How I am still happily married, 2 decades and 3 babies in!

Saira Valley

Posted on January 08 2019

How I am still happily married, 2 decades and 3 babies in!

2 decades is a really long LONG time for a 38 year old; it's more then half my life!! That's how long I have been with my husband (on and off) until we finally got married in 2007. We have 3 kids, run a business, a family, a house, and somehow we do it happily, and in love. 

People always ask me, what is your secret. How is it after so many years together you can still be happy, and in love?

Butch and saira youthIt's true. After 20 years of either staring at his picture, or his face, I still feel the same way about Butch as I did when I first saw him at a nightclub in Boston. I was 18 and my sister and I would go to a club called Axis for 80's night. We danced to the best music and laughed and had the most fun I think I have ever had in my life! 

One night, I saw him. And I swear it was quite literally love at first sight. It would be months before I would work up the courage to talk to him. I remember the moment so clearly. Depeche Mode was playing over the speakers, Policy of truth, and he was walking through the crowd. Hair slicked back, side burns perfectly groomed like Elvis, and I walked over to him and placed my hand on his arm and said, "Excuse me, I just have to tell you, I think you might the most handsome man I have ever seen." 

I was shaking, so afraid he would reject me. But he smiled and put his hand on mine and said, "Thank you so much." Our first date, I lied to him and said i REALLY wanted to see the Exorcist (a movie I swore I would never watch because it's the only movie that ever scared my father) and we ended up watching the movie and walking around Boston all day. It was like a fairy tale. And I was smitten. 

Date nightOur love affair was far from easy. while it had a passionate romantic beginning, it has been weighted by battles with  depression, death, financial struggles, anger, miscarriage, separation for long periods due to work and dreams, and a million other mountains in between. By all counts, we really should have split up a dozen times over. There have been times where life has brought us both to our knees, and marriage seemed like the hardest thing to stick out. Where we were miserable frankly. And yet, we remain strong, we remain loving, and we remain together. 

We have a few elements of our marriage that are less or more traditional depending on the time period you are referring to. The first is we don't share a bedroom. Originally we kept separate bedrooms because Butch snored like crazy and it made sleep very difficult for me. We also had very different sleep schedules so it never made sense for one of us to disturb the other. Over time we found that we liked having separate spaces, where we could have privacy and live how we wanted independently, and when we were together it was by choice, not by default. Besides, I like pink bedding. 

butch and sai kissingWe are very open and honest, even if that honesty might mean something painful or it's something we know the other person doesn't want to hear. We have a deep respect for the truth between us, that above all else, what hurts relationships more than anything is lack of honesty. Being truthful about painful things is never easy, but we believe that as spouses we are each others safest place first and foremost. But, we behave with rules in place that honesty requires open mindedness, and a loving non judgmental ear. 

Forgiveness, and letting go. No person is perfect, no marriage is either. People make mistakes, say mean things out of pain, and can be distant or cold not out of any directed malice to their partner, but rather an internal struggle that keeps them from connecting with those around them, especially their spouses. Butch and I are happy but not because we are immune from struggles. But because we don't hold our arguments or pain as weapons against each other. Whatever has happened good or bad, it has all been part of our journey together as husband and wife and as friends. 

Knowing our roles. And no, this doesn't mean traditional roles. It means we each have a part to play in keeping our home and our life running, and we agree to those roles and stick to them. So for example, I am the one who does dishes. That is my job, Butch cooks, that is his job. Having an agreement on who does what helps avoid arguments of why didn't you do XYZ. It provides balance, and harmony when everyone knows what is expected of them. 

Learning and dreaming together. Butch was on the road for a long time on and off during our early years, he traveled with his race car. And I won't lie, I hated it! But he taught me how important it is to support someones dream, even when it isn't your own. Butch supports my dream to be an actress, even though it means me being away from home for extended periods of time and for him to essentially be a single parent while I am away. 

Vacations. You know, money is always tight. That is just the way life is for most people. Taking vacations seems like an impossible task both in regards to money, and time. but family vacations even if they are small, are meaningful and build not just memories, but strength within your family. Whether that family is 2 people or 12. Make time to step out of your life, out of your home, and experience the world together. It forges a new kind of bond, and memories that will last a lifetime. 


And last, our children. Our kids are stressful, like, oh my god. STRESSFUL. But they are also wonderful, and full of magic. Most days are chaos in our house, we are not organized, we are a mess. There is absolutely NO organization. I still feel like I am playing house most days, waiting for my kids to realize their parents are giant frauds who have NO idea what the are doing day after day! But do any of us?

I recall as a child thinking my parents knew it all. Man oh man, now I know they were just stumbling through, doing the best they could to give us as much love and stability as possible. But they were CLUELESS. Butch and I know we are not the perfect parents, and we both try to help the other along without being sensitive or getting hurt feelings about constructive criticism. Parenting in our home is a two parent job (because there are two of us) so we have to be united on our stance. It doesn't come naturally, but it comes with  honesty and openness about tough things.  

Butch and saira annvI think in closing, what has helped me and Butch above ALL the other things I have already mentioned above, is that our desire to be together is greater than any desire to be apart. We are best friends, we are more than married. We choose to be together, and when you make that choice to be deliberate and on purpose with your relationship, it makes other things a lot easier. 

We aren't perfectly married, and in most cases we don't follow the normal standard of what a married couple looks like. Separate rooms, brutal honestly, role reversal for some of the home stuff; but we came up with a marriage that worked for us so we could maintain our sanity, our intimacy and our happiness. 

I have been with this man for more than half my life. Through so many trials. But he is my favorite person, and I hope for another 60 years together! 


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  • Marcia: January 09, 2019

    Great story Saira, thank you for sharing. My marriage is going on 30 years this April and I can certainly echo your comments in many ways. Congratulations on your anniversary!

  • Marianne: January 08, 2019

    Pretty great love story…wish there were more people out there willing to put in real effort when things get tough instead of just running away….or brushing it off!

  • Andrea: January 08, 2019

    Beautiful message Saira! You guys are definitely inspiring and I agree I don’t think any of us know what we’re doing parenting wise :).

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