With Valentine’s Day coming up, Laurel and I thought that we would ask each other some questions on marriage as well as answer some questions from our followers. Marriage is a journey, sometimes amazing and other times super hard. We definitely don’t have it all figured out, but Jason and I have been married 21 1/2 years and Laurel and Scott have been married almost 21 years, so we just thought we’d share some of our experiences and struggles along the way.
How do you share the kid stuff with your spouse? Driving, etc.
PAM: Because my first job was a stay-at-home mom, I looked after most of the school stuff and school driving when the kids were little. However, as they got more involved in their activities and sports, I couldn’t physically be everywhere they needed to be. Jason primarily dealt with hockey stuff with Mac and I mostly did the dance stuff with the girls. However, we crossed over as much as possible. We have made it a priority for us to be at games and competitions as a family whenever possible. Mac has sat through numerous dance competitions and the girls still enjoy coming to Mac’s hockey games. I was more involved with their schools, but Jason would often help out and we would both be checking planners. Jason tends to follow up more with the grades online.
LAUREL: In our kids younger years, I did the majority of driving as I chose to be a stay at home mom. One might think that I continued to carry the lions share of responsibilities but really it has morphed to being a team effort. Scott is an incredibly involved dad….he also knows that my love language is “acts of service”:) He is quick to offer to help, especially with driving, when he can see I’m overwhelmed…or often even when I’m not. I am incredibly lucky that his job does offer him flexibility! Over time we’ve kinda split the duties…he often does hockey duty with Lincoln, while I do the dance mom thing with Melina. Lexi’s volleyball would be a flip of the coin between us. But as Pam mentioned, we also make it a priority to all be at each others important stuff whenever possible. When it comes to talking, I’d say the kids come to me for a soft place to land, and head for their dad when they need a dose of reality!
What’s your secret for getting away withOUT the kids?
PAM: To be honest, this is something that Jason and I have not been great at. I was always torn as I didn’t want to miss out on the kids’ performances, games, etc., so I found this difficult. And Jason felt the same. We did get away a few times and I found it was helpful having a young couple or their dance teachers come and look after them. Now Jason and I have much more time together. We head over to the island a couple of weekends a month to watch Mac play hockey and these are like mini getaways. We are learning to reconnect and enjoy the time together. I’m not gonna lie…this takes time and it’s kind of weird at first. But we are being intentional about it and we are focusing on doing things that we both enjoy, like going for hikes.
LAUREL: When we were growing up, our parents went away once a year…it was a priority for them. When Scott and I started our family, my mom encouraged us to make it a priority in our marriage to have time together. Without children. I remember saying to her “but who will look after the kids?” and she always said, if it’s important, God will make a way! And honestly, it’s true. I think it was in great part because Scott drove the bus on it. It was of great importance to him and so he made it happen (if you know him, you would know this is very true to who he is!). We had family who helped often and on the other occasions we looked for someone who was young and flexible and who didn’t have their own kids! ha! What is actually awesome is that our kids have had some incredible people stay with them..and they’ve made some of their own awesome memories. It has been a tremendous blessing! It has always ALWAYS been worth it.
I’m getting married in May! I always hear that the first year is the hardest…what can I do to make the transition easier on both of us? Currently we don’t live together.
PAM: Ok, so Jason and I didn’t live together before we were married. We were fairly young (I was 24 and Jason was 22), so we weren’t too set in our ways. I think sometimes the first year can be harder if you’ve been on your own longer as you have your own way of doing things. So, I think what I’m trying to say is that being flexible will make your first year easier. Don’t focus on the minor stuff. Be open to doing things a new way. And don’t forget to keep dating. That sounds so cliche, but make sure you still do fun stuff.
LAUREL: Going into the marriage, you are filled with so many hopes and expectations…often maybe unrealistic ones? Scott and I had dated for 5 years before we got married so I felt that we really knew each other. Having said that, living with someone is a whole new ball game. Making a point to verbalize your expectations to each other is helpful…Scott and I would often knock heads when one of us was unknowingly failing to meet the other’s expectation. Being married is so hugely about communication. TALK! I’d also say that it’s awesome to start your own traditions as a couple that first year…traditions that you will come to anticipate each year.
