13 Things I’ve Learned About Marriage On Our 13th Wedding Anniversary

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{At our favorite hotel in NYC with our oldest girls…it was their first time visiting our favorite city with us}

Lucky Number 13.

It was 13 years ago that I stood in the beautiful courtyard in Haile Plantation with the most handsome, most generous, kindest, funniest, most amazing human I know and said I do. We were just babies. Babies who’d been together three and-a-half years. Babies who’d been engaged for two of those years. Babies who were only 21 and 22 at the time. We were babies.

Sometimes we still are. Well, by “We” I mean me. But who’s counting?

It’s been 13 really, really, really fun years filled with so much love. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to grasp the fact that it’s been thirteen years since we were married! We’ve grown so much since May 15, 2005. We’ve also learned so much in the course of our marriage – and what we’ve learned has helped us continue to grow, become better, and to embrace everything that life throws at us – good or bad – as a team. Because that’s what we are. We are a team. Every. Single. Day.

We have many more years to learn, to grow, and to love even harder. I can’t wait to see what life continues to have in store for us. It’s been so sweet so far that it’s hard not to look forward to what’s to come. But for now, I’ll just embrace the moment, celebrate my love, and share 13 things I’ve learned in the past 13 years.

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  1. No one is perfect….and no one is a mind-reader

It turns out Raiford is not – I repeat not a mind-reader. I know. This is unfortunate as it means I have to actually say what I want and what I don’t when I want it. Sigh. Listen, life would be a lot easier if my sweet husband could read my mind. Alas, he cannot. So therefore, he is not perfect. Thankfully, I, too, am imperfect. Match made in heaven, am I right? We are not perfect, and we cannot anticipate every single need of the other. We just have to communicate and talk it out. Trust me…just speak up. It makes life a lot easier.

  1. You are a team…and this is most important when you have kids

If you and your spouse aren’t a team, it’s time for a team meeting. Y’all need to draft one another or something. You must be a team with your spouse, where there is no “I”. You are a team, and this is always important in every situation. It’s you and him (or her) against the problems. And by problems, I obviously mean the kids. We are outnumbered in the Raiford household, and we like it that way. Mostly because we are a great team, and it’s our biggest asset. When we don’t work together as a team, the kids…well….they know. And they use it. So we are a team. Even when we don’t wan to be a team because we disagree, we are a team. They can never see otherwise. They’re too smart.

  1. Fail Together

Failure is nothing more than an opportunity to learn and to grow, and that’s what you do in marriage. We fail all the time, take that lesson, and apply it to the rest of our marriage. And guess what? It totally works!

  1. Pick your battles

I always use this example, so you’ve probably heard it. I always complained to my husband that it drives me crazy when he hangs my clothes in the wrong place in my closet. In my mind, it’s blatantly obvious that all things are ordered by season, by style, and then by color. So why he continues to hang a black dress that hits above the knees with my black maxi dresses is beyond my level of comprehension. And the number of times I complained about it should have given him a hint to actually put it in the right place (it did not).

But I once complained about it to a group of girlfriends….and they were not amused. One of them said, “I can’t get on board with this. You’re complaining that your husband washes, dries or hangs up, and puts away laundry regularly in your house. Mine has never done a load of laundry in his life,” and that’s when I realized it’s time to pick my battles. Sometimes you cannot change things. And my simple “It’s short, not long,” explanation is way over his head. He sees black, he sees dresses, he feels confident – and I didn’t have to wash anything.

{The day I went into labor with the twins and we met our littlest loves for the first time. They spent a week in the NICU because they were so small and had some respiratory issues.}

  1. It’s all about perspective

There was a time in our marriage when we let things get to us. If we had a bad day, it got to us. If things didn’t go our way, it got to us. But then we lost two babies we wanted so badly. That’s when life changed for us. We realized in those moments following each loss that everything we thought was a problem really wasn’t a problem. Our problems are so small, and we realized we were just wasting time allowing them to get to us. The loss of a baby is a real problem, and it in that moment we became very grateful for the other ‘problems’ we thought we had. Perspective is important – so change it if it needs changing.

