Un-Attended Marriage as Fragile as a Souffle



I have been married to the same man for thirty-seven years, which seems to be rarer than not these days. When I’m asked about the success of our marriage I often casually say, ‘Oh, he makes me laugh’…which is NOT a lie. He is the most entertaining person I’ve even known. But the real reason is much more romantic and tender. He’s has helped us tend our marriage like Julia Child would care for a soufflé and he’s the one in our relationship who can’t cook!

Twenty-seven years ago my husband surprised me with a little red glass heart he had hidden for me to discover. I’m sure he was ‘in the dog house’ for one reason or another, a ‘house’ in which some men can find themselves on occasion, but as you can imagine all was forgiven when I discovered the wee heart hidden among my lingerie. From that day on we have played this romantic game of hiding the heart from one another as a ‘non-verbal’ expression of love.

Sometimes we would forget who had hidden the heart last so we decided to limit to the first floor when hiding the heart inside the house. Before we made that rule, there had been times when the heart remained ‘secreted’ way for months. In fact once it was ‘hidden’ for two years!

I was a little distraught one day when it dawned on me one day that I had not seen the heart in a long while, so I began tearing the house apart in search of it. The good news is that my house had NEVER been so clean. The clothes closets and chest of drawers were purged and linens in the laundry room were folded and what was no longer desired was placed in a bag for Good Will. The entire bedroom was vacuumed– lampshades, behind the furniture, even under the bed and all the woodwork and windows washed. The medicine cabinet was cleared of all that was expired and then organized. The bad news was I didn’t find the heart!

I rarely bake anything, but I felt so glum for not discovering the heart, I decided to bake some scones to eat to console myself while drinking a comforting cup of tea. I got all the ingredients, measuring spoons and cups and bowl out of the cupboards…still kind of keeping an eye out for the heart. When it came time to add sugar, I dug into the canister with some disgust and in shock and RELIEF saw the little red glass heart peeking up from the measuring cup! I caught my breath and my heart skipped a beat, just the way it always does when I re-discover the hidden heart, even today after so many years together.

My husband traveled for business. Whenever he left town I would tuck the heart into his shaving kit or suit pocket or brief case just to say, “I Love You”. He would always call me after finding the heart. He would always tell me that it was hard to be so far from home but the little heart help to bridge the distance for him.

Over the years we have found the little glass heart to be helpful when trying say ‘sorry’ or ‘forgive me’ or ‘miss you’. And, we have both become a little dependent on those ‘messages’ of love and feel rather ‘unhappy’ when we don’t receive one for a while.

I know a little glass heart isn’t ‘magic’ for a marriage that might be in real jeopardy, but for a marriage with some legs that might have been growing a few weeds lately and in need of some tending, it is a small gesture that can speak volumes. I can say for certain that for us the initial romantic gift and reusing of the little red glass heart has turned into a way to keep the ‘language of love alive’ in our marriage.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the care of a marriage and keeping a soufflé from falling have in common? The oven has to be the right temperature to cook evenly and both must be carefully and skillfully handled.


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