Category Archives: Suitable Mate

Winning the Love Game

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            I know Crystal is a big fan of all of those reality TV dating shows. There are so many to choose from nowadays. There is the classic The Bachelor: The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, 90 Day Fiancé, etc. I have never understood how, dating 25 women in a stressful environment, is any way to find the one person who will become your life partner.

            Whenever I see that Crystal is watching one, I generally just shake my head (involuntarily), turn and walk away. I think I’d rather watch the grass grow (and that’s pretty slow right now). However, the other day something amazing happened, and now I see the light. I still won’t watch, but I see the benefit of these shows.

            As I entered the living room and saw one of the goofy shows on, as per usual, I turned to walk away. I’m sure my head was still shaking when Crystal stopped me. She walked up to me, and threw her arms around me, and planted a big wet one on my lips. All she said was “Thank you for marrying me”. I have to say, that meant a lot to me. It was like I could feel her love and appreciation. All I could think to say was ‘thank you’, followed by; ‘maybe there is some benefit to these shows.’

            I never really gave it much thought until now, but why are these shows so popular? Is it that people are so lacking for a sense of romance and satisfaction in their own lives, that they seek it in any form possible? Or is it simply the love of the interpersonal dramas, available in abundance on these shows. Or is it just a distraction from the viewer’s own life? Regardless, the networks have struck a nerve, and will continue to poke it until it stops getting a response.

            However, in my mind at least, there is a problem. It seems we are getting further and further away from modeling a realistic pattern for finding lasting love. Trust me, reality TV is not the way.

            When I went to college, I definitely was not in search of a wife. However, in my first three years, before I met Crystal, I had three long term relationships. By long term, I mean at least six weeks. That’s a long time in college. Each, ran its course. We spent time getting to know each other, dating, studying together, and just enjoying some distraction from school. Eventually, each relationship came to an end. It always came down to someone wanting something different. One girl was too serious, before I was ready. One just wanted something different (?). The third was quite honest. She had spent a lot of time working on her appearance, and while she loved my company, I wasn’t cute enough. She was beautiful. I was very lucky with all of them. We always parted as friends. Each time, I learned a little more about women (I was vastly ignorant), and about myself.

            By the time Crystal came around, I was frankly, a little more mature, and had a better idea about my own needs. It is what I consider serendipity. That is, when everything just seems to work together for a positive result. In other words, it was the right time, the right place, and most importantly, we were the right two people. I give God a hat tip for that.

            In our case, it wasn’t love at first sight. But somehow, we kept coming back to each other. Crystal had her five-year plan, coming in, and I wasn’t in it. It wasn’t until neither of us could find a date to a dance that, we decided to go together.

            Some 45 years later, the dance continues. Just as a side note, Crystal got to know all of my ‘long term’ ex-girlfriends. I think it was part of her research. We even attended one’s wedding. Another of them came to ours.

            I guess the point of this article is that marriage is all about relationship. There are no short cuts. Use your single time to work on yourself. Work on becoming the prize worth finding. As for dating, I believe, you may have to kiss a few frogs to find a prince/princess. But somehow, finding the one, out of twenty-five (beautiful frogs) at the same time, is for entertainment only. Choosing a life partner takes the right timing, patience, critical thinking (emotions aside), chemistry, and honestly a little luck. Praying is always a good idea as well.

Remember there are no short cuts. Most of these relationships don’t work long term.
Category: Suitable Mate

Secret to Marriage: Final – Don’t get Married until you are Ready and Marry the Right Person

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            I know, I know, this seems obvious. But what does it mean to marry the right person? What makes them ‘The One’? Sadly, there is no definite answer. Our world is full of deception, selfishness and broken promises. However, it is also full of hope, dreams and love. Today we focus on the hope, and what to consider in making the biggest decision of your life.

            Growing up, we all have an idealized view, a fairytale view of how people meet, fall in love, and ‘live happily ever after’. If you are not in denial, and watch your own parents and other couples, you soon discover that life and fairytales aren’t the same.

            In real life, marriage is more like a football game played on a field during periodic earthquakes. Even in day to day life, sometimes you are on offence, sometimes defense, and other times when all you can do is punt. Then the earthquake (problem) happens and determines whether you and your spouse are really on the same team at all. If you are, you probably married the right person. If not???

