We just know you are going to love this interview with Steve & Michele as much as we do. These two keep it real as they share key principles that make for a happy marriage. We especially love how they protect their evenings, and prioritize their marriage - all while working as a team to take care of their five kids (the youngest are twins!). This interview has something for each of us to learn about nurturing marriage, we're sure of it. Enjoy!
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Years Married: 10
What do you both do for work? Steve is in Agriculture (blueberries and raspberries); Michele is a blogger & photographer, and a super-hard-working stay-at-home-mom to 5 little ones, including twins.
Hobbies/Interests: Steve likes sports and staying active, especially playing hockey; Michele enjoys photography, decor, crafting, and creating art. They both love to spend time with their kids - and to have dance parties.
Favorite treat? Steve loves sour candies and Michele loves baked goods like chocolate croissants and macaroons.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whatdreamsmaybecome/ @whatdreamsmaybecome
Q. What are some fun traditions have you created together in your marriage?
S: Every Sunday we do spaghetti night. Michele and I look forward to making homemade spaghetti sauce together, and sitting down together as a family.
M: A lot of our traditions are with our kids - like Friday Night Movie Night. Also, date nights for sure. We have young twins, so when we go on dates we just bring the babies with us because they don’t talk yet. We probably need to do date nights more. To be honest, something I think is a total marriage saver is making sure the kids go to bed. We don’t mess around - bedtime isn’t even an issue. The kids just go to bed.
S: Seven-o'clock, it’s bedtime.
M: By 6:30pm or 7:00pm, we get the kids to bed.
S: It’s kind of like a date once the kids are in bed.
M: We’ve really been good about that since our first - the kids go to bed and we have our evenings together. Which is huge. You don’t have time to talk a lot during the day, so that is our time to catch up, and talk, and go over the week.
We feed the kids macaroni and cheese, add some steamed veggies, and get them to bed. Then we can have a nice dinner after, get some wine, watch a nice movie together, curl up on the couch, light a fire, - things like that.
I feel like sometimes when you have kids, at least for me - since we have so many - it’s hard to get a babysitter (or two!) and fork out that extra money - and sometimes it seems like more work than none, so you may be more inclined to not plan a date night. I feel like you don’t always need or want an elaborate date, sometimes it’s nice to just stay home and have a date night at home.
S: Also, because the kids always go to bed at such a good time, when they do get to stay up late they think it is totally special because they get a “late night.”
Q. What practical tips have helped you nurture your intimate life together?
M: Something my mother-in-law said to me when we had our first, that has stuck with me, was this, “You just fit it in.” You can’t wait until the dishes are done, and you finally get to bed, because you’re tired and then it doesn’t happen.
S: Don’t procrastinate it. Do it when you can, how you can, where you can.
M: Just freakin do it. I think something else that is really important is being affectionate with each other. Steve comes home from work and we kiss, and we’re all over each other, which I think connects us. Men need that. Steven really needs that physical connection - kissing and hugging and stuff like that - he needs that.
Q. How have you set healthy boundaries with your in-laws and balanced the needs of extended family with your needs as a couple and individual family?
S: I think a big hurdle is when you transition from living with your parents to living with your wife. For so long you only knew one way of doing things, what was right in your parent’s household... However, once you are married it doesn’t really mean that what was right in your parent’s household is right in your new household, and you have to kind of separate and figure that out together. It’s change, it’s adapting.
Q. How do you support each other in your individual interests and pursuits? What does that support look like?
M: One bit of advice that I have often shared, that my sister shared with me, is the idea of sticking to your word when you give your spouse "the okay." So say your husband wants to go play golf on Sunday and he says, “Hey, so and so invited me to go play golf on Sunday. Is that cool?” And you say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s fine.” And then Sunday rolls around and you are home with the kids and you are starting to feel a little resentful and the kids are screaming... that is the time to remember what my sister said, “But you gave the go-ahead for that, and you said it was okay. You can’t make him pay for it now. That’s old news. You gave the go-ahead, you need to just stand by what you said,” which I think is important. Let your husband have his golf day with his buddies and don’t bug him. The kids may be completely freaking nuts, and maybe I want to rip my hair out, but I gave him that day - that’s his day.
S: There is nothing worse than feeling guilty when you’re away.
M: Yeah, that’s not fair. Steve is really supportive of me with my blogging and such. He’ll often get the kids to bed so I can do some work, or take the kids on the weekend so I can do photo shoots and such. And when he has business trips, I try as much as I can to not guilt him out about them, or whine that it’s so hard. I just try and get her done. Supporting one another away from the home and together in the home is huge.
