Their individual personalities look like fire and ice. But family law attorney Linda Jackson and artisan carpenter Paul Hudson have forged a seven-year marriage that Ms. Jackson calls a friendship on fire. During an interview in their handcrafted, airy Edgartown home, they discussed how families, careers and life perspectives intersect to produce both prize-winning cupcakes and recognition of happiness by complete strangers.
Interviews by Jack Shea
I felt really comfortable with Paul because I felt that he didn’t want to change me and I didn’t want to change him. I know that I have a really strong personality for a woman and my own experience tells me that not every guy can handle that, nor do they want to. He’s secure, spiritually and emotionally mature. He’s not threatened by being married to someone who’s strong, who has strong opinions, a successful career. I think he was looking for an equal partner, not someone to dominate or make demands on.
He’s understated but he’s savvy and makes good judgments. I respect him. My Dad was the most influential person in my life. I didn’t marry my father, he and Paul are not the same person but they have a lot in common. My father always thought before he spoke. He never made my sisters and I feel badly about ourselves. Paul is like that.
The other day, I read or heard someone describing a successful relationship as a friendship on fire. That’s what it is with us; we had a friendship for six months before there was any romantic interest. I’m living in fifth gear and he’s living in second. That’s how we do life. But after six months, I slowed down enough to look and see who this guy was and what he was about. He’s the kind of guy who’s going to show you. He’s a master craftsman. He puts a lot of himself in his work and I do too.
We have complementary personalities. I’m just out in the limelight. He’s my rock. Without him I couldn’t do everything I want to do. I have a good, stable home life and relationship. That gives me the inner resources to do my legal work, help other people out, get involved with our families, cooking and baking [her coconut cupcakes took third place at the agricultural fair this year], volunteer with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The truth is I would never be as successful in my personal or professional life without him.
We agree on most of the important things and we don’t argue about a lot of the little stuff.
He’s funny. I’m more serious. When you get to know me, I can be funny but I’m hammy. Paul is witty. His view of the world is humorous. True story. We were at dinner in Naples, Florida where we have a place and he got going, one liner after one liner, the tears are running down my face and I‘m begging him to stop. He’s laughing. After dinner, an older guy who was having dinner with his wife, married forty years probably, came to our table. He said, “Whatever you are doing to make each other laugh like that, you need to keep doing it.”
I had a first marriage early on and it wasn’t the right choice for me, although he was a nice person, because I was too young to know myself well enough to make the right choice. I got married again when I knew more about myself.
My marriage helps me in my professional work. I get to hear the innermost issues in people’s lives and I need to show up for that and that means being emotionally present. Sometimes people will listen to their lawyer when they won’t listen to anyone else and I think I’m privileged in that respect and I need to be conscientious in my use of words because they carry authority.
I didn’t plan to be a lawyer. I feel like I could have been a landscape architect or an interior decorator, or, I don’t know, write cooking books. My father’s influence allowed me and my sister to be successful in nontraditional careers, fields that are traditionally dominated by men.
His weaknesses? Hmm, he doesn’t have a lot. Kryptonite, maybe. His weaknesses are too much History Channel and CNN his winding down time which is different from mine. When I get through working I want to do something physical, go to the gym, the jacuzzi, go to Copley Plaza and buy a Prada pocketbook. He’s had a day of physical work so quiet time is important to him.
He may have defects that other people see but I don’t see them that way, His ways don’t get under my skin and I have acceptance for things that do bother me. I like him the way he is. We have a good life together.
I grew up in Taunton and spent my summers in Rose Point, Wareham where my grandparents had a place. So I spent my summers there and it was like having two lives. I didn’t feel I was stuck in one place, Wareham was a totally different environment with a lot of summer kids from different places, a lot of diversity.
Taunton was a factory town, silversmithing and textiles dominated. It started drying up in the late 1970s and I graduated from high school in 1978 in the middle of that change. It was weird. My grandparents worked for Reed and Barton and Revere silversmiths their whole lives and retired from it. The company thing. They were working people living the American dream, a house, the Wareham summer house and the little Florida place for the winter.
My parents separated when I was 14, 15. My mother went back to college nights to better herself and my dad worked in restaurant management. It wasn’t a broken home thing. Plus I had the benefit of my grandparents. They were like a second set of parents and that was good for me, They showed me great morals and values. Grandparents are good because they are easy to talk to and they don’t rat on you. They were more like friends that you could depend on.
I got a great job at U.S. Steel in the foundry doing castings but that went away when we began importing steel from South Africa. We couldn’t compete with prison labor. Another industry that dried up in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan took over. I moved to Falmouth and began doing carprentry in 1984 and I have been at it ever since.
I love what I do because the work here is custom work. Building on the Cape was pretty much cookie cutter. I’ve been subcontracting with the same guys for 12 years now. Good guys. I guess I’m kind of the senior guy when someone has a question on how to do something.
I married for the first time, when I was 41 six years ago. I’d known Linda for a couple of years. I’d define her as your typical A-type personality. She has that constant drive for perfection. I like things to be nice but I’m a little more laid back. She relaxes when things are in order. It’s part of her personality, of who she is today. She had a focus about her, seemed to have another depth that I wasn’t used it. It was kind of intriguing. Some facets of her personality that can drive me crazy is what got her to where she is today. She helps a lot of people who would not be able to get help anywhere else, it’s not just a job to her. She is devoted to the people she represents and I respect her for that. She tries to be on the side of right, to do the right thing and I respect that.
But what I found is that she’s a homebody, very traditional. When I first met her I thought, Oh, she is a lawyer, on a fast track and we’re going to be out every night, but she’s not like that. She likes to cook, have the house a certain way, maybe a little flowery for me, but she’s the woman, it’s her home and it makes her happy.
Things that bother me about her? Hard to put my finger on it. She’s constantly moving forward and I need a break every now and then.
We have the same goals, we just have different routes to get there. We do have a great relationship because we like each other and that’s the key to it. I help her to slow down. She’s more of a planner. I’m more spur of the moment. When we go on vacation, she prefers to plan it all before we leave and when I’m on vacation, I want to wake up in the morning and decide whether I want a cup of coffee or walk downtown and have breakfast.
We have arguments and disagreements. I mean, she’s trained in that so I have to be on my game when that happens. But we always have a cooling off period. I’ll say where I’m wrong and she says where she’s wrong and then we’ll go back and look at the real issue and resolve it. It’s different when you’re single and there’s a selfishness, you do have goals and you’ll reach them eventually or maybe they’ll change. But when you’re married there’s more focus, more attention on home life. For example, she was paying exorbitant rent for office space and I felt we could build something for her and then it would be ours in 20 years. The family room was my idea but she wanted it because she loves to cook and to entertain family and friends.
No, I wouldn’t have all this if I weren’t married to her.