Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Years Married: 6
Occupation: David works in Finance at IBM & Sucely stays home with their children.
Kids: 3 (1 girl, 2 boys)
Hobbies/Interests: We enjoy working on puzzles together, playing the piano and singing, spending time with our family, fishing, and staying involved at church.
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?
S: He washes the dishes.
D: I wash the dishes because Sucely does not like to wash dishes or do laundry. So, sometimes I have to help with those things. But, those are not little things. Those don’t count. I know this sounds weird, but I enjoy doing the dishes.
S: Sometimes when I’m having a hard day I just call him and tell him, “I’m having a hard day with the kids." And then he brings home ice cream, or cookies, or something like that. It’s very simple, but it makes me feel like it’s a good end to a bad day. I like it when he does those kind of things. He calls me beautiful...and I love it!
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: Just recently Sucely told me that I needed to help more with getting the kids ready on time in the morning, instead of just getting ready myself. So now I help them put on their uniforms and make their beds.
S: Yeah, I was really frustrated in the mornings because there were lots of things to do before David left for work and the kids went to school. I felt I like was doing everything by myself so I told him, “You just get yourself ready, eat your breakfast, and go. I need your help!”
D: (teasing) It takes time to comb my hair, you know?
S: After I told him that, he has been doing very well at helping out more and supporting me. He’s been getting the kids ready while I make breakfast and pack lunches, and that has helped a lot.
Q. When you know that David is doing things intentionally to help you out, how does that make you feel?
S: He does a lot of things. The other night I was really tired, and he was washing the dishes. I told him, “It’s time to go to bed. I’m very tired. We can do this tomorrow.” He stayed up and did the dishes and I went to bed. I couldn’t sleep because I had this thought: “If David is trying to help me so much, I need to do better at helping him.” We are learning and we are working together at this, we are a team.
Q. What specific ways has continued dating in marriage nurtured your marriage?
S: This is a hard question. We are going to be honest. We haven’t dated in a very, very long time. Mostly because of the kids. It’s so difficult to find someone to watch the kids, especially because we recently moved and we don’t know very many people. It has been hard. But, sometimes we try to do things together, at night. We put the kids to bed earlier. And then we have a date at home. Sometimes we will get a special flavor of ice cream, or some other food we like, or watch a movie together.
D: We recently started putting our kids to bed at 7:30pm. I told this to a friend and he commented on how early that was. I told him we need time as a couple, by ourselves, without the kids. So, we put the kids to bed, and we stay up talking. It gives us time to be by ourselves, talk about how our day went and about the kids. Getting out of the house together can be hard, but when we do, we include the kids. One idea we want to implement is to switch babysitting with our friends so that we can go on dates more often. It’s a work in progress.
Q. What are your favorite things to do when you have dates at home?
S: We are working on a 1500 piece puzzle right now. We also like to play the piano. David plays, I sing. We love to sing Christmas songs, Frozen songs, etc. Oh, and we love to eat pizza!!!
D: We bought a piano because we wanted a hobby we could both share, and do at home, all while spending more quality time together.
Q. What are the obstacles you have faced in going on dates, and what have you done to ensure you get quality time together?
D: It’s really hard having a baby. I think we are at the point where we can leave the other two kids with a sitter, but the little one, he can’t be away from Sucely for long. So, I don’t know how that would work with a babysitter. Like we already said, we want to switch babysitting with another couple soon, so that we can get out.
S: Sometimes it is hard to find special activities that don’t cost money, so one obstacle for us is finding other fun things to do without having to spend money.
Q. Why do you feel dating is so vital in nurturing a marriage?
D: You start your marriage alone, and you end your marriage alone. When the kids are gone, it’s just you two by yourselves again. It is important to remember, while your kids are growing up, that the most important person in your life is your spouse. Otherwise, you’ll end up being there, married, but not really together. I have seen that in the lives of some of our friends. They have managed to stay married for a long time, however, they’re not really together. They live in the same home, but there’s no love or connection anymore. Perhaps they didn’t have their priorities straight.
S: Dating David helps me remember why we got married, why I love him, and what he loves about me, and me about him. Dating helps keep those feelings fresh. Once you have kids, it is hard to remember all of those things, but when you make time to be with your spouse, it all comes back.
D: Our spouse is really who we will end up with after our kids are married and grown. It’s very interesting. Your siblings grow up and get married, your kids grow up and get married, and eventually it is just everyone and their spouse. It is so important to nurture that relationship with your spouse.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
S: For me, it means being able to trust David completely - emotionally, physically - in every way. I trust him. He can know everything about me. There are no secrets. I know I can trust him.
D: We learn that God created man and woman and his intent was for them to be one flesh. When we hear that we think physical, but in all senses the idea is that we should be one. Intimacy means we both think alike and know everything about each other, almost as if we were one person, but separate bodies. We can accomplish that through physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, and even intellectual intimacy.
Q. What does emotional intimacy look like to you, and what things have helped you draw closer together emotionally?
D: My mother always taught me, through her words and example, that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it. Sometimes when something bothers me, I just keep quiet. That is not good, because with emotional intimacy there has to be a lot of talking, and listening, and sharing. One thing I didn’t do so well at, when my mother passed away, was being open about my feelings. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a man, but sometimes it is hard for me to talk about things. But, there has to be that openness. Sometimes Sucely will do the same, and she’ll keep quiet, but there comes a point, where you have to speak, or cry, or talk it out. We all have those ups and downs.
