The Crush Letter No 22

. 14 min read

Hello Crush,

Happy Saturday morning!  Thanks for being here.

As I've written about previously in The Crush Letter, my late husband died at the age of 41 after a happy and deeply satisfying decade+ of marriage.  (I think of our marriage as being the length of my beloved dog Brodie's life. God, she was sweet and fun even after she went blind.)  My late husband's death was over a decade ago, and perhaps because I still sometimes wonder how our life together would feel another decade or two in - at 20 or 30 years - I am perenially fascinated by intimate looks at long-lasting love. How they begin, how they work, how they change, how two people continue to fascinate and care for each other over the years.  Also, how a couple protects their relationship from the inevitable internal shifts and external encroachments.  There are as many ways to begin to take a deep dive into this dynamic and complex subject as there are ways to begin a relationship itself, but we will begin by learning about Lammastide, an ancient Christian tradition of committing to a "trial marriage," because there are all sorts of ways to make love last including the less conventional routes.  And then we'll take it from there to - ultimately - reflections on a 50-year marriage.  Let's roll.


If you're new here welcome!, I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.  I share the best original stories and intelligence on everything love in your prime - romance, friendship, sex, self-care.  To read the pieces our CRUSH community has loved the most go here.  To subscribe (we'd love to have you and everyone you love) go here.


In This Letter.    +Love/Sex/Moon Magick.  I am so enjoying the supernatural wisdom of our resident PrimeCrush wiccan, Lynn Eaton in this reguarl series, but this one on Lammastide, the annual tradition of committing to another person for a year and a day, is perhaps my favorite so far.  Perhaps next year you'll commit to another year and so on.  +Extended Encounters.  Introducing a new column that will be diving into lasting love with a series of studies on long-term relationships.  To get us going columnist Lisa Ellex considers her own encounters, human, octogenarian and otherwise.    +A Tale of Modern Love.  Author Elayne Clift reflects on 50 years of marriage that she sums up as "remarkably good fun."  +DEVOUR.  What to do, read, watch, listen to & know about this week.     +Our Song of the Week  Together forever through ever whatever.  This will be ... some kind of wonderful.


Love/Sex/Moon Magick: Lammastide. By Lynn Eaton

Our local Wiccan explores a traditional summer lovin’ ritual of Lammastide – "handfasting" of couples for a year and a day.  It's a sort of trial marriage (or however you want to consider it) that you can try at home.

Shakespeare introduced me to Lammas. Specifically, the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet: “On Lammas-Eve at night shall she be fourteen.” As a teenager, I thought it was fabulous that the heroine we were studying was close to my own age but what the heck was Lammas?

Lammas is on August 1st and marks about halfway from the summer solstice of June 21st to the autumnal equinox on September 21st. Traditionally, it’s the time of the first harvest. The first fruits of the fields and gardens are ready to be savored. The days and nights are warm and sultry. Winter is far in the distance. It’s still light far into the evenings.

The weather at Lammas is usually perfect for outdoor celebrations and everywhere across the Northern Hemisphere such festivities usually take place: Family gatherings, county fairs, music festivals, carnivals, fireworks, and picnics. Perfect for trysts. And magickal rites.

According to Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials: Lughnasdh, this was a time for handfasting of couples. A trial marriage that lasted a year and a day, the union could be ended without penalty after that time. Nowadays, it could be a perfect time to renew vows in ritual with your partner.

Here’s what I plan to do with my Hunny Man at sunset that night:

