Today is the ninth Valentine’s Day David and I have celebrated together. Being that it’s the same week as my birthday, Valentine’s Day has always taken a backseat to that. However, if nothing else, it’s a good reminder to stop and reflect on our love story and how far we’ve come.
It’s been over 12 weeks since David and I have had some quality time together. And before that, date nights were tough to plan around our busy schedule. Having kids have definitely changed things in our life. We don’t have the freedom we used to have, and that has taken some time to adjust to. In fact, we probably haven’t completely accepted it fully even now.
When we were younger, I think we took for granted all the things that came easy. The biggest of those being our love for one another. It was so easy to love David when it was just us. Everyone knows the feeling of easy love. The butterflies in your stomach, the giddiness when they text you. Those beginning-of-the-relationship-feelings seem so far away nowadays.
It’s a strange feeling when you realize that love isn’t enough. Love may start a relationship, but it’s not enough to keep it going.
Over the years, and throughout all of the changes, my love for David has transformed in a way that I never thought was possible. I am, of course, in love with him, but more than that, I’m proud to be his wife. I have deep respect for him. I understand him. I put him before me because I want to. His life and my life have become so deeply ingrained that not only do I not want to imagine my life without him, but I literally can’t!
David and I have grown up together. We’ve seen the very worst and very best in each other. We’ve supported one another. We’ve gone through some of the most life-changing moments together. It’s so much more than love, it’s everything.
The best part of all of this, is that I still get giddy when David texts me and feel butterflies when we do get to spend time together. Everyday life can certainly weigh on us, but this is the life we created together, and I am so grateful for that.
It always seems to be the case in my life – whenever things start feeling normal, like we’ve got a good routine down, it’s then that change is most inevitable. It’s sort of a running joke between David and I. Maybe we get bored easily, maybe we self-sabotage, maybe we just like to keep things interesting. Regardless of the reason why, since the day we met, we haven’t sat still.
Within a year of dating, we moved in together, adoptedJuneau and we drove cross country to Albuquerque. We left after a few months and lived with my parents for a while in Upstate New York. We spent the next summer in Wilmington, North Carolina before going to Indianapolis for graduate school. We actually stayed put in Indy for two years, but while we were there, changed jobs/career fields several times. We left Indy after I abruptly lost my job (blessing in disguise) and spent the summer apart soul searching/job hunting. David started school and I accepted my current role and we moved to Charlottesville together. A few short months after that we got engaged, were married within the next six months and found out we were pregnant with Finn two months later. We welcomed Finn after nine months. David graduated and started a new job and we decided to buy a house. Before the ink was dry on the contract, we found out we were expecting baby number two and in eight short weeks we will be a family of four.Phew.
I remember feeling invigorated and inspired by this change when we were younger, but now that we are parents, change terrifies me. I like the routine we have now, but the reality of welcoming another baby into our lives is making me pause and wish time would slow down. Right now, Finn is on a pretty awesome schedule, and even on the most mundane days, David and I get a few hours of ‘us’ time every evening after Finn goes to bed. In the last few months, we’ve let the shock of being new parents subside, and have embraced our marriage even more. We’ve always agreed that our marriage comes first – because without the two of us on the same page, our family wouldn’t be able to function the way we want it to. I’ve put together a list of things that have helped us focus on one another, and will hopefully be our guiding light as we approach yet another change in our lives.
1. Be clear about your needs. It’s all about communication, plain and simple. There is never a more important time to be clear with your partner than after kids are in the picture. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to get frustrated. It’s easy to blame one another for not reading the other’s mind. What’s difficult is being open and honest with one another. Get vulnerable. If there is one person on this planet that should accept you for who you are, warts and all, it’s your partner. The best way to do this is when things are calm, when you can be in the moment and as clear as possible.
After Finn was first born I rarely let myself get away for some me time. It started to wear on me and David and I had a conversation about it. It was one of the most honest conversations we’ve ever had and, funny enough, we were both feeling the same way. Now, we make sure each of us get some me time each week.
2. Give each other grace. I’ve certainly let frustration get the best of me over the last two and a half years, and the ugliness is usually directed toward David. I’m in no way proud of this, but I appreciate that David understands that my words are usually unfounded and driven by stress. He usually forgives me within a few minutes, and may tease me about it later on to make light of it. I can’t tell you how much this eases my guilt! Like I said, when you’re married and have children together, your partner is going to see some warts – and I appreciate that David can accept all of me.
