Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesdays are for Lovers: Olivia & Shawn

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I know I just introduced the idea yesterday, but I got a decent response from you all for the "Tuesdays are for Lovers" series, and I also got a quick reply from a few bloggers to be featured posters. I would like to introduce you to the first guest blogger, Olivia!

Olivia and Shawn have known each other for fourteen years, been a couple for twelve years, and married for almost eleven of those years! They have two beautiful daughters, Isabelle Grace (7) and Brees Elizabeth (5 months). Olivia blogs over at Soul Singing Liv, so you should definitely check it out! I think you're really going to enjoy Olivia and Shawn's story -- it's very touching!

Alright, so set the stage for us. Tell us a bit about your lives before the two of you got together:

Shawn grew up in Arizona and California, an artistic and charismatic skater punk who rocked the guitar and ruled over the football field. I grew up in a very small town on the bayou in Louisiana, a free spirited social butterfly who danced my way through school surrounded by an amazing group of friends. We both come from divorced families and humble beginnings, qualities that have made us very strong and determined human beings.

How did you and your partner meet? What was your first impression of each other?

Shawn and I both joined the United States Navy after high school, searching for travel, adventure, and, of course, college money. I was one of the first women ever assigned to the ship we served on, the USS Chancellorsville. On one very special day in the fall of 1997, our history making group of women marched down a long pier in San Diego, CA and joined the ranks of men. I met Shawn while touring the ship and we were introduced by our shared supervisor. The men were less than excited to have us on board as the presence of women seriously cramped their masculine style. They all avoided us like the plague. We eventually grew on them, however, and became one big, dysfunctional sea faring family. One month after meeting each other, Shawn approached me with a folded up piece of paper with his phone number on it and an invitation to join him for dinner at his apartment. He was so sweet and vulnerable, visibly nervous. His tough guy image was left behind and I saw a different side of him that day, a softer side that appealed to me. However, I was only 18 years old and not ready to date someone I knew that I had the potential to have deep feelings for. So, I politely declined and told him that I thought we should just focus on building our friendship. He still jokes that I broke his heart that day. We spent the next two years building a very strong bond, connecting over our similar values, our love for music, and our shared hopes for the future.

When did the feelings for each other start to grow? How did you know you wanted to be with this person?

In the summer of 1999, our ship went to the Persian Gulf for 6 months. We were able to see some of the most beautiful and exotic places and experience amazing adventures. Shawn and I began spending more time together, meeting on the upper decks of the ship at night, gazing at the stars and sharing our deepest thoughts. He understood me, accepted me, listened to me. He made me feel special and appreciated. Every one around us knew the truth: that we were meant for each other. My friends would comment on how he looked at me, how he was always watching after me with love in his eyes. One night, while walking through the city of Dubai, he reached down and took my hand. I remember how perfect it felt: my hand nestled next to his. We started writing each other little love notes and passing them through our friends. He made me mixed tapes of songs he thought I would like. And it became more and more obvious, that I loved him deeply. That he was the man who was made for me. The perfect blend of masculinity and sensitivity. And so I allowed myself to open up to the possibility of giving him my heart.

Continuing the story, how did the two of you “officially” become a couple?

It was the Fourth of July 1999 and we were celebrating on the beaches of Dubai. I had recently ended a relationship with someone whom I had loved very much but knew that I could not continue to be with due to my developing feelings for Shawn. As the night ended, Shawn walked me home and we sat outside my room on the ship. He said, "Liv, I have waited for you for two years. Are you ready to be my girl now? I want to walk this earth with you." We have been walking this earth together ever since. I could see his heart through his eyes that night, I could see the intensity of his love and devotion for me and there was no more denying how much my love was reciprocated. We spent two years getting to know each other, building a solid foundation for our love to stand on. And now, it was time for us to walk side by side, hand in hand, and take the world on. Together.

Where are the two of you at in your relationship now?

We have been married for almost 11 years!!!! We have two beautiful little girls and live in the little town on the bayou where I grew up. We own our own home and love nothing more than spending time in our backyard, surrounded by friends and family. We have been through many ups and downs but have never given up on each other or our love. I respect and love him more today than I ever could have imagined. We are still learning about each other, even after all these years.

Alright, spill for us some of your favorite things about your partner! Do you know their favorite things about you?

