Relationships Are About Teamwork

April 20, 2017 10:24pm
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At least the stage of the relationship that my wife and I share right now certainly seems to be!

What can I say?! Having three kids – two of which are babies – not to mention a dog who seems to have a maturity level most closely resembling our three year-old … is challenging!

And yet it’s also incredibly rewarding in ways that’ll catch your heart off guard and make the whole thing worthwhile…

Our work schedule, with me working two jobs – thankfully from home – and Sara only working part-time one night a week so that she can take care of the kids … is still very stressful!

But our bills all manage to get paid and we somehow manage to keep doing all of the fun stuff that we love, so it works out ok.

The life that we live right now is both exhausting and amazing, and I have no doubt in my mind that my wife would agree wholeheartedly with that statement … because we’ve both worked very hard together to get to this point, and quite frankly I couldn’t imagine keeping any of it afloat if we weren’t both in this thing together as a team.

We have responsibilities that we share, and together we get as many of them accomplished as we can, and we don’t give each other a hard time about it when something falls through the cracks.

We each have awesome days when we feel like we’re on top of the world and terrible days when it seems like we’re beneath it, and it’s ok that those days are rarely – if ever – in sync.

We both understand that we each bring different things to this relationship and this family that we share, and we both admire and appreciate the strengths as well as tolerate and overlook the flaws and quirks!

It’s weird to think that it was eleven years ago on this day that I first met Sara. In the past, today has been a special day that tends to stay in the forefront, but this year it wasn’t until about an hour ago that I realized what day it was. We figured that around this time (9:30 pm) back in 2006, we had gone back to Sara’s apartment after having dinner and were just chatting because neither of us wanted the night to end at that point.

And yet here in 2017, we were just trying to get around to getting three cranky kids down for bed so that we could take a breath!

Of course, that night neither of us could’ve ever predicted this bizarrely wonderful life that we would one day have together – at the time, we were just happy to find somebody to share some time with. Lord only knows what our life together will look like another 11 years from now … I’d like to think that maybe it would be a little bit quieter, though with a teenager and pre-teens on the rise, that’s probably not all that likely! 😯

But together we’ll take each new challenge as it comes and we’ll figure out a way to make it work because that’s what teamwork is all about.

There’s been a lot of reflection lately around here, as I can only imagine is fairly common for one to do when they pass over that threshold of bringing a new life into existence and all, and so in that same vein I thought it might be appropriate for this year’s First Date Anniversary post to take a little trip down memory lane and look back at some of those first pivotal moments from way back in the day when we were just starting to get to know one another… 😀

Date #1 – the infamous date that started it all on April 20th, 2006 – found us meeting for the first time in person at an Applebee’s not far from Sara’s apartment for dinner after work. The food was, well, it was Applebee’s, but we ended up hitting it off well enough that we ended up going back to her place afterwards and talking for another 3 hours … good start!

Date #2 took place a mere two days later when I used the excuse of “going over to Disney to buy a present for somebody” as an in to invite her to come along with me to Epcot for the day. It’s kind of crazy considering how many dozens of times we’ve been there together since over the last 8 years, but that was apparently her very first time. I guess she liked it… 😉

Date #3 is admittedly where things started to get a little fuzzy just because it didn’t take us long to hit a period where we were pretty much seeing each other every couple of days. I do recall one slightly rough patch where I came over to hang out in the evening and Sara had a bunch of stuff to do, so I ended up going on a scavenger hunt to find a copy of Osmosis Jones on DVD for her science class instead. It took me forever because nobody had it, and by the time I got back with the DVD (and ice cream!), I pretty much got sent home empty-handed because she was getting ready for bed (…because somebody had been keeping her up far later than she was used to going to bed…).

Thankfully she made up for it pretty much the next day, which is still impressive considering my tendency to hold onto things that I’m forever working on…

Fast-Forward maybe a month and we had already made a huge step in that I let her stay at my apartment while I was up in Michigan for a week. It actually hadn’t started out that way, but Sara had a lot of problems with the people she was sharing her apartment with … to the point where she had been pretty much staying with me more nights than not for the past couple of weeks. I got a call maybe the second night I was away that ended with me getting a hold of a friend who had my spare key to hand it off to her … and aside from a minor smoke alarm scare, thankfully I returned to find my home not only not looted, trashed, or otherwise burnt to the ground, but I also found myself in a relationship that was a bit stronger based on that trust and hope that was building between us.

And jump forward another month to see the next progressive step from that because if we were around May when our last trust exercise concluded, it was barely a month later when we were actually moving in together for real. It was a very spontaneous decision that stemmed from those previously mentioned terrible living companions back at her own apartment that found her very suddenly and very unexpectedly without an apartment to call her own, and although our first discussions had talked about maybe thinking about moving in together at the end of the summer, fate decided to accelerate our process and thus on the 4th of July (2006), Sara and I officially began cohabiting my apartment together.

