We had lunch with a successful entrepreneur the other morning. He is super smart and data-focused so he is doing his own personal diligence on what makes a good long term relationship. He was curious about the success of Fred and my relationship. After all, we have been together for almost 40 years. How it works, what drew us to each other, how we have grown together, how we have raised our family and what we have taught each other. How do you go about finding that right person for you?
Dating is so completely different now. Everyone can easily hook up if they want to with a swipe of a finger but for some, that isn’t so easy. Some people are looking for a one night stand while others are looking for something more. Is this how you find the one? Some have and some have struggled. Some have a hard time just making a commitment. Many ask, how do I know this is the one?
So what did we tell him? We told a bunch of stories but in the end, we said it was about mutual respect across the board. Enjoying the same things. Wanting the same things out of life. Be able to learn from each other. Find someone who will push you forward and make you think differently. The most important is a relationship built on friendship.
I continue to think about our breakfast. I love that he is thinking about this and am honored that he chose us for his diligence. I meet so many people who get to a point where they are anxious about finding someone. I get it and it is definitely harder for women than it is for men. Women have a ticking biological clock and men do not.
It was fun for us going down memory lane and talking about our relationship over the years from the start to raising a family and where we are now. For the entrepreneur, I hope he got the data he was looking for.
I’d love to see your and fred’s astrological charts.. actually, I was just thinking about what your charts must look like yesterday! Certainly Uranus plays a big role (the planet that represents the internet, ingenuity, forward thinking, the future, sudden insights). Also the third house which involves blogging, and Mercury, which is communication. They must have a healthy connection to Saturn, which is the self-discipline to get up and blog every morning for years. Let me know if you want me to take a look.
I was born 10/4//61. Fred 8/20/61
On Fred you may need a location and time of birth. He’s a cusp.
Erase that btw..
Well not to scare the shit out of any younger people (trying to find someone) but here’s the thing to keep in mind. People change. The person you marry may not be the same person in X years or a) after the children are born or b) if there are health problems or c) if there is some significant life event or d) money problems. Major issue money. Money papers over many issues. Think of all the good times you and Fred have as a result of having enough money. I don’t mean in a ‘money buys happiness’ way. And yes I know you didn’t always have money. But money does help a great deal no question about that.So those are all things that you may find out later and won’t know about during dating or even first years of marriage. (I don’t even mean cheating etc that’s an entirely separate topic that generally is overblown as a reason for divorce). Additionally, people have varying levels of honesty in terms of who they are and what they want even factoring out dishonesty (which of course happens). I give almost no credence to ‘enjoy the same things’. I found and am remarried to a great woman (and after divorce this took a great deal of effort and several not great relationships one I’d even call abusive). My 2nd wife doesn’t ski. She doesn’t like to eat lobster or crab (yeah I know that’s trivial). She has no interesting in photography or computers. She likes some but not all of the things that I like to watch and vice versa. Of course there are many things we both of us like but the most important thing is we are compatible in the way we think about things. And of course accepting of any differences. Restaurants? We are not you and Fred. We go to the same places over and over again. But if she wanted to try something new? No big deal so we could do that who cares, right? (Point is things easy and fixable don’t matter.).Other important factor is children. My children are older. My stepkids were 6 and 4 when I met my current wife (great age they still accept you). That for sure factors into our relationship a great deal.. Older kids (if she had those) may have been an issue. I dated a girl once who had kids that were teens. You could tell they were not happy with their mom dating you could just feel it (and that is not unusual). Of course if you are newly married children and how they will be raised is major. (This is easier on remarriage since the person you are marrying decides for their children very generally and that is usually acceptable to the other party).That said a quick rule that I will use is what I will call ‘the air conditioning test’. That is if you have to wonder if things are right then they probably aren’t. You should pretty much feel that things are right. I call it the air conditioning test because if you put your hand next to the AC vent and are trying to decide if the AC is working guess what? It’s not. If it’s cold you know it.Here is another thing about how people change. One of the factors in the breakup of my first marriage was that I work all the time. I enjoy working. My first wife was somewhat ok with that but not entirely ok. (Her father owned a business so she at least understood what it takes and she had her own small business as well).My second marriage? Well luck have it my current wife’s first husband didn’t work hard enough ‘lazy’ (he was a lawyer) and wanted to be a stay at home Dad. So the thing that my first wife didn’t like about me became one of the major reasons my 2nd wife loves me (not to mention that she works a great deal by her profession). See the point? No amount of therapy will help things like that.  The point is also that my current wife’s previous experience enhanced me in a way that might not have happened after she had the contrary experience with her first husband.