  1. Humor is all the good stuff

Hands down, the best thing about Craig is he is funny. We laugh so hard so much. I cannot even tell you how good it feels to know that I get to spend my days with someone who makes me laugh even when I don’t want to. It’s so much better.

{From Hawaii to Napa Valley to San Fran to Orange County to the Keys to Chicago to a million weekends in New York City to Las Vegas to Jamaica to the Carolinasto the Caribbean and so many places in between…we’ve traveled, and we’ve traveled well}

  1. Time Out is N.E.C.E.S.S.A.R.Y.

I’m not even going to specify who you need to send to time out. Send the kids. Send yourselves. Just take some time outs. Travel without the kids sometimes. Go out without the kids as often as you can. Put them to bed early and don’t feel guilty about it. Spending time together is so important. When we have date nights and trips without the kids, we reconnect in the best way. Do it.

{We built our first little home in 2004…and we bought our dream home in 2014}

  1. Life is better when you want the same things

I don’t care who you are, if you don’t want the same things out of your life together, you’re not going to be happy in your marriage. Listen, Craig and I are total – total – opposites. He’s the calm to my storm, the reason to my crazy, the patience to my temper, the kind one to my less-than-always-kind one. He’s the good one. But despite the fact we are total opposites in just about every which way, we want the same things in life, and we always have. It’s what makes this marriage work. Our goals, our morals, and our vision for the future is the same.

  1. Just do it

As often as possible, too. Daily is good.

  1. Respect your spouse – always

Aretha Franklin sings it, but we do it. Respect is so important. Even when we don’t agree with one another, we try hard to make sure the respect is still there. Well, I try hard. Craig is naturally kind and respectful and it doesn’t occur to him to yell or scream or harp on things. Me, on the other hand, I’m a raging B.I.T.C.H. with a hot temper. But I will always – always – respect Craig. I will never speak ill of him. I will never do more than good-naturedly complain about him to anyone else. Respect is the most important thing you can have in a marriage, and it’s the most important thing you have for your spouse.

  1. Have fun

I mean, this is obvious. But sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the mundane day-to-day stuff and forget to have fun. Even if we can’t do anything other than laugh at the fact the kids are literally insane sometimes, we have fun. I think it’s so important your spouse is the person you have the most fun with of anyone else. Craig is that for me. He said it best once. “At the end of every day, I just want to go to bed with you,” and that’s everything. We have fun, and he’s my person.

  1. It does get better over time

Like a wonderful bottle of wine or my personal fashion choices or kids over the age of 2 (or sometimes like four or whatever) marriage does get better with time. When I married Craig, I did not think I could love him more. I did not think that it was possible for it to get better, but it does. Every day in all the small moments, it gets better. It’s better when you hold your baby for the very first time. It’s better when you celebrate life’s little victories together. It’s better when your dreams come true because you both worked so hard to make sure of it. It’s better every day, but sometimes it takes paying attention to see it. It’s not always obvious.

{From our babymoon in Mexico bumpin’ with Addison in my belly on the beach to date night with Ava on the way to family photos of our family of 6 in the park…we have fun}

  1. Faith is so important

One of the most important parts of our marriage is our faith. I love that I’m married to a Godly man who prays for me and with me. I’m proud to be married to a man who has so much faith in God, someone who looks forward to going to church every week and growing in his faith. I love that he shares his faith with our kids. And I love that he is such a good role model.

Craig’s faith has made him one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met. He’s kind. He’s patient. And he is the best role model for our kids. Our girls will never settle for just anyone when they’re older. They’re going to look for a man who treats them well and with respect. And our sweet son will one day make a young lady’s father feel relieved because he is learning the best manners, and he is learning how to treat a lady like a lady.