3. Get intentional. There was a long stretch after Finn was born where it felt like we were just letting life happen to us. We barely got through the days, and looking back, that time feels like such a blur. We were pretty miserable human beings during that timeframe as well. As soon as we got intentional about Finn’s schedule, and about our schedule, life got a million times better.
We’ve adopted this principal into other aspects of our relationship as well – we felt like we weren’t having meaningful conversation, so we bought this devotional. We felt like we didn’t get enough time just the two of us, so we scheduled a date night each month. We felt like we weren’t saving enough money, so we set up a pretty awesome budget, stick to it, and then tease each other for being so mature! I was getting stressed out about my commute to daycare and work in the morning, so we switched Finn’s daycare to somewhere closer to home. As soon as we started taking control of our life, and being intentional about it, we’ve been on the same page with everything – and ultimately closer as a couple.
4. Create time for each other. This piggy-backs on the whole “get intentional” tip, but deserves it’s own mention. There is nothing more important to David and I than spending time together without Finn around. We love our family dates, but there is something much simpler, and nostalgic, about eating dinner without having to cut up a toddler’s meal first. We’ve been pretty good about going on one date each month, and I always wake up feeling so grateful the next morning. We spend our evenings together watching a show or just talking about our day. We eat dinner together every night, we even grocery shop together. The thing is, I kinda like being around my husband, so we make sure to even make the most mundane tasks a joint effort!
5. Lean into each other, rather than away. I honestly don’t know what I would do without David, and I am sure to let him know that. On those days that he travels or happens to be busy doing something, I count the minutes until his return. I am so grateful for his support and partnership – but even more, I’m grateful for someone to make me laugh, for someone to commiserate with, for another perspective and to have him experience all of this with me!
What are some advice you’d give to keeping marriage a priority after kids?
It’s been three years since my favorite day ever and since then, there have been many more memorable days, and plenty of non-memorable ones, too. Year three of marriage for David and I was probably the easiest (maybe) so far. Our life with Finn has been in a good little groove. We bought a house, we traveled to Colorado and to the Bahamas, we spent another holiday with family, and we decided to grow our family. I’ve learned a lot about marriage, about myself and about David these past three years, and one thing keeps sticking – we were meant to be together. Meeting David Gregory was never a coincidence. He and I were meant to meet, meant to travel, meant to fall in love, meant to have beautiful children and meant to keep each other laughing along the way!
Instead of a sappy post for today, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of things you may not know about us as a couple. David and I had fun coming up with these things, so I hope you enjoy!
1. We met while working at a pizza place. Yep, the beginning of our love story starts with food.
2. Finn was named long before we were even married. Yet we have literally, and I mean literally, no idea what we will be naming Baby G #2.
3. We’ve only been on two vacations together, but have lived in seven different places. When we go somewhere, we commit to it – as in pack up our car and just go!
4. Our first two children were unplanned. That goes for Juneau and Finn. We adopted Juneau after a casual stop at the ASPCA. We both had to work later that day so we just dropped our brand new puppy off with David’s mom and said ‘thanks!’. Finn was a welcome accident.
5. We shared one car until the summer Finn was born. It just never made sense before that to have two cars. Between college, graduate school and all the moving around, we made one car work. When we bought David’s truck two years ago, it was like it opened a door to a whole new world of possibilities. I kid… but seriously, it was amazing.
6. We are actually pretty much the opposites of one another. I’m very introverted, David is very extroverted. I love reading and writing, David loves the outdoors. I love team sports, David likes solo sports. I love a good drama, while David prefers comedy. I like mellow country music, David enjoys rap. David is a strict carnivore, only eating veggies when I force him. I was a vegetarian when we met and still prefer a veggie option over meat.
Despite all of these differences, we still fit quite well together. We take interest in the things the other enjoys, we compromise on movies and shows that we watch, I eat a lot of meat and he tries to force veggies. He gives me my alone time and I muster up the energy to get up and do stuff. We balance each other quite well if I do say so myself. And when it comes to the things that matter most in marriage – our beliefs and values, the way we want to raise our children, the way we manage our finances – we couldn’t be more on the same page.
