Years Married: 8 years
Location: Seattle, WA
Kids: 3 (2 boys, 1 girl)
Occupation: Lorin is a product manager; Brenda is a mom and graphic designer/blogger at From Me, With Love.
Hobbies: Lorin likes the outdoors - skiing, biking, hiking, climbing, traditional sports and playing soccer and football with his boys. Brenda is the creative homebody. She likes to paint, draw, and craft - by herself - and with her kids.
The Little Things
Q. What are some of the little things you do together, or for each other, that nurture your marriage?
B: Lorin packs our son's lunch at night. Then in the morning we’re not busy packing lunches and getting everyone ready and out the door. That is super helpful. He does a lot around the house, so I have time to work on things that I need to get done.
L: Brenda does a lot of big things. She is the master-homemaker. When I come home, we have a home-cooked meal five days a week. The house is clean, dinner is on the table, and we can sit down as a family for an hour or so, and have dinner, and talk and chat - I think that is a valuable time. That is way more than packing a lunch!
Q. What are some of the little things you do to express your love for each other?
B: Lorin will text me throughout the day and ask me how the kids are doing and how I’m doing. That makes me feel good, because I know he is thinking about me. It puts a smile on my face when I see a text from him.
L: Brenda is always thinking of me. When she runs errands, she’ll sometimes come back with a little present, or a little candy for me. If she is out with her friends, she’ll bring me home a piece of dessert. Little things like that. I’ll come home from an event and think, “I didn’t even think to bring her something!”
Q. How do those little things nurture your marriage?
L: They remind me that she loves me, and that she is thinking about me and what she can do to make me happy. If we have had any type of disagreement, those little things keep everything in perspective. At the end of the day, we love each other, and that is what is most important.
Q. How has continued dating in marriage, nurtured your marriage?
L: For me, it brings me back to when I was dating Brenda and trying to win her affection. Dating motivates me to be something more than my everyday, run-of-the-mill self. It also gives us the chance to do things that we don’t normally get to do. When we date, I’m reminded of who I fell in love with, and who I’m lucky to be married to - a very beautiful woman.
B: You value something once you haven’t had it for a while. There was a point where life just got really busy and the kids overtook our lives, plus school and work. We kind of lost touch a little bit. When you don’t take that time to be together, alone, when you aren’t competing with the phone or the kids or work, it just gives you time to remember what it was like when you were dating. And to remember the things you love about this person - those things that make you smile, and make you giddy, and all the little stuff. I think we have tried to value dating a little bit more, and have tried to make it more of a priority.
Q. What obstacles have you faced in dating and what have you done to overcome those things?
B: Babysitting. We have three kids, and so putting them to bed might be a little difficult for a babysitter, especially if the babysitter doesn’t know them. What we try and do is put our kids to bed a little bit earlier than usual, then we can go out for a few hours and they are already asleep. Swapping with friends also alleviates the financial burden of having to pay for a date and having to pay for a babysitter. We have a date-night actually scheduled in our calendar. We don’t always follow it, but at least we know it is there. If we don’t go out, we try and do something at home, like watching a movie, or just talking together.
Q. What are some of your favorite dates you have been on together?
B: Playing laser tag. We went alone the first time and then we took friends a few other times. It was so fun because we felt like kids - totally care free - but we didn’t have any kids with us! It was just fun to kind of break loose a little bit.
L: We have been on a lot of really, really fun dates. We went to a few comedy clubs, and they were great dates.
B: Brian Regan. He loves Brian Regan, so I got him tickets for his birthday.
L: Yeah, that was fantastic.
Q: Is he as good live as he is in his recordings?
L: He’s better! He’s off the charts.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
B: For me, I need more of a mental and emotional connection before anything physical happens. I feel most connected with Lorin when I feel understood, loved, and cared about.
L: The main word that comes to my mind is connection. Your spouse should be the person that you trust enough to share everything with (physically, intellectually, emotionally, etc). All those things that you definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with anyone else. When you have that kind of connection, then when you are old and ugly, you’re still close and you still love your spouse as much as you ever did. All because you had that shared connection, that intimacy.
Q. How do you then, nurture and strengthen and grow that intimate connection? What advice would you share with couples who feel like that connection doesn’t come naturally?
