There’s a stereotype out there that men lose their identities when they get married. Tom Brechlin disagrees.
I was encouraged to write about marriage and I have to tell you that I was skeptical. To be honest, in some ways, I still am. However, my marriage is 39 years young and I guess that’s a story these days. Let’s be honest, “marriage” in our current society isn’t looked at in favorable light.
It truly saddens me how marriage is viewed because for me, being married is GREAT. However, as great as it is, it certainly doesn’t define who I am. There is no question that marriage is a part of me but I am far more than a “married guy.”
Yes, I’ve been married for 39 years. My wife is the only women I have ever been with. I have two grown children and two grandsons. With that alone, I hope you see that I’m more than a “married guy.” I’m also a dad and grandfather (Upa – German for grandfather).
I went to the Chicago Art Institute on a scholarship. I guess someone somewhere saw that I had talent. Although I temporarily took the “starving artist” path, I eventually ended up in a corporate career path which included working on advertising campaigns. I was able to use my creative juices. Throughout the years, I continued to dabble in art and managed to even sell some works.
So far, we’ve got: Husband, dad, grandfather, artist, manager.
I’ve always been attracted to old houses and that’s what we always ended up buying … old houses that required TLC. Thanks to my dad showing me the ropes of homeownership, I managed to renovate three homes. Renovations included basic plumbing, electrical and carpentry. An honorable mention goes to my landscaping skills, which neighbors have always appreciated. Also, another nod to my father for teaching me how to maintain my family’s vehicles.
Now, I’m a husband, dad, grandfather, son, artist, and manager. I know how to do basic carpentry, basic plumbing and electrical work, and landscaping. I can take care of my own car, too. Did I forget to mention that I’m one heck of a cook? I make Mexican food that would knock you off your feet!
Although growing up, camping, fishing, hunting were pretty common, I’d got away from it for a while, or at least until my kids were born. Now a family man, we bought a Bass Boat and a campsite (campground where you own your own camp site). I taught my kids hunting, fishing and the joys of camping.
I can now add a fisherman, hunter and outdoorsman to my list, yes?
The corporate world burnt me out. Emotionally and physically. I had a heart attack that resulted in a quintuple bypass. That made me a survivor. I like adding that one to the list. With five subsequent heart attacks, I know I’ve earned it.
Leaving corporate behind, at the age of 42, I became an addictions counselor in a residential facility for adolescent boys. That was life changing for me. I found it far more rewarding then the corporate career. Now adding addictions counselor to my self-portrait.
A few years ago, I even learned how to snow board with the boys! I also teach Art Therapy and am the CPR and CPI trainer. I’m an active volunteer for an AIDS alliance, PADS homeless shelter, Eucharistic minister, Stephen Minister, CCD teacher and coordinator for CRHP program. Oh, I don’t want to leave out the 5 year long foreign exchange students we’ve sponsored (we’re going to Europe next year to see them all again).
It doesn’t end here. Through the last 40 years, I have been directly and indirectly involved in fathers / men’s rights. I like adding “activist” to this little (!?!?!) list of mine.
Some people seem to think that they lose who they are when they get married. I don’t get that. As you can see, even after 39 years of marriage, I’m definitely more than “a married guy.” Marriage hasn’t defined who I am. It’s simply one facet of my identity.
My life is far from over. I have a lot of plans yet. Glass blowing is high on my list and I’m looking forward to adding “world traveler” next year.
What about you other married guys? You might want to take an inventory because when you do, you’ll find that you are far more than just a “married guy.”
This is a long list but if you want to know who I am and what I am about, I build things. I create things. I restore things–be it lives, family, buildings, or art. I am a builder and a creator. With 39 years of marriage behind me, I can tell you a lot has been built, created, and restored between my wife and I and our family.
Want to define me by that? That, I can live with.