I met a beautiful, fun, intelligent and friendly girl named Joanne in the fall of 1985. On our first evening date, we enjoyed a fun dinner and a movie. It was such a nice evening when I brought her home that we went for stroll and ended up on a small bridge over the Charles River and watched the stars overhead. Back in front of her apartment we had our first kiss and I will never forget that look in Joanne’s eyes. It was a look that has stayed with me and made me smile until this very day. After three short months, I asked Joanne to marry me ( I also told her to never tell our kids that we got engaged so quickly) and our wedding was exactly one year from our first date on September 13, 1986. Thirty years later, I still feel like the luckiest guy in the world and love Joanne now in a way I did not even understand when we first made our vows for life.
We have been blessed to share many adventures together over the past three decades from buying and fixing up our “starter” home that we still live in, having two incredibly wonderful daughters to raise and share life with, spending time on simple vacations in Maine or trips to Italy, and just living the rhythm of life with family and friends. I try to stop and appreciate those moments together as they are happening to know how fortunate I am to be with someone that I love and admire so much. I don’t want to make this sound like a Hallmark card. We have worked hard to learn how to really listen to each other or to look beneath the surface when we have a fight or feel like the other one doesn’t care or understand. We have had rough days and tough years to work through. We have dealt with cancer and other issues that have been heartbreaking together. What I have admired most about Joanne is her courage and willingness to keep moving forward, and face things that are uncomfortable or even painful to grow as an individual and as a couple. I have loved watching her faith grow, to see her give so much love to our daughters as their mom, getting involved in so many things, and taking on new interests such her latest dive into painting. Best of all, we have been able to trust and care about each other enough to let the other be their true selves, warts and all.
For our wedding, we put an inscription engraved in each other’s bands. I put “All the days of my life” in hers and Joanne put “To my best friend” in mine. I think that those have proved to be key ingredients to being very happy that we are married to each other today. Making a true commitment for life has allowed us to learn to trust that our love is unconditional. No matter what we find out about each other, or our own selves as we have safely let down our protective guards, we are together through richer or poorer, good times and bad, sickness and health, all the days of our life. In a culture that has become very focused on seeking personal happiness and fulfilment vs self-sacrificing love for the other, a true vow of commitment for life changes the very nature of a marriage relationship. Being truly best friends has helped us to learn to champion each other, to sincerely will the good and the best for the other unconditionally, and to always come back no matter how difficult or painful a patch we may be going through. I know that Joanne is my best friend and try to work honestly to be hers as well, and that friendship has been so foundational to our relationship. As important as those two things are to a marriage, they can pale in comparison to the importance of having God in our marriage and sharing our faith together. When you talk about what a true marriage is really all about, some people would feel that it is impossible for any human being to live up to. In many ways I would agree with them and that is why God’s strength, grace and love is so important to the bond of any true marriage or deep friendship.
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart. In many ways, it feels like we are just getting started. Looking forward to the next thirty!