Years Married: 30 years
Kids: 3 (all girls)
Location: Meridian, ID
Occupation/Hobbies/Etc.: John works as a Financial Controller for a machine shop and Cheri works as an Administrative Assistant at a high school. John enjoys fishing, golfing, shooting, date nights and spending time with the grandkids. Cheri enjoys photography, graphic design, bike riding, shopping, date nights and spending time with the kids and grandkids.
The Little Things
Q. Will you share with us some of the little things you do together, or for each other, that nurture your marriage?
C: We enjoy going for walks and bike rides, going out to eat, going to movies and going to church. What I believe nurtures our marriage is when we spend time alone, without interruptions, and talk about what is going on in our lives. We also share responsibilities in the home, and after this many years of being together we automatically do the things we need to without the other person asking.
J: Cheri can do everything, so she really doesn't need me for much. I try to pull my weight around the house and do the things that I know she needs or likes. I try not to be selfish with my free time and use it to be with her as much as possible.
Q. Can you give us a few examples of things he/she has done for you that may seem small, but that have made a big difference?
C: Like I mentioned in the above question, John always takes the garbage out, mows the lawn, puts the dishes away or starts the dishwasher for me. He does all of the grocery shopping and always calls me to ask what I need after he gets off work - that might be a run to the store or to bring home dinner. He's quick to help me with anything I might be working on with regards to homework for my online classes or an assignment I have received from church. He's my best friend and treats me as such. Always making sure I know he is there to help me.
J: Cheri keeps me from looking like a troll. She does nice things for me all the time - like making my favorite meal, helping me shop for clothes, when necessary, and even shaving the back of my neck between haircuts.
Q. What specific ways has continued dating in marriage nurtured your marriage? Why do you feel dating is so vital in nurturing a marriage?
C: We always save Friday night for "Date Night." Even when our children were small, we always organized a babysitter or, if we couldn’t afford it, we would swap nights with another couple. Just like getting proper exercise or making time for hobbies, you must always make time for your marriage, as well. A proper balance in life of the physical, emotional, and spiritual is much like a three legged stool – all must be in balance to remain a support.
J: There have been stressful times when we did not "date," like we should have, and it was easy to see the difference from when we did. Going on a date every week, or so, provides us time to have fun, decompress and talk about our troubles with each other.
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
C: Now that our children are all grown, we have been able to do so many more things for our dates. One date was more like a mini-trip where we mountain-biked the Hiawatha Trail in Northern Idaho. It was amazing and did so much for our marriage. We always enjoy trying new things together. Trying new things together creates fun memories and experiences that strengthen our marriage.
J: I loved the Hiawatha Trail too, but my favorite date was probably white water rafting with Cheri on the South Fork of the Payette River. Through the rapids, we were both perched on the bow of the pontoons of a big cataraft and it was amazing.
Q. What are the obstacles you have faced in going on dates, and what have you done to ensure that dates happen?
C: The biggest obstacle is money, but we have always been very resourceful in that area. Dates don’t have to cost money. They just need to be done in a special way that feels different. One summer night, I grilled steaks and set up a candle-light dinner on the patio. I dressed up and John was surprised when he came home and was just was more flirtatious and happy than normal.
J: I would say the biggest obstacle for me is planning and time. Sometimes, no matter how much I have planned, a late work emergency has put the kibosh on our date plans.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
C: I believe an intimate relationship with my spouse means that we are there for each other in every aspect of intimacy – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and recreational.
J: I think having an intimate relationship is a lot more than just sex. For me, it means that I try to be as caring, tender, sweet and loving as I can be for Cheri. I always try to remember how special she is and give her my very best.
Q. There are many forms of intimacy in marriage, emotional intimacy being one of them. What does emotional intimacy look like to you, and what things have helped you draw closer together emotionally?
C: Emotional intimacy means being willing to listen and sometimes not offer a solution unless asked. It means being on the same page in most issues and when there is a disagreement, having mutual respect. It also helps in being the parents of adult children to make sure you, as a couple, back each other up when there are differences with the children. Children should know that mom and dad are going to give the same answer. A couple should become more and more like "one," the longer they are married. I have always believed that the longer you are married; you either grow together or you grow apart.
J: I believe emotional intimacy is more difficult, because we all tend to hide how we really feel sometimes. I try hard to read Cheri's mood and respond appropriately. Sometimes I actually get it right.
Q. What other things help you nurture the intimate relationship you have with your spouse?
C: We have shared this before, and some people have thought it was great advice. When one of us is "in the mood," we light a candle before bedtime so that the other person knows. If they aren’t in the mood, they blow the candle out. This has saved us from a lot of fights over intimacy.
J: I would say the most effective things I have done to help are pretty simple: 1) trying to keep my voice down, and 2) using the three magic words, "I am sorry."