You know that old saying about once praying for everything you have now? Keep that in mind. It’s not only a good reminder how far you’ve come together. I remember when my husband and I first got engaged, we were driving around looking at property for sale. We were building our first house while we planned our wedding, and we were driving around the neighborhood in which we currently live.

It was the neighborhood we went out of our way to drive through, to stop and dream about one day in the beautiful model homes. It was so far beyond our means to buy property and build a house in this neighborhood. But we said we’d one day live here with our family. We were 19 and 20. We bought property in another neighborhood, we built a small house that was just perfect for us, and we began our lives.

We brought all four of our beautiful babies home to the house we built when we were 19 and 20. We locked that house up regularly and traveled the world together both before and after we had kids. That was the house we wanted to come home to and fall asleep for days when we returned from Hawaii after we made the decision to try to have our first baby. It was the house I began my business in that house. I wrote for some of my biggest clients sitting at my dining room table in that 1,200-square-foot house.

And when I was 30 and the twins were born, it was time for us to leave that house behind (but not too far behind, because my mother-in-law now lives there) and move on. Our first house was finished the day before our wedding. We moved in the day we came home from our honeymoon. Nine years and four small babies later, we found our dream home in our dream neighborhood. And we’ve been happily every aftering here ever since.

When you love life, it loves you right back. It’s given us everything we ever wanted from our beautiful babies to one another to my business to a job my husband adores that allows him to work from home every single day. He gets to be here for everything. The days of him leaving before the babies are awake only to get home just in time to put them to bed are over. He’s here, he’s present, and we love it. We have a beautiful family, friends we love, a home we want to be more than anywhere else – and I don’t mean that just because we love this house. We have a home. The four walls don’t matter so much as the people inside of it, and the way we feel when we are here. It’s a feeling in our hearts, and that feeling is not even remotely possible without Craig. He’s every good thing that ever happened.

Babe, I’m thankful for you each and every day. Happy Anniversary. 13 years seems like so long, but I know we have so many more years to celebrate. Thank you. For everything. Thank you for loving me and our sweet babies. Thank you for taking care of us. Thank you for giving us all of yourself, and then continuing to give more even when you don’t think there’s anything left to give. You are the best thing in our lives. I love you.

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{My favorite picture of us. This was taken on November 17, 2007. We found out that morning we were expecting our very first baby. I was 3 weeks and 2 days pregnant and it killed me to wait that long to test. We bought these shirts at the Florida Gator game we went to that day and had someone take this picture of us. It was the start of our greatest adventure.}

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Traveling Without Your Kids: A Must Do For Your Marriage

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I’m going to be late picking the girls up from school if I don’t leave here in approximately 10 minutes, but I’m sitting here at my desk in my bathrobe eating a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter with tiny chocolate chips. And I don’t feel bad. Technically, the line doesn’t even begin moving until 3:40, which is what I’m telling myself even though I’m going inside today so I can give my oldest her gymnastics bag and grabbing my middle before we go get the twins.

I’m distracted this week, and I’m working my behind off trying to get a lot more done in a lot less time. I’m taking Friday off…which means I need to get all my normal Friday work done by Thursday. That’s easier said than done when you consider it’s around 15,000 words. I’m 100 percent so excited about the upcoming weekend!

Three glorious days at one of our favorite hotels in one of our favorite cities to celebrate our anniversary 3 weeks early! No kids. Just us. Date nights, and sleeping in, and getting some sun, and getting my husband all to myself for a few days. What else could a girl want?!

As I’m multitasking (working and making packing notes), I’m thinking about all the conversations we’ve had with people over the years anytime we plan a trip without the kids. “It must be so nice to get time away so often,” (It is). “How can you leave your kids?” (With a cheerful wave and some sweet hugs and kisses). “I’ve never understood people who leave their kids. I could never do it. More power to you,” (PSA: this is not a great veiled attempt at insinuating people who take time to focus on their marriage or not losing their ever-loving minds with their kids are less than amazing parents).

