Billy Joel sang: “Don’t go changing… I love you just the way you are.” Who are we kidding? We chose our partners in business and life because we DO want to change them and we really don’t love them just the way they are.
My criteria for dating after my divorce were simple. I wanted a woman who accepted the fact I had a child and was on a career path. She also had to look great in a mini-skirt – all reasonable requirements in the litmus test of love. Hope’s were a bit less discriminating. Her questions were: What are your goals in life? What keeps you awake at night? Don’t you think disco will live forever?
Ok. Neither of us was perfect and, to tell you the truth, Hope fell in love with me because I worked at a cool job, had all my hair and sent her extravagant gifts. I should point out that, at this time, she was totally unaware I charged these gifts to my corporate accounts. This was the perfect combination: steak and sizzle – her being the obvious heat, me being the obvious pillar. And, from that day we met, we have each our time trying to bring the other around to our way of thinking.
When Hope buys clay pots and furniture, she brings them home only to faux paint them to the style she likes. My question: Why buy them in the first place?
Hope is a long distance runner. To me, running is exercise – and I hate exercise. But tennis or golf? That’s fun – and I don’t need to be hit over the head that it’s good for my heart. Hope will often say: “You don’t want to go run with me, do you?” I always reply: “If you already know the answer, why ask the question?”
Hope likes hotels that have five stars for ambience and zero stars for cuisine. I’m just the opposite. I like a dump in the worst part of town, with a meal to be remembered for eternity. Like the classic Billy Crystal character on SNL, she thinks it’s more important to look good than to feel good.
I look at glasses as half full. She looks at glasses and says, “You know honey, these glasses are sooo last year and they don’t match anything we have. It’s time we bought some new ones.”
Over the years, we have each given up some ground, but, we haven’t abandoned our positions. I now love shopping for clothes for myself. There was a time when I didn’t know an Oscar de la Renta from an Oscar de la Hoya. Now I can tell a Dana Buchman from a Dana Carvey and Jhane Barnes from a Barnaby Jones.
And as far as Hope goes, she now appreciates that I can do things around the house without calling down to the super – which, we left 23 years ago in New York. She has also learned that there were indeed Six Stooges: Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, Curly Joe and Joe deRita. But, she still thinks musicals are not real and that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his chest.
So, while we hold our ground, she still manages to surprise me and, occasionally, change my mind. I affectionately call her Hurricane Hope, altering everything in her path. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it takes a hurricane to change your life and challenge everything you thought was right. While you may not be wrong, sometimes you need to be shaken up.
Hurricane Hope tore me loose from my moorings and, ever since, I’ve been on a new kind of journey. But, I’ll never give her the satisfaction of hearing me say it!
This is a guest post by Barry Kluger.
Do you agree or disagree that it is healthy to want to change the people that we love? Why or why not? What do you think the secrets are to having a happy marriage after 50? Please join the conversation.