I met Wendy in 1998 when she came into the restaurant I owned near L.A. We were both divorced—neither of us had had much success at relationships. But we had great chemistry. About six months after we met, we went to Cabo San Lucas, and by then we were so madly in love that we decided on the spot to get married. We dragged a doctor out of bed on a Sunday to get our blood drawn. We were writing our vows at midnight.... Wendy:
It was insane! But superromantic. We're a bit impulsive. I had two teenagers and an 8-year-old, and Dan's daughter was 15, so you wouldn't think we'd rush into things, but I knew Dan would be great with my kids. Dan:
The problems started in 2001, when I lost my lease and had to move my restaurant. I was working 100 hours a week, and Wendy had just started law school. Our communication broke down, because we never had time to talk. Wendy:
I felt Dan was making business decisions that didn't include me. He was taking on a lot of personal debt to save his restaurant, and I was just along for the roller-coaster ride. I loved him, but after a year of feeling totally out of control in my marriage, I was done. I filed for divorce. Dan:
I didn't want to split up, but I was too exhausted to fight. And part of me also wondered, Who is she to tell me what to do?
As it turned out, though, I sold the restaurant a few months after the divorce and went to work for another company in sales. And to my surprise, we started slowly getting back together. Wendy gave up a little bit of her stubbornness, and I opened up a little bit in my decision making. Then one day in 2004, I was on a business trip in Georgia when I came across the most beautiful lake I'd ever seen, Lake Lanier. I called up Wendy and said, "God, honey, I could live here!" By that time, three of the kids had left home. Long story short, within five weeks we'd bought a house and were living here. Wendy:
We really thought moving was going to clean the slate. We'd be far away from the life that had stressed us the first go-round and have much more time for each other. Dan:
But there were some big hiccups that first year. Wendy:
I had a close platonic friendship with a man I'd met in law school—which bothered Dan. Then I found out Dan was trolling Match.com
. We were doing things to hurt each other because neither of us felt secure. So after two years in Georgia, I moved out again. Dan:
At some point, though, she came back to pick something up, and as she was pulling out of the driveway, I saw the brake lights go on. When she got out of the car, I could tell she was crying. She just sort of fell into my arms. I think at that point we realized, What the hell were we doing
? We'd come all the way across the country together and we were just going to walk away?