By Patrick Metzger, CEO/Founder

As my wife, Carissa, and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary today, June 24th, I find myself reflecting on the journey we’ve shared. Eighteen years of marriage have taught us countless lessons, shaped by both joyous moments and very challenging times. Our marriage has been an evolving adventure, filled with love, growth and understanding, as well as numerous surprises that have kept us on our toes!

As I look back on these 18 years, we celebrate not just our love, but the lessons that have fortified it. I wanted to share with you some of the most significant lessons I’ve learned, hoping they might resonate with you, whether you’re just heading down this road or have already been married for decades. I hope this information inspires you to nurture your own relationship with the same dedication and love we’ve been blessed to experience.

Travel

This is a little newer one for us, as we’ve only been able to prioritize it now for the last few years, but being intentional about traveling and getting away, be it for work or play, or as a couple or family, has only made our relationship stronger. It’s provided time for us to talk, plan and dream into the future for what we want professionally, personally and as a family. We’ve learned there’s nothing a little beach time and some killer sunsets can’t fix, and we always make sure as soon as we get back from a vacation or time away that we have the next one booked on the calendar. It’s amazing how good it feels when you intentionally build in vacation and away time and you always have the next adventure to look forward to as a couple or family.

Schedule Down Time

This one is much easier said than done, but being intentional about scheduling time to just hang out, be home and away from work is priceless. We block time out of our calendars to do everything from cooking together, going to a movie and prioritize sleeping in a little later to breakfast with our daughter and late-night talks in our patio. This allows us not just time to talk but also recharge our batteries while spending time together.

Parenting Is the Biggest Blessing and Challenge

Becoming parents definitely wasn’t the easiest journey for us. After years of taking steps to have kids, we finally went down the road of adoption, and our daughter is by far our biggest blessing in our lives. Being parents has taught us  unconditional love, patience, resilience and sacrifice. There’s nothing better than some snuggles on the couch, observing the goofiness of she and all her little buddies as they’re all over for a sleepover or seeing and feeling the true magic of being a kid during the holidays.

Time for Others

Carissa and I have always prioritized as much time together as possible, but it’s been just as important to continue prioritizing the relationships we have with our own individual friends also. As a busy professional and parent, it can be very easy to put aside your personal interests and relationships to prioritize your family, but it can also be a trap in the same. You can start to forget who you are and what you’re about, and that can lead to long-term negative impact once kids are out of the picture. I used to see this in individuals all the time when I was doing more 1:1 coaching. Couples that became empty nesters often struggled with finding their own individual identies, as well as one as a couple, because they had created an identify around their kids’ activities. It’s vital that you have time away and still continue to have your own outside hobbies, interests and friends.

Share Bank Accounts

I’ve always wondered how other couples make things work when they don’t share bank accounts and finances, but, hey, to each their own! Carissa and I have always approached money in our relationship as a team. It’s not HERS or MINE. It’s always been OURS. This has helped us work and make decisions together rather than apart.

Swallow Your Pride When You’re Upset

I’ll admit, this is a tough one for me, but I’m growing! I’ve learned more and more over time to embrace the idea of if it won’t matter in 5 weeks, months or years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it. It’s hard to learn, but try and be the first to apologize, especially if you know it’s YOU being the ass! Also, be quick to identify if you’re upset at your significant other or if you’re just plain upset about something else and it’s merely coming out at them. I’ve personally discovered when I’m crankiest with Carissa or my daughter that it means I’m not getting enough sleep.

Know Each Other’s Love Language

If you’re not aware of you and your significant other’s love languages, this is a game-changer once you identify them! With myself being physical touch (like every other guy out there!) and knowing Carissa’s a quality time person, we’ve learned to communicate and ask for more of what we need regarding our primary language. It’s helped us connect on a deeper level, more effectively understand the other’s needs and grow much closer. If you’ve never taken the quiz, do yourself a HUGE favor and check it out HERE.

Skip the Gifts and Do Experiences

We learned a long time ago to skip the gifts, be it for birthdays, anniversaries, etc., and create experiences together instead. These are the things you’ll always remember and truly appreciate as a couple and family.

Communication is Key

Carissa and I have always been strong in the communication department and talking with each other, but we’ve learned over time to get better at asking and diving in when the other person seems off, as well as how to be more proactive from a communication standpoint around what is coming up in our world. We’ve learned to love and appreciate talking about deep things and staying curious about each other and the world. We greatly appreciate the ability to be completely open and honest with each other, yet we respect each other’s privacy and provide space as well.  On weekends, we’ve always tried to prioritize what we call coffee hour. This is where we are intentional about taking the first hour or two upon waking to just sit and talk. No phones are typically allowed, and we talk about the weekend plans, preview what’s coming up in the next week and prioritize to do’s. We used to joke about the formality and name of it, but it’s become a regular routine over the years that has allowed us to stay on the same page as we’re barreling along through life at what can seem like 100mph.

