I heard a loud crash. I thought at first that I had heard thunder clapping outside to go with the drenching rain, but I quickly figured out that a young alter server had accidentally kicked over a row of folded chairs.
My fiancé and I were getting married. We had hoped for a bright, crisp fall day. Instead, we got a cold, clammy rain-soaked one. If I had stepped outside, I would have been drenched in a millisecond. Instead, I waited in a backroom of the church for family and friends to arrive and for the ceremony to begin.
I was nervous, but excited. I loved my fiancé. I had no worries about proposing to her and now taking the formal step of becoming husband and wife. We had dated for a year before I proposed and another 18 months before we got married. She made me feel things I had never felt before. But, I still felt nervous about how our two very different personalities would mesh together to form a partnership.
From those humble beginnings, we’ve faced our share of highs and lows and any number of challenges, but we’ve stuck it out. In fact, later this month, we celebrate our 25thwedding anniversary. We’re fortunate. We consider ourselves to be one of the lucky ones. We know how hard it can be to make one week together, forget about a year or even 25 of them.
One day at a time
We realized early on that it would take hard work. In one of our earliest fights, I remember my wife looking at me like a two-headed monster had just taken over her loving husband. I’ve never asked, but I know that she felt that way, because I wondered how a two-headed monster had taken over my beautiful wife.
All these years later, I can’t even tell you what the fight was about or why we were angry. I just remember blood boiling inside of me one minute, the next minute being frightened to death that I had lost the one thing that had felt right in the world. My wife had slammed the door and stepped out for a drive. I feared she was gone for good. I cursed my stupidity. The twenty minutes she was away felt like an eternity. Fortunately, she came back, we embraced and talked through the problem. We both came to our senses and promised to work through our differences. I may not remember what the fight was about, but I’ve never forgotten the lesson from that night.
The power of love.
—A different kind of love story. I write about the first date that changed my life.
—I need a pause button. If only I could pause life.
—My advice for a new parent: Don’t blink. I could give the same advice to newlyweds too.
—Goodbyes are the hardest. Saying goodbye to my wife when we were dating was never easy.
Twenty-five years-worth of advice
A young coworker hearing about the anniversary recently asked what our secret was. He looked at me like I might really have the answer. I wish I did, I wish could market it. I would follow up within months with a book, book signings, and possibly even a day-long love seminar. I would take the seminar on the road to New York, London, Toyko, and Shanghai. I might even turn my lessons into a funny rom-com movie. I’d get Tom Hanks or Ryan Gosling to play me, Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock to play my wife. Do we resemble any of those actors and actresses? Hell no, but we’d be hot tickets. Every high-priced actor and actress in Hollywood would want to be in the movie. My wife and I would make millions. Yes, I wish I really knew the secret, but, unfortunately we’ve made it this far thanks to hard work and a few basic lessons. What worked for us, probably would be meaningless to someone else. In any event, here’s the lessons we’ve learned:
–A kind word goes on forever.
–Roses aren’t too bad either.
–Just shut up and listen. My wife tells me something bad that has happened in her classroom or school. I get up on my high horse and pontificate on the problem. I immediately chime in with a solution. I tell her how we’d handle a related problem at my work. I’m giving her valuable advice. Instead, she looks at me and says that she just wanted me to listen. “Um, okay,” I say, clearly missing the third-base coach’s hands up in the air, signaling me to stop, and getting easily thrown-out at home plate. I got her a caffeine-loaded expresso when she wanted a soothing herbal tea.
–I’m a smart man, but sometimes the best thing is to let my wife have her way. I hate few things in this world, but two of them happen to be maps and instructions. I’m the typical male. I hate asking for directions. Fortunately for me, GPS has made that problem mute. I can’t say the same about instructions. We get a new piece of technology, I want it up and running in minutes. If the new tech doesn’t work right away, I’m complaining about the worthless piece of junk. My wife is the exact opposite. She’ll patiently work through the instructions and sort things out. Instead of just turning to my wife and let her handle the issue, I have to show my worth as a the head of the family. Oh, the hassle we could avoid, if I would just get out of my own way and let her take over. Life is that way. There are things I’m great at, there are things she’s great at. We work best when we approach it at a team.
–Never go to bed or leave for work angry with each other. Never. Ever.
We started with thunder, lightning, and lots and lots of rain and we’ve faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, but 25 years have brought its share of happiness, and sunny days, including our three amazing kids.
To my lovely bride, thank you! Thank you for putting up with me and here’s to many more years to come.