Today was the emotionally-tugging day that the film crew interviewed us about our relationship before/during/after ironman distance training. When I meditate on my feelings I put them into words so that I can explain them to myself if I ever doubt. Roger meditates by feeling and actions; when he does put into words it’s a summary of hours of feelings into a phrase. It was hard for me to watch the film crew wanting him to explain more, but since I know him, I understand he just explained a lot. Being expats together in Europe for 2 years & again transplants in the West Coast (away from family/childhood friends), I had plenty of focused time to get to know how he displays his affection and love. When you’ve been together for 7 years, married for almost 4, there are many layers that define how and why you feel a certain way about someone that it’s very difficult to put into words. Especially on camera, for a movie, for strangers.
How do you describe in an interview that we’ve grown together so much from who we were when we first met? How do you shape the audience understanding of why you love this person with every fiber of your being?
The footage and the interview just touched the surface and it’s driving me crazy that I am afraid who we are isn’t coming through. Triathlon can be a selfish sport, but not in the context of a supportive loving household.
There’s a play called “7 year Itch” spotlighting that after being together for that many years, a person will have reached a lackluster state of boredom and will start looking outside the marriage. We repel this ideal with certain habits we started doing from the beginning. Besides the Christian marriage values we have, it’s true that a couple does need to focus of keeping the chemistry alive constantly. No one else can do it for you, even if you pay someone to coach you to do it, ultimately it has to be felt and initiated by you.
The movie asked if we were planning on having a baby. We said no. Both of us coming from families that were so caught up with children that the marriage itself suffered, we don’t find any need to rush another phase when we are happy in this one. No relationship is immune to pitfalls, yet we actively battle against common ones so our life is able to adjust to what comes our way.
Here are a few things we started doing while dating in 2007, that we continue doing:
1. Family Activity Calendar: write days off, trips, girl/guy dinner plans or weekend events so that everyone is on the same page on what is going on in your life. This started before Gmail & Facebook calendar happened, where you had to actually remember dates without reminders. Even now, we write it down; Facebook is busy posting ads and sponsored posts.
2. Sync your mornings: Even if you plan to sleep in or have completely different work schedules (which has happened a few times with us through the years), sacrifice comfort a little bit and get up to see your S.O. in the morning to start the day in sync. This will help you feel connected all day, even if you do not see each other for any meals. By putting in that effort to see each other’s face even if it’s just 20 minutes for coffee & news before exercise and then just go back to bed to finish resting, you both will feel cared about instead of ignored.
3. Emotional Intimacy: No I don’t mean PDA. Intimacy displayed in listening, genuine acknowledgement of initiative, changing out of work clothes as soon as you get home, caring massage by your S.O. not only will de-stress but builds your self-esteem. This has been significant especially during the year when we are both working Full-Time and investing many hours to training, where our bodies are drained for much else.
4. Physical Intimacy: Schedule a gap of time for this. You know the best day of the week that you aren’t stressed and likely to have energy. Instead of using this time for selfish isolated things like shopping or gaming, make a sheets date. It may seem that this is robotic, but it’s totally the opposite. lol Be spontaneous. To avoid pouncing or being rejected if it’s not the right moment for the other person, we created codes. Basically a garment that when you wear it in this context, your S.O. will understand it’s an invitation. Maybe we are shy but it really helped feelings not being hurt and also no guilty feelings for not accepting. The initiative is flattering either way, so it still builds the morale between you.
5. Intellectual Intimacy (Short-Term and Long-Term Couple Goals): The goal I’m referring to is independent from work, money, and friends – it’s just about you two. An efficient goal has a specific end result and a deadline, and hopefully a reward that motivates both of you to accomplish it together. The experience is so much more profound when you could share it with your best friend.
Would you share a positive memory of Roger and I that you feel describes the bond that we have? If the movie would accept, I could share it with the film to help develop our story for the documentary audience.