We miss our kids when we aren’t with them, but man-oh-man do we appreciate that time away! We get to come home on Sunday morning rested, fulfilled, happy, and as much better parents. I can’t parent when I’m stressed, on empty, and without some personal space.

Ladies and gentlemen – My husband and I have four kids. Free time is not something we have. We have to schedule free time – and it sometimes takes weeks to get time to do that – and we don’t get much down time. If we don’t take a break from the constant snack-making, lunch-packing, butt-wiping, booger-wiping, bath-giving, boo-boo bandaging, this food touched that food and I need all my food remade-handling, chauffeuring, homeworking-doing, sports-practicing, exhausting, beautiful moments that kind of wipe us out from time to time, things get really ugly, really quickly.

I suck at parenting when I’m exhausted. We all do. It’s why kids have naptimes and bedtimes. So we can recharge overnight and face the next day with a happy heart. And that works…but sometimes I just need to get my husband very naked and very much to myself for a few days. And I’m not even remotely ashamed of that situation.

If you are one of the many people who feels guilt at the thought of leaving your kids, I feel you, sister. I always feel guilty leaving them. But I go. They love their time with their grandparents and their cousins. They sometimes need a break from our faces, too. And that’s the pretty thing about time off. If you can find time to take off and get away from the kids, do it. The benefits are astounding.

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You Get to Have a Real Conversation

I don’t know about your household, but sometimes my husband and I try to carry on the same conversation for an hour before we finally get to the point. “So, I was thinking we could (MOMMY! Can I have some water?) Sure, honey, give me a second. Anyway, I was thinking this weekend we could take the kids down to Dis – (Daddy! Can you help me with my math homework? Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you were talking to mommy, but when you’re done can you help me with my math homework?) (Husband nods) What was I saying? Oh right, I was thinking this weekend we could…” and sometime an hour later, I might get that sentence out.

When we take a weekend without the kids, we get to talk. A lot. And we have meaningful conversation about how amazing it is to have meaningful conversation without being interrupted 87592641614 times. And the sad part is our kids know not to interrupt blatantly….but they’re constant “Excuse me’s” aren’t fun.

You Are Relaxed

What’s more relaxing than knowing you get to go to bed on your own time, you get to sleep all night, and you get to wake up on your own time? Oh, nothing. You’re also relaxed going to dinner because you don’t care if there is a small delay in your reservation. You aren’t eating on the kid timer. When you’re told it will be a few moments, you probably do what we do and say, “No rush! We’ll be at the bar!” You’re relaxed, and relaxed people are happy people.

You’re A Lot More Naked

TMI, I know. But let’s be honest. You are. And he is. And you both are. And that’s always, always, always the best. And I’ll leave it at that.

You’re Focused On One Another

I love nothing more than when my husband is fully focused on me and our time together, and it’s hard to manage that with the kids. I love being able to focus on him, listen to his stories and really hear what he’s saying. I love the focus, and that focus is good for the soul.

You Feel Closer Together

I cannot get enough of my husband when we travel. I feel so close to him when it’s just the two of us. It takes me back a decade before we had kids and we were just newlyweds jetting off to New York City one weekend, California the next weekend, and Hawaii three weeks later. That was our life, and it was so, so good. It’s a million times better now, but it does take me back to that time when we were young and carefree.

You’re A Better Parent

At the end of the day, you’re a much better parent when you have a few days away. I can always tell when my patience is waning, and I know when a timeout is necessary. Sometimes we just need to get away for a few days and recharge. We need to just be us and be reminded how much fun we have. We need to be reminded that we actually do miss our little monsters when we’re away, and we need to be reminded of the little moments so we get to go home and be much better parents to four much better kids (Kidding…the grandparents come stay with our kids when we travel and they don’t know how to pronounce “NO” so our kids are basically evil when we return).

