Let’s pretend, for just a minute, that we are able to flash forward to January 2030. I’ll be 57, my wife 56 and my kids will be…27, 25 & 22.
It’s hard to believe that I’ll ever get to that time in life, but it’s also hard for me to digest that I bought my first mini-van 8 years ago (don’t kid yourself, I still look “solid” driving the mighty Town & Country), so I’m accepting that life will continue to motor on at a feverish pace (just like our parents and grandparents said it would).
I was married at 25, so it’s also not much of a stretch to think that my children could be prepping for their marriages in or around the 2030 time frame (Jillian- please wait until you’re at least 30 to get married…thank you for your consideration with this matter) and in the spirit of thinking ahead 18 years, I would like to share a lesson about marriage with my kids, which surfaced during my most recent re-read of the 2011 journal.
I hate to consider what the divorce rate is going to be in 2030, knowing that, in 2012, more than 1/2 of all marriages end in divorce. As I read some passages from 2011, I noticed a regular theme about how my life, my introspection, my career and my decisions impact my wife, Deena. For those who don’t know us as a couple, my wife and I are very different people. I am impulsive, she drags feet on decisions, she is meticulous, and I tend to rush through things. I’m 20 minutes early to most events; she is not early to any event…
In short; we are very different people (opposites in a number of areas) except for one; our persistence as a couple and our common belief in the life goals each of us has set for the future. In addition to those important pieces are the shared passions for relationships with people and the willingness to fight to keep each other on track as it relates to our life goals.
If I had to tell my children what to look for in a spouse…a matching level of persistence toward achieving goals coupled with a shared patience for the time you’ll spend while getting to those life goals are two traits that can help when you decide to spend your life with someone. Additionally, finding someone who can compliment you, which I have done, has been instrumental in keeping me sane (and…I won’t lie; being patient comes in handy again when the act of “complimenting” one another, which is really a code word for the act of passionately disagreeing with your spouse, presents itself). Continuing down the path of sharing too much information for my wife’s comfort (why stop now, she’s already going to be frustrated that she is the focal point of this article)… I also forgot to mention that I like to share feelings and emotions with the entire world and she doesn’t quite feel the same way. As our marriage unfolded, we had NO clue as to the situations we were going to find ourselves in later in life. After 16 years together, Deena and I have lived, first hand, almost everything a couple could see (financial strain, birth defects and repair surgeries for one of our children, tough career choices, poor parenting decisions, taking each other for granted and all of the other good, bad and indifferent choices that can strain a marriage).
Why do I include this information in my “life lessons” project? I’m sharing this information because I received some news from a group who Deena and I have been working with since the crescendo of our “2008 financial challenges” and the information I received made my soul smile for the first time in 4 years. In lieu of going “belly up & bankrupt” in 2008, I’ve already written about the decision Deena and I made to repay a significant sum of money, which was debt tied to a futile attempt at becoming SE Michigan’s next real estate baron. The repay decision, which was scheduled to be paid, monthly, for 5 years…put more than a little strain on our personal financial situation (and our lives together). Deena was patient as I moved careers to protect the income we needed to meet our agreed upon obligations, we supported each other as our life style had to drastically adjust and the two of us were forced to learn, quickly, what it was like to really become “adults”. You’ve read about my education through this process (forced humility and an increased appreciation for what life has to offer sans the material things in life) and, finally, what I haven’t written enough about is the level of appreciation I should express to my wife for the way she handled this experience with me. She was the definition of patient and persistent as we worked to manage the life changes and the stress that inherently came along. No drama intended with this next statement, but she could have left…I could have left…instead; we chose to stick around and keep fighting. Back to the information I received…I was notified that in 45 days we will have repaid the last of our obligations and we’ll have cleared one of the largest obstacles encountered in our married lives. I’m sure we’ll have other obstacles to deal with in the future, but this 4 year experience (we repaid ahead of the program by a year) has taught me the importance of patience and persistence and it gave me a whole new appreciation for “balanced” decisions. To my children…I hope you can learn from my mistakes and won’t have to learn them on your own, but in case you opt for the option your Dad typically takes (touching the stove himself to learn that it really is hot), when you are faced with adversity…please remember to be patient, to be persistent toward your end goal and to stick around and fight for those goals you’ve set for yourself.
The end result is a satisfaction that words can’t describe.