Location: Alton, Illinois - right outside downtown St. Louis, Missouri
Years Married: 11 months
Kids: We both came into this marriage with two kids each, so now we have four kids.
Occupations: David is a Human Resource Director for a logistics company; Whitney is a stay-at-home mom, and a student completing a Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Counseling.
Hobbies/Interests: We like to travel (just the two of us), hike, take the kids swimming, work in the yard, ride bikes with the kids, and add pins to each other's Pinterest pages (so we can find projects to do together).
Favorite flavors of ice cream: We both like anything from Ben & Jerry's – Phish Food and Cherry Garcia are our favorites.
Q. How did you two meet?
W: We met a little over a year ago, on my 36th Birthday. David had finished a game of golf and came into Bossanova, a restaurant that we both have often frequented over the years (we wonder how many times we have seen one another over the years, but never noticed!). The only seat in the house was next to my mother, so David took it, along with my heart. Although there was a definite connection, I was just out of a relationship and not ready to jump into the dating world. David had been divorced for a year, and didn’t take “I’m not ready,” for an answer. He somehow managed to track me down on Facebook, and then after approaching the topic of seeing each other three times, I finally agreed, and we have been together every day since.
Q. What are the top ten things you do to nurture your marriage?
D: Open communication is key in our relationship. We need to make sure we are on the same page, especially when it comes to the kids. We both take constructive criticism very well, so in our marriage it’s OK to be honest with one another, and to point out what’s working and what isn't. I send Whitney an e-mail every morning with a little love saying and my thoughts for the day. She loves it when her phone “dings” and she receives my morning e-mail. She, in return, sends a reply. I fear the day I forget to send her daily e-mail.
W: We talk everything out, even the stuff that isn’t easy to admit. Some conversations can be painful, but the gap of the unknown between a couple can be deep, dark and scary, so we don't want to go there.
D: My favorite part of the day is walking in the door after a long day at work. We have a rule at our home that when I get home, I get ten minutes in the bedroom to chat about the day and snuggle with Whitney.
W: Touch, and touch often. Even the simple gesture of his hand upon the small of my back, as he passes by, confirms a connection, and gives me reassurance that I'm appreciated and always needed.
3. Be passionate
D: It’s not hard work to make this happen. Holding hands, kissing, hugging and yes, having sex. We find it hard to keep our hands to ourselves.
W: Revel in the fact that you are a lucky one, and that your relationship is something special, because so many people don’t reach that level of connectivity.
D: We have developed a very close connection by trying to master the skill of listening. This is always a work in progress, because it is easy to hear what someone else is saying without actually listening. We try to make sure the other person feels heard. We always say, “I am not a mind reader. If something is wrong please speak up.” Nothing is worse than not having a clue that your spouse is upset or unhappy in your marriage.
W: Yes, sometimes you just need to listen and remember that your advice and opinion isn’t always needed. Listen deeply, and try to see things from the other's point of view. Attention is the best gift. Give your spouse your attention and you’ll make them feel like the most important person in the world.
5. Be courteous
D: I’m old-fashioned. It’s important for me to open the car door (and to open doors in general), to walk closest to the street (just in case a car might swerve off the road), etc.
W: Say thank you. We both do a lot around the home, and noticing what the other person does, and thanking them for it, goes a long way.
6. Make "alone time," and "family time," priorities
D: The majority of the time, we eat at the kitchen table as a family. It’s important to talk about everyone’s day and how they are doing. We also enjoy taking the kids hiking and exploring in the woods. In the summer time, we are usually at the pool playing with all the kids – they are water babies. While I don’t like being without my partner, sometime it’s a necessity. Whitney has coffee time, play dates, or lunch and dinner with the girls about once a month. Sometimes I think if she hears “HEY, MOM!” one more time she is going to lose it. If Dad wants to sneak out to play a round of golf, that’s cool too.
7. Be loyal
W: Always be on your spouse’s side, at least in the public eye. If you don’t agree on a issue, it can always be discussed in private. Your spouse is the most important person in your world - be devoted to them always. Remember that children grow older and develop their own relationships, but your spouse is by your side to stay.
8. Remember the little things
D: Do little things for your spouse. Things like sending flowers for no special reason, taking out the trash, cleaning the car (Believe me, with six people all together in one car it gets trashed very quickly!), unloading the dishwasher, getting the morning coffee, doing the laundry (most importantly putting it away), etc. These small tokens don’t cost anything but time.
W: Other small tokens include sharing little thoughts of appreciation and love. If you think to yourself, “Wow, he is handsome!” - SAY IT! It does no good to keep it to yourself.
9. Take baby steps as you transition to a blended family
D: Believe me, no one wants to introduce their kids to the “wrong person.” After meeting Whitney, I slowly started to come around the kids. When they had soccer practice and games, I would just happen to be at the park jogging. I would go over and watch a little, then hang around afterwards while they played on the playground. I would stop by in the mornings for a cup of coffee on my way to work, or stop by after work for a cocktail. I would play games with the kids, and after awhile if I was not around they were asking where I was. After about six months of having me around, the little ones started calling me, “Dad,” completely on their own. The older kids like the fact that they have two other people to play with, and I think boss around at times. They love Whitney, and see that I am happy, and that has made the transition easy with them.
W: David and I are not the typical couple that you would find giving advice on how and why we work. We are both on our second round. We have learned what didn’t work in the past, and so we have been able to address those issues in our relationship. We both often refer to our couple-hood as easy, but it is easy because we work so hard at it. Neither of us is willing to let this love go, or take it for granted. It is our commitment to each other and to our family that makes it easy. We have both made an effort to be more accepting, tolerant, and understanding than we have been in the past.
10. Let it go
D: Let little things go.
W: And laugh together. It’s important not to take every day so seriously. There are very few things that are going to matter even in a month, so don’t let little things upset you. Let go, laugh, and make the best out of life.
Q. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
D: Love. We are all the other has. Make time for each other and for fun as a family.
W: Don’t be afraid to open your heart fully and love deeply. Our love works because we won’t let it fail, we won’t let it fade. We adamantly work on it together, every day, all day. David emails me an inspirational or romantic quote every morning along with a journal entry of his thoughts, and I reply with mine. He never walks out the door in the morning without a few smooches, and as soon as he returns, we greet each other in the same manner. Put your marriage first - it’s the most important relationship of your life. Enjoy every minute of it and feel blessed to have it.
6/16/2015 12:44:56 am
Love it! So nice especially when trying to adapt to a blended family. I'm going through the same thing, and in some ways it isn't easy but your relationship sounds so close to my new one. It is like becoming a Christian for the first time. Everything is so exciting and you have hope! Communication and best friends is the true part and like you said you start keeping the dark areas a secret, that is where the wedge begins. When you open up, it not only let's go of issues but your deepest parts open to the person you love the most! So Rewarding!
Aaron & April
6/19/2015 03:30:19 am
Very well said, Vanessa! Thanks for commenting!
David C Gilkison
9/26/2019 12:22:27 pm
All good things come to an end after 5+ years she decided to leave me with a guy she was seeing behind my back and start another blended family - :(
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