  1. Have a nice campfire glowing and let our breathing become slow, even and synchronized.
  2. Face North. Feel the strength and stability of the Earth beneath our feet. Thank the Power of the North for this Gift.
  3. Face East. Feel the breath of Air around us. Thank the Power of the East for this Gift.
  4. Face South. Feel the heat of the Fire on our skins. Thank the Power of the South for this Gift.
  5. Face West. Feel the quenching taste of water as we sip from our cups. Thank the Power of South for this Gift.
  6. Join hands and feel the energy of the space and each other’s energies mingling in this moment of time and space.
  7. Thank each other for the commitments, talents, memories, love and laughter shared over our years together.
  8. Thank each other too, for the challenges we’ve been able to conquer and from which we’ve grown. Individually and together.
  9. Welcome the future together with the commitment to continue to be partners, listening to each other’s points of view.
  10. Face each of the directions, beginning in the West and thank the Powers for the Gifts of this Rite.
  11. Close the ritual by saying “Thank you for this Lammastide rite! Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry meet again!
  12. Feed each other pieces of bread and sips of ale or wine as tokens of the nourishment we provide to each other.

This is my way to honor Lammastide. It’s simple and personal. It’s to give thanks and celebrate the earth, my partner and myself. Online and in dozens of books, you will find other such plans for celebrating Lammas. Find one that speaks to you, or design one of your own!

Extended Encounters. By Lisa Ellex

Columnist Lisa Ellex launches a new series on long-term relationships by looking inward at her own need for connection ... and then outward at an octogenarian couple (with an assist from her dog).

I am a long-hauler.  I always have been.  I find the intimacy and intricacy of commitment to be extremely seductive.

My first marriage spanned ten years. A good time was had by all. After my divorce, I enjoyed a domestic partnership that ended after thirteen years. Then came a year-long tryst with a younger gentleman (those sort of things seldom last) that served as respite before my next long-termer (six years, with the last two spent in combative cohabitation). And then came COVID.

“I don’t care WHAT my husband does,” said my friend, Trixie. “I’m staying married. I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend the rest of my life swiping left and right.” Trixie and I are of the generation of those who were young and dating in the midst of the AIDS crisis. We were well-schooled in safe sex, yet we wondered just how safe dating was in the pre-vaccine era. Who were all these virus-braving lovers? Weren’t they quarantined like the rest of us?

One month into my breakup, I caught myself talking to the honeydew melon I was obsessively washing. I had become Tom Hanks in Castaway. I fully accepted the fact that I needed some form of human interaction and, like it or not, would need to begin dating. But how?

To clear my head, I took my dog on yet another marathon pandemic walk and noticed a frail octogenarian couple approaching. Though the woman seemed to be the sturdier of the two, it was clear they were holding each other up and if one would let go, the other would tumble. They walked with baby steps, and as they drew near I could see the man’s eyes light up as he looked down at my dog. I could hear a muffled chuckle through his mask. I could tell he wanted to pet my dog—to make that connection—but the couple knew they had to keep a “safe” distance. Besides, should he bend far down enough to reach my dog, he would topple for certain.

The couple became a regular sighting on my walks.  Each time I saw how the old man looked at my dog, it broke my heart. And each time I saw how the couple looked at each other, it broke my heart in a different way. Would I never again know this exquisite connection?

One night after a weekly Zoom game with friends, a good-looking gentleman asked that I not disconnect so that we could have a “Zoomy Call”.  Puzzled, I paused. He continued, “You know -- a booty call over Zoom.” I politely declined and logged off, cursing myself for ever leaving my first husband.

My daughter phoned, concerned. “You’ve got to put yourself out there, Mom!”

“Put myself out WHERE?” I asked.  “Have you looked outside? There’s no one out there!”

“Let me make you a Tinder profile.”

“Absolutely not!” I shrieked, thinking about Trixie’s “swipe” comment. It wasn’t until one stormy night when I couldn’t get a WiFi connection and I called Alexa a “bitch” that I realized I was not doing well. I rarely knew what day of the week it was and I could not have felt less connected.

Trixie phoned. She had arranged an outdoor blind date for me. Ugh. I went. He brought a gift.  That was sweet. I would even say our masked encounter had an air of mystery, until he began shouting, insisting he could not be heard through his face covering. Here’s a little dating tip: Unless your date is into BDSM, never holler, “So, do you wanna do it with our masks on?”.

