“Common Ground” column for Aug. 21, 2013

We’re celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary with nothing dramatic — a call to the baby sitter and a simple dinner-and-a-movie date.

Early in our marriage, that probably would not have been enough. We would have booked a room by the beach and bought tickets to a play or a concert.

But changes came quickly after the children were born.

Sure, I miss those earlier years, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Thirteen years have brought a lot of growth and positive change to our marriage. I’m a better cook, a better wife, a better mom and a wiser spender.

Beach vacations turned into budget-minded staycations that helped us learn to find fun things to do with our children at museums and parks in our area.

One long-married couple,

Charles and Harriet Mae Jones, who recently celebrated their 60th anniversary with an island cruise, offered their secrets on marriage and child rearing.

“When things don’t work out, we keep on going until it does work out,” Charles says.

“I guess it’s loving one another,” adds Harriet Mae. “We disagree all the time, but we don’t have to be disagreeable. You’ve got to give and take and cut back on that high living. You have to crawl before you walk. Live as close as you can to the Bible.”

They are absolutely right. High living and selfishness diminish as the more important principles and the true meaning of marriage and raising children evolve.

I’ve become a much more patient person and a far better cook in the passing years. My husband used to flee to his mother’s house for a plate of country soul food. But I’ve practiced, and now I cook a lot of meals that he enjoys.

I’m more thankful as well for my husband’s strides, efforts and strong leadership throughout our marriage. He helps coach our son’s baseball and basketball teams, is an active board member for our area’s recreational district, is a minister and has worked on his job for more than 20 years.

While we’ve had our share of arguments and differences regarding finances, religion and household matters, those discussions have helped us learn how to work things out and talk more.

Marriage is a work in progress. Complacency and taking one’s mate for granted is what can help drive a marriage apart, a divorced friend once told me.

Some of the things that drew my husband and me together were our love of family, listening to jazz music and Frankie Beverly, dancing, walking, sharing our spiritual convictions, football games and feeling comfortable about sharing our likes and dislikes.

Our anniversary won’t end with the movie. We’ll slow dance to our favorite Temptations song and a toast to another 13 plus 13 plus 13 more years of marriage.

Contact Chante Dionne Warren at chantewriter@hotmail.com.