Goal Set Each Year

A handful of years ago, Carissa and I really started getting intentional about what we wanted out of life for ourselves, each other and for our family. Each year now we take the time in late December or right after the new year to fill out a family V/TO, which is borrowed from the general V/TO concept within EOS, and also a vision board/bagua map. Between these two items, we’re setting priorities, focuses and goals around everything from finances, health and travel to social lives, personal development and our careers. This helps us plan out the year, identify how we’ll intentionally spend time and money and lead us to greater success, happiness and fulfillment.

Keep Intimacy a Priority

Life gets busy, and too often enough intimacy can get pushed to the side. We’ve learned that intimacy goes beyond physical closeness; it starts with developing that emotional connection first and foremost, being vulnerable with each other and genuinely expressing our true appreciation for one another. We’ve found that intimacy in our relationship runs in parallel with the amount and depth of communication we’re having with each other. In other words, the best foreplay is a great conversation! Carissa and I have also learned to regularly prioritize, and even schedule if necessary, time for each other, whether it’s through date nights, staycations, simple gestures of love or open and honest communication to help keep the spark alive. Making intimacy a priority has helped us ensure that we both feel valued, understood, loved and deeply connected to the other.

Approach Everything as a Team

I’ve never really looked at anything as an endeavor of merely my own, or a decision that is just in my hands alone. Carissa and I have always prioritized strong communication to take on challenges and making key decisions as a team. Now, that doesn’t mean the other in the relationship may not have limited input on a matter or put the ultimate decision in the other’s hands. We have, however, always run significant decisions through the other for feedback and insight.

Truly Take the Time and Listen

I’ve found nothing more valuable to Carissa than putting my phone to the side, tuning in, being present and listening to whatever is on her mind. Many times, she’s not even looking for feedback, or it might purely be venting, but it makes her feel better and closer to me. And when I take the time to slow down and do so, her feeling better after unloading makes me feel better as well. Take the time, be present and talk it out with your significant other.

Dream Big and Grow Together

Our approach throughout our marriage has always been one based around the concept of either growing together or growing apart. We’ve prioritized having our own lanes and priorities, but making sure those lanes were always parallel and that traffic was going in the same direction. We’ve learned to push and challenge one another, getting the other out of their comfort zone to assure growth and development is occurring. Celebrating the wins, big or small, has always been a focus of ours as well. Sometimes it’s a vacation, and other times it’s merely just reveling in the moment, having an evening cocktail or going out to dinner to celebrate the most recent accomplishment. Small wins build confidence. Celebrate them as a couple.

Defined Responsibilities Create Clarity

I don’t believe it was ever super intentional or maybe even discussed, but over the years we’ve naturally found our groove with defined responsibilities and accountabilities. Whether it’s the laundry, changing air filters for the furnace, daycare drop offs or backing up digital pictures, knowing who is going to take care of what and having open and honest discussion around those items, as well as helping out with others when and where needed, has served us well over the years.

Stay Active, Get Enough Sleep and Make Time to Laugh

From the time we got married all the way up to the present, we’ve always built routines around prioritizing the gym, getting to bed at a decent time and taking time to be goofy and enjoy a few laughs. There are always challenges in these three areas with how busy and chaotic life can get, but we’ve learned to just get back on the horse and into the routine again once we’ve fallen off here and there. The key is not waiting too long so that it’s no fun getting back on and into the routine once again. I’ve personally learned also that if I can stick to these three items consistently, I’m a pretty happy and fulfilled guy!

Check In Throughout the Day and Surprise Each Other

I know now that the simplest of gestures can mean the biggest things and have tremendous impact on our relationship. A text during the day just to say I Love You, flowers or a treat for no occasion, leaving a physical note for the other or holding hands as we’re walking are all solid methods for keeping the fire burning and showing appreciation for the other.

Conclusion

As I look back at the last 18 years of marriage, as well as our 24+ years of being together, I would emphasize the importance of intentional time together, the joys and challenges of parenting, the value of open communication and the need to grow together as a team. We’ve faced numerous challenges along the way, from balancing personal and professional lives to navigating difficult times and misunderstandings. Despite these obstacles, we’ve learned that patience, resilience and a willingness to compromise are crucial in overcoming hurdles.

By nurturing these aspects of our relationship, we’ve built a strong foundation of love and mutual support. It hasn’t all been great, believe me, but it’s all been worth it. Our experiences highlight that while love forms the core of a great marriage, it’s the everyday efforts, understanding and shared goals that have fortified it for us. I hope our journey inspires you to nurture your own relationships with the same dedication and love we’ve been blessed to experience. Here’s to many more years of growth, love and adventure!

Be sure also to check out our I Am Driven podcast Carissa and I did together with Rachel Lebowitz and Dr. Doug Brackmann in the spring of 2024 where we go into detail on how we manage entrepreneurial life and emphasize communication and roles as driven and high performance individuals within our relationship.

Click HERE to learn more about Patrick, Carissa and The Greenhouse.

 

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