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By the time she met and married Mike Rivers, Jackie had had her fill of the singles scene. She couldn't wait to quit her job in a Medicare office, buy a house, and have children. On the other hand, Mike, a trailer mechanic, saw marriage as a chance to escape his parents' rules, to pool resources, and as an opportunity for him and Jackie to make love any time they wanted. "I figured we'd keep on having fun, going to discos and the beach," Mike told us in our April 1988 issue.
He assumed Jackie had the same idea -- until she complained that he was acting like a little boy who refused to settle down. "I want a normal family life," Jackie told us. "I don't want to wake up in 10 years and realize I'm still not a mother, still living in a rental apartment, still working, and still trying to satisfy a husband who wants to spend all his time at the beach or in bed!"
On the verge of divorce after only two years of being wed, Jackie and Mike sought help from Evelyn Greenblatt, a board-certified clinical social worker in Branford, Connecticut. The couple, now both 48, recently celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary. We got in touch with them today to find out how they kept their marriage together:
Mike: Back when we got married, I just wanted to kick up my heels. But having fun with Jackie means something different now that we've brought up kids together.
Jackie: Counseling helped me realize that Mike wasn't the only one who had some growing up to do. I needed to face the financial reality of having kids. We now have two wonderful sons, Douglas, 19, and Jamie, 15. When the boys were little, I agreed to work the night shift, and Mike worked the day shift, so we never had to put the kids in daycare, which was important to me.
Mike: It wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it.
Now, Jackie works from home processing insurance claims, and Mike has moved up to supervisor at his company. Mike was recently diagnosed with Ménière's Disease, a disturbance of the inner ear that causes extreme dizziness, nausea, and hearing loss. The disease can be progressive and there is no cure.
Mike: Jackie's support has made this disease bearable; she lets me talk about my fears and frustrations. She's just there for me.
Jackie: We'll take this one step at a time, together as always. I learned over the years that give and take is what it means to be in a healthy, adult relationship.
Mike: We've been having a lot more fun lately, too, with the boys old enough to stay home alone or with relatives. We took a trip to Las Vegas last year, and we'd like to make it an annual event. A lot of my friends have gotten divorced. I feel so lucky that Jackie and I have stayed together -- and that we got past that immature stage. We've grown up together, and we'll be together till death do us part.