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The Story of Us: Happy Anniversary Buff!

Wow, I can’t believe 17 years have passed since we stood on that beach in The Bahamas and promised to love each other forever. Almost everything about that day and those leading up to it is still crystal clear to me. I remember we didn’t have a lot of money so I bought my dress at a consignment shop for 100 dollars. I found a tailor to shorten it just a bit, you know, to make it sassy, just like me. She offered to make a little veil for me too and since we were pinching pennies, she did it for free.

We flew off to the Bahamas, telling only a few people what we were up to and my mom asked if she could come, remember that? Great, just what I envisioned, my mom on the honeymoon with us. Thankfully we saw eye to eye on that one. Do you remember the Reverend’s name? I do, Reverend Miller who we met the night before he married us for the low, low price of a hundred bucks, plus a ten spot for each for the paid witnesses.

I wanted to get married at 4pm; I don’t know why but it just seemed like a good time, as the sun was low in the sky. Someone had that time booked so we had to move ours to three. I wonder if they’re still married, not that I’m bitter or anything.

Do you remember what day of the week January 26th, 1994 was? I do, it was Wednesday. We chose it because we had to be in the country long enough to become temporary residents. The minute they said we were, we said, “I do”. We truly had fun that day, laughing as we filled out the paperwork in the shadow of The Cloisters. Do you remember what was so funny?  That the marriage license listed you as a divorcee but me as a “spinster”. Gotta love that old world charm. But really, it was a dream come true.

Can I tell you a secret? I wasn’t sure we were going to make it that first year. Maybe you weren’t either.  I had been single for so long and we were both pretty set in our ways.  I had also never been in a relationship that I couldn’t get out of cleanly and quickly with a phone call. But this was different somehow. Much more than words on paper, this was a promise, a commitment we carved out together. And so we soldiered on.

Before we knew it, we added two little babies to the mix who brought more joy than I ever knew was possible and more stress than I ever thought I could handle.  They continue bearing those twin gifts to this day.

You know when the minister says “In sickness and in health”?  I know now that it’s not just the literal translation. Yes, you have nursed me through some horrid stuff, the loss of my breasts, the loss of my job and there was a time, in the not too distant past, that you were a lifeline, reaching out to grab me as I felt myself slipping into the abyss. You have propped me up more times than I can count, so much that I wonder sometimes if you’ll ever tire of it. Or me. I hope not.

I remember when our marriage was immature, we used to hold hands and pledge not to let the outside world in. We talked about the figurative moat, filled with snapping crocodiles that surrounded our home; once we were inside and the drawbridge was raised, we were safe from the arrows and rocks being pelted at us from the outside. It was such a lovely picture. But in reality, some of the arrows made their way through the open window and left their mark.

You remind me a lot of my own father, which I supposed is why I married you. Not that I was spinning out of control or anything, but I’m not the most disciplined person out there and yes, I freely admit, my spontaneity and joie de vivre can veer off into recklessness if not kept in check. Of course, like a pent up stallion, that is the very thing I rail against. Funny how, over the years, you have learned when and just how much slack to give the reins, sometimes even before I do.

I am proud of you as a husband and father. Though your parenting style is almost diametrically opposed to mine, we somehow manage to make it work and our kids are better for it. And I am proud of you for leading by example, showing our son how a good man behaves and our daughter what to expect in a husband.

I would love to say the last 17 years were blissful, highlighted by straight A’s, restful vacations and white picket fences. But the truth is it’s been a bumpy ride. Our life together does have some of those things but there have also been crises, some so big and bad, causing rifts so deep between us, I wasn’t sure we could make our way back to one another. There were times I didn’t even want to try. I came so close to running away, certain you didn’t understand what I was going through. I mean, if you did, why wouldn’t you do something? Looking back on it now, I see you were doing the best you could, handling the only way you knew how. You put your head down and soldiered on, methodically, stoically, knowing that this rough patch would pass. And thankfully it did.