During those dark and lonely days, I feared I would go mad if one more person called to ask, “So who are you quarantining with?”  Such an arrangement was as distant as two-hour commuter flights to Mars, or the day we discover that there really is an afterlife.  So, I took my dog for another walk. Down the block, I spotted the octogenarian couple. Once they were near I bent down, lifted my dog, and offered him to the old man.

His muffled chuckle turned to a laugh. He patted my dog on the head and a tear rolled down into his light blue surgical mask. His wife looked at me, nodded, and they continued on their way. I watched them from behind, arm in arm, taking one tiny step after the other, envious they will never, ever have to swipe left or right.

Have you and your partner been blessed with an extended encounter of at least 25 years?  If you’d  like to tell me about it, reach out to me at ExtendedEncounters@primecrush.com and your story could be told here.

Love, Lisa

“This is a Tale of Modern Love…” By Elayne Clift

A writer reflects upon how her 50-year marriage survived cultural and religious differences and stood the test of time.

Next year my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, a number I can’t begin to wrap my brain around. What’s even more impressive is that we are of different cultures (my husband is British) and religions (I’m Jewish, he is Church of England, close to Episcopal). That means we’ve beat double the odds that something would go awry, and for that reason, this is a tale of modern love.

The first signs of our cultural differences began appearing early in our marriage. My husband worked at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. Back then we lived the diplomatic life that dominates that unique city. Our social scene was formal and obligatory with dinner parties comprised of colleagues and their spouses, carefully balanced by gender so that seating arrangements could alternate males and females.

For many years, I was happy with that sort of thing. Twice a month we entertained, if not lavishly at least with style. Our candlelit table was set with flowers, fine china and silver, and salad always followed the main course, European-style. In the early days, I actually kept a guest book, although now I shudder to confess it. But I drew the line at “hotting the plates,” a class-based tradition in England so that hot food is not placed upon cold dishes. (Similarly, one must heat the teapot before brewing tea, and “bring the pot to the kettle” so that not a minute of boil is lost.) Eventually, I drew the line at living in Washington.

Later, once we had escaped the diplomatic scene, my husband began to accept American informality. We hosted picnics and barbeques. But there were still challenges. My cardinal sin on such occasions was to use paper plates and plastic utensils. “It’s tacky,” my beloved said. “It’s a picnic!” I responded. “You’re supposed to use disposals at a picnic! Otherwise, it’s just a dinner party on grass!”

Rituals around food were not our only point of contention. There were honor codes and language issues, humor and personal habits to be reconciled. My husband once nearly threatened me with divorce because, from his perspective, I had tried to cheat British Rail. We were in England and I’d taken a trip to visit a friend in Devon. Back in London I gleefully waved my return ticket at him. “Look!” I said. “The conductor forgot to take my ticket. We can get the money back!” I felt like I’d just won at Ascot. His take was different. “Absolutely not!” he said, horrified. His British accent made me feel like the world’s worst miscreant. “That would be dishonest!”

As for language, I can’t count the times I had to translate for our children when they were young. The boot, the biscuit, and the bypass all had to be interpreted. Bangers and mash needed explaining. “Taking the mickey” and “a piss up in a brewery” begged for deconstruction. No wonder our offspring took pride in their linguistic abilities, my daughter claiming to be bilingual at the age of five. “I speak two languages,” she said proudly. “English and American!”

On the issue of humor (or humour), suffice to say that my husband still doubles over with mirth when he watches John Cleese in Fawlty Towers reruns. He finds Mr. Bean hilarious, leaving me to wonder if all Brits are puerile. In his defense, however, he can quote Shakespeare, Wordsworth and the War Poets and I don’t know one American who can do that.

Over the years, I’m happy to say, my marriage and my partner have evolved nicely. He no longer worries when I ask guests to pour their own drinks and I’ve gotten used to the soiled handkerchief he tucks under his pillow every night. He finds potluck suppers fun and when I cheat the system occasionally, he applauds me so long as I’ve done it out of a sense of justice. For the most part we now speak the same lingo and laugh at the same jokes. We celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Passover and the Easter Bunny with equal and ecumenical enthusiasm.

