Reminiscing on our 10th wedding anniversary

Me and Gina on our 10th anniversary. Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. Wow, 10 years. A lot has happened in the decade since Gina and I stood under that chuppah. Here are a few things that stand out for me. I’ll probably come up with more after this is published so I don’t make any promises that this post captures all the highlights.

When it all began

I met Gina in November 2003. I think it was around the 17th but that remains a little controversial. Our first date was a blind date facilitated by our mothers who met through a widows’ group (Gina’s dad passed away in 2001, mine in 2003). I had recently broken up with a girlfriend and my father had passed away from pancreatic cancer a few months earlier. I decided to spend some time on my own for a while.

My mother called me and told me about this woman she met (Lindy, my then-future mother in law) who, as it turned out, had a single daughter who her mother was pretty keen to introduce to someone. I wasn’t really interested but told my mother than if this girl is/was a Sagittarius, Leo or Ares, I’d meet her. If not, I wasn’t interested.

This may sound very weird or hippy but I’d had a few bad experiences dating people in other signs so this seemed like a reasonable compromise to me. My mother thought I was a bit difficult (she may have said I was “full of sh*t”) but she said she’d find out.

My mother called me back soon after and told me that this girl is/was a Leo. I’d basically committed myself so I agreed and took down her phone number. I called her, introduced myself and we arranged to meet at JB’s Corner in Melrose Arch a few days later. At the time I had a beard and when I told Gina this she apparently thought her mother had set her up with some religious guy (oy!).

I wasn’t sure what to expect so I staked out the restaurant from a public square across from it until she arrived. This was more to brace myself in case she wasn’t quite what I was expecting (whatever that was).

When I saw her she didn’t disappoint at all.

We started talking and didn’t stop until after we were asked to leave the restaurant when they closed. The highlight of that evening was our discussion about how Star Trek: Nemesis really disappointed both of us. A fellow Star Trek (and Star Wars) fan? I was hooked.

We had a second date a few days later (when she opened her door she was even more beautiful than I remembered from our first date). That was our beginning.

Then she said “yes!”

We dated for about a year and a half before we finally got engaged. I think about relationships in terms of an ocean metaphor. If your relationship’s depths are calm and life affirming, you’re off to a great start. You’ll need those quiet depths when the surface becomes stormy to keep you grounded and help you through difficult times.

I wrote about how I proposed a day or two afterwards:

We’re engaged!

I really enjoyed our wedding (if you want to really dive into the day, here are the photos).

Rabbi Rose married us at the Waverly Shul. I’m glad we did it there.

My bride was absolutely stunning. I think she actually took my breath away when I first saw her in her wedding dress just before the marriage ceremony. I know grooms often say something like this but she really was (and still is) beautiful.

Our wedding reception was at the HOD Hall in Orchards, Johannesburg.

We started our new life together with our honeymoon in the Drakensberg. We stayed at the Drakensberg Sun which is one of my favourite hotels/resorts in South Africa. It was a terrific break although I took my laptop in case I had to work (not the best decision but I had started my own business about 6 months before).

Starting a business is tough and I remember when I decided to leave Werksmans and go on my own how Gina supported me. She supported me for the 9 years I had my own businesses, through all the tough times that affected our family. I didn’t always appreciate how much she supported me when the easier thing to say could have been “Stop this and go find a job”.

The early years

I remember at least one conversation with Gina, some time around our wedding, in which she informed me that she expected to be in the labour ward a year after our wedding. I was a little taken aback but my wife can be pretty convincing. As it turns out we fell pregnant (by “we” I mean I made a contribution, she did all the real work) in early 2007. It was possibly during our first wedding anniversary weekend back at the Drakensberg Sun.

Aside from going off chicken entirely for most of her pregnancy, it all went fairly well. At least from my perspective.

Aaron arrived a few weeks early and, within the space of a couple days, my great love affair expanded to two people.

Our first year with Aaron was probably fairly typical for new parents: a lot of panic, having no idea what to do when he cried or had colic and also beginning to appreciate having this incredible little person in our lives.

2008 turned out to be a tough year with the Great Recession but we made it through with a few emotional bumps along the way. I think I learned a lot about how to deal with challenging times towards the end of the year and realised (a little more) what an incredible my wife is in tough times that doubtless stressed her out too.

Me and Gina at a Jewish Entrepreneurs event in 2009

2009 was an expansion year. Mostly for me, I seem to have ballooned a little. Gina, on the other hand, was as beautiful as ever.

One of the highlights of 2010 was a weekend getaway to the Westcliff which Gina won for us. It was quite an experience usually not for mortals like us.

Of course, 2010 was also the year our family grew again. We found out that we were pregnant again and we dubbed our baby “theSQL” (it is both geeky and a little funny).

Our little girl, Faith, was born in December that year (just a few days after my birthday). She brought a new dynamic to our family and joined her proud brother as my new great love.

