The Different Types of Love: Paige Parker & Jim Rogers
In this series, we explore the different forms and facets of love that exist in this world. Some may be more straightforward, while others can’t be easily defined. But love holds no boundaries and the celebration of the human heart should be captured with richness, colour and dimension.
How would you describe Paige as a person?
JIM: Sweet as pie. Well, she has changed a lot in 20 years, and is much more sophisticated and cosmopolitan as a person. She was extremely confident back then and she still is. She’s a whirlwind—and has enormous energy.
How would you describe Jim as a person?
PAIGE: He’s extremely passionate about the things he believes in and he’s a maniac. I don’t think you can be really successful and not be a certain way. It’s good and bad, and when he wants to get something done—it’s the only thing he can think about. He is so kind to his daughters, but when we were going around the world, he wasn’t very empathetic with me. However, when his mother visited us in Argentina to see the Iguazu Falls and was moving at a slower pace than us, Jim was so kind and got her a wheelchair. That incident made me hopeful that if one day he had children, he would treat them well. Deep down, he is kind, pragmatic and when I first met Jim (at 54), he had more energy than the younger guys I had dated before. He’s a Renaissance man. And what I loved about him when we first met was that we could go to a local joint for Southern barbecue and at the same time, enjoy the ballet. To have someone who can do both extremes is rare, because most men can’t.
You went to the ballet on your first date.
PAIGE: Yes. When we were in Spain, we met a wonderful woman named Chon who said to me, “The world is full of rich men and even more poor ones, but there are very few interesting men. He’s an interesting man and that’s hard to find.”
JIM: Good ol’ Chon.
What are the top 3 memories you have travelling the world together?
PAIGE: The wedding.
JIM: We got married in Henley-on-Thames.
PAIGE: The other would be being held at gunpoint in Angola—Jim took out a Polaroid camera and started taking pictures of the general.
JIM: Which could have gotten us killed… taking pictures at a war zone.
PAIGE: But the men whom I feared more than anything else, ultimately saved our lives. If they had let us drive on, we would have been blown up on the bridge, because the soldiers had mined it to keep UNITA (The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) away.
JIM: The Sahara…
PAIGE: The Sahara was pretty romantic.
JIM: It’s the same size as the continental US, and it was a whole experience. The Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, everyone should at least see once. Another standout was passing through the war zone in Manipur—the only time I was scared on the trip but I didn’t tell Paige. Anyway, since this interview is about Love, on the last leg of the trip, we were in Palo Alto and a lady came running over to us. She said, “Oh my gosh, this is my dream. I always wanted to go around the world.” That happened to us everywhere by the way; everybody wants to go around the world or dreams about it. She added, “That’s a two-seater, isn’t it?” I said, yeah. She said, “Every day for three years? Side by side? Again, I said, yeah. She continued, “My fiancé and I set out to drive from the east coast to the west coast and we hate each other. That son of a bitch got out halfway and I didn’t even slow down.” So, if you want to find out about Love, drive to KL in a two-seater.
PAIGE: I remember the time when we were in Bolivia and we were having dinner with some locals. I picked up my bowl of soup and drank from it… and before I knew it, all their jaws dropped. Jim, without missing a beat, picked up his and drank from it too. That’s love, right? Back to the Sahara story, we ended up sleeping at a place filled with nomads who had a massive yurt. The men were out with the camels while the women stayed behind, so they came over to look inside our tiny tent. They were not impressed. But that very night, we drank a bottle of 1968 Tio Pepe Sherry, which was given to us in Madrid by a woman whose family were the makers of Tio Pepe. I was born in 1968 and she wanted me to drink it on a special night, so we did… in the Sahara Desert… under the stars. Such moments were special because they’re not easy to come by.
JIM: Anybody can go to the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower. You should finish your story.
PAIGE: The next morning when we woke up, I went outside the tent to brush my teeth and there were scores of camels all around us—the men had brought the camels home.
JIM: It was a pretty startling sight.
Out of all the places in the world, where is your favourite place to be with Paige?
PAIGE: Think before you speak!
JIM: I did! Where is my favourite place? To be at home with Paige.
I understand that you have been married three times. When was the moment you knew you wanted to marry Paige?
