Reeder: Happily still discovering the secrets to marriage

SPRINGFIELD – Years ago, I was out on a first date with a woman when my Labrador retriever urinated all over the woman’s blouse.

I stood there stunned, looking at the wet spot dripping down her side, and I thought: “There goes any chance of a second date.”

Instead the woman, a veterinarian, gave me a grin and said, “Don’t worry about it, it’s the third time it’s happened to me this week.”

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I knew at that moment, this was the woman I would marry. She had grace under pressure. 

This week, we celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. 

Spouses don’t come with instructions and I’ll admit that even after 14 years I’m at times bewildered as to how to respond to some situations. 

But I do know this: She is the love of my life and puts up with me despite my many shortcomings. 

She completes me.

When we wed, friends felt the need to offer advice.

Perhaps they came plying their unsolicited guidance because I entered the world of matrimony later than most. I was 38.

Regardless, their advice, while well intentioned, was not always full of merit.

For example, a twice-divorced college buddy told me: “Never hold anything back. Always tell her exactly what you are thinking. And when she does something you don’t like, make sure she knows it.” 

On the other hand, a relative gave me this sage bit of wisdom: “Marriage is something you should go into with your eyes wide open and through with them half shut.”

When I ran this adage by my father, who ultimately was married to my mother for 58 years, he would just smile.

His folks were married 74 years, and my mother’s parents’ marriage lasted until the eve of their 50th anniversary, when a bad heart felled my grandfather.

They set good examples. 

I only hope my wife, Joan, and I can provide an even better example for our three daughters. 

If they ever ask the secret to a happy marriage I’ll say this: love, forgive and never give up.

Happy anniversary, dear. 

• Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area and produces the podcast Suspect Convictions. He can be reached at

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