It’s Valentine’s week! I thought we’d celebrate with a few Share the Love posts! Share the Love is a series we do where we ask three questions: 1. What is your love story? 2. What is your favorite thing about your spouse? and 3. What is the best marriage advice you have to offer?
This post is from Julie. Julie is my sister-in-law (Rich’s sister), but also my friend. She’s my sister-friend. One of the things I most, most admire about Julie is how willing she is to show interest in her husband’s interests. I was really glad to see she talks about this in her post, but seriously she has gone way out of her comfort zone to do some crazy things with this husband of hers. If I had married a super sportsy/oudoorsy type, I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t be nearly as adaptable as Julie. 🙂 – Celeste
Our love story begins on our first date. It started then, not because it was love at first sight, but because that’s when our friendship started. The best thing about our marriage is that Nelson is my absolute best friend in the world and has been for almost nine years now.
We dated that spring and summer, having a blast doing things like disco skating, snow tubing in the moonlight, hiking, four-wheeling, going to baseball and football games, attending devotionals and church institute classes, spending time with our families* at cabins and barbeques, picnicking, and emailing and talking on the phone all the time. If you want to get married, do fun things like that on your dates J. Nelson held my hand for the first time two months after we started dating, the day before I left for a month-long Ballroom tour to Ukraine, and kissed me two months after that. I appreciate so much that, again, our relationship was founded on friendship and not only physical attraction.
Since that time, we have had three angels born into our family. I know that in some marriages, having children can cause a rift and incredible stress. I’m not saying that we haven’t had our share of difficulty in parenting, but we have found more joy with our children than we ever thought possible. Autumn, Anna, and David have made our love for each other grow, and they are a huge part of our love story.
Right now, we love to stay up way too late talking after Nelson gets home from a typical 15 hour day of work and/or school. We love spending time outside together and with our kids- hiking, camping, skiing, running, playing at the park, etc. We love eating really delicious food together. We love going to church together. We are grateful for each other. We have had some really tough times and lots of tears. But thankfully, we are striving to improve our relationship and are both continuing to be better for each other. If our love story ended today, it would be a happy ending. Thankfully though, we are both working to make sure this is a never-ending love story.
Besides his determination, intelligence, sense of humor, attention to detail, faith, love for our kids and being a dad, and especially his ridiculously good looks, one of my very favorite things about Nelson is that he inspires me to do things I never thought I would or could do.
- Example 1: When we were first married, Nelson gently convinced his mom and me to sign up for a marathon that he and his dad were planning to run together. Growing up, I never thought I would run a marathon (think chubby kid who preferred reading and drawing over sports), and though the training and race were tough at times, we made lasting memories and strengthened our relationship with each other and with his parents. I even kind of like running now. Who’d have thought?
- Example 2: Nelson has a unique and deep love of this beautiful earth that God created. He wants to share that love with others. From our first winter camping trip as newlyweds to our recent 75 mile trek across the Uinta Highline Trail, he has literally shown me a new world that I never would have seen without him. You know in that song, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” how they say, “Well that’s the one thing we got”? That’s how we feel about the Highline trip we did—even if things are hard in our marriage and we can’t seem to see eye to eye, we always have that amazing, unifying experience to fall back on: something we both loved and something we accomplished together.
- Walking outside each day, Nelson exclaims what a beautiful day it is—whether it’s sunny, raining, snowing, whatever. It has been sweet to see our kids embrace that and say “It’s a beautiful day!” in all kinds of weather, too. Our little two year old Anna walked to church with Nelson a few weeks ago in gale-force winds and hail (I might be exaggerating a little, but that’s what I seem to remember). Red faced but smiling, she told him, “I was born for coldy wind Daddy!” I think that was a proud moment for him. He has also volunteered as the Scoutmaster for our local congregation for the last 5 years, working with 12 & 13 year old young men. The very first backpacking trip he took them on was a difficult 18 mile hike to Mount Nebo. I actually joined them on that hike (back when we had one toddler and it was so much easier to get away!). It was hard, but they still talk about what a great accomplishment that was, and the view from the top. Since then, they have done monthly camp-outs and backpacking trips – including a 50 miler– where they have seen some of the most beautiful parts of our state. The eyes of the boys and other leaders are opened to the intricacies and grandeur of nature that Nelson appreciates so much.
- Example 3: My whole life, I have been a vanilla and berry flavor kind of person. Then came Nelson who literally gags at the fake scent of berry anything (candy, lotion, air freshener, you name it). So now I have come to really enjoy chocolate. I don’t know that this is necessarily a good thing except that it makes picking a milkshake to share easier if I like chocolate, too. If you haven’t tried a Lindt milk chocolate bar, you must. So, so good. There is actually an open one sitting right by the computer that I’m trying to resist as I type (Nelson wakes up almost every night looking for something chocolate to eat, so I’d better save it for him tonight)
Best Marriage Advice:
My good friend Tracy is a marriage and family therapist. I recently asked her if she had a recommendation on a book about improving communication in a marriage—something that Nelson and I are perpetually working on. Tracy suggested a book called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman, PhD. I’m a few chapters in, and I like it so far. In his research, Dr. Gottman has pinpointed an action that really helps communication. He calls it repair attempts, which is trying to repair or reduce tension in an escalating discussion. Nelson and I now have a vocabulary word to describe something we discovered several years ago that has been one of the biggest helps in our tense/frustrated/upset conversations. Sometimes Nelson will say “I’m sorry” first (he’s good at that). Sometimes one of us will bring up a favorite inside joke to evoke a smile. Or sometimes, we’ll do this silly little thing where we grab each other by the right hand, then bring our clasped hands down and say “PALS!” to show that we’re over whatever was making us mad and that we’re moving on. Those are all examples of repair attempts. If your spouse is the one trying to relieve tension or lighten the mood, you have to be willing to accept their repair attempt on some level for it to help.
So next time you’re both mad about something, try a repair attempt and see if you can laugh it off or move on.