Just after we married, every so often I would catch a glimpse of my wedding ring, all shiny and new and be literally baffled as to why someone as together as you, would sign on to spend the rest of their life with me.  After 17 years, I think I have it figured out. You see, I can’t cook and have no desire to learn. I’m a slob who only wears matching socks when I can find them. I have a vague idea of how the washing machine works but can barely remember where the laundry room is. You, the neat freak, somehow manages to hold your nose and shake your head, accepting the fact that energy spent trying to change me would be better put to use elsewhere. In short, you accept me for who I am. Not the Rene the public knows, the one who’s dressed and made up, hair in place and on her best behavior. No you are treated to the tired, bitchy one at the end of the day, ripped jeans, no make-up and every single hair OUT of place. And you still look at me like I walked off the page of a high fashion magazine. Okay, that part is a lie but at least you don’t laugh. Or scream.

I hope I make you as happy as you do me (most of the time) and I pray we have many, many more years together. If that which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, than together, we are invincible.

I love you honey.

75 Comments

  1. Kolleen

    January 26, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Happy Anniversary

  2. Candice

    January 26, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Rene, this was absolutely beautiful and encouraging!!

  3. Name (required)

    January 26, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Happy Anniversary to the both of you! God bless you !

  4. Rich

    January 26, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Very sweet Rene – loved your reality take on marriage – it ain’t all roses and sunshine! x

  5. Rene Syler

    January 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Yeah, no it ain’t. We started this morning like we do every other morning, with an argument.. *sigh* It ain’t always pretty, but it’s as real as it gets.

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  7. TanyaHdg

    January 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is so refreshing to hear a real story. I love that it is not all hearts and flowers but that at the core you love each other.

  8. Will Jones

    January 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Wow, Rene. This fantastic. The story, the writing… the truth in it is wonderful.

    My wife and I have been together for almost 18 years (this April), and I think we’ve both felt most everything you’ve written so beautifully here. I tell her that, sometimes, the only reason I put up with her is because she puts up with me!

    Congratulations on your milestone… and kicking it off with an argument it a great way to settle into some good “making up” later on! LOL

  9. Janet Carroll Richardson

    January 26, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I love your anniversary story, Rene…and I love you guys!

  10. Mashel D.Perkins

    January 26, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I know you have something nice planned huh?

  11. Jana

    January 26, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful — just like you and Buff! Fairy tales aren’t easy, glowing, short-term romances. Real fairy tales are marriages like yours that overcome, outlast and become solid foundations for the nitty gritty and uncertainty of everyday life. Here’s to many, many more peaceful, happy and fun-filled years for you and Buff! Love you guys!

  12. Ed Clapp

    January 26, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I think you brought a tear to my eyes. Very beautiful.

  13. VictorHM

    January 26, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Such an eloquently written treatise on the wrestling match known as marriage. Cheers!

  14. Smarty P. Jones

    January 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

    This is beautiful, Rene. Happy Anniversary to you both!

  15. DawnKA

    January 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Congratulations!!! Happy Anniversary!!!!! Your union is surely solid.

  16. Nikki Newman

    January 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Happy Anniversary fabulous lady! That was beautiful, Rene, and I honestly have a huge lump in my throat now ready to burst; ‘scuse me while I go blub into my red wine and marvel at the complexity and therein beauty of it all 🙂

  17. Rene Syler

    January 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    **bug hug** thanks Nikki, it ain’t easy, that is for damn sure. But really, who said this thing called life was going to be?

  18. Lem

    January 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Rene & Buff. I admire what you both share and I wish you 17+ more years of pure unconditional love.

  19. Rene Syler

    January 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks Lem, but oh wait, there ARE conditions, LOL

  20. Renee Jones-Lee

    January 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Gotta love those “Rene” traits….Elegant story very eloquently put. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY & may God continue to bless your union.

