To My Wife: Happy Anniversary!
So, 25 years ago I was married.
When I tell people that, this week, it is usually greeted with a ‘wow’…and a different type of ‘congratulations’ than normal – almost like a “Wow, you actually ran across that old minefield in town that gets everybody -- but you made it through? Good for you!” The reaction makes sense, however…considering the average length of marriage in the U.S is about 8 years -- we’ve got that beat by three times the amount. I used to think people who said they’d been married for 25 (or more) years were really ancient. Now, I know that is not true…not at all…it’s very much not true, so not true.
What’s our secret?
We met 25+ years ago when I was visiting a local church in a town I had just moved to recently (for work). Being the supremely spiritual, Godly person that I am…I was visiting the local churches to find a good place to play rec basketball and (really) to try and meet single ladies. Before there were ‘Apps’ to swipe away prospective dating candidates there was going to a bar to meet someone or getting set up by friends, or meeting someone at work, or meeting someone in college, or meeting someone in your apartment complex as the major ways people found their future spouse. None of those appealed or were available to me then.
I was getting back into my Christian faith at the time, and I remember telling friends that I was looking to meet a nice Christian girl who was a schoolteacher. Why a schoolteacher? I really can’t remember…I just felt like that was my future/destiny that my wife would be a schoolteacher. Maybe I thought it was cool that teachers had jobs with the summer off, perhaps – which is very romantic of me.
So, I visited a few church ‘young singles group’ Sunday School classes (I was in the South at the time, where that was very normal to have at most any church). I went to a particular church for the first time one fateful Sunday, got there a bit late and got one of the last available seats in the back-back of the room…and had missed all the pre-class greetings and chitchat. They were about to start the class/lesson/worship time when these two young ladies walked in just as the study time/class was getting started – and there was not a seat left to sit in. Standing room only.
One of those two young ladies was going to be my wife in less than a year. The one who was a schoolteacher.
Two gentlemen beside me got up and offered the seats to the two girls. As fate would have it, my future wife got the prime seat next to me. At the time, I didn’t think much of it besides…OK, a hot girl is sitting next to me now, so don’t do anything stupid -- act cool and suave.
They did that ‘greet the person next to you’ moment very soon after the ladies settled into their seats, and my future wife introduced herself to me for the first time. I extended my hand to shake hers in greeting (pre-pre-pre-COVID), and as she shook my hand in our awkward position of sitting next to each other and trying to maneuver our arms to shake hands, we shook hands and her other/free hand bounced along with the greeting too…only it was holding a cup of coffee that jumped over the Styrofoam and sprinkled on to my pants.
The 25-year marriage journey started with my future wife embarrassed for sprinkling coffee on a stranger visiting for the first time.
Of the marriages that I know of, that began with the initial introduction taking place in a Sunday School class and resulting in a spilled coffee on the other person – the divorce rate is 0.0%. I highly recommend this way to meet your future spouse.
I do not believe any other words were exchanged between us that day at the church class. I never had an inkling my future was about to change that day.
I enjoyed the experience enough to go back the following week. I got to the Sunday School class early this time, but I didn’t know anyone still…so, being the James Bond that I am – I grabbed a seat and sat looking through some papers I had with me, so as not to seem like a total loser there sitting alone too afraid to talk to these strangers.
I sat there with my random papers, with a pen making notes, like I was important or something (this was pre ‘checking your phone’ to pass the awkward time) lost in my aloneness…and then I heard a voice. When I tell you that it was an angelic voice, I’m not joking. I’m serious. This has never happened to me before or since…
As I sat there lost in my thoughts, I heard a voice that was not coming from that room or from a human. It had a different sound, one very pleasing and not of this world…and it directionally sounded like it was above me, way above me. The sound and the direction of it was so foreign but pleasing to me that I 100% swear that I looked up – straight up, into the ceiling…to try and locate this sound. My mind was processing that I was in church, so this must be the voice of God or angel or something divine because of the sound.
