group 10 – Couples!

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tracyshawnfinal

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“People say, “You’ve been together 25 years, what’s the secret?” Honestly, some of it’s just dumb luck. Some of it is that maybe we happened to step right when we should’ve, instead of stepping left…” – Daniel
“We didn’t give up at the same time.” – Summer
“Yeah, we could have given up at the same time, but, when one of us was down, the other picked them up.” – Daniel

This group was the same as the groups before it, dealing with personal insecurities, but, for the first time, we were dealing with the dynamic of how insecurities affect the intimate relationship of an individual and the person they’ve chosen to spend their life with.
It’s a pretty interesting dynamic.
How much do our personal insecurities play into our relationship with our partner?

Every time I put a new group together, one that is specific (teens, 55+, moms & daughters), my boyfriend mentions that I’m conducting some sort of social experiment. He’s right, I guess, although I hate the word “experiment” when it comes to dealing with people. But, all in all, that is essentially what is happening.
I’m wanting to see how this particular group changes the dynamic of the conversation.
How being in a specific group of peers influences how we view insecurities, how we talk about them, how we handle them.

Having a couples group seemed like the next obvious choice.
It was to be the first group where we were including both men and women.
We’ve had multiple women’s groups…we know it’s generally easy to open up in a group of women.
We had our men’s group (yes, there will be more), and we saw how awesome that was and how the men relate to and support one another just like the women do.
Now, how would they do together?

Seeing that they are in a partnership, it seemed obvious that they should communicate well together, but, it also threw in some anxiety for me.
I’ve said this a million times, but, I’ll say it again: I am not a counselor, not a therapist, not a psychiatrist, not a psychologist…I am none of those things.

These groups are not counseling sessions.

I am a photographer who sees the value in communication. Plainly that.

So, I was worried that the couples here could possibly see this as some counseling session and maybe start hashing out some issues. Thank goodness, that did not happen.
Kyle did mention in his post-interview that he hadn’t known what to expect and assumed it would be something like counseling, but, was surprised when it wasn’t. Instead, he found it was much more than he expected – in his words, “it leaves you with something. It feels like we have something to work for now, something to help each other out with, knowing we’re not alone. Now we know where each other is coming from, see each other’s perspective, know more about how we can help them grow, help build their confidence.”

There was something important that these participants took away – mainly, the knowledge that they are not alone.
That other individuals feel the same way that they do.
That other couples, no matter how long they’ve been together, struggle with the same things at different phases of their relationship, to different degrees each time.

Jessica mentioned, “It’s so crazy to me that, of all of the people who could be in this group, the three men and the three women are so similar. That we all ended up in this group together.”
It does seem crazy, like some sort of kizmet.
The crazier thing is…this happens in every group.
Everyone in each group is amazed that these are the people who ended up in the group with them – that these people feel so similar to how they feel. Why? Because we all feel this way to some degree or another.
As I told Jessica, we could have had three more couples added to this group and they would have felt the same way about all of them.
They would all feel like they’re not measuring up how they should.
They would all feel like they’re not enough.

“I’m not enough.”
“I’m inadequate.”
That was the theme of the night.
Honestly, it’s the theme of nearly all of the groups.
Have you seen how many boards from this project say something to the effect of being “not enough”?
In a total of 86 participants so far, I can tell you that at least half of them are directly about something to the effect of not being enough, being undeserving of love, being some sort of lost cause.
And that’s just those that chose that particular insecurity to directly write about…that’s not counting the things that the other half agreed with and proceeded to share their own doubts about themselves in their particular groups.
I’ve been at each group. I can tell you that out of 86 people, 86 people can relate to feeling like they are not enough.

Having people surround you that understand and can relate to how you feel is a very powerful thing.

The ladies in this group reflected on the fact that even if there’s just one other person that feels what you’re going through, it’s already better, already easier.
They spoke about the onset of overwhelming days of sadness. Summer is used to people seeing her as a generally happy person, but says, “The really good happy stuff gets lost sometimes and feels like it’s not enough to overcome even a couple of sad things. The happy stuff is so much bigger than these small sad things, but, those sad things can knock you on your knees some days. I can’t explain why I’m sad sometimes, it just is…it just is.

Tracy speaks about how it’s similar and, yet, different for her: “Sometimes I shut myself off so much that I’m not even recognizable. I may be happy, but the sadness sneaks up on me and that’s what I portray. It’s too hard to portray happiness.” She talks about how that’s what people view her as – as hard and cold. Because that comes easier for her.

The men discuss how they are portrayed.
Daniel is seen as being always on guard. People have told him that he projects a tough image. They say, “I was always scared of you.” It became easier for him to be the ‘tough guy’, to push others away, not because he wanted to, but, because it was easier than letting them see that he was insecure – as he said, “I don’t let you get close enough because I don’t want you to see that I actually don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”

Shawn and Kyle agree, “I’m not this guy that you portrayed me as…I was standoff-ish and just came off as that because of my insecurities, my feelings, how I was raised. You just have to get past that first layer… Men – we’re supposed to be tough, but we need this kind of encouragement. My dad shut everything away his whole life…I’m trying to do the opposite.”

As I shared with them, it’s funny to me with every group how this works: all of the new participants are mostly strangers to me upon arranging the groups. People who have written to me about wanting to be a part. People whom I add to a list. I don’t know them. I start to get to know them by what they write in to me about their insecurity. But, I REALLY get to know them through the things their loved ones write in for them. I first develop an image based on the things they dislike about themselves and then that image changes when I am flooded with these amazing things about them that other people want to share with me.
Guess which person I meet?
I meet the one described by the friends and family.
I meet the one who displays those awesome traits and qualities.
Always.
We are so in our own heads that we are overwhelmed by these feelings of inadequacy and such, but, we are outwardly SO MUCH MORE than that. If only we can get that point across to ourselves. That’s what this project is about.

In speaking about couples, we naturally talked about how hard it is to live up to the other’s expectations…and yet, how much harder it is to live up to our OWN expectations.

We talked about how we expect one another to be mind-readers. They should know we feel a certain way, right?
They should know that, in our head, we are getting pissed off every time we see that sock in the middle of the floor that they still haven’t picked up…
Summer phrased it well when she said that she just takes care of whatever she’s finding an issue with “without him losing a fight he’s not even aware he’s in.”
Isn’t this the case most of the time? We’re steaming, wrapped up in our own brain, festering about some little thing they’ve done that is aggravating to us…meanwhile, they’re clueless.
It’s the same with the positive things that we love about each other.
We assume they know.
But, as Kyle said, “that’s not the case. You have to get that stuff out…you’re helping build that person up so that there’s less fears, less insecurities. This group is different because what we feel for each other drives us to be better people and better for each other. We’re pushing each other to be the best person each other can be for the other. Now, voicing this stuff will push us to the next level to fulfilling that for the other person.”