S: I am very emotional. I cry about everything. It doesn’t matter what emotion I am experiencing - whether I am happy, sad, or angry - the first person I want to talk to is my husband. I know that I can cry with him or laugh with him. When I cry, he always supports me and asks what he can do. He hugs me, and just lets me cry, or when I’m very excited about something he will feel very happy for me, too.
S: Also you need to respect your privacy as a couple. If you have a problem with your spouse, talk about it with your spouse. People outside your relationship don’t need to know about your problems. A couple's problems need to be fixed as a couple.
Values to Live By
Q. What is your spouse’s strongest trait, quality, or characteristic?
S: David is very funny. He makes everyone laugh. It makes me happy.
D: Sucely remembers and focuses on what is most important. Things like family, children, education, photography, etc. She is so passionate about things and spends time reading and learning all she can. One of the things I love about her is her passion for our family. I can go to work and I know my family is safe. She is teaching the kids, or playing with them. She might not do the dishes, but she is doing stuff with the kids that are more important. That’s something I really appreciate about her. She might not think I like the pictures she takes, because I skim them really quick, but the memories she is capturing with the camera will be very important to our family as the years go by.
Q. How have these strengths blessed your marriage?
S: David is very optimistic. Every time we have a problem or a challenge, he has a very positive mindset. It makes me feel like we can go through any challenge if we choose to be positive.
D: There is something about me, maybe I get it from my father, but I like to be at home. Sucely likes to get out. She loves to be out - going camping, doing this or that, going to a restaurant or a show. So, when you talk about strengths complimenting each other, the fact that we have different wants & needs, strengths & weaknesses - it helps keep us balanced. The kids would go crazy if they stayed inside all day long. Sucely pushes us to go out, and try new things, and that is a big plus for our family.
Routines & Rituals
Q. What are things you do day-to-day that help you stay connected?
S: Every morning before David leaves for work, he gives me a hug, a kiss, and an “I love you.” We never go out without saying that. We always message each other throughout the day, with an “I love you,” or “This is happening right now,” or just with reminders, news, etc. Even when we are not together, we feel like we are connected during the day.
D: Playing the piano is something we enjoy a lot. We feel like we didn’t take advantage of it when we were young. Our parents wanted us to learn, but we didn’t. I guess we learned enough. Now that we are married, we are playing the piano, directing choirs, singing together. We bought a big speaker with a microphone so the kids can do karaoke and put on shows for our family. We are even going to have a show for our family via skype at Christmas-time.
D: We really consider eating pizza together a tradition. We get very excited when we eat it. When we take the kids and go out to eat, they know what to say - “PIZZA!” They’ve been well-trained.
Q. What specific suggestions can you share that have helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
D: (laughing) We don’t have problems.
S: Changing your expectations. Sometimes I keep things in and then I get upset. If am expecting something from David, but I don’t express how I’m feeling, then he has no clue that I’m even expecting it. We have to communicate what we are thinking and expecting. He can’t read my mind and I can’t read his. We need to talk about things - about what we are thinking, or about what bugs us. For example, leaving socks in the living room. Even though I could easily put his socks away, I have expressed to him that I really don’t like that. Even something that simple needs to be communicated to avoid making me upset. If we express our feelings and/or dislike of things, we can solve problems much more quickly.
D: Things tick you off when you have expectations and then things don’t happen the way you expected them to. For example, I might come home from work thinking to myself, “I’m going to check my email now.” But then Sucely wants me to do something, or the kids want me to play with them. If I come home with that expectation, and then everything else comes in conflict with that, it might make me upset. Flexibility is important. Talking about things is important. For example, not too long ago we were having some conflict about something. I told Sucely that we needed to talk about it. We sat down after the kids went to bed, and I asked her what she wasn’t happy about and what I was doing wrong. She didn’t have much to say. So, I opened up a note-book and starting writing some things about myself. Things like, “You are feeling sad or disappointed. You don’t like when I do this or that.” I started writing things and then she started speaking. Right after she spoke, we started to make ideas to change. Since that day, we have improved our relationship a lot. We are on an upward slope.
D: Finally, we don’t turn to other people when we have problems. And we never scream or fight. If we are angry or hurt, we try not to show it in a disrespectful way.
Q. How has working through conflict together nurtured your marriage and brought you closer together?
D: When there is conflict at home, it impacts your whole life. Reconciliation improves everything. The important thing is to apologize or forgive before your problems get too big. If you wait, and wait, and wait, it may get to a point where there seems to be no solution. Sometimes we have spotted things early on, but other times we have had a bit of a rough road where we had to eventually sit down and talk through things. We like to have a planned meeting, periodically, where we have opportunities to talk about things that need to be done, or things that need to be fixed. My mom used to say, “Every day you go out, and when you come home, you need to fix your roof if it has leaks.” Marriages and families are being attacked for many reasons, some of which we cause ourselves. Daily fixing of the leaks in your marriage is very helpful.
S: We need to be very humble. We have to forgive each other. We are humans, and we make mistakes. So, we need to be willing to forgive everyday. For the little things or the big things, it doesn’t matter. We are a couple and we need to forgive each other for our mistakes.
Q. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
D: Lots of pizza. Lots of pizza and ice cream. Ice cream fixes conflicts.
S: When we were married, we were given great advice - to think of our spouse first and not about ourselves. I need to focus on the things that make David happy, because if he is happy, then I am happy.
D: The other thing for us, since we are Christians, is that if we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, then we share the same purpose as husband and wife. Maybe this is different for other couples, but unity is essential. There has to be unity in purpose, actions, planning - in everything. Unity is essential to a happy marriage.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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