Give and Take with Cake

“Let them eat cake!” That’s what newly weds and their guests do at wedding receptions. At 9 ½ minutes after three o’clock on August 5, 1967, I fed my groom a huge mouthful of cake, and he returned the favor more gingerly ten seconds later, if the clock on the wall is any indication.



We are on the verge of celebrating our 49th anniversary. Like the seventh note in an octave, we are almost there, but have not yet reached the golden mark.

How have we gotten this far without hitting the skids? I could make a long list of suggestions, but right now I have only one:

Watch Your Words

Cake is sweet to the tongue just as our words should be to one another. Words have power. Let your spouse or partner hear “please” and ”thank you” every day. Sarcasm is out. Surely contempt must go. Public humiliation, a big NO!

  1. Say “Yes” as often as humanly possible.
  2. Wait for the best time to make a request, offer a suggestion. Everyone needs 5-10 minutes to decompress after walking through the door. Let your spouse have time to breathe before requiring a response.
  3. Once a day, notice the positive out loud: the way they look, something they’ve said, or done.

Michael Hyatt, author and speaker, affirms that “Marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. (“Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse is So Important”)

Ever the tip and list maker, Hyatt in another post shares his recipe for how to become your spouse’s best friend. Many of items on the list regard minding our words, for example: “Extend grace to me when I am grumpy or having a bad day. Speak well of me when I am not present.”

“Listen without judging or trying to fix me.”

Humorist Ogden Nash adds a dash of rhyme and reason to the mix:

If you want your marriage to sizzle

With love in the loving cup.

Whenever you’re wrong, admit it.

Whenever you’re right, shut up!

And finally, Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”  

~ Colossians 4:6, New Revised Standard Version


Light a Candle


This candle first flickered and then burned brightly on a pedestal at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The candle came with instructions to burn for one hour on our anniversary date. Some years the candle probably has shone for more than an hour. But we may have even skipped a year or two. Nevertheless, the long, tapered candle is very short and stubby now. Yet the flame still burns brightly.

Whether you are married or not, on this day I light a candle for you and whatever family relationship is most important in your life.




Your thoughts, recollections, or advice are welcome here. Thank you!


Coming next: Drawing on Love: A Brief Retrospective


65 thoughts on “Give and Take with Cake

  1. Oh what a beautiful post, Marian! Thanks for helping me to start the day with such positive, loving, and wise words.
    Happy Almost 49th Anniversary to you and Cliff!
    The photos are simply delightful–so full of young love!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for the candle, Marian. To shine a bit more light on this world, no matter what the occasion, is so welcome. I got a nice warm fuzzy feeling (my oxytocin is flowing) when I read that.

    I’ll piggy back on Merril’s “Happy Anniversary” and wish you a fun next year as you plan for your 50th.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Once a day, notice the positive out loud: the way they look, something they’ve said, or done.” This is so important. Each day, we make a point of thanking each other for even the tiniest of things. Happy Anniversary, Marian! I really enjoyed your wedding photos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Jill, thanks for commenting from Charlotte, NC, the site of our wedding. I wonder whether the church is still there. The summer before the big day I worked in the church office and kept cutting people off on phone calls. It’s a wonder I wasn’t fired. My skimpy salary helped pay for the wedding though.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I heard recently – wish I could remember the source – that marriages survive when spouses exchange 5 positive interactions for ever 1 negative one. In other words, the negative exchanges are inevitable, even necessary, but focus more on the positive and you’ll make it. Sounds like you have manage that intuitively. Congratulations and beautiful relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the vote of confidence. Speaking well to each other has not been at all intuitive. We are both strong personalities, have strong views, and used to hurt each other with words. After the first five years of “combat,” we decided to monitor our language. Since then, speaking well to each other has developed over time into a habit. Still, it’s not always easy, especially now that we are moving and the pressure is on. Ha!

      Thank you, Arlene.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember reading some time ago that “contempt is the greatest predictor of relationship failure.” Thank you for supplying the sources here. A lover of research like you, I will surely click on your hot buttons above. I know you and Stuart try to practice the grace of “fitly spoken words.”

      Incidentally, just like a politician, I had to “approve” this message. Odd, since you are one of my most faithful commenters. We’ll have to chalk it up to a WordPress quirk. 🙂


    1. Those were the days, and you remember your pink bridesmaid dress at our wedding, I’m sure. You blue, Jan yellow, and me pink, our bridesmaid color choices. Thanks for the compliment, sister!


