There aren't a lot of things that I can consider myself successful at, but I have succeeded in one crucial area. And that is my marriage.
My wife and I have been together since we met the first week of college. She was in the same dormitory as me and I caught just a glimpse of her moving in.
I was overly eager for a girlfriend in high school so I had only dated two girls. But that summer before going to college my job was very physical. I was in good shape.
I felt confident and was flirting with every pretty girl I could. I was always ready for the girl I was going to marry. I just needed to find her.
A couple nights before I properly met her I was off flirting with another girl. It was night and the common area was empty. We were sitting on the piano bench right next to one another.
She gave me an opening for a kiss and I thought about it for a long moment but decided not to. I didn't really know why, since I had liked her.
On another night a girl needed a walk home and I agreed to walk her. She invited me in to her room, and I went in with her.
She had pictures of herself and her friends everywhere and in every one she was wasted. She was very pretty, and she gave me an opportunity to kiss her.
I think she was looking for more than just a kiss. But I turned her down, she was safely home, so I left and went back to my dorm across campus.
Now I realize that I turned those girls down because they weren't Libby. The person I was supposed to meet. A few days later I went to Libby's dorm room to introduce myself.
She kept biting her lip, which made me think she was slightly nervous, but I found it adorable.
We talked for a while, she had worked the summer before college as a wildland firefighter and was tough, both physically and mentally. I admired her.
She was from a small town whereas I grew up in the suburbs. After talking a while I went back to my room and a few days later we were out at night playing capture the flag.
It was the night fraternities and sororities picked their pledges. I came back in to the room for just a moment and ran in to Libby in the hall.
She had gotten into her top choice sorority and was so excited that she hugged me. The she apologized. I told her it wasn't necessary, congratulated her, and we exchanged phone numbers.
Yet a few more days after that I went to the wrong math class.
It was a lecture that was done twice a day, there was space so attended the morning session instead of the afternoon one and I wanted to get it out of the way so I went in the morning.
She was there.
She waved at me when the class ended and I went to talk with her. I invited her back to my room and we went to watch a movie. True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Not exactly the ideal date movie. But we were mostly just talking anyways. Eventually I leaned in toward and said "I hope," and then we kissed. "That this is okay.
" And like that, she was my girlfriend.
I knew I wanted to marry her, I just wanted to finish school first. We needed money to get properly married and being college students that's something that we didn't have.
After about a year I gave her a ring, and she said yes. We were then engaged for several years. People used to laugh at how long our engagement was. We just weren't in a rush.
We loved each other and were together. In 2005 we got married right around five years together. Her parents paid for the wedding. We chose a small quiet vineyard.
We still love each other. And I daresay it's stronger than ever. We have now spent half our lives together. In all that time we've learned to read each other.
We've learned to help each other, and when to compromise.
It hasn't always been easy. We've had job losses, financial troubles. We had to move and move move constantly for work. We moved twelve times in twelve years. Literally.
But we didn't fight about that.
We've had our fights. But we talk through them. Tell each other how we're feeling. She is my best friend.
So I feel qualified to offer some marriage advice. Here is my opinion of marriage.
It will not magically fix a relationship. There is nothing magical about it. It is real and gritty. But if you do it right you can at least minimize conflict and find it well worth the effort..
You must respect each other and each others quirks. That's not to say you can't have a hell no you can't issue. Like my wife says "Hell no you can't get an elephant." That's fair.
But you also have to pick your battles.
If your partner does a little thing that bugs you you have to ask yourself, is it a dealbreaker? Is it fixable? Can it be ignored? Or can you learn to love it?
Meet each other halfway always. You are equal partners. Full stop.
That's what you want to be. Like a buddy cop movie. It ain't magical, but it works.
Have fun together, always. Tell each other you love each other always. Be intimate as often as you can. Nurture that bond so it continues to grow stronger. You will both grow together.
You will meet in the middle and be happy with your beautiful friendship.