Today is Valentine’s Day, and what better way to talk about the day than to talk about my wonderful wife and how she constantly and subtly pushes me to become a better person.
I grew up about six miles away from my wife, but we barely knew each other for the first sixteen or seventeen years of our lives. We went to the same school, but we were in different grades taking different classes and largely hanging out with different friends. We knew each other from an early age, but not well.
It wasn’t until the very end of my high school years that our social circles began to overlap. We did a few social things together as friends, but when I left for college, it was still purely a friendship. I dated a few people during my first year at college while she was still in high school, though we kept up correspondence via email and letters.
Eventually, she made the choice to attend the same college that I attended, and once that choice was made, we began to gradually spend more and more time together. Eventually we began dating each other – a period that went on for six years – and eventually, some twenty years after meeting, we were married in 2003.
In short, my wife and I came from very similar backgrounds. We both grew up in a rural environment to relatively low-income families. We went to the same primary school, the same high school, and the same college. We have a lot of life experiences in common and a lot of people in common as well from our early days.
Yet, in many ways, we’re perfect opposites. I tend to throw myself passionately into things, obsessing over them and focusing intently on them for long swaths of time, whereas my wife remains pretty centered, tending to do a much better job at juggling a variety of things. I’m better at implementing, at actually getting specific tasks done, while my wife is a better manager, seeing all the things that need to be done and gently pushing me (and herself) to accomplish certain tasks (yes, she’s far better at assembling a to-do list than I am).
This held true when we first decided to turn around our financial lives. I came at it with passion, quite ready and willing to make big, radical changes. I obsessed over our situation, rooting out all kinds of changes we could make. My wife, however, was the source of levity, distinguishing between the radical ideas and the more reasonable ones and pushing us to accomplish the reasonable things. Then, when my passion would fade a bit, she’d be that quiet voice that would keep us going.
I say without hesitation that my wife is the real heart of our family. The unwavering love and quiet support that she shows me and our children in almost every aspect of our lives is amazing, especially when she makes it look so effortless. One minute, she’ll be gently encouraging our son to use the potty, then she’ll be reading to our daughter and teaching her a new word. Before I blink, she’ll be brainstorming ideas for tomorrow’s evening meal and encouraging some of my better writing ideas. Most amazing of all is that she does it without hesitation and without waver. It’s not a sustained effort for her – it just comes naturally.
Sarah provides both the levity and the beauty in my life. She keeps me focused on what I need to focus on, yet often inspires me to reach ever higher. She’s been the real motivation behind all of the wonderful things that have happened in our lives over the last decade – our children, our financial turnaround and success, our career opportunities.
Simply put, she’s the one for me. Without her, none of this – The Simple Dollar, 365 Ways to Live Cheap, some of my other projects – would be possible.
I love you, honey.