JIM: Well, I proposed to her when I finished the New York City Marathon. I guess I must have known a while back. But that was the moment I acted on it.
PAIGE: You had a ring.
JIM: I didn’t have to give it to you… I could have sold it at Christie’s. [laughs]
How about the moment you knew you fell in love with her?
JIM: Pretty early. I guess when I took her to the Henley Royal Regatta, and it was my first time making the Guinness Book of Records.
PAIGE: He was so proud to show me the trophy with his name on it [laughs].
JIM: Anyway, that was when I realised that Paige was different from anybody else and was worth pursuing.
Has the 26-year age gap affected your relationship in any way?
JIM: Not that I know of. Sometimes people think that I am the children’s grandfather.
PAIGE: When I first started dating Jim and we talked about getting married, a couple of my girlfriends said to me, “He is so much older.” And I replied: What if something happens to him? But I would rather have 10 years with him than a lifetime of mediocracy. To me, it was worth rolling the dice. I have had friends whose husbands had heart attacks and they aren’t here anymore. You kinda never really know… Jim has a very young mind and he’s still fit. I think people get caught up with our age gap more than us.
JIM: I am trying to think if it has ever come up. I don’t remember.
PAIGE: It has come up a lot.
JIM: Like where?
PAIGE: People don’t bring it up at dinner conversations. But when we were living in New York, as soon as Jim introduced me, I could see how women… uhh you know…
JIM: She was the young bimbo.
PAIGE: I went along with it and made fun of the situation. When they asked me, “How did you meet Jim?” I said: I was a groupie. The truth is I read his book and my boss at the time suggested that I go and hear him speak. So that was how we met. If people are going to pass judgement on me, why not give them something to talk about?
JIM: It never came up during our trip… we crossed many borders…
PAIGE: Oh, those women I talked to in Russia said to me, “He’s old like your father.”
JIM: Which women?
PAIGE: I danced with them that night. You went to bed. I drank vodka.
JIM: Yeah, you were drinking vodka.
Why do you think your marriage with Paige has lasted so long as compared to your previous marriages?
JIM: That’s an extremely good question. I guess it’s because of L-O-V-E. I looked it up! See. If you spend three years going around the world in a two-seater, it’s not going to get any worse than that. You have tested everything and tried it all. If you can go through that, you’re probably destined to be together.
What is it about your relationship that makes you really happy?
PAIGE: I am really proud of Jim, our children, and what we do. I like our life together, and it brings goodness and feeds my soul.
Do you recall the most vulnerable moment in your marriage?
PAIGE: We weren’t married yet, but the time when he called off our wedding in Italy was pretty bad. Ummm, that was probably the lowest moment. In the marriage… Once Happy was born, we had to change the way we were and not fight over things that didn’t matter, because it wasn’t healthy for us. So I decided not to make mountains out of molehills, and just let stuff go. I also learned to let Jim think that a lot of my ideas were his. [laughs] I also felt vulnerable during the time when we were trying to have our first child and it didn’t happen as fast as I wanted.
JIM: I don’t have an answer. I’m sure I must have one. Before the marriage, I got awfully agitated at times.
PAIGE: I’ve seen you vulnerable during the time when your mum and dad passed away. But Jim is pretty tough.
JIM: I was surprised at how sad I was when my mother died. She was 93. Her condition had been deteriorating for a long time.
PAIGE: Maybe the birth of Happy?
JIM: Well, I’m not sure if that classifies as being vulnerable. My girls have made me cry more than I have ever cried in my whole life—and it’s mainly joy. Once, Happy was about to get an injection and I started to cry. Normally it is supposed to be the other way around. She took the shot and didn’t feel a thing, while I was the only one crying in the room. Anyway, I have cried a lot because of them… and the things that they have done.
What would make you leave him? Or to you, is a deal breaker?
PAIGE: I guess if he didn’t respect me.
Is there something that terrifies you or a fear that you have with regard to your marriage?
PAIGE: If anything were to happen to our children…
JIM: I read about people who have lost their children and it’s incomprehensible. How terrible it must be.
PAIGE: Sometimes I worry about my parents (they’re older than Jim) and as they age, I have young children. My parents live so far away and it is a concern that weighs heavily on me.
JIM: Yeah. And Paige is the only child, whereas I have four siblings.