As you would imagine, it was quite the whirlwind summer from there – at that point we’d still only been dating for a couple of months, but throughout the course we traveled back home to both New York and Michigan and got the opportunity to meet each other’s family. It’s kind of funny because one of the most notable moments from meeting hers was when I was in the bathroom and overheard Sara reporting back to her family, “I’ll have a ring within a year…” – I say funny because as flattering as it was to hear that she herself was that happy in our relationship that early, I specifically waited until a couple of weeks after the 1 year mark to propose just out of spite after hearing that comment!

Sometimes it’s the little things… 😛

And that was all just in the first year! It’s kind of crazy to think that we’ve known each other for a whopping eight now, and even considering all that we’ve been through thus far, I think we’ve still got plenty more to keep things interesting at least for a couple more years. 😉

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So this year for my annual anniversary of our first date post, I thought I’d talk about challenges because it seems like Sara and I have been going through an awful lot of them lately. I don’t really want to publicly go through the details of them, but they’ve definitely had a very profound affect on our lives in the last couple of years, to the point where we’ve found ourselves having to rethink some of our plans for the near future to accommodate these problems that we’re facing. In the last couple of weeks, in particular, all of the chaos has really been taking its toll on me and I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with all of these issues without resorting to arguments and fights…

I was kind of surprised when I came across an old copy of our wedding ceremony from a few years back … because part of it even specifically made mention of the kinds of challenges that we find ourselves facing today:

[excerpt] Charge to the Bride and Groom
Know that you will be tested by the routines of daily life, by chance and circumstance, and by the full cycle of the seasons of life.

Know that together you must encounter life’s sorrow no less than its sweetness, its frustration along with its grace and ease, its disappointments along with its fulfillment.

Enter your marriage confident in the love and trust you have already created between you.  As you go forward in your journey together as husband and wife, devote yourselves to living according to the vows you share today.

Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in the challenges of life that you forget about the foundation that you have beneath you and you find yourselves fighting against each other instead of fighting against the problem that you’re supposed to be facing together. Life certainly isn’t always fair, and it’s easy to get frustrated about your own problems that so many other couples are fortunate to never have to face … many without ever even realizing it … but at the end of the day, it’s of the utmost importance to remember that last night – be confident in the love and trust you already have – to let that carry us through the hard times.

Right now it’s hard to tell if the problems that we’re currently facing will be solved a year from now, but I’m learning that it’s important to take a step back every now and then to remember that marriage is a team sport and the challenges that we face are ours to share, not a burden for one or the other to carry alone.

Some men out there get a lot of crap for not remembering key dates along their relationship, but I guess I’m one of the weird ones that actually remembers them … like today, which just so happens to be the 5th anniversary of the very first date that my wife and I shared together back in 2006. Over the years, I’ve tried to make a habit of writing something special to commemorate this day, so this year I thought it might be fun to take a look back at a few of my favorite moments with my love over the last five years…

A Golden Dolphin at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Our 6-month dating anniversary that we spent over at Disney World had a lot of cool memories – our hotel room boasted views of animals out on the Savannah 24 hours a day, we enjoyed a great teppan meal at the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot, and also, it represented the first time that I ever bought real jewelry for a girlfriend … I think I was more nervous picking out this little golden charm than I was when I bought her engagement ring a few months later!
Swimming with Akai
It’s hard to top the evening when you propose to your bride to be, but we still managed to go even a notch higher when we spent the next day swimming with dolphins, among other sea creatures over at Discovery Cove. Getting to experience one of Sara’s life-long dreams with her was something unlike any other. Also, dolphins are really heavy
Meatballs and Spanakopita
Next up was the food tasting for our wedding, as enjoyed at Spinners at the top of the Grand Plaza Hotel over on St. Pete Beach where we would eventually have our wedding ceremony about a year later. Little did I know that I wouldn’t actually get the opportunity to enjoy any of those Swedish meatballs on my own day, so it was at least nice to try them here! It’s still a nice restaurant that we like to wander back to from time to time, with a rotating floor that offers panoramic views of both the coast and the mainland.
An Anniversary Fit for a Pirate!
Last fall my wife surprised me for our anniversary with a trip to Disneyland, which in itself was pretty sweet, but what truly knocked it out of the park was the dinner she planned for the actual night of our anniversary. Super fancy with coat and tie? Crappy food served in miniscule portions?? Nopepirate dinner, complete with romantic mood lighting, crab cakes, and pumpkin mousse for dessert! In a single word – awesome.
Bubbling Under the Stars
And my last memorable moment actually just happened a couple of days ago, however it’s mentionable more because a lot of it was spent looking forward into the future – our future together, growing our family, pursuing dreams, and generally just enjoying each other’s company along the way. It was a true calm and serene moment with the water bubbling around us and the stars twinkling above, and it just made me feel happy about all of the things next to come.

Here’s to the next five years and all of the new memories that we share together along the way!

Although The Wedding Anniversary seems to be the key date that most couples tend to focus on, for some reason I often feel that April 20th is the more significant of the two because this is day that I actually met Sara for the first time face-to-face. We’d e-mailed and chatted over the phone for a couple of weeks prior, but it was on this day in 2006 that we finally sucked it up and made plans to meet at a local Applebee’s down the street from Sara’s apartment – our first official date.

