Our interview with Aaron & Bev Weidner was so much fun. Ah, these two have so much personality, and a whole lot of wisdom to share about what it takes to nurture a marriage. We love their yearly love letter ritual, the way they have learned to play off each other's strengths and weaknesses, how they strengthened each other through years of infertility, and their ability to keep things light and humorous. We just know you are going to enjoy learning more about Aaron & Bev's marriage from this interview!
Years Married: 11 (come April 2nd!)
Location: Prairie Village (also known as Kansas City), Kansas
Kids: 2-year-old twins
Occupations: Bev is a food & lifestyle blogger; Aaron does freelance writing and runs his own Etsy shop.
Hobbies/Interests: We used to be in a band together. We both sing and play guitar. So if we want to get the guitar out and just sing, we can do that. We have an audience of two.
Favorite Flavor of Ice Cream: Bev - chocolate; Aaron - fruit flavored.
Follow Bev & Aaron here:
Q. What are some of the little things you do together, or for each other, that help you express appreciation and love for each other?
B: When I don’t have to say, “Will you empty the diaper bin?” Gah that’s great. Or when he sweeps and wipes down counters, when he puts away the whatever, when he tidies up this and that, and I don’t even have to ask, that creates peace in my heart and makes me a not so stabby person.
A: On that note, Bev likes planning and having a schedule and being in control of how the day is laid out. I’m definitely more spontaneous and in the moment, and so I appreciate when Bev goes along with my wild ideas. It might be 5:00pm and I’ll say, “Let’s walk down the street and go get ice cream,” and Bev says, “Yeah,” and we do it. When Bev goes with the flow like that, it’s awesome.
B: Yeah, when I go with the flow. There’s all the simple things too, like physical touch. A very simple, “Hey,” while passing each other in the hallway along with a love tap or scratch on the back is always nice. But not a noogie. Please don’t ever give me a noogie.
Q. You both work from home. How has that changed the dynamic in your marriage?
A: It could easily have made us sick of each other. However, I feel like we’ve sort of adapted.
B: We’ve kind of come up with a system. A lot of the time he leaves at about 9am in the morning, goes to the library, or coffee shop, or meetings, and I run the ship with the kids. And then they go down for a nap, which is when Aaron gets home. Then I can shoot recipes, and do whatever I need to do work-wise in the afternoon, and when they get up, we can pass the baton and he takes over. He can hang with them for a little while until about 4pm, or 4:30pm and then we can join up together and co-parent again.
A: A lot of back and forth. And then around dinner time is usually when we end up being able to parent together. Bev gets up around 5am and works and writes and checks emails until 7am or 8am, while I’ll usually help with breakfast, and hang out with the kids. I won’t turn the radio or TV on, because I know Bev is writing. Then around 9am I take off, and she takes over. And then whatever work we both have left, we do from 7pm until we are done.
Q. What practical tips would you share with other couples that help you nurture your intimate life together?
B: Communication, which is going to sound totally lame and cliché, but just communicate about what each of you wants and does not want. That and Kenny G. (Kidding! I think.)
A: It may be that we have 2-year-olds, but having this date night once a month is part of our process of reclaiming intimacy - and time for just the two of us. Also, something else that nurtures intimacy is something we do around Christmas every year. We save up a jar of change, and we’ll take it and cash it in and we’ll go to a nice dinner. And instead of exchanging gifts, we’ll exchange love letters.
B: And we’ve done that for 12 years. We’ve never bought a single Christmas gift for each other, not a single gift. Not. one. gift.
A: And we’ve kept all those letters...
B: In a fire-safe box.
A: When we sit and read those letters it’s like, “Oh yeah, I forgot how awesome it is to just hang out with you.”
B: And intimacy is across the board, it doesn’t have to be just you know what. It can be discussion, laughing, reminiscing, and going back in time and talking about the way my hair and jowls used to look before children. You think I’m kidding.
Q. How did that love letter ritual come about?
B: We were broke. Ha! We were freshly married. I had just moved to Kansas City for him and didn’t have a job and I didn’t know what he wanted for Christmas, so then we just decided to write love letters and that stuck. And that has meant so much more. The words, and how we both interpreted each other’s year, it’s very interesting to read. I basically cry a lot.