            So how can you maximize your chances? The first and best advice I can give is don’t get married until you are ready. By ready I mean mature, with set goals, set beliefs, and set standards. Only then will you be able to choose the correct person and hold up your end of a marriage.

            One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is people who get married thinking it will solve their problems. One of my favorite sitcom movies is Six Days Seven Nights. In it Harrison Ford says about people who visit the islands to fix their problems, “It’s an island, babe. If you didn’t bring it here, you won’t find it here”. It’s the same in marriage. So enjoy your single experience. Work on you. Pursue interests. Learn, exercise, and try new things. If you are lonely, find activities with others who enjoy those activities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, surround yourself with supportive people and learn how to solve those problems.

            Now that you are the ‘perfect person’, or at least a reasonable work in progress, figure out what you need in a spouse. One reason it was so important to work on yourself first is that now you know what you believe. Don’t compromise those core beliefs for anyone. Don’t get into any long term relationship with the belief that you can significantly change another person. This isn’t a rescue project. If that’s what you want, go to the pound and get a dog or maybe a cat (my preference).

            Next, do your homework on your intended. Meet their family and friends. How does he or she interact with them? What do they say about him or her? Another test is reliability. Can you depend on him/her? Do they do what they say and are they truthful about what they do? Are they stable? Can they take care of themselves? I believe that until a person knows what it takes to be independent they are not ready for marriage.

            Last but not least, are you compatible?  Do you share a basic set of beliefs? My dad was raised Jewish and my mom Catholic. I was raised Catholic and never celebrated Jewish traditions. That was decided before I was born. Have you at least talked about important issues like money, housing, or children? Even before our marriage Crystal and I decided, that if at all possible, Crystal would stay home, and at most work part time when the kids came into the picture. The more and earlier you discuss that kind of issue, the better you will know if you are compatible and your relationship will have a chance to last.

            OK, a lot to think about, I know. The good news is you don’t have to find someone who agrees with you on all of the above issues, just someone who is willing to work out solutions. Finding a person with whom you can work things out is the key to marriage. If they can’t pass that test; it’s better to have loved and lost than to be stuck with them forever.

Conclusion: So in summary, the keys I believe will give you the best chance of a long and “happy” marriage are: do all you can to be ready to hold up your end of the partnership, choose the right spouse, make sure you are synergistic people and work well together, and never stop dating (your spouse). Also, God’s blessings couldn’t hurt. That’s all I got.

Mom and Dad Married 64 years
Category: Suitable Mate

Secrets to Marriage: Part 2 Synergy

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            There have been a lot of times since dad’s recent passing that little things reminded me of him and our time together. Whenever I see wild geese or ducks I think about our drives together. He always enjoyed watching them with me. When I walk through the beautiful forested areas around our home, I remember walking with him. He always appreciated my knowledge and interest in nature. The other day I gave the last of his special Vienna salamis to Liz. She recalled eating breakfast with him and Mimi in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Salami and aged Swiss cheese on toasted rye bread was his favorite breakfast.

            I remember mom (Mimi) when I cook something she might have made, or tell a corny joke, at which I know she would have laughed. Crystal and Liz insist that from time to time, they can smell Jim’s (Crystal’s dad) pipe smoke. Crystal works on her crafts every day just like her mom.

I’m certain that, as time goes by, a variety of daily events and occurrences will trigger memories of our parents. Somehow, those memories always take me back to an earlier time. A predominant amount of my childhood memories are good. But my parents were like fire and ice. Some issues were triggers. My discipline was one. Dad was always ready to take off his belt for a swat or two. Mom knew the truth. I was a perfect child who only needed love.

            Other issues, to me, were almost comical. For years I watched, what I call, the thermostat dance. Every time mom walked past it, she would turn up the temperature. Dad would follow shortly after to turn it back down. Sometimes they would almost pass each other in the process. One time dad tried to teach mom how to drive in a forest preserve parking area. I left the car immediately upon arrival, and started walking. I made it about a half mile into the woods and could still hear the screaming/lesson. The next day dad got a private instructor for mom.

            On some levels, growing up, I never understood their relationship. Mom was a fiery and emotional extrovert, while dad was a left brain, logical introvert. What I often missed was how they completed each other. Today’s phycologists might call it codependence. I call it marriage. As we interviewed Crystal’s and my parents, for our memoir, I realized something they had in common. Even when friction was involved, spouses made each other better. I believe they made better decisions because of their differences.

