Years Married: 5
Kids: 3 (1 boy, 2 girls)
Location: Davenport, Iowa
Occupations/Hobbies/Etc.: Will is a Technical Instructor of Heavy Equipment at John Deere; Sam is a full-time mom while also selling Younique make-up products on the side. Will & Sam enjoy working out together, playing soccer, swimming, and being with family and friends.
The Little Things
Q. What are the little things you do together, or for each other, that nurture your marriage?
S: Will helps with the kids. He will go change a diaper, or play with the kids, or do other things to help, without me having to ask. Those are the little things that make my day. He may not realize what a big difference it makes, but when he does those things I am reminded of how awesome he is.
W: Sam lets me go and play soccer twice a week, for an hour or two, which I love. I always come back to questions such as, “Was it fun?” or "Did you have a good time," rather than questions like, “Where were you?" or, "Where have you been?" I try to help Sam by taking the kids out so she can have a break. Sometimes I take them out in the backyard, or out to get ice cream. I try to take them out just so Sam can have some time all to herself. That has helped a lot. Sam will often express gratitude for me taking the kids out, and then I get the hint that I need to keep doing that.
Q. You clearly have outlets that energize you, and you obviously help each other make time to do those things. How has that strengthened your relationship?
S: Yesterday, I went to a women’s conference. I was with other women, and it was so uplifting. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom and change a diaper, or go into the hallway because the kids were making too much noise. I came back feeling so uplifted, which made me feel like I could do a lot more for Will and for the family. Every time we allow each other to enjoy personal time, it energizes us, and makes us happy. It is a win-win.
W: I also feel a sense of responsibility. When I get to go out and do something enjoyable, I feel like I should come home and do something more, as a payback so to speak. A lot of our relationship is based on appreciation. Some of the counsel we received when we got married was that we needed to “think to thank.” That has been a motto in our marriage, through our ups and downs, always “thinking to thank,” and appreciating each other.
S: Will is also good at folding the laundry. He will wash it and fold it. When he comes home from soccer we will watch a show together, and he will fold the laundry (of course I help him!).
Q. What specific ways has continued dating in marriage nurtured your marriage and why do you feel dating is vital in nurturing a marriage?
S: I love dating. I always tell Will we don’t have to do something expensive. Just walking around the mall, while holding hands, is a perfect date for me. I remember when I gave birth to Kate, I think it was a bit overwhelming for Will to even think about regular dating. I told him “Hey, I want to go on dates.” He was like, “I don’t think I can do that.” I said, “Really?” In his mind he was thinking, “We have to go to a restaurant and get a babysitter, and it is a huge thing to organize and I don’t think I can do it right now.” For me, I was just thinking, “We can go on a walk down the street and leave the kids with your mom - that is all I need.” So it took us some time to get back into the dating game. Now that we are back, it is amazing how the simple things are so nice (like just enjoying silence, or watching a movie, or holding hands!). Sometimes we are shocked when we have had a whole conversation, or car ride, without any interruptions or noise!
W: I agree with Sam. Dating was overwhelming to me as we had more kids, mostly because I am not a very trusting person. I don’t want to leave our kids with just anyone. I am pretty picky about that. I got over that. When I take Sam out on a date, I like to treat her like a princess. I like to do that for her and I know she likes it. Dating is important because you always come back renewed and refreshed after a date.
Q. In the last couple of years, what have been your favorite dates?
S: We work out together. That has kind of been our “date.” We go to the gym together three times a week. The kids can go to the daycare at the gym, and then we have time to talk, work-out, and push each other.
S: As far as favorites, this is going to sound cheesy, but sometimes I just like having deep conversations together about our future. I also enjoy walking around the neighborhood, or just sitting and talking on the couch. I love it when the house is quiet and we have a cup of water, and we just sit and cuddle and talk. Those are the best dates because I feel like I get to know Will even better, and I fall more in love with who he is. He is an incredible man.
W: I like being spontaneous. The other day I was coming home from work, and Sam sent me to get some diapers on the way home. So, while I was at the store getting some diapers, I saw this bag of chips that we don’t usually get and I thought to myself, “I want to make a date out of this.” So, I got some chips, I got a movie, and I got something to drink (something that I like, since Sam only likes water!). After the kids were in bed, I went to the car, got the bag of chips and put the movie on. We loved it. Sam had no idea I was planning that and it was fun. I like simple things. It doesn’t have to be something crazy.
