Years Married: 1.5
Location: Murray, Utah
What you both do for work? Nicole is a dance teacher at a charter (middle/high) school. Russ works in Engineering and Hardware support for international planetariums.
What do you like to do for fun? Everything. Hiking and camping, rock-climbing, theatrical productions, running, yoga, boating, chasing raccoons away from our neighbor’s cat, remodeling our house, traveling, surfing, snorkeling, etc.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream or frozen yogurt? All of them...well, most of them. The correct answer, though, is mint cookies n' cream, which can be hard to find.
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?
N: We try to do as many of the everyday mundane things together, as well making time for fun things. Every week (or day) we try to do one of the things listed on our favorite activities. We like to leave notes of appreciation for each other in random locations. I am often sore, as a dance teacher, and Russ frequently gives me back rubs. I love that Russ is a fun guy, he always makes me laugh and is always ready to participate in my crazy ideas and adventures. He makes life fun. Russ is also really good at giving good advice when I need it, and knowing when it is welcome. I feel like he solves all my world problems.
R: We bought a house that pretty much needed to be gutted and rebuilt. Both of our families have been into that sort of thing, so we grew up around remodeling and rebuilding. I spend much of my time working late into the night and early into the morning trying to get operable bathrooms, and at least one bedroom at all times that meets the aesthetic requirements of a happy wife. (Which, by the way, the house is coming along very nicely and will be beautiful and new by the time we are done.)
(Bathroom Project shown above: before, during, after.)
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?
N: Validation. Russ always works hard to make sure I am loved and understood. He is always ready with a funny but sincere, “That sucks, Babe!” (This is particularly familiar to fans of the show Parks and Recreation.) He snuggles me. I love that. He does whatever is necessary to metaphorically “fill my bucket” when I come home with it empty after a long day with crazy teenagers. He helps with house chores and really doesn’t mind doing the dishes at the end of my kitchen factory. He does laundry sometimes and loves to surprise me by cleaning up the little messes around the house that give me stress, especially when I am tired and overwhelmed by life. He often shows up In front of me with a glass of water, which I always enthusiastically accept. He takes me on walks and picks me a sunflower to put in the vase in the kitchen so I remember how great life is. There are so many little things… mostly just making sure we both know we are loved and appreciated.
Q. What specific ways has continued dating in marriage nurtured your marriage? Why do you feel dating is so vital in nurturing a marriage?
R & N: We firmly believe that life is all about balance. Life never throws you one ball at a time and if you only catch one of them then something is being neglected. Get a net rather than a glove, I guess. Dating is a good way to ensure you are making time for the someone rather than just the “somethings." Going out and doing fun things gives you more energy to do the other things which are important and pressing. On the flip side, if all you do is play then you will have a harder time digging in and getting things done around the house when it is necessary.
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
R: I have never been good at responding to what I call unconditional questions. It totally depends on the conditions such as cost and length. I like to consider vacations dates, and dates as vacations, so the best would likely be our trip to Hawaii back in May. We went hiking and kayaking, and did all the things we love to do. We even relaxed - which is a miracle for us. A few weekends ago we stayed a night in Park City, and relaxed there too… We also drove around and walked through the shops and houses surrounding historic old main street, which was awesome. Simple and inexpensive, but super fun. We also went to Las Vegas and saw the show called KA, which is a Cirque Du Soleil show…kind of their odd man out kinda show. Best show ever! So much to do…so little time.
Q. What are the obstacles you have faced in going on dates, and what have you done to ensure that dates happen?
N: Making time. There is always an obvious task that needs to be done, or rather a huge list of them, staring us in the face. Sometimes it is easy to feel guilty about taking time to play with so much left undone. The reality is that, like previously stated, life is all about balance. If you don’t make time for a break, then life will break you without your consent.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
R & N: Both husband and wife must become completely vulnerable emotionally and physically. You come to know each other so deeply, that you truly feel like you are one unit.
Q. What does emotional intimacy look like to you, and what things have helped you draw closer together emotionally?
N: Sharing everything, complete trust, respect, honesty, and serving each other. Love is continually growing, rather than an instant burst with diminishing return.
Q. What other things help you nurture the intimate relationship you have with your spouse?
R & N: Complete respect in word and action. We protect each other’s names. We both know that the other would never say anything negative about the other behind their back and we only speak positive words about each other. We are constantly looking for ways to appreciate one another. The longer people are together, they start to take the relationship for granted and forget the small treasures and acts of goodness. But if you always take time to appreciate, the respect and admiration continues.
Values to Live By
Q. What is your spouse’s strongest trait?
R: Nicole is loving and supportive and also hilarious. She is fun to be around, and always wants to make herself better. She is loved by every single person who knows her, and people can immediately see her goodness when they meet her.
N: Russ is always so wise, yet so fun and funny. He makes everything fun, and always knows what to say and do in or about every situation. He is also a good man, just all around a good package of someone who is purely and completely good.
Q. How have those qualities nurtured your marriage?
R & N: We love each other and love life.
Routines and Rituals
Q. What things do you day-to-day that keep you connected?
N: We talk a lot to stay connected. Every day we have a “debriefing session,” to share the good and hard of our days. We also keep our Google calendars synced on our phones, to keep each other informed of events. We like to get exercise together. We also love to learn and study about any random topic possible. Every day we are Googling random things to learn all we can. We feel our daily faith practices keep us humbled together as we begin and end each day with prayer. As we are constantly striving to learn each day, we try to incorporate the study of Christ each day in scriptural texts together.
Q. Do you have any special places, things you say to each other, or other mini-traditions that are unique to your marriage?
R: Of course! I think every couple develops a certain language of gestures, words, phrases, nick names, and jokes that are so full of meaning to each other, but would make no sense if we tried to share them. Yes, we sure do.
Q. Do you have any routines/rituals around special occasions like anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, etc.
N: Fit as much celebrating as possible into every occasion! We also religiously celebrate half birthdays.
Q. What specific suggestions can you share that have helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
N: Love. Making love a pursuit, rather than something that just happens to you. People say they fall out of love, but really they just stop loving. When something upsets us we try to think, “Is this thing more important to me than love, harmony, and a good relationship with my spouse?” Of course the answer is always "No!" It is just a good self check to put things in perspective.
R: Also, remember that people are not likely meaning to offend you under most circumstances. If something could be taken either as offensive or non-offensive, assume the latter is the case. Always ask for clarification before you get upset.
Q. How do you talk about hard things, or tough issues where you don’t see eye-to-eye?
R: Always start with “I love you." It is important to always be on the same team. Humor is always good. Examples include, “Hey sweetie, (while giving her a hug) let me teach you how to turn the gas off to the grill so we don’t burn the house down while we are away.” I often start with, “Hey. I love you and you are not in trouble…but maybe we can…” It is important to never be bossy, or offer a woman solutions to problems without being invited to do so. Simply say, “Am I just listening or am I helping to solve this problem? “
Q. How has working through conflict together nurtured your marriage and brought you closer together?
N: Every time we are patient in working through a potential problem there is increased love and trust toward each other and a greater feeling of unity.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
R: Put love first. Always. It is never about you or her. It is always about the "us," and "we." Selfishness and lack of patience will degrade any relationship. Also, take pride in your relationship. Everyone needs validation. Validation is not necessarily agreeing, and does not require debating the other person’s statement. It is merely allowing the other person to be heard and understood, and let them know their opinion matters. Don’t burst you spouse’s bubble!
N: Allow the way you treat your spouse to build your confidence in yourself as a good person. If you are religious, then you can picture the way your God, your Heavenly Father, smiles down on your relationship and the way you treat his son or daughter.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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