Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: My husband and I celebrated our 34th anniversary last summer. We met in college and became friends during shared classes and study groups. I didn't consider him "date material" at the time, though, because there was no chemical spark. (I had been divorced and was dating widely. He had just finished a six-year stint in the Navy. We were both a bit older.) He lived with his sister, and I lived with my parents and my young daughter. One day, he invited me over so he could make dinner for me. Afterward, we went for a walk on the beach, and somewhere along the line, the chemistry between us ignited. We lived together after a year of solely friendship. We lived together for four years before we married. I believe it was the underlying friendship that carried us through some very rocky times. After surviving an abusive marriage in which the financial imbalance made things worse, I would never relinquish my financial independence, which served us well during our work careers and serves us well now in retirement. I can attest to the importance of the 50-50 split of responsibility for every aspect of lovers being friends. I consider friendship to be the rock on which our relationship is built.

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Let's take a look at the ingredients of this successful marriage -- friendship, of course, emotional maturity (both of you had seen a bit of this thing called life) and patience.

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Why patience? Because this whole scenario played out in the span of several years. There was no rushing to meet deadlines, no mad rush to the bedroom in the name of "the real thing." Instead, there was a mutual decision to give this good thing more time to mature into something really superb. And more time was given, by two mature people. After all, there was a young daughter to think of; her happiness was at the top of all the other priorities to consider. And -- drum roll -- there was the not insignificant matter of financial independence. You had been in a dependent/abusive relationship before and had vowed never again. So there we are, a couple seasoned by life -- students who learned from the lessons around them and learned them well.

We are grateful for the intimate look at a relationship that had all the ingredients for survival. Thank you for letting us into your life.