What a difference a day makes!  December 25th was about red and green, Santa Claus and mistletoe, maybe even a few chestnuts, figgy pudding, and a partridge in a pear tree.  By the next morning, Christmas 2015, had become a series of snapshots added to our mosaic of past holiday memories.

A glance at the novelty counter of a big box store on December 26th served as a reminder that February 14th was just around the corner.  Valentine’s Day cards, candles and even confetti were already on display.  In the spirit of the season of love, I decided to learn as much as I could about the complex subject of coupling.  What better way to do it than by querying the couples themselves, who all just happen to live in the Vail area.  As I happily discovered, love is as common as an Arizona sunset, with just as many variations on a theme as any spectacular sunset ever had.

Anna & Norm Bradford, ages 69 & 78 respectively.

Norm:  CEO of Bradanna, Inc., importer of leather gloves, retired after 21 years in the military.

Anna:  VP of Bradanna, Inc., retired as manager of HR and Payroll in small companies

Q . How long have you been married?  

A. 43 years.

Q. How did you meet?

A. We met in 1970. I was born and raised in Venice, Italy, but was vacationing in California, and Norm was stationed at George Air Force Base.

Q. What first attracted you to your spouse?

A. Norm:  Anna’s great beauty, a certain mysterioso aura she portrayed and her wry sense of humor.

Anna:  Norm was tall, handsome, polite and charming.

Q. What is your secret for a great marriage

A. Being best friends first and never losing the trust

Q.   How do you smooth out differences?

A.  Compromise

Q. What are you looking forward to as a couple in 2016

A. Taking an Alaskan cruise to see the glaciers before they all melt away!

Casey Stockdale, age 63 and Donna Gustafson, age 55.

Casey:  Realtor.

Donna:  Property manager.

Q. How long have you been together?

A. We have been together for 26 years and love our life with one another.

Q. How did you meet?

A. Casey’s brother and Donna were friends.  He thought we’d be a good match and he was right!

Q. What was the first thing that attracted you to your partner?

A. Casey:  Donna’s kind eyes, love of children, and spirit of adventure.

Donna:  Casey’s eyes drew me in, as well as her kind, respectful, spiritual self.

Q. What is your secret for a great relationship

A. Identify the core values you share.  As you live your lives together, forgive, get help when you need.

To be honest, hang in there and remember what brought you together in the first place!  One of our favorite quotes is:  Would you rather be right or would you rather be loving?

Q. How do you smooth out differences of opinion

A. We talk, we listen, we pray, we take a break if we need to, we forgive and we honor what’s most important to each other.

Q. What are you looking forward to as a couple in 2016?

A. As new empty nesters, we are excited to grow in our coupleness and have more time to spend together.

03 Mike and Susan Holmes

Susan and Mike Holmes, both age 50.

Susan:  Home health care registered nurse.

Mike:  Program manager for Pima County.

Q. How long have you been married

A. 28 years

Q. How did you meet

A. We met at an ROTC picnic at the University of Texas

Q. What first attracted you to your spouse

A. Susan:  His intelligence and sense of humor.

Mike:  She was very pretty and her sense of humor matched mine.  We also both loved the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Q. What is your secret for a great marriage?

A. Don’t give up.  It’s sometimes easy to walk away and say forget it.  But something brought you together and if you look for that thing, it is probably still there.

Q. How do you smooth out the differences?

A. We both compromise—a lot!

Q. What are you looking forward to as a couple in 2016?

A. This year is going to be very busy for Mike, as he has decided to run for State Representative for this area.  There will be a lot of stress until November 9th.  Thanksgiving and Christmas will be our break.


If you happen to be one of a cast of thousands who are flying solo thus far in 2016, love could be just around the corner.  How can you gently coax it in your direction?

The first step is to start by looking in the mirror.

Repeat the following phrase: “I love you” every day to your best friend, you.  Belief in yourself is a good beginning.

Second, find something greater than yourself to care about.  There’s nothing sexier than meeting someone who’s engaged in making the world a better place.

Third, remain optimistic. What’s the best way to meet someone special, you might ask.  Whatever way leads to a meaningful connection.   Meetups, introductions through friends, the list goes on.  Even the  fanciful story  George in the movie Green Card spins about how he met his wife– colliding with her when both had arms full of parcels– could conceivably happen.

A foodie I know named Rosemarie met her boyfriend at a party; at the dessert table, he asked out loud, “Who made this fabulous raspberry/chocolate raw cheesecake?”  It was indeed Rosemarie.

With a little luck, you could be the one I write about for Valentine’s Day 2017!

03 Bio Barbara Russek

Barbara Russek is a Tucson freelance writer who has been in love with  language since the age of two and has been asking questions since she became a French teacher at age 22.  She continues to be fascinated by people and their lives.  Russek welcomes comments at Babette2@comcast.net

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