"I married Mrs. Right" is the first line of a joke that ends "little did I know that her first name was 'Always'".
Yesterday, I thanked Barbara for taking such good care of me, including driving me to the office. She said "You don't have to thank me; I am your Wife." I said, "But if I do not thank you, you say something, so am I supposed to thank you or not?" She said "Thank me". Took 61 years less a day to work out that issue.
Barbara and I were married 61 years ago today. We met in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1958 when she was a freshman and I was a sophomore.
I had always wanted to be married and have my own family. The year I graduated from high school, but before I started college, I met a girl from Atlantic City who wanted to get married. My parents said "no"; I could do anything I wanted after I finished school, but if I wanted them to pay for my education, I had to do what they told me. The girl could not afford to wait, and that was the end of that romance. Her name was Judi.
I met Barbara very early in her first year, probably in September. When my parents came to visit me on parent's weekend, my Mother first called Barbara "Judi". By the end of the weekend, my Mother and Father each said to me, "Get her and we will pay for your education". They knew Barbara was "a keeper" and so did I. Barbara's parents felt the same way about me, so we went off to live the rest of our lives together.
One thing Barbara and I did at a very early stage in our relationship was sit down and talk about what each expected from their spouse. At this point, I had no idea we would ever be married, but I told her I had lots of school ahead of me and while I really thought she was terrific, I did not have time for casual relationship . I said, "It may never work out, but let's not waste either of our efforts. Tell me what you expect of your husband and I will tell you what I expect of my wife."
It was not as impersonal a process as it may seem when i write it down, but we made, for lack of a better term, "job descriptions". Of course, our roles have evolved over 61 years, but we got married with a very good understanding of what each of us expected from the other. At the top the of the list was absolute fidelity. That has never been a problem, and it was easy because my Father told me never to do business with a man who cheats on his wife, because he will cheat on me. Obviously, that principle, in these days, is laughable, but I confess that once in a while I think to myself about another, "Why should I trust you?".
A slight humorous diversion: when President Clinton said that oral sex was not sex, i moved for rehearing (just kidding) and my motion was denied out of hand.
For many years, Barbara said that if I were unfaithful, she would leave. At some point, several years ago, she said to me, "I would no longer leave you if you were unfaithful because I've made my entire life around you." I said, "No, I would leave," and when she asked why, since iI would be the wrongdoer, I said that i would leave because she would lose the capacity to love me as much as she does.
Most husbands have to think their wives are beautiful so it is always a paid political announcement to say that. My view is that Barbara was beautiful when I met her, but she is even more beautiful today. We recently went to a wedding attended by several hundred people, most "dressed to the nines", and I thought there was no one in the room who looked better than she. Part of it is how she dresses, but I take credit for that, because I have always picked out all of her clothes. I have a very good eye for what looks good on her, and she is a terrible shopper.. Besides she says she dresses for me, so I am her personal shopper.
As I often say, I adored my Mother. She was a true "lady", not just a woman, and certainly not a dame. She taught me about how to be married. Barbara is a lady with a capital "L". I do not remember a single occasion when we attended some celebration or event that i was not proud of her. There are many parts of our lives where I introduce myself as "I am Barbara Miller"s Husband."
Our children and close friends have heard, too many times i am sure they think, how much I love my Wife and they have heard from her how much she loves me. I am not going to repeat most of "the usual".
My favorite toast, at a wedding, is, "May today be the day you love each other the least". I think that is true about Barbara and me. Obviously, things change over what amounts to almost an entire lifetime, but I think we both are aware that our love for one another, our commitment and dedication to each other, has never been greater than it is today.
Both of my best friends -- Bobby Baer and David Boies -- have known Barbara almost as long as I have. Both of them say there was no doubt in their minds that our marriage would last for as long as we lived. David once remarked how lucky ii was because there were very few people in the world who had someone who always put them first.
We started with very little. in fact, for the first two years I was a lawyer, each of our parents sent $1000 a month to help us, and that was when we rented a house in Hollywood, Florida for $155 a month.
For years and years, all I did was work. We took no vacations except on gambling junkets where everything was paid for, or to visit our respective parents. We did take a major car trip with our children in 1975. It was on that trip that David introduced Barbara to both Lutece, one of the great French restaurants ever to be in New York and to souffles.
I will repeat for the 10000th time, there is always someone richer, smarter, faster, and thinner, but I would not change places with anyone for the simple reason that I have Barbara. One of my internal ways of coping with people who make it clear that they think they are superior to me in one or several ways is to think, "No, look at your spouse(s) and, then, look at mine. I would never trade places with you or anyone else for that matter".
When asked "How could you be married all those years?" or, as one lawyer said to me, "Your friend tells me you have been a faithful husband your entire life, how could you do that?", I have no simple answer. Part of the answer is obvious---a willingness to compromise, the realization that not everyday is yontef (a Yiddish term for "holiday"), and the knowledge that it is easier and more enjoyable to get through the bad times and the good times if you have someone always by your side.
Two things that make our marriage so special do not exist in most marriages. First, i adored my Mother and so did Barbara. When my Mother got sick, it was Barbara who took her to the doctors most days. Barbara used to say that if she had to run home, she would run to my Mother.
The second thing is that, when people start out together, there is a much greater appreciation of each other's accomplishments than if they meet after one of both of them are fully established. We were both there for each other from Day One.
Without Barbara's help, I would never have accomplished half of what I have been lucky enough to accomplish. I would have never been able to build what I am told was one of the best family law practices in the country if Barbara had not encouraged me to work as much as I needed to. She also took 95% responsibility for our home and children. I spend much more time with my grown children now than I ever did while they were growing up.
I would never have been elected to the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar, and ultimately become President, without Barbara's encouragement and counsel. Barbara was the best First Lady of The Bar in its history. In fact, she really did it for two years because Steve Zack, who preceded me as President, was unmarried at the time and she helped him. When I ran for the Board, it was a contested election. When I ran for President-Elect, it was probably the most contested election in Bar history. i was never supposed to win for many reasons, including that I ran against the establishment and was a liberal Jew who did not even go to a Florida school and had no good ol' boy network. I placed myself entirely in Barbara's hands and never questioned her advice. If she said "Call these 400 lawyers", i called. if she said, "Visit every law firm in Tampa who will see you", i visited every law firm in Tampa.
The really nice thing about our marriage is that we know how much the other has enriched our lives. I always supported Barbara and she always supported me. We are both strong-willed, we each do things the other does not do, but, in every important sense we are inextricably intertwined. We both know that when the first one leaves, the survivor's life will be virtually nothing. I would be surprised if the survivor lives a year. What is certain is that there will never be "a second time around."
i am sure many of you think this was much too long and, "Why did Miller bother to write all of this?" I did it because I want my children and grandchildren to know some things that I think have been special about our marriage.
Happy Anniversary Barbara. I love you more than life itself.
Me too, forever,