  21. Gloria Freeman

    January 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    O, My Gosh Rene… This Is The Most Wonderful Cinderella Story…… And Yes.. If You Must Know~ LOL….. I Currently Have Tears In My Eyes…… This Really Is What Real True Love Is All About…. Congrats To You, Buff, And Those Beautiful Children!! I Truly Miss You Being In Dallas…. I Watched You From The Very First Time You Appeared On Tv… I Followed You From Channel 8 To Channel 11.. And On To National Tv,, Thru Your Surgery.. Till Now…. May You And Your Beautiful Family Continue To Be Blessed Abundantly In The Lord!!

  22. The Broke Socialite

    January 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    This story touches my heart on so many levels, Rene! It’s so transparent and comes from a beautiful place.

    This makes me grateful for my love, my friend, my husband: Mr TBS. We have survived being homeless, losing every material possession to our names and rebuilding together. He is my biggest cheerleader but challenges me to push myself beyond my potential.

    Over 10 years my senior, I am the accelerator in our marriage and he is happy to be the brakes. We’ve figured out a balance that works for us both.

    I, too, have grown up in our marriage and mostly at my husband’s expense. Thank God he “gets” me. We’re not perfect in the conventional sense but we’ve built a perfect life as it is defined by us.

    Happy Anniversary, Rene & Buff. I raise a virtual glass of Veuve to you both!

  23. M.E. Johnson

    January 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Happy Annivesary to you both. May you have at least 40 more. Wow! Y’all haven’t had many dull moments, have you? LOL

  24. Sarena

    January 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Rene,

    Two things are flawless about you: Your hair (let the church say AMEN), and your ability to be real and transparent so that others can grow and be better on their given journeys.

    Thank you for sharing the story of Buff and Rene, and what a beautiful story it is! You two are indeed role models of what a marriage and union can be inspite of lifes’ tantrums.

    Happy Anniversary to a wonderful couple! Enjoy!

  25. llcherry0306

    January 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I love your story, congrats on your anniversary!!! You made me want to write a heart felt letter to my husband. We only been married for 2 1/2 years, but if feels like forever. I can’t wait until we can celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary by then we both will be in a good comfortable state of marriage and can reflect back just like you have done. Love it…

  26. Rene Syler

    January 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    LOL okay baby, if you say so. Thank you sweetie. xxoo

  27. dianthe

    January 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    what a great story!! and i love the pictures!!
    Kelley and i will be married 5 years this year – so far, my life sounds very similar to yours – if Kelley puts up with my crap and i don’t run away searching for “me” time, i’ll consider us a success! one day at a time – and you gotta work at it every day!
    congrats and happy anniversary!

  28. TInisha

    January 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Congrats. I hope one day i can make something as beautiful as this.. wishing yall many blessings.

  29. pattyrowland

    January 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    happy anniversary to the parhams!!!! 17+ more wonderful years together!!!!!! xoxoxo

  30. Lexi

    January 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    O…that was so beautiful….Thank you for sharing and Happy Anniversary….I wish you both many more years together……awwww…this seriously made my night it was so real, honest and refreshing……….I applaud you and your engaging writing ability….again all the best

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  32. Lonnie Fernandez

    January 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Happy Anniversary! What a beautiful and real description of your marriage (and, in some ways, all marriages).
    Love to you and Buff.
    -Lon

  33. Rene Syler

    January 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    LOL thanks Lonnie! Next time I want to run away, I’m on your doorstep (maybe you’ll come with!)

  34. Jen (ImoBlog)

    January 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    That was just beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a personal and candid piece of you.

  35. Auntie Lisa

    January 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Beautiful and sweet! Happy Anniversary, Buff and Rene!!

  36. Debra

    January 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Oh Rene this is just BEAUTIFUL!!! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.

  37. Sylvia

    January 26, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    That was absolutely beautiful.

  38. margaret

    January 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Congratulations to you and Buff. This is just beautiful. God’s Blessings to you. I always pray for my husband and I to grow old together to see our Childrens’ Children and that is what I wish for you. June 7th will be our tenth anniversary.

