Tess: How and when did you two meet?
Marly: We met at a KC Vegan Meet-up Group over a guitar. My daughter, Adee and I liked to go to the annual Thanksgiving potluck because there was always so much great vegan food and it was nice to meet other vegetarians and vegans in the community. I knew the person who was hosting the dinner and after we ate, Adee went to play with the kids and I headed over to the guitar. That’s when Shawn came over and introduced himself. He was (and is) a much better guitar player than me, but I guess he was intrigued by my interest in music. To this day we still play together. I’m much better at the guitar as a result. Also, I’m glad I decided to take guitar lessons!
Shawn: I had just moved to Kansas City in September of 2006 and was just starting to meet a few people. I heard about a vegetarian/vegan meetup group and thought it would be a good place to meet like-minded people. Little did I know I would meet someone so like-minded I would end up marrying her six months later!
Tess: When did you know it was true love?
Marly: I think we both realized we had something special early on. I was trying to play it cool because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was coaching myself to be fine with just being friends. I knew we were meant to be when a few months after we met we were on a road trip to meet his family and we were listening to the audio book of Marley and Me, and the author mentioned that he had two dogs in his life, Marley, and his first dog, Shawn. What are the chances of that? It was meant to be!
Shawn: It didn’t take long for me, maybe by the 3rd time we saw each other. I realized quickly what a find she was.
Tess: Who proposed and how did that take place? We want to hear all the gushy, romantic details!
Marly: Well, I don’t know how romantic these details are, because we kind of came to the decision together. I went with Shawn to visit his family in southern Missouri and while I was there I was in an accident and broke my collarbone. The injury left me unable to do a lot of things, like tie my shoes or drive my car. Shawn moved in to help me out for the six weeks while my arm had to be in a sling. At some point during that time we just realized we should get married.
We picked a day and got married by a judge at the courthouse steps. It was a beautiful day and the judge did a wonderful job – she spoke about the importance of learning to rely on each other. It was me, Shawn, and my daughter, Adee on the courthouse steps; a simple ceremony, but exactly what we wanted. We married six months to the day we met and we recently celebrated nine years together!
Shawn: I don’t remember a formal proposal, we just both realized it was what we both wanted. We also knew we didn’t want a big ceremony, so it was just us and Adee at the county courthouse on a beautiful spring day in 2007.
Tess: Do you have pet names for each other? Care to share?
Marly: Shawn has a one-syllable name. It’s hard to beat that. Sometimes I call him Shawnchilada, based off a dish he prepares regularly and we’ve since named after him. I remember the first time he called me “honey.” It was a month or two after met, when he was over and he was fixing a leak in the bathroom. That alone was pretty sweet, but he realized he didn’t have a necessary tool and he said, “Hey, honey, can you grab me that wrench?” I remember thinking, “Hmm, I like the sound of that.”
Shawn: I don’t think I’d ever had a “pet name” for a significant other, but for Marly it just ended up being “honey” without much thought. Growing up, that’s what I remember hearing my parents call each other.
Tess: What are your challenges as a couple? How do you work through them?
Marly: Communication is probably one of the biggest challenges. I will interpret something he said differently than he intended. If I ruminate on that too long I can create some crazy story around why he said this hurtful thing. This is a scenario that used to take us a long time to work through. Now we’re much quicker at resolving these issues because Shawn understands the symptoms of a problem emerging, like a volcanologist by Mt. St. Helens in 2008 watching her about to erupt. It helps that I’m one of those people that wears my emotions on my sleeves. But we’re to the point now that he can see even the subtle signs of an issue and will talk to me about it, and I have learned to push aside the people pleaser in me and speak honestly about how I feel.
I think you have to pick your battles in a relationship and that means knowing when you need to speak up and talk through an issue or just give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes when I go to bed I’ll think about my day and forgive things. I’ll forgive myself for stupid things I might have said. I’ll forgive my husband if he was having a bad day and hurt my feelings. I’ll forgive frustrations I experienced. Some things have to be talked through, but others can just be forgiven. And forgiving my day helps me to start the next day with a fresh, clean slate.
