Last week on “Tell me Tuesday” a reader asked me to share the story of how I met my husband, whom I refer to as Mr. Bee. I thought I’d share that story, plus my secrets to how we have celebrated the last, almost, 20 years loving each other more today than when we said, “I do.”
My sister and her friend, Mandy, set us up on a blind date. Mandy gave Mr. Bee my number and it took about four months for him to call me. He admits now that one of the delays was related to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. If we didn’t click I guess he didn’t want it to ruin the season…and to avoid the awkwardness of buying a gift for someone you don’t really know. He ended up calling me a few times, leaving messages with no follow up from me. His friend Mandy reported this back to my sister who then gave me a lecture that it was rude to not return someone’s phone call. I gave him a ring but had to kindly explain that I was dating someone however, I didn’t mind being his friend to assist in finding him a girlfriend. He was agreeable to this plan. But I think this made him think this was a “networking” event because he showed up in jeans, a flannel shirt and hiking boots. I, on the other hand, had on my work clothes and a raincoat, because it was raining. When I opened the door, he saw me in my raincoat and three cats lined up for inspection. He thought I was a frumpy, cat hoarder. I thought he was a lumberjack.
Dinner was okay. I think he thought I was high-maintenance (what?), and I thought he was kinda boring and would probably run away as soon as I started talking about my feelings. We agreed to meet for lunch soon which I had no intention of following through on. After the “networking” was over, he almost ran me over trying to back out of the driveway. He apologized profusely, I ran into the house glad the night was over.
My sister asked me how it went, I told her he was nice, but we were just going to be friends. Fast forward about two months, I realized the weirdo I had been dating needed to be released back into the wild. Mr. Bee and I started hanging out more often for “networking” which moved from casual coffee meetings at Starbucks to lunch at the museum. As we were walking back to the car one evening, I asked him a question and he didn’t hear me. He reached down and put his hand on the small of my back to lean in and listen to my question again. An electric shock jolted sense into me that this guy was the real deal and someone worth loving.
Our relationship moved pretty quickly after that realizing we wanted to marry, which we did about a year later. So, my sister’s maiden voyage at matchmaking was a success. She retired right after this match so she could say she had a 100% success rate.
There are so many things you will hear from couples as to what works for them, but I think there are common themes that link all our success stories.
Open Communication — This is a hard one for a lot of men, some women have trouble opening up, too. But, I think it’s harder for men. As long as we have been married, I still have to coach Mr. Bee to tell me when I think something is bothering him. Isn’t it funny how we automatically assume it’s something we’ve done wrong that’s bothering the other person? We made a commitment early on that we were not going to build a wall of resentment between the two of us that was so tall we couldn’t reach each other. It may not be pretty and, yes, sharing your feelings is hard, but you have to tell each other when something doesn’t feel right. I make sure we have each other’s attention and that the setting is conducive to a conversation, which means don’t start with “you totally didn’t notice my new haircut and say thank you when I fixed meatloaf for dinner two weeks ago” during a big game. Talk to your partner the way you would want to be spoken to. That key has helped us to relate to each other in a respectful way because we are also mirroring to our daughter how she should be treated by her partner.
Laughter and Kindness — Mr. Bee is actually really funny. Not in a “I’ve got a great joke” way, but just the funny words he uses or his responses, make me laugh. A hearty out-loud laugh. He’s also very kind. He cares about people’s feelings. I care about how he feels, especially as a man. Men like to feel like they have respect and are the heads of the household. Even, if I’m the one he and Miss Bee come to first when they can’t find something or have a cough or a boo-boo. A common phrase in our house “I don’t know. Let’s go ask your mother.”
Seek God — We both have a strong faith and rely on God’s strength to get us through life. We have each lost both sets of our parents, our son, John, and my brother, Jim. I am not sure where we would be if we didn’t keep God front and center during those trying times. We pray for each other thanking God for bringing us together and blessing our marriage. We pray for our marriage that God continues to help us be loving, kind and respectful to each other. We ask God to help us to be better parents and we pray for our daughter that her life is full and rich and that God help guide her especially on days when she may be feeling alone.
I could share more and maybe I will over time, but for now, I hope this arrived in your inbox just when you needed it.
P.S. Mr. Bee approved this message.