How does having children impact marriage?
PAM: Jason and I were married about 2 1/2 years before we had Berkeley. Jason was a very hands on dad. So we really were a team, except I did the nights as he had to go to work in the morning. We continued to travel and go on trips with the kids from when they were about 3 months old. There were several years in there that I called ourselves “The Travelling Gong Show”…with all the car seats, strollers and playpens! But it was worth it to get away! We did keep our social life up. We would take the kids with us and taught them how to sleep in their playpens at other people’s houses. Sometimes this went better than other times, but it allowed us to get together with friends and not be held hostage by a 7pm bedtime. Our kids had to assimilate into our daily lives instead of being the centre of it.
LAUREL: HUGELY! You go from having to look after just yourselves to having to be responsible for little humans! Having kids with Scott made me appreciate how relaxed he was. I was pretty uptight while he never seemed to get ruffled. He really does bring the fun into our household…and starting from when the kids were young, he was always up to look after them and make sure I could get out and have some adult interaction too. Of course, the temptation to make your life all about your kids and not about your spouse is a real thing! It’s so easy to pour all of your energy into them and not into each other. We’ve fallen into that trap often (more than I’d like to admit)…that’s why getting away together, without kids, is so important. Refer above ha!
Who cleans the house?
PAM: When we have only been married a few years, Jason gave me the gift of a cleaning lady for 6 months and it was the gift that kept on giving for many years! I found with him working long days, having three young kids and me also working on the side, it was stressful trying to get the house cleaned. So having someone come in once a week was such a treat! However, as of this summer, I am cleaning my house now. With Mac not being home and the girls coming and going, there is much less mess and I do have the time. Here’s the deal…I clean the main floor of the house…toilets, dusting, bathrooms, etc…and Jason does the floors. The girls are responsible to clean their rooms and bathrooms. I realized that they needed to learn to clean as they had never really had to do it and it’s good preparation. Jason also does a lot of the laundry. I would say we share it. He’s great at separating the Lululemon from the white towels so I’m happy to get the help! He taught the kids how to separate their laundry and wash it was well.
LAUREL: So, this is the worst for me to answer…because we do indeed have a friend who comes once a week to clean and make me feel like, just for a split second, we don’t have 2 dogs inside our house! It is truly the gift that keeps giving:) Beyond that, I’m going to be brutally honest. I don’t have a house full of neat freaks…which can be a good thing in that they would never complain…but ya… our house is lived in!! You will often find me puttering around cleaning up and encouraging the same from the rest of the fam…they might even use the “nagging” word!
What is one piece of advice you would give your newly married self?
PAM: Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Encourage them, tell them you are proud of them, pray for them and spoil them. You are a team and be the BEST team member…looking out for your spouse. I wish I had done more of this. Sometimes you get in the rut of focusing on how you feel about yourself in the marriage. Are my needs being fulfilled? Am I happy? This does not breed contentment. Instead if you focus more on your spouse and take a selfless approach, I think you’ll be happier in the long run. Yes, I know, easier said than done! I’m working on it too!
LAUREL: Stick to a budget! ha! I laugh, but truthfully, it’s great to set the financial stuff out and learn to follow it. On a totally different wave, I’d tell myself to go experience adventure together, especially if you know that having a family is in your plans. Don’t settle into a rut…keep it adventurous and fun! Before you have kids is a window of time to live a bit more spontaneously. Lastly, I would want to be really purposeful about supporting my spouse…Scott’s love language is words of affirmation..and I wish I would have known that from day 1. Speaking those words (which is more than me just thinking them and assuming that he would somehow know) is something that is important for him to hear. That is something I still work on remembering!
How are you and your hubby different? Similar?
