On Marriage, Part II: Ali Velshi and Lori Wachs

How does a couple wrangle not just two high-pressure jobs, but also two different addresses? Ali Velshi and Lori Wachs talk about the perks of an unconventional love.

Photograph by Robert Schroeder

Photograph by Robert Schroeder

ALI [Al Jazeera America host]: We’ve been married five years. We met on my show.

LORI [president, cross ledge investments]: It was my first time ever on TV.

ALI: I’m not usually here [at home in Bryn Mawr] during the week. I have an apartment in New York. On Fridays I get on a 9 p.m. train from Penn Station, and I pull up at 10:50 p.m. in Bryn Mawr. And I usually leave Sunday night again. It’s great. It’s like date night all the time.

LORI: A fair amount of events that Ali’s involved with come up during the week. I certainly don’t go to all of them, but if there’s one that’s important, I’ll run up for it. And it becomes date night.

ALI: It’s about once a week. And then it’s, does she take the last train out or the first train in?

LORI: He becomes like a cute college boyfriend: “Can’t you stay over? Please?” And I’m like, “No, I’m getting back to the kids.” [Lori has two children from a previous marriage.]

ALI: A very large portion of the time we spend communicating with each other is scheduling. First thing in the morning, we’re carving it all out. We’ve just started to share calendars on Evernote, so that helps.

LORI: We spend a lot of time on the phone. I’ve compared notes with my friends, and I’m quite convinced that we probably end up communicating more than a lot of people living in the same house. Ali has a schedule every day of where he’s going, and if it’s a particularly busy day, he’ll send it to me that morning, like, these are my whereabouts.

ALI: Because it’s sort of a connection. You know what I’m up to, but mostly it’s kind of like living my life with me. Because Lori’s life, during the day, is a little more normal. It’s based out of an office. Mine’s all over the place. If I don’t keep myself as busy, then I really feel it. I probably overfill my schedule to try and compensate for not having Lori around.

LORI: Our weekends are pretty sacrosanct. The plan is, we are together every weekend. To this day, the most consecutive time we’ve spent together is two-week trips, and we’ve been together 11 years.

ALI: If anything, our weekends are much more domestic than many, because there’s no way to spread that stuff over the course of the week. The tension is that we just want to hang out together but stuff has to get done. Plans often tend to fall by the wayside.

LORI: That was something that we needed to come together on. Early on, by the time Ali got to the weekend, he had been on all week long and he just wanted to hang out with me. Which should be very flattering …

ALI: I just wanted to hang out and watch TV and eat Chinese food on the couch.

LORI: But for me, I had been busy with the kids doing homework all week, and on the weekends, I was wanting to go out. It took us some time to find a balance of making plans on a Saturday night and making sure that we really block off certain weekends just for us.

ALI: We often say, Let’s go to a movie. When was the last time we even watched a movie? Tonight we’re having a real going-out night with other humans. We had to make a reservation.

LORI: Given our setup, it really still always feels so new. And it sounds corny, but it’s true: On Friday nights, I’m excited to get in the car and go pick him up. There’s nothing that ever feels routine about us. I feel very lucky. And we talk about that often, how lucky we feel.

ALI: I remember when I was single, always thinking, That was such an amazing experience, I wish there was somebody else to help me record it. The idea that you’ve developed and you’ve shared that emotional history with another human, and you grow to understand her likes and dislikes, that’s the best part.

LORI: And we often tell each other how happy we are and how lucky we feel. It helps keep you feeling safe and good about things.

ALI: I like that. I don’t think I can do better than that. That’s good.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Read how Ralph and Suzanne Roberts have kept the romance alive for more than seven decades, and check out more great discussions from our Conversation Issue.