“Been married to the same woman for 46 years,” Pete told me this morning at the gym.
[I learned long ago that Pete needed little encouragement to keep talking. But I also found that if I remained patient, I’d usually find an interesting point buried in his words].
That’s fantastic, Pete.
“In those 46 years, I never forget her birthday or our anniversary even one time,” Pete continued.
Wow! I can’t even remember if I had breakfast this morning, I told him, sincerely impressed.
“I still bring her flowers just because and leave her love notes like we were sweethearts,” he added.
That’s really cool, Pete.
“For 46 years, I’ve fallen asleep and woken up next to the same woman,” Pete said as he set down the weights he’d been curling. “My first words every morning are the same as my last words each night: I love you. That’s what I say to her with a little squeeze.”
That’s quite a love story the two of you have, I said.
“And for 46 years I’ve held every door open for her,” Pete went on.
You should write a book about how to remain happily married for 46 years, I said encouragingly.
Pete got an astonished look on his face and asked, “Who said we’ve been happily married for 46 years? No, we’ve been happy for maybe 40 years, tops.”
Oh, I guess I assumed…
“Wrong,” Pete said, taking on the air of a college professor ready to reveal wisdom to a student hungry for learning, “The first 6 years of marriage were hell. I wanted to give up on her, give up on the marriage. I didn’t get it. I worked hard, I did all of the right things, I took good care of her. But she treated me like doormat! I couldn’t make her love me the way I wanted her to love me. And for about 6 years, I stopped loving her. But I kept going through the motions just like she was the best woman in the world.”
Then why did you do those things if not out of love? I asked, feeling somewhat like a student hungry for learning.
“To be with a Queen, you gotta become a King,” Pete said. And then he stopped talking while he did another repetition of curls.
Okay…? I said, letting the word drag out with a question at the end as an invitation for him to continue.
“The thing is,” Pete said finally, I believe relishing the attention, “In the early days, I acted like I loved her out of obligation. I think I wanted to make her feel guilty for not loving me as well as I loved her. But she didn’t feel guilty. Instead, over time, and I mean very slowly, she started to sweeten on me. I mean, she started to act like she loved me back. And I’ll be damned, the more I acted like I loved her, the more I actually did love her.“
Pete finished with a smile, “It’s taken 46 years, but I’m finally married to a Queen.”
Pete’s Lessons on Love & Marriage
- Love endures turbulent times…to break through to jubilant times
- Love remembers the best things…but is quick to forget the rest
- Love surprises…and not because it has to
- Love is a rerun…one you never get tired of
- Love serves…and often gets served in return
- Love transforms your lover…but more importantly, it transforms you
How Does This Relate to Work?
Think about what you want from the organization that currently cuts your paycheck. Have you ever thought to yourself or said aloud…
- I can’t take it anymore!
- I get no appreciation.
- I’m so sick of being told what to do!
- I keep giving, but I’m not getting anything in return.
- I deserve better!
- I’m going to take my talents elsewhere.
Sounds a lot like what newly-wedded Pete thought of his newly-wedded bride. If my friend, King Pete, were ever to venture into employment counseling, I could almost hear him coaching a disgruntled employee by saying, “Let me tell you how to fall in like with a job you don’t love! You have to–
- Stop thinking about what you don’t get out of your job, and start redoubling your efforts, especially when it’s hard;
- Stop focusing on all the ways your current job fails to fulfill you, and start doing more than is asked of you;
- Stop waiting to be told what to do, and start acting as if this were your company with your name hung over the door;
- Stop reminding yourself of your biggest disappointment or your worst day at work, and start recalling your biggest accomplishment and best day at work. Now get out there and work today like you expect of repeat of the latter;
- Stop expecting a cherry job, and start performing like a hot fudge sundae that’s worthy of having that cherry on top; and
- Stop trying to get praise from others, and start realizing that your work is a reflection of your character.
Treat a peasant like a King or Queen, and you create a King or Queen. Treat a sweatshop like it’s your dream job, and you might end up with a dream job. Or at least, you will have transformed yourself into a dream employee, capable of going anywhere and accomplishing anything.
It’s easy to fall in love with a person or job that’s perfect, which, like unicorns, don’t exist. So maybe you should just focus on being your best. Period.