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The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: An Unvarnished Look Inside A Real Marriage


This week is a big one for us because after 18 years of marriage, we are still a team. Like most teams, there were some wins and some losses, a bit of fighting among the players, a few bumps, bruises and disagreements over which was the best way to move the ball down the field.  We got banged up a lot this year; there were good times, some bad and a handful of really ugly, that are even tough to talk about, frankly.

THE GOOD: We’re still standing. I start here because there were a lot of things that could have easily brought us to our knees; it was bad enough they almost brought us to the breaking point. This 18th year, was probably more difficult than the previous 17 combined. But we have so much for which to be thankful. When I open the refrigerator or jump in the car, pull up a warm blanket or sleep in our soft bed, I am reminded of the good things. I know I complain about it, but I even secretly love the road trips we take as a family, the forced family fun outings, and the spirited discussion over the dinner table; I’m grateful for the memories we are creating for Casey and Cole.

THE BAD: I’m ashamed to admit but sometimes it’s hard to be thankful in the everyday because the everyday can be so difficult. Rushing in the morning or fatigued at night, a careless word said in clipped tone can be the spark for an argument that ends with hurt feelings. Add a couple of moody teens to the mix and what used to be real communication becomes perfunctory. You look up and realize you haven’t nurtured your relationship the way you promised you would, all those years ago and you’ve turned the lights out far too many times with jaw clenched too tightly to squeak out, “I love you” even though, under the hurt, that is what’s in your heart. That was us this year. A lot unfortunately.

THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY: This was the year I thought I was leaving. Really. Why? Because I felt like I was corroding on the inside. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize that woman, the one who looked worn out, frowned more than she smiled, who worked all the time and didn’t see much progress. And I felt us drifting apart. I was ready to run from this life though I wasn’t sure where I would go. Instead, I settled for a few trips with friends where I had a chance to rediscover the carefree me, the fun, flirty one who wasn’t being pulled in 30 directions, desperately searching for time for herself.

Dalliance. Infidelity. Affair. At our nadir I wondered if that thing I find repulsive, I might actually do. When you’re angry and hurting, you don’t think clearly and clearly, I was not. I did think about it though; it seemed like the shot of excitement I craved. At the end of the day, however, I didn’t do it, the chance for irreparable pain for all involved was just too great to risk. But I saw firsthand how relationships can break down, opening a fissure just big enough for someone else to step in to fill that void.

You know what I learned in all that? That you really love someone when you hurt more for him or her than they do for themselves, when you want them to succeed and are ready to inflict great pain on anyone who hurts them. I’ve felt that part of me heat up when I see people mistreating you and I see it in you when you become fiercely protective of me. It makes me smile. It makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like, no matter what, we’re gonna be okay.

But don’t you see? That’s what team members do. They squabble in the locker room but when the players are on the field, there is one goal, one objective with everyone moving in the same direction. That’s what we do, that’s who we are.

Could I have done things differently? Absolutely. Many times my temper got in the way of real communication. Could you have done better? Yes, of course. We’re not a perfect pair; I guess that’s what makes it, and us, interesting. And just like last year, I go into this next one hoping, praying, INTENDING to be at this place again next year.

Buff, thank you for leading this family, for showing me that even in tough times, we keep going. Thank you for supporting me, for your wisdom, your chivalry and for loving the perfectly imperfect me. While we have our ups and downs, disagreements over kids and money, I can’t imagine having anyone else in my corner.

                                                    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY BUFF!



  1. Mike McGinley

    January 22, 2012 at 2:57 am

    Rene, you remind me SO much of my Mom. She is the fun one, the communicator, the beauty queen, etc. My Dad is the laid-back, relaxed, businessman. And in all honesty, he loves her, despite all the differences, the way Buff loves you.

    I think that’s what make a relationship work.

  2. Ella

    January 22, 2012 at 6:50 am

    Beautifully written. I’ve used the same analogy more times than you know. So right about wanting to tell them you love them, but then not. Not worth it. Time is way to short. Happy Anniversary!

  3. Eunice

    January 22, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Great post Rene’! You speak the truth!