Of course, that was four years ago already – wow – and sometimes it’s amazing to think of just how far we’ve come together in our relationship. It certainly hasn’t been easy – most things worth doing aren’t – but on this day I thought I’d take just a moment to reflect back on a few key points that I’ve noticed about how we’ve gotten where we are now and “advice” that I might offer up to others, if you will…

Rarely will things ever be 100% equal.
Someone will always make more money, spend more money, do more than their fair share of the chores, or appear to have more free time to do the things that they want to do. It sounds like a great idea, but in practice complete and total equality just isn’t very realistic. The sooner you learn to accept that and embrace the ebbs and flows of responsibility, the less fights you’ll have over who’s turn it is to do the dishes.

Talk about the things that are awkward to talk about.
In fact, the more awkward they feel, the more important it probably is for you to explore those avenues and get those thoughts out in the open. I honestly believe that if your relationship is truly unconditional like marriage is supposed to be, there shouldn’t be anything that the two of you can’t talk about, and besides, often times you’ll come out of the experience even closer to each other than when you started. Talking is always a good thing.

Figure out your household’s finances … as quickly as possible!
It’s so easy to fight about money – not having enough, not being able to spend it as you wish or do the things you want, stressing to make ends meet. That’s why our #1 goal after Sara graduated was to really dig in and start focusing on getting our budget back in order because right now we’re simply not ready to take our next steps in life (house, baby, changes to my career). Of course, it’s a result of not being as fiscally responsible over the last several years a la wedding, vacations, and so forth, but eventually it comes time to pay the piper … and as a bonus, even only four months into our debt repayment, we’ve already made significant progress and are feeling great about it!

Take time to stop and enjoy your time together.
Especially when you’re focused and working really hard to achieve a major goal like paying your way out of debt, it’s easy to lose track of yourselves and grow farther apart as you each do your own thing. Don’t. Make the most of the time that you do have, plan extra time where you can be together and not be distracted – always keep in mind that the whole point of focusing on something important is ultimately to better your lives together, so don’t lose each other in the process.

Strive to make each other feel special.
It can be through little things like a random text message to say “I was thinking about you…” or a nice foot massage after a long day, or even more encompassing surprises like the mystery vacation that my wife is planning this year for our anniversary. Whatever you do, strive to always find new and interesting ways to show your partner that you genuinely care. In my case, sometimes that even means my wife willingly bringing peanut butter into our home – if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!

Reason #12498 Why Sara is Cool

April 20, 2008 8:19pm
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I asked her to pick me up a pizza to have for dinner over the weekend while she was grocery shopping, so she buys me…

…Mickey pizza!!! Awesome.

Also, today marks the 2nd anniversary of our first date back on April 20th, 2006. While the Applebees itself wasn’t exactly what one would consider “memorable,” fortunately the friendship founded that evening was much more than that. Happy Some-Sort-Of-Anniversary, Babe! (Once we’re “married,” I only have to remember that one, right?)

On this day in history, exactly one year ago today … give or take a few hours, that is … Sara and I had our first date. We met online and had been e-mailing back and forth for a couple of weeks before we finally worked up the nerve to actually meet each other in person.

Just between you and me, I’m glad that we did!

It’s kind of funny because looking back, I distinctively remember her not being sure if she even wanted a relationship at the time and for a while I was kinda worried that she was going to back out and disappear, but fortunately I was persistent enough to stick around and coax her into giving it a shot, and a year later I simply couldn’t imagine it any other way. We’d both been through some pretty rough times recently and each of us came with our own “interesting” loads of baggage … who doesn’t, honestly? … but we supported each other and have worked through pretty much everything that’s stood in our way thus far and I’m confident enough in what we have to say tonight that I really don’t think there’s much of anything we couldn’t handle.

We’re a great team together and really, I think that’s what a good relationship has to boil down to or it’s just never going to work. And it’s tough to get over the ME mentality that we develop over the years between supporting ourselves and exploring what life has to offer and just trying to be independent – to work so hard towards the place where you don’t have to rely on anybody else, it’s certainly not easy to open yourself back up and learn that it’s ok to put yourself out there and rely on another person to help fill your daily needs, whether they be emotional, financial, or what have you. It’s a thing that needs a constant stream of good communications, even if and especially if it’s something you don’t want to hear. I may not like it during the fact, but one of the things that I love about Sara the most is that she’s got the guts to stand up to me and tell me when I’m wrong. A lot of people would rather kiss your ass or just keep their thoughts to themselves, but what good does that do either of us at the end of the day? Until we talk about it and get our thoughts out in the open, we can’t possibly expect to learn from our mistakes and move on – communication is good, even though sometimes it’s going to be unpleasant.

So I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that I want to have Sara in it with me and at this point, that’s good enough for me. We’ve come a long way over the past twelve months, seen a whole lot of good things and dealt with the bad ones as best we could, and at the end of the day I know that I’m a happier person because she’s in my life. Even if I can’t get her to pick up her dirty clothes every once in a while… 🙂


Happy Anniversary, Sara…
…I hope I make you as happy as you make me.
Love, Scott

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