Q. How have you grown closer together through the transitions of life? Are there any specific examples you can share?
S: Definitely the kids. With five kids, it’s a lot of work and we have to really be a team to make it happen properly. I think having five kids has really helped us grow together. Especially the twins, since there are two of them. We really have to dive in and say, “Here you feed this one, I’ll feed this one,” and I think it’s really brought us closer together, and it’s great.
M: We’ve gone through a lot, early on especially. Really hard things, like seriously, we had a really hard start. We dealt with a lot of those hard things early on. Our faith has been something that we have depended on to get us through hard times, I’m not sure how we could have coped without it.
And then, the twins. That was hard. It doesn’t sound hard now, because I love them so much and I’ve completely done a 360 from my first response of finding out we were having twins, but that was a hard time too and we really did come together. Steve was really good - I was a bit more the one who wanted number four, and he could have very much not gone there, but we both decided to go there, and in those moments when I was like, “Why? 5 Kids! We can’t do this!” He really stepped up and was supportive through that period of time. He was confident we would be OK and encouraged and lifted me up through the hard times in the pregnancy, etc... And he never once said, “It’s your fault! You wanted this! You convinced me to do this!” Because hey, it takes two ! Haha! But I think it’s a good example of how we stand by each other.
Q. Can you remember anything in particular that Steve did for you, or that helped you through those difficult times in your early marriage?
M: Just being there and knowing that he truly loves me, for me. I think, for a woman, you need to just feel emotionally supported and loved through all the ups and downs. He is also amazing at telling me how beautiful I am (even when I’m in fleece jammies and last nights makeup) and doing, little meaningful things that keep that marriage jar filled up.
Q. Communication isn’t easy. What have you found that works?
M: Our calendars!
S: Yeah, that really helps. The syncing of our calendars on our iPhones. If I’m at work and I put something in, she knows and we don’t even have to discuss it. She just looks in the calendar and knows it there.
M: Or he can see that I have photo shoots on the weekend, things like that, because there isn’t time to go through and tell each other everything that has come up. Syncing the calendars is big.
S: I’m not really a talker. I like to hold things in, but Michele has a good way of drawing it out of me. She notices when I hold things in and she gets me talking, which is healthy.
M: We sit down and have dinner every night.
S: Table dinner, no TV.
M: Every night. And our kids, there are boundaries there too - where we sit and eat dinner. They’re not running around, or getting up and down (sometimes there is some of that), but we try our darndest. They sit and are respectful and we talk. And when Mommy and Daddy have a chance to connect over dinner, the kids know those boundaries. Boundaries with kids are so important.
Q. How did you guys get on the same page with parenting?
S: Michele is a really good parent. I can’t do it. I couldn’t do it.
M: Well, you do do it.
S: Well, I follow your lead. I observe what you do and copy. She is an amazing mother. I follow her trends, and when she is not here, I just do what she does, and it works.
Q. Money. Can you share a few tips that help you manage your money?
S: I think we’re both pretty frugal. We both aren’t ones that go out and buy stuff we don’t need.
M: ...But I do like to shop.
S: You’re good with it, though. She’ll sell stuff. We’ll have stuff we don’t use anymore, or a picture that was on the wall, and she’ll sell it and then she’ll take that money and go buy something else. I never have to worry about money with her, because I know she is frugal with it.
M: And I’m a coupon booker, so if we go to the aquarium or order something online I always try and find promo codes to use. And cutting out Starbucks and take-out food.
S: It’s not good for you, and it’s hard on the wallet.
M: He does the finances, he does all the banking. We’re working on that. I don’t know if I should be doing more of that, he has always done it and it has worked, but I feel like it needs a little bit of a woman’s touch. But, he does do a good job! Hahaha.
Q. What is your secret to a happy and healthy marriage?
S: Knowing each other’s love languages. That is huge.
M: Putting each other’s needs before your own sometimes. Knowing your roles. Men’s roles and women’s roles are also so important - that sounds so feminist - but I feel like that is so important too. There needs to be a leader in a home, and I feel like it’s really good when the man sort of leads. I know friends that have been divorced who were sick of being the man and saying, “Hey, it’s garbage day.” Or, “We need to pay our bills.” Men need to be men and support the home. The man needs to step up to his role, and the woman needs to do her roles… Although of course, sometimes roles look different for each couple and that’s OK too!
S: You can’t be selfish. Marriage is a team. You have to both dig in.
M: And set boundaries with the kids. And hard work. You’ve got to work on it. There are hard days and there are good days, and it’s a journey. There are highs and lows, and that is all normal and all a part of it, and talking about those things is healthy too.
S: Just love each other. And support one another, and work really, really hard at it, together. Hard times come to us all and it’s how get through those that makes all the difference. We are so blessed and we recognize and appreciate all those blessings in our life.
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