Location: Sedalia, CO
Years Married: 12
Occupation: Mike practices endodontics and Sharolyn is a full-time mother.
Hobbies: Mike likes to try new things, and occasionally repeat his favorites, like mountain biking. Sharolyn loves photography and long-distance running.
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?
M: Little things....I do the dishes and laundry. I like to surprise her with things like making sushi or bringing home what she's craving - like smoked salmon.
S: Can you tell my love language is food?
M: I also don't question what she spends money on . . . too much.
S: This might be one of the more challenging areas in our marriage for me. He is such an independent person that itâ€™s easy to believe he doesn't need much from me. I know he likes to go out on adventures either with the whole family or by himself, so I support him in that. I try to be his emotional support. I always listen to his frustrations and victories, and respond with love and concern.
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?
M: Just last Monday she cleaned out the garage for me - something that has been on my to-do list for a while. She's wonderful. I was pretty sick for a while and she made sure I had plenty of jello and broth.
S: Mike keeps me laughing. I can easily turn molehills into mountains, but he has a way of making me laugh so much about whatever is worrying me; he helps me keep things in perspective. He might not even know how much that helps me out. He stays on top of the chores around the house. If he notices the laundry or dishes piling up, he will do them, no questions asked. It really keeps me from feeling overwhelmed with all I have on my plate.
Q. What specific ways has continued dating in marriage nurtured your marriage? Why do you feel dating is so vital in nurturing a marriage?
M: We like creating new fun memories for our marriage. Once we went out to dinner and Sharolyn got a chip stuck in her gums.
S: I felt so silly but I really could not get it out and it hurt!
M: We were able to stop by my office down the street so I could remove it. I still tease her about that.
S: We need time as a couple. With five wonderfully energetic kids we homeschool, we need to rediscover our friendship and love for each other often. We also need the time to communicate and to get on the same page as each other.
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
M: A couple of years ago we left our kids with their grandparents and took a trip to Colombia. I felt it was important that my wife get to experience a place that is dear to my heart. I was able to share a very emotional, and spiritual, journey with her that helped her understand me a little bit better. She was able to see me laugh, and cry, with people she had only heard of in stories before.
S: I did love Colombia and fell in love with the people and landscape myself. Mike tends to shy away from the â€œtraditional,â€ dates. He would much rather take me to a gun safety class or a spelunking. One of my favorite dates was seeing Les Miserables in San Francisco. I was pregnant and had terrible morning sickness and spent a lot of time lying down and reading. I read the book Les Mis and talked continuously about the plot and different themes. When it came to town, Mike surprised me with tickets to the musical. That was so thoughtful of him! We have done so many fun things together, but I always look forward to our date chats the most. I love discussing everything with him - deep or shallow, it doesn't matter.
Q. What are the obstacles you have faced in going on dates, and what have you done to ensure that dates happen?
M: Number one obstacle: five kids.
S: I am very persistent when it comes to dates. Sometimes I set up the baby sitter and let Mike know he is taking me on a date. That usually works best. We have no issues finding something to do, or eat, after the kids are taken care of.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
M: An intimate relationship with my spouse means that we are connecting with each other and know each others' needs and wants. Being in communication is the key. If I know how she is feeling I can help her meet those needs and we grow closer together.
S: I totally agree with Mike. Intimacy equals communication. The better we are communicating, the better the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical intimacy.
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?
M: Emotional intimacy for me is when we are connected and on the same page together. Itâ€™s harder to be emotional together when we arenâ€™t connected.
S: Emotional intimacy, to me, is trust. I can express everything I am feeling inside - from the yucky negative stuff to the highest aspirations of my heart - and I know he will treat my opinion with respect and love.
Q. What other things help you nurture the intimate relationship you have with your spouse?
M: My wife just likes time together.
S: Yes, I do!
M: Itâ€™s hard having five young kids that demand a lot of our time. But if I can just sit down and give her time by talking, giving a massage, or taking her out on a date then our intimacy is much more powerful. Itâ€™s during the times when life is driving you and you arenâ€™t spending as much time together when we donâ€™t feel as close or feel as connected.
S: What Mike said. I absolutely LOVE our kids, but we need to make each other #1. When we do, we really feel an outpouring of love for each other.
Values to Live By
Q. What is your spouseâ€™s strongest trait?
M: She is a very good listener. Iâ€™ve watched her as she talks with others on the phone or to me, and she is amazing. She always lets the other person tell their story without cutting them off. She doesnâ€™t ever try to cut people off but truly listens to what they say. You can tell she is very intent on understanding the other person.
