Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Real People in Love: Suze & Shawn

In the year that I've been featuring Real people in Love I've learned tons about love in the real world and how to make a relationship work. I've featured people that are dating & couples that have been married for several years. I've learned that no matter how old or what the circumstance is everyone has relationship knowledge to pass on and it's usually a good idea to take that knowledge and run with it.
This week's Real People in Love is a couple who are closing in on ten years and have plenty to show for it. Suze is the woman behind Girl Wizard, where she blogs about her lovely life with Shawn and their daughter.

How old are you and Shawn?
Suze is 37, Shawn is 39.

How long have you been together?
9 years

When's your anniversary?
May 25

What are your occupations?
Shawn is a Senior Software Engineer, Suze is a novelist; both are full time parents.

How did you meet?
Shawn and I met when I was a freshman and he was a junior in college. He was the President of the Society of Physics Students and I was Vice-President. At the time, we were just friends with a ton of respect for one another.

How did you get engaged?
We went our separate ways for eight years but were "reintroduced" by a former Physics professor and mentor through email. We were living in two different cities at the time but Shawn pursued me with zeal. He flew into town every other weekend and it took us about six weeks after we were reintroduced to get engaged. I had never felt so desired! Shawn had just had his doctorate in Physics and had secured a very good job and I was working as an English and Theatre teacher at a private academy. He whisked me away to another city and another life--- it was all very whirlwind!

Tell us about your wedding day (not necessarily elements but feelings too)
We actually married in the courts, first. We were engaged so it wasn't complete whimsy but we were in his apartment on April Fool's Day and he turns and says to me, "You wanna get married, tomorrow?" And I looked at him and said, "Why the hell not?" Best decision I ever made. Hands down. He went into work the next day and told his boss he was going to take off early because he was getting married.

Define Love:
When we were first engaged, Shawn wrote me several incredible letters-- by hand. In them, he wrote of love as being a decision you make every day. Experience has certainly borne that out. Every day of our marriage Shawn has been understanding, patient, quick to see the best in things, a protector-- even a mentor. The amount of respect and gratitude I feel for my husband simply has no bounds. There is a lot of hype surrounding infatuation, ardor, the kind of love one might do something crazy for. But the craziest thing a person can do for another is to love them quietly and faithfully-- every day-- through the endless Saturday morning brunches, oil changes, new water heaters, garage-door fiascoes (we recently had ours replaced,) making sure our daughter-- the apple of our eyes-- is fed, clothed, listened to and valued.

What's the toughest part of being in a committed relationship?
In my opinion (Suze), the toughest part of being in a committed relationship is just growing the hell up. There comes a point in every marriage, no matter how good-- and believe me, I could not have married a more excellent man-- when you're forced to face all of the romantic, idealistic notions you fostered as a child. When you recognize them for what they are-- fantasy-- and then recognize the tremendous gift you've been given--reality--reconciling the two and coming out on the other end strengthened the bond between two people like little else.

What is the best part?
Crikey! How long is your program? :)
There are innumerable beauties to being in a committed relationship-- not the least of which is feeling safe, accepted. Fought for. I feel like, every day, Shawn goes out and fights for me and our daughter. And every night, he comes back to the haven we have created together and leaves the cares of the world at the door. Our home is incredibly stable and harmonious, and I think we have both made that a tremendous priority. We don't yell at one another, we don't insult one another. Over the years, we've fostered an unspoken rule of mutual respect and edification and, just like any habit, it's become second-nature.

What is the best day you and Chris have had together?
I did not want a C-section. In my imagination, I railed against it like nothing else. In the end, I had a C-section. The hard days of recuperation in the hospital were fraught with physical exhaustion, unprecedented amounts of wildly undesired drugs in my system and the cold, stone fer of brand-new parenthood. We were in the hospital the second day after our daughter was born and Shawn was encouraging me to walk around after having been sliced open against my will. My mother was in the room with our little girl, the staff had been trying to force-feed formula into her with about fifty kazillion samples of Enfamil that they threw in our faces every six seconds-- I was adamant to breastfeed-- and nurses were coming in around the clock to check my vitals and make sure I didn't get anything like rest (unheard of.) 
Shawn was holding my arm as we walked around the hospital corridor. I had been a runner all of my life but those first, incredibly hard days of walking after surgery were surreal. I was literally taking baby steps. Shawn turned to me and said very simple words, "I am so proud of how hard you're trying." He knew I was heartbroken over the way things had come down because I had ranted against C-sections for the duration of the pregnancy. That moment, just learning how to walk again, with Shawn at my side, is forever burned on my heart.

