It’s inevitable that over two decades of marriage, certain habits will drive one spouse crazy.
For Al Roker and Deborah Roberts, it’s the way he drives and the way she tries to resolve her kids’ battles for them.
The journalism couple address those topics and others, sharing insights into how they’ve raised their kids — and dealt with each other — in 20 years of matrimony in a new book, “Been There, Done That: Family Wisdom for Modern Times.”
More than anything, the pair focuses on what binds them together, they told TODAY while discussing their book.
“I love the fact that he tries to take things in stride in a very warm and funny way,” Deborah said.
Al said he loves his wife’s empathy.
“She’s a very compassionate person and I think has instilled that in our kids and a lot of it’s rubbed off on me,” he said.
But the couple do have their differences, such as the way they plan work-related trips. Deborah leaves for her trips at the last moment and returns home as soon as possible.
“Al, on the other hand, will leave Sunday before he needs to be there on Monday because he wants to have a nice dinner,” she said. “It just sort of grates on me that he doesn’t feel the guilt that I feel.”
But Al does feel guilt over the sacrifice his wife made shortly after their daughter was born 17 years ago.
“When we had Leila, it became a difficult point in our marriage because I was already working mornings, and ABC came to her and said, ‘We’d like you to do the newsperson’s job on Good Morning America,'” he said.
It was an opportunity Deborah had dreamed and prayed about, but with a newborn baby at home, someone needed to stay home with her in the morning.
“Deborah decided to step back. Her career suffered some for it. You always feel guilty about that,” Al said.
Deborah admitted she felt surprised at how conflicted the decision left her.
“I will admit that deep down in my heart of hearts I have felt at times that I have sacrificed more but I think also he’s also listened to me, too, and tried to feel a little bit of my pain,” she said.
The couple also discussed their occasional differences in parenting, especially when it involves problems their kids are having with friends. Deborah wants to jump in and help her daughter resolve problems, while Al is more hands off.
“I want to invite the friend over for cupcakes and let’s work it out. Al’s approach is, ‘Let them work it out. It’ll be fine. Just leave it alone,'” she said. “So I’m a little bit more involved and hands on and Al is a lot more standoffish when it comes to meddling in their lives.”
But the biggest source of aggravation between the two? Driving.
“When she moved to this city, she was deathly afraid of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle,” Al noted. “Now, our biggest fights are because I’m not aggressive enough behind the wheel.”
Deborah admitted she thinks Al is a tentative driver.
“He won’t zip ahead and take chances,” she said. “He’s driving like a little old lady who’s heading to church.”
Al came up with a solution: Deborah always drive when they’re together.
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