Rob and I celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary today! Five years. Half a decade! Some days, it feels like our wedding day was just yesterday… and other moments, it feels like we’ve been married for a dozen years, in the very best way possible. The past five years of marriage have been filled with so much pure joy and unabashed happiness, and life is simply so much sweeter and more full together. Marriage is such an undeserved gift, and it’s the very best gift we’ve been given this side of Heaven. There is so much I want to say and share about marriage and being married to Rob, and these past five years have surely been the happiest years of my life. Through the ups and downs of life, in the conversations and laughter and tears, in the big moments and the every day, in all of it, having Rob by my side is the greatest blessing and such an answered prayer. Sometimes I look across the table or across the room and am just in complete awe that I am married to this handsome man, that we’ve chosen each other forever, and that I get to spend all my days as his wife. He is home, in every sense of the word, and he knows me to my core – the good and the bad – and loves me completely. To get to share this life with Rob, to joyfully live life together, to know that we are always on each other’s team, to grow and grow old together, to spend the rest of our days loving each other… this is the good stuff of life, and for this, I am wildly grateful and eternally blessed.
We thought it would be fun to share a little Marriage Q&A, and all of the following questions were submitted on Instagram by you all! It was really fun to read through the various questions that were asked, think about our responses, and write them out here, and I hope you enjoy reading our thoughts and glean a little bit more about us.
How do you handle hosting and/or having houseguests as a couple? Steph: One of our favorite things to do is to host our families and friends, though I am, probably unsurprisingly, a bit more of the “hostess” of the two of us. I’m also a bit more extroverted and am the handler of our calendar. I try to balance out having time with just the two of us an not inundate our calendar with too much, especially since we’ve done so little socially the last two years. But thankfully we have some really wonderful friends in the area and love hosting them whenever we can! I host articles club and book club every month or two and just run the date by Rob, and he either makes plans with his guy friends or is grateful for a little extra alone time to play video games upstairs. It’s really quite easy when it comes to the two of us, and Rob is always very, very accommodating and easy to please when I have friends over for a girls night or articles/book club. We love hosting little dinner parties and double dates and game nights & talk about when we want to have friends over together before making any solid plans, so it’s quite seamless and always very fun for both of us! None of our families live in Raleigh, so it’s a bit bigger of a visit when our parents or siblings or out-of-town friends come to visit and stay overnight, but again, it’s very easy to plan and a lot of fun to look forward to. It’s just the two of us, so we don’t overcomplicate anything, are almost always on the exact same page, know how important it is to invest in friendships/relationships (both as a couple and individually), have a heart for hosting and having guests over, and love being able to open our home up to others together.
What’s one tradition you’d like to start with your husband? Steph: This one has me thinking, especially since we already have so many traditions together already! I am definitely nostalgic and sentimental, and we have countless traditions throughout the year already. I even have a traditions & celebrations file that I started many years ago (before Rob!) and have added to and edited since we were married. I even have a lengthy section of traditions we want to start with future children – things from my childhood and Rob’s childhood, plus many new ones I’ve gathered over the years. All that to say, traditions and family celebrations are things that I think deeply about quite often and care a lot about incorporating into our family life and our legacy. One tradition addition I’ve thought about adding is doing some sort of annual New Year’s Day brunch tradition with friends — something where we are known for having an annual, standing brunch/gathering so that it’s on everyone’s radars year after year. I love the idea of having a big, casual, celebratory brunch with everyone to kick off the new year with a delicious spread of food and drinks! I also think New Year’s Day is a bit of a letdown in some ways/overhyped in other ways, so this would be a fun way to welcome the new year. I also love the idea of having a standing party every year (which can be hard for us since we travel for most every major holiday to see our families, like Easter, often the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!).
What was your favorite married date night? Rob: There are so many; this is so hard to answer! We’ve had so many, I really can’t narrow it down. They’ve all been so good, and we just love spending time with each other. Steph: This really is a hard one because we’ve had so many wonderful date nights over the last four years! I think anytime we plan something special, dress up, enjoy a delicious meal, have really good conversations, laugh a lot, and meander around town is a winner in my book. I also loved when I planned an “all of Rob’s favorite things” date day that focused on his very favorite things all crammed into one day and night! As much as I plan, I also think the more spontaneous dates together end up being some of our favorites.
