With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.
Not many couples can say they have a president to thank for their marriage, but Breck and Elizabeth can. During the gas shortages in 1978, President Jimmy Carter put limits on who could buy gas for their cars on certain days. Elizabeth forgot to fill up her car and ran out of gas, so she turned to fellow law school classmate Breck for a lift to the library that night. According to Elizabeth, “If Jimmy Carter hadn’t declared odd and even gas days, we might not have gotten together!”
Instead of studying, the two spent hours in the coffee room, chatting away. But there were still a few kinks to work out early on. Both Elizabeth and Breck were recently divorced. They had been dating for a month when one of Breck’s housemates took Elizabeth aside and said he thought Breck should really be playing the field instead of getting serious so soon after his last marriage. That night on the way home, Elizabeth tried to slow things down with Breck, saying it was too soon for both of them. But Breck wasn’t having any of it. He pulled over to the side of the road and said, “Shut up, Elizabeth, I want to marry you!”
And that was that. A year and a half later, the two were married, and their friends and family all gathered to wish them well. That opinionated housemate of Breck’s? Even he got on board. Elizabeth says, “The ones who mattered to us had no problem with it.”
Breck offered Elizabeth a choice: an engagement ring or a honeymoon. She chose the latter and was pleasantly surprised when Breck planned a trip to Ireland to celebrate their wedding. Thirty-two years, two kids, and a few more dogs later, Elizabeth and Breck now enjoy traveling together, and have returned to Ireland six more times since their honeymoon!
Having both been married before, Breck and Elizabeth learned a few things before walking down the aisle again. “In my first marriage I was too quick to judge and be ready to argue about things,” says Elizabeth. Breck says, “You need someone there to be your friend. When times get bad, you’ve got friendship to lean back on.” Breck’s best trick for a happy marriage has been to maintain his sense of humor: “Even at 2am when life gets a little bit raw, you have to remember your sense of humor. You may not be able to laugh about it at the time, but you’ve got to try to set it up so you can laugh at it later.”