Heather and I were wed on April Fool’s Day nine years ago. Marriage is no joke (I should know), but we do have a sense of humor about it. Whenever people ask how long we’ve been married, we usually say forty years since they don’t stipulate they want to know how long we’ve been married to each other.
Seriously, though, this is the longest I’ve ever been married, and I intend to stay that way.
Thank goodness Heather feels the same. One of the “secrets” to our relationship is that she puts up with a lot. Obviously, that’s not under wraps, as I wrote about all of this in my book, “Running on Empty,” out in paperback a couple of days after our anniversary.
A central element in the story is how we met late in life and she taught me to love again after great personal tragedy and previous marriages. I credit her not only with helping me to become a better man (to whatever degree that’s true), but also with being crucial to my completing that epic, record-setting transcontinental run.
You can imagine that being with someone like me requires a strength of its own, a special brand of emotional endurance. Heather not only puts up with my craziness but embraces it as an essential part of me. In an interview we did with AOL in the spring, we talked about our “extreme marriage” and how much I draw on her strength.
So it’s fitting that I break it down for you, Heather-style, as we approach the latest landmark in this whole book adventure.
Here are some tips for women in a relationship with a “crazy” man. (While you could certainly flip it and use these in a relationship with a woman prone to extremes, since this is based on Heather’s example, the gender is what it is here.)
- Let men be men. All of us need to express ourselves in unique ways, and for one man, it may be running across the U.S., while for another, it may be a guys’ getaway in Baja, Mexico, and for another, it may be watching a show about Bigfoot.
- Respect that thing you think is silly or risky or even dangerous, as it can bring out the best in both of you. It isn’t anti-feminist to embrace the dreams and aspirations of men who want to test their mettle, whether that’s in sport, business, finance, or any of the other classically male area of contest. This also applies to men who want to explore the arts and other creative pursuits. The truth is that most men like to succeed, no matter their particular interest. Support them in it.
- Agree that this is a reciprocal arrangement, where both partners commit to seeing each other become the fullest versions of themselves. If you can find it in your heart to encourage him in something you’d otherwise ignore or even dismiss, he can do the same for you. Who knows what you might accomplish together?