Friday was my wife’s birthday. Now, everyone knows that I write my articles ahead of time, so Jennifer’s birthday has not occurred yet as I write this. But as you read it, she now officially is another year older. Hooray for Jennifer!
Jennifer and I have known each other for 28 years. We met when we both were teaching preschool back in the mid-1980s. Much in our lives has changed since then, but a few things remain the same.
Our commitment to each other and our families has been the foundation of our relationship. Sure, there have been some rough waves along the way, but what life excursion has smooth sailing from start to finish? It is those periods of tough sailing that build both character and dependence — dependence on each other and on our maker above.
I admit that I have learned a lot about our relationship over the years, and I’m getting better at avoiding those moments when I wish I had kept a comment to myself. But I still suffer from “foot in mouth” disease every so often.
About a week ago, I said, “Hey, those jeans look great on you.”
“Wonderful,” she replied. “These are my fat jeans.”
How am I supposed to know that? Someone needs to let a guy in on these things. I suppose there are “fat shoes” and “fat dresses,” too? If so, I’m in trouble.
The other day I asked her if she was feeling OK.
“Yes. Why?” she said.
“You look like you don’t feel well. Your face looks funny,” I said.
“This is what it always looks like before I put on my make-up,” she retorted.
It was at that moment I knew I had gone to the point of no return. Why can’t I stop talking sooner?
Well, I survived that almost-fatal crash and have decided that maybe it’s time to share a few of my tips for keeping a relationship strong and healthy.
So here goes — Rich’s advice for staying out of trouble:
• Never talk before the first cup of coffee.
• When asked “Which one?” say “Which one would you choose?”
• Assume everything is great until told so otherwise. Never let on that you think something might be wrong, otherwise you’re a dead man.
• Never ask, “Are you wearing that?”
• And never, ever ask, “What can I do to help this situation?” The answer is, “You’ve done enough already.” Makes no sense to ask a question for which you already know the answer.
• Many questions can be tricky, so be careful. The use of “Huh?” and “I didn’t hear you” work pretty good in allowing you time to think before you respond.
Seriously, though, there are a few things that you should always do, like opening the car door for your sweetheart. I don’t care how long you’ve been married, open that door.
Walking with her, instead of in front of her; you didn’t get this far without her, so don’t leave her behind in the parking lot. Hold her hand, too. It’s dangerous out there. And tell her you love her like you first did when you were dating.
Marriage isn’t another word for mundane, and yet too often, many treat it that way. I’m far from perfect and Jennifer can tell you I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ll never stop trying to get it right.
Happy birthday, baby!
DeLong is the executive director of The Suites at Station Exchange. Call him at 912-531-7867 or email Suites.StationExchange@gmail.com.