I am grateful to be married to someone who understands or better yet tolerates my unique and unusual ways.
For two decades, I have yet to figure out what it is exactly about Tim Cohen that keeps me grounded despite my urge to take flight at certain times. When we met in 1997, his oversized smile captivated me, even though I had other plans in life. His persistence was endearing. His charm, natural.
It was pure kismet how we met. I was living in Michigan. He, in California. We were both attending the same corporate event at the Hilton Hotel in Orlando, Florida for our respective companies. “As any good salesman would do, the first priority is to know their client.” That’s Tim’s feeble attempt to defend the moves he made that summer day in late June.
When Tim’s playful cinnamon-colored eyes gazed at me across the counter in the oversized, commercial kitchen, it felt like his stare went deep into my soul. For that unending moment no one else existed. Even now, that soothing feeling engulfs me in warmth, making me feel loved unconditionally. Cue in romantic music, eliciting complete sappiness here. Yet the obvious answer to my own inquiry as to “Why have I stayed with him all these years?” could be his compelling humbleness, or better yet, the way he speaks with sincerity, even when he is stressed.
Over the years, I have scribbled about our “Lofty and Loony Love” fest, although for this monumental anniversary it seemed apropos to reflect on the contraction of both our loony and lofty love. In the whirlwind of this thing we call life and living, it can be a challenge for two people to stay connected while maintaining sanity with the chaos that swirls and swells.
I deeply respect how we challenge each other’s thinking. Our approaches to problem solving are often not the same. Naturally each of us thinks our ideas are the solution, yet the process shape-shifts into an opportunity for us both to evolve. It has been a blast learning to embrace his strong points and admit my flaws – and vice versa. As with any working partnership, when each person contributes their best, together they are unstoppable.
As a person who fosters continual pursuit of information, my affinity to push for change versus staying the course is endless. I revel in the unknown and delight in challenging status quo, which frequently means my dear hubby’s perspective. Mediocrity is not a word in my vocabulary. My compassionate companion has always been an advocate for my inability to be satisfied. Tim and I are opposites in that arena. He tends to be content and leans toward predictability. Me? Not so much.
I have realized that marriage is about merging and meshing two distinct personalities. My relationship with Tim has taught me tolerance, especially when my darling leaves the cupboard doors and kitchen drawers open. Truth be told, I never leave the coffee pot on or forget to clean the wad of hair out of the shower drain. If marriage is a continual game of give and take, both have to be willing to play, understanding that the percentages routinely change of the giving and the taking.
Marriage has the ability to capture the loneliness of uncertainty, to offer a safe refuge to reside with a buddy. My hubby understands my need to be my own person and be on my own, patiently waiting for me to return, both mentally and physically. He cheers me on when creativity flows, and books my plane tickets when I need to go.
I distinctly remember a conversation we had years ago when he quipped, “You are like a balloon; I get you on the way up and the way down.” At first, I was offended, then realized, this clever man appreciates all my tendencies and loves me for who I am. Both life experience and becoming a mother have brought me to a different plateau of understanding my messy mind. My large vibrant rainbow-colored balloon filled with “hot air” floats up and down, but I know deep within my heart Tim likes to ride in my basket. I like to tell myself he enjoys my vantage point, even though he is not fond of heights.
To this day, I am utterly astonished that twenty-plus years ago fate finally presented me a partner who understands my unpredictability. My patient husband not only celebrates it, he never attempts to reduce it. What I know, respect, and admire is his ability to embrace my inconsistency and encourage me to be me without remorse or regret. It took me years to understand the significance of this unique trait.
In his college fraternity days, Tim and his Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers memorized “The True Gentleman.” He is truly is the quintessence of this creed. I marvel at this empathetic fifty-something man who consistently orders vanilla ice cream over the other 31 flavors, has an uncanny ability to be a human calculator in a matter of seconds, and also launches the quickest and wittiest retorts of any person I have yet to encounter.
Our lives have been a rollercoaster, zigzagging from the beginning. We both enjoy the unpredictable movements and weird sensations of thrill-seeking ways. He and I both practice compassion over our differences as we wade through life’s adventures. Learning together is a vital aspect of our relationship.
Since I love asking questions, we each separately made a list of twenty words that felt significant to us over the past twenty years. I felt anticipation and anxiety to see how many words we would choose in common. Please notice our personalities shining through the list below and take note that Tim did not follow directions and sent me twenty-one words instead. Ha, yes, honey!
Communication. Humor. Compromise. Patience. Respect. Acceptance. Recognition. Admiration. Perseverance. Trust. Silliness. Forgive. Forget. Adventurous. Spontaneity. Partnership. Change. Optimistic. Honesty. Dream.
Evolved. Involved. Sorry. Thankful. Handholding. Understanding. Compromise. Dedication. Humor. Respect. Patience. Silly. Honest. Fun. Laughter. Kindness. Understanding. Passionate. Partnership. Self-Awareness. Yes, Honey!
Each of us came into this marriage wanting the same thing—a happy, lasting and fulfilling partnership. Honestly, not much has changed over our time of being together. I am the same person Tim married. Although, right now it would be nice to have that twenty-something taut body back, but right now, I am more inclined to strive for a taut mind.
Our honeymoon period will continue to be extended yet another year, albeit not without drama or difficulties. Changes and challenges are indeed inevitable. A splash of maturity and a dash of acceptance have guided me to develop a deeper appreciation for this loving, mindful man. He will keep weathering my storms. For my part, I will work at accepting that dark clouds exist rather than resisting them. Twenty years have and will continue to bring sunny, bright days regardless.
My simple request is we keep floating together and delight in my balloon flights. Let’s be truthful — sparkly stars, puffy clouds and beautiful butterflies are never at ground level.
Up, up and away Tim Cohen…let’s keep making life more magical together!
 “The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.” – John Walter Wayland
© Shannon Hogan Cohen August 2018