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Lucky in Love

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In celebration of February, the month of all things romantic, we offer four Main Line couples who continue to defy the odds as they revel in all that makes loving relationships worth the (considerable) effort.

Carrie McNamara, 41, owner of Inside & Outside in Wayne
Michael McNamara, 42, COO of Universal Products in Conshohocken
Married 15 years, live in Wayne

How they met …
Carrie: We met when I was 16 and he was 17 on the beach in Sea Isle City. Then we re-met at Villanova when I was a freshman and he was a sophomore. It just so happened that his dorm was right next to mine. I was outside, and he was hanging out his window and said, “Don’t I know you?” He invited me to Sunday-night Mass at Villanova’s chapel, and that was our first date. Eight years later, that’s where he proposed to me.

What they love about each other …
Michael: I was lucky to have married Carrie. She’s very good for me; she keeps me happy and very grounded and positive.

Carrie: When you start dating someone at 18, you have no idea what they’re going to turn out like when they’re in their 40s. Sometimes I look back and I say I can’t believe this is the same person. He’s way better now. I love him way more—just seeing how we’ve both grown up and how we’ve dealt with problems together.

On having five kids …
Carrie: Michael’s from a family of seven, and I’m from a family of three, so it’s averaged. You just start having kids and you get greedy—you want more. We have four sons and a daughter: Michael, 14; Rosie, 11; Charley, 8; Paddy, 5; and Finn, 2. It’s hard to have a lot of kids in this day and age. It takes more of everything. We got pregnant with our fifth, and I had a miscarriage. I felt like I needed to have another baby because I was so sad for that baby we lost. I felt like our family wasn’t complete. After we had Finn, I knew in my heart that we were done.

Michael: Every day is an adventure at our house with the kids. I feel like we have a good home environment. We try to emphasize to our kids that it’s not about being No. 1 in sports or activities; it’s about treating people well, helping people and having compassion for others.

Advice for other couples …
Carrie: Marriage is hard work. After all these years, we definitely know how to press each other’s buttons, but we both really listen and respect each other. We need to be happy with ourselves and as a couple—because if we’re unhappy, the children will be unhappy, and the whole family will fall apart.

Michael: It’s not about who’s right, it’s about getting it right. You have to swallow your pride a bit and know when you’re wrong. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about being happy.

Carrie: You can’t live your life comparing yourself, your marriage or your family to anyone else. You’ll end up unhappy that way.
 

 

Rachael Lange, 31, owner of the event planning and PR firm Lange Consulting
Bob Lange, 31, assistant director of Football Media Services for the Philadelphia Eagles
Married two years, live in Bryn Mawr

How they met …
Bob: We met at Fairfield University (in Connecticut) freshman year when I was dating one of her friends. After graduation, she moved home to Boston and I moved home to Philadelphia. Two years later, she moved here for a job. We bumped into each other again through mutual friends and started dating. We knew each other for eight years before we ever went on a date.

What they love about each other …
Rachael: I love the way he makes people laugh. He has a great personality. He’s really good at surprising me, too. Honestly, it was so much fun to fall in love with him; we just love being with each other. I also like that he really cares about his family.

Bob: She has a great personality. And with me having the personality I have, I couldn’t envision myself with somebody who couldn’t carry on a conversation with me or somebody else. I knew right away she was going to be the perfect wife and the perfect mom, and I couldn’t imagine someone else having my children and being a partner in raising them. She loves her family to death, too. We’re both very protective of our families, and that’s something great to have in common.

What makes their marriage work …
Rachael: We’re very compatible—sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes that’s a bad thing. We’re very similar; we’re both stubborn and bullheaded.

Bob: They’re the same two words I would’ve used. We’re like that because we’re individuals.

On expecting their first child this month …
Rachael: I can’t wait to see how Bob is with the baby. I know he’s going to be a great father. It’s fun living in the area where Bob grew up because I get to see different things from his childhood. I’m looking forward to rekindling those memories and having them be our family’s memories.

Bob: I can’t wait to spend time with my kids and my wife. I have no fear about when we have kids. Granted, I know she’s dealing with it on a totally different level than I am now; she has a constant reminder of what’s going to happen. But my wife doesn’t have the word “fail” in her vocabulary. She won’t let it happen.

Rachael: I have total confidence in Bob that whatever I’m not able to handle, he’ll be able to handle.

Advice for other couples …
Rachael: Always be honest with the other person. Be honest about your feelings.

Bob: The two of you are a married couple. Nobody else lives your life or lives your relationship. So you have to decide what you want together.

Pat Norton, 55, nursery school teacher at St. Christopher’s in Gladwyne
David Broida, 63, retired park and recreation director of Upper Merion Township; now substitute teaching and coaching squash and tennis at the Shipley School
Married four years, live in Haverford

How they met …
David: I have a friend that was a teacher at Tredyffrin-Easttown Middle School, and she asked me to do a presentation on community service organizations. I met Pat, who was a teacher at the school at the time. I was attracted to her and noticed she didn’t have a wedding band on, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. So I asked my friend if she was single and then asked her on a date.

