By Vince Lake
A few years ago, I was a personal trainer in the New York tri-state area. As a personal trainer, you learn a lot about people. I heard all types of stories from my clients, but there’s one particular story I remember to this day about a couple I trained.
This couple lived in Harlem, but worked within the city. I would train her in the morning and her fiance in the evening. They were engaged for two years and their daughter was five years old. They were in their late 20s to early 30s. She was a manager at a clinic and he was a physical therapist. Their fitness needs were different, she loved cardio workouts while he favored strength endurance training. They started training to have a healthier lifestyle and I admired this. They were a team, living the dream.
After six weeks of training them, I got to know them further and their goals as a couple. I would only ask questions when they initiated the conversation, and I never shared conversations between the two of them. Even though at times I felt as if I was a conduit for them, which I didn't mind; but I was cautious. I've trained couples before, but for some reason I felt more connected to them. Was it because we were close in age, or maybe it's because I saw their relationship as one I wanted for myself. I soon learned that all that glitters isn't gold.
A few sessions had gone by when I noticed Terri (I called this couple TnT for Terri and Tony ) not wearing her engagement ring. During our training sessions, I would store her ring in my zipped sweatpants pocket until we were done because it was so big. One morning, I made a light joke, “I've noticed you've gotten weaker with your left hand.” A look of confusion came across Terri’s face before she caught the joke, chuckled a little, and said that she lost it. She then quickly changed the subject. It was an awkward moment. After our session ended, I told Terri that I hoped she would find her ring because I knew how much it meant to her.
The same evening I had my session with Tony who I noticed was a little more aggressive and intense than usual. When I asked him if everything was ok, he brushed me off and said yes. But his body language told a different story. Finally, ten minutes prior to the end of our workout, Tony broke down.
“It's been eight years bro! Eight long years I've committed my life to her...to us...and she’s still not ready! I'm a patient man, but I can’t anymore.”
I realized this brother needed a baggage handler, someone outside of his circle. Since he was my last client for the evening, I offered him a round of drinks at the pub down the block.
After a few beers, Tony continued to unload his sorrows. Turns out, Terri didn't lose her ring after all. Tony took it back from her.
“I proposed to her two years ago. She said no, she's wasn't ready. But I let her keep the ring. I thought that it would change her mind with time, but it hasn't and I’m ready to move on.”
After our round of drinks, Tony thanked me for listening.
As I made my way to the train station, I couldn't help but think of TnT’s situation. I really thought they were winning. I don't know what Terri’s issue was, but I do feel she lost a good man. A man who is educated, has a good job, is a provider, and a father to his child is hard to come by. And not to speak for all men...but to settle down knowing that this is the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with is a major process for a man to face. When a man is ready, he is ready. I feel Terri was stringing Tony along. Maybe she didn’t mirror Tony’s feelings for her anymore, but Tony loved Terri for certain; and I feel Tony laid the foundation for the three of them to build a life together, at least from what I witnessed and heard from him and Terri. Men have patience, but I do believe we know when to throw in the towel and move forward.
Should there be a cut-off time when waiting for a partner to get married?