Q. Do you read the letters that night over dinner?
A: Yes. And Bev bawls.
B: I’m a wreck. A complete disaster.
Q. Have you gone back and re-read prior years letters?
B: Yes! Not this year, but last year I went back and re-read them all. And it’s so funny because some of those early years just make me laugh - I’m kind of pathetic and ridiculous and lovey-dovey. (slash awesome)
Q. How does date night work for you? Who gets the babysitter? Who plans the dates?
A: Recently we realized how long it has been since we had had time together, so we decided for 2016 we are going to make sure date night happens once a month so we can create space to be alone together.
B: It’s kind of a joint effort. We have this babysitter we’ve had for almost a year or so. I just text the sitter, since we don’t have any family around and we don’t have help close by.
Q. Who plans the best dates?
B: We just went bowling last week. We decided that in 2016 we would try and have monthly dates, get a babysitter, and have a theme. So this first theme was “Beers, Burgers, and Bowling.” I came up with it, not the dude. And this next one we’re going to do “Pencils and Pasta.” I really want to draw an old naked fat man.
B: We always kind of work them out together. We throw out ideas, like ballroom dancing or drawing, etc.
A: Bowling was a pretty fun date, and Bev came up with that. And we’re really excited for this next class - where we will do live drawings of a model. We’ve heard about it for a long time and decided to make it one of our dates.
Q. Why is dating so important in marriage?
B: Just to get out of your day-to-day and to connect, and talk about something other than the diaper rash.
A: We were afraid with the bowling one that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about since we’re around each other so much, but we like talking about the kids and work and the things going on in our lives.
B: Also, dates don’t have to be crazy expensive. In the summer, grab a baguette, a bottle of wine and some cheese and go sit in the park for awhile.
A: We do that a lot.
B: We go to the park on the regular, and stare at the birds. And when my parents or his mom visit, we try and sneak away for an hour or so and have a discussion about…
A: ...How awesome it is to be away from the kids.
B: And then we’ll come right back. You can have a date night-in, too, when the kids are in bed. Just order pizza, cozy up in a blanket and watch When Harry Met Sally. Obviously.
A: My day changes every hour on the hour, and I would come up with date ideas all the time, but we wouldn’t actually do any of them unless Bev said, “Hey, Thursday night at 7:00pm, I’m going to call our sitter…” I push for the adventure, and...
B: I execute the plan. With work and deadlines and life we have to work around what we want to do for our dates and when classes or events are held.
Q. What is your favorite thing about each other?
B: He makes me laugh. His style of humor is very, very dry and it’s sarcastic, but warm, and it’s not mean - it’s clean and funny and wonderful. There is never, not a day, where we do not spend the majority of it laughing. Our relationship is sort of like an SNL skit. We are caricatured versions of ourselves, we always constantly make fun of ourselves, we over-exaggerate our own imperfections and turn it around and make it really funny. That’s the way we’ve always been. We are not serious, at all. EVER. Okay sometimes.
A: She’s passionate. When she is excited about something, Bev is all in. That means that she is a very excited person. When she emails there are multiple exclamation points.
B: No there are not, there are not - take it back. I have gotten way better! I will even make a point to say, “Look how many exclamation points I didn’t use!”
A: You know how when letters are in all caps, what that means, well Bev often lives in ALL CAPS.
B: That is true, but it’s done in a classy way. At least in my head.
A: That passion is contagious and it makes me laugh.
B: I think something about both of us is that we’re not negative people. We’re not wired like that. We both come from families that have light senses of humor. We don’t take anything very seriously at all. Everything is a joke to us. We’re positive.
A: For example, this morning, I got in the car to go to work, and Bev and the babies were at the door waving good-bye as I pulled away. I was listening to a message from a friend that I was starting a new project with, and my face must have changed. When I was at the coffee shop I got a message from Bev saying, “Are you okay? Your face was serious.” And I was like, “Oh, they saw me go from dad & husband mode to work mode.” It was my game face.
B: I thought something was on fire, or that someone was dead.
A: I was like, “You just saw me go into work mode.”
