Yesterday I opened facebook to find a memory notification of our wedding four years ago. I threw my phone down and hugged mark telling him, “I think we forgot something about today.” To which we both chuckled and wondered if we had made a horrible error in forgetting or if we would just laugh and move forward. We made strong coffee and decided over coffee chat to talk about our four years of marriage and 10 years of being in a relationship together. We decided to share our chat with you here by both answering four questions about our advice and thoughts on a strong relationship. And for the record, we decided one of the things that makes our relationship awesome is not the fact that we remember our anniversary but the fact we could laugh about forgetting and make the best of it!
What do you think the key is to a strong, successful relationship?
Mark: Communication. I can tell when Ashley is bothered by something and I always ask even though I know I might get what I’m actually asking for. Overall, it’s better than pretending it’s not there and avoiding the situation.
Another one would be humor. Ashley’s not really funny per se but she does and says things that amuse me and she challenges me by busting my balls. That keeps it interesting for me.
Ashley: Communication is key. I love when someone can be honest and open about their feelings and at the same time, feel like I am genuinely being heard. That equals respect and love to me. Another factor in a strong relationship is the willingness on both parts to see the big picture and be able to move forward in the heat of a moment. To work as a team in most situations. We are a team and if one half of the team goes down, the other half can be strong and lift the other person so they can continue on.
How do you balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses out?
Mark: That’s another reason we’ve been a successful team because for the most part, we balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If we’re too similar, it could result in a lot of conflict or just monotony. I’ll try to pull ash in one direction and she’ll try to pull me in one direction. We challenge each other because of our differences.
Ashley: Mark challenges me to see things differently and that pushes me to be more open to new ways of looking at life and approaching it. I appreciate our differences. Mark is more logical and realistic while I let my vision and emotions lead me. Mark helps to ground my emotional side in times I need that and puts things into a narrower, more focused perspective while I think at times, I help mark see a bigger, possibility filled picture. Both are extremely valuable at different times.
How important do you think it is to set goals together?
Mark: Before I met ashley, I never really thought of it as being that important or never practiced it in the bigger life picture or did it for myself until this year. And wouldn’t you know it, it actually worked. We accomplished many of the goals we’ve set together so I think it is very valuable to do it. If you’re not setting goals, you’re stagnant: stagnant in life, in your relationship(s) and stagnant in yourself.
Ashley: Pfffff. Forward movement to me is like bread is to butter. And when you set goals, you fast track your forward movement by creating focus. So yah, for me, it’s everything. When Mark and I started setting goals together, I got a huge post-it sticky pad (get one, it’s the size of your body and it allows you to see things bigger!) and we went to town! We’ve accomplished many of our goals that we set two years, a year and even three months ago and we did it together. Setting goals together creates unison and a common ground that binds you to your forward movement as a team. It creates momentum and a forward focus that keeps you anything but stagnant. Fierce Forward together.
If you could give one piece of advice to couples out there struggling, what would it be?
Mark: I would say talk. Then talk. Then talk some more. And work it out and don’t be afraid to go see a therapist because it’s often very valuable to get a neutral parties interpretation of the situation.
Ashley: If you want something to change, you have to be willing to take an honest look at what is. It seems very common that people hide or go into denial about things that make them unhappy when that really only pushes the problem even deeper, creating mass havoc that will eventually come out. And we are here to live the life we want and desire for ourselves and it’s your right to do so. If something doesn’t feel good, be honest about it, talk about it with the person you love and make a decision together that you want something to change. Then start making the change together. Ultimately, you’ve got to work on something if you want anything to change. Great things come from great work.
We hope this was helpful and would love to hear what rocks your world in creating a strong, successful relationship or what you took away from the above! Comment below.