May 5th marks 19 years that Lisa Alberino and I have been married. We met in 1999, in Las Vegas of all places, and have been together ever since. In that time, we have seen more than most as a couple. We have moved across the country… twice. We have raised three children (four if you ask Lisa) and we have been a part of successes, failures, ups and downs, love and loss throughout this incredible stretch.
Our ride has been anything but boring.
And throughout these 19 years I have learned and continue to learn from many people. Mentors, family members, coworkers have been my professors… but Lisa has given me a PhD in life. When I decided it was time to settle down I wanted to assure that I had someone who was going to exceed all of the attributes that we expect in a spouse, but I also wanted someone who challenged me across all levels. Someone who championed me, but wouldn’t do so blindly. Someone who I could trust with my personal and business affairs. I found that, clearly, and after 2 decades of companionship and 19 years of marriage, I thought it only fitting that I share with you the 19 things that my wife has taught me.
These lessons, although sometimes difficult to learn, have stuck with me… and at 50, my only fear is that I have much more to learn.
So, sit back and soak up the wisdom that I was handed by one of the finest humans I have ever met.
1. Patience is a virtue. You’ve heard this before… nothing new. But it couldn’t be truer. Lisa has an excess of patience where I have very little at times. She is so calming and patient that when I am truly frazzled, I simply call her to hear her voice. It has the same calming effect as her actions. My biggest flaw is her greatest strength and I remind myself of that when I feel like frustration is boiling over.
2. Ambition is sexy. Amazingly enough, this was the #1 thing I was looking for in a partner. Someone who would attack the world and not rely on me entirely to row the boat. Yes, physical chemistry had to be there. Absolutely, a love for the family unit was a must. No doubt, someone who shared my values and interests was high on the list as well. However, I was never able to express just how important ambition is until I heard Lisa describe it this way. And, of course, she was spot on.
3. Versatility is a super power. I use this phrase often and I see it embodied in her as this competitive dancer, financial master, entrepreneurial spirit, gold-medal mom, award-winning athlete and small business owner showcases this every day. She is no one-trick pony and I am amazed at what she accomplishes even to this day. Because of this, I try and surround myself with people of the same ilk. Friends, employees, you name it, anyone who can showcase versatility is worth their weight in gold… this is a great thing to understand and once you do, the sky is the limit.
4. U2 is an abysmal band. No, I can’t say this with a straight face, but if you ask Lisa, one of my favorite bands (and arguably one of the greatest acts on this planet) may be her most disliked. Don’t ask me how she came to that conclusion and if I met her 10 years earlier than I did, this may have been a deal breaker for me. This goes to show you how strong love is, that I can hear her say this and still want her to hang around.
5. People who are threatened by you will never compliment you on success. Years ago, when Lisa first mentioned this to me, it hit home. I thought of how I firmly support assuring that teammates of mine get credit where credit is due.
It’s always ‘we’, never ‘me.’
With that, sometimes personal success happens and love is felt across many levels, from many sources… so much so that you tend to notice those who are unwilling to share in those successes as opposed to the ones who are. My advice based on what Lisa has taught me: eliminate worrying about those who can't muster a nod and a point when it is due… it’s their issue, not yours. Move along. Sage advice.
6. Loyalty should be everyone's middle name. 88% of the people who choose a sports team before they turn 10 years old stay with that sports team for their lifetime (I heard that years ago so the metrics may have changed...) Think about that, though. Who did you grow up rooting for…? Are you still a fan of that team / player? When you obtain a career in professional sports you certainly are a fan and can remain one, but your allegiance may change as the team supporting you becomes all important. Lisa is the most loyal person I know. She lives and dies with my allegiances and I can’t thank her enough for that loyalty. She knows living with a sports executive means understanding the highs and lows and it also means you may be passionate about a team one day and rooting against them a week later. As we have moved, so have her loyalties… and the only constant one has been to me and our happiness. She’s on team Rob.
7. My family is noisy. If you are a fan of Italian comics, then you already know and love Sebastian Maniscalco. He is the best there is when it comes to this genre. He often jokes that his wife’s family is the opposite of his. His Sicilian family is loud, confrontational, bold and overly expressive. Ditto for me. I wasn’t fully aware of that until I had a dinner at Lisa’s family’s house. No shouting, swearing, fights… it was downright Ozzie and Harrietish. I am not sure I prefer it, but it is something that I learned!
