Based on his experiences during his nearly forty-five-year marriage to his wife, Sandra, who died after a battle with cancer, Scott communicates the qualities of a sound marriage. In I Love You … I Love You More!, he discusses ten important insights against the backdrop of the issues every marriage faces during the cycle of life, including:
- Living life day by day
- Addressing the joys and challenges of children and marriage
- Understanding how careers affect marriage
- Growing old
- Dealing with illness and death
- Tackling legal issues
As Scott reflects on his marriage to the love of his life, he imparts valuable insights to all couples seeking meaningful and satisfying relationships.
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About the Author
Robert H. Scott Jr. earned a bachelor�s degree in economics from Kenyon College and a law degree from Duke University. Scott is the author of How to Keep What You Make: The Secrets of Money Management.
I Love You ... I Love You More!10 Secrets for a Successful Marriage and a Satisfying Life
By Robert H. Scott Jr.
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Robert H. Scott Jr.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Life Well Lived
My wife, Sandy, was a teacher. No, not just a teacher, she was an educator in the truest sense of that word. She cared deeply for her students and went far beyond what was required of her to make sure that they had the support and direction they needed as they moved from childhood into adulthood. It was a pleasure to hear her talk about her students and to see her in the classroom, on the playing fields, and in their everyday lives.
She gave to her students the kind of love and attention she gave to me as her husband and to our two children as they grew up and as they became adults. No student or family could ask for more. Despite only a one day notice, and in the midst of a terrible ice storm, over three hundred parents, teachers, students, and friends, many coming from long distances, braved the storm to attend her visitation. It was humbling and heartwarming to see just how much she had touched the lives of others.
We developed early in our marriage a "rules of thirds" for our life together and while this was only a very rough plan of how we wanted our lives to go - and we found lives never go as planned - we were fortunate how much did work out for us. Our plan, if given a full lifetime, was to spend the first third getting our education, the next third raising our family and working at our careers and hopefully earning and saving enough to enjoy the last third of our lives. The final third we hoped also to divide into three parts as well with one third spent with our family and traveling and enjoying each other, one third managing our financial affairs, and one third devoted to pro bono and charitable projects.
Many, even if this is their life plan, will find it difficult to achieve these goals. To have the final part of your life to devote to family and good works will require a level of sacrifice (or some very good luck). Living below your means to accumulate what is needed for later in life is not easy and sacrificing a level of enjoyment in those middle years makes sense only if you can still have enough to enjoy that time of life. Sadly we have seen those who scrimp and save excessively only to find that illness or premature death prevents them from enjoying those savings in later years. As with so much in life a balance is needed between saving and enjoying the present.
Because of choices we made, which are discussed in a later chapter, we were able to fulfill much of what we wanted to do with our lives. Even though Sandy did not choose to retire when she could have done so, devoted as she was to her teaching, she was in a position in the later years to work on a major project. That project was the recognition and treatment of learning disorders, ADD,ADHD, and dyslexia. She recognized that these conditions in many of her students were not being properly identified, if at all, and even fewer were being treated correctly. I was able to assist her in this work and between us we devoted many years to this project and saw great success with our work. I mention this because often the projects that are the most meaningful are ones that you come across and which give you the chance to add real meaning to your life. There is no end to worthwhile projects of this sort and I can only hope that you find meaningful ones in your lives because devotion to them will give you great satisfaction and contribute significantly to a life well lived.
While my wife devoted herself to her educational projects I spent time on various other projects, including an interest in underwater archaeology working with National Geographic, Bob Ballard of Woods Hole, the University of Missouri and the government of Cyprus. This interest developed from an unusual source, a summer short course in international law at Oxford University. While there I ran across an obscure book from the late 1800's about the loss of half the original collection of antiquities forming the base of the antiquities collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The collector of these antiquities, General-Count Luigi Palma di Cesnola, had a colorful and interesting career, including being the first Director of the Metropolitan. A civil war hero, with the medal of honor to his credit, and a contemporary of Schliemann (who discovered Troy in Turkey and other major archaeological sites in Greece and Asia Minor) di Cesnola went about uncovering significant discoveries in Cyprus from the earliest bronze and iron ages. The more I learned the more interested I became and this lead to numerous contacts and research that identified the location of the lost artifacts and an effort, that has now stretched over twenty years, in seeing them recovered for Cyprus. In addition to this project, I spent time in my home town rediscovering Crystal Cave, one of the world's largest geode caves, exploring it with the local and state historical societies (via ROV video since it remains entirely underwater). These are only a couple of examples of projects that I devoted myself to after retiring from practicing law. I give them as examples of how projects worth devoting yourself to can come from unusual places.
