Susie and Capice

September 13th, 2010

They’re inside a brandy snifter. That’s the first thing you probably notice. It was the 80s. Everyone has one of those photos, tucked away in some drawer – probably right next to their parachute pants.

Let’s move on to the real issue at hand: the people in that glass. How many of those love-tipsy couples in aperitif glasses do you think are actually together today? Probably not many.

But Susie and Capice are.

They just celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that they’ve been together 31 years in total. That’s a lot of photos – and a lot of memories.

A lot of ups and downs, too. A lot of youthful indecision and differing viewpoints. But that just leaves room for the part after that – the part where they get to coast on the tail feathers of the very sturdy life they spent all those years quietly building.

But let’s get back to the glass. Those romantically intoxicated people in the picture. That was taken three years after they first met.

They both worked at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. She worked in the kitchen and he worked in radiology. When his sister introduced them one day, she developed a crush immediately. So she and her friend would spend their breaks trolling every floor to see if they might spot him. And when they did, they’d duck behind the wall so he wouldn’t notice.

But he noticed.

Soon, he would come down to the kitchen on his lunch breaks to visit Susie. Eventually, he got her number and, as she puts it, they started dating and never stopped.

They dated a year in high school, then broke up for a few months. They got back together, went to prom, and stuck it out through graduation. They moved in together when Susie was 19 (Capice was 8 months older), and at first it was fun to play house. Then reality set in, and they started having problems.

After about a year, they each moved back to their family homes. That’s when Susie found out she was pregnant.

“We broke up, and I was heartbroken,” Susie recalls. “I wanted to get back together, but he didn’t. When I gave up, he changed his mind.”

They moved back in together, and had their first daughter, Brittani. When she was three, they got married. They had their second daughter five-and-a-half years later. They’ve been together ever since, save for a two-week split just eight years ago.

“I didn’t want my kids growing up without their father,” says Susie. “We went to counseling and I tried to do everything I could to make our marriage work. So did he. We spent a lot of time with the kids. We’d go to movies and for bowling. We learned to appreciate one another. Right now, our relationship is better than it’s ever been. We’ve gone through trials and tribulations, and managed to conquer every downfall that came our way. It was really just a matter of how we chose to handle it.”


That’s what they chose.

It’s a choice to stay together and weather the storm. It’s also a choice to kiss the same person every day of your life, even when you’re too upset to want to. Susie says she prefers kisses above anger.

“We’ve always done this – for 31 years of our lives,” she giggles. “If a person is leaving, we kiss one another goodbye. When we wake up in the morning. When we go to the store, whenever. Even when he visits me at work, he gives me a kiss.”

It’s also about making sure you don’t give up on things, even when everything is going great. Relationships need lots of watering.

Capice knows about watering. Susie says he’s always surprising her. He buys her gifts. If she’s tired and doesn’t feel like cooking or cleaning, he’ll do it. He even makes her breakfast.

“That’s what love is,” he tells me. “If you care about someone, you do things for them. Not just buying gifts, but doing what you need to do to help them enjoy life.”

Even when things are rough? When you don’t really want to kiss them goodbye?

“Love is developed through trials and tribulations,” he adds. “If everything was rosy, you’d never grow. You have to grow with the love. You have to cultivate it and make it work – take some things sometimes you may not want to take. The reality is, nobody knows how to be in love. That’s something everyone has to work on in their own way. Real love is not about being selfish. It’s about not looking at yourself, but looking at the other person. And if the other person is doing the same thing, that’s when things grow.

“I didn’t know that when I was 16. No way in the world. It’s something I came to understand over the years. I made a lot of mistakes and I had to learn from them. I came to understand that if I do for her, it can come back to me, and that’s what has happened.”

Capice says Susie is very caring. He also thinks she’s thoughtful and funny.

“The longer we’ve been together, the more humorous she’s become,” he says. “She can keep you laughing all the time.”

Would he have ever imagined that the shy 16-year-old peeking from behind a wall would one day be his wife?

Of course not.

But that’s just what happened. Susie certainly didn’t know she was peeking into her future the day she met Capice, but she’s very glad she did.

And she’s glad neither one of them chose to give up when the view got a little obscured from time to time.

“I caught her a few times, peeking at me,” he laughs. “At the time, being young, it made me feel cool. After that, we started talking. That’s when everything started.”