big hugs to you, my friend!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2019 at 6:42 am

    IT just keeps on GROWING!I think we are headed for 34 years this July!I love the mentioning of all THE RECLINERS!
    I think I’m ready for TWO in the living room and to dump the SOFA that kills both our BACKS!
    Beautiful Post!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 11:09 am

      And wasn’t it so fun to be together that one night in LA when you were down there? How lucky for me! All of you under the same roof! You’re such a great friend, Elizabeth. I loved watching you take extra care of Sandra and making sure she didn’t overdo it so soon after her surgery. You’re the best!!! xo

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin - Apart From My Art
    February 28, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Oh Brenda. This is the sweetest piece of writing I’ve read.
    I connected with Brenda immediately. I’d been reading her blog and loving her writing. We then met in person, ( the joys of being a fellow blogger) and immediately hit it off and became bestest of buddies. It was as if we’d been friends for years. Brenda is a rock solid smart, beautiful and dear person. I’m so sorry we don’t live next door to each other. Yes, she really captured both Bob and myself and her absolutely adorable parents. We don’t have a recliner but that doesn’t stop us from talking and talking. I must admit sometimes I keep things inside but Bob is the braver one and always brings me out. Well, but then again I do the same with him. I’m honored that you compare us to your parents. Bottom line we are lucky to have found our soul mates, and bottom line we’re smart enough to know you have to work at a relationship. After that love at first sight, the work begins and never stops even after 58 years. We were so honored to be in Ari Seth Cohen’s book “Advanced Love.” Sweet love being photographed for the ages. Thank you Brenda. Wait till my kids and grandkids see this.

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 11:07 am

      You are a doll! Thanks for your kind words. I felt exactly the same when I met you. Spending more and more time with you would be my dream come true. It was so fun to write about you two and you can see why I thought of Mom and Dad and that interview from their 60th wedding anniversary. I know they worked on their marriage as well and boy, especially when Dad finally retired, the payoff was big time. They were always the love of each other’s life but it was so joyous to see them spend so much time together in the later years of their marriage. My mother and I were driving to Fargo once and she ran down each decade talking about her and Dad. Some details were maybe more intimate than I was comfortable with at the time, but I was so delighted to know how much they cared for each other and supported each other over the years. Dad misses her like crazy and of course, that makes perfect sense.
      I can’t wait for your kids and grandkids to read this too. Much love to you, my dear!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Brenda, what a lovely post. I can attest to the fact that advanced love is a treasure. My husband and I will celebrate 53 years together this May. We’re still crazy about each other, and best friends to boot! We often laugh when we remember how the rabbi counseled Bob not to marry me because I was too young (Bob was 28 and I was a week shy of turning 19). Bob is now 80 and I am 71. We wish that rabbi could see us now! We’ve been so happy together for all these years.

    Congratulations on your years with Russ. Your parents gave you good advice!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 10:59 am

      What a hoot! So glad you didn’t listen to the rabbi’s advice! Congrats to you. xx

  • Reply
    February 28, 2019 at 10:36 am

    I LOVE this post. Sandra is one of my favorite people. I have had that book in my basket on Amazon. I have to get that taken care of. What a sweet idea you had for their anniversary party. My parents divorced at an early age but I am now surrounded by many long term marriages. Thanks for featuring Sandra and sharing your parents love…darling!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2019 at 10:58 am

      Indeed, time to get that book! It’s full of great pictures. Well, you know Ari, he is masterful with that camera. And then there’s your long marriage! Congrats. xo

  • Reply
    February 28, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    I met my husband when I was 49 and he was 39. We became friends first. He became my very best friend and we just sort of fell into love. We have always treated each other as friends with the highest regard for each other. We never had to work at our relationship because we think each other’s idiosyncrasies are endearing. It’s much better to pick up after someone than not have anyone to pick up after. I am 79 now and we still dance together every single morning. That’s how we begin our day.

    • Reply
      March 1, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      I just read your comment and said aloud, “Oh, Roseanna!” You probably didn’t hear that but I adore your share. You help me look at some of Russ’ habits as idiosyncrasies and not things I try to change. You’re a doll for saying, “better to pick up after someone than not have anyone to pick up after.” That’s brilliant in my book! I love imagining you and your best friend dancing together every morning. I have chills!

  • Reply
    March 1, 2019 at 3:49 am

    I met the true love of my life at a later age also, after I had already been married for 10+ years to a childhood love — but as many of us know, just love isn’t enough to sustain a meaningful relationship. Mutual respect and true caring to help one another reach their full potential is so important. So sometimes I feel a little sad, too, that we may not get to 45 or 50 years together, but isn’t the old adage “quality over quantity” so true?
    We tend to talk together most at the table, for long leisurely dinners almost every night and nice breakfasts on the weekend. And on walks together, and in the car.
    Looking forward to the book! And here’s a funny link to Sandra: she purchased a lovely Angela Caputo necklace from me on eBay, and when I found her blog I knew instantly that it was just perfect for her :~).

    • Reply
      March 1, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      How great Adele, your connection to Sandra! Can I share something that came up for me about your comment? What you said about helping one another reach their full potential is so meaningful to me. That was not present in my first marriage. I was so grateful after the fact that I had no inkling about being a writer when I was married. It would not have been supported in any way. It may have been destroyed. That became a measuring stick for me. Will this person allow me to be me? Can we love AND support each other? Thankfully, that is in my life every day. So I along with you, won’t have the stacked up years, but I will die knowing I’ve loved and been loved.

    • Reply
      Sandra Sallin - Apart From My Art
      March 23, 2019 at 11:12 pm

      Oh my goodness. I just read this. Do you remember which necklace I purchased? Thanks for searching me out and reading my blog. What a small world this internet makes.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2019 at 3:51 am

    sorry,,,,that’s “Angela Caputi”.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2019 at 5:54 am

    Ah, what a great post, Brenda! Definitely going to check out that book. I, too, met my DH later in life after a divorce and many years being single. And I love your interview with your parents – what a treasure. As for us, we’re best friends and were for years before dating and marrying. We spend every morning with our coffee in bed talking, and we don’t break that tradition even with family and friends visiting. That first cup of coffee is sacred with the door closed and our daily discussion. Of course, we talk a lot at other times and love to hang out together, but that custom started early and will probably endure as long as we do.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    Brenda – thank you for this sweet story.

  • Reply
    Trinnie q
    March 12, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Simply beautiful. Love is a blessing, whenever we find it. Sending love from Oz

  • Reply
    Cindy Scurry
    March 13, 2019 at 9:05 am

    This is so beautifully written – thank you for sharing the interview with your parents. I LOVE all the love! I too am glad to have found love, fulfillment and sincere happiness later in life with my husband.

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