Monica & Shell

Monica & Shell (together 20 years, married almost three years) -

What is the best thing about being married, since you guys had already been together for 20 years?

Monica: I felt like I was not sure how you could love someone more. That was surprising! There is something about being married, like the commitment, the exchanging of the vows, the energy of it all changes.

I used to think I did not need to be married to her, we were fine the way that we were.  Then we got married, and I'm like this feels ready good, I love the commitment part it. I love that she sees the good and the bad and she's not going to walk away. You know, like in a dating relationship that can be scary, where you think you can't show the bad because they might leave, but when you are married, you can do those things.

Shell: I had told Monica I wanted her to ask me to marry her, I felt like it was one foot in one foot out. I didn't want to be that girl pushing for that ultimatum, but I was like if you're going to be with me, I want to marry you. I was surprised when she did.

Monica: I remember going to dinner with a  friend of mine, and I said, "can you believe Shell wants me to marry her? That's weird, isn't it? I mean we have been together 16 years."  Then this friend gave me some perspective, "Do you know how disrespectful that is? She loves you and is committed to you. She wants to marry you."  I was like, Oh I had never thought if like that, you're right, I should really give it some thought.

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Were you guys together the whole time in 20 years before you got married?

Monica: We took a break twice.

Shell: No. Three times. We broke up the third time in 2005 for about 8 months.

Monica: But we still lived together for a couple of those months. Then I thought I needed to go back home. We had not come out to our families yet, so, I think it had something to do with being part of a traditional family. I was home for three months and hated it. Then I realized how much I loved her, so I came out to parents and moved back immediately. We have been together ever since. Once I told my parents I was like, why didn't I do that sooner. We both said that, why did we wait so long?

Shell: This was 16 years ago. We were scared. It was a different world.

What is the best the best part of being married:

Monica: For me, it's knowing that somebody really knows you. I don't have to explain anything, she gets me. I don't have to try to be something I am not.

Shell: Have you ever heard that phrase, you feel like you're home with the person you love? I feel that way.  It's everything good in my life wrapped into our love.

Monica: It also feels good to only feel this way about one person. She is the only one I can truly be myself with.

Shell: Literally I can tell Monica anything. Nothing I say will shock her anymore. Like last night when I told her about these sneakers on eBay I accidentally bid on. I swear I did not mean to, but I won!

Is there a limit on how much you spend before you have to tell each other?

Shell: No, but technically, we are not supposed to be spending anything because we are working on the business.

Monica: No we don't have a limit, but Shell is more likely to do it without saying anything. I'm more likely to say, hey I'm going to spend this much.

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What is the hardest thing about being married:

Monica:  The hardest thing is you have to give in more than you think you do.  You do have to say no to yourself sometimes. Like, it's not what I want, but it's what she needs and that can be hard.

Shell: Like the other day, we had this argument, and it kept snowballing and snowballing.  And then told her, we love each other let's just give-in.  We have discussed that if fights keep going, we have to come back to remind ourselves that love each other and no one is going anywhere.

Monica: But the amount of times you have to do that in a marriage is surprising.

Shell: I don't think there is anything that can happen that would destroy my relationship with you, Monica. I mean maybe one thing, but I don't know, hahaha. We have been through so much I really don't even know what it would take.

Monica: We are like best friends. We laugh, we go out.

Shell: We do! We got out, we do stupid stuff, we cruise at night, ha!

Monica: hahaha! Yes, we try to do things we used always used to do in the beginning.

Shell: We try to remember why we got together in the first place. You know Monica has always been there for me. When my brother died, and then when my sister died. I didn't think I was going to recover from either one of those things.

Monica: I didn't think you were going to recover either.

Shell: I mean I probably still have not even recovered, do you ever? We have been through so much. We have had money, not had money.

Shell: You know it is easier to throw in the towel in a relationship.

Monica: Yes, it is easy. It's harder to stay in it.

Shell: You have to remember why you said yes to marrying this person in the first place. You find the answer to that question and remind yourself when things get hard.

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What advice would you give newlyweds:

Monica: I feel like you should be yourself earlier. Like, don't waste so much time trying to be who they may want you to be, be who you are first.

Shell: You know there are so many things about how hard we should work at our jobs and how we should hire a trainer for the gym. But what about how we should work on our marriage?

Monica:  We have gone to therapy, we still go once in a while, we call it a "tune-up."  Because there are just some topics that are hard, so we go to therapy for that stuff.

Shell: One thing I like that our therapist does is tell Monica to tell me about how she feels about this particular issue. Then she will say, Shell what did you hear. Usually, I heard something entirely different than how Monica meant it. It teaches us how to listen.

Monica: My advice to couples, you should probably get help sooner if you need it. Don't try just to try to do it on your own.

Shell: I don't know why we are taught to work so hard at other things in life but not marriage.  Water your relationship. Take care of it, it's in invaluable.

Marriage can fall into such a routine, how do you keep it fun:

Shell: We really are a lot of fun. I would hang out with us, haha!

Monica: We try to keep it spontaneous. I feel like we try too to keep it to our roots. Like I'm from Texas so we try to do things that would remind us of home.  

Shell: It gets hards sometimes, I feel like right now we are in a little crossroads, not relationship wise, other life stuff. I have kind of been in a bit of a funk. I realize that she is the one I come and vent to, but at the same time she is the person I love, who is also my lover, so I try to remember that she is not just my friend.

Monica: Because at the same time it is good to have a relationship where your partner can be like your therapist, but they are also the person you are passionate about.  You can sway one way too much, so you have to keep it sexy and passionate.  You can get too comfortable, so it takes work.

Shell: You know what is funny when we got married we wrote our own vows and when you do that you have to think about everything really. Yes, we lived together, but you have to remember what am I vowing to, what am I expressing.

Monica: It's great because sometimes when we are arguing Shell will recite a few things from her vows.

Shell: It's like I said earlier, sometimes in an ongoing argument I just stop it and tell her we love each other we are not going anywhere.  I've told Monica, and I don't know what people have gone through in their life, but I have been through so much. My parents divorced when I was three. There were times when I had to grow up fast, and maybe I've gotten to a point where I'm like if you want to be right, OK.  

Monica:  I think that works for our relationship too though, I  tend to be on the hot side, I don't let things go very easy, and I hold on to it. I don't care if I am wrong or not. But I do think someone in the relationship has to be like, TIMEOUT!  When Shell does come in at the heat of the moment and reminds me that we love each other, it does take a minute. It does stop me in my tracks. I have to think, I can continue to fight or I can let go here. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, but it is a useful tool for us.

Monica: I do believe everyone should try to be married though, hahaha.

Shell: Yes, I agree they should try it. It's a different level of love. I don't know how to explain it.

Monica: I can't quite explain why being married does feel better than just being a couple, but it does. It wasn't the paper, it was the ceremony for me. It was the coming together of our families. I think that meant more to me than any marriage certificate.

Shell: I love you boo!

Monica: I love you too!