Ralph Hogan, along with his wife of 30 years, Janet, is the co-founder of Botanica Weddings. He is as passionate about the institution of marriage as he is about creating the venues that celebrate it. When he’s not sitting on top of his beloved backhoe carving out mountains, he can be found with his trusty Mac tapping out his latest insight on what it means to live happily ever after, from his uniquely male, take no prisoners, perspective.
It was 1980 when Janet wandered into my life as a dazzling beautiful nineteen-year-old, eleven years younger than me and within the next few years succeeded in doing the impossible: with her contagious good nature, rampant optimism and complete fearlessness, she lifted this violent 30 year old fatalist out of his pit of moribund cynicism, and made me feel for the first time in my life - alive.
But despite the fact that I’d carried around the unwavering conviction that I would one day meet and team up with, precisely this ephemeral child-woman from the time I was five or six, I was completely unprepared for the whole idea of marriage.
I’d never thought through what happened after you shacked up together permanently - only that it would be on a beautiful deserted tropical island where I would further refine my social skills by spearing any intruders and using them as bait in my mud crab pots.
The raising of children in a secure environment and all those superfluous parental functions like showing affection, support and encouragement, the shedding of tears, cuddling or hand holding, were unfortunately concepts which had remained completely foreign to my two siblings and me.
Accordingly, we were tough the way kids are when they are scared of everything, and generally incapable of showing real emotion.
I’m sure that like many men of my post war generation the first tears I ever cried were not ones of sadness or fear, my eyes were too bolted-dry for that, but tears of joy when I watched my first child Hayley being born.
And I have no doubt that anyone who knew me at that time gave our marriage little chance of success.
So how is it that we have just celebrated 35 years of a wonderful relationship and the creation of three of the most beautiful and self-actualized girls you could ever hope to meet?
As a complete autopsy of “All the things we got wrong” would run to somewhere longer than War and Peace, I’ve tried to encapsulate just the things we got right, with whatever wisdom I learnt along the way, and mostly of course from a particularly male perspective.