7. We looked at upwards of forty houses in our house hunt. Partly because we have different tastes, but mostly because David is overly practical where I’m overly idealistic. Between his reality checks and my vision, the house we ended up in was well worth the wait.
8. Our first dance was to ‘Free’ by Zac Brown Band. Because it’s perfectly us.
Was that really two years ago? It seems like just yesterday David and I said ‘I do.’ I love remembering that day. It was a beautiful summer day – all of the people we love were in one place – and the air was full of love.
Two years later and I’m more in love with David Gregory than I was that day. He’s one of a kind – a passionate, loving, hard-headed, hilarious human being. He drives me absolutely nuts and supports every crazy thing I decide to do – with some commentary along the way, of course!
Marriage isn’t always sunshines and butterflies, but David and I have had a mantra the last few years that have helped put everything in perspective. When things get hard or we are stressed out, we tell each other that somehow, some way, we’ve always made it work. We’ve always come out the other side a little stronger, a little wiser, and a little closer to one another.
I’m grateful for my tough tattooed teddy bear of a man! Happy Anniversary my love, let’s go get our 7/11 slurpees 😉
Want to read more about our wedding? Check out these posts:
I can hardly believe it’s been nearly six years since David, Juneau and I packed up all of our earthly belongings in my old Pontiac Grand Am and blindly drove to New Mexico. We had only known each other a year, but we were young, dumb, spontaneous and looking for an adventure.
Why New Mexico?
When I first met David, he told me right away that he was “moving away” the following summer. He had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and he was still figuring out what to do with his life. Turns out, David had dreams of becoming a MMA fighter. When I tell people this, they give me a strange grin – like you’d give someone if they told you they wanted to become a famous actor or singer. I still get this reaction to this day.
The thing about David’s dream was that it was never farfetched to him, and it was never farfetched to me. We still talk about what could have been. I still believe he could’ve been successful at being an MMA fighter, but we didn’t give it long enough to find out.
New Mexico is actually the spot to be if you’re training to become an MMA fighter. I honestly never thought about living out west. I always thought I’d end up in Nashville somehow. But love changes things and I put all my trust into David – lucky for me it worked out!
On top of all of that, we had the ability to be transient and be silly, irrational, young people. We had saved up enough money, I had a job that allowed me to work from anywhere, and we had each other. Looking back, we really didn’t think any of it through. We didn’t even have a place to live when we arrived in Albuquerque. We stayed in a hotel for three days before we found a place. But we finally found an apartment and settled in. I worked from home and David spent hours at the gym. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was all so worth it.
The Trip Without a Plan
We started outside of Charlottesville, Virginia and took 4 days to drive to Albuquerque. We stopped in Nashville, Little Rock, and Amarillo. Gosh, there are so many memories that we still laugh about today. Poor Juneau was such a champ throughout the entire trip, but finding pet friendly hotels was always a challenge. We were able to see so much of the country, experience crazy weather (we had to stop on the side of the road in Oklahoma because a tornado blew through.. not kidding), and really bond together as a couple. We had to work as a team to figure out our route, our plan, our finances, everything. It was as if we took our relationship to the next level just by deciding to embark on this journey together.
Of course, both sets of parents weren’t too keen on sending us out west without a plan. We were told we were crazy on multiple occasions, and we probably were. We had no idea what we were doing or what we were up against. As much as it was an adventure, it wasn’t without it’s hard times. I became homesick and eventually we decided to leave New Mexico because of it.
The Lessons Learned
If we were to move out west now, things would be so incredibly different than it was back then. Some time in between I became more high maintenance, more easily stressed about the logistics of things, and I would try to plan everything to a tee. I’m so glad I wasn’t like that when we actually took the trip. The unknown was the best part of all of it. I think every couple should go on a trip without a plan at least once in their lifetime. We learned about each other, about managing money, about traveling in general, and about what we really value in life – experiences trump everything.
Even now, 3 states, a wedding and a baby later we still reminisce about our trip out west. The foundation of our relationship is built on the way to New Mexico. Some people look back and wish they had traveled when they were younger. We never have to think that way. We did it! We were young, dumb, spontaneous and adventurous!