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  40. GAYLE

    January 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY RENE- you mean you’re not PERFECT and WONDERFUL all the time??? Guuurrl you could’ve fooled me!!!!!! thanks for a glipse into this thing called marriage. I was not fortunate to have ever gone down that road, but always knew it would be no ‘crystal stair’ I still miss you doing the news but oh well……all the best to you and Buff (love that name) :)– You two are truly doing it and may God bless you both with 100 more years together!!

  41. Cookie

    January 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I think this is the best love story ever, Happy Anniversary. I only hope that one day I will find the right lid to fit my lopsided pot. Life has so many things to offer, you just have to find the right person to make these things happen. You both are truly blessed to have each other

  42. kim

    January 28, 2011 at 1:36 am

    I loved this!! So encouraging especially ‘cuz i don’t don’t cook or clean either and I sooooo wanna believe that husband #2 is waiting for me out there somewhere who will love me as I am.
    Can’t I JUST order in and have a weekly housekeeper?
    Thanx for the hope!
    (((HUGS)))

  43. Natur'al~iYah

    January 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Thank you sooo much! You promised a realistic view of marriage, & that is what I got! Having had 34 years to fantasize about what it “should” look like, with the wedding date approaching, I desperately NEED a reality check. I think that may be why more marriages don’t make it: unrealistic expectations. Thank you again, you may have saved a marriage before it started!

    Peace and blessings to you and your family, and many more years of bliss (such as bliss is;) together!

  44. Jeff K

    January 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    RENEE,
    That was an amazing letter. i am married for 10 years more than you and every day is a new day for us. I am reminded of words from my dear father who passed on 5 years ago. He always said “The Best Is Yet To Come!’ A smart man with smart words for thought.

    Stay well.
    xo
    me

  45. Karen McKee

    January 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Ahhh! Loved the story Rene. You are truly blessed! My question is how did you and Buff meet? I bet that would make a great story too! Here’s to many more wonderful years! XXOO

  46. Peppercorn16

    January 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Rene you and your hubby are a beautiful and from that you have a beautiful family. A lot of couples can learn from you and Buff. U can just see the love when you and he are together. I recall when you were going in from sugery you said to him “will you marry me” and he said “Yes over and over agai” OMG! every woman should be so blessed to have such a wonderful husband

  47. Peppercorn16

    January 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Just goes to show u that u do not have to have a big wedding. My hubby and I eloped and didn’t tell our family for 6 months. When we did tell them we made it like we had just got married,to see what they’d say they were happy but a few thought it wouldn’t last since we’re an interracial couple. But we showed them this coming April will be 16yrs we’ve been married and laughing at those who are still doubting

  48. Shasha

    February 14, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Amazing.I knew you were a breast cancer advocate, but no idea you were a survivor yourself.Great story, inspires us young marrieds to go the distance, despite how bleak it may look sometimes.

  49. Rene Syler

    February 14, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Aww, well thanks. I actually never had breast cancer but a breast disease, the stage right before breast cancer. But that plus family history and multiple biopsies led me to the preventive mastectomy. Yes, you have to take care of you, for your family 🙂

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  52. Peggy Phillip

    March 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Delightful read my friend…I’m approaching 24 years with John and I’m grateful every day for him.

  53. Sherilynn M.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Rene, this is beautiful. The reality is its rare to find someone who has common ground, likes being around you (despite flaws!) and WANTS to make it work! Buff & yourself ingnite my lil’ ray of hope! Continue to determine to have a happy life!!!

  54. Margit

    March 27, 2011 at 10:39 am

    This made me cry. I get this. I know this…both the part of your partnership and your personal struggles. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there. Thank you for sharing. It will be 17 years for us in July.

  55. Rene Syler

    March 27, 2011 at 11:23 am

    @Peggy: CONGRATS! I know the feeling 🙂

  56. Rene Syler

    March 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    @Margit: thank you honey and congrats to you in July!

  57. Rene Syler

    March 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    @Sherilynn: thank you so much!

  58. Irene

    March 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    This is so sweet….just finished reading your book and one thing I liked about it is you are a g.e.m. 24/7…just real…and not afraid to write about the things that don’t work but celebrating the things that do….and this marriage really fits you!

