Man-to-man: My history with my woman
special to the daily
Although I usually respond to men’s questions in this column, I decided to do something a little different. Since March is Women’s History Month, I thought I would honor my woman and the history we’ve shared together.
Ria and I met in 1980, when I was 19, with long hair and torn jeans. I transferred into her class on the second week of school. She watched as I spoke with the professor. Having learned to appreciate the pleasures of having a “project” from her creative and adventurous mother, Ria thought to herself, ” I can do something with that.”
Besides cute and petite, I could tell she was smart. That’s why I would glance over, from time to time, to see what she had written … on her tests. You see, I was pretty smart, too. We began to talk a bit, the two of us, and a few others in class. We became friendly classmates. Naturally, I thought she’d like to go out with me. So I asked. She said “no.”
What Ria didn’t know at the time was that I had learned to never take “no” for an answer. Having been somewhat unsupervised for most of my childhood, I learned “on the streets” that there was always an angle, always a way to “yes.”
I tried again. She said I was “too young for her, not worldly enough.” She must have really enjoyed playing with me, like a cat with a trapped mouse. I was younger, that was true. But “unworldly?” Ha! Eventually, I wore her down.
I had two tickets to Benny Goodman and His Classical Trio. She had a car. She came to pick me up at my apartment. She was early. I was half-dressed, ironing my shirt. She liked that, a lot. I’m referring to the ironing. Turns out, she was quite the domestic. You never know what excites a woman. That’s why we men have to pay attention. They’re not all alike!
Her car was a ’62 Fiat 1100 with suicide doors. Awesome. We laughed. I mean we laughed all evening. What a night. She drove me home. After I kissed her goodnight, she patted my shoulder as I exited the car. (Now, she claims she was actually pushing me out of the car. Revisionist history, as far as I’m concerned.) That pat sealed the deal. I knew I would marry this girl. I wrote a letter to myself that night stating just that. Three years later, to the day, we opened that letter on our wedding night.
I was a boy when we met. She stood by my side as I clumsily made my way toward adulthood. Despite the curveballs I’ve thrown at her (though at the time they always felt like the curveballs life was throwing at me), she never wavered. I mean NEVER.
Through raising two kids, changing careers,
starting businesses, caring for aging parents, having money, not having money, growing up, getting older, foolish schemes, hospital visits, old pain, doubt and fear, and a lot of rescued animals, my wife has taught me the meaning of unconditional love.
She’s always cared about me, always wanted me to be happy, always believed in me (though I often doubted myself), always made me feel like I was better than I knew I really was. She taught me what a strong, loving marriage looks like. She had the patience and faith that I would become the husband and father she had imagined I could be, as I walked into that classroom and became … her biggest “project.”
Twenty-nine years later, my history with Ria has taught me much of what I know and teach about long-term committed relationships. Now, as I guide men through their relationships, help them to understand themselves and their women, and inspire them to believe that they’re better than they think they are, it’s my history with my woman that guides me.
Ladies, I hope you do for your man what mine has done for me. And men, I recommend you make an effort to honor your history with your woman this month – and every month.
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