For example, when we wake up in a hotel and room service delivers our coffee, we get to sit on our balcony and overlook the city or the ocean or wherever we are, talk, drink in silence, read the news, savor the sweetness. But we also realize that those sweet little faces that usually climb up next to us on the couch to cuddle when we drink our coffee at home are really sweet moments (because Lord knows in the moment we’re just like “Omg. Could you take up any more of my space?).

You’re A Better Couple

I don’t know about y’all, but I really like my husband – a lot. And I’m pretty sure he mostly likes me, too. Save for about a week every month, but what’s a girl to do about attitude problems when her hormones are like whoa and she has four kids and all that? Anyway, I really like Craig. And I like spending time with him. We are a better couple when we have a few days to ourselves. He makes me laugh. My cheeks always hurt by the end of our trip from laughing so much. He’s always so thoughtful in making reservations at my favorite restaurants, taking my Insta photos, shopping with me, and he always defers to me when it’s time to choose the bottle of wine we order – and I never have to compromise on that. It’s nice.

We are a much better couple when we have time alone, and that makes our marriage that much better. We might be together 24 hours a day save for pick up and drop off at school during the week, but we still need that quality time to focus on our marriage and nothing but one another. And we are so much better for it.

Did I mention all the nakedness?

Friday Favorite: Working Out to Feel Oh-So Good

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Happy Friday, babes!

Isn’t April just gorgeous? I love this time of year in Florida when the temperature is warm during the day but cool in the mornings and evenings…the open doors and windows, the late nights outside, and the fun we have with the people we love the most. Halfway through the month and the Raiford household is in a good mood. It’s been a busy but productive month, and everyone has been in such a good mood the past few weeks.

I think it has something to do with the fact that we’ve been so active, and my husband and I have been making a major effort to work out together most days. We’ve been focused a lot on working out this month just to make some healthier changes in my husband’s life. I find the time every day to exercise, but he often finds himself deep in a project with work and doesn’t move from his desk all day long.

He’s been making an effort to go running during lunch, and I’ve been joining him even on days I go to yoga first! On days I don’t have yoga, he’s been making it a point to ask me to wait to go to the gym so he can go with and work out during his lunch break. It’s been amazing challenging one another and seeing him working so hard on his health – I like it a lot.

Because I’ve been talking about it lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions in my inbox about my workouts, our workouts, and things of that nature. I thought I’d take some time to share why I love working out, what I do, and answer some of your questions.

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How often do you work out?

5-6 days a week almost every week, but never fewer than 4 days a week. I do two days a week at yoga for an hour, and the other days I spend at the gym doing a variety of things to keep my body in shape. I don’t feel good if I workout fewer than 4 days a week, and I really don’t love only getting in a four-day workout if our schedules are hectic. I love to workout daily. If I have 10 extra minutes, I will run or go to the gym and literally workout hardcore for 10 minutes – because it makes me feel better.

What do you do?

Again, two days of yoga – but it’s not regularly yoga. My instructor is hardcore, and she pushes us. Our yoga class usually involves 20-30 minutes of challenging stretches and core workouts on the floor and another 30 minutes of sun salutations made exceptionally challenging. Most of us are sweating, panting, and in LOVE with her classes. I’m challenged hardcore each and every class, and I love it.

The rest of the week I hit the gym. I use the weight machines for 10-15 minutes, and I always do a half hour on either the treadmill or the elliptical to go with it. Lately, I’ve been running with Craig. I’m not a runner, so I’m learning, but it’s been surprisingly easy. I guess I’m in shape because I don’t feel like I’m dying. Yesterday I did 2 miles in 20 minutes without stopping or slowing down. I’m slow, but I literally just started running a week ago!

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How do you find the motivation?

Listen, I’m not motivated to get up and add something else to my schedule every day. Our kids have hectic schedules, I have a business to run, and my husband and I can’t always get our schedules to line up. However, I always find the motivation to feel good. I motivate myself by reminding myself how good I feel and how much I love the energy I have when I exercise. That’s my motivation. Additionally, I’m vain enough to realize that I’ve been pregnant three times and given birth to four kids and I have a great body – and I like that.

