Happy Valentine’s Day!! Today I thought I would celebrate the day of love with love. Ever since I saw Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet my life has never been the same. I am obsessed with love and romance. As I’ve gotten older and I now obsess less about Leo DiCaprio, I wonder about longevity and the realness in real life relationships, as I currently reside in singledom. I love learning how people meet but more importantly how do people stay together? I know love involves a bit magic, kismet but the older I get the more I'm interested in people who have been together for a while, who have built their lives together and still seem truly in love with each other.
One of my favorite couples, Heather and Cheyne are the kind of couple that you can see their magic, their love but they aren’t afraid to tell you they work at it. They keep each other important; they keep respect and vulnerability important. They are open, honest and real. They make real life love look like a great journey, you want to be on. I asked them a few questions about their longevity, what they love about each other, what they've learned and more. Enjoy! I adore these two.
How did you meet? Age? How long you've been together?
Cheyne: Heather and I met in the spring of 2002. Heather was 17 and I was 19. I was back in California from college for spring break and had planned on relaxing at the beach with some friends. My sister was also planning a similar trip and would be coming home from college with a few of her girlfriends from school. The day my sister got into town, I happened to be getting some coffee near the harbor where my parents live. She called me up and said she was going to come by and say hi. I didn't think much of it at the time, but this single visit home would change everything in my future. As I saw my sisters familiar face walk up, I also noticed a beautiful and unfamiliar one.
Many rom-coms have captured this moment, an aloof male, suddenly love-struck after seeing a beautiful woman walk into his life’s frame. I experienced it in the exact same way. I was transfixed. She was wearing baggy sweats and a huge smile. I was hooked and in that moment, I told myself I would try to marry this woman.
Who took the initiative first in the relationship? In regards to you meeting/creating your romantic relationship? Did you have to play any kind of male/female dance or "game"?
Cheyne: I was very much the pursuer. In my case I felt a strong reaction when I met Heather, and I knew I had to try to work to gain her affection. From the time we first met to when we first started dating, it had been 3 years. Those 3 years we developed a friendship. At different times we were both in relationships and the timing wasn’t always in our favor but when you know something is right, you don’t give up.
When did you each know that this was the person you wanted to spend your life with?
Heather: I was on vacation with Cheyne's family (as his sister is one of my best friends and invited me) on an annual trip to Lake Powell. This was an incredible week, with no technology, just presence, nature and togetherness. It was amongst the stars, on the roof of the houseboat we were staying on that I fell for Cheyne. We were laying next to one another, listening to music and gazing up at the stars (I know, I know sounds cheesy but this is exactly how it went down) My heart truly skipped a beat, I was giddy and overwhelmed by this feeling. It’s a moment I will never forget and always cherish. This was the moment I knew that he was the person I wanted to experience life with.
I find you both are so great at communicating. Is this something you had to work on or is it naturally the way you both are? Is it an important factor in your relationship?
Cheyne: It is very important. And to be honest, we have struggles just like everyone in our communication department. We are both great communicators in general, but what’s interesting is that I feel our communication styles have changed over time. With time our methods of communication requires a constant re-calibration of understanding and expectations. The most important thing we have done though, is we are always willing to learn more and we never give up.
Heather: To me, communication is a must in order to create and grow a deep, healthy relationship. I think our relationship was built on a foundation of open hearts and so the not so good days are okay due to our foundation.
I think this is key… a relationship isn't a fairytale and there will be highs and lows. If you take the time to build a sturdy ground, the reality of not always being perfect will be forgiven and withstand hardships.
After being together for over a decade we still have to prioritize and continually improve our form of communication. Delivery of the message you’re trying to get across is extremely important. A relationship needs healthy, loving, honest and constructive communication that comes from a place of love and presented from a place of love. I strive for this but dont always deliver perfectly and this is something I’m working on.
For us, communication is something we both commit to, to listening, to hearing one another and letting the other know they were heard.
Are you both the kind of partner either of you pictured yourself being with? If not how did meeting each other change that vision?
