Relationships

A Secret to a Happy Marriage

A Secret to a Happy Relationship

Last month, I came across a New York moment I’ll never forget…

Just after sunset, I was walking along the Brooklyn Promenade, when I spotted a couple having a candlelit picnic. The two dined in blue lawn chairs pulled up to a fold-out ironing table. As I passed them, one had just finished a joke, and they kicked back their heads in laughter. Weeks later, I saw the pair in the same location — this time with the addition of a cheese board. That’s when I finally introduced myself to Jane and Terry and asked about their weekly picnic tradition.

When did this ritual begin?
Terry: We’ve been doing this for 24 years. It started when we moved to Brooklyn. We spent every sunset outside by the water.
Jane: Then, we thought, ‘Oh, let’s bring some wine down here.’
Terry: On the seventh night, as we headed out the door, our new neighbor sighed, “Are you guys still going to the promenade?”
Jane: We haven’t stopped since.

What’s your #1 picnic staple?
Jane: A good cheese knife is very important.

What do you usually pack?
Jane: Candles, because we’re here past dark. For food, we bring two good things, which is usually a big salad and steaks or lamb chops. And cheese tonight, of course.

Any favorite dinner conversations?
Jane: I remember being in my early twenties observing these older couples, wondering, ‘What do these people talk about? Don’t they run out of things to discuss?!’ I was so freaked out about this.
Terry: She told me that fear early on.
Jane: What I didn’t realize was that the longer you’re together, the more you have to talk about. You have more friends in common, more experiences. You have these stories about your lives, these stories about other people’s lives.

Has anyone joined your tradition?
Jane: Many times. One night, our friend Harold brought along these tiny little speakers. He went to all this trouble to play rock music during our dinner. It was hysterical.

How did you meet?
Terry: We met in graduate school at the University of Chicago. Three months later, I proposed marriage.

How did you know you were meant to be?
Terry: One night, Jane was feeling sick. I walked home through the snow to get my copy of Winnie the Pooh to read her to sleep.
Jane: He came back wearing these crazy pajamas. That won my heart.
Terry: The next day, I asked her to marry me.

What do you think is the key to a good marriage?
Terry: For us, it’s just connecting again at the end of the day, sitting down without distractions.

Have you ever called off a picnic?
Jane: It’s not that we don’t annoy each other. I wouldn’t help pack all of this if I were mad. But we’ve learned over the years how to talk things through.

Any advice for other couples?
Jane: The thing is, it’s just easier to be in a good mood. And be generous to one another, apologize often.
Terry: When we’re spending time together, our slogan is to have as much fun as possible.
Jane: Also, it’s important to remember that each partner is responsible for their own happiness. You can’t rely on the other one to always entertain you.

Thank you so much, Jane and Terry! You guys are a blast. Below, a few more photos of their ritual:

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

The Brooklyn Promenade is a walkway in Brooklyn Heights that looks over the East River toward the Manhattan skyline. Magical, right? Just wait until you add a sunset and Jane and Terry.

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

“This is our paradise,” Jane told me.

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

Filet mignon, dry white wine and mushroom salad. Picnic essentials, obviously. (Those green table accessories!)

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

When Jane had an empty wine glass, Terry said, “Oh no, that’s terrible,” as he topped her off.

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

P.S. 12 relationship tips from a wedding reporter, and how do you know your partner is the one?

(Photos by Ana Gambuto for Cup of Jo.)

  1. I was in a long distance relationship witha a guy for 1 year and we broke and later i started dating another guy which was again a long distance relationship and my ex started getting in touch with me. So initially I was not able to gauge what were his intentions so I talked with him like normal friends and this I did not tell to my boyfriend. And I think my previous relationship was better and I am ending this relationship. I am so confused if I am comparing him with this present boyfriend. Secret relationships can be sexy and intense, but at the same time they may have their own drawbacks

  2. Jenny Young says...

    Love this story. I know so many people who’ve been married this long & much longer but I never tire of hearing their stories.

    My sweet Charlie & I will be married 31 years this coming May. I fell in love with him because he made me laugh & he still does. We have such crazy schedules that we have very few rituals. His job has him working all hours & I watch our sweet grandbaby while our son & daughter-in-law work. We teach a children’s class (all boys!) together on the weekends love cooking & eating meals together when we can.

    We both give with abandon & cover each other with grace.

  3. Faith says...

    I love this so, so much. My husband Leo and I are in almost 9 years of marriage and a few years back we stared this routine of “latte weekends”. We are both coffee drinkers, but we make it at home (nothing fancy, just french press) so when the weekend comes around, we would treat ourselves to “latte weekends”, usually followed by a yoga class to decompress from the work week. :) It’s a simple routine, but it’s been a nice way to ease into our weekends.

  4. Trishita says...

    Now that’s love! I wish Jane and Terry the happiest of times.
    This was so joyous, so uplifting

  5. I found this story so moving, thank you for sharing. Such good advice to have fun together. Simply beautiful. I think the greatest thing about this ritual is how content they are.

