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Ever wonder why  people get married?

A recent image of my husband, which nearly jumped out from among an envelope of photos last week, caught my attention and provided inspiration for this reflection. So, why exactly do we marry? And, in my case, why do we marry a particular person?  I’m sure you have your own thoughts on the subject, but here are a few of my own.

Growing up, I had very few thoughts about marriage.  The first was that I couldn’t imagine myself being married before I turned 30; the second was that I’d always remain self-sufficient, never needy or dependent upon a spouse.  

Despite these thoughts and plans, I found myself walking down the proverbial aisle just one year after college graduation. I was neither 30 nor self-sufficient; instead, I was 23, living back under my parents’ roof while I attended law school and saddled with $10,000  in student loans to support a future career I never wanted. It was the summer of 1981, just prior to the wedding, and my girlfriend Lori and I were chatting while splashing around in the backyard pool.  In a genuinely befuddled moment Lori inquired, “Maura, why do you want to get married?”  

My response totally bypassed my brain, immediately spilling out of my mouth:  “Because I want to begin a new life!” 

Even in that moment, the words caught me by surprise. Not just because they were lying there dormant, but because of their utter simplicity and astounding intent.  I WAS GETTING MARRIED BECAUSE I WANTED A NEW LIFE.

(Now don’t get the idea that I was the only one in the equation here; my fiancé-turned-husband was equally on board. But let me relate just how the idea of a  “new life” was revealed to me and how this apparent desire has had opportunity to express itself over the past 28 years and counting.)

The first time I realized my intended spouse was for me was early one evening in the late 1970s.  Jimmy and I sat on a curb, mid-campus, before we split to our respective upper- and lower-campus dorms. The subject of Tenerife came up as he shared with me the possibility of being able to play basketball that upcoming summer.

“Tenerife, where’s that?” I inquired rather innocently.

“It’s part of Spain, and it’s one of the Canary Islands,” he smiled.

Great.  I’m the Spanish Lit major, planning to study abroad in Madrid, and I’ve never even heard of Tenerife!

“Tell me about it,” I probed, and Jimmy proceeded to share vivid word pictures of a tropical Mediterranean paradise that was a million miles away from my rather limited and mundane existence at the university library.

Not long thereafter, a second conversation surfaced about another foreign destination – Yugoslavia – and the possibility of Jim traveling with a group of Big East all-stars to this locale.  Now, as far as I knew from my Political Science studies (I was a Political Science major, too), Yugoslavia was a rather liberal part of a communist block of nations. End of thought.  Yet, here was a guy who was speaking of another far-away destination like it was in his own backyard, and vividly real.

Whether it occurred during the conversation about Tenerife or Yugoslavia, I’m not sure.  But what I distinctly recall was this: this man had ADVENTURE written all over him. 

For a guy whose career goal was to teach at a prep school back in New Jersey and never  earn more than $50K a year, he was absolutely electrifying – and animating – to my soul. Whether he was aware of this fact or not, he was on the road to a life of adventure and I was magnetized for the ride!           

So, after 28 years of marriage, how has this intended “New Life” idea  expressed itself back to me? For one, I left law school and quickly repaid my student loans.  Secondly, I moved to Florida, a place I’d pined for since watching episodes of Flipper on TV as a little kid. Apart from an enjoyable career in the telecom business and time at home as both wife and home educating mother, my life has truly been lived. I took up two more languages (just don’t ask me about French!), helped my husband launch our first business, learned to cook Italian, and hosted guests from around the globe. I’ve traveled to five continents – like Argentina to investigate fall of their economy; Cuba, Costa Rica and Honduras where I served as an interpreter;  and Africa, where I spent 9 days dwelling in a self-pitched tent at an utterly remote place aptly referred to as Fly Island.

Right now, as if starting yet another “New Life”, my husband and I are building an entertainment company from the ground up. I’m publisher, publicist, executive music producer, and even back-up singer for some of our children’s properties (What a bonus! I used to dream about being one of Walt’s singing Mouseketeers!).  Plus, despite knowing absolutely nothing about sports (and I do mean nothing), I’m co-writing for a comedic sports microphone named MIKE. Finally, as if were icing on my own wedding cake, I’m having a blast learning how to dance – something I’ve yearned to do since Chubby Checker introduced me to the Twist!

While I always desired to expand my life experiences, it took a wonderful spouse with ADVENTURE written across his chest - not only to bring me along on his adventures, but to make sure I created my own.

As I close this column, it occurs to me that the photo of my husband inspiring  this article displays him on the magical island of Korcula – one of our family’s favorite vacation destinations and home to explorer Marco Polo.  Turns out Korcula also happens to be part of the former country of  . . . Yugoslavia!  Who would have guessed?

So, why did I get married?  To Start a New Life – and I see I got my wish. It might sound hokey, but I expect this New Life thing to continue onward and outward.

In marriage, may you recognize your magnetic calling . . . .  and get the ride of your life, too!

Maura is an International Speaker on Self Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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