How do you make exercise more fun?

I don’t do things I don’t like. It’s pretty simple. If I try something and I don’t like it, I don’t do it. For example, I *HATE* Bodypump, so I don’t go to that class. I also find that I don’t care much for Spin – though I think I could change my mind about that one. Exercise is fun when it’s something I enjoy. Yoga, for instance, is my favorite. I also love to work out on machines that allow me to challenge myself. I always want to go further, faster, and better than I did the last time.

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I find challenges make me love working out. Lately, I’ve been running with my husband. I’m not as fast as he is, but I find that I’m more willing to run longer and without stopping when he’s there. I mean, I don’t want to be the first one to stop, so I push myself to keep going when I don’t want to just so I ‘win’ because I love a good, healthy competition. We have fun together, so that makes it fun.

I also wear fun workout gear. One of my favorite things to do is find the most outrageous yoga pants possible because they make me happy. Bright colors and fun patterns certainly put me in a good mood. It’s impossible to put on a pair of bold and bright yoga pants and not feel excited about my workout. It’s simple, really.

Do you only exercise?

No. We also eat well and healthy. I’d say 90 percent of what we eat is good, but we aren’t above a great cocktail or dessert – or bacon. We just don’t eat poorly often. A typical day in our house is healthy. I, for example, eat the same thing almost every day.

Breakfast/Lunch (I cannot eat early in the morning. I’m not hungry, it gives me a stomachache, and it makes me ravenous the rest of the day if I do eat breakfast) is at 11 am: 1 orange, half cup of Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and a quarter cup Publix granola from the produce section (omg, it’s so good), 2 scrambled eggs.

Snack is at 2ish: A tablespoon of creamy peanut butter with a teaspoon of tiny chocolate chips.

Dinner is around 5:30 pm: Always a baked chicken, fresh salmon, or filet Friday with double veggies and no starches. We find a way to make our favorite unhealthy foods healthier, too. Craig makes a killer homemade pizza on a thin crust, we love healthy chicken piccata, and any wheat pasta with roasted veggies on top is my favorite.

I find that eating later in the morning means I’m actually hungry, and it curbs my appetite the rest of the day. I also drink like 89 cups of water a day – and black coffee all morning.

{We ran a 5k with our 9-year-old daughter last weekend. The first picture is us with her after we finished. She walked and ran the mile, we both ran the 5k. It was my first time running a 5k (I’ve walked plenty of them…) and I finished in 35 minutes. The second picture is my husband and I before the run….and right after I put my arm around him and asked him to take a photo only to realize I put my arm around a teenage boy and got awfully comfortable with him because Craig had walked away! It was hilarous, and now he’s our new friend, and he snapped this picture!}

At the end of the day…

I am not an expert or a health professional or a coach or whatever. However, I do love to work out and I do get a lot of questions, so I’m just answering them and hopefully motivating someone to get up and get moving.

My main goal is to stay healthy and look great. I love to feel great, and I want to be sure my husband is as healthy as possible so I can keep him longer. We’re celebrating 13 years of marriage next month and 17 years together this year….and I want to multiply the amazing years we’ve had already by a million. If I can’t get him healthier and I can’t stay healthy, that might be a challenge.

I love to exercise because I love how I feel. I love being in a good mood. I love being stress-free, and I love feeling more relaxed and energized. I also love that I like how I feel in my clothes, and I love never being ashamed of putting on a two-piece and going in public. I just like feeling good.

 

**When I don’t want to work out or stop my work-flow, I remind myself that I’m going to be furious with myself later if I don’t work out. I’m always right, and I always feel amazing after a workout. Being strong is so important. 

***One of the best things about working out with your spouse, too, is how good it feels to challenge one another. It’s good for you. 