  6. This is just sooooo cute! My fiancé and I are getting married next year, and I hope we’ll introduce some similar ritual(s) over the years =D

  7. caitlin says...

    i love them!!! such a great read

  8. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. Angela says...

    I know Jane and Terry!

    A fantastic couple. They do such good for the community. Their love shines through each and every action. I moved away from Brooklyn 1.5 years ago, and it makes me so happy to see a bit of my old community on the blog.

    • Hi Angela !!!
      Jane and I miss you. You need to come back.
      Terry

  10. kathryn says...

    Thank you for sharing this. Next week my husband and I will be celebrating 15 years of marriage. I was 18 then and how we’ve grown, matured, our lives flowing into each other, changing and yet the same. I met my husband while growing up in Guatemala and our dating days consisted of ” paseos por el pueblo por la tarde” (afternoon walks in the village), hand in hand, talking, dreaming and stopping to buy tostadas. Simple but beautiful- I won’t change it for movies, bowling etc. Definitely times were different, life had a slower rhythm. Years later, with four children, and now living in Canada; one thing still remains…us and still so much to talk about. I also used to fear that we’d run out of things to say, but we haven’t and now I know with more certainty that we won’t.

  11. Kandice says...

    Thank you for this post! It is such a wonderful thing to see!

  12. meg says...

    this is lovely! it reminded me: (a) that these two probably have said “no” to many other things so that they could say “yes” to this tradition. (b) make and keep your priorities.

    thank you for sharing!

  13. Maranda says...

    I really loved this post (and the wise comments)! I got engaged a little over a month ago, and this weekend I went to a wedding for someone in my fiance’s family and the officiant said something that really stuck out to both of us- always try to see the best in your partner. We both live together and have busy schedules, and I will admit that there are times where I will get frustrated with something he does and I immediately jump to feeling anxious and upset, rather than just taking a breath and remembering to not assume the worst in my partner. I think I’ll be adding the advice of it being easier to be in a good mood to my list of wise relationship advice as well!

  14. Eliza says...

    This is the most gorgeous post and I have shared it widely. My husband and I have only been married for two years and we are both in our mid forties. He is a widower who suffered huge grief and trauma when his first wife, and the mother of his kids, died suddenly. He teaches me every day that life is too short to sweat the small stuff, especially in a relationship. We catch moments together alone whenever we can take time away from the kids, for a walk together or a coffee. There is not a day that we don’t make each other feel loved and appreciated. Jane and Terry have this down pat and have inspired us to add picnics to our repertoire. Simple and lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Caroline says...

    Apologize often is the best tip for a happy marriage, it really works. And for me and my husbund expressing emotions with words and talking, talking, talking a lot have saved my marriage.

  16. The picnics are such a great idea and those two are such a charming couple! Thanks for finding them and sharing them with us.

  17. I absolutely love this story. Thank you for sharing – and for showing how love looks between a couple with many shared miles under their belts.

  18. Lovely, sweet post and I read all of the comments, too! Loved all of the thoughtful marriage advice. :)

  19. Kate says...

    My husband and I had a rough start to marriage as one month before our wedding, my dad was given six months to live. My husband then went on to U of Chicago for grad school while I stayed in California to help my mom care for my dad through hospice. Once my dad passed, I moved out to Chicago, away from both of our families. We spent a lot of time just the two of us exploring a new city as I grieved. Sometimes when the weight of the year washed over me, I came up with the term “cave time” which meant no cell phones, no fiends or family – just the two of us and usually a walk. When we moved back to California and both had more demanding careers, we tried to reserve Sundays for Cave Time. Again this would include just us and no cell phones and usually a walk. We’re coming up on ten years, three kids and a puppy. The phrase cave time hasn’t been used in years, we’ve succumbed to constantness. This post has reminded we should get back there even though we are immensely happy. Tonight, once the kids are down, I’m going to carve out some cave time. Thanks for this post!! And reminding us to get back to simplicity.

  20. Jenn says...

    When asked “what’s the secret to a long marriage?”, Beatle George Harrison’s widow Olivia said, “it’s like, you don’t get divorced”. All these sweet comments are great ideas for how to smooth the ride, but at the end of the day, it’s like, you don’t get divorced.

    • Seraphim says...

      Ha! Amen, sister.

  21. This made me cry. What a great story, what an admirable relationship!

  22. This made my heart SO happy to read. I especially loved the comment about fearing what you’ll talk about later in life. Their response makes so much sense. Such a great post, Cup of Jo!

  23. We’ve only been married for 5 years, but my husband and I always make it a point to pay attention to each other’s love language. Mine is “acts of service” so every night he rubs my back before I fall asleep. His is “words of affirmation” so I make sure to text him how much I love him and how much he means to me throughout the day. It seems simple, but having these habits in place helps navigate disagreements or other annoyances with each other.

  24. Marcia says...

    We have a tradition in our wedding. When my husband is not travelling (he travels a lot for work and me, too, sometimes), we meet in a bar/brasserie every Wednesday night. For 14 years we have been doing this, first in Rio de Janeiro, where we used to live, and now in the suburb of Paris, where we have our favorite places. We have three daughters, so we needed a babysitter in the beginning, but the older one now is 16, so she is babysitting for us. We also can go out on Fridays or Saturday nights, but we try to do it with some friends. Wednesdays are our special nights.

