MAKING IT WORK

In Features, Lifestyle & Fitness, Magazine by RI Magazine

If you can find someone who brings out the best in you, then you’ll find a way around the obstacles.
BY GAIL KIM-IRVINE

Q: I follow you and Robert on social media and it seems like you guys are always travelling—separately! How do you make a marriage like that work? — Samantha S., via Facebook

A: I’m sure you’ve heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder. There’s more to it than this, but it certainly is a factor. Because Robert and I have to spend so much time apart, we really do treasure what time we have together. My schedule is hectic and changes month to month, but Robert’s is even busier. Last month we were together for only two out of the four weeks. This month figures to be even worse; we’ll only get one out of the four.

But even with that, we make it work because it’s a priority for us to make it work. Communication is the center of any healthy relationship and we make a huge effort to stay connected on the phone and through Skype. Yes, we’re both busy, but he’s not the president and I’m not out curing cancer. There is always a way to carve out time to stay connected in a meaningful way—not just texting.

Nearly 10 years after I first met Robert, it’s still exciting to see him. The places we’ve gone together and the experiences we’ve shared in that time are more than many people get in a lifetime. It’s not lost on us how fortunate we are. But not everything is some great adventure, of course. We like to crap out on the couch and watch a Homeland marathon as much as anyone else. We love going to the movies so much that if we have a day off together (which is rare), sometimes we’ll go twice in the same day.

Moreover, we complement each other really well and each of us has had a profound effect on
the other. To give you an example, on one of our first dates we were out late and wound up at a diner. Robert had one of the regular dishes and I ordered six egg whites with sliced tomatoes and dry wheat toast. His jaw just about hit the floor. He couldn’t believe how strict I was being. Pretty soon he started to clean up his diet (and got shredded) but he also taught me how to relax and enjoy food more. I had gotten so used to being incredibly strict with my diet that I associated food that tasted really good with being unhealthy. That’s just one of many ways we play well off of one another.

I’d also argue that one of the advantages we have over couples who see each other every day is we don’t get fed up with each other. There’s just no time for it! We’re human of course and we have issues. We’re not some super-couple and we have challenges just like everyone else. But heavy travel isn’t an issue because we understand each other’s lives and we have similar commitments that we both brought to the table. Had I met Robert while he was working in the same restaurant every night and then he started travelling all of a sudden, I imagine that an experience like that would have been quite jarring and hard to handle. But this is the way it’s always been. The only other guys that I’ve met who understand how much I have to work and travel are other wrestlers—and I’ve always kept my business and personal lives separate.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own challenges. If you can find someone who brings out the best in you, and you both make a commitment to prioritize communication, you can make it work no matter what the circumstances are.