Location: New Canaan, CT
Years Married: 31 and going strong
Kids and Grandkids: 9 kids and 7 grandkids
Occupation/Hobbies/Etc.: Vince is a partner with Deloitte and Diana is a very busy mom, who also keeps her hands in the furniture business on the side. They moved from the San Francisco area to the greater NYC area about two years ago. They love to get out together, play tennis, and enjoy all their 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?
D: We love to go out to dinner, play tennis, go on walks, and attend church together. Also, it is always nice to work on major projects together, like cleaning the garage. We make an effort to go to bed at the same time, to pray together, and to take time to talk at the end of the day. We also love to go on trips together (without the kids!). Another important thing for us is just making sure we are affectionate, with hugs and kisses, for example, when it is not just bed time.
V: We have sex together. You knew that was coming. We have fun together. I like making her laugh. I like it when she’s happy.
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?
D: One time I forgot to put the clean towels back in our bathroom, and I noticed that Vince had showered and used a wash cloth to dry off!! He didn't even mention how frustrated he was about it. Also, it means a lot to me whenever Vince helps do dishes or clean up the kitchen after dinner. That is huge for me! When Vince serves me like that, it shows me how much he loves me.
D: My love languages are acts of service, and quality time. So, when Vince helps me with jobs at home or when we go to dinner together, it just brings me so much happiness. Another thing Vince is good at is that he often goes out of his way to do what I want to do. For example, I became enthusiastic about playing tennis a few years ago. Vince didn't really have the time to play like I did, and I'm sure he didn't always want to play tennis when we had free time, but he learned to play and now enjoys it as much as I do.
V: We like doing athletic stuff together. Whether that's playing tennis or something else. In fact, the other day we played football with the kids and we had a great time. We had so much fun doing that. Another example is that I like hunting and archery. So, when we moved to New Canaan we got Diana a bow and now she shoots her bow with me, which is nice. Just like I learned to play tennis with her, she knew that archery was important to me. It's been really fun doing those things together. Another thing we do together is pray, which is always good.
Q. What specific ways has continued dating nurtured your marriage? What are the obstacles you've faced in continuing dating and how have you tackled them?
D: Date night is critical in our book! When we couldn't afford date nights years ago, we would make an effort to find "cheap" things to do together. For example we might watch a movie together after the kids had gone to bed, go on a walk, etc. We probably should have gone on even more date nights back then, but with lots of kids and activities, we did okay. It's hard in those young married years to get time together, but
it is still so important.
D: We developed a plan probably fifteen years ago, to have a Saturday night date, every week, which usually meant going to dinner together. Our favorite date night as of late, is playing tennis together, going to the taco truck, and then going to Stew Leonard's to get groceries and have an ice cream, or frozen yogurt. Pretty low cost, but TONS of fun!!!
V: The biggest obstacle we face in dating is just TIME, and coordinating our busy schedules. We have to plan it out and make sure we make the time to go on dates regularly.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
D: I always think of physical intimacy first. We have no problems there! We have maintained that well over the years, and it has been a strength to us. I remember having to adjust my thinking as to not being too tired at night! The physical part of a marriage is critical, but one that can be overlooked if you aren't careful. I think if we make time for the physical part of intimacy, it can be so rewarding for both spouses.
V: I've always said that there are three things that couples will argue about: sex, money, and children. It just always seems to be one of those things. There were a couple of key points in our marriage when I look back through the years. I’ll give you an example. We had a conflict come up about sex after we'd been married for 4 or 5 years. I hated rejection. I'd come home at night, lay on the bed, and wonder, “Do I ask? What if she says no? What if she doesn’t get the hint? How do I do something?” I hated the rejection when it didn't happen. So we had a conversation about it and even saw a marriage counselor. One of our ideas, that the marriage counselor really liked, had to do with a calendar and our schedule. Basically, I tried to tell Diana that we didn't have to be intimate every night, but that I didn't like feeling rejected. I said, “Why don’t you mark on a calendar, days that you are open to it.” And I gave her a calendar and just asked her to put an “O,” on the days that she was open to it. That didn't necessarily mean that we had to be intimate, but it was an option. I think we agreed to around 3 or 4 days a week. Then, on the days where there wasn't an "O," I wouldn't have to feel rejected. I wouldn't even try. The interesting thing is, that we never actually implemented that plan. All it did was get us talking and expressing our feelings to each other, which was really good. It was a turning point in our marriage.
D: It's interesting, because when we sat down and had that talk, I really felt horrible. I had no idea he felt rejected. It also helped me come to the realization that if I gave it a chance, it could really be something positive for me, not just one more chore on my list. Of course, there are still nights when I’m really tired. I mentioned how my love languages are acts of service and quality time, so, I would often tell Vince, "I could use some help before we get to bed, and then I’ll have more energy.” When I told him that, he would go get everyone to clean up toys, or go do the dishes. That spoke volumes to me and meant a ton to me.
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?
D: Emotional intimacy takes a little more work. Sounds weird, but I think it 's true. Time, time, and more time spent together, and talking and feeling free to share our ideas, hopes, fears, etc. This may be a bit trickier for us. However, having been together for so many years, we have experienced many crazy & scary times in our family, that have drawn us closer to each other in ways I'm sure we don't realize.
Values to Live By
Q. What is your spouse’s strongest trait and how does that quality nurture your marriage?
D: Vince has many great traits. I think one of his best traits is his passion for life and putting 150% into anything he does! He is so hard-working, and he has always taken such good care of his family financially, as well as emotionally. He is also such a FUN person to be with. He has a very outgoing, and fun-loving nature, and that draws people to him.