    • Louise says...

      Oh how wonderful! I could actually try and set something like that up. We have three small boys but they will grow up one day and we’d love to still be married then. Wednesdays…. I must suggest this to my husband. Thanks for your comment!

  25. That is the sweetest thing I’ve read in a long time! Thank you so much for taking the time to share their story and thanks to the couple for sharing it with all of us!

  26. I can only aspire to this in my marriage! Such a beautiful location and idea. Thanks to Jane & Terry for sharing and to you for being brave and asking them to share.

  27. Beth says...

    This might be my favorite Cup of Jo post of all time. Thank you for getting their story, and thanks to them for sharing!

  28. This is the sweetest thing I’ve read in a long time. Long live love. xx

  29. Chad says...

    Married to someone now whom I love very much. I think and hope it could be us one day… Each is “responsible for their own happiness,” and why would you bring anything less than that to your partners’ life?

    Thanks Jane and Terry, for the example and the advice. Hope the newfound fame hasn’t interrupted such a rare and simple pleasure.

  30. Yulia says...

    I want more Jane and Terry! How about a beauty uniform and a house tour and career advice and recipes (steak salad, anyone?). Honestly–a monthly Jane and Terry “column” would just fill me up with joy!

    • Anna says...

      Me too – more Jane & Terry, please!

  31. What a wonderful tradition!

    One of my tips to couples would be not to call your spouse by his/her first name. Instead always use stick to your pet names (terms of endearment). There has been studies about it! I never knew this, but growing up my parents (they’ve been married 41 years) never called each other by their given names and still don’t. I remember once I was old enough to notice I would ask my mom to say my dad’s name out loud and I think she even felt weird about it. Ha! My husband and I followed suit without planning. We never say each other’s name unless we are referring to each other to someone else. I think this definitely helps keep the tone lighter even when we get upset with each other.

    Kiss more! I mean a good smackaroo frenchy style and all. Even if you have to hide behind a wall from your kids or even if you’re not feeling it–the moment will be worth it.

    Do nice things for each other even when one does it more because things will reciprocate eventually.

    Never stop dating! Even if its little moments at home. We usually plan 1 late dinner after our daughter is asleep so that we can light the candles, enjoy an extra glass of wine and be Us.

    xo Lendy

  32. allison says...

    this. just magic. thanks for brightening my day with the love of jane and terry. cheers to them!!

  33. Denise Hernandez says...

    #goals <3 <3 <3

  34. Saz says...

    I knew my boy (who worked at the same place as me) was the one, when I returned to work 5 days after my father died unexpectedly. I stepped through the front gate, and found him silently standing in the doorway with a mug of coffee for me.
    I cried. Partly because I was sad about my dad, but also because it that moment, I knew I’d found the one for me.

    • Wendy Taylor says...

      whoa so sweet

  35. Linda says...

    That is a really sweet story!

  36. Vicki says...

    Thank you for stopping to chat with them, and thank you for sharing with us.
    “The thing is, it’s just easier to be in a good mood.” My family has had a wild year or so (who hasn’t, right?!) and my husband and I have been so stressed and so cranky, but … it would be easier just to be in a good mood.

  37. This is so beautiful. Such a testament to the way rituals root us!

    I would LOVE to see more happy marriages, serendipitous sightings around NYC, and just plain old uplifting content of that sort. I have been thinking about this post all week and keep returning to read the comments. What a wonderful, big love.

  38. Danielle says...

    I’ve only been married for 3 months, but I started having a glass of water waiting for him when he gets home from work if I’m already home. He works long hours as a post-op RN and is usually exhausted when he gets home at 9pm. The glass of water is a small sign of my love and appreciation for him. He does the same for me if he’s home when I get home from work. :)

    • Danielle says...

      My partner wakes me up every morning with a glass of water. It’s my favourite way to wake up

  39. Tara says...

    This warmed my heart in a very much needed way today. After reading a bunch of terrible political news (like most days), I thought to myself “I’ll head over to Cup of Jo, because I know that will calm me down and make me less mad at the world.” Jane and Terry’s story did the trick. How lovely and inspiring.

    To Meg’s comment above, we DO need more stories like this. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Gina says...

    This is the BEST! Love little stories like this that put a little hope in your heart for humanity.

  41. This is so beautiful!

  42. Jennifer says...

    This is so sweet! My husband and I have been married for 7 years and have two littles. It’s not always easy (or affordable!) to get a babysitter each week for a date night so we have an “at home” date each week. Every Friday, we plan to eat after the kids have gone to bed. It’s so nice to open a bottle of wine, turn on some music and have a meal that’s not interrupted 15 times for requests of “more water” or “I need a new napkin.” I look forward to this time so much. It’s really lovely to have a special ritual that allows us to connect each week.

  43. Meg says...

    Thank you for a lovely story of people doing beautiful things together. Not to be greedy, but more please…we need it.

