I’m going to start with a clear disclaimer that I don’t have everything figured out when it comes my marriage, and I don’t presume to think that I know what’s best for everyone either. I’ve honestly sat on the fence with wanting to write something like this because, no matter how you write about it or what you say, there will always be plenty of people who disagree, or who have a different approach that works perfectly for them and they won’t be able to relate to me or my experiences. I actually hope that’s the case! Because differences make things interesting. Differences are how we learn. And I also don’t want this to be misunderstood as something that is self-inflating. I don’t have it all figured out and I certainly don’t get it right even half the time I feel, but, maybe it will reach someone who never considered this before. Or someone struggling in their own relationship and can’t really put their finger on why. Or be a good bit of advice to tuck away for someone who is just now moving into getting married and starting a new life with another person. Maybe it will help someone somewhere. So, for whatever it’s worth to you, I’ve learned over time why my marriage works so well and I wanted to write about it. It didn’t take a lot hard work or painful measures. But it did take reflection and conscious effort to make decisions that I knew were always for the betterment of someone else.
Often when I meet people for the first time, they ask me something like “So were you always into cars?” I smile. “Yes, somewhat. But Rob helped fuel that interest of course”. It’s an easy answer, but it goes so much deeper than that. The real answer is: No. Not really at all. But I can explain how I got here.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend when they mentioned their significant other wasn’t really into any of the hobbies they loved so much. Particularly, the one main hobby my friend has the most passion for. I’ve not been able to stop thinking about that; trying to understand how a relationship of any kind (plutonic or romantic) could flourish without some binding element outside of one another. I have to admit, I’m always confused when I hear someone make comments like this. I understand that every person and relationship is different, and all have different needs and things that make them cohesive and successful in their own way. I know this. I also know a lot of people can remain (and perhaps prefer to remain) much more independent in their relationship and pursue things outside of their other person and be perfectly satisfied. But having said that, I feel like it’s important that, as a woman making up the other half of a marriage, we need to recognize a key ingredient that can make a huge difference, not only in the quality of our relationship, but the longevity of it as well. And we need to understand how our gender roles, our love languages, and spiritual needs and gifts weave into that tapestry so that we can always be nurturing those things. And just as importantly, be open to receiving that nurturing from someone else.
As I mentioned, when I met Rob, I was barely into cars. I had a weird obsession with third gen corvettes but that’s basically the extent of my interest. See exhibit A: Me in highschool with my Ranger. Embarrassing.
But when I fell in love with Rob, I also fell in love with the things he was most passionate about (mainly, Cars!). I wanted to learn everything he already knew and I wanted to be a part of that aspect of his life for two main reasons. The first, was so that he would never feel like what was important to him, wasn’t just as important to me too. And the second, was because when I was with him in that element, he never looked more attractive. (This is a mutually beneficial theory for sure) 🙂
Trust me, there is something about seeing your significant person in the midst of what makes them tick, that is unbelievably stimulating on all fronts. And, especially for women I think, to see a man in their “man” element (whatever it happens to be) confident and strong, smart and capable, is so important! It’s usually what prompts us in the first place, when we meet someone, to develop an interest in pursuing them at all. So it’s important that we find opportunity to recreate those moments. To see our person at their best; to see them pursuing their passions. I’m sick of the image of men being the classic “Paper towel commercial”. You know the set up- the man tries to blend something always forgetting the top to the blender, or he classically spills fruit punch on the white carpet and makes that face as if to say “I can’t help it, I’m a man, I’m destined to be clumsy and foolish, please hand me a roll of paper towels”. When did we start thinking of men as incapable? When did these subtle stereotypes suddenly become okay?
So ten years ago, I began a life of pursuing cars with my boyfriend. I spent hours watching and learning from him to build this into my own identity, and years investing in this hobby with him. So it became our hobby together. And it bloomed into this wonderfully fulfilling life, bringing us insane joy, excitement, friends who are family, and countless fun adventures that we are still experiencing. But I consciously made that choice because what I wanted more than anything, really, was to spend time with the person who made me happiest. And what allowed me to continue to fall in love with him, and continue to be his closest friend, was always seeing him surrounded by what made him whole and being with him in all of those moments and experiences.