What is one thing you have learned about marriage since getting married? Rob: How to work together as a team and coming together as one partnership. How to be considerate of my wife and effectively communicate and plan both our lives and our schedules together. Steph: We learned this while dating and it was reinforced during pre-marital counseling, but I have learned so much more deeply how to love Rob more than I love myself and to try to out-do one another with love. I’m called to love Rob more than I love myself, and he’s called to love me more than he loves himself. In all that we do, we try to love each other more than we love ourselves. Selfishness should have no place in a marriage (though it’s one of the hardest daily struggles, for sure!). We are called to love each other as Christ loves us: unconditionally and never-ending. We even added this line to our traditional marriage vows! We will never perfectly achieve this, but it is our goal every moment of every day. Loving Christ is the center of our marriage and its foundation – and then each other. If He is our rock and foundation, our marriage can withstand and thrive.
Who’s the spender and who’s the saver? Rob: Neither of us? We’re both savers, I would say. We’re really balanced. Steph: We’re very, very similar in our views on both saving and spending money, which has been really wonderful and a very seamless part of marriage. We were both raised very similarly and have nearly identical views and values when it comes to finances and money. I would say that I’m the spender of the two of us, though, but just a little bit… Rob rarely ever buys anything for himself (I love how non-materialistic he is!!), and I’ll occasionally buy something fun to wear or for our home but always within reason. We’re both big savers!
What is your favorite thing about each other? What is the best quality about each other? Rob: Everything. Seriously, everything. I love how sweet, caring, and kind Steph is – and how selfless she is. Steph: It’s true: I love everything about Rob. Not to say we don’t bicker or get on each other’s nerves from time to time, but I love every single thing about Rob. He is thoughtful, compassionate, kind, and genuine to his core. He encourages me like no other, makes me want to be a better person, supports me no matter what, loves selflessly, and is so sincere and generous to everyone. Rob is hilarious and goofy, and I love that we can be so silly and comfortable with each other, always. He’s driven but grounded, patient and calm, a dedicated man of God, the goofiest and most wonderful husband, and my favorite person in the whole world!
What are your favorite date ideas? Rob: When we eat a steak dinner and make it a fancy date. I like trying out new restaurants when we can, and we both appreciate good food and drinks – and talking together. Steph: We’ll pretend everything is back to normal for the sake of this question! I love love love planning date days and date nights, and I’m (not surprisingly) more of the planner in our marriage. Actually, very early on in our relationship, we designated me as our date night/adventure planner since it’s something I love doing and thrive with – and it tends to stress Rob out more than he enjoys it. And I love thinking of and planning out special activities or dates that I know we’ll both love! I love planning adventures and trying or exploring somewhere new together, and I also love seeing if there’s anything special or unique happening around town or nearby. Our seasonal to-do lists always ensure we have creative and fun dates planned in advance, as well. Whether it’s trying a new restaurant, hopping around downtown, exploring a small town nearby, enjoying a picnic and/or music and/or a movie in the park, checking out a winery or brewery, a double date with friends… we love date nights and spending intentional, fun time with each other.
Do you and your husband fight? Rob: We have small tiffs, usually over something really hilarious afterward. We get along really well. Steph: Totally agree with Rob on this! We always call them tiffs, too. When we do have tiffs or argue, we have very similar conflict and conflict resolution styles, so we’re never mad or frustrated more than twenty minutes, max. And then we talk about it, resolve our differences, realize how lame our tiff was, and laugh and kiss. We are really proud of our communication in our marriage (we work hard to prioritize this!) and work hard to be loving, open, honest, understanding, forgiving, and selfless. So yes, we fight occasionally, like anyone, but really not much at all.