S: And then I fell asleep because I was so tired (laughing). It was a fun date, I was just tired!
Q. What are some of the obstacles you have faced in going on dates and what have you done to ensure that dates happen?
W: We have three kids. It is hard to find someone to take care of all three of them while being assured that they will be okay when we come back. The second obstacle is finding the right time, because we have so many things going on with work, the yard, the house, etc. I start thinking about everything I have to do and then I think, “Right now, there just isn’t time.” Once I stop and say, “Okay, let's just make this happen,” we just make it happen.
S: I would say another obstacle is just being tired. Some days I don’t feel like jumping in the shower and getting all pretty. I just feel like staying at home. For example, if Will has been traveling a lot, I feel like I just want to stay home and I just want to keep him with me. So, we have a “date,” at home.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
W: As a newlywed, when I thought of intimacy, I always thought of sex. I thought, “Intimacy means that I get to see my wife naked, and I’m excited about that, and that’s going to be fun.” The longer we have been married, and the more I have grown up, intimacy means much more. It means having those moments when we sit down together on the couch and she has a question, and I get a chance to share something with her that means a lot to me. When we are able to talk about spiritual things together, those are very intimate moments that mean a lot to us. It goes beyond any physical expression of love; it just really connects us more on a spiritual level. That is something that I definitely did not get when we first got married, at all. I love it. I enjoy it. All the different levels of intimacy are just great.
S: I always thought intimacy was just about being in bed and having a sexual relationship, because growing up in my culture, that is what we were taught about. I would think to myself, “I’m sure there is more to it than that.” Intimacy is having those moments that are magical because you feel like you are connected in deep ways. This may be through deep conversations, or the sharing of hopes, goals, and dreams. I think those things help the intimacy between us to grow. It is very powerful.
W: I think it goes beyond the moment. It means thinking alike, and understanding each other, even when nothing has been said. It can mean joking together and picking on each other. Those moments are things that nobody else can share - they are just between us. Sometimes our kids ask, “What are you laughing about?” And we say, “Don’t worry about it, we are just laughing about something between us.”
Q. Intimacy takes time to develop together. As newlyweds, a physical relationship takes time to grow into. What are some of the things that are important in facilitating intimacy and connection?
W: It might sound like a silly answer, but it all comes down to communication. When I ask Sam, “How was your day?” rather than getting an, “It was good,” answer, she will tell me, “Well, I did this, and this…” and she starts telling me about all the things that she did. From the moment I get home, it’s not like I just get here and I’m on my own, but I’m having a continual conversation with Sam. Obviously, those conversations aren’t always finished because of a little one who needs something, or who is crying, or kids who also want to talk and have a conversation with you. So, we always connect again at the end of the day. I think that is when the opportunity presents itself for that kind of communication, that kind of intimacy.
S: We cannot connect and have been intimate when we have hungry and tried kids who want to eat, or who need to go to bed. For me, there has to be less noise and less energy from the kids. It has to be quieter and calmer, so we can really connect.
W: Sometimes it doesn’t happen. There are days it doesn’t happen at all. Either we are too tired or too stressed, or there were tasks that needed to be accomplished.
Q. What other things help you nurture the intimate relationship that you share?
S: Sometimes I am just exhausted and I just want to get under the covers and say goodnight. When Will is coming towards me and giving me signals, sometimes I want to be selfish and just say, “Go on the other side of the bed, please.” I think it is okay if sometimes you say, “No,” because you are truly tired. And Will really doesn’t want to be selfish by saying, “I’m in need of it,” because he knows I wouldn’t enjoy it because I’m tired. Sometimes it’s okay to say, “Maybe tomorrow.” Maybe some couples are really good at it and they have this amazing connection, but it takes time for us. When you first get married, you feel like it is expected for you to fulfill your duty as a spouse. The longer you are married, the more you start to understand about intimacy and what it really means – connection and respect. We consider each others' needs and how we feel at the moment, and sometimes it’s okay for either of us to say, “No.” If it doesn’t happen for two days, that’s okay. When you have a baby you have to wait six weeks, or when your husband is a solider he is out for six months, it is do-able to not do it every day. I think communication about intimacy is really important.