As a result of work Sandy and I did together, and that we did separately in our own areas of interest, we had interesting and fulfilling lives devoted not only to ourselves, our marriage, and our children but helping others where and when we were able.
Your own interests and opportunities will be much different from ours but it is hoped that you will find a way to balance those things you must do to survive and thrive during your lifetime with other things that give meaning and enjoyment. If so then you will be able to say you have lived a worthwhile and meaningful life.
In a later chapter the difficulty in planning over many years is discussed and how often what is planned does not come to pass. This said, to have a fulfilling life it is important to consider what is really important in your life and to devote yourself to a life well lived. This may be raising a family successfully, having a successful career and devoting part of your life to worthwhile projects. Deciding what you can and - perhaps even more importantly - what you cannot do will go a long way to making your life meaningful. Trying to do it all or have it all is seldom a formula for a successful life.
Chapter TwoWhat Makes a Marriage a Success?
For those couples who have difficulties in their marriages- and in a day when marriages are thrown away like Big Mac® wrappers, with about as much thought, and where couples have his, theirs and who knows whose children to deal with - it may come as a surprise that in our nearly forty five years together Sandy and I passed very few angry words between us, much less ever even thinking about not being a couple for life. I can count on both hands the number of times we were truly angry with each other and those times never lasted more than a few hours. I attribute this to several things and hope that focus on these things will be helpful to couples in trouble in their relationship.
First, we were as much great friends as lovers. A strong friendship with your mate is the first requirement for having a lasting marriage. Hormonal love only takes a marriage so far. For marriage to not just endure but to thrive it requires companionship and friendship. Sandy was truly my very best friend in this life. We were life partners and, in the biblical sense, we truly did become one.
Second, we nearly always put the other person first in our relationship. Not that we could not be selfish or overlook their needs while focused on our own, we were not that saintly! But we did care deeply about the feelings of each other and would never purposefully hurt the feelings of the other. While we might have disagreed from time to time, we never lost sight of each other's needs and never let those disagreements get out of control.
Third, it is commonly said never to let anger go overnight and, while that was not a rule in our marriage, I cannot recall a time we did not resolve a problem before turning in for the night.
Fourth, communicating not only "feelings" but what you want to do in life, how you want to raise and educate children, how you want to handle finances, your career, and all the other daily aspects of your lives. Not a fancy sit down session, or doing dinner without TV, but day to day talking when need or opportunity arises.
In our marriage we almost never disagreed on how to raise our children. We continuously communicated about raising children. Indeed the only area of any significant disagreement came in this area. Sandy believed in protecting children from any difficult times we might be going through. I, on the other hand, believed that without scaring them they needed to know when there were problems. That way when I told them things were ok they would believe me. In the end she agreed with the approach and while we did not totally agree we did reach something of an understanding. I would let the kids know what was happening but try to do so in a way that did not scare them or cause them to dwell on problems. As a result I was always careful just how much and how I told them things I felt they needed to know. But with this very minor exception, I cannot recall a time we did not agree on what to do or how best to help our children.
Base your relationship on friendship as much as hormonal love. Keep arguments under control and never let them get out of hand and when possible never overnight. Keep as much focus on your partner's needs as your own. Always keep lines of communication open.
Chapter ThreeLiving Life Day by Day
If Sandy and I learned one thing in our marriage it was that while we made plans for the future things seldom turned out as we had planned. Instead of fighting those changes we learned to enjoy every day and to expect changes. While we still planned ahead, we did so knowing how much those plans would likely change.
Telling our story of how our life changed from what we had planned will hopefully illustrate how little in your own planning may come to pass. Dale Carnegie in his book on worry suggests you list the top ten things you are worried about and then put it aside for a year. After that year take it out and see how many (or how few) of these actually came to pass. His point was that often very few of these concerns turn out as feared. Approached with a spirit of adventure plans that do not go as expected do not have to be a disappointment but a challenge and opportunity.
Sandy and I were opposites in many ways. I am more introverted while she was more extroverted. She was highly disorganized in many aspects of her life e.g., kitchen cabinets come to mind. They often looked like a squirrel had been let loose in them! I, on the other hand, am highly organized. I attribute it to four years of private school requiring discipline and organization whereas she attributed it to OCD! I am a planner, with my lists and outlines out into the future. Sandy was more extemporaneous.