  5. Love the way the exact moment was also caught on clock! Well positioned. But the wisdom you share on watching our words–so important. Priceless really. Well worth the time it took for me to check in here and read your post. I’ve been AWOL lately because of family circumstances after the birth of our newest grandson last week in the city where you wed (had to go back to Levine Children’s Hospital). He’s doing ok, but it’s up and down. Keeping mum on FB about that but wanted you to know.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We had three months of up & down with Ian, who is thriving now. I understand the stress of observing a struggling young life. Hopeful prayers arise here, Melodie!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and drop your thoughts here, Melodie.


  6. LET them eat cake is right, Marian. For awhile, the tradition of all our college friends was the MAKE them eat cake: smash it in each other’s faces, laughing, responding to the applause of the guests. I always cringed at that, and no, we did not do it at our wedding. My grandmother always said that wedding cake was the promises of the sweetness to follow. I like that.
    Love your pictures!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I realize that the Marie Antoinette reference is out of place here, but it seemed to fit the theme. Actually, Google searches contend that the quote is a misattribution.

      Your grandmother’s wisdom holds with me too. We’ll go with that, Marylin. Thanks!


  7. Happy anniversary, Marian. Your post is filled with wisdom. When moments get rough in a marriage, it’s easy to focus only on what’s wrong with our mate. One recommendation I read (and have used) is to write a list of “The 10 things I love about (husband’s name).” It may feel difficult at first but each positive thought yields another and you come to remember why you loved that person in the first place. And still do. Then give the list to him. Many happy days follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t long ago (pre-move) that I felt like making a list of things that bug me about Cliff. Then I stopped . . . short . . . and decided that is certainly the wrong thing to do. Besides, he could make a similar list about me, and then where would we be? 🙂

      Thank you for the tip. I sounds like a great “gift” for our actual anniversary date, August 5. Thanks for suggesting a worthy journal activity, Carol.


  8. Such a lovely happy & inspiring post Marian thank you! You must have been a child bride 🙂 Happy anniversary and also for being a candle to shine a light. Here’s to both of you for many more adventurous and loving years. I heard that the first 49 years of a marriage are the hardest – plain sailing from now on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the chuckle and the good wishes. Actually, I married at age 26, which was a tad on the old side for brides of the era. Some of my high school friends married after graduation and others shortly thereafter.

      To ease the pain of moving just now, we’ve gotten out a travel guide and focusing on a trip for our 50th.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Congradulations on your up coming 49th wedding anniversary. You both look so beautiful then and still do today. I’m entering 29th anniversary this month. I agree that kind response turns away wrath. Not that I have always followed it but I have never let our disagreements keep us upset or apart.
    I had two nephews living with us one day my husband and I got into an argument we both said or piece then started laughing and it was over. They were shocked one said titi I love your marriage you and tio never stay mad at each other even if you disagree. I told we can disagree what we can’t do is stop loving your spouse. Everything eventually works it self out. We need many more examples of strong loving marriages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the example, Gloria. I suppose once or twice we must have had a similar(laughable) reaction to a heated exchange. In our books, divorce is never an option. Our aim: best friends, best mates.


    1. As I scrutinize the photo now after all these years, I do savor Cliff’s expression as gentle and tender, attributes I appreciate.

      Anita, I think you have passed the 50-year mark and wrote a beautiful post about this milestone. Right?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Marian — I love your post today. What great relationship advice it contains regarding ever-powerful WORDS.

    My mom used to say, “Make your words sweet and tender today for tomorrow you may have to eat them.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy 49th Anniversary! You both look adorable on your wedding day. (and still do) I agree, using the right words is very important to make a marriage work. That and a sense of humour!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A sense of humor is in the top three marriage savers in our marriage, for sure. I was first attracted to Cliff because of his sense of humor. But unless he proved to have good character, it would have been for naught. I suspect your hubby can roll with the punches too!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for this post, Marian. You are one year ahead of us! I think hubby and I will both enjoy your post this time, as I’m forwarding it to him, with no hidden agenda intended. We can both practise being kinder to each other even though we know that we love each other. It just makes the road smoother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the share, Elfrieda. I suspect you and your husband have good communication skills; otherwise, you would have hesitated. Now I wonder about his response. Hmmmm?


  13. What a beautiful bride you were! Happy Anniversary! I’m not married, but I your advice to notice and comment on one positive thing a day resonates with me as a school teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once a workshop speaker at the college mentioned that negative comments imprint more deeply on our psyches than do positive ones – no surprise! That’s why he suggested the “sandwich” method when making suggestions to students. Start with a positive, mention what needs to be changed, and then close with something on the plus side again.