W: I think also you have to create the environment for it. When we first got married, it was just kind of the natural thing. The longer you are married, the more you realize that you really have to create the environment. If either one of us is too tired to have sex, we know for sure that it isn’t going to be a good experience for either of us. It isn’t a selfish thing. It is a team effort. There is always a thought of consideration, there is a connection I’m looking for and not just the physical satisfaction, it goes beyond that. It’s fun. We have a great time. If we have created the proper environment for it, then it is great. Some of the things that will spark up those moments are when we do something nice for each other. For example, Sam will put on something nice, something suggestive, and that will make it fun. It is just completely out of the ordinary. It just makes me feel so great that my wife wants to do something like that for me. And that she trusts me enough and loves me enough to do that for me.
Values to Live By
Q. What is your spouse’s strongest trait and characteristic?
W: Sam is beautiful. And she likes to make me feel like I am the king of the house. That is just something that she does without even thinking about it. She just takes care of me. She is very nurturing. She makes me feel loved, she makes me feel like I’m well taken care of, and she is always there for me when I need her. That also ties into my favorite strength of hers - she is such a spiritual person that I can come to her with any of my struggles and just talk to her openly. She’ll always listen to me, without any drop of judgment, without any drop of discrimination or anything. She just listens to me and is willing to help.
S: Will’s character. He is a very hard worker. He will always try to give 100% for the family. He never does half-jobs. If he has to change the tile in the bathroom, he is going to learn how to do and do it perfectly. Sometimes I think, “Yeah, looks good,” and he is says, “No, no.” He’ll work on all the details until it is right. Another one of his strengths is that he is a great teacher. He teaches me a lot. He is helping me to grow, and that is huge for me. He loves to share things he learns with me, and I love that.
Q. How have those qualities, and the good things you see in each other, nurtured and strengthened your marriage?
S: He completes me. We grew up in two different countries. We had two different lives. Sharing the knowledge we both have about how we grew up, and bringing our cultures together, is making us stronger. We help each other to grow. We love each other’s qualities and try to look for the best in each other.
W: The way Sam treats me and the way she is always there for me, just makes our house a home. When I get home, I really get home. Without even hugging her or anything, I feel like I’m immediately in a place of safety, and I can leave the world outside and I love that.
Q. One thing that is unique and special in your marriage is how you have molded two different cultures together. You grew up half a world apart from each other. How has that dynamic worked? How have you taken two different backgrounds and become such a compliment to each other?
W: Our kids are trilingual (Will speaks only Spanish to the kids and Sam speaks only French). On the professional side, this has boosted my career. I learned French because I met Sam, and I wanted to impress her. So, I took a French class in college, and as soon as we got married, I just continued to learn. I consider myself fluent now, to the point where I can teach one of my classes in French - that is what I did when I went to Morocco. It has opened a lot of doors for me and definitely boosted my career. At home, I would say that it hasn’t been that complicated. When we got married, we committed ourselves to molding our cultures and our languages, and accepting each other for who we are. That has made it easy for us. I speak Spanish. Sam speaks French. The kids are happy, and we are happy to see them speak like that. We love incorporating both cultures and traditions into our family.
S: I never had a problem marrying someone who was not French. At first, blending our cultures and backgrounds was kind of easy, but after a while, it was harder to find common ground in certain areas. Sometimes I would think, “Oh my goodness! What do you do in your country?! You are crazy! I don’t want to do that in my family!” Some of the things his family did I didn’t like. We had to communicate about the way he was raised and the way I raised, and find a common ground for both cultures - all while living in the United States. So, that was quite an adjustment the first year. But, once we nailed it, it was like, “Oh yeah, now I can do this.”
W: I think moving to Iowa, coming away from everything we were both familiar with, helped us come together. Before, we lived close to friends. Even if we had issues as a couple, there was always an easy out. I could go to my friend’s house, or go play something, and she could get out as well. We were never forced to sit down and 100% work on the issues we had. But, when we moved to Iowa, there was no escape, because we didn’t know anyone! When we had problems, in that small apartment, there was no place where we could run to. So, I think we grew quite a bit. I personally feel like I grew up a lot the first year in Iowa, because it was hard. It was very challenging, but that is when our cultures meshed more. We started doing the things that we used to do growing up, along with other holiday traditions including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those things have really made a difference in our marriage.
Routines & Rituals
Q. What are the things that you do day-to-day that keep you connected, especially when you are out traveling.
W: Daily texts. I get to the office, get set up, look through emails, and once I’m done with the first part of my day at the office, I text my wife. “How’s it going? Good morning. How did you sleep? How is the morning going so far? Is there anything that you need?” So, throughout the day, I try and stay in touch with things we had talked about the night before, or things I had been thinking about that I hadn’t mentioned to her. Sometimes she will say, “Let’s just talk about it when you get home.” We also like to send each other articles to read or funny pictures we find. When I am out of town, we Skype. When I can, I call her in the morning, I call her before lunch or after lunch, and I call her on my way to the hotel.
