“Love is an act of service, a gentle kiss, and an embrace if you need one.” – Barb

Barb and Jim! There is lots of goodness and wisdom with this couple. The support they give to each other is strong. What I appreciate the most was the commitment they’ve made to each other; which is not a pie in the sky idea. Barb and Jim have been married for 19 years with two daughters, Bella and Ana. They met at the University of Detroit Mercy. Jim asked Barb to marry him after three months of dating; when you know, you know. Please enjoy our conversation, its good stuff.

Woo Forever: Love is?

Barb: A really good meal. Doing the things you don’t want to do but you do it because you love. Love is not reading each other’s mind.

Jim: Love is always changing.

Woo Forever: Did you have any idea of what marriage was going to be like?

Both: We both had a traditional family that was mostly happy. We had examples of what a relationship were like through the tough times.

Barb: My family wasn’t afraid to show frustration. We always talked through our issues, even when my mom didn’t want to. I learned to address whatever is going on.

Jim: I got my coping skills from my parents. My relationship with Barb is drastically different from my parents. We are individuals that are constantly evolving yet we’re going in the same direction.  

Woo Forever: What’s been the greatest joy about being with each other?

Barb: I enjoy being a parent with him. I enjoy everything about him. We like learning new things together. I enjoy getting his thoughts on certain issues. He never ceases to surprise me.

Jim: When we get a chance to have dinner together without the girls. We eat as a family every night so sometimes we let the girls watch television just so we can spend alone time together. I enjoy just sitting at the table and talking to her.

Woo Forever: What came as a surprise to you?

Barb: I don’t think anything has surprised me.

Jim: There’s always an interesting situation happening. It’s very much what I thought it would be.

Woo Forever: What advice would you give to those considering marriage?

Barb: Trust yourself. Trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right. If your partner can’t trust you to trust your gut then you have to re-evaluate. Jim has always needed time to think about whatever the situation is before responding. He’s always willing to sit with it and I respect that.

Jim: It’s a journey not a destination. If you are not working at the relationship you are probably not doing it right. It’s a lot of effort but then again, it’s not a lot of effort. There has to be some realization. You are not going to change your spouse; they will change and you learn to change with them. Don’t try to drag them with you or be dragged.

“You can’t set your relationship on autopilot.” – Jim

Barb: Learn how to facilitate a discussion with your partner. (Barb and Jim are both facilitators.)

Jim: We are open to the idea that we are going to make mistakes; there’s comfort in that. Even if I don’t trust the process I know we will get through it. It’s taught us how to communicate with each.

Woo Forever: How do you get through the hard stuff?

Both: We are not afraid to acknowledge the hard stuff.

Barb: I don’t think I can survive in a relationship without discussing our issues. Jim is the less fearful one.

Woo Forever: What lessons have you learned?

Barb: We can fuck it up individually when it comes to our kids but we come together and figure out how to fix it. We have each other’s back.

Jim: Kids humble you. Whatever grip you thought you had, you don’t.

Woo Forever: What lessons do you still have to learn?

Barb: Figuring out how to manage our finances. Jim manages our finances and I observe. He takes the lead on the finances but I still have to help. How do we do it without pissing each other off?

Jim: Barb’s organizational skills.

Woo Forever: How did you learn to trust each other?

Both: We definitely had to develop trust with each other. There were times when it was tried. Certainly with time there is a comfort in knowing we can take whatever it is and run with it. We have no need to keep track of each other.

Barb: I trust Jim to tell me where he is and where he’s going [in life].

Jim: I’ve learned that sometimes she will make bad choices and I have to let her do that. I don’t want to stop her from growing.

Woo Forever: How do you keep it going?

Barb: I genuinely like him as a person. I keep myself emotionally connected to him.

Jim: We have two kids! She’s really good at keeping me engaged.

Woo Forever: What do you love most about each other?

Barb: How his brain works. We don’t think the same and I need that balance.

Jim: At this point her quirkiness. It’s the little things that piss me off but really don’t.

Woo Forever: What’s been really easy?

Barb: Jim is a feminist, his mother taught him well. He was a feminist before me. I’ve learned a lot from him. Also, we do what’s comfortable for us.  

Jim: Dividing up our roles. We never fell into traditional roles.

Woo Forever: What do you want Jim to always remember?

Barb: I need him because I love him.

Woo Forever: What do you want Barb to always remember?

Jim: I will not let our daughters die from uncleanliness. Also, I will remember to use the toothbrush on the left.

Woo Forever: What do you want your daughters to always remember?

Barb: Make sure you trust the person you are with. Remember how much fun we had as a family.

Jim: It’s okay to make mistakes.

Woo Forever: If you had to choose a song for your partner what would it be?

Both: La Vie en Rose by Louis Armstrong. (Their wedding song)

Woo Forever: What role does friends and family play in your relationship?

Barb: It’s been really interesting over the 19 years to watch relationships around us fall apart. It’s sad, disheartening and causes us to reflect on our marriage. It has a tremendous influence. We see no reason to not work through whatever it is. It’s no judgment it’s just our choice.

Jim: They play a role and they don’t. We moved away from our family. There is an impact from their non-presence though. There has been a gap since my mom passed. I recognize that we may not have as much time as we think. I always thought I would be able to go to my mom when I needed to. Barb has filled that role for me.

Woo Forever: Final thoughts.

Jim: Watching other couples fall apart makes me ask, “What are we doing?” It’s happening all around us. Communication seems to be the main reason for the separation.

Thank you Barb and Jim for sharing apart of who you are. I appreciate the trust and willingness you both have to embrace who you are together and individually. The grace you show each other is what love is about. I wish you both lots of joy for years to come. Love is making mistakes and having the support of your partner (family and friends) to love you through it. Woo Forever.