    Congrats on everything and thanks for being willing to share it with other g.e.m.s. and g.e.d.s and others who think maybe love/marriage/kids is/isn’t for them.

    Makes me want to tell my own hubbie how much I appreciate and love him…I can do it on my own but I sure don’t want to have to….

  59. Stephanie Bowman

    March 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I loved this soo much. My husband lives in Kansas and I really miss him( his job moved him there) I am not wanting to leave Dallas but I may if I want to keep this marriage strong. But thank you today because I was having a pity party because of my mixed feelings. but you were a god send today so I appreciate this story and it is funny I rented my wedding dress 22 years ago (only kept the veil and not sure where that is) but it is the memories of just being in love and I didnt know if we would last five years. But God has a sense of humer and so do you. So hats off to you for such a heartwarming story…

  60. dbkyk@verizon.net

    March 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Rene this is such a beautiful acknowledgement of love and commitment.

  61. Lauren W

    March 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    This was so beautiful! I can only hope and pray that my husband and I will feel this way about each other 15 years from now. You are such an inspiration!

  62. debra.keown@wnco.com

    March 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Rene this is such a beautiful acknowledgement of love and commitment.

  63. Wendy

    March 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

    What a beautiful tribute to your marriage. I wish I could hear Buff’s perspective. I know that you make him just as happy and he probably spends a great deal of his time silently shaking his head and chuckling about all that you put him thru. He’s probably thanking God everyday that there are NEVER dull moments with you and even though you have the world believing that you’re just “good enough”, he know’s that you’re really pretty close to effortless perfection.

  64. Denyse

    March 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Rene, that is so sweet! I truly understand about the bumps in the road and thinking you wouldn’t make it. But don’t be too hard on yourself – Buff found a jewel!

    Happy Anniversary!

    http://www.facebook.com/specialeventsatsea

  65. Debra @ A Frugal Friend

    April 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    What a lovely post – he’s a keeper! 🙂

  66. Barbara

    April 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    So sweet! Happy Belated Anniversary!

  67. Tasha

    May 9, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    This was great homage to your husband…it serves as some inspiration to this newlywed (2 years in august)

  68. Rene Syler

    May 9, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    @Tasha: Congrats! Be in it to win it.. even when the going gets tough!

  69. shon gables

    May 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I am so glad I read this…. thanks for keeping it real. I hope I may it to 17 years. This year and half is ROUGH…. ha! Ha! Ha! Happy anniversary!

  70. Patricia

    August 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Happy Anniversary!

  71. Sandy Seale

    August 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I love your story. Congrats to you both. I’ve been married to my guy for nearly 47 years now. Even tho there have been times I wanted to kill him, I can’t imagine that I could have found anyone else who would have loved me the way he has…..completely, unconditionally & with total respect.. I often hear women say “my husband let me……”. It makes me wonder what kind of partnership is that,,,,,,and yes marriage is a partnership. And yes you consider the other person & how they feel about things, you talk about things. But when you really love someone, you want them to be happy above all else. If people would realize that if they both work at making the other happy & love them the way they want to be loved then both would get what they want & need…. but sadly too many are worrying more about what they want. so neither’s happy

  72. Wendy

    August 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Congrats Rene! Greg and I had our 17th anniversary two weeks ago!

  73. Kristin

    November 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Wonderful.

    All the hullaballoo about gay marriage denigrating its sanctity: Pah! It’s television/publicity farce weddings (remember the “win a wife” game show?) that tear it down more – with some real life foolishness thrown in.

    And fantastic dress, by the way. Love it!

  74. Kim - Mommycosm

    November 1, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Congratulations 🙂

    I think this should be required reading for anyone entering marriage – it shows the reality of so-called “happily ever after”. It’s not easy sometimes – in fact it can so damn HARD. But if your foundation is built on love, respect and friendship, it can be beautifully rewarding to hang in there. xox

  75. Cody Williams

    November 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Absolutely beautiful. What life is all about. All that really matters.

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