12 Fun Facts About My Marriage on Our 12th Wedding Anniversary

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May 15, 2005 is the day my husband and I exchanged vows in front of God and 130 of our closest friends and family members. May 15, 2005 was 12 years ago. Twelve. I can’t even believe it’s been that long. In all honesty, I feel as though it was just yesterday. Cliché. I know, but it’s true. I can’t believe we’ve gone from newlyweds to long-time married people with four kids who’ve been together almost half our lives at this point. It’s amazing, but time flies when you’re having fun.

I know I talk a lot about my husband, but there are just so many amazing things to say about him. Everyone who knows Craig will tell you he is the kindest, most selfless, most beautiful person on the inside and the out. He is the kind of person who makes everyone around him just a little better. He’s a gentleman to the core. I am so proud to call him my husband, and I am so proud our little boy gets to grow up with such a lovely example of what a real man looks like. I am just as proud our three girls get to grow up with such a shining example of what to look for and expect in the men they’ll one day marry and begin their own families with.

I could talk about Craig all day. He truly inspires me to be a better person, and he inspires everyone around him to be better. He’s just a gentle soul with a beautiful heart. So kind and thoughtful, always looking out for us first, and he’s always thinking of others long before he ever thinks of himself.

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Let me share an example with you. Last year, he left the bank he’d been with for more than 15 years to make a major, exciting, and wonderful career move. When he left, several weeks of his vacation was still unused. The bank cashes out unused vacation time and pays the employee the cash value of it, but my husband made a request that they not do that. Rather than taking thousands of dollars in cash, he wanted to know if there was a way he could gift his remaining vacation time to a woman he’d worked with many years. Her husband had been recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and he thought giving her his paid vacation time to use so she could spend more time with her husband was a far more valuable use of that money.

When her husband passed recently, she sent my husband a lovely note thanking him for that thoughtful gift; she said that because of him, she was able to spend the last several weeks of his life by his side without worrying about work or money. What he did was selfless, kind, and beautiful; and it’s just Craig.

All the sweet mushy stuff aside, today is our twelfth wedding anniversary, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share with you all 12 things about our marriage you didn’t know…which I know seems impossible given how much of our life I share on social media.

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  1. We are kind-of high school sweethearts

I say kind-of, because I’m not his! We met on a blind date on November 2, 2001. He was a freshman in college, and I was a senior in high school. We met that night, and we’ve been together ever since. I consider us high school sweethearts, because we were both 18 and he was mine.

  1. We both knew right away

The night I met Craig, I knew I’d marry him. He said the same thing, but that he was terrified I didn’t feel the same…and it’s all my pesky little brother’s fault. This was back in the day of cell phones being relatively new, and my parents weren’t on board with that yet. I was probably the only high school student without one at the time! Craig called me the morning after we met and my brother answered the phone. He’s 3 years younger than me, has a mission in life to make me miserable, and he’s nowhere near as funny as he thinks (love you, jerk-face!). Anyway, he told Craig he’d tell me he called, and he didn’t. So he called again the next day, and my brother told him he told me he called – he did not – and made Craig think I wasn’t interested. Fortunately, when he didn’t call after a few days, I decided to call him and ask him what was up with that. We exchanged stories, I confronted my brother (who thought it was hilarious) and that was that.

  1. We got engaged at 19

Actually, I believe Craig was 20 when he proposed. He asked me to marry him on May 25, 2003. We were on a date weekend in Jacksonville, and we had dinner at the Chart House. I was 19, he was 20, and we’d been together about a year and-a-half. After dinner, we decided to walk along the river when we saw a fountain and thought it would make a great photo background. I handed another couple my camera and asked them to take a photo. They said yes, and I posed. I just remember thinking, “What is Craig doing tying his shoe right now? He can’t wait until we are done with our photo since these people are just standing here waiting to take one?!” It never even occurred to me he was wearing dress shoes that don’t tie, and I didn’t realize what was happening until the woman holding my camera started to scream.

