Winter Malbrough-Bush and Lonnie Bush live in Memphis. Lonnie, 29 and a navy veteran, is attending the University of Memphis. Winter, 26, is a sales manager for Philip Morris USA.
He says: I never thought I'd go to college. Winter told me I could do it. Because of her, my confidence is up to a whole different level.
She says: When we started dating, I was helping Lonnie a lot with his schoolwork…but now I have a full-time job. The other day I asked him, "Do you feel like we're in a boat, and after we've rowed out to the middle of the lake together I threw my oar overboard and swam to shore—and you're out there on your own trying to get back?" He said, "Do you think I feel that way?" And that's when I thought, Wow, he needs more support with school. I knew if he didn't feel that way, he would have denied it. That's the thing I've had to learn: I've got to be creative enough to communicate in a way that he can relate to—in as few words as possible. I know I can give up my hour of TV or whatever to make sure that he's not in that boat alone.
Suzanne and John Taylor live in Manhattan. John, 41, teaches middle school science and Suzanne, 40, works in marketing for Broadway shows.
She says: John and I act as two ends of the seesaw and try to keep it balanced no matter what happens: If one screws up, the other says, "Things will get better"; if one is having a fabulous day, the other is there to celebrate.
He says: You have to be willing to listen, give support, and make each other feel better. A lot of it is learning how to really open yourself to another person, and that takes a while.
Maria and Jim Marinacci live in Oyster Bay, New York, with their teenage daughter. Maria, 48, is a real estate agent; Jim, 53, is a pharmacist.
He says: It's not like TV where everything is happy, happy, smoochy, smoochy—that goes away after a while and basically you're two people coexisting in the same house, becoming not just lovers but friends also.
She says: We complement each other. I'm wild and he's calm. You can't both be easy or butting heads. And you have to take vacations together. We took three last year.
Gert and Augie Michko live in Waymart, Pennsylvania. Gert, 70, is a retired textile worker, and Augie, 73, is a musician and retired electrician and plumber. They raised three children together.
He says: It's just faith and trust. And we do things together. Right from the start, we both thought, Once you're married, you're married. That's the way our parents were, and we just followed suit.
She says: Love is what carried us through. We didn't do that much in our lifetime; we just worked. And marriage was something we were committed to…We've had rough times, but I wouldn't want anybody else.
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