Years Married: 20
Occupations: Robert is a consultant and Janene is currently a Closet Designer.
Hobbies/Interests: We love to scuba dive and travel together. We have climbed mountains together, we teach together, we have worked at orphanages in Mexico together. Robert loves to mountain bike, and Janene loves to read and to attend the theater.
Favorite Flavor of Ice Cream: Robert loves Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Janene loves Mint Chocolate Chip or Coconut.
1. In what specific ways do you express love and appreciation for each other on a day-to-day basis?
J: Robert always leaves love notes, sends cute little texts, tells me he loves me, and is very hands-on every day! He always kisses me when he leaves for work. He used to leave when I was still in bed but now we teach a class together in the morning before we both go to work. We always pray together in the morning, and kiss before we part for the day. It is a great way to make sure we have started our day letting each other know how we feel about each other until we are together again at the end of the day.
R: Janene has cute little names for me, she sends cute texts, she takes care of my basic needs like doing my laundry and putting my clothes away even though I can do that myself. Janene laughs at my quirkiness and my funny comments. She likes to cook for me. She always takes care of the kids and what they need. She keeps a very clean house because that is important to both of us. She is supportive of my outdoor stuff and what I like to do, so I never feel bad if I want to go mountain biking. In that way, I think we both love and respect each other very much.
J: Rob is also very good at noticing little things and taking care of them. For instance, if the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, he'll put them away. If there is a full basket of laundry he will just start a load. If a toilet looks like it needs to be cleaned, he just cleans it. He is the master at cleaning the showers! I really appreciate that about him. I have never had to ask him to help me in any way. He just always helps. We have always been like that.
J: We really see our relationship as a partnership, and we don’t feel like there are expected duties. Except taking care of little critters! That is completely his job! I found a giant bug once and I just couldn’t get it. I put a jar over it so when he got home he took care it. I love that about him. He also can fix anything. We call him Mr. Fix It. Unfortunately, it always seems like when he goes out of town that is when something will break, too. I love that he is so handy! Oh, and he is the sweetest dad. He was always so good with the kids. He always would have dates with each of the kids and make special time for them. He would let the girls fix his hair and put bows in it. He always took time to take our son to lunch to talk about dad/son things. When I was finishing grad school, he took the kids to California for the weekend so I could complete my work undisturbed. He is very thoughtful that way.
2. What are some of your absolute favorite date-night ideas?
J: When we were a younger married couple we did more exciting things for dates. We planned ahead, we did things with other couples, we went to concerts, tried new restaurants, went to comedy clubs, had super fun game nights with friends, etc. Now we just like to be with each other. We are happy to go to Costco and talk to each other while we shop. We go to our favorite restaurant and talk. Rob is happy when we take a walk around the neighborhood or walk a trail in the area. We have gone bike riding together, but that usually ends in disaster (I have fallen, broken ribs, pulled muscles)! So I just let him take his solitary bike rides! We rent a movie and hang out at home. Sometimes we have dessert in bed and just talk…We just like to be together!
R: I like attending the temple together. I like talking to Janene as we drive to and from the temple. Just being together is great. It doesn’t really matter what we do. She is truly my best friend.
J: Thanks honey. He is my best friend, too! We also love to watch design/home improvement shows together. We love to dream about all the things we might do to our house. We love to talk about buying and flipping houses someday. That would be so much fun. Maybe when we retire!
3. What principles and/or practical suggestions have helped you manage your finances? What marriage-related financial tips could you share with other couples?
J: When Rob and I got married, I had been a single parent for nine years. I had some debt (haha) and I paid cash for everything. I paid my bills by purchasing money orders, because I was not so great at balancing a checking account – so I just didn’t have one. I was in school, and working, and trying to make ends meet with a little guy, on my own. Rob was a single guy living from day to day, traveling and having fun with no responsibilities! So, of course, we were meant to be together!!
