"My greatest achievement," wrote Sir Winston Churchill, "was convincing my wife to marry me." I know how Winston felt. But at times I think my greatest achievement is convincing my wife to keep me.
Nine years ago I was waiting in line at the grocery checkout when a bold headline jumped out at me: "Hollywood Stars Falling Out of Love." Below was a celebrity couple shown in happier days. "We just don't love each other anymore," read the caption.
I was standing there surrounded by close-ups of movie stars so I could purchase an anniversary card. Later that day Ramona and I celebrated nine years together with a round of golf and dinner—without the kids.
But two days later, I was standing in our living room, hands on my hips. "You spent how much, and on what?" I asked.
"Forty-nine dollars on clothes," Ramona repeated.
"FORTY-NINE DOLLARS! Why didn't you tell me?" I sounded angrier than I really felt.
"I did, but you were too busy reading." She was right. I remembered now.
"Uh, well … " My hands left my hips while I fumbled for a reply. "I just think that's a lot to spend on clothes right now."
"Pardon me?" Her voice was growing louder. "You buy a new car, and I can't even buy some clothes?"
"I didn't say that. I just think we need to be a little more careful right now. We just got back from a vacation at the lake and you know we needed that car and … " As things heated up I realized my wife was right. But there was no way I'd admit it. It was time for a walk.
"So I haven't been easy to live with lately," I thought. "But I'm not that bad. Maybe I feel this way because I don't love her anymore. It's like those Hollywood stars. Maybe our old candle has burned out too. Okay, I'll stay with her. But I won't speak to her."1