I’m not even sure I like the message of this song, for the same reason I dislike the seemingly vast number of anniversary cards with a message that goes something like, “I sure love you, even though I don’t tell you enough.” My automatic mental response to those cards is, “So why don’t you tell her/him more often, rather than trying to do it once a year with a cheap card?”

Likewise, this song is a bit of a cliché for any performer (or politician or artist or teacher or anyone else who becomes known by many) ; after all, most professional performers are the ones in their relationships who get the “glory” from outside sources. But a cliché becomes one for a reason, and in fact the song rings true for Joanna and me.

In our case, it largely rings true for both of us. Though I’m the extrovert and now more often in the public eye, we have constantly supported each other’s goals and dreams throughout our marriage. When that meant ignoring an advisor’s recommendation for where to go to grad school, staying put so that Joanna could finish her master’s degree and we could avoid a long-distance marriage, I did it. When it meant traveling across the country for my job, she did it.

When it meant giving up a tenure-track job to move back and take a one-year position because of issues with her family, I did it. And when it meant doing the vast majority of cooking and cleaning while I’m doing a job I love, in large part so we can spend more free time together, she did it — and continues to do it. We’ve seen many academic marriages fail or go on autopilot, while ours is as strong as it’s ever been.

Not surprisingly, the song has been performed by many artists (including Willie Nelson), but Bette Midler did it best.

Lyrics here, with live-version video below:

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