Daniel also said, “The thing I find the most weird, even when I went to write it and now hearing us all talk tonight – this is the person you love the most, so, those feelings, you feel ‘em everyday, you live ‘em everyday – but, you go to say the words out loud and it…it catches you…what if you put them out and they don’t come back?

Insecurities.
We have them individually, we have them in relation to each other.
We learn as we go. We learn every day. We adjust. We adapt.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in for these lovely couples – this would not work without you. Through you, I got to know them.
Thank you, Daniel & Summer, Kyle & Jessica, Shawn & Tracy, for being so open and so honest. Here are your stories.

danielinsDaniel ~ That I won’t measure up. Whether it’s love, friendship, work, family, etc. I always have this nagging feeling that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, not worthy of this.”

Daniel’s friends and family:

“He is a loyal loving husband. He likes the spirit of freedom and working for himself. Likes to debate on more than surface issues. He is quiet unless you get to know him, sort of an introvert. He does like the opportunity to coach football and teach the fundamentals of the game.” – Gene

“Daniel is like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or the Cinderella Man.  His kindness in actions speaks louder than words and his Neil Young Heart of Gold is a beat that influences anybody who can hear it.  His imagination and love for art and design is of the most striking outlet of creativity I have ever seen, and I’m an art major.  He also has this passionate love for all things raw, which the world needs more of.  I’m not sure I could ever stop with the wonderful things to say about Daniel.  Bottom line, his simple breath makes people want to be better.  He is light.  He is a breath of fresh air.  He is one of the greatest men I will ever know.” – Lindsey

“Dan is one person in my life who I know I can count on to be 100 percent honest with me. Throughout my whole life he has always been there when I’ve needed advice, and I always know he will give me his honest opinion. He is one of the most intelligent people I know. I used to really enjoy our car rides from school to my house because he and I would talk about anything and everything. Whether it was school, work, politics, or music, he and I usually expressed mutual opinions. I really appreciate him and I know my life would not be the same without him in it.” – Kaylee

“Dearest Dan,

I appreciate your honesty. It is so refreshing to have a conversation with you and feel a common bond and enjoy a laugh about the state of our world at large. Your sense of humor is something I admire in my day-to-day hustle and bustle. I love your tolerance for your fellow humans. I have heard and shared your frustration at times when we have chatted at an event but you always have a smile for just about everyone. You also tolerate my love for the Steelers even with your loyalty to the Raiders. For that I thank you, my friend!” – Christy

“Dan,

We don’t normally do this “feely” stuff, but, maybe we should. You have been the best big brother a girl could ask for. You were the first man in my life that protected me. There are no words for how much that has meant to me. You are honest and real. I know I can always count on you to give it to me straight. I respect your opinion. You love people with your whole heart. You sacrifice for those around you. You tell the best stories! Your laughter and smile are contagious. You know who you are and you don’t allow other’s thoughts or opinions to sway your confidence. You know who you are and what you believe in. You are compassionate and caring, kind and loving. You are intelligent, one of the most intelligent people I know!
I love you brother!
Kirsten”

“Dear Dan,

It seems as though you have been a part of this family always. I am forever thankful that Summer chose you to be her life mate. You came into our lives at a time when my girls needed a big brother to help them understand that there are good men in life.

Over the years I have grown to love you as my son-in-law. I respect the person you are. I appreciate the way your mind thinks, the knowledge you possess and share. I like how you think of others. You are always there to lend a hand, to family, to homeless people, to children and the old. There is a gentle giant with an enormous heart inside of you.

You have always loved my daughter with your whole heart; of this I have always been certain. The relationship you have with my daughter shows in so many little ways to this Mother’s heart. It shows in the way your eyes light up when you look at her; in the gentleness you treat her with, in the caring you give her when she is sick. You carry the heaviest package, and give her the smaller one. You play with her and show her that her joys are yours also; you share the burden of her sorrows and let her know she is not alone in her pain. You are there for her emotionally. You are her best friend. I am so grateful to you for being a good and kind man, and for loving Summer with your whole heart.

The example that you and Summer have set as a married couple helped the rest of my daughters make wise choices of life mates, I truly believe without you in our lives, things could have turned out much differently.

I love your sense of adventure, and your playfulness. I appreciate how gentle you have always been with the grandchildren, and that you have been there for them with great “Uncle” advice.

I like the fact that you have belief in your dreams, and motivation, and persistence in accomplishing your goals. I like that you think outside the box, and that you do not color life inside the lines.

I am proud to call you mine. You are a wonderful person and I appreciate who you are.

Love,
Mom, (aka Ginnie)”

“Daniel defines growth to me. He is worlds away from the outer persona he portrayed when I first met him and has moved closer and closer to sharing with the world who he is at his core. He continues to learn, explore and apply all knowledge in his life. Internally he’s pushing himself to explore who he is and what he wants in his life and what he can give with his life. Externally he is learning how to read emotion and relate to people in new ways. When we were first dating we would take black and white photo booth pictures on our dates. In each one he looks so different over the years. Facial hair, weight, clothing. So much so that on our wedding cake I had 4 of these images on our cake and someone commented that he must be really understanding to have pictures of other men with me on our cake. Now though that same internal growth and change is happening. Knowing him for almost 25 years I can look back and see how very differently he’s evolved and become and grown. It’s almost like the wedding cake topper, the difference in who he was and who he is has become. I can’t wait to see how he grows and changes in the next 25 years.

He is protective. There are inner circles in his heart and once you’ve entered, even the outermost ring of his heart, he will be there for you. He will fight to the death for you. He will honor you. He will hold you close. He will not always know to ask, what you need but if you ask for help, come hell or high water he will drop everything else and find a way to be there for you. There are no limits to what he would be willing to sacrifice for those he holds close and dear. He doesn’t express it. It just is. It’s who he is and how he loves.

He is tender. He holds my hand while we sit in the car. We walk down the street and he reaches out to hold my hand, always. He kisses me on the head every night and tells me to “dream well my love”. When I wake him up, he sees me and smiles. He doesn’t project an image of someone who is tender. People see him as rough sometimes. As quiet. But he’s really very introspective. He wears his heart so much more on his sleeve than anyone would imagine. His heart is open and vulnerable. He feels things completely and his feelings have a way of consuming him.

He is brilliant. He has the capacity to learn rapidly and apply that learning. He absorbs information. It drove me insane when we were first dating. He would pick up a new passion and learn it inside-out in no time, and just when I thought he was on track for the next career, life change, defining moment, he would move on and pursue the next interest with the same passion. Now, I appreciate the flow of his learning. Although I’m still amazed. Sometime still shocked he doesn’t continue to pursue things he’s demonstrated such ability in. But I love him for it. He’s constantly changing, evolving and learning. It’s interesting to watch his process. And knowing now not to set or apply my expectations on how to use that skill or knowledge releases the frustration I used to experience and allows me to just appreciate him and value the process he’s experiencing. I’m jealous of his capacity to learn and apply his knowledge.

