I'd like to introduce you to Jeff and Martha Smith. Martha is my oldest sister, she and Jeff live out in Utah.
They met in April 2008 and got engaged in September 2008 and married in May 2009. They dated a total of 13 months. When they got married, Martha was 32 and Jeff was 34. They were married in the Draper, Utah Temple and have been married for 3 years and 2 months. Here's the questionnaire:
Thoughts on Dating
What was the hardest part about dating?
Martha: I always felt like I was giving more in relationships than I was getting. I worried about what the guy felt, when I should have been concerned about how I felt. I didn't date a lot, so when I did, I think I over thought everything. It was also difficult to be treated the way I was by so many guys. I had a lot of baggage from bad, emotionally abusive relationships.
Jeff: Asking the same questions that younormally ask a date. It was hard getting to know the families of the girls I dated. Trying to be nice to everyone i dated, even when I wasn't attrected to them.
What was your favorite part about dating?
Martha: Meeting new people and trying things I had never tried before. Dating also helped me narrow down qualities that were important to me and ones that didn't really matter in the long run.
Jeff: Doing fun things together. Going on drives and sharing music that I like. I liked trying to read what my dates were thinking.
How did you meet?
decided to give Internet dating, specifically eHarmony, one last
chance. I paid for another month and didn't get any matches for a few
days. Finally, I had a communication request from Jeff. The rest is
Jeff: It was my last attempt to date someone on eHarmony.
What were some qualities in your spouse that attracted you to them?
Martha: He was a hard worker and true to his word. I had never dated guys like that. He made me laugh and was so easy to talk to. He was very forward with his feelings for me. It was nice having someone show interest in me and not the other way around.
Jeff: Intelligence, looks, interesting intelligent conversations, and a lot of laughing. One more, one more, excellent motherly skills when I saw her with children.
How long were you engaged?
We were engaged for the longest 9 months of our lives.
When/how did you know you wanted to marry them?
Martha : I think I always knew, I wasn't nervous around him, I wasn't constantly wondering what he was thinking or how he felt. I just knew and it was comfortable.
Jeff: Probably after Martha started coming to a lot of my family events and fitting in with everybody. Having deep conversations and feeling comfortable sharing such personal experiences.
Did you have any reservations?
Martha: I think if you jump into a relationship thinking it is all going to be rosy and problem free, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. I was prepared for the hard work of marriage. My reservations were more along the lines of being single for so long. I wasn't ready to give up the single life, but I was tired of the single life at the same time.
Jeff: Of course you never marry someone who is perfect. So, I would say that I am a very close physical person and at times I wish that I would receive what I like to give. It's hard sometimes when Martha doesn't talk to me about her emotions, or feelings.
How do you make big decisions?
Martha: Usually Jeff comes home with an idea in mind and tries to convince me that's what we need to do. We talk and "discuss" what we need to do. Sometimes I just don't have an opinion on the matter and try to tell Jeff it doesn't matter. He never believes me. ;) (that emoticon was right there in the survey answer).
Jeff: Obviously we talk about it. Sometimes I do come home with my mind made up. We like to get our points across before we come to a decision. Sometimes you have to give up what you want, but that's part of compromising.
What is something you weren't expecting in a marriage?
Martha: I wasn't expecting to lose so much of my independence. I was so used to doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.
Jeff: When you are dating and you are happy, you just go into the marriage thinking that happy will be there 90% of the time. Once you feel more comfortable around that person the true colors come out, and you have to learn to overcome the difficult moments.
What is the hardest part about marriage?
Martha: Jeff works late hours, so the hardest part for me is being alone. A lot. I also take his constructive criticism to heart more often than I should. He is the person who knows me better than anyone else, so when he thinks I should improve in some area of my life, it feels like I've let him down.
Jeff: Trying to stay positive when my significant other (read: Martha) is upset. I grew up with certain habits and Martha grew up with different ones.
What is your favorite part about marriage?
Martha: No more dating! Seriously, I love always having my buddy. I know who my Saturday night date is.
Jeff: Spending time together. (Vacations, road trips) cooking dinner together, know that i have someone who dearly loves me waiting at home.
What kind of things do you do to keep the "spark"?
Martha: I like when Jeff takes a day off to just spend together. It's a nice way to get out of the rut of work and all of the other things we have to do.
Jeff: (embarrassed giggle) I like when Martha does something spontaneous. I like when she comes up behind me and puts her arms around me. She surprises me with a treat or meal that I like. The hard thing about it is that we are away from each other so much that I try to think of the times we are together. It's usually at night when we can't go anywhere, or the weekends when we have a million errands to run, there are a lot of things that happen that I don't recognize because I try and make the most of the time we have together. That short amount of time makes if hard to remember specific things that keep the spark.
How do you work through disagreements?
Martha: This is a hard one to talk about. It is something that we are working on. We argue. Okay, I said it. It usually escalates into me yelling, but then we talk about things and feelings get voiced and everything clams down. The one thing we have always told each other is that no matter how hard it gets, we aren't going anywhere. We were sealed in the temple and that is so much stronger than any other wedding ceremony. We don't take those vows lightly. With that commitment, we don't leave an argument unfinished.
Jeff: You have to be able to communicate in a way where you have to think of the other person before yourself. By saying that I mean you have to put yourself in your spouse's place and understand what she is feeling and try to get her to know that you understand what she is going through. Hopefully, she will do the same in return. Always try to think unselfishly even when you are not in the mood.
Do you have any kids?
We have one beautiful 6 month old daughter.
How do you meld two different parenting philosophies?
Martha: It's hard. I thought before I was a mom that I would raise Sadie one way, but when she was born, my whole philosophy changed. I try to let Jeff raise Sadie the way he feels comfortable and not interfere. It isn't easy, when I feel like my way is right.
Jeff: I do what I do when Martha is not around, as much as I can get away with, anyway.
What is your favorite part about parenthood? Least favorite?
Martha: Favorite - Seeing Sadie's face light up when she sees me. I love the snuggles and cuddles and watching her development. Especially when I have waited so long to be a mom. Least favorite - The few times Sadie is fussy and I can't figure out why. Oh, and the amount of spit up - ugh.
Jeff: Favorite - Spending time together as a family and I can't resist Sadie-Talls' smiles. Least - Poopy diapers. Waking up early in the morning to feed her. That's been tough for me. (Jeff is home with Sadie in the mornings, so he gets up early every day).
Do you have any advice for others (single or married)?
Martha: Looks aren't everything. Money isn't either. Look for someone you can talk to about everything. Even when you have nothing else, conversation is free.
Jeff: If you are single, try to get to know the person at all angles. Look at the things that are most important to you in finding your mate. Then, try and study how that person you are dating, or that you like, to see if they have those qualities. I feel that somehow you know that it just feels right being around the person. There is a chemistry that you share for one another that you don't feel with any other person. For married couples, be unselfish, be unselfish, by unselfish. Stay positive as much as possible!