Lesa Knollenberg
freelance writer in
madison, wi

On being married for 25 years...


During college, I found this quote from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian mystic, guru and philosopher. It’s based on the teachings of Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher who studied religion, mathematics and completely skewed my high school GPA with his stupid theorem. I found the quote from Rajneesh in some new-age magazine, and although I knew nothing of his philosophy, something in his words about choosing friendship rang true.


You cannot choose your father, you cannot choose your mother, you cannot choose your family -- but you can choose your friend. You can choose your woman, you can choose your man -- that too is an extension of friendship.


One who has some grace, who has some flowering, who has some quality around him, who has an energy field of virtue. By 'virtue' is not meant the righteous, no; not the 'holier-than-thou', no. By ‘virtue’ is meant one in whose company you suddenly start feeling a tremendous well-being; in whose company, in whose vibe, something starts dancing in you; whose presence helps you to soar high.”

So even before I learned of dream boards, I created one for myself. I kept this little poem in the lower right hand corner of my bulletin board in the dorms, and used it like a measuring stick when I encountered a new friend or began a new relationship.

I’m proud to say that the measuring stick worked: the friendships that I cultivate to this day are with honorable people. And singularly, the man I decided to spend my life with fits my dream board perfectly. He started out as my friend, and I got to know him as a person first, rather than a date. I saw him mature as an individual (including one unfortunate night in college after too much Jägermeister). I got to know his family. I saw him go out on dates with other girls and we conferred after each one. We spent a lot of time together, and pretty soon I found myself choosing time with him over almost any other. He says he was sure about us early on, but I liked to keep him guessing. On paper, we’re a terrible match: I’m emotional, he has about two emotions, kind of like a toggle switch. I’m quick to anger and quick to forgive. It takes a great deal to make him mad (believe me, I’ve tested it), and then he festers after the fight. I’m a talker, and he’s, well, not. I have only brothers, and he has only sisters, and we often feel like we are, indeed, borne of different planets.

But it occurs to me that I definitely chose a friend who has true grace, a true energy field of virtue. This man has virtue coming out his ears. (No hair yet, thankfully). He was in a car accident recently, and found himself in the middle of the intersection, holding a man’s hand while a crying four-year old nestled in his neck. The man called later to thank Hubby for his compassion, and that feels right.

In his company I feel not only a tremendous well-being, but I feel like I’m the person I’m supposed to be. He has an inner goodness that garners respect, and I can’t imagine a better role model for Son A and Son B. He’s always authentic, is a firm believer in truth and integrity, and has killer blue eyes.

I want to be clear. This does not mean he’s perfect. For one thing, he uses way too many commas for my taste. And mind you, we haven’t hit the 25 year mark yet. We still have six months, and the jury is still out. The man can be incredibly annoying and a major smart ass, so we’ll see.

An anecdote to prove my point: I got him a heart rate monitor as a gift once. He was trying it out, looking at the watch display, when I approached him about a solemn subject. I clearly articulated my thoughts on the serious issue, and when I finished, he was still looking at his watch. He tempered the heaviness with his usual dry humor: “Wow. Listening to you isn’t a complete waste of time after all. I just burned eight calories!”

It’s just a tiny example. Believe me, there are more. I’ve had over 25 years to warm up to his specific brand of hilarity. But after all those years, I feel like we’ve softened our edges and gained an appreciation for each other’s quirks. We still choose to spend time together, and he still makes me feel a tremendous sense of well-being. I hope I do the same for him. Most importantly, we’re still friends.

The final line of the poem is this:


So I don’t plan to. Just don’t tell my husband. I like to keep him guessing.