He is forgiving. He leads by example here. There have been so many times I’ve made a black-and-white, no-room-for-forgiveness call about someone. He’s the opposite. He believes everyone is capable of change and that they deserve the opportunity to grow and adjust and be. Through his example I am constantly challenged to let go of my judgments. He is gracious and unpresumptuous. He allows in his heart and mind room for someone else to be on their journey without his judgment. He might have to fight his own fears of an action someone else causes, but he doesn’t let someone’s action, or mistake or path define his perception of that person. One act doesn’t define anyone in his book.

He is dedicated. If he’s given his word, it will happen. He will find a way. Even when there is no way. It may not happen the way he wanted it to or thought it would. But it will. He’s been an incredible football coach. Even when we’ve had no time to give, he’s found a way to make it happen. When we didn’t have the means to help, he still found a way. He doesn’t let his pride get in the way of accomplishing what he’s set his mind to. He will simply fight to make it happen. And if he’s given his word, he will be there. His honor matters to him. His word matters.

He is funny. He uses humor to pull people in and hold people back. He pushes every joke as far as it should go, and given the right circumstances, further than anyone thought it could or should. He talks smack like a pro. He has laugh lines he’s earned. He’s given me laugh lines that I know will grow as we get older together. He comes up with things off the cuff that just crack people up and comes up with pranks and jokes he plots and plans that are un-topable. I think it’s one characteristic everyone that knows him has experienced in one form or another.

He is a true partner. We talk often about the word “marriage” versus “partner”. In Daniel I’ve found a true partnership. He acknowledges each of our strengths and weaknesses and we work together to bring out the best in each other and to help hold the other up in to overcome the weaknesses as a team. “Us” is an identity that is a living thing he values, protects, and holds dear. I really enjoy who he is and who we are together.

He’s a fighter. At one time in his life, it was about the physical battle. About pushing himself to the limit, pushing the other person to the limit. Letting the beast inside of him roam, and he found opportunities to make those fights happen. Now he’s taken on a much harder battle. He’s fighting his own demons, fears and insecurities. He’s battling with his own patterns to take control of his life and be the master of his emotions and their outcomes. These last few years of working for ourselves and trying to create these businesses have shown me a strength I didn’t even know he had. I’ve always thought of him as a fighter, as tough, as strong. Now, he also lets me see him as weak, he lets me see the battle scars. And in my eyes it’s made him stronger and tougher then ever. We have been pulling through situations I would have said NEVER for us, or to us, will that happen. But he’s not a throw-in-the-towel guy. He sees the big picture and understands the difference between a lost battle and a lost cause. His strength here gives me the strength day after day. To keep believing. To keep striving. To make it happen. That same strength and stubbornness and willingness to fight have kept us together. Have held us together. Have helped us grow together.

He’s my best friend. He knows me. He accepts the worst of me. (And he’s seen it.) He loves me. He understands me. He gives me the room to be me. He challenges me. He relaxes me. He deals with my fears. He kills the spiders for me. He lives in the chaos of my to-do piles. He loves our family. He calms my crazy medical fears. He enriches me. He appreciates me. He loves my crazy curls first thing in the morning. He loves me in sweats as much as he does when I’m dressed up. He loves my grey hair and ‘Dan wrinkle’ in my brow. He is the one person I need, I love. He’s my forever plus 2 days.” – Summer

summerinsSummer ~ “Not every day, but too many days, I wake up and the sadness is there with me. It’s hovering over me, surrounding me, and enveloping me. It fills me with thoughts about not being enough. Not doing enough. Not capable of enough. Not. Not. Not. That at my core, I will never be enough. That I deserve this sadness. That I was made for sadness. Other days it sneaks in. It invades a perfectly pleasant day. It pulls me into myself. It threatens to overpower me. It slows me. Stops me. Tries to define me. I fight it. I struggle with it. I deal with it. I’m able, most of the time, to still function with it. I shake it. I bury it. I fight harder with it. Sometimes I have a logical grasp on where it’s coming from. On what just triggered it. On how the PTSD I am experiencing is bringing in these feelings. This feeling. Other times it takes days or weeks or I never really understand why it’s there or was there. I don’t know why some days the sadness is winning or wins. I don’t know how to make the tears not fall. I just internally curl into a ball. A big ball of feeling sadness. Other days I am able to use one of my coping mechanisms and get through it. Still feel like the part of myself I want to be. The part of me that can take on the world. The part of me that has room for everyone else and the details of their lives. The struggle is feeling like two different people always at war. The internal sad girl and the outwardly happy girl. Where I am now is trying to understand that I am both. That one isn’t really bad, or wrong. It just is. It comes with its own gifts of compassion and empathy for others that I don’t think I would have without it. What I’m fighting with right now is still only wanting to be one. Just the happy one. The one I try so hard to project and be. The one that is socially more acceptable. The side that in every happy ending story is the side we see, know and love.” 

 

Summer’s friends and family:

“Summer is one of the most amazing people I know. She is generous, creative, warm, energetic, loyal, driven, has integrity and works extremely hard. Summer is one of those people who walks into a room and lights it up with her smile and energy. I love being around her because she makes me happy. Even when she has a difficult time, she confronts her challenges with grace and a smile. I admire her and often think about her when I think about the type of person I want to be.” – Kristen

“Summer was my first best friend. We played poker for candy, and talked nonstop. We used to dream about what we would do when we grew up. What I love about Summer is that she follows her dreams, even if they change. She is a hard-working, not afraid to take chances overcomer. She is also a great listener. She lets me talk and ramble and cry if I need to. She is talented in so many ways. I admire her creativity, her boldness, and her strength.” – Shannon

“When I think about the things I love, admire and appreciate about Summer, the phrase “the most…” is the start of nearly every phrase. She puts everything she has into all that she does and cares about and, because of this, she is the most positive person I know, the most selfless person I know, the most generous person I know, the hardest working person I know, the most caring person I know. She is amazing at lifting people up and giving positive words of affirmation and does so regularly. She is an enjoyable person with high energy who has a cheesy, yet, witty sense of humor that is charming and she can carry conversation on most topics. She is someone who I admire, love and appreciate for all of these reasons but even more so for the glimpses I get of the raw emotions she rarely lets everyone see. In these moments, I am honored to be her friend.” – Heather

“Summer –

When I think of you, four words come to mind: Strength, Sacrifice, Love, Selfless. Your creativity, eye for design, and ability to capture moments in life that are often taken for granted are inspiring. You astonish me with the energy you give to all those you love. Your strength is something I’ve looked to so many times in my life to help me get through. Despite the challenges of the last couple years, you still make the impossible possible. EVERYDAY. I’m constantly in awe of how you manage to pull it all off. You’ve been a role model to me, “what would summer do” is a phrase I’ve found myself asking so many times. You are always there to listen and advise. I truly enjoy spending time with you. You are fun to be around and I love the adventures we have taken together – remember the caves? I hope you know how loved you are by me, and not for anything you can do, just for simply you.
I love you sis!
Kirsten”
“Dear Summer,

You are my first-born child, from the moment you were placed in your bassinet and lifted your head to look around the room you were born in, I knew that this strong, curious, adorable, little person would rule my heart. When we name a child, we agonize trying to select the perfect name. You are your name, warm and kind, full of life. As you and I have grown over the years our relationship has grown and changed as much as we have.

