Time flies when you do not know what you are doing.
    It is hard for me to believe this, but my wife and I will soon celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary. Who said it would not last?     
    Durable marriages seem to be the exception rather than the rule nowadays. The very language that is associated with matrimony tends toward the negative. What bachelor isn’t aware that marriage can be rearranged to spell “a grim era” and that mother-in-law can be rearranged to spell both “alter him now” and “a lime thrown”?     
    I do not claim to possess any kind of top-secret formula for a lasting marriage. After all this time, though, I am sure inertia has become a very large factor. Even so, one of the things that my wife has done, with a great deal of success, is to keep that aura of mystery alive.     
    For instance, just the other day, my wife asked me, “How many husbands does it take to replace the roll in a toilet paper dispenser?”
    I replied that I did not rightfully know.
    “That’s OK,” she said. “Nobody knows. Because it has never actually happened.”     
    See what I mean? She is always saying cryptic things like that. The true meaning behind such pronouncements keeps me guessing.     
    A meeting of the minds seems to be an important ingredient in that Mulligan stew called matrimonial bliss. My wife and I have been together for so long that not only do we finish each other’s sentences, it has gotten to the point where she starts my sentences for me and fills in all the middle parts.     
    For example, we might be watching TV when some scantily clad young lady appears on the screen. Moments later, without warning – without me uttering even a single syllable – my wife will whack me a good one.
    “Ouch,” I exclaim. “What was that for?”
    She will then explain, in great detail, how she was about to say this particular thing to which I would have retorted with that dunderheaded comment and by golly, anyone who would say such a thing deserves a good whack. The scariest part is that she has an accuracy rate that hovers at around 90%.     
    Another important ingredient for a long and happy marriage, apparently, is romance. In other words, you cannot be like that old farmer whose wife asked him, “How come you never say that you love me?” Came the gruff reply, “I already said it once on the day we got married, and if I had changed my mind, I would have let you know.”     
    Romance, according to my wife, is best obtained in a place that’s tropical and exotic. “I wish we could go to Hawaii,” she would often opine. “Or the Bahamas. Places like that are so romantic.”     
    But, alas. Romantic getaways are all but impossible for a dairy farmer. With airfares soaring into the stratosphere, I cannot imagine what such a junket might have cost. You would have to assume that the airline would require our cows be placed in first class due to the extra leg room they would need.     
    As in all marriages, compromise is key. Some years ago, as our anniversary date approached, my wife went onto the internet and found a superb place to spend our anniversary. Steever House Bed and Breakfast is located 70 miles south of our farm. It was probably about as close as we would ever get to visiting the tropics.     
    On the eve of that anniversary, we pointed our car south. But before we left, we told our two then-teenaged sons that milking and chores would be their responsibility for the next 24 hours. Also, not to even think about throwing a party while we were gone.     
    Our stay at Steever House Bed and Breakfast was entirely pleasant. For me, the breakfast part was definitely one of the highlights. As we ate, I pointed out to my wife that banana pancakes are both tropical and exotic.     
    After breakfast, we lounged by the dining room table and massaged our overstuffed tummies. Then I noticed that my wife was looking at me in a very special way. “Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?” I asked.     
    She smiled coyly and replied, “You know it.” My wife then turned to Sara, our hostess, and asked for her banana pancake recipe.     
    Ah, well. A 90% accuracy rate is still pretty darn good.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.