I no longer “get my knickers in a twist” over little things, and I love being called “Darling” or told that I look “smashing.” I’ve relished our regular journeys to the British Isles and take pride in our children’s dual heritage. I wouldn’t dream of Sunday nights without Masterpiece Theatre. I adore scones. My husband swoons over hamburgers.

After nearly fifty years of marriage, I treasure the traditions we’ve built based upon the best that both sides of the Atlantic have to offer. As I look back over our years together, I’m reminded of a splendid epic poem, “The White Cliffs”, by Alice Duer Miller, an American woman who married a Brit in England just after World War II. “I am American bred,” she wrote. “I have seen much to hate here, much to forgive. But in a world in which there is no England, I do not wish to live.”

Nor would I have wanted to live my life in a world without a certain Englishman, because God knows, marriage is hard enough. At least married to a Brit I got to share my life with someone who has “the good manners of educated Englishmen,” as American writer Margaret Halsey wrote. “It’s all so heroic,” she said. It’s also—despite the challenges of any long-term relationship—warm and wonderful, and with very few exceptions, remarkably good fun.

Elayne Clift is a writer in Saxtons River, Vermont.  Her latest book is Around the World in 50 Years: Travel Tales of a Not So Innocent Abroad (Braughler Books, 2019). Her regular columns appear on her blog “Criminally Elayne” at www.elayne-clift.com/blog .

DEVOUR {things to do, read, see & have}

Read.  Sophia Loren on Sex Appeal.  "Sex appeal is 50% what you've got and 50% what people think you've got." Word.  For more chic snaps and wisdom from Sophia Loren check out the Vogue article below.

10 of Sophia Loren’s Best Quotes About Eating, Loving, and Living Well
“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view”

Watch.  Behold.  Father. Son. House of Gucci.  If you haven't yet seen the trailer for the House of Gucci, which comes out in November, it's bonkers.  Baciami.

{I'm reposting this from last week for anyone who missed it, because it is so on point with this Letter's theme:}

Listen.  Everything Is Fine podcast on How to Have A Happy Marriage.   You may or may not know that Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue have been married over 40 years.  And that they host a podcast called Double Date where they "drop in" on famous couples who have had long marriages, Sting & Trudie Styler, Ray & Ann Romano, John McEnroe & Patty Smyth, to name a few.  You can pick something up from every episode.  

But what I may love just as much is this Everything Is Fine podcast where hosts Kim France and Jenn Romolini interview Marlo Thomas to get the broad view on what makes a happy marriage.  Some recurring themes to longstanding, happy marriages:  understanding that sometimes, with some issues, you have to choose to be happy rather than right; dropping the petty things that bug you; both people have to really want to be in it for the long haul and willing to do the work; and lots of sex.  For me the best quote from the episode is Marlo Thomas talking about why she waited until the age of 42 and meeting Phil Donahue before getting married:  "I thought that marriage was not a roomy enough place for two whole people. That marrige was a place for 1 and 1/2 persons was my theory. The 1 person (either male or female) was the one who had the dream and was following the dream, and the other person {eg, the "half} was their manager, the quiet spouse."

To skip the enjoyable banter between friends France and Rommolini and get right to the married/Marlo piece start at around 10:30.

‎Everything is Fine: It’s Marlo Thomas! on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Everything is Fine, Ep It’s Marlo Thomas! - Jul 12, 2021

Song of the Week.

Natalie Cole, live on the Midnight Special, 1975.  Big 70's hair, big 70's blue eyeshadow, big 70's bell bottoms.  The thrill of a lifetime.  Some kind of wonderful.  Hugging and squeezing and kissing and pleasing ... Together forever through ever whatever.  Watch it on youtube here.

And that's it for this week, friends.  Whether you've snuggled up with your everlasting love, or loving the one you're with, I hope that your week end brings you some hugging and squeezing and kissing and pleasing.  And a joyful Lammastide.  Enjoy!

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend!  And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter curated by Dish Stanley on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?



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