I have always been able to depend on you to be there for your sisters and I emotionally and logically. We have survived pain and sorrow, and relished in laughter and love. We have exposed the past in painful and revealing talks with each other and as a group with your sisters. This was cathartic and necessary for us to continue to become healthy and happy in our emotional lives. I am forever grateful that you helped to bring this about.

We have laughed so hard that tears form. You bring a sense of adventure into life, be it simple or extravagant.
You love with your whole heart. You are the epitome of a creative thinker, and believe if you can visualize it, it is possible, and then with your drive and persistence it becomes what you dream.

I am intensely proud of the life you have lived, as a child, and an adult. You have made excellent choices in your life. I love the gentleness of your soul, the delight you possess in life. Your giving nature never fails to amaze me. You are intuitive and your instincts are spot on.

I am very thankful that you chose to move back home, I know that was hard for you, but you have brought so much joy to our lives, and the time I get to share with you is very precious to me. I look forward to every minute.

I know you think you are not an artist, but in everything you do, you are. Art is not limited to only one definition. Your muse leads you on paths that others could never follow. I adore you.

My heart overflows with love for you,
Mom…..“

“How do you tell a story about Summer. Summer is magic.  Summer is loving.  Her love for her husband is epic and the kind of love written about in romance novels.    Her eye for art and composition is heaven gifted.  Not one earth given gift like sunrises, sunsets, sweet babies sleeping, smiling, toddling, and springs first bust of flower are missed by Summer.  Appreciating the smallest of blessings this life has to offer is in her radar.  How do you tell a story of Summer just breath in and breath out. She is life!!!!” – Amy

“Dearest Summer,

I love the passion you have for your creativity. I admire all of the beauty you create. Your passion and creativity make my life, as well as the lives of everyone you touch inspired.” – Christy

“I started loving Summer a little over 24 years ago. The things I love about her have changed and intensified during that time.
I’ll go with some of the ones that have been there since I first realized that I was in love with her.
Summer is caring, compassionate, and loving. She gets the biggest joy for the simplest things. When she really smiles she shows her gums, and she’s uncomfortable when she does. When she tells a joke she usually laughs harder than you do. When she loves something she loves it with everything she’s got. When she believes in something Summer will fight for it, even if she knows she’ll lose.” – Daniel
 

kyleinsKyle ~ I worry that I am not going to be the man my wife needs or wants me to be. I know that my wife loves me, but, I sometimes worry that at some point that won’t be enough. This is kind of like me worrying that I’m not good enough nor do I deserve this amazing woman who I have been blessed to call WIFE.” 

Kyle’s friends and family:
“Kyle: Honest, adventurous, confident, trusting, brave, great company, charismatic, creative, good-natured, hardworking and active.” – Anita

“Kyle—this Guy has helped me in many ways—whether it be as simple as something around the house, or saving me from being stranded in the middle of the woods. He’s always willing to drop everything to lend a hand to those he loves. He’s grown into a Man of God, and I’m so proud of him for putting his faith in The Lord’s hands. He’s a guy I can trust, and a guy I can depend on. I cherish our friendship and am so thankful for him. Love, Aaron”

“Dear Kyle,
Well my friend, this is a tough one. I don’t know you on a super close personal level yet I do know how much my friend feels loved by you, which makes you a pretty cool cat in my book.
I admire that you have supported your wife in her business adventure. You not only accepted her idea to start her own business but also supported her in the journey. You allow her to often put others before you and accept that this is a just part of the process. Most important, it is amazing that you still love her even though she smells like liniment when she comes home!
I find it incredibly admirable that you were willing to take on a second job to support her in the start-up of her business. I know that 10 minutes in the porn industry is equivalent to a lifetime in an office setting so I appreciate that you sacrificed your dignity to support your wife’s dreams.
I love that you have discovered that it’s okay to be open to loving all types. Your exploration in an often-judgmental world shows your strength as a man. Not all men can make a connection with another man over the internet. It is fantastic that you never questioned his motives and allowed feeling to develop slowly over time. Those of us in that you shared your story with are impressed in how you have demonstrated that you are truly comfortable in who you are and that you respect the sanctity of your marriage by not keeping the feelings a secret. I am proud of you and Scott!
I admire that you have met the expectation we as women have of our man by becoming a true caveman. You have hunted and gathered…finally! Your ability to provide for your family in a very primal manner is impressive. It demonstrates yet another wonderful quality that you possess; you never give up!
Kyle, all kidding aside, you really are a great man. You put your family in the forefront, you love your wife, you are a hard worker, you have an amazing sense of humor, and you provide a wonderful environment for your kids to grow up in.
I admire that you are able to make your family a priority and work as a partner with Jess to create a happy home. The work you put into providing financially and emotionally for your family doesn’t go unnoticed by those who surround you. You possess the qualities that many people envy and yet to you, they all seem to come naturally. I know through the many conversations that Jess and I have had that you have an amazing heart and always live your life with the best of intentions. These are qualities we all hope to find in a life partner and I am glad you share those with Jess. You my friend are a wonderful example to those around you and most importantly to your children. You should be proud of the man you are and the family you have created.
Love to you!
Liz”

“Though I’ve only known Kyle for a few years, I have high respect for him and feel that he’s the best thing that’s happened to Jessica. He’s a very kind and gentle man, as well as a good father and provider. He loves the outdoors, but his first love is his family.” – Lanette

“Kyle- Smart, loving, sincere, funny spontaneous, adventurous… The Hunter. Just a few characteristics that come to mind when I think of you. But you are so much more than that. I know this because of the love you have for your wife and your children. You love despite the lack of the same DNA. You love because your heart is worn on your sleeve – your adventurous spirit and wanting to live life to the fullest is evident when one is around you. The way you take care of your family is a gift beyond measure. When one looks at you we see that your cup runneth over with love and appreciation for all that you have. You don’t take things for granted; you are the calm in the tornado. You are balance, peace, joy laughter and kindness. You see more than what’s on the surface, you go deeper, you trust your instincts.  You are a good judge of character. You are patient with your children and your lovely wife; you are an example to many men of who they could become if they would just let go of society’s expectations. You are handsome and sweet and oh so funny, too.
I love you both very much.” – JulieAnn
“Kyle is very social and he can make friends with complete strangers in any situation. Kyle has a beautiful smile and participates in sportsman type activities.” – Peggie
“Kyle was one of my first friends in Tacoma, and he quickly became one of my closest. He is like a brother to me, and his entire family embraced me as one of their own almost upon meeting. He is a wonderful person, with a smile that is infectious and the biggest heart in the world. He’s also completely hilarious.

