Years Married: 10.5
Kids: 2 (7-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl)
Occupations: Melissa is a patient representative in an endoscopy center, and Emerald works as customer service for a national A/C distribution company.
Hobbies/Interests: We like to do fun things with the kids, such as the beach or pool, or having a movie night in the comfort of our home with lots of snacks. We also like to have friends over for game nights, and we love to go out to dinner with friends.
Favorite flavor of ice cream: Emerald - Rum Raisin; Melissa - Strawberry with real strawberries in it.
Q. What is the hardest thing you have faced in your marriage, and how have you overcome it?
We think the hardest thing we have faced in our marriage has been how young we were when we got married. We were married in high school, as teenagers, and started with nothing. While most couples save for their wedding and first home, and are usually established before taking that big step, we were married before Melissa even had her high school diploma. We both had to get jobs and we faced financial hardships trying to make it on our own. When we got our first apartment and felt love was enough to conquer it all, we worked long hours and shared one car, all to make it back home with just enough time to enjoy each other. Trying to survive, while trying to enjoy our marriage was very difficult.
Q. How has working through challenges brought you closer together as a couple?
Most of our challenges have been financial. We went from high school straight to working full time jobs and taking the responsibility of rent, a car payment, and all the bills that come along with married life. Our biggest challenge was budgeting our money and making sure we could make ends meet, all while helping our future look better. Our communication and trust got stronger because of these challenges, and because everything we were getting, we were getting together. All of our learning took place together. From our first car loan to the lease on the apartment, and even our joint bank account, we did together. We had full transparency on spending and savings, and we always communicated before making any big purchase. Experiencing all our major “firsts,” together definitely strengthened our teamwork and communication.
Q. How do you show each other that you love each other?
At first we tried to show each other we loved each other by showing love the way we felt love.
M: For example, Emerald loved doing acts of service. Anything to help me, such as washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.
E: And Melissa tried to show me love by encouraging me and verbally reassuring me. Until we found out about the 5 Love Languages book. This book explains the different ways we express love and feel loved.
M: It turns out Emerald feels most loved when I am physically affectionate with him, and I feel most loved when he is verbally reassuring me.
E: That book changed everything.
M: I now know to be more physical with him, whether holding hands, giving him a back massage after he gets home from work, or sharing long hugs to say, "Hello," and "Good-bye." And now Emerald is more expressive in letting me know what he admires in me, letting me know he appreciates me, or when he thinks I’m beautiful, or doing something awesome with kids, or in my blogging.
E: It is important to show love in the way your spouse feels it the most. This definitely keeps our love tank full.
Q. How do you work as a team in all of your responsibilities at home – house, yard, cars, kids, bills, etc?
M: Emerald grew up in a home with a single dad, and I grew up in a home where my dad worked and my mom took care of everything in the house. At first I felt a lot of pressure to be the perfect mother and wife, even working full time. I felt it was my job alone to keep the house clean, cook, and take care of the kids. However, Emerald was used to seeing a dad who not only worked, but took care of everything in the house too, so we found a perfect balance.
E: We are a team. There’s no gender specific task. We both work full time and come home to work together.
M: It is easier for me to cook and clean, while he does the yard work and laundry, but whenever something needs to get done we both work at it together.
E: When it comes to the kids, we handle them as a team. I get them ready and dropped off to school in the morning, and Melissa does the carpool in the afternoon.
Q. What have you learned about the importance of apologizing and offering/accepting forgiveness?
We have learned that the most important thing in apologizing and forgiveness is communication. We know now that there were a lot of things we simply did out of habit that may have offended one another. When we kept things in, we would build up resentment and anger with one another, without ever letting the other person know what they did wrong. We found that we are two imperfect people learning to be one, and so we must put pride aside and be considerate of each other’s feelings. Communicate, be humble, apologize and forgive quickly.
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
M: One of our favorite dates was actually a little weekend getaway we had last year. We planned it for Emerald's birthday weekend, and had the kids stay with my parents one day and their aunt and uncle the next.
E: We went to Naples, Florida. We stayed two days and two nights and it just seemed like the date that wouldn’t end. We were able to enjoy the beach and pool, and be completely into one another. We took a boat ride and saw dolphins. We enjoyed the sunset on the dock and even went to a couple of local shops and ended both days with a romantic dinner.
M: In those two days we were able to feel "young and in love," without the responsibility of the kids. It is awesome when you can take a break from reality and routine and just enjoy the quietness.
E: Holding hands, being affectionate, and conversations that keep us connected help us get to know each other more.
Q. What are your three best tips for a healthy sexual relationship?
1. Prioritize. A lot of people enjoy it when they get married and it's something that happens naturally and frequently, but when the routine starts and when the babies come, things change. Life gets busy and we can use a million excuses as to why we can't fit sex in our schedule. We have found that doing simple things, like putting the kids to bed earlier, or simply being ready to jump at the opportunity when it presents itself helps, rather than waiting to be "in the mood." Sex is something you can easily take for granted when you’re married.
2. Affection. Affection is not something that should just be shown during sex. It all starts outside of the bedroom during the day. Wake up, kiss, and hug each other "Good morning, goodbye, etc." Send texts throughout the day, or a phone call at lunch… Make sure to hold hands when you go out, or put your hands around one another. Staying connected physically makes sex more enjoyable, and just an extension of the affection you have already shown each other throughout the day.
3. Intimacy. Sex is the most vital way to become one and be intimate. It's something you only share with your spouse. However, if we don’t make intimacy out of the bedroom something to work for, then sex doesn’t come easily either. Intimacy is “into me see,"...having your spouse see into you. Wanting to know you, your thoughts, your feelings, your desires, etc. All that starts outside of the bedroom, so we have to make sure we are communicating, dating, talking and growing in our knowledge of one another. Being transparent and open as best friends makes that intimacy grow and then the love making bonds the relationship more tightly.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
After almost eleven years of marriage, we have to say that one of the major things that has kept us together is our faith. And knowing that marriage takes work. As young teenagers we were naïve and thought love was all we needed, but marriage is not a destination, it's constant work. We can never get to a place where we think our love is maxed out, or that we know each other perfectly. Love is doing. We must continually pursue one another, set boundaries, goals, and dreams together. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, but our true joy comes from knowing our marriage is a covenant and not a contract. It is a commitment to love one another, to respect and to put each other above self. We have found joy in our partnership, in cherishing each other, and in growing in life together seeing our dreams come true.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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