This photo of me and Nancy isn't taken at the best angle. We're both having bad hair days. I was playing around with a camera and suddenly held it in front of us and snapped the picture. Although it isn't the most flattering shot, I love this picture because it captures an essence that is at the heart of our marriage.
After 4 1/2 years of marriage, we can't wait to see each other at the end of the day. We can't wait for the weekend so we can hang out. We laugh our heads off every day. We're both able to be ourselves. I can be silly and so can she. And both of us know for certain that I've got her back and she's got mine.
This is my third marriage. It took me nearly 50 years to find Nancy. I treat her the same way I've treated every woman I've every known (we don't really change our personalities, you know). The difference is that she's the first woman in my entire life that I've been able to depend on. And a year ago she turned to me and said, "There's one word that comes to my mind to describe you. Integrity."
It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said, and it meant even more because it came from someone who has lived with me for so long.
What does this have to do with martial arts? Everything. One of the reasons we get into the arts is for self mastery. One of the reasons I began studying was the philosophy. When I began truly practicing the "centering" aspects of the arts, I discovered principles that can help any relationship, whether at home, at work, in families--any relationship.
Nancy finds it remarkable that in all this time, she's never seen me angry. We've had disagreements, but I tend to center myself and we talk it through. There's very little place in my life for anger and very few things that are important enough to make me angry. If I get angry it tends to be aimed at people who behave in an angry way. I've also used anger once or twice intentionally, to get a point across to people who needed to see it.
A successful marriage requires something else. It requires two committed people. I've learned that the hard way. I've been married more than once not necessarily because of mistakes other people made, but because of the wrong decisions that I made in selecting people who didn't view relationships the same way I do.
All marriages require work and focus. Marriages require mutual respect, mutual desire, and mutual support. When you love someone, your philosophy should guide you to treat them in the way that you would want to be treated--with compassion, humor, understanding, interest, support, and passion.
You can master the martial arts and show tremendous respect for your teachers or students, but if you fail to show that respect to the people you love, you haven't truly learned. If your study of martial arts doesn't help you improve all aspects of your life, you are following the wrong path. Self mastery involves a lot more than self-defense skills.