For many years, Mark had dreams of the woman he would marry; yet he never saw her face. He knew he would recognize her when he met her. And he did. They met at a pool in 1987, in college at UCSB. She was interested in Mark at first sight because she saw that all the kids at the pool knew and loved Mark. His interactions with the kids gave her a warm, good feeling. Mark, being a guy, first noticed her body!
They ran into each other two days later and she asked him to walk with her and see the trail where she ran. He was happy to join her (and unless he has to, he still dislikes running to this day).
Mark had a potential big-league sports career in front of him. Instead, he chose Summer and a family. They got married four years after they met. However, they shared with me that they were secretly engaged after three months. He said the ring had a tiny, tiny stone, and he was pleased to get her a ring with a bigger stone for their official engagement.
The biggest problem they had in their marriage was where to live. He wanted to be in the Bay Area, and she wanted to live near her sister out of state. Summer agreed to live in the Bay Area for five years; she was a stay-at-home mom (which is a full time job). However, Mark’s job in finance was unusual in that he had a lot of flexibility to be with their kids; to participate in their activities and games. They recognized that if they moved and he got a different job in his field, the flexibility would evaporate. They agreed it was more important for Mark to be involved in their kids’ lives than live near Summer’s sister (which they eventually did for four years).
Their mode of decision-making then, and forever after is their top tip for couples: What’s more important to one of them becomes their joint decision because they want each other to have what they need and want. Other tips: Always think of the other person with your actions. Say “I love you” a lot. They are a strong Acts of Service couple: they always do things for one another (e.g., whoever gets up first puts toothpaste on both of their brushes). Foremost: celebrate love; in whatever way works for you.
I loved talking with them, and seeing how they look at each other after 32 years of marriage. Their eyes sparkled as they spoke of each other, their marriage, and their adult kids. They are clearly best friends.
The every five years renewing their vows grew out of this incident: In second grade, their daughter came home from school one day and asked when they would divorce. She had a school friend whose parents were divorcing. Their response at 10 years of marriage was to renew their vows with their children as their maid of honor and best man! They rented a limo, and Summer wore her original wedding gown.
Their next vow renewal was at 20 years in Vegas, just the two of them. At 25 years, they renewed their vows at Lake Tahoe, and their dog was their only guest. Their 30 year vow renewal was an Elvis ceremony in Vegas with friends and family, music and celebration.
I asked Summer and Mark the meaning to them of renewing their vows. “Simply just because we love each other.” It’s poignant and special to them. “Why celebrate only once?”
They sent me photos of their wedding and all the renewals, but I’m not sharing them with you, readers, to maintain their confidentiality. They look so happy to be with their beloved in every photo.
Mark says. “We see through rose-colored glasses.” He was sad when his favorite line became a marketed one: Life is good.
Summer paraphrases My Big Fat Greek Wedding by saying Mark is the head of the family, and she’s the neck. She illustrated that ‘the neck turns the head’ by reaching over with her finger and gently turning his head toward her. She turned Mark’s head 36 years ago, and he’s still looking every day. So is Summer.
(Note: If you're a couple that is interested in being interviewed for Couples Net, please get in touch with me.)