Bob Eubanks really had no idea.
To the host of The Newlywed Game, being just-married was all fun and games, which was evident in the questions he asked.
“What’s the most outrageous thing your husband or wife ever said to you in bed? What’s the most embarrassing thing they’ve ever done in public?”
Well, here’s what viewers never seemed to get: Being a newlywed is anything but a game.
It’s dealing with life’s situations on a daily basis, trying to be supportive of each other without giving up your individuality. And that can run the gamut: Having children… Buying a house… Losing a parent… Changing jobs… Dealing with ex-spouses… Relating to your new family… and so much more.
And when you’re dealing with Jewish couples, that inner circle seems to tighten since it seems like wherever you go or whoever you meet, they know someone who knows one of you.
“The joke is that the rest of the world needs six degrees to connect,” laughed Greg Smith, who married Maxine Barish Smith on Nov. 9, 2014. “Jews need two.”
They’re just one of five couples married within the past two years finding out that once you say “I do” and break the glass, things are never quite the same.
Here’s a look at their stories.
Engaged in a Parking Lot
Things have been a bit crazy since Greg Smith and Maxine Barish Smith tied the knot almost two years ago after meeting on JDate.com., right after he paid for the full six-month subscription.
Since then, they’ve moved from a Mount Laurel townhouse to a house in Marlton. Greg Smith left his job building large computers to go out on his own, then got bought out by Dell. His wife helped him deal with his mother’s sickness around the time of the wedding and her death eight months later.
And that was all before Natalie was born on Jan. 8.
“It feels like more than two years,” said Maxine Barish Smith. “We’ve been through a lot in two years. Having a baby changes your life. But I find we have a lot alike as we continue to be married. It was actually better for us to wait until we were older.
“We’re both more mature. More financially secure. Luckily, we have a lot of the same philosophy. We both come from the same Jewish tradition and agree about most things, especially parenting. But every day’s a new adventure.”
Sharing those adventures with his wife makes it more special.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get through losing my mom without her,” said Greg, who grew up in Arizona, moved to Long Island, the attended Drexel where “there should’ve been at least 20 times we met at a party or something but were looking in other directions.” said. “She was there for me when I needed to vent and pushed me through things that were difficult to do.
“People think that you wait until you know someone and are sure they’re the right one. But one thing I’ve learned is you’ll find out reasons on top of reasons on top of reasons why you married the person you did.
“But you won’t find them out for years.”
Perhaps by then she’ll appreciate the way her husband proposed.
“My wife plans everything in advance, and I’m definitely not that way,” he explained. “But I had this whole thing planned, which got messed up at first because of her.
“So we spent the day in Newtown at the park, then I drive to Cherry Hill to start retracing our steps from our first couple of dates. We finally go to the coffee shop where we had our first date, then to the place where I first told her I loved her, the parking lot at Ponzio’s.
“I asked her to marry me there. I thought it seemed romantic, but she tells people, ‘He proposed to me in a parking lot.’”
Three years later Maxine, Greg and Natalie couldn’t be happier.
A Speed Date That Lasted
Having been through the ups and downs of dating, Bill Furman never thought he’d get married. Deena Freedman was accustomed to single life, too, and wasn’t eager to give it up.
Both were in their late 30s when they met on a “speed” date, one of those singles’ events where you talk to someone for a few minutes, then move on to the next person.
Who’d have guessed it would last so long?
“I had a longtime girlfriend pass away and didn’t think I’d ever get married,” said Firman, who works for an auto collection company. ““I’d had my ups and downs in the dating scene for years.
“I lived in New York, then moved to Pennsylvania and met Deena.
“Because we were older, we didn’t let our parents influence us. Even for our wedding [on June 14, 2015] we did what we wanted.”
Being older and more set in their ways gave them a better perspective.
“I’m still continually surprised I found someone I wanted to marry,” said Deena, a high school math teacher in Cherry Hill.. “I told people for years I was very happy being single.
“I did what I wanted when I wanted to and didn’t have to answer to anyone. But I like having someone to share things with. From the beginning, I don’t think we had any secrets. We both expressed our paths, so there were no real surprises.”
But there are compromises. Deena Freedman keeps a kosher home, with five sets of dishes. One of them is for her husband, who doesn’t keep kosher and eats treif.
He’s also a Mets fan, while she follows the Phillies. If they can still get along after that, the rest of their lives should be a piece of cake.
