SO, WHAT’S MARRIAGE REALLY LIKE? We asked Wendy Dant Chesser & Mike Chesser (pictured with their daughter Joslyn, 9.5)
Married for 10 years; divorced for 6 years
As told to Angie Fenton | Photos By Tony Bennett
Mike Chesser: We met through mutual friends but didn’t go out for over a year. When we did, we saw “Something About Mary.”
Wendy Dant Chesser: There were times when we were the only ones laughing. That movie was hysterical (she laughs when Mike says “hysterical” at the same time).
Three hundred sixty-three days later, we were married. Mike was an event planner, so he handled most of the wedding details while Wendy managed the budget.
Wendy: I think we were – and we still are – there’s a compatibility in our personalities.
Mike: When you meet someone, I won’t go so far as to say it’s love at first sight, but you automatically connect with that person. That’s what it was. We knew each other. We met and had a great group of friends but didn’t go out for well over a year. It wasn’t until Wendy called my office asking for someone else and I thought, “Well, I know that person,” jumped on the phone and said hello because I hadn’t seen her in a while.
Wendy: Neither of us had ever been married before, and we were a little older.
Mike: We were just right.
After trying for several years to have a biological child, Wendy and Mike adopted their daughter, whom they met at her birth. “I’m now 9 and a half,” Joslyn said, tucking into the pancakes in front of her.
Despite the joy, a few years later, Mike and Wendy eventually opted to divorce.
Wendy: The breakdown of communication had gotten far enough. I don’t know that we saw a path back.
MIKE: Communication was our biggest issue.
Wendy: Which is ironic now because we communicate better than we ever have. We’re still family.
Mike: I’m always going to love her. Always. She is the best friend who never went away. It comes from the deep connection from the beginning.
In fact, Mike and Wendy dissolved their marriage by asking a friend to sign the papers (they didn’t use a lawyer and only needed a witness). Today, they are known for taking their daughter on shared experiences and trips together, and bewildering people with their incredibly-amicable relationship.
Wendy: There’s a lot of people who still don’t know we’re not together, which makes it tough on our respective dating lives (Wendy and Mike laugh). … After we divorced, our first family photos were me, Mike, Joslyn, Joslyn’s birth mother and the dog. … The 10 years of marriage were not the easiest years of our life: We relocated to a different state, had job changes, couldn’t get pregnant, our house burned down four days before Joslyn was born.
Mike: But, with age and maturity comes a better knowledge and understanding. When you go through these type of life-changing situations and do a little bit of reflection and look back. That’s when you gain clarity and understanding. You don’t know what you don’t know. Until it hits you and you go, “I get it. I see it.” Right, wrong and differently, you move forward.
Wendy: If you choose to bring a child into this world with this partner –like we did through adoption – think about all of the scenarios and commit yourself to focusing on the child. It makes everything else easier. Marriage is one thing, but in our society today, marriage is not always a lifelong commitment but raising a child is.
Mike: Communicate. Continue to try and a communicate. Don’t wall yourself off because the communication starts to break down. This often comes with age, maturity and, in some cases, counseling. … That communication side is critical.
Wendy: Our marriage may have failed, but we’re the best at it!