Cheyne: That’s an interesting question. I’m trying to think of who I used to envision… I think my main vision was finding someone who I was attracted to. I really don’t remember what my specific tastes were then, but if Heather wasn’t that vision, upon meeting her it definitely became the new one.
Heather: When I first met Cheyne, in my mind he was everything you would ever want in a best friend. He was full of life, incredible funny and the life of the party. He was spontaneous and simply someone you always wanted to be around. I know it sounds corny but he could make a bad day, good and turn a frown into a laugh. I never had a man like Cheyne in mind per se, but it was the best introduction in my life thus far. We are yin and yang and although this makes for moments of frustration, he is my world and I love that our 3 years of friendship turned into a deep, intimate relationship.
What do you think are pillars of good relationship?
Cheyne: Respect. Sounds simple, but if respect is at the center of the relationship, other key needs will be addressed from it. When you respect someone you naturally give effort, you put in work to communicate, you make the small things a priority.
• Vulnerable Communication
• Trust + Honesty
• Unconditional / Selfless Love
What have you learned the most being together? Or what has the other person taught you?
Cheyne: In a relationship, you learn from and experience the obvious things like, teamwork and compromise. What you don't expect is that your partners traits will be something that you tend to learn or are influenced by. That can either be a good or bad thing I guess, depending on the habit/ trait. In my case Heather has an internal discipline unlike any I've encountered. She must have the same traits that Olympians posses, because no matter what she sets her mind to, she will succeed. It's inspiring as her husband, and truthfully, sometimes intimidating. Being witness to this has helped me in many situations to try and "do what Heather would do" or simply not give in to the temptation of stopping. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I've learned that you will be influenced by your partners habits and traits. Make sure you find one that compliments or balances you, as it will have an affect on you.
Heather: To always create a place of love, to be vulnerable and accept one another, to forgive and to nourish your relationship and allow for constant growth. To laugh more, sing from the moment you wake up and dance as often as possible. The vulnerable/ real moments together have allowed for further growth and depth in our relationship.
Having him as my husband has truly been a blessing in my life… he has taught me that the smallest gestures when they come from the heart, mean the most. That he will always be there throughout both the good and bad days and that all we need is each other. His love has shown me that his simple presence is enough, sometimes just in silence… its there everything feels right in the world.
What has been your favorite memory together thus far in your relationship?
Heather: Wow, that’s a difficult question because my mind goes a few ways. It’s the normal everyday moments I’m beyond blessed for...from opening my eyes and seeing him lay next to me or him sneaking out to make us our morning coffee to ending the day snuggled up in our robes within his arms. These small/ normal everyday moments are everything to me. Our many adventures exploring this big, beautiful world together. There is honestly no one else I would rather wander the world with, getting lost along the way is no problem having each other side by side. The constant laughter, morning songs he pelts out and daily dance moves… I mean he lights up any room, is a ball of happiness and has the ability to bring it out in all of us.
What are the challenges of marriage or a long term relationship that you've learned?
Heather: Two individual humans mastering the art of compromise. I would say that is the biggest challenge since it’s not always easy…but it’s what you do in the name of love.
What are the joys of marriage or a long term relationship that you've learned?
Heather: That I’m lucky and grateful to call Cheyne my husband. He is my best friend, biggest confidant and support system while being the man I get to share a deep intimate and sacred connection with. I love knowing him better than anyone else and vice versa. Knowing that in this big world we found one another and have chosen to love ALL of one another. To know I always have a safe, loving, honest place within his arms. For me it’s calling him my home.
What do you look forward to the most in your future together?
Heather: Growing old side by side (we joke about us being “the notebook”) we want to go in a twin bed holding hands.
Becoming a family and witnessing Cheyne as a father (seeing him with babies/kids melts my heart overtime). Of course sharing all the big and small moments with him and continuing to travel and experience all this world has to offer, together!
Cheyne & Heather at their home in Orange County, California
photos Janelle Walker