Throughout my friendship with Kyle (and he’ll tell you this), I have never really loved anyone he dated. I always thought he went for girls that weren’t good enough for him, in one way or another. Not to say that there were a ton, but there were a few, and they all came and went. For whatever reason, they just didn’t compliment him.

Until he met Jess.

I knew immediately that she was different. She was more confident than the others, and she actually wanted to be MY friend. At the time, Kyle and I were very close and hung out frequently. Some weren’t too keen on that, but Jess didn’t sweat it, and I respected her for that. She also had a calmness about her that was very soothing to be around, and above all she truly LOVED Kyle. And you could tell he loved her, with the way he lit up after he met her… as though no one else existed.

Since they’ve been together, I’ve seen both of them grow into such amazing people. They are kind, generous and devoted to each other and their growing family. They are proud of the life they’ve made, and they work at their relationship every day, even if it’s in the smallest way. Their children are a reflection of the love they have for each other and I am so very proud that they’ve made it. If there is such a thing as soul mates, these two certainly embody the idea. I admire their love.

Although we don’t get to see each other nearly as often as anyone would like, I know they are doing just fine. I am so happy they are doing this project. I know that it will bring them even closer together, and will further strengthen the deep bond that they share.

Here’s to true love. <3” – Jayme

“What I love most about my husband… I’m afraid if this letter gets out I may or may not be the most hated woman in the world. You see my husband… he is perfect. I love the fact that my children love him. He is our daughters’ first love, and our son’s first hero. He is an amazing father in so many different ways, and he makes me proud everyday as those kids truly begin to look up to him. I love my husband because he makes it a priority to put our kids and myself first. His happiness is our happiness and he would do anything for us. He is a born provider, not just a hard worker but always improving himself as a hunter and fisher too, in order to provide food for us. I love my husband because he has a huge…giant…almost too big sometimes… heart. He supports me in almost all that I do and enjoy. He helped me take a risk and start my own business, he believes in me, he trusts me, he respects me. He treats me like I am the most beautiful woman on the planet, like he is afraid every day to lose me because of how wonderful I am. He is everything I ever wanted in a man. He sews, he cooks, he bakes, he does laundry. He lets me sleep in on weekends. He helps with our children, he fixes everything and anything when it’s broken, he does the gross chores that include garbage, poop and old wet food. He is strong. He is my protector. I’m proud to have his arm around me in public, I think he is a beautiful man.. inside and out. His beard is outstanding. He creates bromances and is a social butterfly. He doesn’t care that I hide money in weird places around the house to be able to save, or that I eat popcorn almost every night, or that I never get comfortable in bed until I roll around 32 times. He is my team-mate, my partner, my side kick. My husband truly is the definition of Raw.Honest.Love… and he’s all mine :)” – Jessica

jessicainsJessica ~ My biggest struggle in life has always been the same…never being good enough. It used to be not being good enough for my mother but now it is mostly always not being a good enough mother. I try constantly to give all I have to my 4 children but I never feel like it is enough… they deserve so much. I also always try to be respectful, loving and helpful to my husband but I don’t feel like I am enough for him too… sometimes I feel like he deserves more than I can give him because I am giving so much to the kids and I fear I don’t often put him first as much as I should. I own a business and with all the work, billing and paperwork that often takes me away from family also and leaves me feeling like I am not enough for those in my family. Or my friends at that…I have no time and have slipped away from all my friends as well 😦 I cannot please everyone in my life and it hurts me endlessly. I want to love, fix, heal and lift up everyone that comes into my life and it drains so much of me that in the end I don’t know that I am even enough for myself.” 

Jessica’s friends and family:

“Jessica: Honest, big heart, capable, reliable, helpful, master of time, giver, creative, confident, healthy and balanced.” – Anita

“Jessica—she is the most caring, loving, forgiving, accepting you-for-you kind of gal. She truly is someone I could go to at any time of the day, for anything, and she would pray for me and offer her love. Jessica came into my life a few years ago, and from day one she was someone whom I felt safe with. I knew I could trust her. Jessica is a dear friend who I love, and know if our schedules don’t always allow us to talk or see one another, the time we do spend together is like we see each other everyday. Definitely blessed to know this woman, and love her dearly.
Love, Mandy”

“Dear Jessica,
Where do I begin when I am asked to share what I love, admire, and appreciate about you? First and foremost, I admire your bravery in entrusting me to write a serious letter for you. Not to worry my friend, I’ve got this one. If there is one thing that I take serious in life, it is the value I place on true friendships and the interactions I have with genuine people, so I am honored to write this for you and will do my best to keep this G-rated and appropriate for the experience.
Let me start with what I love and admire about you…
I love and admire your love of your family. You beam when you speak of your children. You provide them the love, support, and the time they need to grow up knowing they are loved. You take parenting serious in that you love and provide for them, but you also recognize that parenting can be fun, crazy, and at times out of control. You do what is best for your family at all times. You’re an amazing mom!
You are an incredibly positive person. You not only speak of positive things, but you exude positive energy. When I am around you, no matter the mood I arrived with, I leave with a much more positive attitude. That is a gift you share with the people you are around. I know this is cliché, but your glass seems to always be half full!
You have an incredible ability to not only listen, but to truly hear what people say. I love that when we talk I know you are listening. You share ideas, you laugh at silly stories, and sometimes you simply provide support and encouragement. I admire that you truly hear what other have to say. Life is so busy for so many that the art of listening is often pushed aside. It’s a wonderful quality I love about you.
You are smart; damn smart! You started a business, you manage your time to balance work and family life, and, shoot, you picked me to be one of your friends! I love that you can hold an intelligent conversation, educate yourself on the areas of life that you are passionate about, and share your knowledge without making others feel less intelligent than you.
I admire that you don’t judge me. You have seen my rear, yet you are still my friend. You have heard some of my deepest darkest secrets, yet you are still my friend. You listen to me talk like a drunken trucker, yet you are still my friend. I say shocking and horrific thoughts that randomly pop into my head, yet you are still my friend. I feel as if I have pulled out all of the stops, given you every opportunity to judge me and run the other way, yet, you don’t judge me and instead stand by me as a true friend. Rather than judge me, you support me, laugh with me, and sometimes even laugh at me, and for that I love you! People with the wonderful quality of being non-judgmental are rare and you, my dear, have this fine quality.
Now for what I appreciate about you…
I appreciate that you are not a quitter! When you want to accomplish something you do it. You don’t give up. You don’t look for the easy way. You go all in and you do it right. You do that not only in your life but also for those of us that come to see you with challenging problems. You don’t give up on us. You look for ways to help, you search for options, and you give everything 110%.
I appreciate that you refrain from telling me that my ass is huge! Yes, I know it is a large caboose. I know that seeing that each week must be traumatic for you but yet you treat me as if my ass is that of a 21-year-old hard bodied stripper! Come on, you didn’t really think I could keep it all serious, did you? But hey, I am serious in that I really do appreciate that you don’t bust out singing “Baby Got Back” when you walk in the room!
Ok, now for the thing I appreciate the most… you saved my life! When I met you, I had given up. I gave up hope of living a pain-free life. I gave up hope all together. I felt as if my pain was a burden to not only me, but also my family. I felt as if you were my last option for relief. As you know, I didn’t believe you could do anything to help me but then I heard you say something that changed my life. It wasn’t just the words you said it was how you said it. You said with confidence that you liked a challenge and you believed you could help me if I would give you the chance. You were one of the first people I believed in during my journey to heal. So, therefore, it is your confidence and determination that I admire most, because it was life changing for me.
I could go on and on about all of the things I love, admire and appreciate about you but what it comes down to is this…
I love, admire, and appreciate YOU! All that makes you who you are. I love, admire, and appreciate all of the things that make you obviously amazing as well as all of the things that you may question about yourself. It is all of these things combined that make you the perfect friend, an amazing mother, a wife who loves her husband, a healer to many, and a strong woman who will leave a lasting impression on those that you meet throughout your life and someone I am so proud to know.
I love you BEAUTIFUL!
Liz”