Circa 2006- both our VR4-s and then an early picture of us at Import Faceoff (track event) in Montgomery. Circa 2012 at a car show with his VR-4 and my White EvoAfter just getting the Evo’s new wheelsThe day we bought the NSX- one I will never forget.2014 BRGOne of the sweetest parts about all that though, were moments like this next one. Where you see how special and important something is to someone who means so much to you. And that makes it mean something to you.Don’t mishear me though; I never faked it. (I don’t fake anything 🙂 ) I didn’t grow starry eyed and completely change who I was and what I believed in because of an early infatuation with a boy. I truly and quickly grew into loving this hobby. It became part of me, and it still is! I’m not advocating selling out to someone else because you think its what you should do, for whatever reason. But as a spouse, I do encourage you to sell out for your spouse every day. In small and big ways all the same. But do it, and do it with integrity. Do it with purpose. Don’t begrudgingly get involved. That doesn’t do anything but cause resentment and frustration for both because it’s easy to tell when the effort isn’t genuine. Oh sure, some days it’s easier than others, we’re all human. But it shouldn’t be a theme.
Something that makes being married so fun is how close of friends I am with my husband. We genuinely want to spend time together, and so early on, we sort of adopted the 3 Musketeers approach to life. “All for one and one for all”. We just prefer to pick and choose the way we spend our time as it relates to whether or not we can do it together. It’s a two way street though! I don’t just follow Rob around doing whatever Rob wants to do. He spends just as much time and effort (arguably more) in supporting what I want, need, and say too.
Two years ago I decided to try and rekindle a passion I spent ten years of my childhood doing- riding horses. I wanted to see if it was something that I wanted to make a part of my adult life. And it was a big deal! I had to carve out time during the weeknights to take lessons, I had to buy all new gear, and just sort of jump head first into it and see what happened. And my sweet husband never once questioned me, made me feel like it was a waste of time or money, or made me feel like I was in it alone. Even though it was something I was doing for me, Rob was along for all of it.
He was there to take pictures, and give me encouragement.He was there, just to be there. To be part of it.He would sit and watch my lessons, he would groom the horse I was riding, and he even entertained several weeks of my chatter about wanting to buy my own horse. I’m serious, I sent him links to hundreds of horse for sale ads. He thoughtfully considered every one of them. After 3 months of horses though, I realized that it wasn’t something that meant enough to me to continue to pursue it; I had my answer. It will always be a special time of my life that I remember so fondly but I just didn’t feel committed to it anymore. Instead, I heard about this thing called Crossfit…and decided I would see what that was all about. Rob supported me every step.
Two and a half years later, here we are. If you know us well, you know just how big of a role Crossfit plays in our life. I decided to try it on a whim in mid 2013, but Rob held out at first. Every night I came home excited and wanting to talk about everything I had done or accomplished in one of my classes. I was inspired and enthusiastic about this new awesome hobby and I wanted more than anything to be able to really share it with Rob. So, after a few months convincing, he jumped on board. I wish I could tell you just how much it positively changed our lives. To be able to share this with each other. To become better versions of ourself, together. It’s been amazing!
Now, I won’t preach to you about Crossfit. You’ve probably already made your mind up about that one way or another! What’s important here is not what we are doing together, but it’s just that we are together, period.
When I listen to Rob really talk cars with his car friends, I’m always so impressed with him. The things he knows! His opinions are strong and firm and backed up by experience and knowledge. I wouldn’t get this perspective though if I wasn’t present in those situations. I wouldn’t have any idea just how smart of a man I married, or how lucky I am that he knows what he knows. When I sit out in the garage and watch him work on one of our vehicles, to repair something or make an improvement, I can better appreciate the sacrifice of his time and his wealth of knowledge because I’ve also invested my own time knowing where he’s coming from. And I get to think “My hero!” Really! In those situations, he’s my hero. But what happens if I miss those chances to see him shine? What if I didn’t care anything about all of those moments? What would that do to his pride? To his propensity to want to do any of those things at all? Would his motivation to do those things ebb away over time because he didn’t receive the support and the validation he needed from his partner? I don’t know. I don’t want to find out.
Don’t get me wrong, I also value time a part from Rob because it makes the time we spend together even sweeter. And I am a proponent of having separate interests- those are fun! Those can be life saving. And our gender roles tend to demand we have those to some extent anyway. Everyone needs a retreat once in awhile. But I am encouraging you to be careful and not to build walls that keep the other person out too far from reach.
To sum all of this up- get involved with your person. I wouldn’t care if Rob’s hobby was frosting cupcakes or deep sea diving. I would go with him to Williams Sonoma or wherever you go to get cupcake doo-dads and I would take deep sea diving classes even though I am terribly afraid of large fish and being underwater in the ocean in general. When someone you love does something they’re passionate about and you get to see them do it, and better yet, be there with them, magic happens. Chemistry happens. LOVE happens. The greatest of these is love. Go watch your significant other be your hero. Go watch them be successful. Be their champion, their biggest fan. And see just how colorful your relationship becomes.