Each stage of life looks different and brings unique challenges to every couple. My hope is that you will be inspired by the stories of the women in this series. I hope that their experiences will help you find more ways to make your marriage relationship a priority throughout every stage of your own life.
Every month I get super excited to share my most recent interview with you! I've had the opportunity in my life to get to know a lot of really amazing and influential wives and couples and I love sharing them with you. Camille and Jacob are nothing short of inspiring and I've loved getting to know Camille over the past few years since we met in real life, through a mutual blogging friend! Camille on her own has a great story that has brought her to the point that she is at now and has made her appreciate and prioritize her marriage even more than someone maybe would if they hadn't experienced what she has in life. She and Jacob make a great team and are constantly setting goals for their marriage relationship and embarking on fun adventures together! I'm so excited for you to read her story below!
What does it mean to you to prioritize your marriage?
Prioritizing your marriage means being really intentional about things. It means you stop and you put effort into your relationship, your activities and dates that you do together, your spouse's emotional needs and well being. And it means that it's the most important thing in your life; that you always cherish it and treasure it and give it more love and attention and time than other pieces of your life.
How have the different stages you've experienced in life affected how you prioritize your relationship with each other?
I think for me, being the phases started before I'd even met Jacob, when I was a new teacher I spent so much time at work. You don't really have a choice, your first year is just crazy. I really regret that I was so busy at that time of life, I just didn't have much to give other people. And it made me stop and think that I had prioritized really getting ahead in my career and my family was left with not the best part of me. That was a big "ah ha" moment. I've shared on my blog, I've actually been previously married, so I actually was a newlywed at the time and my ex-husband was abusive and we got divorced because of him and his infidelity and all of those issues. But the only regret I have is that I worked so hard and so much the first year we were married that I wish I would have deprioritized work and prioritized a little more time with him, even though I had a really hard time doing that. But that kind of made me stop and think, "I'm in a career change, if I'm ever married again, I don't want to be in a career that all of my emotional well-being, all of my extra time and hobbies go to other people. I want my marriage to be different and I want my husband and my kids to get the best of me." That phase was the first thing that I think rang true for me on how I want my relationship to be and how I want to behave.
And then I think we've gone through a lot of different phases. We met right before I started my Master's degree which was an MBA, I did an executive program and I was working full time, and so we didn't get to see each other as much as I would have liked to even dating, but that made us really stop and schedule out our lives. In a way, being so busy and having a little bit different courtship than most couples do was a huge blessing because it made us stop and say, "Let's really plan quality time together and let's plan fun. Let's prioritize one another and really be present when we're together." because we had such a small amount of time together at certain phases, during finals week and especially towards the end as I was doing my capstone. And then we got married right before I graduated and we still were doing it even more. And when I did graduate, we decided not to stop, that we still wanted to continue to have really scheduled times for when we cleaned together or when we go on dates together or when we talked together. That phase kind of helped mold us together to get some good habits going.
I think we've also had some stages with career changes and those have helped changes us too. Jacob is a consultant now, he wasn't always, and he travels a fair amount for work. And so that's helped us also stop and say, "How do we prioritize our time together? How do we make long distance work?" That has been an interesting part of our relationship too. And then most recently we've had the parent life transition which is another huge one. I think when you are somebody who is so committed to dating and relationships, especially somebody who blogs about marriage and dating, I had a lot of people tell me "your blog will die" or "you just won't date as much". I kind of was like, "Those snarky naysayers!" and I feel that way a little bit, but at the same time, I kind of get what they were saying. You'd have moments where you have to make those judgement calls of "do we spent more money on an expensive date or do we add more money to a college fund?" and these are very real things. I realize these are a more privileged way of looking at things, but some people really do have to make those decisions and say "where are we financially? What money do we continue to put into our relationship and dating?" And then also, where do you find the quality time? I think we all wish that we had more time for our kids, for our husband, and I think finding that balance of what your marriage looks like and what your family still looks like has definitely helped shape how we prioritize time, finances, emotions, everything.
What are some rituals and traditions that you have with your spouse?
I think formal date nights are a thing. I wrote a blog post about it shortly after we had Mack, but I kind of talked about our plan to date with kids. We do a family date once a month where we don't get a sitter, we usually get a sitter twice a month and then we often ask family or a friend to exchange and those are smaller. But we have those rituals and we still make them happen and plan ahead. We still make sure that we do something really cool, once a month, that we drop money on and plan ahead. Dates are obviously a huge one for us.
I think some of the little ones are like fun things that make you a couple. That even if everything dropped tomorrow, you would still have some of those little things together. Like I love that we make cookies together almost every Sunday night, it's just something we do. Thursdays we're usually exhausted and become less responsible adults and start binge watching a Netflix show. We're not big TV people, but that's kind of a fun little ritual we look forward. I think one of us usually runs a marathon or a half marathon every year and now that we have a baby, we kind of take turns shifting who gets to do that, but it's been a fun thing as a couple to cheer each other on in fitness and those big goals.
Texting has been a big part of our relationship. I know a lot of people say to put down the phone and go talk to people, but Jacob and I were a little bit awkward when we first met and we were a little shy about dating. I think of our big problems was that we didn't want to step on anyone's toes and the second another girl would come talk to him, I'd think 'oh maybe he likes here, I don't want to get in his way' and he did that too. Luckily, there was text messaging that we could always keep our friendship and always send each other a few random things. We both have a quirky sense of humor and when we see random thing, we take a picture of it and send it to each other and it's one of my favorite parts of our relationship. Almost every day I know that one of us will send at least one text that's going to crack the other person up. There's always an 'I love you' text every single morning or whenever we get to it, but if it gets to afternoon, we always joke that it's too far in the day and you might have forgot and thought that I don't love you anymore. It's just one of those things and it's cheesy but it's one of those things that we both look forward to. On days when he is on job sites or I've had client meetings or something and we don't get to text, we both comment how we feel a void. Or if we forget our phone at work or something, that was the worst. We used to joke that it's probably worse when your spouse forgets their phone than when you forget your phone. I don't think texting should get as bad of a rap as it does. I think it's something that is a tool for a lot of marriages to stay connected throughout the day and to share love notes or things that you might say cheesy saying out loud, and I love that that's a part of my life. Especially after me having a baby and working from home, if Jacob doesn't get a picture by 3:00 he's like, "Can I see the baby today?". It's cute and funny and it's another way that I feel loved, that he wants to see us even if I haven't showered yet, he doesn't care.