            In science that type of relationship is called synergy. It’s like bees getting their nectar and at the same time pollinating flowers; or sea anemones on the backs of hermit crabs fending off the attacks of predators while having a greater opportunity to feed and grow. Species are helping themselves while at the same time helping others.

            Men and women can be similar. While technically members of the same species, we can be different enough to provide synergy in a relationship. The Bible says the two shall become one in marriage. I believe that must be the focus in a good marriage. Selfishness needs to become less. Two people need to focus on what makes the unit/marriage stronger. Focus should be on mutual benefit. What will make the marriage stronger? A marriage base on quid pro quo alone can’t last. Keeping score doesn’t work. Figure out your common goals and work together using the best abilities of each spouse to achieve them.

            I know it sounds nice and easy, but it is anything, but easy. But if you believe your marriage is worth it, give it every chance. Figure out which of you is the sea anemone and which is the crab (no pun intended). Learn to use each of your strengths to help your partner and put your marriage first.

Crystal’s Corner

            I agree with Ron that learning to work together in marriage makes the marriage better.  It took us awhile to figure out how to do this.  Ron and I are very different.  I am very art oriented and verbal.  Ron is very logical and scientific.  We look at life and problems differently.  What we realized was that my detail oriented way of solving problems could work well with his conceptual way.  He is also very mechanical and talented with taking things apart and putting them back together.  I am better at reading the instructions first and making sure all the parts are there.

            Ron mentioned that his parents did a kind of dance with changing the thermostat.  I believe that couples can learn to dance together well after they understand each other.  This comes with experience and also good communication.  When we were first married, we went to counseling and the counselor explained to me that we weren’t communicating very well.  I was expressing emotion through my words and he didn’t understand what I was talking about.  For example, I would tell Ron I wanted to do an activity and mostly he would either not remember that I said anything or ignore it.  The counselor told me you have to tell him how much you want something or to do something on a scale of 1 to 10.  So after that I could tell him I wanted to go to a quilt show and it was a 9 and he would get it.  This actually stopped a lot of confusion and eliminated arguments.  I also found that just telling him things, especially after he had worked all day, was not always effective, so I learned to write things down in lists or sometimes in a letter.  He can’t always read my handwriting, but my messages got through to him.

            Ron also learned that I sometimes just wanted him to listen when I had a problem.  I didn’t want him to try to solve it or even give me advice.  I believe that women need to talk sometimes just to figure things out.  Once we verbalize the problem, we can move on to the solutions.  When I do want his help, I tell him that.  We both learned that we can share problems and solve them together, by using our varied talents.

            I did learn a lot from being with my parents.  My father was very appreciative of everything that my mom did.  My mom was completely supportive of my father.  They liked each other as well as loved each other.  Ron and I have the same type of relationship.

            Even though we have been together now for more than 41 years, we still show appreciation to each other, in the form of words, and cards and gifts.  When I watch some of the reality shows about dating, I realize that I am very lucky in having a great husband, who is also my best friend.

Today mom and dad are in heaven where I’m sure it’s always the perfect temperature
(Lisa’s H.S. Graduation 2009)

Secrets to Marriage: Part 1 Dating

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            As I have said, on numerous occasions, I am no expert on marriage. I have no special degrees, although my BS is as good as the next guy’s. However, our memoir is based on three long-lived marriages totaling over 150 years. Over the years, I have noticed some similarities or patterns. If you are reading our blog on a consistent basis, you are probably at least a hopeful romantic. I mean, despite the increasingly low marriage success rates, you believe that, under the right circumstances, long term marriage success is possible. I thought it might be helpful to share some of my observations.

            Unless you have an arranged marriage, dating was part of the original process. Just a side note: arranged marriages have a fairly high success rate. I believe this is because of ‘common shared beliefs’. Spoiler alert: This is a topic for another blog.

            Dating is all about putting your best foot forward. You like someone and you want to impress them. Typically, you breathe a little harder/more frequently when they are close. You choose your words carefully, trying to make an impression. You may even perform archaic acts like opening car doors and pulling out chairs. Woman paint themselves and try to imitate odoriferous floral arrangements. There are also a lot of hormones involved.

