Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflections on 35 years of marriage May 15, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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This photo is from my files, taken at a 50th wedding anniversary celebration several years ago. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


HOW DO YOU DEFINE 35 years of marriage?


My husband, Randy, and I exit St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta following our May 15, 1982, wedding.


Today Randy and I mark that numeric anniversary. Maybe we’ll go out for dinner. Either this evening or another evening. I prefer not to cook on special occasions.

Mostly, we’ll be content just to be with one another, finding comfort in simply being in the same space. The fireworks of early love have settled into a loving relationship that has endured and grown stronger through shared experiences. Some joyful, others difficult. Life can be challenging, but it’s easier when faced with a loving and supportive partner.


Son-in-law Marc, left, daughters Amber and Miranda, and son, Caleb, taken several summers ago. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


We’ve mourned the loss of parents, rejoiced in the births of children and now a granddaughter. Together.


Grandfather and granddaughter. This is my favorite picture of Randy with Isabelle, taken shortly after her birth in April 2016.  When it comes to Izzy, Randy is an open book of emotions in his love for her. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.


Randy matches my often emotional reaction to situations with a balanced calm. And I sometimes push him to examine and express his emotions. When I am too serious, he makes me laugh. I’ve mostly always appreciated his humor.


My husband at work in the automotive machine shop where he is employed. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I appreciate, too, his strong work ethic. But I’m thankful he’s finally stopped working six days a week. We both realize time is fleeting and long work days are not worth missing out on life. Looking back on our years of early home ownership and parenting, I wish we’d been less focused on getting projects done around the house. So, yes, there are regrets.

But we’ve learned. We’ve learned that the work can wait. If the lawn needs mowing but we’d rather take a Sunday afternoon drive into the country or to some small Minnesota town, we’ll go. We share a passion for discovering the nuances of places during day trips.


My son and I pose atop the Tisch Library at Tufts University with the Boston skyline as a backdrop. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2016.


Last spring we drove from Minnesota to Boston and back for our son’s college graduation. And survived. Only once, while lost in a seedy part of Buffalo, New York, did I demand to return home. Randy calmed me, assured me that he would find our way out of the mess. He did. We joke about my inability to read a road map and to hold a sense of direction in any place but the familiarity of the gridded prairie.

I am especially grateful to Randy for his continuing support of my creative work. He’s been to more poetry readings than he ever imagined. And he never complains. That’s something for a hardworking blue collar man with permanent grease rimming his fingernails and stamping the creases of his hands. He’s learned that poetry is more than roses are red, violets are blue. Poetry is what his wife writes (even about him; click here).


Lilacs, up close. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Occasionally Randy brings me flowers for no reason other than he realizes I need them. Each spring he gathers a bouquet of lilacs for me. I love that about him, that unexpected gesture of love.


My husband grilling in our snowless and warm backyard on Christmas Day. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


And I love how nearly every single weekend—yes, even in winter—he fires up the Weber to grill tasty meals.


Randy prepares brunch nearly every Sunday after we attend worship services together.


He also prepares an incredible Sunday brunch of made-to-order omelets and hash browns with fresh fruit on the side. On Friday evenings he slices the homemade pizza I make and pours our mugs of craft beers. He knows I like IPAs.


Audrey and Randy, May 15, 1982


He also knows my preference for a house that’s comfortably cool. If we disagree about one thing, it’s room temperature. I’m dialing back the heat while he’s notching up the temp. That ongoing dispute seems trivial and laughable now that I’m writing it here.


Audrey and Randy in 2015. Rare are the photos of us. That needs to change. This was photographed outside Vang Lutheran Church by a woman at the church following an impromptu stop there. We love touring country churches.


When Randy falls asleep in his recliner on a weekend afternoon with NASCAR races droning in the background, I let him be. I immerse myself in a book, ignore the roar of race cars and consider how blessed I am to love, and to be loved, by this man. For more than 35 years.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


48 Responses to “Reflections on 35 years of marriage”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Happy 35–you have written quite a wonderful tribute to lasting marriage and how love can truly be the glue that holds a couple together. It isn’t easy sometimes but I can’t imagine it any other way, can you? Have a wonderful day.

  2. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    We are soon to celebrate 48 years of marriage – defined as total commitment. Just one little thing I do that it seems you do not – when he goes to sleep from NASCAR I turn the volume down! It helps me concentrate better on my reading.

  3. God bless the both of you and your family!

  4. Happy Anniversary! I enjoyed your reflections on your solid and love-filled marriage. Here’s to many more years together- and yes, forget about the chores!

  5. Randy Says:

    Thank you Audrey, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, love ya

  6. Congrats – Happy Anniversary – Enjoy Your Special Day & Adventuring Together!!!

  7. Almost Iowa Says:

    Grilling, pizza, omelets and beer: the formula to a happy marriage… It is a necessary balance to, “you promised to work on around-the-house projects today.” 🙂

    Congratulations on 35 years!

  8. Loftspeaker1 Says:

    Happy Anniversary!

  9. Jackie Says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and Randy, you are such a lovely couple! a firm example of Love, faith, endurance and trust in the God who holds you together. You two are just the best! Happy Anniversary my friend, enjoy whatever it is that you do to celebrate. Congratulations on 35 years of marriage 🙂

  10. Patricia Says:

    Congratulations! You have a beautiful family and 35 years is quite the accomplishment!

  11. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Happy Anniversary!! The way you describe what’s important is spot-on. Here’s to many more years of a wonderful marriage!

  12. Judy M. Says:

    Happy Anniversary!!! May you have many more of them. I loved looking at your photo’s, especially of your wedding and your family. Enjoy the day today.

  13. Don Says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and Randy, Congratulations! Marriage Reminds me of an old song by the Turtles, “Happy Together”…………………………….

  14. melirey96 Says:

    Happy anniversary and may God bless you both with many more years to come! Enjoy your special day together. I enjoyed reading your post.

  15. Valerie Says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and Randy. What a lovely tribute.

  16. treadlemusic Says:

    I am so thankful for many things…….both your friendships, the honest tribute to a blessed life together of 35 years and that I did not miss this post. Treasure each moment as there are no guarantees of the next. Sending uber bear hugs…..to you BOTH!!!!!!!

  17. Congratulations, thanks for sharing your blessings.

  18. Littlesundog Says:

    Aw, that was just beautiful, Audrey. What a blessing to have each other for that long, and to be able to laugh about a lot of the silly things. That last paragraph about the “roar of race cars” made me laugh. Isn’t it funny what we put up with lovingly? Wonderful post… just wonderful.

  19. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Sounds like you’ve found a keeper. Congratulations

  20. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    Congratulations. A very touching essay. I got kind of choked up reading it.

  21. Thank you for sharing ❤️❤️❤️ happy anniversary! 💕

  22. lu's journey Says:

    Thank you for sharing

  23. Ravi Sidula Says:

    Wow, congrats on the milestone

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