My, How Time Flies

Turning Point

This month, my bride and I celebrate 35 years of marriage. It has been and continues to be a good trip through life with a wonderful companion.

We’ve managed to defy the odds and stay together in spite of the statistics stacked against such a thing. When asked about our longevity, I usually quip something smart-alecky, like, “It shows a lack of imagination from both of us,” or “With all my travels, we’ve really only lived together for 3 years.”

Neither of those remarks or some of the others I conjure are the truth. The truth is my wife and I won life’s lottery back in 1979 by finding each other and committing to do the work involved to get us through the good and bad times.

Anyone who has been married a while understands it is about the work. In many ways, a marriage is much like one’s career.

Success in either endeavor comes from growth. Learning and listening are probably the two most important factors, I’ve found. I’d also add a little willingness to take some risks—by that, I mean change.

Neither my wife nor I are the same people we were 35 years ago. In some ways, that is kind of sad, but for the most part it’s a positive. We’ve literally grown up together, and looking back, we had a lot of growing up to do. It’s said youth is wasted on the young. Perhaps it is not wasted so much as spent. 

Overall, our life together has been pretty good. We raised four children, helped them become educated and are looking forward to receiving the social security deductions coming out of their paychecks.

Moreover, we’re now enjoying the additional fruits of our marriage in the roly-poly form of grandchildren. It’s very cool.  

Of course for me, the catalyst for my married life and the well spring it produced has been manufacturing. My career, thanks to an understanding wife who appreciates food on the table, has progressed hand-in-glove with my marriage. In our house, it has been a partnership.

I’ve missed things through the years—birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events—but we’ve always chalked it up to a greater good: my job.

Among my favorite stories of my wife’s resourcefulness occurred one IMTS. In those days, my stint in Chicago was 5 weeks—set the booth, do the show, tear down and ship. This particular year, we were planning on moving to a new house. When I left for Chicago, we hadn’t yet found one.

My wife did find one, put in a bid, and we got it—on a short closing. I received the papers and had everything notarized in the McCormick Place business office at the show, then mailed them home.

In summary, I left our house for the show and needed directions upon returning to my new house, which was a great house. We still laugh about that one.

Among the many things usually on my mind at work and on the road, I have been blessed that a helpless wife at home has not been one of them.

Something else that is perhaps a difference maker in my case is that I work for a family-owned business and have been here now for 22 years. I like family businesses and visit many in the course of story gathering.

In general, they understand family and business better than most and realize the two need not be mutually exclusive. Not everyone is wired for working in a family business, but for me, it’s been a great ride—some bumps, but mostly smooth roads—kind of like a marriage.

What’s nice about getting some years and miles under one’s belt, be it in marriage or work, is there comes a point where it’s comfortable, but I quickly add, not complacent. There is a big difference.

The simple facts are that living is the best teacher. Living with one’s wife or with one’s work, there is a curve. Most of us start off our respective lives young and dumb, having yet to consume the wisdom or experience that time in a commitment provides.

I’m proud of the work my wife and I have done as a couple. We’re lucky to have found each other and without computer dating.