That’s when I realized he was down on one knee with a diamond ring asking me to marry him. I have no idea what he said, but I do have a photo of the exact moment it happened.

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  1. We waited to get married

We decided to wait two years after we got engaged to get married. We wanted to get life in order, which meant school and our first house. We began building our first house in 2004, and we wanted to be able to furnish every room with brand new furniture, and make it our own. We decided to use those two years to do a lot of saving for all those expensive things…and a super honeymoon!

  1. We don’t do time apart

We moved in together six months into our relationship when I graduated high school, and we’ve spent a grand total of 4 nights apart in our almost 16 years. Three of those were in the past year when Craig had a work trip in Phoenix and I had Fashion Week events in NYC (and I took his mom and my aunt with me!). To quote Craig, “At the end of the day, I just want to get into bed with my wife. If you aren’t with me, I don’t want to be there,” which should tell you how we felt about those nights apart.

  1. We are total opposites

I’m an irrational, anxious, perfectionist. Craig is a calm, wise, thoughtful soul. I need him. A lot. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d be in prison for something entirely ridiculous, like road rage or running someone over with my cart for not answering my 739359 excuse me’s in the supermarket when they park in the middle of the aisle and walk away from their cart.

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  1. Craig is a much better parent than I

He has more patience. He’s the primary diaper changer, the get up at night when someone needs something (which is maybe five or six times a year, so don’t feel too sorry for him). He is the boo-boo fixer, the bath giver (I have a thing about grout and bathtubs that freaks me out and makes me gag), and the lunchbox-packer. I’m the reading teacher, the game school clothes picker-outer and their personal chauffeur when it’s time for school in the morning.

  1. We are super competitive

Like, super competitive. We compete with one another about everything from who has the longest golf drive (me) to who can come up with the most facts about our marriage to who can get undressed and into the shower fastest. We compete to see who can throw a baseball faster, who drives better, who is funnier. We’ve been known to race through the house to get to the bathroom faster than the other so we don’t have to use the girls’ bathroom downstairs or the twin’s bathroom upstairs(have I mentioned our 6-year-old is a huge fan of “Shaking it off” when she goes potty, and then sliding across the seat to stand and wipe? Yeah…no one wants to use her bathroom). We are competitive…and we love it.

  1. We are food snobs (and wine snobs)

Big time. Like super snobby snobs. And we are totally okay with that. Unless we are with other people, it’s highly unusual for us to have a dinner bill that’s less than $300. We love good food and good bottles of wine.

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  1. We never go to bed separately

In almost 16 years, we have never once gone to bed at different times. We get into bed at the same time every night. After we fall asleep on the couch for about an hour, and finally drag ourselves to bed – because we are never more comfortable than we are at that moment in time.

  1. We really do have the most fun together

I love hearing other people tell us we look like we are on our honeymoon. That makes me feel so good, and I’m convinced it’s because we spend so much time laughing and talking when we are out. Our conversation flows so nicely, and let’s face it – we are both hilarious. I’m sure we are the only people who think so, but we’re pretty amused by us.

  1. We ignore one another pretty much all day

Seriously. He sits 3 feet away from me in our shared home office, and he has for almost a year now. We spend every minute (save for when we pick the kids up and take them to school or practice) together of every day, every week, every month, but we don’t really speak to one another all day. He’s working. I’m working. Other than a kiss when we walk by or a coffee refill and the once or twice a week we find time to tear away from our desks to have lunch together, we don’t really speak until after 5 pm. We might be workaholics.

We aren’t perfect. We have our moments, but we’ve learned a lot in our 12 years of marriage. We’ve learned that our problems are so first world. We’ve learned that we have it good, and we have no real legit complaints. We’ve learned that the honeymoon feeling doesn’t go away as your relationship gets longer. We’ve learned to grow together. We’ve learned to appreciate one another, to cheer one another on, and to be each other’s biggest supporter and best friend. We’ve learned a lot and we aren’t done yet.