PAIGE: I think we can’t live in fear. My dad’s mother had five sons and her husband died when my dad was 15. They didn’t have a lot of money, so my dad had to work at a very young age. I remember going over to her house and she was living in fear… she wasn’t educated and hadn’t travelled much. I never want to be fearful.
Are you worried that you might outlive Jim?
PAIGE: He says that he is going to outlive me. So we will see…
JIM: That’s the plan.
Who do you think has more power in the relationship?
JIM: The children.
PAIGE: It probably depends on what we are dealing with.
Favourite imperfect thing about each other?
JIM: She doesn’t have any.
PAIGE: [laughs] His maniac drive to get something done. That very quality was what drew me to him, but as he gets older, I want him to slow down. I remember telling my mum two years ago: I just wish that he would slow down. And she said, “This is the man you fell in love with and if you try to change him, he will not be happy.” Jim travels incessantly—he does so many things and likes to keep himself busy. Top that, baby [laughs].
JIM: Sometimes I think that she is not as strict with the children as she should be.
PAIGE: Are you serious? I am so much stricter than you are!
JIM: I knew she was going to say the same about me.
PAIGE: That’s a crock.
What do you do that drives him crazy?
PAIGE: I don’t think it drives him crazy, but he thinks I spend a lot of time doing things for others and maybe that energy could be better spent elsewhere. Is that true?
JIM: Perhaps, I do wonder. It’s a pain but that’s what she does. What would she do if she didn’t do that?
What do you do that drives her crazy?
PAIGE: He plays the radio too loudly and has the BBC on all the time. That’s my number one pet peeve.
What has been the biggest conflict in your marriage?
JIM: The BBC. [laughs] There was no conflict going around the world, no conflict moving to Singapore, no conflict about having children, and how to raise them.
PAIGE: I wanted to have children more than you did.
JIM: Definitely. I never ever wanted to have children. But I was 60 then, and thought that if I were to ever try, now would be the time. It wasn’t a conflict. Every major or minor decision has been agreed upon.
PAIGE: Funny story. We couldn’t decide on names for Happy. So we each got two names. When Happy was born, he said, “What do you want to name her?” And I said: Perfection. Obviously, we were not going to name our child that. Eventually, he said, “I want you to have all the names.” He was so emotional… he was crying and was so happy. At that moment, I knew that he was a changed man!
When was a time where you took each other for granted?
PAIGE: Every day.
JIM: Yeah, I was going to say that. I don’t know if it is bad or good.
PAIGE: It’s the people who mean the most to us that we should treat the best, but we don’t—because we feel like they would understand, since they’re close to us.
JIM: I know what she is going to do and should do. Is that confidence or taking her for granted?
Is there anything missing in your current marriage?
JIM: Millions of dollars. I wish I had more time for my kids to travel with me. But they have to go to school, and we chose to live in Singapore because of the education system.
PAIGE: Jim is an older father and when we do things, we always do them as a family, so that we can spend as much time together. Once in a blue moon, we get our couple time. It works for us and we made that conscious decision… but maybe that’s something lacking.
What do you think makes your marriage unique from everyone else’s?
JIM: That it survived.
PAIGE: We still like each other.
JIM: Most marriages don’t survive in 2018. In China, the divorce rates are skyrocketing.
PAIGE: You are going to see it continue and there will be fewer marriages because women aren’t going to take it anymore. They are only going to stay with someone if they are respected.
JIM: There is a huge shortage of women, especially in Asia. So women know that they have to be treated like women. They are not going to put up with it.
PAIGE: Ultimately, we both value each other and what we bring to the relationship.
Finally, what does Jim mean to you?
PAIGE: Happiness and comfort.
And what does Paige mean to you?
JIM: Family. We are a group. They’re so important to me, but that wasn’t always the case. You see, I was never interested in having a family at all. Even my own family when I was growing up… I look back on it and think about what my father and mother had to go through. They both got married in their early 20s—they knew nothing about life, never been anywhere. And suddenly, my mother had 4 sons in 6 years before she was 29. She was an only child and had no clue what was going on.
PAIGE: I think Wy-Lene is asking beyond family.
JIM: She’s my companion, my partner, my soulmate… my support.