Our life seemed to start moving really quickly after Faith arrived. I was trying to build a business and we had two growing kids, each with their own personalities. Just as figuring out how to be a good father to our children, being a decent husband to Gina has been an ongoing process. If anything I have learned how I let my own issues get in the way of a better relationship with my family.

In 2013 I was diagnosed with diabetes and Gina practically changed our kitchen over to diabetic friendly foods almost overnight. My diagnosis was a shock to me but she helped me adapt and probably did more to shift me onto a healthier diet than I even realised.

She helped me bring my blood glucose levels down to normal levels within a few months and I managed to remain pretty well controlled until late last year when something in my body changed and my levels rose again. We’re going back to some basics with my diet and, once again, she is making changes behind the scenes to improve our diet to help me regain control over my diabetes.

Finally home in Israel where we belong

2015 was a challenging year. It was our first year in our new home in Israel and the changes weren’t always easy to process. It was also a year that really emphasised for me just how important my family is to me. My wife and our kids are basically what my life is all about. Practically everything else is in support of our new life here.

Being a husband takes a lot of work. For me, most of that work was on myself because I have a tendency to let my inner Crazy really get in the way of better communication with my wife. Communication really is so important. I see the difference when I get it right. Those are the times when we are back in sync like we were right in the beginning (and many times since then) when we agreed about that Star Trek movie.

This time 10 years ago we were at the Protea Hotel on Corlett Drive trying to stay awake long enough to eat an early supper. We didn’t get through the meal and passed out soon afterwards on our hotel room. The next morning we woke early and drove to the mountains to start our honeymoon and our new life together.

Every morning is an opportunity for me to be a better father and a better husband. I haven’t always made it easy for my family but if there is something worth working for every day, every moment, it is that. I hope we have many more periods of 10 years together. Each of the moments that make up those years are opportunities to spend with my wife and our children and that is what matters most to me.

Happy anniversary, angel. Much, with tons and stuff.

אני אוהב אותך, ממש!

By Paul

Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at Automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

14 comments

  1. That brought a tear to my eye. Absolutely wonderful – wonderful that you can say those things about someone you are bound up with. Lovely!

    1. Paul Jacobson – Modiin, Israel – Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at @automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.
      Paul says:

      Thank you David.

    1. Paul Jacobson – Modiin, Israel – Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at @automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.
      Paul says:

      Weird! I just checked it and it seems ok.

  2. Paul Jacobson – Modiin, Israel – Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at @automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.
    Paul says:

    One of my friends gave me a long overdue wake-up call to play more with our kids recently. I was at a local park with our kids, along with my friend and his boys.

  3. Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. It really doesn’t feel like Gina and I have been married for 11 years.

    It feels like we stood under that chuppah just a few short years ago but then I realise we have a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Then there was also the conversation I had with our kids this morning over breakfast where they pointed out that I was just 30 when we were married.
    So, ok, I’ll concede it has been 11 years. Still, it doesn’t feel that long, especially when I look at my wife and how young she still seems.
    I won’t go into our story and reminisce about the last decade or so in this post. I did that last year so I’ll just point you to that post if you are curious about how we met and how we grew as a family since then.
    I realized that I omitted one little detail in that 10th wedding anniversary post. I knew from the start that Gina would become my wife. I knew it from around the time of our second date.
    What I have been thinking about this morning is just how much Gina has taught me about being a better husband, friend and father to our children.
    I can’t say I have always listened to the wisdom that she has shared over the years. At the same time, those times when I do pay attention leave me a better person for having done so.
    Gina is a wonderful mother and a very patient and understanding wife. I have probably driven her completely crazy many times in our 13 years together (we met in November 2003) and she has still stuck by me and supported me through many tough times.
    We are slowly building a new life here in Israel and I can’t think of anyone else I would want to do that with. We have two amazing children who are the embodiment of so many of our qualities. Just as Gina helps me become a better husband and friend to her, our children challenge us to be better parents to them.
    For my part, I am really glad she said yes all those years ago and that she remains my partner in this crazy adventure.
    Happy anniversary, angel. Love you tons, with much!

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  4. Today Gina and I have been married for 12 years. I’ve had the opportunity to wake up next to her almost every morning in those years (well, and a year or two before that too ).  I’ve loved my wife since our second date. I’ve driven her crazy in all that time. We’ve raised two amazing kids over the years, and I have her to thank for that.I hope I have many more opportunities to pay tribute to my long-suffering, immensely patient, and beautiful partner. She and the kids are the loves of my life, and I am a better person with them in my life.

    Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

    Our afternoon at the Tel Aviv Port

    Processed with VSCOcam with c6 preset

    Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

    Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

    Our last two anniversaries:

    Reminiscing on our 10th wedding anniversary
    Celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary

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