            I watch a lot of nature specials. Generally, the male bird will dance, strut, puff out his plumage, or even build a nest. The female will watch or maybe participate in a dance. If successful, mating will occur. If not, they both go on to the next partner. However, as is our goal, many birds have a single partner for life. Dad and I drive by the Scioto River on most of my visits. We have both noticed that you rarely see a single or un-partnered Canadian goose.

Truly we are not that much different. Perpetuation of the species is the ultimate goal. However, that is low on the list of why we stay together. Humans are a fairly intelligent species (with some exceptions: reference Washington DC news), and as such have higher level needs. According to Maslow, above our basic needs we have needs such as intimacy, self-esteem or self-realization, and even self-actualization or reaching our full potential. Ideally, a good marriage will help each partner reach these.

I believe that if you don’t grow together, you grow apart. A marriage takes a lot of time and commitment. It is hard work and effort. However, if that is all there is in your marriage, you are in for a rough and probably short ride. You need to make time for yourselves. Have some fun and reconnect. Remind yourselves of why you committed to each other in the first place.

Never stop dating, preferably your spouse (kidding – only your spouse). My parents became world travelers after dad retired. They went around the country, including eleven trips to Hawaii. They also visited Europe half a dozen times. And they had a membership to the Chicago Metropolitan Opera. Crystal’s parents enjoyed dining and dancing at the Moose lodge, not unlike the USO dance where they met. They also enjoyed entertaining and socializing with their many friends. Crystal and I have always made time to be together. We enjoy movies, dinners, walks in nature and B&Bs. We recently spent a night at an alpaca farm B&B near Zanesville, Ohio. It was a great experience.

So let’s be honest. Married dating isn’t like single dating. It’s not a mating ritual. It’s about building a better bond. It’s about improving communications. It’s about getting away. It’s about having fun and relieving stress. If a little mating takes place occasionally, so be it (and Yeah!). At any rate, it’s time to stop reading and time to plan your next date.

Crystal at the Alpaca Farm/B&B Spring 2019

Women should seek to marry Boy Scouts (when grown up of course!)

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Between the ages of 11 and 16, I was a Boy Scout. I became an Eagle Scout in 1970. We dedicated a chapter in our book to the experience. Recently, at our church, I met a scout who was just about to achieve his Eagle Scout rank. I congratulated him and told him, pretty much without thinking, that  a lot of girls were looking for Boy Scouts like him. Upon further reflection, my being an Eagle Scout, never got me one date or any girl interested. However, there must be some reason that all three of my daughters told me that they wanted to marry an Eagle Scout.

It’s natural that I’m the man they want on a camping trip, but I believe there is more to it. The Scout Law is that ‘a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.’ That sounds like a pretty good guy who might stand up under the rigors of marriage.

The scout oath is ‘on my honor I will do my best to help the Girl Scouts get undressed’ (JOKE). Sorry, but that’s the version I remember (#Boy Scouts not saints). The real version says things about honoring God and country and more great things for a future spouse.

Most people know the scout motto of ‘be prepared’. What girl doesn’t want their man to carry some Kleenex or at least napkins and a map in the car? Or maybe you find some great tomatoes at the road stand on your trip. How great is it when he pulls out his pocket knife. And when you cut your finger with the knife, out come the Band-Aids.

You get the point. While girls might be attracted to a charmer or a bad boy, when it comes to a life partner, they need to focus on a guy with some solid character (like a Boy Scout should be).

There are other scouting attributes which help a guy in marriage. Scouting helps you to develop a broader base of knowledge. The longer you stay in the program, the more you are asked to learn. There are required badges like first aide, Citizenship, and fitness. Cooking is also required. Crystal’s grandmother approved of me instantly when she found out I could cook. She told Crystal as a little girl to find a guy that can cook or she would be stuck with preparing all of the meals.

In addition to the badges required to become an  Eagle Scout, there are also electives. The list of choices is ponderous; everything from Chemistry, to Aviation, to Archaeology. If like Crystal and me, you plan to be in this marriage thing for the long haul, you want a partner with multiple interests. Otherwise, what will you talk about?