V: Diana is super patient. She is also very non-judgmental. She doesn’t make pre-judgments on anybody. No matter what someone may have done, or is said to have done, it doesn’t matter. She is a very loving person. I’ve seen her with friends who have made poor choices and who struggle with various things, and she doesn’t tell people about them and gossip about it. She’ll still be their friend. She still treats them well and is still loving and kind. She is very giving. I think that is one of the best attributes that she has. She is also deeply committed. Finally, she is smoking hot!
Routines and Rituals
Q. What things do you do day-to-day that keep you connected?
D: We try to stay connected by mostly spending time together at the end of the day. Going to bed together has been a good idea that we have kept up through the years. When we had little ones it was harder to go to bed at the same time. Now Vince leaves pretty early for work, and I need to be better at getting up to see him off. I have always done that in our marriage, but lately he leaves at 5:15am and I have turned into a lazy wife! I am trying to do better at that. I am also trying to be better at greeting him at the door, when he comes home, with a hug and a kiss. I usually have to race our dog, Lucy, to do so! She sets a good example for me.
V: Well, that is one thing we have struggled with, actually. If I'm traveling, we'll try and call each other at night. If it's an extended trip, we'll try to Facetime a couple of times, which has been good. Another thing we do is text each other a few times throughout the day just to say, "Hey, how is your day going?!" Another touch point that we have is with finances. Diana manages our day-to-day finances while I cover the large- ticket items. That also can keep us in communication via email throughout the day.
Q. You like to get out and do things together - do you have any special places you like to go to or mini traditions you share?
V: Some of my favorite times are just hanging around with Diana and the kids. Those times are just awesome. I’m not as big on going out to dinner. Diana likes that. She really enjoys going out to dinner. I’m so busy during the week, and am gone so much, that I just like to stay home in my own house when I get the chance. I like that. But I like going out with her, because honestly I like how it makes her feel. And I can see that it fills her soul up a little more. I like being in our home, but you know what, if it makes her happy, that's a good thing. You can just tell that she appreciates it and it's special to her.
Q. What specific suggestions can you share that have helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
D: Conflict resolution is hard. It is especially hard for us. This is something that we still struggle to do well. I guess that is probably pretty normal. When we work through conflict, I tend to be the quiet one and Vince gets animated. So, we're trying to work on better ways to do this - like talking more about the issue and not shutting down, and being able to calmly express ourselves. We are making progress, and I think it does take a very large effort on both of our parts to handle the problems that come, every day!
V: We get pretty intense at times. I’m always right, obviously. :) One of the things we did a while ago that was good, was we sat down and each wrote down pros and cons of being married. We've been together for over 31 years. We each made a list and let the other person read it. There were two columns: things I love about our marriage, and things I don’t love about our marriage. We spent a lot of time on that and it was insightful. This is a total journey together.
V: I had an experience not too long ago that taught me a simple, but profound lesson. There are certain things that really frustrate me and the lesson I learned was “You’ve got to be more patient. You’ve got to not let those things bother you.” We haven't had a perfect marriage and it hasn't been conflict free. But, we've both learned to say we're sorry and forgive each other.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
D: We are still married, and I think as the years go by, we can't believe how fast they go! We are both in this for the long haul. Marriage is hard sometimes. And even after many years, it can still be a struggle. We also believe that marriage is the best! We love each other, and we are committed to making it work. We are down to two kids left at home. I don't like that in so many ways. But, recently we've had some time together at home alone, while the kids were away. I've got to say, I really enjoyed just spending time with Vince. We did just start out with the two of us! It is kind of funny how we forget the core, the original two. It's so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life and ignore each other. I'm sure we aren't in for total smooth sailing the rest of the way, but we are really trying to make every effort to love each other and work through our differences.
V: I think keeping an eternal perspective is big. We believe that we can be together beyond this life. I had cancer back in 2006, and that put a whole different perspective on things. I think seeing the bigger picture and really living our beliefs is the thing that has helped us get through 31 years of ups and downs. It's a roller coaster. There's a movie I like where a grandma is talking about a roller coaster and saying how she enjoyed the ride. That really applies to marriage. You enjoy the ride together. Sometimes, when the ride is heading down you just have to say to yourself, “Don’t worry. It will come back up.” You’ve got to fight through it. You’ve got to be patient and forgiving.
V: I was reading something today about the harvest season. With fall coming up, my thoughts turn to the harvest. It's good to think about the seeds that we're planting. If you want seeds of happiness, you’ve got to prune them, water them, and care for those plants every day. You can’t expect the rewards to just come because you want them now. The same thing goes for a marriage. If you want a happy marriage, you've got to work and be in that garden every single day. There are going to be times when weeds come up, and it stinks because you’ve got a nasty weed in there and it’s going to challenge the marriage. But, you’ve got to weed it out. Sometimes that can take awhile. I think ridding yourself personally of those bad habits is the first thing that has to be done.
D: It’s like Vince said. You cannot expect that your marriage will flourish and grow if you don’t do things every day to make it happen - just like the seed. I think we all fall into that rut. You’re here. I’m here. Here we go. We do this every day. But, when we get that alone time together it's like, "Oh wait, this is how it started - just the two of us." You think back to what it was like back then, and what attracted you to them, and that's what needs to hold it together. And that nurturing - whether it is getting up in the morning, or taking me out to dinner, or going to church together, or saying our prayers - all those things make the marriage grow stronger.
D: So many times we think, “get married and we’re done. Now what?!” I love that book, “The 5 Love Languages.” If you know what your spouse needs and you can do it, then do it! It will make them happy, which in turn will make you happy. Having nine kids certainly hasn't made married life easy, but we are now reaping the blessings of sticking with it, of being patient, of being forgiving.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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