Shawn: One big challenge early on was getting to equal levels of comfort in trusting the other. For me it was very quick that I felt “all in” and committed; for Marly it was more difficult to trust in my commitment because of her experiences from previous relationships. Eventually I convinced her. :-)
Tess: What do you love most about your spouse?
Marly: There were a few things that happened early on that helped me know he was the one. First, I love that Shawn cares so much about animals. Of course he cared about our dogs. But I learned how committed he was when I saw that he had a bug net that he used (and uses) to catch bugs in the house and release them outside. I thought that was pretty amazing because to me it showed his respect for creatures great and small.
Second, early on in our relationship, I heard him on the phone with his parents and he ended it by saying “love you.” I love how much he loves his family. Shawn is very loyal as well and it’s an important characteristic in a relationship. I also love that Shawn is trustworthy. I never doubt his devotion to me, and that gives me such a sense of stability in our relationship. Also, Shawn is always looking for ways to make things better. He builds shelves, or fixes things around the house to make them work better. He is always willing to work on our relationship too, which is a great characteristic in a partner.
Shawn: That’s like asking what my favorite album or band is - there are too many to only pick one! For sure, I love that Marly is so generous and giving. She has a great capacity for empathy. She is supportive and a superb cheerleader. She is fun and usually in a great mood. As a general rule she is open-minded and curious, which is important to me.
Tess: How do you keep your relationship fun and fresh? Do you have date nights or other fun things you do to stay connected?
Marly: I think the most important thing is that we’re friends. We have a really special relationship because we both work from home and have a lot of similar interests that we do together, like tennis. We play tennis together in the evenings and we’re on a WTT team together. We also enjoy music together and we’ll get out the guitars and jam on some nights. We will on occasion go to see live music. And we have friends that we get together with occasionally to go out to dinner. We always have great food at home too, so the temptation to eat out isn’t too terribly strong. Also, because of my blog, I cook a lot, and Shawn likes to eat, so that works out too.
Shawn: We enjoy spending time together in general, but for fun our main activity is tennis. We both love the outdoors so anything outside is good. In the winter we play ping pong and watch movies and tennis.
Tess: What do you think the three most important things are in maintaining a loving relationship?
Marly: I think respect is really important. I need to feel respect from my partner and I need to give it as well. I also think equality is very important. There has to be equality, otherwise there is an imbalance and that is not sustainable, at least not in a healthy way. Third, I think laughter is important. Whether you’re in the kitchen making dinner or walking the dogs or anything throughout the course of the day, being able to laugh together is so important.
Shawn: Number one has to be total trust. Without it, it seems to me that the relationship is built on sand. After that, the relationship is built on three pillars of needs - emotional, intellectual and physical. You can have a good marriage with two of those, but a great marriage has all three.
Tess: Thank you so much for sharing, and for being vegan rockstars! What are you currently working on? Where can we find out more about what you do?
Marly: We continue to build resources at NamelyMarly to help people with the transition to a vegan diet. We love showing the mainstream side of vegan, with easy recipes, and just fun, inspiring lifestyle posts. Shawn and I work together on the photos and videos for our recipes and lifestyle posts on the site. We also work together on the podcast, with Shawn handling the audio and design elements while I manage the interviews and recordings. One of these days I hope to get Shawn on the show with me. Stay tuned to see if I can get that to happen! Oh, and Shawn also designs and manages both the NamelyMarly and the ChoppedCon sites too.
Shawn: My personal site is shawnbeelman.com, but because I’m working on client sites all day, every day, I’m not good about updating it. You can see more of my photography here.
Tess: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Marly: Shawn and I have both read the book Conscious Loving and felt like it was a great resource early on in our relationship. It helped us learn to communicate honestly and openly. I think it’s important to work through past baggage and for me that involved seeing a therapist and subsequently hiring a life coach. Both experiences were helpful for me to learn to speak my truth. Great credit to Shawn for always being willing to talk when I need it.
YAY! Thanks SO much, Shawn and Marly. You have both inspired me, truly. And thank YOU for reading, friends!!