“Jessica, being my god-daughter, and knowing her since the day she was born, I knew the first time I held her in the hospital that there was something special about her. She’s the most kind-hearted and gentle person I’ve ever met. She’s a free-spirited individual, and puts other’s needs before her own. She’s the kind of person who would take the shirt off her back if someone needed it. She’s an amazing mother and puts her kids first. I am proud that she’s grown into such an amazing woman and mother. I am proud that she is my God-daughter and blessed to have her in my life.” – Lanette

“Jessica- I thought a lot about what characteristics and words I would choose to describe you. It is my pleasure and a joy to share how much I love you. And what you embody. I have known you since you were about 18 months old. You have always shone like the stars and are the light amongst the darkness. You shine like the sun, your loyalty is as deep as the ocean and your love is as wide as the sky. You are a wonderful daughter, mother and friend. You are patient, kind, and forgiveness. You embody Christ’s love and it radiates from you. You are beautiful, inside and out, you’re a good listener, creative, fun, spontaneous, thoughtful, sensitive, caring, and nice to a fault…at times!  Thank you for loving me, because you made a choice to love me. I’m not your blood, I’m not your family, but I love you like you’re my own.” – JulieAnn

“Dear Jessica,
I wanted to take a few minutes remind you why I love you and will always love you. First of all, you stole my heart the moment we met, with your beauty, humor, patience and giant heart (yes I could tell). You put such great love and devotion into all that you do, no matter what it is. I admire that. And whether failure or success is the result (more success than anything), you always find the positive in the end result. I absolutely love that you are so passionate about life and the world you live in, it drives me to be more like you and see things the way you do all the time. I find myself asking,”what would my wife do?” There is so much that I love and admire about you, there simply isn’t enough time in the world for me to tell you it all.” – Kyle

 

shawnins

Shawn ~ I struggle with not feeling wanted or loved. It affects my judgment with people because I’m giving out chance after chance in hopes that they are good people; in return I can easily be a doormat. I struggle with it as being a supervisor on my jobs because people take advantage of me. If I’m not careful, I can fall into being a people pleaser, and it puts great pressure on my wife.” 

Shawn’s friends and family:

“Shawn is a gentle man with what I would describe as a fierce, consistent, steadfast love. Shawn has staying power in my definition, when the proverbial poop hits the fan; he stands and remains standing, LONG after most have run away.
The Biblical King David had what was described as ‘mighty men’ or ‘Valiant men”.
Don’t see too many of these today, so in my book, Shawn is one of few…..
I’ve seen him up and totally down, and he usually bounces back and chooses to stand up, and remain standing.
This is a deep soul quality.
A RARE deep soul quality.
If I were asked to do the impossible, I would include Shawn in a list of maybe three men I would ask to join team with me to accomplish the impossible, why?
Because he is ‘fade proof’.

In my definition, Blue-collar workingmen are the true ‘gold standard’ in any nation. They are literally the backbone of society. Without them, every above and below would crumble. Shawn is a hard-working artisan in stone and brick. I have the utmost respect for him.

I am honored to call him my friend.” – Brian
“My brother has a heart of gold and tries to help all who need it.” – Jean
“My father, Shawn, is strong in his faith and love. He is a hard-worker and gives his best for his family. His love is unbreakable just like his faith in God. He is an incredible man. He is funny and caring. The word that can describe him best is “heart”. He has the biggest caring, giving heart I know.” – Reilley

“Shawn is humble, compassionate, forthright, and for the most part, pretty honest. He is quick to help, slow to find fault, and eager for opportunity to learn new things. There is rarely a time that he misses to involve himself in the lives of his kids, friends and family at large. Aside from his unfaltering ability to conduct himself in peace, patience, kindness and with self-control is mind-blowing to me. His loyalty and dedication are traits that I admire and wish to emulate. Strength & Resolve!” – Tracy

 

 

tracyinsTracy ~ I wrestle daily with the feeling of being inadequate. As a human, a wife, a mother, daughter, friend, employee, creator. Some days it lays me flat; conquering any energy I can muster to enter the realm outside my bed. Those days are fewer than they used to be. I have decided to give up and let God power me through whatever I’m purposed for, which has enabled me to live a life of acceptance and peace.” 

Tracy’s friends and family:

“One word that I believe truly describes my mom, Tracy, is strength. She has tenacity and a will power to get through anything. She is inspirational and lives a great tale of heartache, love, struggle, and empowerment. She is beautiful in every way, with her outer beauty and her spirit. She may have her dark sides but the good will always out weigh the bad. I strive to be like her. She will live up to greatness.” – Reilley

“My dearest Tracy, the things I love and appreciate about you are too numerous to mention. Words simply cannot describe the light you bring to the world. You are ever patient, humble, loving and steadfast. You truly love unconditionally. You give from your soul. You handle challenges with more grace than I could ever imagine. You grow more beautiful inside and out with every passing year. You are a rock not only for your husband and children, but to everyone you come into contact with. You have such an adventures spirit. You are so very creative and see beauty in things that most would toss away. .. The struggles you’ve endured have created all that is amazing about you.” – Evie

“I have always looked up to my sister-in-law Tracy, she is very creative.” – Jean