  44. Alissa Magrum says...

    I so loved reading this about my aunt Jane & uncle Terry. Everything that was written in this article about them and their big sweet love is why my wife & I asked them to marry us. What a beautiful example of married partners.

    • Verity says...

      How beautiful!

    • God, ‘Lissa, who’s cooler than you. How happy Jane & were to officiate at your wedding. Will never forget that magical day outside Austin, when the forecast rains never fell on your gorgeous outdoor ceremony!

  45. Eleni Chrysopoulou says...

    I visited N.Y. last summer from Greece and walking along the Promenade I run into this wonderful image of the couple dinning. The picture has stuck with me ever since and I am so glad I found out about them.

    • Whoa, Eleni! Next time you need to say hi. Might be an hors d’oeuvres in it for you.

  46. Carla says...

    We could be friends with this couple! My husband and I have been married 46 years. We start every day…at home or away…with coffee and the newspaper. He makes the coffee and brings it up in a tray. I feed our dog and bring up the paper..and dog. I sit in bed, he in a recliner with the lamp between us. You can’t be in a bad mood when you start your day in this peaceful and connected way.
    Little personal rituals and communication is the key to a long and happy relationship!!

    personal rituals

    • Our kinda peeps for sure, Carla. It’s 47 years for us. You live anywhere near Brooklyn? If so, please get in touch.

  47. These are literally the wisest humans I’ve ever heard. Can I just skip ahead to this please?

    Love that you interviewed them!

  48. Ok, this is just darling and made me smile. Love it!

  49. Nicola says...

    What a cute couple, made my heart melt!

    This is the best advice ever ‘it’s important to remember that each partner is responsible for their own happiness. You can’t rely on the other one to always entertain you.’

    I wish I had realised this in my mid twenties. I made some terrible mistakes because I was unhappy, not appreciating that the person responsible for my happiness was me.

    • Ana says...

      Dear Nicola, I’m 32 and I realized just the same. It’s so much easier to blame the other person. I work from home and often feel isolated at the end of a long day by myself. Also, my friends lead really busy professional lives, some are having kids, others don’t share the same interests as me, and I keep relying on my boyfriend for company – often blaming him when he’s unavailable. I know it’s wrong and I try to encourage him to pursue his own interests, but it’s hard and the feeling of loneliness is real. Also, why is it so hard to make new friends when you don’t have a “proper” work place?
      Thank you for your comment and for highlighting that particular sentence – I know what needs to be done, I’m just not sure how, but at least I feel I’m not alone in this.

    • Wendy Taylor says...

      ANA
      Join and running club or exercise class, you will meet new people work out any anxieties and get healthier.
      Just schedule it in 2-3 times a week and try it.
      Good luck
      P.S.
      I work from home as well and over the years have lost touch with almost all my friends. Ugh but the exercise has helped in a big way.

    • Hey Ana, I second joining a group or club. If running or gym is not your thing, there are lots of other sports. If not sports, try an arts group or book club or whatever you are interested in, or anything new you’d like to try. I joined a pottery group recently and have made some new friends there, even though majority are a bit older. When you have similar interests though, it’s easier to make friends :)

  50. anne says...

    This is just so cute
    Bravo Jane & Terry
    One of my favorite post ever,
    I am french woman, living in Paris France, with my fiancé and we try as much as possible to have some rituals!
    Absolute love for this story :)))

  51. Gabriella says...

    I LOVE this. YES YES YES. Especially because it isn’t some random thing someone came up with to add to a list of what you could do to have a great marriage, but something that one couple has found for themselves and ACTUALLY does. I love real people and their real stories.

  52. Gordon Higgins says...

    I had the privilege of joining Jane and Terry in this tradition while on vacation from Scotland in September 2015. One of my top New York experiences. I’ve know both Jane and Terry for around 14 years and can testify that they are indeed a blessed couple.

    • Yeah, Gordon! Didn’t know you were a Cup of Jo guy. When’re you coming back for another Promenade dinner? Just ask Jane — if anyone’s always welcome, it’s you.

  53. I wish Jane and Terry would have a reoccurring feature on the blog. I really enjoyed reading this!

  54. Lisa Hayward says...

    One of the best posts ever! Kind of a Cup of Jo take on HONY. I love it.

  55. Brooke says...

    This is just the best!!! Thank you for sharing this wonderfulness!

  56. Rachel S. says...

    I really, really love this. Made my night! So happy you went to talk to them.

  57. It’s been a really rough week, and this absolutely turned my mood around. Thanks so much for sharing!

  58. This is the best Cup of Jo post ever. And the competition is stiff—you guys are brilliant. Bravo, Team COJ. <3

  59. Sara says...

    Such a lovely ritual! What a sweet couple.