You are talking about defining the things you can and can’t live with. That work issue is one of those key factors you need to define really early on — even before you date someone else.The money issue is also important, as you point out. Though, I would consider much larger scenarios, like: “What happens if we loose everything? Is this person someone who will rally with me? Will we have each other’s backs during times of disruption? etc…” Those questions are so important.You talked about deceit/truthfulness: you can very quickly assess over a few dates whether someone will communicate with you about their lives. Communication is so critical to a great relationship.
Transparency and communication seem so obvious but not easy for many
I have dated a LOT of middle aged men over the past ten years. A majority of them have severe problems with communication.
First date or after a somewhat relationship?
You can’t assess everything in one date. Over several dates.
For example, there’s a guy I dated this past year. We went out on several dates. Great guy who meets a lot of the important criteria for me except for communication. After he and I had been out on five dates, he had a big situation happen with his teenage son. All I know is that the son got arrested, no other details. I offered support — communication, parenting commiseration, etc. The guy just would not talk about what happened, though, obviously it was affecting him. The guy told me that he didn’t want to talk about it. I reached out several times to talk, but the guy retracted and stopped communicating with me, stopped being available to me to meet for a date. So I just let it drop off. I wished him well and said I hoped it worked out with his son. (Funny thing, he started reaching out to me for the holidays this year, after several months of zero communication).This kind of scenario — where there’s a great rapport and you’ve gotten enough dates in to know that something good could evolve and then the guy just stops communicating — is fairly common in my dating life. At my age, I don’t have time to teach a 50-something guy how to communicate. I don’t even know if it’s possible if he doesn’t know how to do it at this age.
I agree with you 100% on that one.One of the ‘techniques’ I talk about (as if I am some kind of seminar speaker or have written a book on the topic) is to tell stories not ask questions. Questions can be gamed. Reactions to stories can’t. (You have to be able to read faces and vocal tones of course)So I would say on another date (with someone new) you simply tell that story to the guy you are out with. Can even be the first date.A guy who likes to communicate will not only find it interesting but will engage in possibly a complete conversation about the topic. That is what I would do. Maybe he will offer reasons (I can think of a few) even in defense of the guy in the story. Maybe he will try to put him down. Lot’s to learn though about someone, right?Not sure to what degree communication can be taught (like that). After all you either find things interesting and are curious or you aren’tMy wife tells me about her work and it’s not particularly of interest to me but I always figure out a way to ask her questions and try to engage. She does the same with things I talk about as well. I am much more of a yenta and into ‘gossip’ than she is though. This is a result of how I was raised. My Dad always responded positively to gossip that I told him. Other things he didn’t care about gossip got him lit up. So that is something I guess I picked up on.The other day she told me her sister texted about problems she was having with my mother in law. I told my wife ‘call her right now so I can here what is going on’. My wife wouldn’t have if I hadn’t said that. To me it was all interesting though.
As a man, I can sympathize. I’m not good at communication. I figured that was an unfortunate norm, but I continue to work on it. 26 years in marriage and 32 years in total relationship.I guess I’m ok in some other areas.
Well the thing is also that other than obviously what someone says is not what someone would do I am not entirely sure the answers to an unknown hypothetical are deal breakers in the sense that first they might not be relevant and second do you want to rule someone out and then elevate another person higher on something that hasn’t even happened yet?Point is someone could say or act like ‘if we loose everything we are still in love’ and who knows if they will feel ‘people change’ the same way if that happens? There are so many things involved it’s a crapshoot for sure. Not only that but it’s not easy to just break things off and find someone else (and you know that keeps many people in bad relationships).Not the example I would use but to illustrate let’s say there is some disease that runs in the other person’s family that might be relevant 30 years down the road (just like you could loose everything 30 years down the road or 10). Most people would simply (and I feel correctly) roll the dice if they liked the person (I didn’t even say love). Because it’s a future event. And you have no way of knowing. And you could not choose that person (for that reason) and get the same situation later just the same with someone else.