“Keeper” in the (Jewish) Rye
Rina and Michael Ehrlich named their 5-month-old son, Holden, after the main character in one of their favorite books, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Since he came into the picture following their Nov. 15, 2014 wedding at Ohev Shalom in Richboro, much has changed.
“Everything before goes out the window,” explained Michael Ehrlich who, as a 13-year-old, once attended the same Bat Mitzvah as 11-year-old Rina. “It’s all for the baby.
“You put yourself last, as it should be. Otherwise there haven’t been a whole lot of surprises. Keeping kosher has taken me some getting used to, picking the right plates and utensils. But being able to watch Rina grow into a bride, wife and mother has certainly grown my feelings for her.”
Those feelings are mutual for the woman he proposed to at the end of a long scavenger hunt. “We’d known each other three years,” said Rina, who’s just returning to her job in the pharmaceutical market research field, ‘Since we got married we bought a house.
“It takes a lot of teamwork. We used to be great at treating ourselves first. Now [Holden’s] needs are first.”
As for her husband, she sensed early on he was Mr. Right. “I met him right around when I turned 30,” ,” said Rina, who expects to wait a couple of years before giving Holden a brother or sister. “We started dating a couple of weeks before my birthday.
“I already had a weekend getaway planned with my girlfriends in Atlantic City. He found the restaurant where we were going and had wine and champagne sent to our table. Everyone knew then he was a keeper.”
A keeper in the (Jewish) rye.
Beshert 35 Years Later
Ami Amada and Stephen Kardos say they were meant to be together. It just took them a long time to find out.
Soon after going to the prom together at Northeast High School in 1981, they went their separate ways.
She went off to Tyler School of Art, then discovered she was a “Deadhead,” and followed the Grateful Dead to concerts in 38 states. Eventually she returned home, became an arts and humanities teacher and got married twice, having a son and daughter with her second husband.
While that was going on, Kardos was trying to find himself. He enlisted in the Army, which gave him a sense of purpose along with some skills. He now works as a credit analyst for an automotive lender.
He, too, settled down, got married and had a son before getting divorced.
Fast-forward to 2010.
Within months, Amada lost her brother-in-law, John, and her sister, Randi, to cancer. Kardos found out and emailed condolences both times.
“We’ve pretty much been together since then,” said Amada, who’s gotten active at Reconstructionist Congregation Or Hadash in Fort Washington, after previously distancing herself from synagogues.said. “I’d like to believe my sister and brother-in-law somehow guided me to Steve, because I have never been happier than I am right now. Having been married twice before, I never knew what a partnership was or could be.”
He sees it, too. “It’s different on a lot of different levels” said Kardos, who’s built a relationship with his wife’s children. “Different relationship from before. Different understanding.
“I’m a very different person. It’s taken me a lot of years, for lack of a better term, to grow up and come to grips with a number of things that have happened over the course of four decades.”
“I’ve often heard Stephen say [how he’s different] to other people,” Amada added. “We truly bring out the best in each other.”
We complement each other and because we really understand each other and get each other we work very well.
“You have to put the other person as a priority. It doesn’t mean you put yourself or your kids last. But you put that other person first as much as possible.”
It may have taken awhile. But for both Ami and Stephen it was obviously worth the wait.
Fireworks at My Wedding
The Fourth of July wouldn’t work, so Lauren Green and John Sacks came up with the perfect alternative.
They got married on New Year’s Eve at the Top of the Tower in Center City.
“I wanted fireworks at my wedding,” said Green, who attended Abrams Hebrew Academy and JCC day camp at the same time as Sacks, although they don’t recall meeting until 11th grade at Pennsbury High School. “The wedding was at 6:30 and went through until midnight when there were fireworks.”
From there, it was off to a three-week honeymoon through Australia and New Zealand before they returned to their Spring Garden neighborhood home.
Ten months later, they say everything’s been great so far.
“It was perfect timing,” said Green, a healthcare marketing specialist, whose husband runs a property management business. “We had gone through some other relationships that didn’t work out for one reason or another.
“We knew within a date or two it felt right. Within two months, we’re already talking about what it’ll be like when we’re 80 years old.”
But first they have almost 50 years. Kids lie somewhere on that horizon. They’re not sure where. For now they just want to enjoy each other.
“No matter how crazy or silly or whatever your significant other wants to do, you should always support each other,” said Sacks, who grew up outside of Trenton while she was in Yardley.
And make sure those fireworks go off all the time.
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