“The biggest thing with me, I met with my pastor a lot for [premarital] counseling, and the biggest thing was that people prepare a lot for the wedding, they plan for the wedding, but they don’t plan for marriage,” Hightower said. “I’ve been single for 25 years, so I know how to be single. But I don’t know how to be married. That was my biggest thing. I really wanted to plan and learn how to make that transition because you hear a lot of stuff, you hear what people tell you and what your parents tell you. But I wanted to know for me. I wanted to do something to give myself a chance [to succeed].”
Hightower studied like it was his marriage playbook.
“I took away a lot of things. I was highlighting and taking notes,” he laughed. “I think the biggest thing is: A, know what you’re getting yourself into from the standpoint of, you know, the person who you’re dealing with, that’s who you’re dealing with. Not to try to make them be this ideal figure that you have in your head. Not to try to make them be someone who you’ve heard about or who your mother has told you. To deal with them for who they are. Love them and appreciate them for who they are.
“And then B,” he continued, “give things time to grow. It’s not an overnight process, and to really be patient. Just because you put a ring on your finger one day doesn’t mean all of a sudden you wave a magic wand and everything’s perfect.”
Hightower and his bride, Rikki, got married quietly on June 2 at Episcopal High School in Alexandria in front of close friends and family. He admitted that he cried and said that, despite trying to keep it low key, it was a hectic day.
“It happened very fast. I don’t think I got a chance to taste the food,” he said. “One minute you’re getting yourself ready, you’re putting all your stuff on, the next thing you know you’re taking pictures and then everyone’s leaving. We had some nice surprises, though. Kenny Lattimore showing up and singing to my wife, I didn’t know that was gonna happen. That was pretty cool.”
As far as what’s next, Hightower admits that married life could get harder before it gets easier.
“A lot of people say it’s hard, which I’m sure it’s going to be very hard,” he said. “For me, I do better when I can put all of my attention, my focus, my passion, my effort into one thing. I think that’s why I’m okay at football. I don’t do well when I have to divide my attention.”
That won’t make football season easy for Rikki, but Hightower is confident she’ll understand when his attention, focus, passion and effort shifts to the Redskins in a couple of months.
“She knew that,” he said. “She knew what she signed up for. But she’s been great.”