My friend Karen is the creator of FabGranda, and she has been happily married for many years to one great dude. I always love hearing her talk about her husband and their marriage, so I asked her to share a bit for us, now that Valentine’s Day is coming up.
How did you meet?
Karen: I was a 39 year old divorced mother of three teenagers.I spent so many nights alone while my teens were out with their friends, and I was lonely for companionship. I bought myself a lawn mower for my birthday in May, and it was missing a bolt on one side of the handle. I had struggled with that dang lawnmower all summer, and that day, the Saturday before Labor Day in 1991, I had had as much of it as I could take. I took the one bolt off, and went to the hardware store where my brother in law was manager to buy another one to fix the handle.
When I walked into the store, my brother in law, Alan, was standing there talking to his employee. He looked at me and said “Look what the cats drug in”. Well, I did look terrible. I had been working in the yard, sweating, had dirt on my pants and my hair was a mess. But the employee looked at me and said “Why would say something like that about this nice lady?” to which Alan replied, “Well, she’s my wife’s sister, so we’re family.” And the nice employee said “All the more reason to be nice to her.”
I was never introduced to the guy, but he helped me find my bolt, and chatted with me the whole time I was at the store. I went home and fixed my mower, and cut the grass. When I went in the house at the end of the day, I couldn’t get that nice guy’s face out of my mind.
I picked up the phone and called my brother in law at the store, and asked him what the employee’s name was that waited on me that day. Alan said “his name is Jim”. I asked if he was married, and Alan said “No.” So, I said, “give him my phone number and tell him if he wants to go out to dinner to give me a call.” After that phone call, I was like a teenager: I couldn’t breathe. I just laid on the bed and waited for the phone to ring.
Three days later, Jim called me, and we went out to dinner at Underground Atlanta at a place called The Blues Harbor Cafe. I knew right away we would get along great because we both love the blues.
What was your courtship like?
Don’t be shocked, but we met on Labor Day Weekend in 1991, and he moved into my house with his daughter on Halloween, October 31, 1991, just six weeks later. We had spent almost all of our time together since the first date, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. We both had teenage girls, we both had been divorced twice. And we both knew this was it. I had never met anyone in my life, even after being married twice, that there was a real spark of electricity every time we touched. I know this sounds like mush, but I loved the way he looked at me, the way he kissed me, the way he made love to me. I was like a young girl with her first love, it was that intense. And still is 22 years later.
Tell me about the proposal
We were sitting on my deck one night after he moved in, and he started talking about how he felt about me, and how we really should not be setting an example of living together for our teenage daughters. He just walked all the way around asking the question, and just sat there waiting for him to blurt it out. Finally, he said, I am not going to get down on my knee because I don’t think I could get up if I did, but we really ought to get married. And I said, yes, I think we should. We decided to get married on April 1, which everyone knows is April Fools Day, because each of us had been married twice before, and we thought that day would appropriate for us. But, he got cold feet, and said he wasn’t ready to do it yet. I said ok, because I didn’t want to push him into something he didn’t want.
Then, on May 13,1992, he and his daughter were in an terrible traffic accident. He was in the hospital with a broken hip, five broken ribs, 2 ruptured discs in his neck, and a concussion. He was in ICU for 9 days, in the hospital a total of 13 days. After the doctor came in to talk about his recovery and that it take at least two years for him to get back to normal, Jim asked me if he could come to my home to recover. I told him that I had never thought that he wouldn’t, but that if I was going to have to take care of him for two years, I wanted to be married. He said we would get married as soon as he could stand up without crutches. So, on July 18, 1992, we exchanged our vows in my living room with all of his family and our children there.
How do you make each other happy after marriage for all these years?
First, I think that love has nothing to do with being happy. You have to LIKE the person you are with, and love just makes it better. We enjoy a lot of the same things. We both like blues music, we both like to go to thrift stores and antique stores, we both like to go to quilt shows, and we both like to go fishing. I think a lot of people get married thinking that He or She will change into something they want the other person to be, but that is not true.
Second, learn to let the little things go. Not everything is worth fighting over. If he always puts the salt shaker in the cabinet, and you want it on the counter, just move it when you find it. There is no need to tell him after the second time. Save the fights for the big things. The biggest thing we ever fought over was he bought a truck for one of his brothers without asking me. THAT was big, but it was important to me that he get the idea that anything over $100 was something he needed to at least discuss with me.
Third, celebrate the little things. We celebrate each other’s birthdays, the day we met, the day he moved in, and the day we got married. But we also celebrate pie day, which is whatever day I make a pie. We celebrate grocery day. We have a routine that we do each time we go to buy groceries.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to others about finding the right person or being happily married?
Honestly, I think we just go lucky. We found each other over a lawn mower bolt. But, if you are not happy with someone after a couple of dates, it isn’t the right one. You can just tell it is not going to work if you just pay attention. If his manners, his humor, his treatment of the waitress, are not pleasing to you on the first date, they are not going to be pleasing or make you happy in ten years. So, no, I don’t have anything profound to say. Just love yourself first, trust your gut, and pay attention to how he or she really is when you go out with them.
Thank you Karen! It always inspires me when you share tidbits about your life, and it’s clear how much you and your husband dote on and support each other, through everything. Happy Valentine’s Day!