There are other bonuses, little things, which can make a big difference. Scouts learn not to panic when they get lost. They learn to mentor others, without being condescending. This is critical in marriage. They learn patience. This is a critical marriage attribute. But you ask, how do scouts learn patience?  I once sat at an intersection for three hours listing all of the traffic violations. There were a lot of them, especially rolling stops. I spent another three hours with my scouting friend and neighbor, Ron Pozdol. I believe we were going for Insect Life merit badge. For three hours we watched all the activities of an ant hill. At one point, we were so bored Ron tore the wings off a moth and we watched the gruesome one sided battle. In the end it was dead moth down the hole.

The point is that a girl needs a guy who can be patient. I find shopping with Crystal a lot like watching that ant hill. Instead of ants, it’s people and there are no deaths in the process. However, inevitably (some time later) the moth goes down the hole, or rather, Crystal picks out the pair of shoes she needs and will complain about until we repeat the process.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining. It’s all part of earning the Good Husband badge. You never actually earn the badge, but it’s fun to keep trying. Here’s a message on patience for guys. If you can’t wait for the make up to go on, you probably won’t be there when it comes off (wink).

One final lesson you learn in scouting is recovering from disasters. When the tornado hit Oak Lawn in 1967 (also in our memoir) our troop sprang into action. For weeks, after the crisis, we collected food and helped with the cleanup.

In marriage, as I’ve said before, happily ever after is a myth. In fact, you will go through times when you feel like life is just one disaster followed by another. It’s at those times you and your spouse need to stick together and complete the required cleanup.

Bottom line girls, you don’t really need to marry a scout, just a guy who acts like one (#Good Character).


One thing scouting did for me was to give me a greater appreciation for God’s creations in nature. Take time to enjoy it and your life will be fuller.


Category: Suitable Mate

Boys and Girls

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Misconceptions about the sexes have been going on since God created us. However, each individual must learn those painful lessons for themselves. When I was in sixth grade I became a Patrol Boy. I would stand on the street corner and tell the apparently blind, younger children, when it was safe to cross the street. Then, if it was cold enough, would get free hot chocolate before going to my class. I still remember the day Nancy, one of my classmates, smiled at me, thanked me and offered me a hard candy. I stood there and wondered if we were engaged. She was cute and friendly. I could have done worse.

The next year was the special after school lecture. Dads and sons were there on one evening, daughters and moms on another. I was incensed. Making me go back to that place for a second time in the same day! Was this a dictatorship? Apparently it was. The subject that evening was what everyone, and at the same time nobody wanted to know about, SEX. In particular, they talked about what was going on with our female counterparts. They talked about women and their periods. I think there was a collective groin of disbelief. Then one brave adolescent spoke out; really, every month? Then the fateful question came. When do boys start showing real interest in girls? The answer was simple. At different times, but generally when the girls shapes start changing. Then my ADD took over my brain function. That simple answer sent me into another realm. I had never really noticed, but girls and women don’t look the same. That process was going on while we were sitting there. Some of my classmates did look curiously different after the summer. Some seemed to be changing during this year or last year. Some of the changes were subtle and slow, others seemed to happen overnight. Which ones had changed and which ones were in the process? My mind raced through a list of my classmates. I know they talked about a lot of other stuff that evening, stuff that might have helped me, but I was essentially gone. On the way home dad asked if I had any questions. I said no while in my mind I was screaming, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

The next year we were forced to take dance classes after school. Apparently, you have to dance in High School. I later found out that fortunately, unlike classes dancing was optional in high school. I opted to not. Our dance classes weren’t too bad though. Somehow I managed to keep the same partner through most of it. Sandy was a very nice young girl. She smiled and even laughed at some of my jokes. I thought about asking her out that year and even the next year. Sandy was pretty, but she didn’t look like Rachel Welch (sexy movie star at the time). I worried about peer pressure and judgment. I also worried about rejection. I wasn’t very good at reading signs and now that I knew girls were different, what if I had misinterpreted the signals? This kind of uncertainty followed me through my high school years.

Freshman year, I was awkward and shy around girls. While that didn’t improve much, the next year I took a shot. I asked a pretty girl with a leather jacket who hung with the tough group just off the school grounds. She said something mean and called me a name. OK, she was probably a bad choice, but the damage was done. Message received; girls can be mean.

The next year I was shocked when one of the prettiest girls in school asked to be my chemistry lab partner. Unfortunately, she only wanted me for my brain, even though I was willing to give so much more. We both suffered that year. Even though I liked chemistry, I found myself continuously distracted. We both might have gotten better than C+ if she hadn’t kept leaning over the bench so often. I just couldn’t tell her.