When my son was married a few years ago the Priest conducting the ceremony in his talk before performing the marriage talked of a couple who on their first Christmas went looking for the perfect Christmas tree. They were late picking out the tree and the lots were nearly bare. The tree seller sizing up the situation pulled out two trees. Neither of them perfect but they each had one side that was perfect. They put the two trees together with the best sides facing out and what before were two imperfect trees, when combined, made one perfect tree.
Obviously the point of the story is that none of us are perfect but in the right marriage when two become one it can result in a perfect fit of a marriage. In my son's case I believe that to be true and I certainly know it was true with Sandy and me. We complimented each other. Where I had weaknesses Sandy had strengths, and vice versa.
But knowing if the differences will compliment or corrupt a relationship is a much more difficult thing to know. Most counselors I am sure would urge couples to know each other well before their commitment to marriage. We certainly have urged our children to follow this course. But in Sandy's and my case it was a whirlwind romance lasting all of six summer weeks after she had finished college and before I was finishing my last year of Duke law school. Our first date was something of a disaster since the meal selected was one she hated. Indeed what made her accept a second date I will never know but for which I will be eternally thankful. And a second led to a third and a fourth. Before we knew it summer was coming to an end, and I quickly proposed. She accepted and had the ring on her finger before we parted, for her to teach a year in Warrenton High School in Warrenton, Missouri, and for me to return to North Carolina to finish my law degree.
The year apart made us stronger as a couple and as the Vietnam War was going on and I had a commission as a JAG officer and was wanted on active duty as soon as possible we had to have a brief wedding and honeymoon. Not what we would have planned. So a whirlwind romance led to a whirlwind wedding and honeymoon. But through it all we became more and more devoted to each other.
I could say that our first year of marriage was all wine and roses but that was not true. It was also certainly not all vinegar and dandelions. Any new marriage I am sure most couples find is a struggle, putting aside your individual interests looking to truly become one as a partnership in life. Even in this process I can recall so few moments where we failed to support each other and to look at each day as a new opportunity to share our love and enjoy all that was around us. Planning for what was ahead for us, making and enjoying friends, traveling from our Air Base in Middle Georgia to surrounding areas like Charleston, Savannah, Hilton Head, as well as to Florida and Jamaica while going to Tennessee for clothesline art shows on Lookout Mountain or to Gatlinburg for winter skiing and summer coolness. Floating the rivers of Georgia in our two person kayak and taking our dog, Beda, along on all of this. But it was the day to day enjoyment that gave us the most pleasure. Picking out our first couch, buying our first desk, our first color TV set, or just sharing dinners with friends.
Sandy had not planned on teaching after our marriage but the day we arrived in Georgia the high school approached her as they needed a business teacher for the school year that had just started. So for our three years in Georgia she taught and enjoyed being part of the education of young people. Something that was to become her life's work.
Laughter and a sense of humor go a long way to making a marriage a happy one. Sandy always wanted to sit in on one of my trials and we were having a general court martial of an airman who had taken advantage of a husband going into combat in Vietnam (he had been on the air crew in this officer's flight to S.E. Asia) to seduce the wife. Seldom did adultery charges get brought but this one called for prosecution and I was the prosecutor. The second day of the trial the military judge asked me to look around to see if I had any witnesses in court. I did so but there were none present. At the lunch break he apologized for asking, "I was concerned that the good looking blonde in the back row was the one involved in the adultery." Clearing my throat of a chuckle, I said "No, your honor ... that was my wife." Seldom have I seen that shade of red on the face of relatively pale white man. Sandy thought it hilarious. Being able to enjoy laughter together in your marriage will go a long way to making for a happy marriage and life.
Excerpted from I Love You ... I Love You More! by Robert H. Scott Jr. Copyright © 2011 by Robert H. Scott Jr.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter One A Life Well Lived....................1
Chapter Two What Makes a Marriage a Success?....................5
Chapter Three Living Life Day by Day....................7
Chapter Four Marriage and Children, the Joys and Challenges....................15
Chapter Five Careers and Marriage....................19
Chapter Six Adolescence to College....................23
Chapter Seven Growing Older, Dealing with Empty Nest and Aging Parents....................27
Chapter Eight Challenge of Illness....................31
Chapter Nine Legal Issues as We Grow Older....................39
Chapter Ten Dealing with Loss of your Life Partner....................43
Santa's Secret Addendum....................63