“Tracy is one of the most free-spirited, strong, creative, giving, energetic, fun-loving women I have ever known. She is beautiful and full of love, allowing it to flow unconditionally. She is steadfast in her beliefs and willing to share that belief in any form needed, at any given time to brighten the day or situation. Tracy is curious and intelligent and is always learning more, and in that creates herself to be an ever-changing, wise, caring, fabulous, mysterious, fun energy. Tracy sees the good in you and shares that with you. She will be your champion! I am so pleased she is being honored. And so blessed to call her my friend. :)” – Margot

“Tracy is my cousin, whom I dearly love. She is one of the best people I know. One of the things I like most about her is her ability to see potential in people and encourage them to be the person she sees they can be. One example of this is the work she does – she works at a building materials salvage store that warehouses and sells old building materials. She is really good at what she does because she sees the potential of how these old, discarded, building materials can be repurposed into something beautiful. Like how some old wood could become a bed frame, or an old door could be a beautiful table, and so forth and so on. In the same way that she sees beauty in the potential of old building materials, she gets excited and has vision for the potential people have. She’s an encourager and vision caster and I really like that about her.
Another attribute that relates to this is how caring and loving she is. She generously loves people both with her time and possessions – always welcoming people into her home and caring for those in need. Her amicable personality puts people at ease and makes them feel loved. She’s fun, bright, and full of life which is contagious to those around her.
Also, she is so creative. Over the years I’ve seen her come up with so many creative ideas for things – everything from fashion, starting businesses, decorating her house, coming up with games (hallway tennis) to keep busy during the winter, etc. She’s full of ideas! She’s also got the moxy to make those ideas come to life. When she lands on a solid idea she’s determined to make it happen and goes out and does it. It’s really encouraging to be around.
All in all, Tracy is one of the most kind, caring, and generous people I know. She’s an absolute blessing to those around her – the world wouldn’t be the same without her. I’m so thankful to have Tracy as a cousin and am constantly impressed and encouraged by her.
Tracy, YOURE AWESOME!!!! Keep being you. Love ya!” – Abe

“I love Tracy’s sense of adventure, how she can light up a room full of smiles and get people talking, and how hard she listens and interacts with people…I admire her vision and dreams and how hard she seeks freedom and health. I appreciate that she speaks the truth, even if it hurts or she may not get liked over it..” – Shawn

unnamed– Andi

summerdantogetherSummer & Daniel ~ Together almost 25 years

Describe the first time you became aware of your partner:

Daniel – “We worked together at a movie theater. I made her laugh while in the box office but no one else could see me, so it made her look a little crazy.”

Summer – “I first met Daniel at my first real job as a box office girl at a movie theatre. I was 16, almost 17, and he was 19. He was transferred in from another store as a manager and introduced to me as Mr. Briggs. He wore a suit. He was quiet. He paid absolutely no attention to me. And I was smitten. We were from completely different kinds of backgrounds. We had so little in common. I would come in on my day off wearing tiny black mini skirts and flirt unabashedly. One day he pulled a joke on me. And he laughed. That laugh turned into conversations. Which led me to ask him out, and led him to give me a very HR answer about no dating between employees. Which led me to put in my notice that night. We went on our first date that weekend.

Somehow in these last few years, though, I’ve become aware of him in new ways. I’d walked around with perceptions of who he is and was and they blocked me from seeing him, as he was, who he is in the very moment. My own expectations and needs were blocking me from seeing him. Working so closely together, through so much personal and financial and business opening chaos and stress has allowed me to see him. To really leave my perceptions and insecurities behind and simply see him. Who he is. What struggles he’s going through. What path he is forging. And it’s led me to be aware of him in new ways. To love him in deeper ways. To care about him more completely. To talk to him more. To understand him better. It’s almost like starting all over again after getting so much wrong the first 20 years.”

 What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever received?

 

Daniel – I don’t remember ever receiving any relationship advice.”

Summer – “This Valentines Day I was photographing people at a local business. A woman approached me to take a snap of her with her husband. She leaned in and told me “we’ve been together 52 years this year” with a wink. I let her know I was going on 25 this year. She looked at me very earnestly and said, “Oh, you’re young still. So much to learn.” And it put life in good perspective for me. Dan and I are far from figuring it all out yet. And that’s the beauty of this journey we’re on together.

The piece of advice that helps me the most, though, is from Daniel. He asks me to “Love him anyways.” It resonates so deeply with me. Living with anyone is compromise. It’s bound to cause your nerves to grate. Loving anyone is bound to cause disappointment, heartache, and some pain. During the little moments of crazy annoyance where he keeps adding to the garbage until it’s overflowing, I think, Love him Anyways. It helps. It is him to do that. It’s not going to change. Instead of being so frustrated, stopping to remember I love him anyways takes the frustration and anger out-of-the-way for me. It puts it into a different perspective and allows me to ask for what I need, the garbage taken out, or gives me the room to just take it out without “losing” a fight he’s not even aware he’s in. During the bigger hurts, the emotional reactions that threaten to pull us apart, I try to take pause and think Love Him Anyways. It helps me to remember this is one moment, one fight, one hurt, and we have a lifetime of other moments behind us and in front of us. This one doesn’t define us. It isn’t the end of my love for him or my commitment towards us. It’s just a Love Him Anyways moment we’ll get through. Most times stronger than where we started.”

Friends’ & Family’s thoughts on Summer & Daniel as a couple:

“They have a deep and refined understanding of who each one of them are. They support each other in their dreams. They build each other up as a couple and are happy to spend time with each other and not have to be in big groups.” – Gene

“I do not know Dan very well, but I appreciate the hard work they have put into their relationship. They are committed and resilient and have made it through some tough times. They support each other and work together to reach mutual goals. They are different but appreciate each other’s differences. Great couple!” – Kristen

“I love their playfulness and creativity.” – Shannon

“Caring, creative couple. They support each other and love each other unconditionally.” – Juliette

“Dear Dan & Summer,
I can’t describe in mere words how much your love for each other makes a positive difference in my day-to-day life. Your love for one another as well as your marriage has given me an example that true love is real.” – Christy

“Summer and Dan love each other completely and just as they are. They are so opposite but balance each other out in this unique and special way. Not many couples can spend as much time together as they do and still enjoy each other, but they do spend most of their time together and really truly seem to still enjoy each moment. I have never heard either one of them speak an ill word towards the other publicly or nag or pick at each other. They are life companions that not only love each other, but like each other too. They actually inspire me to love my husband better.” – Heather

“As a couple, Summer and Dan are so loving. I hope one day to find that kind of love – you can honestly see how much they love one another. Between their weekly Facebook hacks, their adorable hashtags, or the simplicity of their nightly walks, you can just see a level of love that many couples don’t seem to have. I admire the two of them so much. Throughout their hardest times they have been there for each other.” – Kaylee

“Most kids look to their parents’ marriage to understand love and what relationships are supposed to look like. They model their own love stories based on what they see growing up. I didn’t have that. I had Summer and Dan to look to to understand what love was about and how relationships should be. I feel so lucky to have had them for an example. This is what I believe about their love…Their love is enduring. They support each other through every up and down life has thrown at them. They really are best friends. They don’t see each other as being without fault, they embrace those faults and, rather than criticize and judge, they accept and love. They both put in the work it takes to keep their love and friendship thriving. They don’t take each other for granted. They are love.” – Kirsten

jessicakyletogetherJessica & Kyle ~ Together 3 or 4 years(ish)

Describe the first time you became aware of your partner:

Kyle – “The minute she looked at me and made eye contact.”

