In the Beginning

Ten years ago in July 2004, I sold some shoes at Dick’s Sporting Goods, ate too many cookies at Subway, and drove to Richmond to meet Amanda for dinner. We went to Five Guys. We ate burgers, devoured a greasy bag full of fries, and made it rain with peanut shells up in that joint.

Later that night, I asked Amanda to be my girlfriend.

She said “yes.”

And then I sang a Kelly Clarkson song.

I know it’s hard to imagine this story getting any more romantic, but it did:

All this took place in the middle of an office complex.

It’s been quite an adventure since then and we’re still not very classy. However, we are still together and our relationship is stronger than ever.

I know a lot of guys like to show affection by referring to their wives as their girlfriends. I won’t do that because I think it is a little weird. Plus, my wedding ring and life insurance policy say otherwise. However, I still like this lady a lot. I never dated anyone before Amanda. Sure, there had been dates, but I never had a girlfriend because I was waiting for the right lady:

I found her.

The Unexpected

Younger Us: April 2005

In the Beginning

 UVA’s Graduation Day, May 2005:

UVA Graduation

The Ring Reminder

Our house is a mess.

There is laundry, mail, and baby stuff everywhere.  Thus, it has been really easy to misplace things lately, like bills, our dog, and my wedding ring.

One day this week, I couldn’t find my wedding ring before I went to work.  Thus, I was seemingly single for the day in DC.  Although there were no cat calls and no one offered to pay for my salad at Panera, the day was still memorable.  I felt off all day long.  I felt like something was missing and I didn’t feel like myself.  Honestly, I felt sad.

My, how things have changed.

Three years ago, I rarely wore my wedding ring.  Our marriage was crumbling and my wedding ring, once a symbol of a sacred promise, had become a symbol of frustration, pain, and bitterness.  I didn’t want to be constantly reminded that my marriage was failing, so I didn’t wear my wedding ring.  We hit rock bottom.

But just like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky II and Britney Spears in 2008, we bounced back.

Now, I feel lost without my wedding ring.  Not only is it a beautiful symbol of a sacred promise, but it is now a daily reminder that hope should never die and that restoration is always possible.

My Love. My Inspiration

 

Everyday Heroes: My Wife

Hi, world.

This is Amanda.

20140228-092218.jpg

Amanda is my wife. Amanda is my best friend.

Amanda is my hero.

For SO many reasons.

Amanda is 37 weeks pregnant. She has fourteen pounds of babies growing, squirming, and kicking inside her.

She went to work today.

I’ve told her for weeks that she should take her leave early and just rest.

But that’s not Amanda.

She is always working, always knocking out to-do lists, always hustlin’ to complete the tasks that need to get done.

She is always thinking about others.

Amanda has worked in public schools in Fairfax for the past eight years. She spent seven of those years as a special education teacher. Her passion for those kids was remarkable. She never gave up on them and never judged them by their disabilities.

She’s always treated me the same way.

I have done a lot of dumb stuff, made too many mistakes, told a lot of bad jokes, and I have some weird eccentricities. I have dragged Amanda to two Britney Spears concerts and two Backstreet Boys concerts. We went to WWE Monday Night Raw on the night of our first anniversary.  I have worn silly mini-shorts, every color of pants imaginable, and I spend too much money on sneakers. I make dumb music videos and yell a lot during sporting events.

Despite all that, never once has she judged me, mocked me, or walked ten feet behind me so people wouldn’t know we were together. Being yourself is a critical part of any healthy relationship and Amanda helps make that possible for me. She has helped me become a better man, even if it has taken a lot longer than she probably hoped. She is more than I deserve.

Amanda is my hero.

Bye.

The Mistakes of Marriage

Anniversary Rap

Oh snap!

(Do people still say that?)

Me and my BFF made an anniversary rap:

Anniversary Rap

Happy 8th Anniversary, Amanda!

Yesterday, I wrote a post about some of the mistakes I made that once crippled my marriage.  It’s never easy to share the dark parts of my past, so I greatly appreciate the kind words and support.

I’m a complicated guy who likes to swerve between serious and silly in a haphazard manner.  Thus, here’s Part 2 of my marriage post: a surprise anniversary rap for Amanda.  It’s awkward.

Thanks so much for watching!  You can check out other dumb “music” videos here.

The Marriage Mistakes

Today is my eighth wedding anniversary.  I have three thoughts about that:

1.  I’m thankful that we’ve made it this long.
2.  We’re old.
3.  I wish I didn’t screw up the first six years.

I was 22 when we got married back in 2005.  Thus, I didn’t know anything.  Unsurprisingly, we got off to a rocky start.  Three days before our wedding, Amanda wanted to pull a “Runaway Bride” and ditch everything.  She told me to marry one of her non-sister bridesmaids instead.  That would have been awkward for Amanda’s family who showed up for the wedding.