My favorite thing about Shawn is his passion and energy for life. He is so ALIVE. His charm fills up any room and his grace is a gift to all who know him. He wastes no time being afraid or worrying and has a strong sense of faith in who he is and where he is going. He has never met someone he couldn't befriend and never passes up a challenge in life. I also adore his smirky smile, his ability to pick up a guitar and play any song I ask of him, and his beautiful, sweet voice.

I would say that his favorite qualities in me are my honesty, my loyalty to those I love, and my nurturing nature. I am fiercely protective of him and I think that he feels safe in knowing that I do, and always will, have his back.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your relationship? How have you worked through them?

We have faced many challenges in our 12 years together. We were separated from each other for 9 months when his enlistment in the Navy ended before mine. We have struggled financially as we've both pursued our degrees, we've gone through my parent's divorce, losing loved ones, job changes, moving, and changing roles. Shawn and I have been together since we were very young so we have seen each other grow up. We have watched each other evolve as people and sometimes that evolution found us on different pages. But, we always end up back on the same level by communicating, understanding and respecting our different view points, and reminding each other of the most important thing: LOVE. Love is all you need. We are not perfect people and we both make mistakes and sometimes you have to love each other for your imperfections. Your relationship will only be stronger for it.

What’s one of your favorite memories with your partner?

There are so many. When I close my eyes and really think back, though, I remember a day several years ago when we went to a small lake and spent the day on a paddle boat. The sun was shining on our shoulders and the air was crisp and clean. We stayed on the water for hours, drifting from one bank to the other, talking about any and everything. We had no agenda, no worries about bills or children. For that afternoon, we just enjoyed each other and our conversation. It was the most peaceful day. Those are always my favorite memories with Shawn, the simplest times, the days where we are just ourselves, living in the moment, enjoying the love that God has so graciously blessed us with.

Based on your experiences, what’s some advice you have for other people in a relationship right now?

Communication is everything. Both members of a relationship must feel that they have a voice and that their voice is being heard. Learn to laugh in the face of struggle and remember that the glass is always half full. Spend more time appreciating your blessings rather than always asking for more. It's the little things that matter most in love so remember to leave little love notes to each other, say thank you, and go the extra mile. Pray together and ask God for patience and strength. As our lives get more full and more responsibility lands on our plates, we really have to make the extra effort these days to make each other feel special. Spending quality time away from work and stress and to-do lists is essential to keeping the fire alive.

What words do you have for friends who are still single?

Be patient. Decided what you want out of life and love and then accept nothing less. Be willing to compromise and communicate and put someone else before yourself. Make yourself happy first, become comfortable in your own skin. When you are healthy in your mind and heart, you will be more able to give of yourself to another.

Any other fun information or stories you want to share?

Only that life is a constant journey, you never stop learning. Shawn and I are still constantly amazed with each other and the lessons we have to share with one another. Our lives have changed so much since it was just the two of us, living in a tiny apartment in New Orleans, wrapped up in each other and our love. Now, we may have less time to spend together and a lack of cuddle time due to the babies overtaking our bed, but he can still make me laugh like no one's business. And nothing's better than a good laugh and a smile from the one you love.

Thanks, Olivia! You two have a fantastic story, and I hope that you and your family continue to grow in love and blessings.

Remember, if you're interested in being a guest poster for Tuesdays are for Lovers, then just send me an e-mail at thesoulanchor [at] gmail [dot] com!


Olivia Grace said...

It's an amazing blessing to read this and know that it is mine. I am so thankful for this story, our story. Thank you for such a lovely feature and for sharing this with others!!!

Alexis Kaye said...

LOVE this! Hope to share my story! :)

arielle @ a beautiful journey. said...

loved this! :) so inspirational & encouraging for ones like me just starting on the marriage journey ;)

soulstitching said...

I love you Olivia and if anyone can testify to the truth of this beautifully written blog it would be me!!I have admired and constantly been inspired by the LOVE you and Shawn have because its real, vulnerable and amazing. Thank you for sharing with more fabulous women your love story -More women should have the opportunity to love as deeply as you have loved.

Carly Anne said...

This is a really insightful post - great idea for a series!


All This Grace and Charm

My Beautiful Life said...

So sweet. I loved reading this-especially this line, "Spend more time appreciating your blessings rather than always asking for more."