Jessica – “Mazatlan on Cinco De Mayo. He made me smile and I had not smiled in months. He made me laugh and I wasn’t sure I would be able to anymore. He made me feel like I was the prettiest girl he had ever seen… he is silly when he drinks and quite the social butterfly :)”

  

What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever received?

Kyle – “Never give up, never let it get stale.”

Jessica – “Do not go to bed mad, always communicate your feelings.”
Friends’ & Family’s thoughts on Jessica & Kyle as a couple:

“They have great teamwork and communication” – Anita

“We love their honesty. We love their admiration for one another. They support one another, and strive to GIVE to one another. We love them both, and are so happy they have found each other.” – Mandy & Aaron

“Dear Jessica and Kyle,
I am asked to write a letter to you both as a couple, which is a challenge for someone who hasn’t spent a ton of time with you both. I can really only write the letter based on the few interactions we have had when we have all been together and what I take from my conversations with Jess.
When I have been around the two of you, I notice a true connection. I see a friendship, support, and clearly a passion that exists in your relationship. I feel safe in assuming passion as you have two kids together in such a short period of time! 🙂 It seems that you support each others loves and accept that time away from each other may make the time together more important.
Jessica, you seem to accept that Kyle has a love of the outdoors and you allow him to take the time he needs to be happy and enjoy his hobbies. Sacrificing your time together for time with another of his loves is a selfless act and demonstrates that his loves are equally as important to you. Kyle, you seem to accept that Jessica wants to grow her business on top of being a mother and wife. You allow her to take the time she needs and you support her by helping with the kids and sacrificing time with her. You have allowed her to share her gift with others at the expense of sacrificing some time with your. It is a true example of loving your wife.
You both seem to share a passion for art. You went on an adventure together to hear your favorite band. You focused on the two of you, left the kids at home, and created fun memories that can carry you through times when adventures may be limited. You identified a shared love of an artist and incorporated it into your marriage and doing something together. One of my hopes for you in your marriage is that you remember to take time out from your busy life to continue to share common loves and turn them into adventures.
Another quality I admire about the two of you is that you both display your loves in an artistic fashion on your bodies in the form of tattoos. I love this not because I love tattoos, but, because of the symbolism behind it. Jessica has symbolized just how much she loves you, Kyle. She has combined two loves together of both art and you. You know how much she loves you, people who know her know how much she loves you and her family, but she has gone as far as displaying her true loves on her body for the world to see in the form of a tattoo. She put thought into it and included symbols that translated to you and her children when displaying the verse on her arm. It’s the modern-day form of shouting her love for you from the mountaintops! It is a quality I truly admire. It is a quality that more people shouldn’t be afraid to share. It need not be in the form of tattoos but in any way that proclaims one’s love for another. Why not tell the world how much you love the person you are committed to? I am proud of you, Jessica, for sharing your love for all to see!
Kyle, you also display your love of Jessica for the world to see when anyone sees you with your kids! You nurture and love the things that a mother cherishes most. In a woman’s eyes, that is a true statement of love. You have taken on the true role of providing stability for your family and represent the wonderful qualities of what a husband should be.
The one thing I admire most about your relationship is that it is built on a foundation of love! Enjoy your journey, friends, and keep on loving each other whole-heartedly.
Love,
Liz”
“They are a couple that continues to grow together, and not only are they a couple, but they are best friends. They balance each other out.” – Lanette

“To Kyle & Jessica, I love you! You are both a gift, not only to each other, but to all you know. I believe that your loyalty and love outshine the hardships and challenges that occur throughout life.” – JulieAnn

“Kyle and Jessica together have embraced each other. Together they have found in every way to enjoy life as a couple. They have found in each other the family in which they have needed to feel blessed and whole.” – Peggie

“What I love most about us is how much we laugh…there aren’t too many people who get our sense of humor and can continuously have something to laugh about. I love how we both love deeply and always remind the other of exactly how much the other means to us.” – Kyle

“As a couple we work together and rarely step on each other’s toes. We lift each other up in times of need. We both work hard to give our children the best lives we can give and then some. We spoil each other. We are understanding, supportive, caring and try hard to never go to bed mad. We are raising four small children together and haven’t killed each other or them yet…I’d say that’s doing pretty good! We are always asking how we can be better spouses, we are ever evolving as partners so we give each other what we deserve. We are very open about feelings and good at communication, for the most part. Not much gets swept under the rug or ignored here. I believe we have finally both discovered real love and we are both willing to work to make it last.” – Jessica
tracyshawntogether

Tracy & Shawn ~ Together 23ish years

Describe the first time you became aware of your partner:

Shawn – “At a party I went to, she was sitting on a bed in the middle of the living room with a huge American flag that covered the whole wall behind her. I couldn’t stop gazing at her…”

Tracy – “He was brooding in a corner, confident enough to be just outside the group yet interested enough to watch.”

 

What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever received?

Shawn – “The Bible, when God said to love your wife like He loves the church and laid His life down for her…”
Tracy – “Don’t let the sun go down while you’re still angry.”

Friends’ & Family’s thoughts on Tracy & Shawn as a couple:

“I admire how long they have been together and how they have overcome a lot as a couple. My brother’s undying love for his wife is something every woman prays for. They have four wonderful kids and I see their parents in all of them.” – Jean


“Tracy and Shawn are a wonderful balance. I believe they take turns grounding each other in life, love and our Lord. They are both family oriented, fun-loving, caring and creative. They are a fabulous mix of fire and earth! I see Tracy as being the Fire;) and Shawn being the Earth;). I admire their strength and courage in their love, marriage and path in life. I congratulate them on their 20+ years of life and love together. They are strong good people, the best neighbors I will ever have, and my good friends!” – Margot

thegroup
Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and experiences, if you feel so inclined.

The reason behind the start of this project can be found here: If you don’t have anything nice to say…
previous groups can be found here:

Group 1, Part 1
Group 1, Part 2
Group 2, Teens!
Group 3, 55+!
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6
Group 7, Men!
Group 8
Group 9, Moms & Daughters! (featuring Melissa & Lily)
Group 9, Moms & Daughters! (featuring Liz & Caitie)

 

 

 

 

 

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