R: We both started paying our own way at a very young age. One of the best principles we could share is that at least one spouse should have some sound financial management skills, and that person should manage the money, but both parties should have input and understanding of the finances. If not, you both should take some financial classes together and learn to manage your finances as a team. Ultimately, it should not be one person’s responsibility, it should be teamwork - like everything else in the marriage.
J: Rob was very good with money, and had previously owned a business. I felt very insecure about money and my previous experiences with money and relationships was pretty negative. I love that Rob really was very understanding with how afraid I was to trust someone with money issues. I still get anxiety ridden when we discuss finances! I say finances are the “F” word and budget is the “B” word. When we first got married (and for a while afterward) I had a stash of cash, and a credit card in my maiden name, that I kept. Rob knew that I had had some pretty negative experiences and he never made me feel like I should just automatically trust him, just because we were married. He earned my love and trust, and told me it was okay that I had my stash. He never acted insecure. He gave me the time and space to love and trust him fully until I felt I didn’t need that stash any longer. Now it seems silly that I had that. But what I have now, and what I learned I had all along with him, is a husband who I could fully trust with everything.
J: The principle is trust! Trust is earned. Trust between husband and wife is essential in finances and every aspect of marriage. Trust is earned through communication, patience, and unending love. Plus – you both have to have the same goals! One can’t desire a house while the other desires fantastic travel. You both have to align your desires so you work toward the same goals.
R: One important principle is that we have always paid a tithe to our church. We pay that 10% first, before anything else. That isn’t even a question. One of my friends at work thought I was crazy when I shared that we always paid a tithe. But really, that is the only way I know that we have been as fortunate as we have been – because of the blessing of tithing.
J: We also talk about how we are going to spend our money. Rob has never been one of those to make a purchase without me knowing about it and I don’t make purchases without him knowing…well, one time I bought granite tiles while he was out of town, but we had been discussing it and they were on sale for a steal! He still teases me about that!
4. What specific things help you nurture the intimate relationship you have with your spouse?
J: Humor! Definitely Humor! I’ll be honest. I’ll use a kitchen reference to explain. When we were younger, I was like a microwave. Now I am like a slow cooker! You can have several microwave meals in a day – but only one slow cooker meal! Things change when you grow into your intimate relationship. So you have to enjoy yourself and not take things too seriously!
R: Intimacy can be fun. It is not what you see in movies. Everything doesn’t always go as one might plan out in your mind. But intimacy is really about the time together, bonding together.
J: Intimacy is getting to know all the little, really important things about your spouse. The things that make your spouse vulnerable yet unshakable, weak yet strong, quiet yet vocal, happy and sad. You will be closer to your spouse through intimacy than through anything else.
R: Intimacy should not be taken lightly, as it is sacred between a husband and wife.
J: However, we have had some of our best laughs during our intimate times! Gotta be honest, I will say this about Rob... I have been fat and not fat, pregnant and not pregnant, confident and not so confident...and Rob has always treated me and looked at me as if I was the most desirable, beautiful, sexy woman ever!! That is really something to appreciate in a husband. When everyone is so focused on perfection and who is the most attractive celebrity in the headlines, Rob has never expressed his desire for anyone other than me. He doesn’t talk about any other women – even unattainable women. That really means a lot to me and to our marriage, and to how I feel about myself.
5. How do you talk about hard things, or tough issues, where you don’t see eye-to-eye? What other communication tips could you share with couples?
R: We don’t! Haha! Actually our kids complain that they have learned nothing about conflict resolution from us because we don’t fight! Each person has their own unique thoughts and opinions; however, you just can’t put too much stock in your own opinion when you become a team. It’s not that you are compromising, but that you are putting what is more important ahead of your own opinion and desires.