Senior year at least I found some common ground. I was good at sports. I gave some private tennis and skiing lessons to girls who wanted to learn. At least I was learning to interact one on one. They no longer seemed mean or manipulative.

Finally in college most of the clicks were gone. Everyone had at least one common goal, survive as painlessly as possible and inevitably graduate. Fortunately, I got lucky and fell into a great group of friends who more or less stuck together for four years. Finally, one of the girls revealed the secret to dating. If you don’t ask, they won’t say yes. She went on to explain that if I was tactful and my timing was OK (i.e. never through a bathroom door), there were only two possible outcomes; either you would make some girl feel a little better about herself (someone wanted her), or she would say yes. Apparently, I had been looking at this dating thing all wrong. You don’t have to understand women to ask them out (thank God). What a relief that was. Suddenly it struck me. This was no longer a problem in sociology, at which I suck. It was now a simple statistical problem, which I could handle.

In my time at Bradley University I had the opportunity to make many young ladies feel good about themselves. I also got to date some really nice girls. Some even surprised me. One time when I noticed a very cute girl (way out of my league) laughing at my corny jokes I thought I would take a shot. When she said ‘sure’ my mouth just fired before my brain could stop it. I said “REALLY?!?” They say seven is God’s perfect number, so it might not be a coincidence that Crystal was the seventh girl (I barely knew her) I asked to the semi-formal dance my senior year. Statistics work.

So what lessons have we learned? A really good golfer noticed a similar situation in his sport, when he noted that 100% of the puts that are short of the hole don’t make it in. Go out and make someone feel a little better about themselves. Finding the one starts by finding someone.

As far giving advice to young people, just stick with everyone goes through awkward times at their age, but it will get better. They won’t believe you, but at least they know you care.

band geek 001


I know! How did the girls in my high school keep their hands off me?

Answering the Ultimate Marriage Question at a Wedding

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The day after my dad and I returned from our South Carolina adventure, Crystal and I went to a wedding at our church. A young couple tied the knot. The young woman was roughly Lisa’s age (our youngest daughter – early twenties). We had known her and her family since we had been in the church. The young man had also attended our church for at least a couple of years. While we never really got to know him, he was obviously a nice guy and a fun loving character. During the ceremony, the groomsmen did a bit about not being able to find the rings, and before he kissed the bride the groom gave a big smile and thumbs up to the audience. I have to admit to being a little jealous. Why didn’t I think of that for our wedding?  Oh yes, because Crystal would have killed me.

The reception was held in a local motel banquet hall. There was barely enough room for everyone to sit.  We arrived early; however, tables were already taken. We sat at an open table with one other man who we didn’t know. Soon though, several others joined us. They were friends and more distant relatives of the groom. One was a new mother with a beautiful nine month old baby girl. This child was full of life and quickly became the entertainment for our table. What would she eat and who would she allow to hold her. The answer is anything and anybody. She was obviously used to being the center of attention.

As the evening rolled on we feasted on chicken and burgers with all of the sides and fixings. There were also these really good looking meat balls. I went up several times trying to obtain one. There must have been something magical about them. No sooner did a tray appear, than several people passed by, each with a pile on their plates, and they were gone again.

As time passed and the cake was cut and the groom went under the dress for the garter (I thought he would never come up for air), we started to talk. One of the young women at our table was a beautiful twenty-five year old with dark skin, brown eyes, and a smile that lit up the room. She asked Crystal and me the casual question ‘how long have you two been married’? When we responded 36 years she appeared shocked. I was sure her shock was merely a reflection of my youthful vim and vigor. Crystal also has always looked younger than her age. However, the next words out of her mouth corrected my misconception. She asked the fatal and ultimate marriage question, ‘what’s your secret’? I then figured out that she was referring to our marriage’s longevity and not my youthful good looks (or Crystal’s). I don’t think anyone had ever asked me that question before. Here Crystal and I had written a whole memoir (yet to be published) based on the subject of several long marriages, and when confronted I had no answer. Of course, that’s why I have Crystal. She can talk at length about almost any subject without the least provocation or planning. As I sat there thinking, Crystal rooted out additional information. Apparently the girl had been in an on-again/off again relationship for some time. They would fight, he would threaten to leave, and then they would make up. It seemed like she was ultimately asking for us to make a decision that we had no business making, or maybe to help justify one she had already made, but couldn’t act on. Crystal started to talk about our relationship, how we met, and all we had been through. I was able to add a few platitudes about the importance of communication and working on your marriage. Over all I think our answer was quite sufficient considering the short duration of our relationship with the young woman.