PAM: Jason and I are similar in a lot of ways. We are both organized, detail-oriented, and tidy (for the most part). I am a big worrier and Jason, even if he is worried, can act a lot more chill. He’s a good balance for me that way. Jason is much more adventurous than I am. He’s an adrenaline junkie and I’m a big chicken! He would bungee jump and I’m like NO WAY!
LAUREL: We are so totally different…and that’s what attracted me to Scott. He is what I am not: a risk taker, decisive, blunt, edgy and witty. When I met him, I loved that he had crazy dreams and had done crazy things (ok some not much!). I remember him telling me shortly after I met him, that his biggest fear was to not be original. Interesting, right? He totally has maintained that to this day. He doesn’t follow the crowd, he blazes his own path and that is still something I admire! I tend to be more emotional, sensitive, people focused..and late. Always late. I drive him and me crazy. Ok…how are we similar? I don’t think we are!
What has been the key in your relationship to staying together?
PAM: Commitment. Seriously, sometimes it’s hard and it sucks. Sometimes you don’t agree. Sometimes I don’t “feel” like being married to Jason and there are days that he probably doesn’t like me very much! But Jason and I have talked about how we are committed. Sometimes you need a day or two after a big argument to let the dust settle. I always want to discuss things right away, but I’ve learned that Jason needs time to process. So, timing is also important in dealing with issues. But they do need to be dealt with, otherwise a huge pile builds up and usually resentment with it. I have to be patient until he’s ready to talk.
LAUREL: This is a good one! For one, it comes down to a decision. Love is a decision…not a feeling. If I went with how I was feeling on a given day, the outcome might be different…for Scott too. Somedays we don’t feel the warm and fuzzies. But…we are in this for the long haul. Trust is also huge. I have to trust that Scott is going to stick to that commitment too. We are vulnerable to each other and trust each other to stick to it. Third, you just gotta make fun a priority. I have the most fun with my family…in great part because Scott is usually up to something. Fun sounds so superficial and yet, it carries a huge weight. And lastly, the state of your relationship is never more open and bare than when going through some rough times. Those rough times can sometimes be the undoing of a marriage. Scott has had to be the rock…and sometimes I have wondered if it would just be too much. In retrospect, those hard times (when my anxiety first reared its ugly head, for one example) were total growth points for us. They kinda forged our marriage deeper.
What is one thing your hubby likes to do that you don’t?
PAM: Jason likes the finer things in life, but he also likes some random stuff. Like Cracker Barrel restaurant, Denny’s, most concession stand food and bologna. I just can’t! And I heard lately that he’d like to climb to Everest Base Camp. I don’t like to be cold and I don’t hike if it involves using my hands!
LAUREL: Golf. This is something that I need to start to like. Because I see a retirement in about 20 years that is made of this game… he’s obsessed!! Oh and Pearl Jam…mercy, he plays it 24-7. Oh and lastly, concerts…he lives for them. Me, not so much!
What is on your bucket list as a couple?
PAM: More travel! One of our best trips was our 20th anniversary trip to Turkey. We love exploring new places, walking through cities and enjoying great food and coffee!
LAUREL: Travel…lots! There are many places we want to explore together…the list is so long! And sky diving…we’ve both talked about it…I think it’ll happen at some point! We’ve also talked about how we would love to be involved in a restaurant…not sure if that would ever come to fruition…it might just be because we love food!
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we are giving one lucky couple a night at the stunning Oak Bay Beach Hotel in a premium One Bedroom Suite (valued at $499)* The winning couple will also enjoy full access to the heated seaside mineral baths at this award-winning boutique hotel on Vancouver Island. If you are looking for romance, this is the place! You will be spoiled by their personalized service, the amazing beds and incredible ocean views.
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel really is a special place and once you experience it, you will know what we mean. To enter, head over to @sugarplumpam and @sugarplumlaurel on Instagram before February 12, 2018 at 11:59pm. Winner will be announced February 13, 2018.
*Some restrictions may apply. Not valid on long weekends and holidays. Subject to availability. Must be used before May 15, 2018. Transportation to and from the hotel is not included.