8. Celebrating holidays is the best thing since… well, Christmas! As I get older, I love the holiday’s more and more for reasons completely departed from what I once believed. I don’t care about gifts or candy or the amount of food that is placed on a table. I care about what that time means. Christmas, for example, is my favorite time of the year. I realize I only have a finite number of Christmases remaining and I cherish every one more than the last. Not only for what it means in regards to my faith, but also for what it means to my mental well-being and importance to my family. Lisa has made all holidays special by surrounding us in our home with remembrances of yesteryear and this time capsule of trimmings only adds to the feeling of holidays in Lisa’s presence. She makes each time of year come alive with a special touch and she allows us to immerse ourselves in good, old fashioned holiday cheer.
9. The right thing isn’t always the most popular thing. A phrase I have heard from her since day 1 and one of my favorites as it applies to everyone. The choices we have to make as parents, partners, sons, daughters, friends… they can be difficult and appeasing everyone adds to the degree of difficulty of said decisions. Do the right thing in every situation, regardless of critics and deal with it.
10. I will never win in a swimming race. When / If you marry a high school swimming star you will learn 2 things; You won’t ever beat that person in swim-off… and (most likely) you won’t die from drowning. A decent payoff that I can accept.
11. Women are tougher than men. Period. Ask your mom and then be sure to thank her for bringing you in to this world. Lisa has given me 3 kids and I know that, alone, makes her way tougher than I will ever be.
12. Green and Yellow don’t go together. On this one I don’t fully agree… but as a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, she will tell you that green and yellow don’t go together and has tremendous arguments supporting it. You learn something every day, right?
13. Dad Jeans aren’t flattering. I don’t think I will ever rock skinny jeans, but it took effort to teach me to get out of my beloved dad jeans (long on the legs and baggy in the butt) to a slimmer and more flattering pair and it’s a lesson I am glad I learned. I’m not sure I am as hip as I can possibly be… but I am getting there with her help.
14. Most people marry their mother (as Creepy as that sounds…) My mom has a way of being right all the time. Lisa does as well. My mom is amazing during emergency situations. Lisa is the best. My mom knows how to make me feel better because she’s an attentive listener. Lisa beats anyone I know in this category.
I can do this all day… it’s a hard fact but if you do it right, you most likely will marry your mom’s clone.
15. Never go to bed angry. A cardinal rule for Lisa and I although we don’t bicker that often, I can tell you when we do its over something I did wrong. We just don’t go to bed angry and as an added battle bonus, she once suggested we should hold hands when we fight because it is harder to be mad when holding hands… and easier to assure I don’t catch a backhand during the tiff either.
16. There is more in me than I have ever imagined. I often wondered where I’d be had I not met Lisa. Every big move, decision, leap I have taken has been with her standing beside me to assure that I had the confidence to achieve what I was hoping to achieve. Sometimes she was in front of me and sometimes she was behind me… but she was always there to let me know that the outcome would be OK and that was all I ever needed. Find yourself a spouse like this and in the face of any storm, you will be just fine.
17. Dance like you need the money. This actually spawned from a ridiculous hat that Lisa has, but the meaning is not lost. Unafraid to put herself out there, be silly, crazy, unafraid… Lisa is that person. While we are on the sidelines playing it cool and trying to be smooth, she is in the spotlight making us look bad. The moral to this story is “Get over yourself, dance like you need the money.”
18. When playing her, I will never win at Monopoly or Backgammon. This one needs no explanation. Just ask her for the embarrassing results.
19. The biggest business decision you will ever make is choosing a partner. This one had to be my ender, although none of the previous 18 are in any particular order.
How many people’s lives do YOU know that are affected by the choice they made in their partner? (I’ll wait… go ahead and let that soak in.)
Sadly, the person you chose to stand beside you might ultimately not be there in 5, 10, 20 years… but those kids, that nest egg, your belongings… they will be tied to that person in some way. Choose wisely as life is a gamble. But in 1999 I went to the place where gambling is on everyone’s mind and I won … and won big.
Happy anniversary Lisa. Thanks for the lessons. They will never be forgotten.