B: I feel like that positivity trickles into our parenting style with the twins, and having 2-year-old twins is very demanding, and very exhausting. A little background for you, it took us eight years to get them. It was IVF. Major deal. I thought it would never happen. It was years and years of infertility.
A: It was like the final straw, and we thought, “If this doesn’t work, nothing will.”
B: So, it took so long to get them, so now that they are here, nothing really bothers us. We always respond by saying, “It’s a toddler thing,” or “You’re alive, I don’t care. You’re here.” We have this mentality of “Don’t take this too seriously. It’s such a joy to have them,” so we run with it and embrace the crazy. And when you do that, it makes it so much easier. It surprisingly does.
Q. How did you deal with infertility? How did it impact your marriage? How did you work through it together?
B: Communication. We talked it out. TALKED it out. Every emotion. Every thought. Every fear. With each other, with the situation, with everything. But no yelling, just discussion. I’ve been saying, “No stress, just discuss,” a lot lately. As soon as the anxiety rises, we bring it down and just talk.
Q. How have you learned to work through conflict together?
A: I’m a good listener. Bev is a good talker. When I got laid off last summer, that could have been a huge, stressful challenge, but instead it’s worked out for us. We’ve come to an understanding of each other, a deeper understanding of each other. I’m the dreamer and Bev is the planner. Having us both at home meant we could have really grated on each other, but instead we’ve grown like crazy in our understanding of each other and each other’s rhythms. We can finally rearrange work for life. Now that I’m able to do that, suddenly our marriage is looking like it couldn’t before.
B: Yeah, quit your job everyone! (highly recommended). Haha.
Q. Do you two ever argue?
B: We do argue. What do we argue about? It’s stupid stuff.
Q. What works for you when you have conflict between the two of you?
B: I feel like we always stand in the kitchen and both lean on the counter and say, “Look, dude,” and then we talk.
A: We got to a point, it took awhile, but some point in the last few years we got to where each of us would admit fault, or go to the other one and say, “You’re right, I’m sorry,” pretty quickly. And so, we would battle, but one or the other would come, pretty quickly, to the other one and apologize. Or, if we had just fought to the point where you have fought about five different things, we would come to each other and say, “Hey let’s just hit the reset button. Whatever that was, it’s gone and we’re starting fresh right now.”
B: And then one of us will make a joke right after that, and it’s always too soon for the joke, but you can’t not joke about it.
A: You have to be willing to reset and let it go.
B: We can’t ever agree on TV.
A: Or movies.
B: TV is a major issue with us. I want to watch New Girl. I want to watch Friday Night Lights. He does not. He wants to rip his eyeballs out and light them on fire. However, we have found something that works for us - forensics. We’ve done all Law & Order, all the CSI, we’ve done them all and watched them all. And it works for us.
A: It’s the one thing we both like, and so that is what we watch together.
B: And then I watch Friday Night Lights when he goes to bed, or goes out in the garage to work.
We can always watch documentaries together, too. We like Air Disasters. I have no idea what this says about us. But we can’t avoid it, we love that show. Get the popcorn.
Q. What is your secret to a happy and healthy marriage?
A: Quit your job. Have twins. It makes life so much easier. (Just kidding.)
B: Communicate. And keep things light. Don’t take life so seriously. Don’t take yourself so seriously. The marriage is serious, of course it is, but the big stuff - don’t overthink it. If you can joke about your own weaknesses, and your own mistakes and your own idiosyncrasies, and outsmart your weaknesses - then you can work together to enhance your strengths, through laughter - and I feel like the longevity will be there. It’s not even magic. I don’t think there is some secret gigantic formula. Talk it out, laugh it out, don’t take yourself seriously and you know... a foot massage is nice too.
A: We were attracted to each other because we were complements. Opposites attract because opposites fit together so well. I think we’ve come to a point where we’re able, I’m able to accept my weaknesses, and those are often Bev’s strengths. And she is able to do the same thing and accept her weaknesses and recognize those are the spots I’m really strong in. And we’ve fought our way to a place where I know the things that Bev is good at and that I’m not good at. And having that understanding of the other person, and that respect for what the other person does bring, I think that has helped us a lot in how we divide things up, in who takes what when. We tend to divide things along those lines without really discussing them. Recognizing the complement of your spouse is key.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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