Our interview with Jared & Erica Ward is full of wisdom and insight. This year these two are simultaneously building a house, having a (3rd!) baby (Well, Erica is!), AND preparing to run in THE OLYMPICS (Well, Jared is!)! They have provided us with so many tips and personal experiences about their loving and cohesive relationship, and we know you will love getting to know them, as we have.
Interview by Maddison Meijome
Years Married: Jared: 5 ½. I’m good at this, ask me another one!
Kids: Two, with one on the way!
Location: Kaysville, UT
Occupations: Erica is a stay-at-home mom who also does massage therapy. Jared is a professional athlete and adjunct professor at Brigham Young University.
Hobbies/Interests: Being together as a family. Hiking, camping, and the outdoors. Eating, going to the park, having dinner with friends, and talking.
Favorite flavor of ice cream or frozen yogurt: Jared - Pistachio; Erica - Moose Tracks.
Follow Jared & Erica here: Twitter & Instagram
Q. You are "The Family Man," Olympian, right? You RUN for a living? How do you two juggle every day life?
J: We work it together. The schedule is always somewhat flexible. Part of the job is all the emails, social media, and endorsements. So when I’m gone all day at the gym and then I walk in the door, she’s happy I’m home, but then I’m on the computer or on my phone, and it turns into, “Okay, when are you REALLY home?” I have had to communicate and to learn how I manage that time and when I need to put the phone or computer down and really be home.
E: After the trials it was like the to-do list never finished. He teaches part-time at BYU and he works out twice a day and lifts three times a week AND has office hours AND it was finals week… the to-do list got so long.
J: I think that’s been the key for us, is when Erica has said, “This is when I need you,” and then it’s my job to manage everything else and be there at that time. Instead of me saying, “Well, I’m on the clock 9-5, deal with it,” now I still put in at least those hours, but I'm more flexible. If she needs a break, I can take the kids to the park in the middle of the day. It’s nice to have the flexibility, but I do have to communicate about what I need to get done because Erica needs some sort of expectation.
Q. Do Erica & the kids come with you to your races?
J: Yeah, and I like to bring her and the kids with me. In fact, I feel like I’m kind of known as the guy who always brings his family with him. So, sometimes when I show up to these races without Erica and the kids, my team members will say, “Oh! Ward’s mojo is off! He left his family at home!” So I bring them a lot.
E: Most people don’t have their family, especially their kids. I think it’s kind of hard.
J: It complicates the trip, but it makes it fun, too. I’m just lonely when I’m out there and my family’s not there.
Q. What do you do when you don’t see eye-to-eye on something? How do you talk about hard things?
E: We have to have time. We aren’t yellers.
J: I don’t even know what it would look like to have Erica yell at me. I just can’t imagine it. However, I can feel if there’s friction. It’s really helpful for me to sincerely try to visualize what it’s like through Erica’s eyes, as opposed to mine. So, I try to get into how she would see things and that makes a big difference because I can think, “Oh yeah, this would be hard to be in your shoes.”
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
J: Horseback riding on Antelope Island.
E: We have had so many, but I still love our first date. It was with a group. We ate at an old time hamburger/shake joint, and roller-bladed all over Salt Lake City, ending up in a fountain. I think the reason I love that memory is because I realized how much I loved being around Jared. He honestly made, and still makes me, want to be a better person.
Q. What specific suggestions do you have that helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
J: Try to see things through your spouse's perspective.
E: TALK IT OUT. I need to know where Jared is coming from, what he is feeling, and why. Then I can explain myself and we can both try to be understanding and care about each other's opinions, feelings, and well-being. It can take time to sort things out, but it's worth it.
Q. Can you share an example of something your spouse has done for you that might seem small, but that has made a big difference in your marriage?
J: Every time when I’ve walked back in the door from a run, or school, or a workout – anything - Erica always has a huge smile, right when I get in. I feel like she has set this precedent of, “We’re excited when Daddy comes home.” Every time I walk through the door, it’s like I’m a celebrity coming home. It’s amazing to be in that environment. That has made a huge difference. I am so excited to get home because I know she’s going to be excited when I get home and it’s not like she’s saying, “Finally you’re home, here are the kids, I’m outta here.”
E: There are rare occasions...
J: Even when she’s had a hard day - the kids have been hard, and she has been waiting for me (maybe I'm late getting home) - I can tell that she has to try to do it sometimes, but she still smiles. She’s been very good at that.
E: (Answering the same question above...) Jared always put us first - over things that most people put first. Like in school, a lot of people emphasize grades because they are important for the rest of your career, but if Jared knew that I needed him or that there was something that I really needed him to be home for, he would drop everything and do it. Even if he’s late, knowing that we are his first priority makes it easier to see that he’s trying. I know all of that he has been doing, and I know he’s trying to get home to us, and I just know that nothing else is of higher importance to him. So, I’ve really appreciated that because I like to spend time together. That means a lot to me.
Q. What other things help you nurture the intimate relationship you have with your spouse?
J: Try to make time for dates.
E: I make a conscious effort to remember our physicality affects our overall intimacy immensely. Even if it's not always perfect timing, again it's so worth our time together reminding ourselves we love each other. This was another thing we had to be open about, and it has helped our marriage feel more free. Now we each know how the other person is feeling, and what he or she needs.
Q. What things have helped you draw closer together emotionally?
J: I think making a priority of having family time and also couple time. We are super blessed to have my siblings and family close by, so we have great babysitters, and we have other couples that we can trade babysitting with. It makes it easier for couple time to happen.
E: We still have to try though, even though it seems easy, we still have to make it happen. I can tell when it’s been a long time since we’ve been on a date and had a conversation.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a marriage?
J&E: Dates, communication, and trying to care for your spouse more than yourself.
You may also enjoy 5 Ways to Foster Emotional Intimacy and 3 Important Things to Remember About Forgiveness in Marriage
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
You Know You Want to Read
Everybody Loves These