You Can Speak Life
How one inspiring couple taught me that love is a verb.
This interview was originally published on howlovelasts.com as part of the multimedia project my partner and I created about the glue that holds longterm relationships together.
If not for concerns about length, I could have published this interview in its entirety. The transcript reads like a play: it is full of detailed anecdotes, simple wisdom, and sparkling humor. This story almost sounds too scripted to be true. I can assure you, however, that every word is told verbatim.
Ten years ago, Mindy and Bobby fell in love, had a baby, and got married — all before they were old enough to drink. Mindy says, “I was sitting there like, ‘We’re married, we have a kid, and we can’t even have a beer!’”
Now, Mindy says, “we are the happiest we’ve ever been,” and Bobby agrees.
The road has not always been an easy one.
Bobby: “When Brad was a little baby, she got pregnant again, and we ended up losing that baby. And then we moved around the country … moved out to Florida … and we moved back here, and we moved to Oklahoma City … until we moved to Boston we were very poor, and even then she had to work.”
Mindy: “We were so busy just trying to provide for our little family … I had to work full time, he had to work full time, but we couldn’t afford day care so we didn’t see each other. I worked overnight, and he worked during the day.”
They started growing apart. The distance came to a head while they were living in Boston.
Mindy: “We were so focused on his life and his career, and he ended up forgetting me. And we started falling apart and so — I’m gonna be totally brutally honest with my life — I was being pursued by somebody else and I was getting the attention I needed, um, and then I got stuck in it, and he didn’t even notice because we were just so lost in our own worlds. I still loved him and I knew he still loved me but we forgot how to love each other and forgot what we had.”
Mindy knew she wanted to make their marriage work, and so when the couple moved back to Colorado, Mindy told Bobby about the affair:
Mindy: “And I’d never felt more loved. It makes me cry, ’cause his reaction reassured me that he did love me … I asked him, ‘Why aren’t you going through my stuff? Why aren’t you going through my phone?’ and he said, ‘I trust you and if I start going through your stuff I’m gonna stop trusting you. I can’t go there. I choose to trust you no matter what. I choose to love you no matter what.’ And that was huge for me — and healing — because I felt like for so many years leading up to that that he didn’t love me the way I wanted him to, and then he proved to me he did love me the way I wanted him to.”
Bobby: “At that point staying together was the tougher road … and typically it’s not chosen ’cause it’s the harder one … splitting up is convenient. You can always blame the other person. But staying together no matter what the situation is — you have to give the other person grace. You have to give them credit for what their story is … [Before,] I didn’t want to always put forth the effort. I didn’t want to get up at 5:30 and go to work and then come home at 2:30 and actively care about her and actively love her. And I mean, ya know, come home and play with the kids — is what it could have been — and love on my wife, instead of — I don’t know — sit on the couch and do whatever it was that I wanted to do.”
Mindy: “I think it’s important for women to lovingly voice, like, ‘I really want your attention now,’ and for him to listen, and to be there, and show up emotionally when I say I want something … and so he’s definitely he’s a lot better at showing up.”
Bobby: “And it’s rewarding, because I can see how happy it makes her.”
I asked what Mindy does differently now:
Bobby: “She’s more — I would say — realistic with me … there are some times when I come home and I shut the garage door, but I don’t come inside for a while, and I sit there and stare at the TV and watch college football for a while. And she might come out, but she understands and we work together. There’s give and take. It’s a better middle ground of, some days are not good, ya know, some days I’m not always happy.”
Mindy: “We’re better at understanding each other’s lives and thinking about the other one and their emotional struggles, and I was so busy thinking about myself and my emotional needs that I wasn’t thinking about how hard his work is … So I think that’s what changed for me, like thinking about what he needs too.
“It’s funny because our neighbors — he’ll come home and I’ll run outside and I’ll jump on him, and we’re huggin’ and kissin’ out on the driveway — so a lot of people now are like, ‘Aww look at you guys and your perfect marriage!’ and I’m like, ‘Well! [laughing] We’ve worked at it!’
“I just had my aunt say to me, ‘I remember visiting you when you had Bradley at that little house in Longmont and I left there thinking, “Oh how are they going to do it? There’s no way those two little kids — how are they gonna make a marriage? How are they gonna raise this family and have a career and all that?”’ just recently, she’s like, ‘I’m so proud of what you guys have done,’ ya know and I’m like, ‘Thanks!’ … and it kinda makes me look at my own judgements in life … have I ever wrongly judged somebody? … I can see why somebody would judge us.”
Bobby: “I have a coworker that’s — I mean he’s 26 or 27 — he just had a baby and just got married several months ago. And I was talkin’ to another coworker, and he was like, ‘they’re married for now!’ And I was taken aback by how easily people come to that conclusion when you’re first married.”
Mindy: “Yeah, and it’s just — you can speak life or speak death on somebody — you can say, ‘Yeah they’re married for now but that’ll end up in divorce!’ or you can say, ‘Hey guys, you’re probably gonna go through a rough time but you can get through it,’ ya know, encourage, instead of saying, ‘saw that comin’!”
Bobby: “’Another one bites the dust!’”
As always, Daniel concluded the interview by asking if they had anything they’d like to add. Bobby was surprised we hadn’t asked about sex. I explained that — in our experience — sex comes up when it’s important to a couple, but more often than not, we’ve found that couples feel sex is more of a barometric measure of a marriage’s health, rather than something that makes a marriage healthy. This seemed to resonate with them:
Mindy: “Anything in your marriage is a symptom — whether it be symptom of a good marriage or a symptom of a bad marriage. Whether it be anything — an affair — that was a symptom of a really bad marriage at the time, and that’s just where we were at. And so obviously you have to fix your marriage at that point. The glue, though, I don’t know, besides choosing — I choose to love you, and I choose to remember the boy I fell in love with in high school. I choose to have butterflies in my stomach and be excited to see him -”
Bobby: “and I’ve learned to choose to love as a verb and love as -”
Mindy: “so i think choosing is our glue -”
Bobby: “to choose. Choice.”
Mindy and Bobby now live with their three children in the home they own in Broomfield, Colorado. Both partners pursue their passions and cultivate their careers. They also make time for family time, friend time, and date night.