For the lead up to Valentine's Day, a day that can be fraught for many, I wanted to focus on a few real life couples who've made love last – how they've done it, and how they express their style within the relationship and express it on Valentine's Day. Who needs celebrities? Seriously.
Love Style: Amy & Ken
Ken: For many years, he was a camera-operator in the film business. A few films he worked on: Field of Dreams, Fried Green Tomatoes, Mr. Wonderful, Scent of a Woman, Pleasantville. He's happily retired now, and loves gardening and renovating his home.
Amy: Author, screenwriter, playwright and editor, Amy is a champion of all and everything women-centric. Her book Marrying George Clooney: Confessions From a Midlife Crisis (Seal Press) is currently being turned into an off-Broadway play with As the World Turns star Colleen Zenk. Both are way past 50.
How they met: We met on the movie, Mr. Wonderful (which Amy wrote! Starring Matt Dillon, Mary Louise Parker). A very romantic meet. We literally saw each other from across the room. Ken was on the camera, I was standing next to the director (Anthony Minghella) and our eyes met. Truly. A sexy movie moment!
How long they've been together: We'll be married 20 years this May.
Ken was married twice before, I had never been married. Trust me, I'm his last wife. If for no other reason (other than) I'm such a handful. He would need a rest.
How does what you do impact your relationship? Ken and I have a life-rhythm. When he was working, he was working 14, 15-hour days, and would be on a film for months on end. And I would travel with him to location. I can write anywhere, that's the luxury of being a writer. Now that he's retired, we're home, settled in. I love home. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming being together so much, but we give each other what each other needs. Time, space, words. We're complete opposites in so many ways, so we're never bored with each other and we have enough interests individually that we can fill our lives.
Are you a Romantic?I love flowers and sparkly things and sexy dinners, but a romantic... no. I love the notion of romance, and all that, but I'm not a romantic. But Ken is so generous and thoughtful.
Let me tell you what he did for me for my 50th birthday. A big gigantic "oh my God," surprise. He hired a private chef, two massage therapists, had the entire bathroom (we have a huge, gorgeous bathroom!) lit with hundreds of votive candles and roses everywhere, and we each had massages, and then champagne and ... a spectacular dinner prepared and served. It was pure magic. Magic. Like a fairy tale.
OK, GQ here: Wow! Note to, well, anyone – this is a GREAT idea for a 50th birthday. And if you passed 50, then 51, 58, or 62 will do. Better yet, redo 50.
Anything different about your style from when you met? My style has always been sexy couture hippie. Frye boots and opera-length pearls. Ken is black jeans and sneakers or boots and shirts. Ken is sexy. A hunka hunka burn in' love.
Do you change anything about your style for him? Yes, I don't wear a lot of makeup.
He doesn't like makeup. He likes natural and perfectly imperfect. So, I wear mascara and blush, and a hint of lipstick. I suppose the truth is his love gives me great confidence. A great sense of self-worth."
Do you change anything about your style for her? No. But she'll tell me not to wear something, or it doesn't look good, and I listen. What man doesn't listen?
GQ interjecting again: Some men don't listen.
Do you shop together? Do you shop for each other? I shop for Ken. Ken stays home. Ken hates shopping. He'd rather have a colonoscopy.
Formula for staying together/making it work? We like each other so much. We respect each other. We disagree, we fight, we argue, and honestly, most of that comes out of habit, comes out of our upbringing — both our sets of parents argued, fought — so we learned that, but we care for each other, take care of each other, allow each other our own feelings, experiences, truths.
The Prophet author Kahlil Gibran says, On Marriage:
And stand together yet not too near together
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow..."
With that in mind, what do you like to do apart, what do you most like to do together? Ken gardens. That's his huge, glorious passion. He grows vegetables and flowers and he composts and he makes his own soil and stone garden beds.
I love writing, and seeing my friends and being more social. I love talking on the phone with my girlfriends and Ken loves plating arugula and lettuce and communing with nature. I like making a ruckus in the world, and Ken likes making flowers and vegetables grow from seedlings. Together we socialize, go to movies, a few events here and there, the museum — we love going to MoMA — and we love a good meal, whether it's home-cooked or a good restaurant.
Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Yes, of course we celebrate Valentine's Day. Cards and flowers and dinner and lots of kisses. Long kisses. And sometimes those long kisses lead to chapped lips. Thank god for Burt's Bees.
Ken: Yeah. Flowers and cards and sex.
Amy: Okay, so I said long kisses and he said sex. There you have it. He's so hopeful.
My bonus question: What would you suggest to couples looking to make ther love styles dovetail: "Like each other. Respect each other. Be able to be yourself, blemishes and all, flaws and all. Be able to say I'm sorry, be able to say I'm wrong. Spend less money on each other, and more time with each other. Be grateful. Be generous (of spirit). Be kind — kind is much better than nice. And say i love you, sleep well at the end of each day."
Good advice. I once asked Amy (we've never met) if Ken was put out by her midnight musings in Marrying George Clooney — here's her answer (& his!). Relationships are fairytales of the soul in all their rough & tumble glory; focus on the baseline of love and you can fight, make up, have sex, celebrate birthdays in style, and shop, or not, for many years to come.
More love stories:
- Love Style: Jamie & Amy
- Love Style: David & Gwen
- Love Style: Christina & Yuri
- Love Style: Keith & Marty