A Valentine’s Day Q&A
Thomas and I are always by one another’s sides, at home, at work, and on the road. We’re husband and wife, business partners, and best friends–there’s truly no one else I’d rather do it all with. On this day of celebrating romance and love, it felt only fitting that we appear side by side on the blog too, so one of our team members came up with a little interview for us. We receive lots of relationship-related questions every day, so we hope you enjoy this little peek into our marriage, some favorite (and not-so-favorite!) memories, our go-to dates, our Valentine’s Day plans, and more!
Tell us about the first Valentine’s Day you spent together. How long had you been dating at that point? What do you remember most about it?
Julia: I vividly remember our first Valentine’s Day together because it was the first time I’d cooked for Thomas. We had been dating a little under a year, and he had made me countless home-cooked meals, so I thought I would switch it up and cook for him. I hadn’t had much experience in the kitchen, and being in college, didn’t cook much, but Thomas’ parents were out of town and we were house-sitting for them, so I actually had a kitchen to use. I don’t remember the exact recipe I used, but I made a shrimp pasta that ended up being way more complicated than I had bargained for. I had never cooked seafood before! A few phone calls with my mom and some panicked moments later, I got through it. I don’t remember what the rest of the meal was, but I do remember the dessert I made: a homemade pizzookie (for those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a pizza/cookie that has a giant dollop of ice cream on top). I made chocolate chip with raspberry chocolate ice cream on top. The meal was a hit and I remember Thomas being thoroughly impressed with it when he got home from baseball practice.
Thomas: We started dating around Easter of 2010, so our first Valentine’s Day would have been in 2011. I’m really struggling to recall what we did. Knowing me, I probably cooked dinner at home because I didn’t want to deal with the crowds. I also vaguely remember chocolate-dipped strawberries. (note from Julia: Thomas is totally wrong here)
What is your favorite type of date to go on?
Julia: I love dates where you try something new together or do an experience for the first time. Because Thomas and I get to spend a lot of day to day time together, switching things up and putting ourselves in different environments or getting to learn a new skill or take a class allows us to see each other in a new light. These always lead to funny stories and wonderful memories.
Thomas: When I picture a date, in my mind, I visualize a couple at a restaurant across the table from each other, staring into each other’s eyes, engaged in deep conversation. Those are all great, but my favorite dates are ones that you can do side by side with one another. focusing on the physical orientation that two people have might sound odd, but I find that side by side yields better and more authentic conversation and teamwork. Some of my favorite side by side date ideas: road trips, hikes, walks, enjoying a sunset, and any type of class, like cooking, pottery, or even a workout class.
What do you think is the worst date you’ve ever been on together? (Due to the situation, not the company, of course!)
Julia: Ha! A very vivid and distinct moment comes to mind. Thomas and I had just landed in Florence, Italy for a trip, our second time there, and we were dying to go back to a spot where we had had the most amazing, romantic meal on our honeymoon. We were so excited and beelined to the restaurant as soon as we had checked in and got our bags in our room. It started off strong–we ordered a large carafe of the house red wine and were settling into the menu when a man, sitting at the table next to us alone, chimed in, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to pry, but I couldn’t help but notice that you two are American and seem really lovely, would you mind if I joined you?” We both looked at one another, and not ones to pass up a new experience or opportunity to meet fun/interesting people (especially while traveling), we said “Sure! Why not!?” Huge mistake! Within 10 minutes, we realized that the man was either very drunk or very strange, and was rambling on about space and aliens and a million other things we couldn’t follow along with. The romantic dinner we had hoped to have again was quickly replaced with an awkward, how-do-we-politely-get-rid-of-this-man dinner. Not wanting to be rude, we ended up eating quickly, skipping dessert, and barely getting through our wine before asking for the check and getting out of there!