    The Brooklyn Promenade has a special place in my heart – when my now-husband and I first started dating, we met in Downtown Brooklyn at Grimaldi’s for lunch for our second date. Afterwards, we had ice cream and walked along the promenade. We ended up sitting on a bench and talking for hours. I was on summer break from school but he was supposed to go back to work! It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and he ended up getting sunburned. (Background for this next part: his company was a client of my mom’s company – that’s how we met.) The next day he had a meeting at my mom’s office and her boss asked him if he’d been to the beach or out boating over the weekend because of the sunburn. Still makes me smile thinking about that! :)

  60. Jess says...

    This is just about the best post in the whole world. Thank you!

  61. So wonderful. These two are an inspiration to any married couple! x

  62. Katie says...

    This post made my whole day. Cheers to these darlings and decades of more picnics. ❤️

  63. Some of the very best relationship advice ever <3

  64. Kate says...

    This is the loveliest post. And that advice is so spot on. When I was about to go on my first date with my boyfriend of 6 months, I was reading the first date advice on this blog, and a reader wrote a comment about “being a blessing.” I have carried that with me in this relationship, and I think it’s being generous as well. If I know my boyfriend is stressed and cranky about a looming project, can I cut him some slack if right now he isn’t as attentive as he normally is with me? If it was 10 years ago, I would have called him out and made it into a huge battle, but with this idea of being a blessing, I can trust that this isn’t permanent and I can do my best to relieve that stress and support him.

    Also, I’d love to see this as a series!

    • Thank you so much for sharing this advice! I am going to try more to “be a blessing” to my husband. Such a sweet and wise sentiment.

    • April says...

      Ooooh I would love to read that original comment you refer to. I love this thought – “being a blessing”. <3 Thank you for sharing.

  65. I LOVE THIS.

  66. kiernan graves says...

    These two have been my inspiration from the first time I remember meeting them when I was nine or so. Inspiration in how to love and how to live! Raising a glass to Jane and Terry!

    • Hey, Kiernan. Jane and I are always saying, Thank God she’s our goddaughter!

  67. I am just SO enamored with this couple. I am sending it to all of my friends! It’s so true that sometimes it’s just easier to be in a good mood :)

    My husband and I have a tradition for Friday nights after a long week. This comes from frantic wedding planning, when we needed something cheap and easy.

    We’ll grab a movie from the library, or plan something for Netflix (Stranger Things soon, folks!). Then we grab a Home Run Inn frozen pizza (is this only in Chicago? I hope not!), and a 6 pack of beer. We make an effort not to talk about work, and just be.

    Also- I just looked at some of the comments, and saw that folks were talking about encouraging each other. I see my husband as my best friend, and he has encouraged me with my career, and creative outlets, since our first date. This is probably why the episode on Parks and Rec when Leslie and Ben get married never fails to make me cry.

    I LOVE the comments on this! Such great posts, Cup of Jo!

  68. Susan Straub says...

    And they S I N G too!

    • Hah! Hi, Susan. See you at chorus next Wednesday. (You haven’t met Jane yet, have you? You’e gonna love her.)

  69. Shelley Calton says...

    Stella,
    What a beautiful observation! Stuart taught me to love picnicking, we did it all the time when he lived in London. This is a reminder that we should get back to it and that there is always something to talk and laugh about. Thanks for sharing Stella.

  70. S. Davis says...

    this was very sweet?

  71. Hanna says...

    I *love* this! Thank you for sharing. What a sweet couple and sweet tradition.

  72. ALV says...

    PERFECT. Thank you.

  73. Kendra Robinson says...

    So many pretty things! I think the El Matiz Pillow might be my favorite.

  74. Francis says...

    This makes my heart smile!! Every day my husband calls me during lunch so we can connect for at least 5-10 minutes, and every night after our 3 little ones go to bed we sit and chat, he gives me a foot rub and I give him a shoulder and neck massage. We just talk about our day and our plans for tomorrow. I love this time to unwind together and we break out the wine and candles!!

  75. HY says...

    Wonderful post! Please do more stories like this!

  76. Karina Hagen says...

    I love this! So, so wonderful. And loving. Not to mention smart?This is how we, if we should be so lucky, would like to spend our life togheter when the twins are older☺️In norway that is, but love and the good life are universal, right?

  77. Amy McWilliams says...

    My husband and I started a simple ritual when I was pregnant and we still do years later… He calls me every day at lunch no matter what. We usually only talk for 10 minutes or so about what’s going on so far that day and what we should have for dinner. It’s a touch-point I cherish.

  78. Laurel says...

    At the risk of over sharing, this was the absolute best thing to read today. In about 5 hours, my family will board a plane to New Zealand because we made an error and overstayed our visa in Australia. The past few days, our lives have been turned upside down. I’ve run the gamut of emotions and although I love my husband dearly, it’s been a struggle not to throw blame. As Jane and Terry have shown us, you can make any place your own. They have a beautiful tradition and I will remember their positivity today as my family faces the uncertainty of leaving. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tara says...

      Good luck to you and your family!

  79. Deborah says...

    Thank you for noticing, following through, and sharing this story. I love it soooo much!!

  80. Inspiring and a good reminder to take time during the day to really talk to each other, without distraction. I love how Jane says it’s easier to be in a good mood. These little reminders are becoming more and more important to me as I get older.

