With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.
When Stacy and Rob decided to get married, they were met with some “discouraging words,” as they put it. Rob had finished college, but Stacy was three years younger and had decided not to finish. “My parents tried very hard to talk us out of it.” But despite her parents’ objections, Stacy and Rob were married and almost immediately packed their things and moved hundreds of miles away so Rob could start a new job.
Thirty-one years later, those discouraging words are only a distant memory. But that doesn’t mean Stacy and Rob didn’t learn a few lessons along the way. When they began their married life together, Stacy and Rob had very little money. So little that Stacy recalls pulling off of the highway on their drive to avoid a fifty-cent toll. Says Stacy, “Our first home didn’t have a television or even a couch at first. We had one car, so I would walk to the library and back.” Stacy hadn’t yet found work, and says she often felt stuck at home while Rob was out at work all day, like their balance was off. But she quickly learned, “You have to go out there and make that balance.”
Over the years, Stacy and Rob have learned how to adjust to the shifting balance in their relationship. In the 1980’s, Rob was laid off from his job and the couple decided to sell their house and car and pack up for graduate school. With two small children in tow, Rob and Stacy tried to adjust the balance. “We had decided early on that one parent would stay at home with the kids,” they say. That decision wasn’t always easy, but Stacy says they learned that “rather than try to fight your decision, you can make friends with your decision and figure out systems that work for you.” The couple decided Rob would be home every night for dinner and to bathe at least one of the kids, even if it meant he had to return to the library later.
Seven moves and thirty-one years later, the two are enjoying spending time with each other in the same place. They work out in the yard, go for long walks and take yoga classes together. Their advice to newlyweds? Rob suggests remembering this mantra: “Marriage is work and it’s teamwork – remember you’re on the same team.”