Dan and Sarah met back in college at Robert Morris University. At the time, Sarah not only didn't even like Dan, but she was also dating another guy. However, Dan knew right away that there was something special about Sarah, so he fought hard and he won her heart. After dating for awhile, he whisked her away to a romantic lodge where he had arranged a candlelit dinner for two. There he had hidden an ornament on a Christmas tree in the cabin. When Sarah found the ornament, she read the words "He put a ring on it" and turned to find Dan on one knee, asking her to be his forever.
Today, these two are celebrating TWO years of marriage. And what a whirlwind the past 730 days have been. Right before their wedding, Dan and Sarah bought their first home together and have spent the past couple of making it their own, doing renovations that rival anything you've seen on HGTV. They are surrounded by incredible friends and family in the nearby area, had their first niece, and got a beautiful dog, Roman. This is all on top of both working full time jobs and pursuing hobbies outside of their careers, such as soccer and travel.
As it is with many couples, this lightning speed pace of life can too easily cause us to become like ships passing in the night. Connection can become all but non existent and difficult conversations can continually be put on the back burner (or not addressed at all) if we are not intentional about carving out time together, and finding daily ways to keep choosing each other. It is rare that you get to hear about the intricacies of day to day life and the real struggles that inevitably pop up in marriage, regardless of how 'perfect' two people are together. Dan and Sarah have shared strategies and habits they have implemented to help work through some of life's tough conversations and continue to love and pursue each other well past their wedding day.
Re-live the beautiful highlight of the day Dan and Sarah became husband and wife, and read on for the challenging, honest and inspiring insight into marriage they have so graciously shared.
"Marriage is an adventure and a true learning experience. All things that can't be 'told;' they must be 'learned.' You really can't understand or grasp certain situations until you are in them and that is especially true with marriage." - Sarah
What has been the best part of marriage for you?
We waited until marriage to move in together so being able to get to know each other on an entirely different level was exciting. Although it posed challenges as we learned each other's quirks, we finally got to spend our free time together, curl up together at night and begin our days in each other's company. Knowing when we got home we would see each other made the days go a little bit faster!
What has the most surprising thing about marriage (good or bad)?
Marriage does not sustain itself by just having wedding bands on our ring fingers. It takes a conscious effort to nourish and build the relationship. It is so easy to get into a personal, singular routine and ultimately become distracted from your relationship with your partner. There have been times where a week or two goes by and we've had realizations that we haven't had a real conversation other than who's letting the dog out after work! Trying to stay in a consistent groove and communicate regularly, as simple as it sounds, can be tough when we let life get in the way.
What has been the most difficult part of being married?
See above! Also, combining two separate lives and agendas into one household. Agreeing on a path to the future financially and spiritually, and making sure we set ourselves up for success.
This has been one of the biggest discussions for us.
Dan is non-denominational Christian and Sarah is Catholic. Obviously we knew this going into the marriage and decided we will make it work considering they have a similar focus. We got married in the Catholic Church because the Catholic sacraments mean a lot to Sarah. No big deal for Dan. Then, there came a time for us to have the 'how will we raise our children' talk and it was a tough conversation to have. Granted, having children is a couple years away, it was a constant thought in Sarah's mind.
We currently live in the city, and if we choose to stay in the city, our children would have to go to Pittsburgh public school. We agreed that this is not the route we want to take so we had/have to come up with a plan to help ease my mind. Do we focus our children on Catholicism (sending our children to Catholic school) or Christianity (sending or children to a Christian school) or moving (sending our children to a reputable public school)? It seems silly that we put so much focus on it, and in the end, we both agreed that we want our children to be exposed to both religions, but they have to have a path; a focus. And, if we have to choose a faith-based school, we have to agree on the direction we want to send them in.
So, what did we decide? Because Catholicism is very structured (the school system was wonderful and we both agree that structure is important for children) and the sacraments mean a lot to Sarah, we agreed that we will send our children to Catholic school and alternate Sunday's between the Catholic Church and the Christian Church. Dan's mom is very active in her Church and we are certain our children will be exposed the Christian faith regularly. So we have a plan, but truthfully, who knows where will be in 6 months, let alone 3-5 years when we really have to start thinking about school for our children. Either way, we have had many discussions and came up with the best possible scenario in our eyes.
Don't avoid these conversations! Even if it doesn't affect you now (although it may and one of you may be thinking about it like Sarah was), it will eventually; and to have already set some framework will help when the time comes for you to make these decisions.
What has helped you to overcome or work through said difficulty?
We have had many many talks! A lot of times we try to put ourselves in each other's shoes to gain a better understanding of where we are coming from. Marriage is one big compromise! As long as we allow ourselves to listen and welcome each other's ideas, wants and needs, coming up with a solution isn't impossible. And hopefully, if you agreed to get married, you're already somewhat on the same page, which we were! We just had to and continue to evolve with what life throws at us and adapt accordingly.
What's your favorite (or go to) date night?
This question actually sparked quite the conversation for us. Because we are constantly doing housework or with friends and family, we don't go on 'regular' dates other than to dinner occasionally. (We like to think trips to Home Depot and the dog park count!). We do try to make sure we have a couple evenings out of every month to focus on us - even if we end up staying at home!
What has been the most helpful thing you've implemented or consistently do to help you stay connected?
We try make a few things happen each month to make sure we are connected:
1. We each plan a surprise activity each month
2. Every Sunday, we plan the menu for the week and have 2-3 sit down meals with each other a week
3. Have a budget meeting for an hour once a month
4. Go up to bed an hour or two early once a week with no electronics and just talk
5. Call each other at lunch every day to see how each other's days are going
Anything else (advice/insight/encouragement) you can share with other couples entering into marriage or already married?
Even if you don't go on dates regularly (like us) or have extravagant dinners, etc., make the little, daily things you do for each other be the stuff you cherish. Be playful and goofy, and remember not to take life too seriously with each other. There will be hard times when you'll need your relationship to be secure and full of love and trust; and in the end, all of that grows from your daily lives together.
For instance, when Sarah goes on a work trip, Dan always sprays a t-shirt with his cologne and sneaks it into her bag. When Sarah gets home, and he knows she will likely be exhausted, there is a pillow and blanket set up on the couch for her. And when Dan gets home from his soccer games, Sarah always has a chocolate milk waiting at the door for him and fixes him dinner or a snack while he showers. Those are just a couple examples of the daily things that mean so much to each of us.
We are so grateful for the transparency above. The beautiful reminder to not take for granted the simple perks of doing life together. To not avoid the tough conversations (especially being proactive about the future!), and do so by having an open mind and seeking to understand the other's perspective, not just fighting for your own. And being intentional about time together (occasionally unplugged!) each month, outside of daily chores and demands.
Thank you Dan and Sarah for sharing your life and experience thus far! You guys are amazing. We cannot wait to apply some of what you've shared to our own marriage, as we are now looking forward to a few more surprises this month, and a few nights going to bed earlier, with no phones!
What is something Dan and Sarah have shared that stands out to you?
Is there anything they've done that you'd like to try in your own relationship?
How do you carve out time weekly or monthly to make sure you are staying connected with your spouse and fighting the pull to co-exist?