L: There are three things that are helpful for me. 1. We always go to bed at the same time. That gives us a chance at night to talk, to open up, and to share. 2. In the morning, before I go to work, we take a few minutes just to snuggle. When I wake up, I’m cold and tired. After we snuggle, I’m infused with this energy, this ability to go and attack the day. 3. You have to have the physical intimacy. That is the highest form of intimacy. It has to be there. As husband and wife, that super strong love is best expressed through physical intimacy.
B: Intimacy means you will feel vulnerable, which is why you have to have that trust in place. That trust that that person is going to be there forever. You are sharing this very vulnerable and sacred moment, and you already need that connection established before it can go any further. I recently read an article by Meg in Progress. She did an experiment that was highlighted on Good Morning America, about how she set out to be intimate with her husband every day for thirty days. It kind of created a bond between her and her husband, and it also got her into the habit of trying to be intimate with her husband, whether it was more of a physical thing, or just an emotional connection. It really strengthened their relationship. I found that super interesting because sometimes it can be a scary thing, or something you don’t want to share, but when you start practicing being intimate on any level, it just becomes a habit. It is kind of a good habit to have. There are days when we may not even give each other a hug and it kind of puts a wedge in there, and then it becomes normal not to give each other a hug, and then not to give each other a kiss, and then not to say goodnight to each other. And you just kind of drift a little bit.
Values to Live By
Q. What do you LOVE about your spouse?
L: A lot of things! Brenda is very service-oriented, and not just that, but she DOES so much for people. With her graphic design work, a lot of stuff she does is for our church, community, friends, neighbors, and family. She’ll be up until 2 or 3am trying to get stuff done for other people. She is also a very good leader. When she is in a group of other people, and when she talks, her opinions carry weight. People care about what she thinks. She lives up to what she says, she practices what she preaches, and she is a good example. She is confident about who she is so people tend to want to be around her, want to follow her, want to be associated with her. She is also good at building connections, building bonds, building friendships. I feel, generally speaking, very little need for friends and for those connections, and then I look around at her and think, “Wow, she has all these people that she is going out and doing things with, and I haven’t thought about inviting one single person over just to hang out."
B: Lorin is really kind and generous to everyone that he meets. He will seek out that person that may not...I’m getting emotional about this...that may not fit in, or that may not feel like they fit in. He makes everyone feel like they are the most important person that he could be talking to right now. That is an awesome quality because people feel that they have a friend in him, because he cares. This one time we were stopped at a gas station and he was talking to the Beef Jerky guy for like an hour! We have friends everywhere because of him.
L: Brenda is very good at forgiving. I think that is important. She doesn’t hold grudges. She is really loving and caring. And she is fully devoted. She is loyal. If we get in an argument, I know she isn’t thinking ill of me, she just may be frustrated with me. It’s comforting to know that at the end of the day someone is going to think highly of you, no matter what.
B: Lorin is 100% loyal. I know that no matter what, the kids and I are most important to him. Whether we come first time-wise, or not, I know that in the back of his mind and in his heart, we are the most important thing. Sometimes he has to work, or he has church responsibilities that may take him away, which can be hard for me sometimes - but he’s not doing it for himself, he is doing it for us!
Routines & Rituals
Q. How do you stay connected on a day-to-day basis?
B: We text. We always try to talk at night, even if it is just for a few minutes (which happens if we get to bed late). We talk about everything - weekend plans, spiritual experiences, things we want to do, work that needs to get done, etc. We will also do chores together after dinner. We try to make that a family thing. The weekends are for us. We go out on Saturdays and play and have family time with our kids.
L: We are not super great at rituals. (Snuggling is a ritual.) I don’t think we have super strong rituals…
B: I don’t think they’re consistent.
L: One thing we are pretty consistent at is that Saturdays we work together, we do our chores together. Often times we will put on some 80s rock and have the kids get on their hands and knees and scrub the floor and toilet. Around noon-ish we’re done, and then we go and play. We love to get out. It’s in those moments, while we are doing the activity, or that night when we are talking about it, that I often feel like, “This is what true happiness is.” Saturdays build our lives and our family. Another ritual is family dinner. We have family dinner every night. And we’ll talk. Brenda and I will often talk for 30-40 minutes. Our kids will do their best to get us to stop talking. Our son will say, “Dad, why are you talking to mom so much, geez louise?!” And we’ll just let the house go to pot for forty minutes and chat it up. I really like that. I really appreciate that time.