How have the obstacles and challenges that you've faced as a couple made you a stronger team?
I think they absolutely are what shape you into being a team! Obstacles and trials either wedge people apart or they push people right together. I remember about two years into our marriage, someone asked me what we had been through and I was like, "We haven't really been through that many trials. We've been really lucky, we haven't had many problems." and they were like, "Really? Didn't Jacob lose his job like a year into your marriage?" and I was like, "Oh yeah he did. We had that unemployment thing for a while." and I was a teacher and finishing school so we couldn't live off my salary at the time. We had to have really hard discussions about like, do we have to put our house up for sale, how long can we afford our mortgage, how much savings do we have. And I feel like because we are such a good team and we think so much alike financially and emotionally, it didn't seem like that big of a deal but it did help kind of bond us together.
It's funny to say it, but family has been a trial for us; I don't feel like it is currently, but when we were first married. We both come from these huge families and they love us and we appreciate that, but they want us to be at everything all the time. And because we're middle children, we're kind of friends with everyone in our families and I feel like people come to us with their emotional needs and we want to be there for them, but we've had to take a step back and say, "I need to see more of you and your brother/sister needs to see less of you." Or "we can't go to a birthday party every weekend, we've got to make sure we're still us and we're still a family". I think having that early in the game helped really shape us into a team of saying you're my first priority and my family comes later.
We had the big trial of infertility. I'd say that's been one of our biggest trials. That was pretty crazy to have years and years go by. We knew when we got married that I had problems and we were both like, "yeah, we'll adopt or whatever" but every doctor told me, "you're so healthy, it'll be so quick and easy. We already know what you have." I'd tried with my ex-husband and so we'd had testing and I'd been divorced and single and they'd found so many things then, so we kind of got this running head start where they already knew the problem. And it should have only taken a couple months and it took a couple of years. We handled it pretty well, that's when we started deciding that we were going to travel and do big trips and things. Every time we got a no, we would put a little more money away. We'd put some towards fertility treatments and some towards travel, and that was great to make these great memories together and still feel like our life was worthwhile and moving forward and we were achieving dreams and things.
I remember at one point saying, "The more world I see, the more of those dreams that come true, the more I realize my real dream is to be a family" and Jacob felt the same way. I remember him saying once, "I don't know that we're ever going to be fully happy until we get to be parents." We obviously did our best and we were still a happy couple together, but there were a lot of nights that we both cried and we both just felt like, "why is this happening to us?" And I had a lot of guilt and problems because it was 100% me and my problems. I think working through that together and learning how supportive he was, how loving he was, I was really grateful for how much he stuck by me at that time. We knew we wanted kids and we knew that eventually we would adopt or pregnancy would come, but it did still hurt every time the next thing was supposed to work and it didn't. I will say that it made it all the sweeter, that becoming parents has been a lot more joyful for us because we know how bad we wanted it. I also think it's helped our marriage. I know a lot of people say kids really hurt their marriage and it's stressful and it's hard and you're together all the time, yet you feel like you miss each other because this little person occupies your life, but watching your spouse become a parent, the way they treat your kid and the new love you have in your family is really amazing.
I think we're a stronger team, we're a happier family and I'm grateful for all of those trials. I'm grateful that we've had some career ups and downs, both of us have had changes. I'm grateful that we've had some infertility. I also have some abuse and things in my past that I don't always talk about and I think working through some of those problems has also made me realize what a caring, loving, amazing person I'm married to. And I think it helps him realize how much I love and appreciate him, so it's definitely made us stronger and happier. So as somebody who would have originally said, "no, I haven't had that much", I think it's just because we have been such a good team. We kind of have had a lot on our plates in the five years that we've been married.
Tell me about something that you hope to be able to do together in the future.
It's been really cool, Jacob's actually gotten more involved in the blog recently and it's been really fun that he's kind of stopped and talked more about what we need to do and what dates he likes and what he thinks are great things for us but helpful for other people. It's been great to get his insight. He's like Mother Theresa so everything is so sweet and caring and it's been really fun to have him more involved and I hope we continue to do it.
Travel is one of our things. We always do one big international trip every year and at least two domestic trips. I think we hope to still be able to do those. We're kind of already starting to talk next year and we have a few coming up this year. I hope we get to keep doing this forever. We hope that our lives and financial situation and even with having kids, we can still be big adventurous people that do things.
I also hope that we always continue to have dates. It's kind of funny when you do something for five years, we've literally only repeated less than five dates and I'm now starting to be like, "are we going to run out of new dates and new experiences?" because it's not just like the fun of blogging it. There are studies that show new experiences are what trip the hormone levels and make you still be in love and so I hope that we always continue to find new things to try and experience together. We've been really lucky so far, but I hope one day we don't look up and go, "wait what, we've kind of been there done that, experienced everything".
And I hope we get to be parents again. I hope we get the experience of having another baby and I hope pregnancy can work out at least one more time for us before we're too old to have kids. We hope that Mack gets to have a sibling and we hope that we get to be a little bit bigger family.