  81. JA says...

    New Yorkers are so fabulous! I would love to read more posts about “random” NY rituals like this.

  82. Jessica says...

    I needed this today. I have a full plate these days….dealing with a sister with cancer, a long distance relationship and caring for my very old dog. Today was a rough day and this story brought a smile to my face. Thank you!

    • Laura C. says...

      Hold on Jessica! Sending you a big hug.

  83. The ironing-board-turned-table is probably my favorite part about this adorable story. I can’t think of anything cuter than these two right now! My fiancé and I like to go for drives. We often go to the next town over (about 20 minutes) and drive to this huge park that has a lake. We walk around it and talk about literally nothing and it’s sooo nice.

  84. This is a great read, I really enjoyed it. The elderly are really the wise ones and it’s always great to learn from them.

  85. Cindy says...

    What an amazingly special thing to do with the one you love. I think I’ll start something like this with my boyfriend of 2 years. An amended version; possibly in our town’s park or our back yard if weather is suspect. Thanks Jane and Terry for your wonderful love story; may we all be lucky enough to have what you two have together.

  86. Rachael says...

    Thanks Stella for recognizing this special moment between these two. This was a much-needed reminder of creating happiness with simple gestures. I love that comment: “…each partner is responsible for their own happiness.” I try to remind my oft-moody teenager of just this.

  87. Jenn says...

    What a special read! This made my day. I’m sending this to my husband – he will really love this, too, as we make dinner at the end of the day a priority for time to catch up and talk. <3

  88. Kerry says...

    So many things about this just made me check myself — this, most prominently: “It’s important to remember that each partner is responsible for their own happiness. You can’t rely on the other one to always entertain you.”

    I’m dating after divorce and constantly, consistently have to remind myself that I’m looking for someone who suits ME — not someone whom I can suit. I am responsible for my own happiness. Boom.

    Thanks, Stella, Jo and crew.

  89. This is extremely sweet. What a great story. My parents have been married for nearly 40 years and they teach me so much about love and relationships everyday. You can read my dad’s blog here: https://how2livewithcancer.blogspot.ie. It is a entertaining and thoughtful diary of his musings on life.

    • Erin says...

      <3

  90. Heather says...

    This is so charming! And brava to Stella for not only acting on her genuine curiosity about this couple and their ritual and asking them abou tit, but being savvy enough to know that her readers would love hearing about this too! Thanks for sharing,

  91. Kali says...

    Lamp chops?

    And “…an empty wine glass”

    Other then that, this is the BEST post. My husband and I were just having a conversation last night about connecting. He’s very busy at work but obviously, makes time for our girls and himself to relax and unwind but I feel like we’ve been together so long we take each other for granted and I was upset I wasn’t a priority. It’s so hard with jobs and young kids and we just have to remind ourselves to be gentle with each other and it doesn’t take much or a lot of time to have some sort of connection. A hug, a smile, watching a show together, or even just laying together at night. We didn’t have a lot of time together yesterday but he surrounded me in sleep and it was the best feeling.

    • Nina says...

      Can’t resist, sorry: “Other thAn that” :-)

    • Dorca says...

      Thanks for sharing your story! I love that you and your husband make time to have those hard conversations and reconnect.

    • Kali says...

      Nina: HA! I was thinking as I wrote my comment … “Man I hope I don’t make any grammatical errors now that I pointed some out in the post.” Heehee. Thanks for the correction!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thanks so much for catching, Kali! Appreciate the kind words. xoxox

  92. Meaghan says...

    #relationship goals

    What a lovely post.

  93. Claire says...

    “Also, it’s important to remember that each partner is responsible for their own happiness. You can’t rely on the other one to always entertain you.”

    This is one of the biggest lessons I have ever learned and I really wish I’d known it sooner.

    Such a lovely piece. Thank you!

    • Kerry says...

      Me too. Huge.

    • Me three!

  94. Jenn says...

    god, i love this! hope they don’t mind more company, i’m sure plenty of us will be on the lookout next time we’re around, haha :]

  95. Min says...

    I absolutely love this! I’d love to hear more about rituals that feed relationships.

  96. Bel says...

    Oh this is the sweetest thing!! I’m curious, do you know which grad school were they in?

    • We were in the Graduate School of Social Service Administration and both got our MSW’s.

      Terry & Jane

    • Two social workers from Chicago! This is lovely! :)

  97. Candice says...

    Oh this makes me so happy :) I also have that fear of running out of things to talk about, so thanks Jane!

  98. susan Mills says...

    Such an awesome story. My husband and I have been together 43 years and I remember the fear of “what will we talk about” and agree that you just find more and more. I knew he was the one when after we’d been dating 2 weeks he drove down the steep hill to our college in a major snowstorm to pick me up because someone told him they had seen me unable to make it up the hill.

    • Jessica says...

      Love that. <3

  99. Volha says...

    Don’t they get a ticket for drinking alcohol in a public space? People drink wine on the sidewalks in Paris, but that was so surprising to me because here in New York you get busted for that!

    • I had the same thought! Numerous friends of mine have been ticketed for drinking on their own stoops. One friend even had to go to court.

