The secret of a happy marriage? It might be in this 15-year anniversary post.

A personal post from Sara

Sara and Dave Specter got married on a hill overlooking Cincinnati.

The view of our outdoor wedding, shortly before the ceremony, October 6, 2001.

On October 6, 2001—on a Devou Park hilltop in Covington, Kentucky overlooking Cincinnati, Ohio—Dave and I got married.

He wasn’t a winemaker then, but still early on in his career as an attorney. I had just launched my freelance marketing business a few months earlier (courtesy of the dot.com bust that cost me and 2/3 of my colleagues our jobs at a business-to-business ad agency).

Plus, 9/11 happened just a few weeks earlier, prompting a third of our guest list to cancel at the last minute because, understandably, they didn’t feel comfortable flying. Oh, and the night before our outdoor wedding during the rehearsal and subsequent dinner on a riverboat cruise up the Ohio River, it rained buckets.

It was, as more than one friend cheerfully noted at the time, a bit of a bumpy start. Fortunately, the actual day of our wedding dawned bright and clear, but a bit breezy and cool. The majority of the wedding and reception went on with very few hiccups. Everything was beautiful, and we were happy to be surrounded by friends and family on an amazing day.

The deal, sealed. The pastor who married us was pretty jubilant to get to the benediction.

The deal, sealed. The pastor who married us was pretty jubilant to get to the benediction.

Although we had a wedding day that turned out practically perfect, looking back at the first few years of our marriage, Dave and I seemed to specialize in bumpy starts, rocky middles and only occasionally satisfying outcomes.

Maybe that’s because of birth order. Put an oldest child (Dave) with an only child (me), and compromise is tough to come by. Or, perhaps its one of our shared characteristics. To call each of us “tenacious” would put a positive spin on it. But “stubborn” is probably more like it. We’re also both detail-oriented perfectionists. (What the hell were we thinking?)

When it all became too much—stereotypically at around the 7-year anniversary mark—I decided to call it quits.

Sort of.

But not in the way you’re thinking.

I’ve written and talked about this before, but our marriage had reached a breaking point for a variety of reasons. My late-term miscarriages and Dave’s unhappiness in his career seemed to magnify the everyday frustrations that come with being an adult with a mortgage and myriad other obligations. Our lives certainly had not turned out as bright and sunny as our wedding day weather had. It was time to make a major change.

Around the time Dave started his winemaking apprenticeship at Henke Winery, I happened to hear David Wilcox’s song, “Start With The Ending,” on the radio. I thought it was quirky, but didn’t think much more about it. Over the years, often during a bumpy marriage moment, the song again popped up on my dial. In fact, just a couple of months ago, I heard it on a Sunday morning—but truly listened to it closely for the first time.

It dawned on me that the lyrics were our story. And the message was what I wanted to say to Dave, after 15 years of the ups and downs of marriage in general and of starting Bells Up Winery together specifically.

Indulge me, if you will. The lyrics are below.


Start With The Ending

Songwriter: DAVID WILCOX

Published by: Lyrics © SOROKA MUSIC LTD.

Secret of a happy marriage
Maybe you should write this down
You wanna keep a love together
The best way is to end it now

When you both know it’s over
Suddenly the truth comes out
You can talk about your secret passion
You can talk about your restless doubt

When there’s no pretending
Then the truth is safe to say
Start with the ending
Get it out of the way

Now, there’s no defending
Because no one has to win
Start with the ending
It’s the best way to begin
It’s the best way to begin

After you have both decided
You were missing something that you need
The ways that you were too short sighted
Get easier for you to see

After all the expectations
Shatter on the kitchen floor
You just see another human suffering
And wonder what the war was for

When there’s no pretending
Then the truth is safe to say
Start with the ending
Get it out of the way

Now, there’s no defending
Because no one has to win
Start with the ending
It’s the best way to begin
It’s the best way, best way to begin

Happy anniversary, darling
We go back a long, long time
I think about our lives together
So grateful you are here in mine

And I know you’ll keep on changing
You’re moving in this dance with me
I love the way we embrace the future
And keep the past a memory

So, there’s no defending
That the old ways could remain
We start with the ending
And things will never be the same

But now, there’s no defending
So that no one has to win
Start with the ending
It’s the best way to begin
It’s the best way to begin

No defending
The truth is safe to say
Start with the ending
Get it out of the way

No defending
No one has to win
We start with the ending
It’s the best way to begin
It’s the best way to begin

Now, there’s no defending
No one has to win
We start with the ending
It’s the best way, the best way to begin

Begin, begin
It’s the best way to begin


Do I think starting with the ending really is the secret to a happy marriage?

In our case, I would have to say: “I do.”

Happy 15th anniversary Dave. Cheers to us.

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