Thomas: One year for a special occasion, Julia and I road on a private hot air balloon in Napa. It was incredible, romantic, peaceful, and so beautiful. When our friends came into town a year or two later, we decided to go hot air ballooning again, but double-date this time. While the ride was pretty good, the winds led us to have to land on a hill. During the landing, we came in with way too much speed, and with no warning from the pilot, we crashed into the side of the hill. The basket turned sideways and the balloon kept going with the wind, dragging us for a few seconds until the ground landing party grabbed ropes and brought us to an eventual stop. Julia had been facing backwards to the landing and it caught her by surprise. She screamed bloody murder for about two minutes straight and was shaking for the next few hours (and that’s about how long my ears were ringing). Luckily, no one was hurt (though we’ve heard horror stories about hot air balloons), but I don’t think we will ever hot air balloon again.
How about the best?
Julia: We’ve had a lot of incredible dates over the years, but I have to say, I’ll never ever forget our very first “official” date. Thomas made me dinner. We were still in college and I had never had a guy cook for me before, let along create a whole home-cooked meal. He even had chocolate covered strawberries for dessert! There was so much thought and time that went into it and I was so touched. Looking back now, I know that’s still the exact same man I’m married to. Every single day I remind myself how lucky I am to have someone who always wants to put the work in to create something special for me. To me, it’s much better than any fancy meal!
Thomas: I’d say that one of my favorites was last summer when we went to the Amalfi Coast. We rented a boat for the day and cruised along the coast, stopped for maybe the best lunch ever, and then cruised over to Capri, around Capri and back to Amalfi. It was an incredible day.
When did you know that Julia/Thomas was “the one?”
Julia: I knew almost immediately that Thomas was the one, that I had found my person. I had never felt so loved, so warm, so safe and comfortable with anyone else before. We were so close so quickly and have always loved spending so much of our life and time together. Naturally we can get on each other’s nerves or frustrated with each other, but I can honestly say that there is not a single day that has gone by that I haven’t wanted to be right next to him.
Thomas: I knew almost as soon as we started dating that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. Obviously, we both had attractions to each other, but we also instantly felt comfortable around one another and in every situation. To this day, we are just as comfortable in deep conversation as we are in complete silence.
What is one unexpected thing you love about each other that readers may not know about?
Julia: Thomas is a very serious guy and unless he knows someone really well, he doesn’t show a ton of emotion off the bat (unlike me). But, being on the other side of that, as his wife, I get to see the most beautiful, loving, and romantic side of him. One of my favorite things that he does is in the morning when he’s getting up and I’m still half asleep, he rolls over and tells me something sweet and thoughtful. He does this every single day. And even though I’m usually barley coherent when he does it, I always wake up to that thought and it’s my favorite part of every day.
Thomas: Julia is the biggest dreamer I’ve ever met. This happens everywhere in our lives, from creative work, to cooking, to our home, and so many other spots. As soon as she gets a spark of inspiration, her mind is off to the races. I’ve never witnessed anything like it. The most impressive part is it’s almost like her mind lacks the ability to filter what’s possible and what’s not possible. The result is normally an infeasible solution, but after a little help from me, the practical and dollars and cents type of person, we wind up with big dreams that we can achieve, and often do, because Julia is just as good of a finisher as she is a dreamer.
What is your number one piece of relationship advice?
Julia: To respect one another and look at each other as equals. When you respect one another, it creates a benchmark for so many things- trust, honesty, commitment, forgiveness, patience.
Thomas: Make constant effort to make your significant other feel valued. I think this is the key for long relationships, as it’s very easy to get into the rhythm of life and to forget to feel grateful for the life partner that you have. It doesn’t take long to share words, a kiss, or a hug to let someone know how much you appreciate who they are, what they do, and the impact that they have on your life.
P.S. Want to read more about us? Take a look at some past relationship posts, like six things we’ve learned about each other after six years of marriage, ten questions about each other in honor of our fifth anniversary, and our favorite things about working together.
Author: Judie Engel