Pat: Our first date was at Fellini Café in Ardmore, and the lighting was very low. I looked at David and thought, “This is a very nice guy who I could go out with again.” But he had a mark on his ear that I thought was a mole, and I was thinking that he should go to a dermatologist to get it checked out. Turned out it wasn’t a mole—it was an earring. I’d never dated anyone with an earring. I was just so happy he didn’t have to go to the dermatologist.

On finding love again …
Pat: David and I both lost our spouses in 1997. That was a common thing we shared. It’s very hard when you’re young and you’re thrown out there into the dating world—and it’s extremely hard to meet people who are widows or widowers. I met a lot of divorced people. I was actually not looking to get married. I just thought it probably wouldn’t happen, but I was open to it. It was a complete surprise.

What they love about each other …
Pat: I love how kind he is to everyone; I love all the things he does for others. He’s gentle and nice. He’s helping everyone all the time; he never stops.

David: She’s adorable; she’s fun; she laughs. She has shared values. She’s very interested in the world and travel.

How to make a second marriage work …
David: I read in a novel once that all relationships are based on compromise and sometimes compromise is everything. That’s very true. If you’re married like I was for 31 years—or 23 years like Pat—and you get remarried, you can’t do things the old way because it’s not going to work. You learn to make compromises to make things work.

Pat: I found I did an awful lot of comparing in the beginning stages of the marriage. That comparison thing is hard. I remember waking up one day and saying to myself, “You’ve got to stop this. This is not your first husband.” I needed to start fresh.

David: Although you finish mourning and you begin to go on with your life, you still continue to miss your spouse. Even 10 years later, you miss your spouse in some ways.

Pat: You do. You never stop missing your first spouse. And because we both have that experience, we understand it.

Advice for other couples …
David: Just follow your heart. When I lost my first wife, I was interested in going out—and I did. I couldn’t imagine that someone would be so afraid to pick up the phone when it rang or go out on a date. Never let an opportunity pass you by. If someone wants to fix you up, go for it. I didn’t go looking for a wife that day, and I struck gold.

Pat: When you’re out there dating again after many years of marriage, you have to be open to things you never thought you’d ever have to deal with. Your marriage is in this little realm where you have your friends and family—and then, all of a
sudden, it’s gone. You have to be willing to try new things and go to new places.

 

Kathie Brown, 66, and Jerry Brown, 64, partners in the PR firm Business Art and Promotion
Married 39 years, live in Malvern

How they met …
Kathie: We met when Jerry was an industrial arts teacher and I was an art teacher at General Wayne Junior High School. I had a print club, and we were making a calendar. Jerry had a print shop, and he welcomed us to use it for the project. We had our first date soon after.

Jerry: I wasn’t actively looking for a girlfriend. We stumbled into one another, and we were both ready at the same time. We were at the right stages of our lives. I proposed two months after our first date, and we got married three months after that.

How they make working together work …
Kathie: I started my own public relations business when my children were small, and Jerry would come home at night and help me. He quit his job to work with me because he saw a need in the business. We’ve been working together 13 years.

Jerry: Our kids can’t believe we work together all day, then we’re with each other all night. We’re together all the time. We both do different things and we have strengths in different areas. When I’m working on something and Kathie criticizes it, usually she’s right and it makes for a better project. I’m not sure if the reverse is necessarily true.

Kathie: Yes, it is. We can be honest with each other because he’s my husband and I’m his wife. But if I worked with another person in this office, I’m not sure I could be quite as candid.

What they taught their kids about love and marriage …
Kathie: I think we’ve shown them the importance of goodness and kindness. I think we’ve tried to instill those things in them. They’ve seen us as individuals striving to do our very best and be honest and fair. And we’ve always had a lot of fun here with our family.

Jerry: We’ve always demonstrated affection for one another. We’ve never had a lot of fighting going on around here.

On what they love about each other …
Kathie: They’re the same qualities I admired when I met him. He’s funny—sometimes he’s too funny or thinks he’s funny. He enjoys life a lot. He’s very capable; he can do so many things that I can’t do. The same things I chose him for in the beginning I still admire.

Jerry: I’ve always admired her for her ability to do the things she’s doing. She was the best art teacher anybody ever knew because she didn’t consider it a job—she would’ve done it whether she got paid or not. And she still has that commitment to her work today. She’s also been able to predict what’s going to happen with the kids better than I ever have.

Advice for other couples …
Jerry: Make a commitment and realize that there’s going to be rough spots. And don’t quit after the first 15 rough spots. You have to get a history together.

Kathie: You have to learn to truly listen to the other person—especially when you’re young. It’s not all a bed of roses. There are challenges with things like the direction of your careers and children, but you can’t give up on it.
 

 

 

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