  4. DawnKA

    January 22, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Happy Anniversary Buff & Rene!!!!! Here’s to many more years of love, happiness and team work…. 😉

  5. Will Jones

    January 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

    You two are amazing together. Story books are cute, but real love isn’t perfect, and perfect love isn’t real. Couples like you show the world that happily ever after is hard freakin’ work, but it can and does happen.

    Happy anniversary!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. Traci

    January 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Happy Anniversary!!!!! 🙂

  7. dianthe

    January 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    what an awesome post!!! and what’s best about it is the honesty! i can’t tell you the number of posts i see on FB about how wonderfully awesome their marriages are when we all know the truth – no matter how strong your marriage is, there are days when it blows – i love my husband endlessly and i love our family more than words – but there are days when i don’t like him very much and that’s just the truth – so i push past and bite my tongue and wait until i can have a calm conversation – even though what i really want to do is punch him in the face til he sees things my way – oops, did i use my outside my head font just now?

    thank you for being honest and showing that hard work does pay off!

    happy anniversary to you and Buff!!!

  8. Tracy

    January 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Well said. Happy Anniversary Buff and Rene!

  9. Dave Manoucheri

    January 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Happy anniversary you guys! Know that you are not alone in any of what you went through, either. As deeply as I loved my wife, she was a handful and the same thoughts went through my head. I felt the same tug, the impulse to find someone else, the enjoyment of someone who listened to you and was attracted to you the way you used to be. But I always came home to Andrea and never left or strayed. I saw, as you so aptly out it, that we were a team. I tell my kids what I told her, that we are far better together than apart. Coincidentally, we made it 18 years, to the day.
    The one thing we did, every night, even when I was embedded with troops in Afghanistan, was to say “I love you” however hard it was to say, before we went to bed. Arguments mean communication, and finishing them shows your children that you always end the day together.
    Happy anniversary, and may you have far more than 18 more!

  10. m.e. johnson

    January 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Wonderful post, Rene. Every married couple ought to read this as often as necessary (Often!)


  11. TiJa

    January 23, 2012 at 1:10 am

    i love this! you described my relationship with my husband of 11 years. marriage is some real grown up ish…if you are not willing to act like an adult in tough situations, then don’t bother making such an important commitment . i feel like people take marriage to lightly these days. that’s why i appreciate you, rene, for being so candid about your own marriage.

    happy anniversary!

  12. Kim - Mommycosm

    January 23, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Happy Anniversary!!

    (nodding like a bobble headed doll over here)

    I get it. I really, really get it. You know I do.

  13. Lauren Jones

    January 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Articles like this deserve way more exposure and attention then do the articles about who’s breaking up ! Nobody stands up and fights for their marriages anymore. They divorce, leave a mess, move on and create new messes with out cleaning up behind themselves!
    I have been in a 27 year relationship married for 24 of them . We strap on boxing gloves and go toe to toe in the ring to see who is going to win the fight while the other concedes but divorce is NOT the prize here…….

    Happy Anniversary!!! and to many many more on the horizon…..

  14. carrell royal

    January 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Hi rene, happy anniversary, l am one of ur biggest fan. I stalk ur website every day,; u have been a great inspiration to me, keep up the wonderful work. Best wishes to u and ur lovely family

  15. Lamar

    January 26, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Happy Anniversary, thanks for sharing your story with others and being so transparent. I think one of the best parts about marriage is that we’re able to take our experiences and build on them to make our relationships better. I’ve talked to so many couples who have been to the brink of divorce only to bring their relationships back stronger than ever. They appreciate the good times so much because they’ve been through the bad and they realize that if after all of that they’re Still Standing then nothing can divide them. Happy 18th and just realizing I’ve been reading your site for a year now because I remember 17 LOL. Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.

  16. Unika Howell-Molden

    January 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. Beautiful testimony. Happy Anniversary to you both!! May God bless you with many more years together…


  17. Kech

    January 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Lovely honest post. Happy Anniversary and may the Lord continue to bless your marriage.

  18. Adrienne

    February 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

    GREAT Post!! Happy Anniversary!

  19. TJ

    February 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I hope you had a wonderful anniversary and many more.

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  22. Jenn

    April 23, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Awesome, awesome, awesome post. Happy Anniversary to you both and here’s to many, many more!

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