A couple that plays together
Paula and Andréa Palmer do not know the secret to a successful marriage. After all, they have been married only for seven years, but they know they have to work on making theirs what they want it to be.
“The best piece of marriage advice I got was ‘don’t go to bed angry’”, said Paula, adding that she sticks to that mantra. Andréa’s response was: “I remember when we went for marriage counselling the pastor told us individually to do our part to make marriage work and I have always lived by that.”
It’s funny how couples remember things differently and how, on the flip side, they also give the same answers too. They both met while studying engineering at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus. Paula recalls meeting him in her first year as they did some courses together while Andrea’s recollection is they met at a fete in their first semester. “However, she was checking me out in the classes we had together, which I later discovered when we started talking,” he said laughing.
They agreed on the first date – Subway Restaurant at the Trincity Mall – and then watched a movie at the cinema, “being poor students.”
Many more dates would follow and the couple realized early that they had found someone they could see themselves with.
Paula said initially she was a “bit sceptical things would not work out or something would go wrong. As time passed and he got to know the real me I realized he was still around. I grew to love him and trust him, so by the time marriage arrived I went in with no fear at all.”
Andréa said he knew after the first couple of months “how much she cared for me and I knew from then I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I even told her at the time. She later told me she thought I was crazy but I guess I was just crazy in love. I was not scared at all. As we got to know each other I realized this was someone I could trust with my life. She has never given me any reasons to doubt her from then until now.”
A standout incident that cemented the couple’s relationship was when Andrea was scheduled to get some tests done at an hospital in Trinidad.
“I remember going to the hospital early the morning, but when it was time to leave him. I just couldn’t do it. Just the thought of leaving him there, with no method of reaching him, was too much for me to handle. It was then I realised how important he was to me and in my life and that he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my lIfe with.”
That incident also stood out for Andréa and he recalled that same summer Paula came to visit him in his home country Jamaica and when she was to return home, she started crying. “She cried all the way to the airport. That further convinced me I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.”
They both paused and looked at each other, sharing a smile that conveyed a special memory that couples in tune with each other share.
The couple that plays together stays together and this couple practically does everything together – church, movies and dinner – but each has managed to maintain their individuality.
How? “I made sure to stay true to who I am. I like some me time and I do the things I enjoy, notwithstanding our couple activities,” said Paula.
“I think the trust we have for each other has allowed us enjoy doing things outside the marriage with friends or by ourselves individually without any hassle. However, we are best friends and think that has enabled us not to grow apart as a couple,” was Andrea’s answer.
Communicating does get easier with time, the couple agrees, as Paula admits she isn’t the most patient person to be around, “Me? Patient? I’m still trying to figure out how to do that,” she said, laughing loudly, with her husband chuckling next to her. He admitted: “I am very patient but I can’t say the same for my wife. But as they always say opposites do attract, so I guess in this instance this theory has been proven to be true as it creates a balance which stabilize the marriage.”
At the end of a bad day, relationship-wise, Paula said she reminds herself that “regardless of what happened, we are in this together to the end. Every day will not be good, but love and God will help us through anything.”
For Andréa it is: “Just remind yourselves that you are in this together as you always hear marriage has its ups and downs, so you have to be there for each other during the down times.
Paula identifies joyous moments as “getting engaged, getting married, the birth of our son, [Andréa’s] move to Barbados.”
Andrea laughed at the engagement memory, sharing that when he was trying to ask her to marry him, “she thought I was up to something else, so I ended up just asking her in a not so romantic way but the most important thing was she said yes.”
He also acknowledged the birth of their son and getting married and a surprise party she threw for him in Jamaica.
The couple got married on December 30, 2006, and have a three-year-old son, Christopher. They have some advice for anyone looking for Mr or Miss Right.
Paula goes first: “If there is someone out there for you, chances are you will find them. However, whilst waiting for him/her, learn to love yourself and who you are and be happy with yourself. Mr/Miss Perfect don’t exist. Look and appreciate people for who they are and not what they look like or what they have. Your frog of today could turn into your Prince Charming tomorrow.
Andréa’s advice? “I have seen people all the while picking at simple things as the reason not to be with someone. No one is perfect, so therefore if you really like someone I think you should look at the main characteristic you like in the person and if that satisfies you, you can learn to live with the simple dislikes which may change over time. So I don’t think there is any Mr/Miss Right out there.”
One thing the couple agrees on is that the attributes of a good spouse are a “God-fearing individual; someone who loves and cares for you unconditionally; someone who gets to know you, who is attentive to your needs and trustworthy and is honest. “
Describe him, I asked Paula. Without hesitating, she said: “He is an intelligent, soft-spoken guy who loves sports, music, family. A good husband and father who is very loving, caring and giving.
I turned to Andréa and asked the same question.
“Paula is the most selfless person I know. She is kind and caring . . . a great mother and wife. She likes reading a lot and she is super smart.”