S: He sends lots of pictures, which is nice. Mostly pictures of where he has been or what he is eating. For example, one time when he was in Chile at a restaurant and people were dancing, he called me on hangouts so I could watch the dancing, too. We didn’t really talk, he just showed me and I was like, “Oh my goodness, that is pretty cool.” I try and send pictures of the kids, a cute hair-do on one of the girls, or the mischief someone got into.
Q. What kinds of traditions do you share in your marriage?
S: As far as traditions, we have family in the United States, but no one in Iowa. So, we grew up in our marriage having our own traditions. On Christmas Eve we always do one Ecuadorian dish, one French dish, and then one dish from another country. For anniversaries, we like to go do things that help us remember the promises we made to each other when we were married. When we lived in Utah, we would go back to the temple where we were married either on our anniversary or during the week of our anniversary.
Q. Do you have any special places, nicknames, or rituals that are unique to your marriage?
S: I take forever to get ready for bed. So, Will will often say, “Go ahead, go get ready,” a bit before he comes to bed. And then he comes to bed, and I am still in the bathroom. He teases me by always saying, “Right on time.” This has become a fun ritual that we share.
W: As far as nicknames for each other, we just call each other, “Baby.” That is kind of it. We don’t have anything else. “Baby,” everything.
S: Sometimes when he does something really cute, I’m like, “OOOOH, Papacito,” which is a Spanish nickname.
Q. What specific suggestions could you share that have helped you work through challenges?
W: I think we have had our fair share of difficulties in our marriage. It hasn’t always been the way it is now. It is not always great, but the longer we are married, we have come to an understanding that there are things that we need to accept about each other. The first thing that we need to accept about each other is that we are not perfect, and that there are things about the other person that may never change. That’s okay. If those things don’t change, that doesn’t change the love that we have for each other. For example, we don’t always agree about how we are raising our kids, or the way that we discipline our kids. Sometimes Sam may think I’m a little too stern and I will say, “No, I will hold my ground. This needs to happen and things need to be this way.” So, I will kind of get my way for the moment, but then I go walk around the house and realize that I am too prideful and that I need to apologize. That would be the other thing that helps a lot - knowing that we have to apologize. So, to summarize, first accepting each other as we are, regardless of flaws, and second, always apologizing for things that need to be apologized for.
S: My parents gave me some great advice before we were married. First, don’t go to bed angry at each other. You may not be able to immediately fix the problem, but at least calm down and be reasonable. Second, remember what you are working towards in marriage. You want to make it work. What is your goal? It is important to remember when hard things come up. In the heat of the moment you want to stand for what you think is right, but in the end, is it really important to be right, or to keep your family together? It doesn’t matter if I’m right and he is wrong, or if he is right and I’m wrong, I want our marriage and family to last. We just keep focused on strengthening our marriage and family in whatever ways we can.
W: One of the difficult things for me, sometimes, is accepting an apology. If I am too upset, sometimes “I’m sorry,” is not enough for me. I think, “But things need to be different and…” What I’ve come to realize, with my personality, is that the less I speak, the better I understand. When Sam apologizes to me, the less I say back, the better things get. So, if all I say is “thank you,” things are going to get a lot better a lot quicker. But if a reproach comes out of my mouth, then things are not going to get fixed and that apology is not going to be worth much. So, I’m learning, and it is a process.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
W: (laughing) Intimacy.
W: A good mix of everything. Communication, first and foremost. The couple that doesn’t talk, probably won't stay together. How can you get to know each other if you don’t talk to each other? I think it’s really important to be honest, to have open communication, and to trust each other. And then a good combination of everything else – all the benefits and blessings that come because you are married.
S: Be patient. When we got married, I was expecting my marriage to look like my parents marriage (28-years of marriage), which really wasn't possible, having only been married a month or so. Being patient with each other and growing together, are important. These things are helping us enjoy our marriage now and work towards the marriage we want.
W: Be willing to change. That is huge. Be willing to say you are sorry, and then work to change, to improve. Self improvement will not only make your marriage better, but it will make your family better, as well.
S: And laugh. Laugh a lot.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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