How Dr. Phil Introduced Me To My Husband

If I were ever to give dating advice to a single person on how to meet “The One”, I’d suggest that the best way to meet your soul mate is to be convinced you’ll never meet your soul mate. Because at about the time in my life that I had surrendered to the notion that since I was one of those always dating but perpetually single gals, I’d continue to be one of those always dating but perpetually single gals. I was fine with it. I accepted my lot in life, stopped thinking about it and moved on.

But at about the same time, Oprah Winfrey had other plans for me. This was 1999 when life was seen through Millenium colored lenses. If the Y2-K virus, which turned out to be little more than a computer’s version of a head cold, didn’t end the world than we neeed to get our shit together so that we could enter the 2000’s better humans that we’d been in the 1900’s.

So as it turns out I was home at 3pm on Tuesday, because that’s what you do when you’re a not-currently and not-often working actress in Los Angeles. You’re home at 3pm, kept company by your regular date with “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” At the time a tell-it-like-it-is shrink from Texas, who basically abused guests through the charm of his Southern drawl, was a regular guest star every Tuesday on Oprah. His name was Dr. Phil. And on that particular Tuesday, it was as though he jumped through the television to speak directly to me.

The subject of that particular Tuesday’s show was Millenium Goals. My Millenium goal, up until that point, was…well I didn’t have one.  I was just trying to get through each day. I wasn’t thinking centuries ahead. And though I had happily surrendered to never finding love, I surprised myself by getting out a pad and paper (we used those then) and starting writing down, as instructed by Dr. Phil, my Millenium Goals.

In his thickest twang, Dr. Phil looked directly at me and said, “What do you want, Meredith?”

To my surprise I answered, “I want to be loved.”

And so Dr. Phil told me ( and Oprah’s 50 million other viewers) to write down what we wanted. I wrote down who I wanted.

  • New Yorker
  • Blue eyes
  • Dresses well
  • Does NOT, by any means or association, work in the entertainment business.
  • Brown hair
  • Sense of humor (or gets mine. It’s fine if he can’t tell a joke, as long as he laughs at mine.)
  • Employed

Not too many nights later, out with my best girlfriend at the birthday party of someone I still don’t know, in walked a blue-eyed New Yorker with better style than a black man on his way to church, in town from Seattle where he worked at Microsoft.

“Hi, I’m Justin,” he said.

“Hi, I’m listening,” I thought.

We talked for a while, mostly about his favorite hamburger -the Sourdough Jack from Jack In The Box. I’m not sure why he chose to woo me with fast food, but his passion for the story intrigued me. He was a little bit cocky, just enough of an asshole to keep interested I’ve said. And after about 45-minutes of his musings he paused and I said, “I’m a vegetarian.”

We both started to laugh and to this day haven’t stopped.

Today is our ten-year wedding anniversary. Justin’s still stylish. His eyes are still dazzling. He’s still known to tell a 45-minute story that can make even a hamburger seem interesting. And I’m still listening.

Two kids later. Two houses later. A few career changes later. Some highs and lows later, he’s still the blue-eyed New Yorker who had me at burger.

I never dreamt of marriage nor did I ever think I’d meet the one. Love never seemed to click for me. I used to say that if I had to choose between a career and love, I’d of course choose a career.  That’s because I had neither and figured becoming successful would fill the hole in me I was desperately trying to ignore.

Looking back, I see that you have to be careful when you say stupid things out loud. God, Life, Love and Dr. Phil are listening. You can’t say that love isn’t important without one of them showing you that it is.

Before I met Justin, I was pained by a palpable loneliness I didn’t know I had until it was gone. He filled a hole I didn’t know was empty. He saw me. He breathed life into me. He loved me, kindly, deeply and relentlessly.

Ten years in, I can say that the feeling of being known and loved deeply is the only thing that really matters. To know you are not alone in a crowd, to know you are known and appreciated and anticipated and cared for is the only choice. To give love is the greatest act of kindness and service. There is nothing more.

So happy anniversary, Justin. I love you madly, deeply and forever.


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