    • Steve says...

      NYC effectively has different laws for white people. Black folks in NYC are routinely arrested/cited for having an empty beer can in the hallway of their own apartment building! Google ‘NYPD Clean Hallways’.

    • jen says...

      I wondered about that too. NOLA is the only place I know where its legal to drink like that.

    • Pam says...

      This was my thought too! My now-husband and I had a picnic once in Chicago’s Millennium Park with cheese and wine. The entire time I was stressed about open container laws. It made the date very stressful and not romantic for rule follower like me.

  100. Lindsay says...

    At least one night a week, my husband and I have “french night”, when we fill a big wood cutting board with cheese, toasted baguette, pâté, cornichons and this french mustard that my husband is obsessed with (Edmund Fallot). We open a bottle of Cab franc after the kids are tucked in and unwind. It’s perfect :)

  101. Claudia says...

    I love Jane’s comment: “The thing is, it’s just easier to be in a good mood. And be generous to one another, apologize often.” So often we turn our bad mood on the ones we love, and hold grudges. Being generous, and assume that people are coming from a place of love rather than destruction is so powerful and important.

    • Juliette says...

      I loved that quote too, SO TRUE and yet so easy to forget.

    • Hannah says...

      I loved this too! I was told once that your husband doesn’t wake up in the morning and plan on being difficult at 7 that night (and vice versa). It’s such a good reminder to take a breath and remember that in a generally healthy relationship, you aren’t out to get each other.

  102. Betsy says...

    I just shed a little tear! So sweet!

  103. Jane says...

    What a simple but wonderful idea. I hope it inspires me to get out and check out the sunset down at the waterfront in my city (Louisville, KY)!

    • Nicole says...

      We do have a gorgeous waterfront in Louisville! :)

  104. Molly says...

    This is just the very best.

  105. Allison says...

    I want to be Terry and Jane when I grow up.

    • Steph says...

      I said this in my head, too!!

  106. Emily says...

    This may be my favorite post yet! Relationship goals.

  107. Shawn says...

    Lovely. So excited to do this as we are moving to Dumbo in a few months. Thanks for a truly inspiring post.

  108. Vanessa Vail says...

    i LOVE this!

  109. Ana-Maria Sinitean says...

    My boyfriend picked me up from the airport one day and said he had a surprise for me. He drove me to the DC suburbs to have dinner at Chick-fil-A and said to just wait. After a while, an elderly couple came in, the husband pushing the wife in her wheelchair, and they went to their table by the window. Everyone working at the restaurant knew them because they came in every night for dinner. They sat at the same table by the window to wave at the people in the drive-through. They were utterly adorable and happy and brought so many people joy just by being a steady presence day after day. Even the drivers recognized them. My boyfriend randomly stopped to eat there while I was out of town and really wanted me to meet them and experience their little routine. Definitely gave us some relationship goals.

    • Bonnie says...

      I love this – thank you for sharing. What a gem of a boyfriend to see that and think of how you’d enjoy it as well … and then take the time to not just tell you about it but to share it with you!

  110. Carolyn M says...

    I want to see their picnic basket! How do they get all of this to the promenade? I bet they have the best recommendations for how to keep white wine cool, best storage containers, etc.

    • I cart everything down there on a set of fold-up wheels, including the chairs, ironing board, food-prep table, appetizers, silverware, plates, etc., and a the meal I’ve just cooked. We leave when Jane gets home from work. And since we live just a block from the Promenade, it’s a snap.

      Terry

  111. LC says...

    what a great post to start my day. We have a 4 month old who (happily) upended our lives and this makes me look forward to when we can steal some more time to ourselves.

  112. This post brought me to tears this am. I love the part about how your conversation and commonalities grow with time. Inspiring and a great read to start the day!

  113. Amanda says...

    Obsessed with this (bookmarking to revisit, sending to my boyfriend, etc.). Thanks for sharing!

  114. Love this post very much. Such a good reminder to savor every day you have together. What a nice ritual.
    Last week I took my son to a Dairy Queen to get a treat after track and in a booth was the cutest elderly couple in their (probably in their 90s), enjoying ice cream cones together. They were so engaged with each other they looked like teens on their first date. Even my 15 year old said , ‘Mom, they look so cute.’ Made me hope to one day be so lucky to be in their place.
    Someone wisely said to enjoy the little things in life as one day you will look back and realize they were the big things. I could not agree more!

  115. This reminds me of an elderly Russian couple that lives in my building. When it’s warm, I can see them having dinner on their balcony, surrounded by geraniums, laughing and relaxing. They are the most cheerful people. It’s absolutely true – have as much fun as possible. And stay healthy so that you can keep having as much fun as you can, for as long as you can.

  116. Anddddddd I’m dead. Most heartwarming thing ever. Thanks for saying hi to them, Stella :)

    • Lindsay says...

      Lol

  117. LT says...

    this is amazing!!!!!! would love to see more inspiring posts like this!

  118. Grace says...

    This might be my favorite post ever. Just lovely.