Q. How do you celebrate birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and anniversaries?
L: I don’t think we do anything super special.
B: That’s probably not a good thing.
L: I always feel awkward making Valentine’s Day special because I feel like it is hypocritical - I don’t need a special day to do something special with her.
B: This is also coming from a guy who didn’t believe people celebrated Valentine’s Day! It was kind of a joke holiday. So for us, it is kind of a joke that we don’t celebrate it. He always plans something for Valentine’s Day, though, because I remind him.
L: I get a calendar reminder.
B: Even if you are doing nice things every day, it’s great to really set aside a day to do something special, just the two of us. As far as birthdays, I think we are always thinking of each other and thinking of what the other person would like. He knows I like this restaurant, so he takes me to it; or he knows I like this flower, so he buys it for me. In his case, he knows I like to take classes, so most of my gifts are classes I can take. He doesn’t buy me clothes or material things, he likes to buy me classes. Or fonts for my design work.
L: I feel like every birthday I’ve had has been super fun. My birthday is in September, so this last birthday Brenda made a invitation and sent it out to a lot of people. So, we had people over for root beer floats and pie. It was nice - sitting back, relaxing, and chatting it up.
B: He likes low key, so I did low key.
L: Brenda is very observant, and is always thinking of me. So when she does something for me, I feel like it is always spot on - I feel like she really knows me. For Father’s Day she got me a hang gliding certificate. For another Father’s Day she got me a sky diving certificate.
B: Only once a year.
L: Sometimes 2-for-1 ski passes. One time she got me a little booklet of freebies - one day of skiing. One day of mountain biking. Things like that, that let me know she has really put thought into this, and has been thinking of what would jazz me. I’ve been jazzed.
B: For me, it was really hard to let him go skiing, or take a hiking trip for a couple of days. I just wanted to spend time with him. With school, work, and the kids, I would be thinking, “Why do you want to go away for the weekend?! You have to stay with me!” I’ve learned to sacrifice. I have to sacrifice a weekend so he can have fun. He knows that is a big sacrifice for me, so it means a little more to him. More than me simply saying, “Here’s a pass.” He can buy himself a pass.
Q. How did learning to let him go have some time away, strengthen and nurture your marriage?
B: When you make the other person feel like you understand them and you value their interests as much as they value yours, it does strengthen your marriage. It makes you both feel important, and not that one person’s interests, wants, or desires comes before the other person. It kind of levels you out a little bit and makes the other person feel important and valued.
Q. What specific suggestions have helped you work through conflict that has come up in your marriage?
L: Forgiveness. You’re going to argue. You’re going to have disagreements and tough days. There was a very distinct moment in my life, when we had been married maybe two or three years. I remember I was in the closet in our bedroom, after we had had a disagreement, thinking to myself, that these little disagreements are all irrelevant, trivial, and very small, because I’m in this 100% for the long haul. I’m fully committed. I’m fully devoted. That moment has come back to me many, many times to remind me that little frustrations pale in comparison to my marriage. Often I have to man up and go apologize, ask for forgiveness, say I’m sorry - whether I’m at fault or not. I have to let her know that she is number one, and that whatever we are debating about is meaningless and certainly not worth being mad at each other for a second longer.
B: When you both have the same perspective on marriage, and how it is not disposable, you don’t just give up. I think that people that have been married realize that marriage has its ups and downs. You have good days and bad weeks, or even months. It just goes up and down. When you realize that, and you have the perspective that you are going to stay married, you work harder at it. You can say to yourself, “This is just a little bump.” Or ask yourself, “Is it really worth arguing about?” Is the fact that you don’t put your dishes in the sink, going to end our marriage? Or is this just something we talk out. Making our marriage work has been more important to us, for us, and for our kids, than all the other little things that are frustrating.
L: Have frank, open discussions. Have a marriage inventory where you step aside and talk about your marriage. You review your marriage and have an open and honest discussion about each other, about what is working well right now, where you need to improve, things that maybe she is doing that she probably doesn’t even know they are bugging the crud out of me, and thing I’m doing that are annoying the crap out of her. You have to get those things out in the open and not let them fester or swell.