So, I looked straight up when I heard my name being called in this unusual way. But then like with a movie effect the sound changed, came into a different focus, became more human and now the voice calling to me was coming from a few rows in front of me. In a flash, I was a bit bummed that I didn’t look up to see the heavens had opened up. But then I was doubly excited to look forward and to find that the coffee spiller from last week, whatever her name was, was calling to me to come sit with her – not because she couldn’t shake the R.C. magnetism from the week before, but because she was super-friendly and knew I was new to this church…and that was sitting alone like a dope. She was one of the class greeters for such things. She was doing her job.
Less than a year later, we were married.
Over the past 25 years, we’ve lived in five states. We’ve had two kids, watched them graduate college and move out/on in 2020. We’ve both lost very close family members in recent years. We’ve seen each other go through career changes…geography changes…personal growth changes…waist size changes…hair color changes...and been through a pandemic -- and yet I can proudly say, after 25 years, we would both say we’re more in love today than we were 25 years ago.
Anyone who is a young married person or hoping to be married, I imagine to them the thought of making it to 25 years married can seem like a great goal with a winning the lottery type of odds…but one might also have the thought – if we make it to 25 years, it’s probably going to be old/dull/stale at that point. But that’s where I’m extremely blessed – I think if the 2021 versions of ourselves were to have a dinner to discuss things with our 1996 selves…the 1996 selves would be jealous and filled with hope…and maybe a bit perplexed at the great fortune.
And with that statement, I can say I am truly happily married after 25 years to the wife of my destiny.
I have to thank two people for this…
1) My wife. I couldn’t have done it without her!
I could name many key attributes about her…good-looking, kind, hard worker, excellent/passionate schoolteacher (you should be so lucky to have your kids have her as a teacher), down to earth, great mom (you couldn’t ask for two better kids that we’ve raised), low maintenance, etc. But the one attribute I will highlight this day – reliably moral…which doesn’t sound ‘sexy’ but it’s everything.
"the moral dimensions of medical intervention"
Synonyms: virtuous, good, righteous, upright, upstanding, high-minded, right-minded, principled, proper, honorable
When you are partnered up with someone for 25 years, you have to be able to count on that person doing the right thing for the ‘team’ not self, for the kids not self, for the relationship and family not self. She lives by a code/a set of core principles, and she doesn’t break character often/ever. I never have to worry about my wife’s motivations. I can always count on her. Her default mode is trustworthy and loyalty and doing the right thing…which are attributes worth their weight in gold. Actually, they have no earthly value to compare – which is how I would describe my wife.
She’s a Godly woman. No greater compliment I could pay.
2) I have to thank God.
There is no way I could’ve made this spousal choice in my own motivations 25 years ago. I was ‘too slick’, thought I was ‘too smart/crafty’, an unknowingly naïve young man…beginning to try and fix all those flaws and mature -- but was still in the early stages of a metamorphosis.
I don’t know how I wound up in that particular town in North Carolina due to my job – I didn’t want to go there as a choice, but my work sent me with virtually no choice. I visited a few churches with no real luck/connection, but fate would have me at that particular church…late to the class…and her too…setting up the by-chance first meeting. I went the following week without any special enthusiasm…probably complained it was too early for a Sunday and might have contemplated staying in bed longer and skipping it. Had I skipped that Sunday, I might have missed my entire destiny.
None of it was ‘by chance’.
I had prayed about meeting someone someday, but I’m no great prayer…I was selfish (I wanted something for me, not for world peace). But God blessed me for reasons I’ll probably never fully realize or fully appreciate the magnitude of.
God played the long game, a master chess board player moving two pieces around the board at just the perfect time in their lives to connect them, to intersect them…defying so many odds.
If you don’t think there is a God, then I have no other explanation for how I met my wife and why she would agree to date and marry me…and why 25 years later we’re happier than ever.
“Thank you, God”…doesn’t begin to do it justice 25 years later.
But…”Thank you, God!”
Happy 25th Anniversary to my wife!!!
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