Wide Awake: 30 Years Later
After hoping for the best, here we are

One night a few months ago, I went into our family room to join Joe, who was watching TV. When I sat down, Joe popped up and pulled the hassock closer to where I was sitting. I was a little surprised. “Why did you do that?” I asked.

“I thought you might like to put your feet up.”

Joe is a nice guy, a good guy. In fact, I often think of how much nicer he is than me. (Case in point: pulling a hassock over for someone when they didn’t even ask.) I always tell people if our friends were having a party and only one of us could go for some weird reason, our friends would be trying to figure out a way to have Joe attend.

We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary last month, which makes me feel really old. I was 22 when we were married. Joe had just turned 21, which seems extremely young, but it didn’t then. Although we didn’t realize it while it was happening, I guess the two of us grew up together. We went from 20-year-olds to 50-year-olds. In a flash.

The night we got back from our honeymoon, we went straight to a new house we had bought in Cherry Hill and discovered rocks had been thrown through all the windows. There were pieces of shattered glass everywhere, including on our bed. It was a harsh dose of reality after two weeks in the Caribbean.

Both of us had lived with our parents until that night, but we didn’t call them. We cleaned up the floors, taped the windows and went to bed. It was awful, but I think that was the first moment of starting our life together – much more so than the walk down the church aisle.

Since then, we’ve had three kids and four houses. Several jobs, one magazine. Lots of vacations, both with and without kids.

In the early days, that Cherry Hill house had a bed, a couch and TV, and a dining room table. That was it. We spent our money on travel, on exhilarating fun. We decided early on experiences were better than wallpaper and furniture.

We put off having kids for eight years. And the decision of when to have them – something we always knew we wanted – wasn’t easy. I remember being upset when friends of ours told us they were expecting. Joe saw my reaction and assured me he was ready to have a baby if I was.

“No, I’m not upset because I’m not pregnant,” I told him. “I’m upset because I don’t want to be pregnant right now.”

It’s a hard concept to grasp, but Joe understood. He may have thought I was a little crazy, but he kept that to himself. And eventually, we had three daughters in five years.

When we were dating, we had frequent conflicts because Joe had a group of friends he spent a lot of time with. And of course, I wanted him to spend more time with me. I think it’s a rite of passage for many couples. I remember saying to him, “I hope someday you’ll want to be with me more than anyone else.” I remember that clearly, because I remember how much I hoped it would happen.

I also remember Joe didn’t say anything in response. I don’t know if he thought that was a possibility or if he was thinking about how suffocated he felt. Either way, he stuck around.

Every now and then, I will meet someone who says, “Whenever I see you, you’re always with your husband.” It makes me chuckle, because many times I can’t tell if they think that’s a good thing or not. But little do they know: all those times they’ve seen us together (in the last 30 years) – that’s exactly what I hoped for.


Don’t miss Carli Lloyd on March 10!

I’ll be interviewing Carli Lloyd in front of an audience at The Merion on March 10. If you’ve come to any of our empowerment or networking events, be sure to get your tickets for this one. Carli’s story is fascinating. I know you’ll be inspired by her experiences and hard-earned wisdom.


Follow Marianne Aleardi on Instagram and on Twitter.

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