Values to Live By
Q. What is your spouse’s strongest trait, or what is your favorite characteristic about your spouse?
C: John's strongest trait is how kind and helpful he is to me and to others. He is always helping others. What’s interesting is that that is the one trait that attracted me to him and can now drive me crazy. For example, he brings the shopping carts in from the parking lot, he pulls over and helps the person with the flat tire, he volunteers at church for anything and everything, etc.
J: I love Cheri because she has more than one "strongest trait" - she is my MVP. For example, when we first met, I went into her work and there was literally a giant portrait of her face on the wall that said, "Employee of the Month." I think every normal person likes Cheri. She is the whole package. Cheri is pretty, loving, smart, funny, hard working and just my kind of girl.
Q. How have those qualities nurtured your marriage?
C: His quality of kindness has nurtured our marriage because he genuinely loves me and treats me with the highest regard. His goal is to make me happy and that speaks volumes for our marriage.
J: I can always trust Cheri to try to fill in the things I can’t do. I loved how she used to care for and fuss over our girls when they were little. The little things build trust over time.
Q. What other values and principles bless and sustain your marriage?
C: Having a strong belief in God and making Him a part of our partnership has blessed our marriage immensely. Serving others side-by-side has also strengthened our marriage. Putting family first and enjoying every single day has made the past thirty years the best years of my life.
J: I really searched for God as a teenager and found The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in high school. I believe that if it were not for the LDS Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would have never had a marriage like the one I have with Cheri.
Routines and Rituals
Q. What things do you day-to-day that keep you connected?
C: We kiss each other good-bye and hello every single day...sometimes multiple times. We check in by cell phone, or text, or even email when we are away from each other. We pray together.
J: I try to stay connected and communicate with Cheri every single day. I believe I have a little ADD, so I have to work at remembering all of the things Cheri has going on so that I can help her when I can.
Q. Do you have any special places, things you say to each other, or other mini-traditions that are unique to your marriage?
J: We have funny nick-names for each other and for family members. We also have other special, inside, jokes that we repeat in order to relieve tension and stay unified as a couple.
Q. Do you have any routines/rituals around special occasions like anniversaries, Valentine's Day, birthdays, etc.
C: We just make sure we go out to dinner and usually purchase a present of the other ones choosing.
J: Well, first off, we try not to forget them. We are both pretty good at calendaring. We also have a tendency of calling out our own present! It sure reduces stress for the giver and prevents unnecessary gift returns.
Q. What specific suggestions can you share that have helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
C: Each person should take turns listening and talking. Sometimes the other person wants to come up with a solution before hearing the problem. Men usually need to be fed first before you tackle a challenging problem. The best time to resolve conflicts for us is after a good night's sleep and on a well fed stomach.
J: Sometimes we have to have a little fight before we solve a problem. But we have had less conflict as the years have gone on. I think we have just learned how to be an effective team. Sticking around and calmly working an issue out has worked better for me than leaving the house in order to cool off.
Q. How do you talk about hard things together, where you don’t see eye-to-eye?
C: We very seldom disagree on things because we’ve become so much alike. But, if we do disagree, spending time together listening to the other person's view helps in resolving those disagreements. Sometimes it just takes time. Be patient.
J: I have learned I have to tone it down a lot when we disagree. I have a tendency of talking loudly already, and I have found that girls do not react well to that. I have also learned to try and ask why she feels the way she does before I get upset and start trying to solve the wrong problem.
Q. What principles and/or practical suggestions have helped you, as a couple, manage your finances? What marriage-related financial tips could you share with other couples?
C: This has probably been the hardest issue in our marriage. We both enjoy spending money and have a hard time waiting until we can afford it. We also don’t like to tell the other person "no." I believe over time, we came to understand that we must both work at the finances and not give one person power over the other in deciding what we can and can’t buy. If one person has a problem spending money, then working on budgets together is extremely helpful.
J: I only have a little more money now than I had when we got married, which was no money at all. A little debt can build to a huge debt over time. So I have learned, by experience, to live more simply and try to save when possible.
Q. How has working through conflict together nurtured your marriage and brought you closer together?
C: Like I said before, we haven’t had much conflict in our marriage. We have truly been blessed to be each other's best friend and we have had a pretty happy thirty years!
J: Yes, I think, "the hard is what makes it great." We have had some pretty hard times and it has definitely made us closer as a couple.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
C: I believe that marrying the right person at the right time and in the right place has made all the difference in our happy marriage. We have always put God first and family second. Divorce was never mentioned or talked about. Spending time together with and without our children has been beneficial as well. Supporting each other and having each other's backs is a must. Spending time dwelling on what we love about our spouse, instead of what we don’t, allows us to keep everything in perspective. Setting goals together and achieving them has also helped us.
J: Simply put, my secret is to remember, every day, the loving sacrifices that Cheri has made for me and our family and to try hard to be the kind of husband she needs me to be.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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