S: Mike is determined. If he says he is going to do something, he will do it. I remember when he asked my parentsâ€™ permission to marry me. My Dad, being the protective and concerned dad he is, asked Mike how he planned on providing for me and his family. Mike said, "I plan on being a dentist, so I will soon apply to dental school." My dad, who wasn't about to let him get off that easy, then asked, "What happens if you don't get in?" Mike replied, "Then I apply again next year." That moment told me a lot about Mike. He doesn't give up, he doesn't self-doubt, and he knows how to succeed.
Q. What is your favorite characteristic about your spouse?
M: I love seeing her smile when I see her after a long day. It always brightens up my day.
S: I love that he loves to have fun. He also knows how to work hard.
Q. How have those qualities nurtured your marriage?
M: I know that when we sit down and talk she will truly listen intently on what I have to say. She isnâ€™t just letting me talk and not listening. Being listened to is important to strengthening marriage.
S: I like to dream big, and he always gets on board. My ideas always come with a lot of work attached, like moving to the country to live a more â€œsimpleâ€ lifestyle. We found some acres in the country and established our growing farm. I have never liked Television and didn't want it in my home. Just like that, we have been TV free for 4 years. My latest big idea was to pull our children from public school and begin homeschooling them. Once again, he has completely supported me and is even teaching Science. It is with his humor, determination and work ethic that he can keep our big ideas rolling.
Routines and Rituals
Q. What things do you day-to-day that keep you connected?
M: Every day we stay connected with each others' lives by contacting each other on the phone either while Iâ€™m at work or on the way home. I can check up on her to see how her day is going with the kids and see if there is anything special that needs to be done when I get home.
S: Yes, I love to talk with him. Small communications throughout the day are how we keep united. He always asks me if I need him to stop off at the store or asks what he can do to help me out.
Q. Do you have any special places, things you say to each other, or other mini-traditions that are unique to your marriage?
M: My wife calls me â€œLoves.â€ The funny thing is my 2 year old picked up on this and started calling me â€œLovesâ€ as well.
S: We keep our religious traditions - always attending church on Sunday as a family, praying and studying scriptures as a family, etc.. I think those have been our most important and impactful traditions.
Q. Do you have any routines/rituals around special occasions like anniversaries, Valentineâ€™s Day, birthdays, etc.
M: On anniversaries we typically take turns every other year planning the day. We try to do something more extravagant every 5 years that is more memorable, like getting away on a trip together.
S: We are so bad at keeping traditions in general. We even made a list of annual family traditions we would like to abide by. It helped a little bit. Maybe that is our best tradition - always changing it up.
Q. What specific suggestions can you share that have helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
M: We received some very wise counsel from somebody close to us before we got married. The advice was to never keep a list of what youâ€™ve done in comparison to your spouse. If Iâ€™ve done the dishes 5 times that week and my wife has done it only twice, donâ€™t worry about it and donâ€™t keep track. If you keep a list you start to get frustrated at the little tacky things in marriage. Plus you can never keep a true list because I couldnâ€™t ever keep up with all she does for the kids.
S: I know weâ€™ve talked a lot about this already, but good communication is definitely how we get through difficult times. When we are not doing our best to communicate with each other, the problem just seems to persist and become bigger. We are both aware of that and try to solve it quickly.
Q. How has working through conflict together nurtured your marriage and brought you closer together?
M: When we can work through the tough times together we become much stronger as a couple. As we overcome the trials that come we become more confident together and have much more trust in each other.
S: We have dealt with some tough and discouraging times as a couple including, believe it or not, fertility issues. It was for only a year, but it was one of the toughest times of my life. It has been during the difficult times that we have learned the most about being emotionally vulnerable to each other and learning to trust each other with our biggest insecurities and fears. All of those experiences contributed to our strength as a couple, and the trust we have now.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
M: Setting dreams and goals together and trying to accomplish them as a team. The more you work together towards something the more you come together and feel bonded towards something.
S: I love what Mike said. There are so many little things that make up a happy marriage. Maybe the most impactful thing would be to keep your spouse as the most important â€œthingâ€ in your life, next to God. Never let anything or anyone else come first.
We would love for you to join the Nurturing Marriage community. Subscribe here.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
You Know You Want to Read
Everybody Loves These