Q. Has working through conflict together increased your confidence in yourselves, and in your marriage?
L: It has increased our confidence, and our intimacy. It increases our self-awareness, our knowledge of each other, and it definitely strengthens our relationship. Our level of conflict has consistently gone down every year, as we’ve realized that just because we’re married it doesn’t mean we know all that much about each other!
Q. How do you handle finances in your marriage? What financial tips could you share with other couples?
L: We use mint.com. Usually the first Monday night of the month we get together and hash out a budget. Sometimes we’ll take a couple of hours. It’s a give and take, a compromise. Fiddling with how much we want to save, what type of cushion we want to give ourselves, etc. We both have the apps on our phones, so we can check in and see where we’re at, what we’re spending. A couple of weeks later, we’ll take a look at where we’re at and go category by category and look at what additional purchases we want to make, like discretionary spending. If we have purchases we want to make, then we talk about how we would have to adjust the budget and look at what the ramifications will be. Will it make us go over budget? Dip into savings? When you are aligned on a budget, then you get creative together. When you’re both in agreement and harmony on it, then it is easy to stick to the budget, because you’ve both agreed to it.
L: I can definitely be a cheapskate. Early in our marriage I had these crazy ideas about how much I wanted to save. My mom had to tell me, “Lorin, you’re putting a lid on a pressure cooker. People have to have an outlet.” Ever since, I’ve involved Brenda more in the budget process, and now it’s a team effort. I feel like we hardly ever argue about finances. It’s completely a non-issue now. I’ve loosened up. You... We both had to make changes. She had to understand that 20x20 is $400 bucks. “It’s just $20 bucks,” but it is 20 times! You bankrupt yourself with little purchases. I had to learn that everyone needs an outlet, to go and blow some money, to go and splurge.
B: The first few years finances were the hardest thing for us. I’m frugal. I like a good deal. His perspective on how much things cost was really, really off. We had a hard time seeing eye-to-eye. Since he involved me in the budget, I am able to see where everything is going. Those trips to the dollar-store, they all add up. He was able to see how much things really cost, right now. How much a pair of shoes costs for the kids, and how much clothing costs, even when I get a good deal. It all adds up. When you are both involved and you both have a mutual respect for each other’s interests, you can make it work. Lorin likes to ski, but ski tickets are expensive. I try and have respect for his need for an outlet and for personal interests. Have that leeway in your budget to allow for fun. And obviously live within your means. I’m not going to go out and buy a $400 purse, or have him take a ski trip that is going to cost several hundred dollars. You have to be cognizant of your budget, and live within your means, but also see what is important to the other person. Having home decorations is important to the one who stays at home, so allow for that, or those little things. Be flexible. And don’t talk about money all the time. Lorin would talk about it all the time, and sometimes right before we went on a date. I would say, “I don’t want to go out anymore. You just told me I can’t order anything!” Be flexible.
Q. You’re still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
L: Didn’t we just tell you all of our secrets?
B: Marriage is not you put 50% and the other person puts 50%. You both put 100% of yourselves into the marriage. When you are both equally devoted, I think you can overcome anything. And I think you can tell if the other person is devoted or not. I’ve had to change a lot of who I was, personality wise, to try to make him happy. That’s not to say I had to change who I was, I just had to change my perspective on things. He loves the outdoors, and I hate the outdoors. I have learned to give a little bit and to sacrifice a bit for the greater good. I want him to be happy and I want our kids to be happy, so I give a little bit, and in the end I actually am happy. You create a good time. Sacrificing a little bit doesn’t mean you have to change yourself completely to fit this person’s mold, but when you are both giving up a little for the other person’s happiness, I think it goes a long way.
L: In marriage, it takes two to tango. Each person has to be 100%, fully committed. You can’t meet in the middle. You have to go all the way to their side and they have to come all the way to your side. Easier said than done. It’s a continual struggle to just make sure you’re putting in your all, and you’re doing everything you can to make sure your spouse is happy. Every problem can be solved. Every problem can be solved. In our marriage, every problem can be solved. Part of that is that I believe, heck, I’ll do a complete 180 to change entirely who I am if that is what is required to make her happy and to make it successful. I don’t have any qualms about betraying myself. I want to make sure she is happy, the family is happy, and that we are all safe and secure. You’re always going to love your kids, that love is organic. Love between a marriage can dry up. Keep your spouse as #1, more than your kids, more than work, more than church, more than anything. Don’t let anything get ahead of your spouse.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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