      We humans have fragile egos and our self-esteem is often hanging by a thread. I guess you and I know well that ghastly “inner critic,” the bane of writers. Thanks for checking in here with wise advise, Luci!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Beautiful couple. I salute you to 49 blessed years together. Your words of wisdom are the exact ones I live by. No wonder we connected? 🙂 Enjoy your day and don’t forget to light the candle. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember the message of Words We Carry (0n my Kindle/Mac) and the effect the negative has our our self-esteem. It’s interesting that 49 years of Cliff’s positive comments to me have not erased completely the criticism I heard as a child. Oh, the power of the formative years, something you know all too well.

      Yes, the candle is on the dining room table waiting to be lighted. Today I have been under the weather – too rich restaurant food, the culprit I guess. And too much of it – ha! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. That’s an impressive marriage you have there …49 years is amazing . I belive it is having a special sence for honest people . I knew when I met my husband . When he said he loved me I believed him and still do . Our love is mutual just like yours we are blessed …next year it’s our 30th ( peal I think) . Do enjoy your 49 years of celebration (((hugs)))coming your way❤️❤️💐🌹🌺🌸🌻🌼and a big bunch of flowers 😚😚xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By any measure, 30 years is a long time. I think a sense and of humor must go a long way to help your the marriage “engine” run smoothly, if what I see in your comments is any indication. Brava to you both!


    1. Think of it as a salute to you and to your long and apparently happy marriage. I wonder whether you and your husband are opposites in temperament. He must take great delight in your merry disposition. 🙂


      1. I m ok at writing humour but Colin is quick witted but not a writer . I like to think what to say and write ..glad you enjoy it …hope all your celebrations went well .❤️❤️Xx

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I just re-read my reply above and noticed that what I intended as “temperament” because “temperature.” I’ll blame it on the auto-correct feature which takes guesses at spelling and often doesn’t get it right. So your husband’s name is Colin. Quite a pair – you two! 🙂

          Yes, celebrations went just fine, but today we are packing for the Big Move tomorrow – finally!


    1. Congratulations to you and Commando. Twenty-five years is a milestone too. The fact that you and your husband spend both enjoying nature and walking is a good indication of many more years to come. At least you’ll be healthy!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m visiting from Linda H’s blog, where she has featured your blog today. I love this post. We’ve been married 32 years, but I still value these reminders for myself and also to share with my adult children who are now married. Happy 50th to you and your husband!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the cross-pollination that happens among writers online. Thanks, so much for visiting, Karen, and congratulations on 32 years and sharing the values of a happy marriage with your children. You know, of course, you imprinted them long ago during their formative years by your own good example. 🙂


    1. Thank you, Joan. I envy you and Bill able to travel a bit now. Cliff and I feel like oxen tied to a big house we are trying to move. We long for the day we can take a breather. Somewhere with cooler temps sounds appealing.

      Congratulations on the adulation from Publishers Weekly. That’s quite a coup! So very happy for you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Actually, we are doing just fine. We are both on two feet and yesterday my sister and her husband lent us a hand moving drawers. Counting my blessings but looking forward to sitting down and doing absolutely NOTHING!

          You’ll hear more from me after I finish reading your marvelous book. 🙂


  17. Lovely, Marian. Blessings on your already blessed marriage.

    My advice to my sons: Learn to disagree without saying words you will regret. (If you don’t know how to disagree without mortally wounding, then the relationship is doomed.) Learn to request what you need without shaming or attacking. Say what’s on your mind before it comes to a boil. If you’re already angry, then let it rest before dealing with the mess. Tell the other person you love them often and give them gifts of love which they’ll appreciate (a great Italian dinner from the garden for Vic). Be interested in their successes and equally interested and supportive of failures or perceived failures. Hug them often when they’re up or down. Tell them your biggest secrets and fears. Trust. Take care of your lover when they’re sick or sad. Grieve for them with your children or anyone who loved them. Take care of their memory and be grateful for the continuing love after they die.

    Now I’m crying, so I guess I hit the core.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit it right smack dab!

      If you were a medieval woman, I would suggest this as an illuminated manuscript with lots of gold leaf. Truly “apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Now I’m going to think about how you can showcase these wise words elsewhere.

      These words could be the mission statement of many of your blog posts: “Take care of their memory and be grateful for the continuing love after they die.” You have made Vic live in your readers’ minds though we never actually met him. (I know his voice from a video.) Well done, Elaine, and thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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