Thankfully, I didn’t get left at the altar.
The Mistakes of Marriage

Law school and the pressures of teaching a classroom full of middle school kids didn’t help.  Neither did watching too much trashy TV.  We talked about divorce in 2009.  We talked about divorce in 2010.  We talked about it a lot more in 2011.  However, by the grace of God, we stuck it out, mostly because neither one of us wanted to be responsible for taking the dog out twice a day.  Back in October 2011, I returned from a ten-day trip to Turkey, and BAM, everything was different.  We got the fresh start we desperately needed.

Wedding Chapel

Although I’m not a marriage expert and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I’ve learned these important lessons from my many mistakes over the past eight years:

(1)  Your wedding is not that important.  Yep, it should be a fun, amazing, and joyous day of celebration.  However, it’s just one day.  Don’t lose sight of the person you are marrying and why you are marrying him or her because you’re too stressed about floral arrangements and seating assignments.

(2)  I love TV.  I love the internet.  However, I’ve spent way too much time looking at screens over the past eight years instead of hanging with my wife.  I regret that.  The two of you sitting on the couch while you each stalk people on Facebook or watch “Heroes” shouldn’t count as your “quality” time (especially because “Heroes” sucked after the first season).

(3)  Work is important.  School is important.  Neither is more important than a relationship with your spouse.  It’s hard to live that out day-to-day, but if you don’t, those lost days will quickly turn into months and years.

(4)  When you get mad at your spouse, it’s easy to start thinking about how your life would be so much better if you were single or if you had married someone else.  Don’t go down that road.  It usually leads to dark places full of discontent and lies.

(5)  Don’t dwell on old drama.  It’s fun, in some sort of twisted way, to reopen old wounds and play the blame game.  However, those types of shenanigans will poison your relationship with bitterness.  You need to learn from past mistakes, not dwell on them.

To avoid ending on a serious and depressing note, here’s a picture of our dog wearing sunglasses:

Napoleon Sunglasses

Awkward White Guy Rap (Vol. III) – Eminem

If I had quit on my marriage, I would have missed out on a lot of priceless experiences.  Most importantly, I wouldn’t have made a “rap” video with my wife:

Awkward White Guy Rap - Lose Yourself - Eminem

As you’ll see in the below video, Amanda’s “flow” is pretty amazing “interesting.”  Straight outta North Dakota. Yo.

Enjoy!  Please don’t hate.  We’re a teacher and a lawyer.  We’re not rappers.  (Duh.)

The first “Awkward White Guy Rap Video” (Biggie’s “Hypnotize”) can be found here and my first feature musical film can be found here (Dr. Dre’s and Snoop Dogg’s “Still D.R.E.”).  Stay tuned for the release of another crazy “rap” jam on Monday.

Marriage Sucks. Sometimes.

I’m thankful for a lot of things.   I’m thankful that *NSYNC is reuniting for a hot second this weekend.  I’m thankful that Lady Gaga is finally back after her mystery hiatus.  I’m thankful for my new pair of red pants.

Most importantly, I’m thankful that I didn’t walk away from my marriage.

I thought about it.  More than once.

Don’t be fooled by Hollywood.  Every married person has one thing in common:

We have all struggled with our marriage.  All of us.

Marriage Sucks.  Sometimes

It may be a brief moment after your husband pressures you into going mud swimming in Colombia or it may be something you wrestle with for years.  When you go through a rough patch, take heart, Young Jedi.  You’re not the first married dude or dudette who wondered if life would be better if you were single and could eat cereal for dinner every day and play X-Box all night.

Although I’m kind of an idiot, here’s the five most important things I’ve learned after nearly eight years of marriage:

1.  Never admit that you’re wrong.

1.  Cling to the reasons you got married.  You may try to rewrite history and tell yourself that you were never in love to justify walking out.  That’s a lot easier than fighting for your marriage.  The easy way won’t get you far.  Remember the good times.

2.  Get away from your spouse.  Seriously, you need some alone time.  You need time with your boys/ladies.  I love Oreos, but I don’t want to eat them every meal.  Okay, maybe that’s not true.  However, if I ate Oreos all day and every day, I wouldn’t appreciate them as much.

3.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Most of your fights will be about dumb stuff.  When that happens, call it out and laugh at yourselves for getting upset about who finished off the pack of Thin Mints.  Sure, there will be fights about very serious and important topics.  Just don’t let the dumb stuff kill you.

4.  The Big Bond.  There has to be something greater that ties you together.  This could be faith or a charitable cause.  If that’s not your thing, then maybe it could be a passion for politics, movies, or rap music.

5.  Get out of the house.  Life should be an adventure.  You need to travel together.  You need to go on bike rides.  You need to go out on dates.  If you’re in a funk and you’re just hanging out at home all the time, you’ll never break the cycle.

So there you have it.  Not all marriages can be saved, but at least give it your best shot before walking away.

I’m glad I did.