Originally published on HuffingtonPost.com.
“♥ Love isn’t finding someone you can live with, it’s finding someone you can’t live without.” – Rafael Ortiz
On a fateful evening back in December of 2008, I met the man of my dreams. I just didn’t know it yet. It started with a cheesy pick up line — or so I thought — until I realized that he was really that sincere and sweet. He told me that my arms looked amazing and wanted to know how I trained. At the time, I was guarded. I was struggling to put the pieces of my life back together as a newly single mother of two young children, and the last thing I was looking for was a relationship. Chris was working through his own issues, trying to make something of his life and struggling to get back on his feet after losing everything. After the seminar we talked for hours. We discovered how much we had in common and developed a genuine appreciation for each other. For months, we supported each other as friends — I helped him restructure his business, and he helped me through my daily trials and tribulations. The more we got to know each other, the more our appreciation grew for each other. We tied the knot in June of 2010. Little Cash joined our family in 2011, and we’re all anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new little one in November, who will make our Powell Pack a six-pack!
That being said, our life together is not always full of “butterflies and roses,” as Chris likes to say. Oh, no. We have relationship and family challenges just like everyone else! Not only are we trying to be the best spouses and parents we can be, but we also work together 24/7/365 to help guide transformations for some incredible people (featured on Extreme Weight Loss on ABC) and other projects that are so important to us. And while we love every aspect of the life we’ve chosen, it can sometimes take a toll on our relationship if we’re not careful. So how do we keep that spark alive? I’ll let you in on our four little secrets:
• Take advantage of every single moment. From caring for our amazing kids, to nonstop schedule revisions, to running the family business, to being year-long coaches to our transformation contestants, to doing household chores, to dealing with Chris’ crazy travel schedule (he’s gone pretty much 75 percent of the year) — I could go on and on — it can be difficult to find time to spend together and reconnect. I know we’re not alone in this challenge — this is the reality of life! We’ve realized if we don’t create time to spend together, it’s just not going to happen. Some of the time we spend together isn’t what you’d necessarily call “romantic” (although any time with my man is what I’d call “romantic”!): we run errands, do household chores, work out, take walks, and just sit and talk. We’ve discovered that a few minutes here and there can truly strengthen our relationship, and believe it or not these moments of “real life” we get to experience together are the ones that truly define our relationship — it feels so good to know that we can enjoy even the most mundane of tasks together ;). And how do we do it when we’re on opposite sides of the continent? Simple: we take advantage of technology (video chat and our iPhones) to spend as much time together as possible, every single day. We set “family dates” between breaks to play games, eat dinner/lunch, and just play… all over computer!! We make it work, and make it enjoyable!
• Take time for yourselves. While time together is crucial, it’s equally important to have some personal time to keep our individual souls happy and healthy. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, working out, cooking, writing, or simply relaxing, we make sure we take care of ourselves so we can take better care of each other and our kids. The stronger, happier, and healthier we are individually, the strong we can be as a team and a family ☺
• Be a team. Chris and I are two imperfect people. We both have strengths and weaknesses. Chris excels at some things I struggle with, and vice versa. We’ve learned to combine our strengths to form this amazing team that is so powerfully effective in reaching our common goals. And when one of us is struggling, the other one steps up to the plate to make up the difference. When he’s on the road and I’m left to run the family business and take care of the kids, I do it, because that’s what true teammates do. When I’m struggling with the kids, he steps in and takes over, because that’s what true teammates do. But no matter what, I know he’s got my back and he knows I’ve got his. No matter what. We are a team.
• Be each other’s best friend — always. Chris and I were best friends long before we decided to get married. We had a relationship built on openness, honesty, vulnerability, and an unconditional appreciation of how perfectly imperfect we were, and this best friend relationship formed the foundation for the marriage that we value and fiercely protect today. I know from past experience that when we get close to someone, it’s easy to take that person for granted and fall into the stereotypical “nagging wife” and “lazy husband” roles, or vice versa. It’s also easy to get irritated with your significant other’s imperfections. The solution Chris and I discovered is that we ALWAYS treat each other like a best friend — we even have “My Best Friend” tattooed on our ring fingers as a constant reminder. So the next time your significant other leaves the toilet seat up or the lid off the toothpaste — again — think, “How would I approach my best friend in this situation?” and then do it. When he tells you the truth about how a certain dress looks, even though it might hurt, try to react and respond to him like you would your best friend. And when your best friend talks, really listen to what is said, like a best friend would.
Let’s be honest: all relationships go through good times and some not-so-good times. Put these four little secrets to the test and see if they can not only keep that spark alive, but help those not-so-good times become better as well. Now that’s a win-win!