Sheri and I were married for 28 years. I used to use a line that got some laughs: “We’ve had 26 great years together; we’ve been married 28.” The truth is, it was great because I did something very smart in 1988. I married a really great person. The best pre-marital advice I could ever give a couple is to “marry up.” Or as they say in football lingo, “I outkicked my punt coverage.”
By the time couples get to me for pre-marital counseling, they have already made that pick. I can only do so much with bad draft choices. Marriage is great and challenging at the same time.
Our first few years of marriage were perfect because we both loved the same thing: me. A couple of years into the marriage, I realized that I had to start giving some and not always taking. That’s harder than you might think. I was pretty set in my ways, and Sheri had to un-set me.
The truth is, we both had a lot to learn about each other and marriage.
In 28 years of marriage, I learned some stuff. I learned when I was being set up. In the days heading into our 28th anniversary, I knew I had been set up. Sheri said to me as Saturday approached and we were making plans: “Let’s go to see a movie and eat out.”
I said “Great.”
What she said next made me cautious. She said, “You pick the movie.”
We had a competition of sorts about movies. The competition was, oddly enough, to see who picked more bad ones in a lifetime. I think she led the contest by a whopping margin. She once picked a George Clooney movie simply because “what’s his face” was in it. It was the worst movie I have ever seen. The only redeeming factor for her was that there was a lot of George Clooney shots in the movie—some romantic ones at that. She gave the movie a passing grade because of that. The movie stunk.
I’ve picked some dozzies myself. I told Sheri, before we picked a movie, that I didn’t want to see any with space ships or talking animals. What I wanted in a movie was some humor, a chase scene, and a bank robbery. Can you say “James Bond”?
Anyway, when she said that I could pick the movie, my defenses went up. My instincts were right, because the next words out of her mouth were, “But I hear that so and so is a good one.” Twenty-eight years of marriage taught me that I had been set up. Yes, I could pick the movie but it had to be the one she recommended. Then, if it turned out to be a loser, she could say, “Well, you picked it.”
When we were first married, in the Pre-Kid Era, we went to lots of movies. So, I’ve had at least one kid in the house since 1990. With kids, the movie watching goes down. But now, with the shelter in place, my movie watching has gone way up. And I get to pick whatever I want to watch, with no being set up and no competition. If it stinks then I have no one to blame.
The bottom line for me, is I may not be the best at picking movies, but I was darn good at picking a spouse. Sheri was wonderful, talented, and good at lots of things, but picking movies (and a husband) was not one of them.
Dr. Steve Davis