When did each of you know that you wanted to marry the other person? Rob: I knew very early – maybe a couple months into dating. There wasn’t really one moment but a gradual realization that I wanted to marry Steph. Seeing her character and who she is in her every day life made me want to marry her. Steph: It wasn’t very long into dating each other, in case you’re new around here! We dated for six months, were engaged for six months, and were married one year and two days after our first date, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had prayed and waited a very long time to find Rob, and His timing is perfect. Rob met my parents three weeks, after we were officially dating, and it was amazing. The next weekend, we went to Pennsylvania so I could meet his parents – also amazing. We took a picture of the four of us (his parents and us), and I vividly remember thinking “I think these are going to be my in-laws.” Rob and I took a couple day trips to the beach with friends early that summer (2016), and we would talk about our lives together and what we’d want our marriage to look like and our wedding… til it became OUR marriage and OUR wedding. Early that summer, we were 99.9999% sure we wanted to be together forever. Not that there was ever any doubt – just being in a newer relationship. I always knew we were headed in a very good direction and always moving forward together. Our relationship was easy, comfortable, full of all the best things, and just so happy. It still is! We’ve always, always felt such assurance from God that this was a gift from Him. We were driving home from my parents’ home one weekend in July, and I looked over at Rob and just KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt, that this man would be my husband. We’ve always been on the same page and same timing, which has been incredible. We knew very quickly that we wanted to spend our lives together, forever.
When you picture life together in 20 years, what do you imagine? Rob: We’ll still be loving each other, probably putting our kids through college, still be goofy and awesome. We’ll age like fine wine: we’ll just keep getting better and better. Steph: We’ll be in our early 50s in twenty years, and my answer would be similar to Rob’s (except much longer and more verbose, in case you hadn’t noticed!). We’ll be celebrating 25 years of marriage and still madly in love. I imagine life will be full and joyful: balancing work and home and parenthood and marriage and life! Hopefully we’ll be making a few weekend visits to kids in college and savoring our empty-nest home, too. Our family will be rooted in faith, legacy, intentional living, creating joyful memories, getting outside and exploring, celebrating abundantly, adventures near and far, giving generously, serving the Lord and other wholeheartedly, and unapologetic love.
What are both of your Enneagram numbers? Rob: I refuse to answer that question (ha!). Steph: I love the Enneagram and talking about it; Rob does not! I am a pretty classic 2 with a 3 wing, and Rob is a pretty classic 9 with a 1 wing. So many of my very favorite people are 9s – the easygoing peacemaker! Doesn’t that sound like my sweet Rob?! I’m the helper/the host.
Tell us about your honeymoon! Rob: It was so relaxing and wonderful to just spend time with each other and being married. We loved that there were no distractions, we didn’t have to make any decisions, and it was a really special week. We just enjoyed and celebrated our new married life, and I loved it! Steph: Our honeymoon was just the best ever. It was such an incredible week together: just the two of us and zero distractions, savoring all of this uninterrupted time together, and enjoying a slice of paradise with my new husband. I shared a ton about our honeymoon here, and we look back on our honeymoon with nothing but the happiest memories. Honestly, our biggest decision each day was whether to go swimming at the resort’s private beach or the infinity pool or our own private pool at our cottage. Or do we want another pina colada or a Caribbean daze cocktail? Bliss, right?! Our honeymoon was just about us: savoring our first days as husband and wife, learning even more about each other, dreaming about our future, relishing every detail of our wedding, and falling more in love – in this most beautiful tropical location.
What was your first date? Rob: We went to Jasmine’s, one of my favorites, for our first date. We ate, we talked, we got to know one another, and I was thinking… “wow, she’s really cool and sophisticated.” Her profile online was really awesome, and I thought I was really going to like her, but you never quite know with online dating. She lived up to the hype, obviously. I thought she was really beautiful. Steph: Our first date was six years ago this past Monday! We went to dinner at Jasmine’s – I was so excited to meet him in person (and I could tell he was excited to meet me, too), and I wasn’t all that nervous, either. I know we both vividly remember the moment we met for the first time; I love replaying that moment in my head! Conversation was so easy and flowing, he was so sincere and kind, and we had so much in common. It was a wonderful first date! We planned a second date before even finishing the first, and our second date was many, many hours long – lunch, a long walk around a lake, and sitting and talking for hours by the lake. It was on our second date that we really, really knew there was something special. And we’ve never looked back since!
Rob Shaul, I love you with all of my heart and always will. Marrying you was the easiest, best, and happiest decision of my life, and being married to you is more incredible than I ever dreamt it could be. How is it possible to fall more and more in love with you every single day? Thank you for the countless ways you love me, pursue my heart, make me laugh, encourage me, and make this life we share so darn fun. You are my greatest blessing and biggest adventure, and I love you forever!
“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
wedding photos are by our dear friends and incredible photographers Ally + Bobby!