Since that time however, having sufficient time to reflect, there might have been some better answers to the question about the secret to long marriage. First, to answer her real question about what to do with the guy…Dump him! If he is threatening to leave now, how can you count on him when you are stuck and the chips are really down? Marriage requires continual maintenance from both parties and requires a lot of hard work and commitment. I firmly believe that not everyone should be married. When considering a lifelong commitment to an individual, and the answer to the ultimate question about the secret to a long successful marriage, consider the following. Even Jesus acknowledged that, “in this life there will be tribulation”. That means you will go through trouble no matter what. The key when considering a spouse is, stop picturing the wedding or the honeymoon, and start picturing stress and problems. They will happen. Will you get through them better on your own or with the help of your intended? Being stuck in a bad marriage is always worse than being independent. Ask anyone who’s in a bad marriage or divorced.

So the next time someone asks for our secret to being happily married for such a long time, my answer will start with, we picked the right partners. If they ask, ‘how did we do that?’ I will probably let Crystal answer, while I think about it.

SC trip 2014 035SC trip 2014 041

Fun at Hilton Head South Carolina

Category: Suitable Mate

All Men are Jerks

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            I don’t know if I have mentioned it yet, but I went back to school at around fifty years old to get an RN degree. It was an unbelievable challenge. I told some of the young women in the program that I was only there to find a good nurse to take care of me in a couple of years. I said a lot of funny things between and sometimes during classes to help relieve the tremendous stress we were all under.

            It was my privilege to get to know some of the people in the program. Most of the students were young to middle aged women. At times I felt like an insider where no man should be. I heard of abuse, neglect, and infidelity, of youthful indiscretions, and the men who wanted nothing to do with the girl who ‘got herself’ pregnant. My overwhelming lesson from the experience was that ‘all men are jerks’…………….

            I know there are a lot of jerks out there. Having three daughters, I have spent a lot of time worrying about their choices. They are grown now. My oldest used the trial and error method of selecting a mate. I could tell you some stories. But it’s always better to leave what’s past, past, and focus on the present. Today she has a great husband and family. My other two are still at different points in the decision making process.

            However, if all men are jerks what are women supposed to look for? But wait? I’m no jerk. At least I’m not consistently a jerk. I have my moments. If I was, Crystal would have told me. She tells me everything. I don’t think I’m unique. My dad isn’t a jerk. Crystal’s dad isn’t one.

            As I said there are a lot of jerks, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem for women is finding a guy who isn’t a jerk. One major pattern I uncovered during my covert ops in the land of women was they think they can fix us. They find a guy who is a little rough and try to sand off the rough edges. Guys don’t generally like or respond well to being sanded. What you see is what you get. Women need to think in terms of eternity. Is this the guy, the way he is today, I will want to be with, in ten years, twenty, fifty?

            In this age of gender equality I think we miss some things. Roles are important in marriage. They don’t need to be absolute like they were at one time. I have changed my share of diapers, and Crystal has taken out the trash. For the most part, however, we have done the jobs we are better at. I am stronger and have done more of the physical jobs. Crystal is more detail oriented and takes care of the bills and bank accounts, etc, etc. I have seen this kind of role logic work with my parents and Crystal’s. My parents were like two halves of the same brain. Dad was everything logical and analytical, while mom was at times an overflow of emotions. There was friction at time, but for the most part it worked very well. They balanced each other. Crystal’s mom was one of the most generous people I have ever known. However, if it weren’t for Jim, she probably would have starved to death when she gave everything away to the less fortunate (which was almost everyone else according to Mary Jane).

            I think that’s the key to a successful marriage. Unless the two of you are better than either one by yourself, and (this is important) you both know it, stay single. A wise man once said (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘It’s better to spend your whole life wanting something you don’t have than having something you can’t stand.’




Spring is coming. At least I found something green.

