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The Scarlet & Black

Happy anniversary, mon amour

Professor Ross Haenfler likes to handmake a card for special anniversaries with his wife, Professor Jennifer Snook. Photo contributed.
Professor Ross Haenfler likes to handmake a card for special anniversaries with his wife, Professor Jennifer Snook. Photo contributed.
Professor Ross Haenfler likes to handmake a card for special anniversaries with his wife, Professor Jennifer Snook. Photo contributed.

Lily Bohlke, Copy Editor

Although classroom responsibilities generally occupy the forefront of most student and faculty minds at Grinnell, coursework is not the only thing we think about. For example, many Grinnellians take time out of their schedule for personal relationships and the accompanying special occasions, such as relationship anniversaries.

While at school, some Grinnellians celebrate as many anniversaries as they can, others keep their celebrations more low-key, and yet others still critique romantic love and what it means to be part of a couple.

“We don’t have a hugely romantic notion of love and the whole Hallmark, Valentine’s Day, anniversary kind of thing,” said Professor Ross Haenfler, Sociology. “We’re not into giving big gifts or getting the five-year tennis bracelet or whatever the commercials tell you you’re supposed to do.”

Haenfler and his partner, Professor Jennifer Snook, Sociology, may not buy into a popular idea of love, however, they have been together since 2002 and have a deep and strong relationship based on bigger things.

“The things we have in common we totally bond around, whether it’s elements of pop culture, love of the outdoors [and] hiking,” Haenfler said. “We both happen to be academics, so our relationship contains a lot of give and take. … We just have a pretty strong bond.”

Similarly, students aren’t always able to have complicated and fancy anniversary celebrations, but time spent together is more important. Michael Porter ’17 and Sophia Gatton ’17 have been dating for a year and two months. They don’t plan dates that are too elaborate because they are both often busy; instead, they just enjoy each other’s company.

“Usually, we end up finding a spot to sit down and talk,” Porter said. 

For Porter and Gatton, who began dating around candy-centric Valentine’s Day last year, a good example of a fancier anniversary night was a date to Chuong Garden to celebrate, with an ice cream fix afterwards.

“We both have a sweet tooth so we like going to Dari Barn. Chuong is a favorite as well,” Porter said. “A lot of [dates] revolve around food.”

When only one half of a couple attends Grinnell, relationship anniversaries are farther between but more intense and festive. For example, Maggie Jo Bell ’17 began dating her boyfriend on July 13 almost four years ago, and it’s been long-distance almost the whole time. They try to see each other once a month and they like to do fun things together, whether it be lying in bed watching Netflix or, if the weather is nice, going out to the park or going for a run.

“The thing that works about our relationship is we’re both the same type of people in the way that our fun is pretty boring — we’re kind of like grandparents,” Bell said.

Not only do Bell and her boyfriend celebrate their anniversary every year, but they also try to celebrate on the 13th of each month if they happen to be together. For their yearly anniversaries, they have done things like going to Adventure Land or Maquoketa Caves on the border of Iowa and Illinois.

“Our second anniversary we went to the Maquoketa Caves,” she said. “That was great — we went caving and hiking and then went to dinner all muddy and messed up to a nice restaurant.”

They also go out to more accessible locations on other occasions, particularly their monthly anniversaries.

“If we’re together on the 13th, we’ll do something fun together,” Bell said. “We might go out to dinner, go bowling or something like that.”

Although Haenfler and his wife don’t necessarily celebrate every occasion or every anniversary, they do like to go on adventures together, whether it is to the Alaska backcountry, up the Rocky Mountains or backpacking through Iceland. He also often handmakes his wife a card, with an emphasis on originality and humor.

“I handmake and draw a card, with something funny and catchy that catches our relationship in that moment, so it might be related to books we’ve been reading together or a TV series we’ve been watching together,” he said.

One of the most notable aspects of their relationship, in Haenfler’s opinion, is the phrase they like to say to each other on special occasions.

“We say, ‘I don’t hate you yet.’ Which sounds sort of brutal, but it’s sort of an affectionate way of saying this is how much we connect … and we’re committed to the long haul.”

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