The Emerald City lies in the center of the Land of Oz, at the end of the yellow brick road in Frank Baum’s fabled story, The Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900.  In the center of the city is the fairy-tale Palace where the redoubtable Wizard resides.


Photo credit: Oz


The palace itself is constructed of green glass, emeralds, and other precious jewels. It is a destination to which silver-shoed Dorothy and her trip mates aspire: The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. Dorothy’s goal is to seek the Wizard’s wisdom so she can return home again to the Kansas prairie with her beloved Aunt Em.

The Emerald City in the Land of Oz is a destination.

Marriage, however, is a process, a journey that includes some terrain like the Yellow Brick Road, but also rocky roads, prickly paths, and slick shoulders–even crossroads with questionable signage.

This year we celebrate 55 years together. Marriage lore labels this milestone as the Emerald Anniversary and suggests the groom buy for his bride a special ring. My groom will get off easy. His bride is a former Mennonite girl, who doesn’t require a pricey ornament like the eternity ring with emeralds and diamonds pictured here.

Not surprisingly, emerald green is associated with renewal, rebirth and growth. Through time, emeralds have been regarded as a symbol of truth, fidelity, and love. The Incas revered the emerald as did ancient Egyptians. Emeralds are mentioned several times in the Bible. “This precious gem is included among the stones of Israel’s twelve tribes, the foundations of New Jerusalem, the high priest’s breastplate, and the twelve Apostles.”

Over the years, we have discovered that it takes more than the gift of emeralds or three clicks of a pair of silver shoes or wishful thinking to stay together companionably. Even an expensive gift won’t impart magical powers to a relationship.


Ada Calhoun, author of Wedding Toasts I’ll never Give, presents an unflinching but loving portrait of her own marriage as the book’s blurb states. She also shares wisdom from a pope, a rabbi, a movie magnate, a psychologist and more.



Here are some excerpts from her book:

Pope Francis pontificates

Pope Francis once told a group of engaged couples that married life is about two people gradually changing each other for the better. He said marriage is creative, “a craftsman’s task, a goldsmith’s work, because the husband has the duty of making the wife more of a woman and the wife has the duty of making the husband more of a man. . . . One day you will walk along the streets of your town and the people will say, ‘Look at that beautiful woman, so strong!’ ‘With the husband that she has, it’s understandable!’”   (Address of Pope Francis to Engaged Couples Preparing for Marriage,” February 14, 2014).

[Although I agree with his counsel, I take advice from an unmarried man with a grain of salt.]


A Rabbi and Ritual in Marriage

“Ritual can be a sacred drama of our fondest aspirations: what we were, what we are, and what we hope to be—not just measured by the meagerness of our own life’s experience, but inscribed in a ritual script that we inherit from the many generations that came before us.”     ~ Rabbi Lawrence. A. Hoffman.


Movie Magnate Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry says “that when we’re married, we need to keep in mind the 80/20 rule. Our partner, he says, will give us 80 percent of what we want. When we look at other people, we see only that they have the other 20 percent. Of course, if we ever left our partner for what we want, just a different 80 percent—new joys, new problems. And looking around, we would still see the missing 20 percent in other people.”

Author Calhoun concludes: “I wouldn’t want to trade in my current problems for new ones with someone else.”      126


Psychologist Erich Fromm

“To love somebody is not just a strong feeling—it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise,” writer psychologist Erich Fromm. “If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision?”   144


Ada Calhoun characterizes her own marriage of eighteen years as certifying a bonafide relationship

“Making a relationship official and public changes it. When you have witnesses from both families, each person’s tribe is on its own side, and when the couple walks back up the aisle after getting married, they’re like the pull tab on a zipper, merging the two sides into one family for the rest of human history.”   161


Grace in Marriage

“Marriage is built upon grace,” writes the Christian writer Edward S. Gleason. “It is not a contact that depends upon the exchange of goods and services, based upon what each does to and for the other. Marriage is a condition of being, not [just] doing. Marriage is based on who we are with one another. Marriage lives and grows with grace, and without grace marriage dies.”   130

18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.



My Final Thoughts on the Eve of our 55th Anniversary

Commitment is walking in the same direction for a very long time.




Link to 48th anniversary blog post:


Any tips of your own to share?