Category: Suitable Mate

Picking a Spouse

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It wasn’t love at first sight for Crystal and me. When I first saw her I was intrigued; she had great legs, but hardly thought this is the one. She was actually the seventh girl I asked to the semi-formal dance that fall. That night was fun but not the night of my life. At one point she fell asleep on the couch.

It wasn’t until later, when I really got to know her that I started to think she had possibilities. I’m not sure what it was exactly. She was certainly interesting. I certainly didn’t have to constantly think of things to talk about. She could always find something to talk about or move the conversation forward. She definitely wasn’t spoiled or hard to impress. If I bought her a cookie she was sincerely grateful. I mean she would immediately get excited and squeal for joy and then contently munch while I walked with her.  A walk in the park and a cookie could constitute a date. I always knew I could trust her. One of our first weekends she took me to a church just off campus. I could tell she really believed and lived by her beliefs. That is rare nowadays. She always was open. She told me what she liked and what she didn’t. I never had to guess. I think openness is important, but again, increasingly rare in the dating world.

One time I took her to see a movie. It was a real offbeat comedy called “Harry and Walter go to New York” It was a ridiculous movie about two escaped prisoners who plan a bank robbery. It was meant to be a farce, full of one liners and vaudeville stunts. It was completely over the top and somewhat predictable. There were about ten other people in the theater that night. Thanks to Crystal those people had the time of their lives. When something funny happened a moment passed and then Crystal laughed. When she laughed everyone else, including me couldn’t help but break out laughing. I think that is what clinched the deal for me. Crystal has always had a great sense of humor. Sometimes there is a short processing time, but she sees the humor in life. She likes the corny side of life. This is good for me, since my sense of humor tends in that direction. She always laughs at my jokes, even if our girls just roll their eyes. Life can be too serious. I don’t know how we would have survived without a sense of humor.

As far as a formula for picking a mate, I have always said that I don’t have one. I think compatibility is too hard to predict once emotions are involved. A lasting and happy marriage tales effort more than coincidence. It takes two unselfish people willing to go the extra mile to please their partner. It takes a little luck and a blessing from God. However, good conversations, easy to please and a sense of humor couldn’t hurt.

Category: Suitable Mate

What Were You Thinking Girl?

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              Being the father of three young women, a husband, and a male nurse, I have heard it all. When it comes to why young women make the choices they do with men, I still don’t totally get it. I have seen it in my family, in nursing school, and just in life in general. Women are driven by factors other than logic when it comes to finding a mate. I’m not saying its just women; men make equally bad choices. My advice will cover both sexes. I just have heard more, especially in nursing school, about the female’s point of view. I can’t tell you how many young women openly admitted about the bad choices and not understanding why they were so blind. Hind sight is great, if you learn from it. There is no denying the presence of a biological clock. However, life choices have to be made with more than short term thinking or feelings. Again Crystal is my best example. She had no intention of finding her mate in college. When we met she was very analytical about me. She studied my relationships. She talked to others about me, including ex-girlfriends. As I have already shared, she even analyzed my hand writing. I think the main thing she did right was that she never saw me as her last option. She always had plan B. She was working on becoming the best version of herself. Her plan included education, career, and once settled, family. I messed with her plan. All too often, for women, the guy is the plan. I can’t tell you how many young women I talked to in nursing school, who admitted to surviving their “bad” choices, only to now be focusing on their own goals. Often these were single mothers. Remember ladies, making the wrong choice can cost you more than it will the guy.

            So my advice is simple and covers both sexes. Work on becoming a complete person. That needs to be your goal before you enter into a relationship or look for ‘the one’. Have goals in life that have nothing to do with another person, and then work toward them. This includes but is not solely determined by what you want to accomplish with your life. Set goals to optimize your physical, mental and spiritual health. Before I met Crystal, she had a very specific goal of going to Oregon and working in her chosen field, writing. She was independent and completely capable of taking care of herself. I think that is one thing that I was looking for. You should too, in a spouse, and in yourself. I told my girls that, ideally they should live on their own for a while before marriage, and make sure their guy has done the same. Unless both of you can take care of yourselves, your relationship could become codependent and dysfunctional.

            So live, love, laugh and enjoy where you are at. Remember that, in the long run, no relationship will make you happy if you’re not happy with yourself.


Our Girls Having Fun

Category: Suitable Mate