Jeff Allen is a stand-up comic who gets a lot of professional mileage out of his marriage. He recently released a video called "Happy Wife, Happy LIfe" (Myrrh). Tammy, Jeff's wife, is an at-home mom to their sons, Aaron (15) and Ryan (12).
We first met: at a club where Tammy was a waitress and I was doing comedy. I followed her around like a puppy. She was so beautiful.
I was attracted to Jeff because: of his sense of humor, of course. He was hilarious.
Our hardest times: started right away. When we got married, Tammy already had Aaron, and Ryan was born that first year. I went from traveling 49 weeks a year to being married with two kids. I was an alcoholic, but since I mostly drank while I was away, Tammy didn't know.
Things fell apart: because I was never home, even when I was in the house. But on the way to divorce court, Tammy said we'd already invested nine years of struggle and that she still loved me.
Things took a turn for the better: one Fourth of July, when Jeff was crying and saying he needed help. I took him to Alcoholics Anonymous. Right away he started praying. It was pretty natural when he became a Christian several years later.
We laugh the hardest over: the struggles of life. Someone once said that comedy equals tragedy plus time. We've seen that in our marriage.
What I love most about Tammy is: her heart, her strength. She's seen all my demons, and she never left me.
What I love most about Jeff is: his compassion. He really puts himself in other people's shoes.
Our marriage works because: we've been through so much, we know we can get through anything. Recently, when Tammy was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was concerned that I wouldn't be there for her emotionally. I reassured her that I'll always be there.
The best marriage advice we ever received is: "acceptance is the answer to all my problems." If I don't accept the people and things around me, I'm telling God what his plans should be. After months of griping about my wife in AA meetings, a lady came up to me and said, "Maybe it's time you stopped pointing the finger at your wife and started looking at yourself." I didn't like hearing it, but that was great advice.
Interviewed by Annette LaPlaca
1999 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.