J: I agree. I was a therapist for much of our early marriage and maybe that was part of why we communicate so well. Rob was funny –when we would have discussions he would always say “Don’t therapize me!” But then he started talking like me without even realizing it. He would say things like ”Tell me about that,” or “How does that make you feel?” or “What I hear you saying is…” and I started sounding more and more like him (haha! – joking about everything)! That’s marriage! Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree on certain topics, I suppose, and then don’t continue to go back to those topics. For instance, if you have different political views there is really no sense in continuing to argue about the same thing, trying to persuade your spouse to come over to your point of view. Agree to disagree and leave it alone. We don’t always agree 100%. But none of those things are more important than “we” are.
J: I also know that we are able to talk about difficult issues with the knowledge that we set boundaries. These include remaining respectful, never name calling, disagreeing with the idea but never disparaging the other person, never raising your voice, and never getting personal. It’s fun to talk about current issues and keep your brain working!
R: Take the time you need to really discuss issues. Certainly, our moral and religious views come into play when we have tough issues to discuss. We really are very selfless when we have something to discuss. We really think about the other person and we pray about the situation. We like to make pro and con lists that help us see things pretty clearly. We include our children in decisions that impact them and again – humor, humor, humor! Even tough times can be made light when you keep a sense of humor about it.
J: It’s really all about perspective. Is the thing you are discussing more important than the person you are having the discussion with? Probably not! I love my husband more than any topic or tough issue we could ever discuss. So we put that in perspective and that helps us resolve any tough issues that come our way.
6. What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in your marriage and how have you overcome them? How has your marriage been nurtured in the process?
R: Janene was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the birth of our third child. I think for sure we would have had another child, but then cancer changed our plans. This made me realize how much I love my wife and how important every moment is that we have together, how quickly life changes.
J: We have been pretty lucky and very blessed to have each other. One of the greatest challenges and blessings is raising children. Parenting is difficult and can strain a marriage, especially as children get older and make their own decisions that may be in conflict with what you might want for them. It is so important to rely on each other and remain united as a team. I think so many folks turn on each other and let their relationships suffer when their children are having struggles. Remember – long after your children are gone – you will still be together and what will be left of the relationship? Only what you have lovingly nurtured…or not! We have had job/career changes, money struggles, health issues, completed and returned to school, and extended family problems – the same things that everyone has likely had to deal with. We have always relied on our love and respect for each other, and our strong faith, to remain focused on the right things to get us through the more difficult moments.
7. What is your secret to a happy and healthy marriage?
R: Respect, admiration, nurturing, spending time (quality time and just time) together with a realization that marriage is about two people being united (and for us, keeping a belief that God is central in our marriage). Communication, communication, communication. The more we speak, hold hands, sit together and participate in any activity, we grow closer together. Never stop communicating!
J: When we met, I was serious, driven, intense, and I was never going to get married…ever! Rob was so much fun, he was lighthearted, he was kind, everyone loved him, he completely loved life, and he was never going to get married! Somehow we have managed to perfectly fit together and complement each other as if we were meant to be together. We filled each other’s empty spaces. And since we truly believe we were meant to be together, we cherish and value every moment with each other.
J: We love our time together, but encourage time apart for the things we love individually. We love to scuba dive, but Rob also loves to mountain bike and I do not. So I love that he takes the time to do that. It energizes and rejuvenates him and he is happier when he is able to do that. I have gone to a recipe club or a book club, I like to scrapbook, and I love to go see theater. Rob loves that I do those things and encourages me to have things that make me feel happy. Then I come home to him and enjoy being with him.
J: In a healthy marriage you have to appreciate your partner and let your spouse know exactly what you appreciate about him. We have a thankful jar in our house. Throughout the year we write little things we notice and are really grateful for. On New Years’ Day, as a family, we review the previous year, set goals for the next year, and read everything that is written in our thankful jar. It is nice to hear all the little things that seem to have gone unnoticed during the year. Recognizing your spouse (and children) and being grateful for them goes a long way to make a happy and healthy marriage (and family). Whatever you focus on – that is what you will notice. So if you focus on all the things that really bug you, they will just seem to multiply. So why not focus on, really notice, and comment on all the positive, funny, caring, loving things your spouse does and watch them multiply?
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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