Friday, February 21, 2014

The Shorthand of Love by Sierra Donovan

After 20 years of marriage, do my husband and I finish each other's sentences? Well, not that I've noticed. But over the years, we've definitely developed a vocabulary that makes sense to very few other people.

For instance, we watch so many versions of "A Christmas Carol" together each year that it's scary. It could be July, and I might toss out a quote like "I'm beginning to think you've gone through life with your eyes closed." He'll immediately know, not just what I'm quoting, but which version of the film. (Answer: 1984, starring George C. Scott.)

My husband might give me "the Fluke look" when I suggest something he finds ... questionable. Years ago, we were picking out a movie when we didn't know a lot about the choices at the theater. I suggested "Fluke," about a man who's reincarnated as a dog. He was dubious, but we went with it. Two hours later, he was still dubious, and he's kidded me about it ever since. Obviously, I can't replicate the expression here on the blog ... but you'd know it if you saw it.

Sometimes we call an expense "the best hot water we've ever had." A while back, we had to replace our water heater, to the tune of about $2000. We groaned because it's not even like needing to buy a new car or a new refrigerator, where at least you can see the difference. Now it's turned into a wry joke we make whenever we have to spend money on something that's absolutely necessary, but doesn't make a noticeable difference in our lives.

And on and on, most of them with background stories that take a long time to explain. But even with an explanation, it's not the same. Because you had to be there. And I'm so glad both of us were. (Hey, it beats facing a broken water heater alone.)

Movie lines, song lyrics, funny or embarrassing moments ... it's all part of the vocabulary we've built up through the two decades of our marriage.

I write -- and read -- romance novels because the discovery of new love is fun and exciting. Stories on the printed page let us experience that discovery again and again. But for my money, nothing beats a love that's been around the block. As the years go by, we gain more and more shared history. And with it, we build a deeper and richer relationship.

It's one of the major rewards of a long, loving marriage ... and it's one I wish for the couples in every romance as they head down the road toward their happily-ever-after.

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Sierra Donovan is a wife, a mother of two and a writer, though not always in that order. Her job and greatest joy is helping people find true love on the printed page. She's a firm believer in old movies, Christmas, chocolate fudge and happy endings. To find out more, feel free to drop by her website.

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Sierra is the author of Meg's Confession and Love on the Air, which was a Holt Medallion finalist. Her next novel, No Christmas Like the Present, is due out in October from Kensington Books. Her books are available at and


  1. I so enjoyed your post, SIerra. What a fun insight into your relationship! It reminds me that I am so very thankful that my dh and I weathered the storms during our marriage to reach this point, with our children successfully raised, and we can look back at so many shared experiences. And yes--those funny little bits of shorthand communication, too!

  2. Thanks, Roxanne! And I agree -- weathering the storms is the part a lot of us don't think much about when we sign on for marriage. I think too many people give up when the first blush wears off and things get a little bumpy. But here's so much reward in seeing things through!

  3. I love when a romance novel included such little shared details as you've described. It really gives the feel that theirs a close relationship and a history between the couple. (Of course, this only works if they've known each other a while!)

  4. This is hilarious. Does anyone else's husband toss up his hands when his kids do something foolish and say: "McFly? McFly?"

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your special love.

  5. Aw, what a sweet post, Sierra! And lol... I can definitely imagine that "Fluke look." Too funny. Kudos on your long and loving marriage. <3

  6. What a great post, Sierra! I think we should all write more romances that involve couples who've weathered a few years . . . This is a great starting point!