That may be my trouble. I’m not willing to waste my time for someone who doesn’t have the resolve to be there for me if all is lost. Mainly because I’m certain I would be there when all is lost. I want the reciprocity.
I will tell you a funny story about people. My ex wife literally after our divorce got breast cancer. She had been dating a guy for 3 mos (he liked in her what I disliked go figure, eh?). Anyway she had some problems with him and not like we had a great divorce (we didn’t but I got it over super quick to my credit) so she wanted to break up with him and told me. He had I think a touch of aspergers and some other issues (not that she told me but that’s what I figured). So when I went to pick up the kids ‘my weekend’ she told me she was breaking up with him. Now just a few weeks earlier I had passed by her and him walking on the road after her cancer diagnosis (her mother died when she was 17 of cancer). He was holding her hand and they were walking slowly. God knows that cancer thing got me to cry (even though a nasty divorce getting cancer when young in someone you know really rocks you).So I said to her literally ‘you are fucking stupid’. (Those weren’t the words but they could have been). This guy only knows you for 3 mos and he find out you have cancer and he is not bailing he wants to be with you!. So luckily she listened to me and she stayed with him (this had no impact on any money I had to pay I was totally cool with her getting remarried and it was of no benefit to me).So she stayed with him.Do you want to now guess how happy they are and how long they have been together? And what a mistake it would have been to break up over whatever the stupid thing she didn’t like about him?He liked her so much even though he was orthodox he allowed her to time shift the holidays so they could attend social events that were important to her.I know she is really happy.
That’s a really great story. So glad you told her to stay with him. And, it’s straight to my point about being there for someone.
Good point on the differences part. You either “accept them” or “resolve them” in ways that don’t make anyone uncomfortable. I would add that having some differences (or different hobbies/interests) is good,- it’s all about the degree of differences. Opposites attract (to a degree) rings true.
I like to think about it more as strengths and weaknesses. You can have a great relationship with someone where each of you brings compatible strengths and weaknesses together to create something that is compounded.
true, agreed on your points.
Also, I agree with you about cheating. Cheating is a symptom of much larger issues that typically stem from incompatibility and/or failure to communicate within the relationship. By the time you get to the cheating part, the relationship is practically unsalvageable.
I have been mostly single and dating for the past 10 years. though for me it’s post-divorce, post-parenting dating so my goals are different. Very quickly, I came up with my own formula which I call the 4C’s: Compatibility, Communication, Commitment, Chemistry. The compatibility component is the one that is so very difficult to find. You have to be really clear with yourself about what you can and can’t live with. I also keep a weighted excel sheet of key criteria under each of those categories — obviously, you never get everything you want, but by defining a list you are creating a scope. I think it is very similar to buying a house. You define the type of community you want to live in and the features that are Must-haves and Want-to-haves, and you go from there.
Compatibility is huge!
This supports my contention that you two have a lot of knowledge in this domain that I believe tens of thousands of folks crave. Thanks for sharing this!
This is just nice on a rainy cold day to discover.Thanks!
.Not once do you say that you LOVE each other. Go for it.Married for 40 years, half a century of love.Not much else really matters.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I’ve hung out with them and it is crystal clear they do ??
Would love this to be a podcast next time. Here’s to another 40. Jody and I are 10 years behind y’all and has he is fond of saying, may today be the day you love each other the least.
Only time I ever went to a therapist was when I was struggling with marriage decision, which led to discussions about faith and much more. One of the best memories of this was when I was asked to talk about a couple I admired and why. It was very helpful.Congrats on being one of those model couples for someone else. I am sure your stories were very helpful to him. Reminds me to thank Ken and Paige who are still happily married…for being my role model couple…26 years later
Huge fan of therapy.
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