Year 10

A decade.

WOW.

As I look back on this year and the years before, it seems like we have been together a lifetime. A decade can really feel that way.

This year alone has felt like a lifetime for sure. As with many years, we experienced every part of our wedding vows: for better or worse, in sickness and in health…

George finished kindergarten and started sports, Daphne has really blossomed in gymnastics, and Walter is well figuring out how to be. Our family feels complete with these three, and it has been a joy to watch them together this year. Walter being born is definitely on the highlight reel!

Tom finally found a police department that fits him and his career goals. It was a long road here, and looking back to this time last summer we weren’t sure if he would ever get there. But he is happy to be in a place that is community action based and respects the work that each other do. It doesn’t hurt that he works where we live either!

My job has been a whirlwind of transitions over the last year. The pandemic in higher ed was interesting to say the least. I not only learned how to teach a class remotely, I also found this extra flexibility with working from home while pregnant and then post-partum. I had to navigate managing an office and learning a new team of my peers as there was constant leadership changes around us. Through all of it, I really feel like I am coming into my own as a leader on campus, and I am excited with what my team is doing, but also the college as well.

It still seems like a fresh wound, but losing Grace and Crosby is notably one of the worst experiences we have had as a couple. We both are still trying to muddy through the feelings we have as we settle into a no-dog household. There are so many things that were just natural around our house that now seems odd that they are gone. Walking this together though has made it a little less crippling.

As I reflect though on the last ten years, I would say that this is the most settled we have ever felt. Over our time together, there seemed to be always these things that we were waiting or hoping for. We have always been trying to direct our lives in a certain way, and this is what they call the good ol’ days I would imagine. We have everything that we hoped for, maybe not exactly how we planned out, but we are finally in a rhythm that makes sense and fits us.

So Tom and I thought we would think back on our marriage and share some thoughts on making it to this milestone.

Biggest surprise since we’ve been married:

Hands down, finding out we were pregnant with George was the biggest surprise of our marriage, and our lives honestly. To go from having conversations about infertility and trying for a while to grow our family, to all of a sudden see a baby on ultrasound monitor was wild. If you haven’t heard this story, I promise it is worth the read!

Hardest lesson learned:

There is a lot to unpack here from the last ten years.

The life that we thought were the right things just weren’t, and some were actually pretty devastating for us. Both of us had severe disappointments with our career paths, and at those low moments we thought we would never be happy in a work place setting. We also had talked a long time about only having two kids and that was our vision at the beginning of our marriage, but here we are loving on Walter. God is in control, and we have had to pray on believing this many times over.

We have also had to learn a lot about figuring out what we need to worry about and figuring out what it means to create our own family unit. Combining two different people to create this new thing came with it’s own struggles. We had to learn a lot about when to prioritize our own needs and then our family needs and how that all can be a mess to mix together.

With that, what has been difficult as you become these life partners is not only dealing with your own life grief and disappointment, but then having to manage this other person, and then our kids emotions as well. Both of us had a pretty rocky moment in our jobs that really shook us to our core, and to have to watch that unfold while being helpless to fix it is really gut-wrenching. We had to learn a lot about just being there for each other. But our individual problems do become each others problems, and there is extreme weight in that because you aren’t just managing your own feelings anymore. It is hard lesson to learn when it is ok to be selfish but when do you have to not be. There is some beauty in this for sure, which is why marriage is great, but it is shocking at times how your feelings unfold together.

Favorite thing to do together:

We love to just jump in the car and go to random places to “window” shop. Personally, I love when plant shopping is involved. It’s nice for us to just get away from the house and talk and move through stores leisurely.

We also love binge-watching shows. Becoming one with the couch while playing rummy and eating snacks while watching the Office is one of the most stress-relieving things.

Obviously, we really live on the edge…

What is something we haven’t figure out yet:

While we have been married for 10 years, and together for 14, we still haven’t completely figured out our communication styles. Both of us are stubborn and like to be on the “right” side, so we can fight pretty hard. Tom also said that he doesn’t always know what he wants so how am I supposed to figure that out, but then the expectation is there to hear each other out. I also have a really hard time apologizing to him, which is not helpful ever. We have also grown and changed over our time together, so sometimes we think we have each other figured out but something is different that we have to make new adjustments to. But on the plus side, our arguments are usually pretty quick and move it out of our systems, so I guess we are a work in progress!

Favorite thing about the other person:

Tom said that I am patient and very forgiving, and that he is still 100% twitterpated. I love Tom’s commitment to things. When he goes in on something, he goes in 1000%. And his level of loyalty is unmatched.

Advice for other couples:

I don’t think that any relationship is the same, nor would I ever say that we have it all figured out. Like I said we still struggle with communication a lot of the times, but we try every day to do better. We do have a couple nuggets of advice though.

We believe that you should be such an advocate for your marriage. There should be no question that this is your priority. It requires both of us to be all in and be the ones rooting for each other. We have to be pursing each other every day.

In order to do that though, we know that we have to take the time to be right with ourselves. Both of us have gone to counseling so we can be the best version of ourselves for each other and our family. This may take a lot of work but as the saying goes you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. With this takes recognition and support from your partner to do this work and find ways to support this individual growth. We have taken a lot of pride in making space for our self care and finding the right careers so we can be happy in all spaces.

Finally, and certainly not least, sleep in the same bed but have separate comforters. Sleep is so important, but we have different needs when it comes to our comfort and one of us is a burrito roller in blankets (me), so we learned early on that separate blankets made everything more enjoyable. Hands down, relationship saving advice.

It’s hard to believe at times that we met as 22 year olds at an amusement park. It feels like we have had so many lives together: grad school, living in Iowa, deployment and Fort Campbell, moving to our home state, and welcoming three babies into the world…

Here we are 10 years into marriage with this most amazing life. So here’s to many more decades together!

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