What makes you different from other couples?
What makes us different from other couples, let's see. I think roles are slightly upturned in our relationship, but who knows? The division of labor in marriage is a very personal thing-- varying from couple to couple. But in our marriage, I handle all of the household finances, bill-paying, etc. and Shawn does at least half of the cooking, if not more. Bit non-traditional, perhaps? Lemme tell you, though, he is one bad-ass cook. The man makes me melt with the plates he sets before me on a regular old Sunday afternoon.

What is the most essential element of making it?
The 80/20 rule. In any relationship, there will be at least 20% about the other person you would change if you could. Screw that 20%-- leave it alone! Focus on the 80% that made you fall in love with that person. Practice acceptance. And if there's some small thing that is meaningful to that other person, even if it's not particularly meaningful to you, make a big deal out of it. Every year on my birthday, Shawn makes me cinnamon rolls with hot pink candles. It's something I asked for a long time ago and the guy just gets it done, year in and year out. It's something silly but it holds meaning for me, and he sees to it that I get my cinnamon rolls with hot pink candles. Sometimes, it's the simple things. Often it's the simple things.

What is your favorite thing to do together?
Just being in each other's presence. We get along really, really well. And smart people jokes. I mean the man has his doctorate in Physics, for criminy's sake! :)

Do you have a song?
This is funny because Shawn's taste in music and mine was so incredibly different when we first got married but it has sort of merged in some ways as the years have gone by. We don't have a song but I think we've constantly discovering stuff we both like since his taste is so eclectic. He's always burning CDs for me and I never know if I'm gonna pop the Doobie Brothers or Mike Patton or Queen with Paul Rodgers or Billy Joel in my car. For my birthday this year he bought me, among other things, a Beatles compilation-- which I found to be a really cool gift. Every day's an adventure--musically-- in our house.

What are your hopes for the future?
To keep doing what we've been doing. If I want to speak specifically, it's to ensure our daughter continues to thrive t home and at school and, for me, to get published. I have my eye on the prize as a career novelist and, bottom line, I would love to someday support his dream as he has supported mine. Shawn works in software development but his heart is in humanitarian efforts. If I were to someday be able to bring in the lion's share of our expenses through my writing, then he would be free to follow his heart. He's already enabled me to do that by supporting me as I've written and "perfected" a trilogy these last three years. I think a writer absolutely needs that kind of faith from a spouse. He's read every word I've written-- numerous drafts! I just want to do right by him as he's done by me.

Anything else the world needs to know about love?
For some, it start out with a bang. For others, it starts out as a humble seed. If you water it, give it sunlight, foot rubs, laughter, traditions, imbue it with personal and sometimes private-- just between the two of you-- meaning, it grows into something you never would have expected: a beautiful life.

If you'd like to participate in the Real People in Love series just shoot me an email!


Alexa said...

Quite possibly my favorite of the Real People posts. I am in awe.

And I will be tucking several bits of her wisdom away for my own marriage one day!

As always, thanks for the inspiration :)

Suze said...

Thank you so much for posting our story. It was a joy for me to participate and Alexa's comment, above, has really filled my heart.

A beautiful day to all!

Amy said...

Couldn't have said it better myself Alexa. In awe. Definitely the best one I've ever read - not talking down the other couples, but you can palpably feel the love, respect and wonderful life these two share. That C-Section story brought tears to my eyes.

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

What a wonderful story and a great couple!

MandeeFoFandee said...

wow, this entire post gave me goosebumps! what a wise woman and what a special relationship to show to the world. the love & respect they have for one another leaks out through the screen. definitely taking some tips from Suze! :)

M Pax said...

Was fun to learn more about you and your hubby, Suze. Love is grand and a lot of work. :) I think the payoff is worth it.

Deidre said...

I was the secretary of my SPS club :) I am glad to see there are other physics nerds out there :)

Suze said...

Deidre, how totally cool! It'd be a riot to have you over for coffee, girl. We could talk non-locality, entanglement and the double slit experiment. ;)

la petite coquine said...

This was such an absolutely wonderful post about a beautiful relationship! Her story about Shawn's support after her C-section still has me in tears!

Kristin said...

What a beautiful couple! Lovely feature!

Kari Marie said...

A beautiful picture of how wonderful relationships can be.

sparkedlove11 said...

One of my fav Real People! I love everything she had to say!

Manzanita said...

I came here to read about Suse's romantic life. I also found something very real and long-lasting.
I will return to your interesting blog.

Krystal said...

what a beautiful couple!! i love the 'define love' answer. and all of them actually :)

SP said...

Her talents as a novelist definitely come through in this post. It's beautifully written, and I felt the harmonious, loving vibe of their marriage.

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful. I loved the 80/2o rule because it is just so true. And the last tidbit on love almost made me tear up.