Cost Benefit Analyses Aren’t Just for Finance–They also Help With Knowing When to Gracefully Walk Away

Michael and Susan

Married Over 20 Years

Michael was visiting a friend of his at Cambridge University in England and they decided to attend a formal ball at Oxford in 1998. Before it became common place to date online, there was Yahoo! Personals and this is where this couple met initially. The ball was their first ever in-person meeting about four months after they had met on-line. Michael was a former Captain in the Royal Marines and wore his uniform to the ball–mainly because he didn’t have money for a tuxedo. It was a brown serge with a red beret and sash. She was a recent newcomer to Britain as a Rhode Scholar studying at Oxford and thought he was a drum major. Susan wore a black cocktail dress and long gloves and Michael was smitten.

A month later she went back to Boston and Michael thought this would be the end of it. Three months later he found himself in Boston working at Chez Robert–he was a troubleshooter/consultant for French chefs on the east coast of the United States. Their first formal date outside their meeting at Oxford was at The Federalist in Boston. She told him she was a vegetarian and asked him to order for them. He had the duck and Susan ordered the lobster. Susan ate off his plate all night. She would like to be vegetarian but struggles.

After the second day they met in Boston, he knew she was the one. They continued this long distance relationship with Michael spending about $1000 per month on phone bills. When he proposed six months later, he realized she was the one he wanted to talk to for the rest of his life.

Susan was finishing her Phd in Boston and he was in Dallas where he was living for the time being. She called at midnight to say she had finished work for the night on her dissertation–she left her wallet at home and had no money and was hungry and it was an hour long walk home. Long before the internet, Michael, using 555-1212 (directory assistance) managed to get her a pizza at 1:30 am and a cab for to take her home. That’s true love.

Michael moved from Boston to Los Angeles where Susan’s parents’ lived. He had taken a position at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara. Michael was at their home and telling them of his proposal plans.

Susan’s mom asked him to take off his pants. Why? She said, “I’m going to secure the ring for you.” She sewed the ring to the inside of his pants so that he didn’t loose it.

However, this posed a problem at airport security and it had to be torn out and was very hard to explain. Typically, Michael travels very light with just a backpack. In addition to the ring sewn in his pants, his Korean mother-in-law had given him an enormous jar of kimchi and a huge bag of rice to take on the plane for Susan. It’s a wonder he isn’t still in the back room at airport security.

Susan and Michael went back to the Federalist where they had had their first official date. This time Susan ordered a steak and he proposed–nine months after their first meeting at the ball. They were married a year later. He proposed in January, her defense was in May and she was to come to Los Angeles in July.

They were planning to get married at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara where Michael was currently working. However, he took a new position in San Fransisco and plans changed. Susan took a position as an adjunct professor at Stanford University in Palo Alto and that’s where they lived. They got married August 11, 2001 at the Presidio Officer’s Club in San Fransisco–they were the first ever civilian wedding held there.

There were 120 guests and Michael catered all the food. It was a combination of a buffet and sit down and it was very guest centric–so they spent their time with their guests and only ate some nibbles. They didn’t get to sit down much during the evening. Susan had three dress changes–her wedding dress–a vintage sweetheart dress bought on ebay–the shipping and tailoring was more than the cost of the dress. Michael is Chinese and she wore the traditional Chinese wedding dress that had been passed down through his family. Finally, she had a Korean dress that was so voluminous Susan had trouble fitting in the back of the car. Michael’s job–since he didn’t have to change his clothes, was to pack up some food so they could have some at the end of the evening in their room. Michael forgot. To this day, Susan reminds him that she never got to try the food at her wedding.

Michael’s secret is you can’t win every argument. Although his wife is always right. Susan is in the Department of Rhetoric–the the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. Obviously, he looses every argument. Being more of an economist, he gets deconstructed point by point. Michael can run the cost benefit analysis and it’s better to gracefully walk away.

A sense of humour is also very important. He wrote an app on the phone and asked his wife to tap a button whenever she had a contraction and it would show a decreasing trend on a graph and provide a projection as to when their son, Ian would be born. Michael asked Susan while she was in a tub having contractions. It wasn’t well received. He offered to press the button for her. Michael kept the data and now they can laugh about it.

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