John (age 22) and Karen (19) on June 21, 1980
Karen Elizabeth Giles Miller has many roles …
- “Best friend” to John since 1976
- “Mrs. Miller” since 1980.
- “Mom” to seven children (four from the stork and three by adoption)
- “Grandma Nonnie” to Joshua, Becca Boo, and McKenna
- “Girlfriend” to many women; “mentor/teacher” to several
- “Co-author” of Parenting the QBQ Way
- “Birthday girl” on Sunday, Oct 20th
And one other title that fits her well:
My polar opposite.
It was 1976, disco was hot, and I was eighteen when I asked the cutest 16-year-old girl I’d ever seen if she would go to a movie. When Karen said yes, the journey began. After I earned my Cornell University diploma and she her registered nursing degree, we married on the first day of summer 1980 and moved west. The Big Corporation had offered me a job!
Karen was 19, I was 22.
Little did we know how different we are.
Over the next six years, we lived in Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, and then Minnesota again. It was there that I saw a newspaper ad seeking a “high-energy, successful salesperson” to sell management and sales training programs to Twin Cities’ organizations. Truthfully, I’d never sold before—but I knew I was high energy!
Karen said, “Go ahead and take the job, make the career change. We’ll be OK.” She’s stood with me ever since.
Even though we’re really different.
How different are we? Well …
- She’s a “feeler.” I’m a “thinker.” When we took a personality profile test, I scored a zero on the feelings scale. (Funny, it didn’t bother me.)
- When we donate to charity, she gives time, energy, and labor. I want to write a check.
- When there are choices to be made, she asks, “How will this impact others?’’ I ask, “How will it impact … me?!”
- I make fast decisions—sometimes wrong. She makes less fast decisions—rarely wrong.
- I like to plan next week. She likes to plan tomorrow.
- I think pets can be given away if they become inconvenient. She views them as “part of the family,” believing they stay with us … till death do us part!
- I’m verbal. She’s not. I process externally. She processes internally, where her private rivers run deep. Studies may show that women use more words in a day than men, but that’s not the case in our home. Not. Even. Close.
- She needs friends—outside the home. I don’t. She is my friend … which can be quite, shall we say, suffocating for her.
Our differences are even reflected in what our four grown kids—all married now—call to talk to us about. If it is emotional support and a “feelings” oriented conversation they want, they call Mom. If they need to make banking, planning, or logistical decisions, it’s me.
So, we’re different. Different enough that there’s no denying that our differences have caused marital tension, verbal conflict, and stress through the years. But here is one thing we have always been aligned in:
Our marriage is forever.
You see, on June 21, 1980, when Karen and I each said “I do,” what we were really saying is this marriage will remain … till death do us part.
Even though we’re different.
Nowadays, some think that’s retro. We think it’s right.
Plus, who else would put up with me?!?
So, Happy Birthday to the cutest—and wisest—fiftysomething I know. And thanks for saying yes!
Pssst … if you want to email Karen a Happy Birthday note, just use Karen@QBQ.com.
How are you and your “life partner” different? How have you overcome those differences? What about those you work with, what have you done to collaborate in spite of your differences?