  119. Alice says...

    This makes me want to cry it’s so sweet!

    Friends of mine have recently started going for a walk together when they get in from work, and say it’s the loveliest way to catch up on each others’ day. I’ve just started seeing someone new after ending things with a very manipulative, emotionally abusive person. I’m already excited about the idea of new traditions, and feel like I might suggest we begin something along the lines of walking together or taking a regular evening wine picnic when we are a little further along our path! :)

  120. Becca says...

    love love love this post!

  121. Marcy K says...

    What a delightful, delightful story!

  122. Laura says...

    Is there anyway Cup of Jo can create a series around this???? A “Happy Marriage” (or something like that) series? I know I’d eat it up, and I think a lot of other readers here would too!! ;-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a fun idea!

    • I agree, Laura!!! I recently got married and would LOVE to see more articles like this. So many places write about marriage being “hard” and “work” and like it’s “drudgery”…and sometimes, it is. However, it’s really refreshing to see articles writing about the beautiful parts of marriage–post wedding. It’s something to aspire to.

    • Lisa Cunningham says...

      I totally agree! This was a great story.

    • Annie Green says...

      Yes! Insights in people’s marriages would be fascinating, just as the parenting series is a cracker. You can start with mine if you like…27 years and neither of us in jail or divorce court yet. You might think that flippant but believe me, accurate. I don’t think we would necessarily recognise the people we were when we got married but that isn’t so bad. He still makes me laugh more than anybody else, even when I was in labour.

    • I second this! I’d love to see a series on happy marriages.

    • Faith says...

      I second this idea! :)

  123. Alison says...

    I loved this story! My husband and I have raised four children and have been married for 39 years. When the kids were young (7 and up) and we had had enough we would tell the kids we were going to the car. They knew that they were only allowed to come out and interrupt us if ” someone wasn’t breathing or the house was on fire”. We would sit out in the driveway for an hour or more at a time….crank up some good tunes, talk, make out. Now the kids are all adults. Every morning before work we play a game of Scrabble. Saturday’s are my favorite day of the week, our day.
    We go fill up my car, cook together, enjoy a meal out and see a movie if one is on. My guy is my dearest friend and after all of these years I can say it truly is the simple things, over time that matter the most.

    • kristen says...

      love this so much. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Abby says...

      MARRIAGE GOALS. Love the idea of sitting in the car together to get away.

    • Kate says...

      I’m totally stealing the car idea! I met my husband in high school and we always used to make out in my mom’s car, haha. I still get chills whenever I kiss him in a car. ;) I bet having car time would just help us chill if we needed a break from our littles.

  124. We totally love you, Stella, but your brilliant story is taking a toll on our lives. All we do anymore is sit at our ironing board with a cup of you-know-what and enjoy your readers comments.

    • Meg says...

      ❤️!!! Thank you for sharing your story! It made my day brighter!!

    • CL says...

      Hear hear, Terry & Jane! You two are the best.

    • Katie says...

      ^ Absolute proof that Jane and Terry are the cutest! ^

    • Ana-Maria Sinitean says...

      Go Maroons! Love to see U of C love:) I think Chicago has the highest percentage of alumni marrying each other!

    • kristen says...

      y’all are THE BEST!! Thank y’all so much for inspiring us with your lives and love for each other. And the have fun as much as possible is the best ever. I have to put that on a shirt.

  125. Laura says...

    This is one of the best posts ever! Talk about goals! My fiancé and I are a blended family of 6 with full time jobs and a side business as well. Its easy to let the overwhelm take over, and sometimes we do. But I know I have found the right one because we know how to take what little “just us” time we get and make it count. It’s like we get to peel back the busyness and realize just how much we enjoy each other! We don’t have to be doing something super fancy….a night in together where we just get to do what we want when we want is our favorite time! It’s funny because recently, we went out with a group of people to have a “night out” of dinner, drinks and dancing. It was a lot of fun, but K and I both laugh because the best part of that night was when we snuck to our car, and we just laughed about all kids of random things :-)

    Thank you for this post, it made my morning!!! xo

  126. I love this, celebrating 9 years in May of marriage and 16 years today. Three kids later it is so hard to connect, however we make sure to do something together. We eat as a family every night so everyone can share their days (5, 3 and 1) and then when the little people are in bed … we spend the next two hours chatting or watching a show or football. We love watching football together. We also do something extra fun on the weekend as a family of 5! Being kind is the best advice. My parents celebrate 40 years this December and their favorite advice is to forgive and always be kind.

  127. Talia says...

    Cutest thing ever! Such a lovely post – I am so glad you stopped to talk to them and for sharing them with us!

  128. Sarah says...

    We all need more of this, in every way. Thanks for sharing x

  129. Lizzie says...

    Sometimes my fiancée and I will split a 6-pack and play board games together with music playing. It’s a fun no-pressure Friday night date!

    • MK says...

      YES.
      My husband and I love strategy games like Ticket to Ride and if we’re not feeling competitive, we’ll do cooperative games. There’s one called Pandemic where you work together to save humanity from infectious diseases! (I swear it’s fun.)