Wear Your Love Story: Taking My Wife to James Avery for a Special Valentine’s Day 2018

DISCLOSURE LANGUAGE

James Avery partnered with bloggers such as myself for this program. I received compensation for my time, creativity, and SEO platform. I was not told what to purchase nor what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. James Avery believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. James Avery’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines, and social media engagement recommendations.

When it comes to gifts for my wife, she’s always made it easy on me, telling me all she really wants is maybe a new pair of slippers or pajamas, along with a bag of red licorice.

But for this Valentine’s Day, as we are just months away from our 10th wedding anniversary in July, I decided to make this one extra special.

With her mother in town from Sacramento, and our 7 year-old son at school, my wife took the day off from work so we could make the drive in the 2017 Mazda 6 to the Cool Springs Galleria Mall, where there is a James Avery artisan jewelry store.

Honestly, the thought of trying to choose jewelry for my wife is slightly terrifying. For a gift this special, I wanted her not only to have the experience of choosing the gift herself, but also to be able to enjoy seeing all the options in the store; to make the final selection that much more satisfying.

So I figured it would be a lot more fun for my wife, and for me, if we simply went to there together with a James Avery gift card in hand. My wife was able to focus on shopping, as I tended to our 21 month-old daughter in the store.

At the front of the store was a timeless, crafted Valentine’s Day gift set collection. Immediately, my wife was drawn to the Petite Heart Gift Set. She tried on the heart-shaped earrings and necklace pretty much immediately. It’s funny because as long as we’ve been together, I can think of only a couple of times she has worn earrings, but that changed during our store visit.

My wife was sold on the Petite Heart Gift Set, but I encouraged her to take her time and not stop there. I reminded her, “There’s no rush. Enjoy this. Get what makes you happy.”

Meanwhile, I looked over to see how my mother-in-law was doing, and to my surprise, she was in the middle of purchasing a new silver ring for herself.

I smiled as I made my may over to see her selection. She laughed and she explained, “You should have known better than to bring me into a jewelry store and expect me not to come out empty-handed.”

The assistants in the store were extremely helpful and knowledgeable along the way. My wife ultimately depended on their direction, as well as my opinion, in making her final selections.

As I handed over the James Avery gift card to make the purchase official, I realized that the total was a little bit higher than the amount of the card.

Oh well. I didn’t hesitate and just quietly paid the difference.

After all, my wife deserves it. For someone who is content with a new pair of pajama pants and licorice for a typical gift, it was time for me to go way, way beyond her expectations. And I did!

So for this Valentine’s Day, I know my wife of nearly 10 years will feel even extra special. It truly brought me joy in knowing I made her day!

If you would like to see my wife’s final selections from James Avery, just check out our “haul video” below…

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3 Non-Romantic Reasons I Love My Wife

On the surface, it’s easy to see why I chose to spend the rest of my life with the woman I married over 9 years ago. She’s universally beautiful, she’s unselfishly kind, and she’s humble yet confident in herself.

I am a lucky man. I have the ability of knowing in all confidence, I made the right decision.

Not only did I choose the right person to marry, but I made the right decision that fateful night of October 5, 2006, when I spotted her in a crowded room full of hundreds of people and decided to take a chance: I walked up to her and attempted to woo her with my interesting stories, my charming, yet off-beat personality, and my average looks.

It worked.

Now here we are in our mid-30s, having been married nearly a decade, and having produced two blue-eyed, Dutch-looking children despite our DNA.

So while I could easily write 841 words on the romantic aspects of how much I love my wife, I’m instead going to take a different direction. What about the non-romantic reasons I love her?

What about the reasons that would be symbolized not by a heart emoji, but instead, by a house or a stack of money, or by a clock or even a skull?

If for no other reason than to challenge myself as a writer, I now present to you 3 non-romantic reasons I love my wife.

  1. We make a good business team.

I feel like this isn’t emphasized when a couple becomes engaged, but marriage is a business, and it needs to be ran that way. The longer we are married, the better we become at running our family’s business.

During our first year of marriage, before kids, we were able to pay for my wife to go get her Master’s Degree, without going into further debt. That investment paid off, as my wife has since then, consistently made considerably more money than I have all these years. My wife also handles our family’s weekly budget.

On my end, I have been faithfully building my experience as a writer (thanks to this blog) since 2009, and as a YouTuber for the past 3 years. Now at present day, we are seeing the possibility that my “side hustles” (as a blogger, ghostwriter, SEO expert, social media influencer, and YouTuber) are starting to pay off. I actually speculate that by January 2019, our monthly mortgage payment will be covered from my YouTube earnings alone.

My wife is the detailed accountant and investor. I am the creative entrepreneur. Together, we run a family business.

            2. We make a good parenting team.

In the same way we are counterparts as co-business owners, we function the same way as parents. My wife is the nurturer, the schedule keeper, the travel planner, the head chef, and the laundry engineer.

Meanwhile, I am the disciplinarian, the head of communication, the chauffeur, the before-and-after school program director, and the “wake up at any hour of the night to get our daughter back to sleep” technician.

We are not great at doing each other’s roles. Instead, we embrace our individual parenting strengths as part of our own identities. We’ve got a good system. And we’ve got good kids.

Whereas I see marriage as a business, I see parenting as a talent management agency. We have two young recruits who we are responsible for molding into respectable and independent adults, preparing them for the real world.

        3. I want to be around her even during the predictable, seemingly uneventful, non-                          Facebook-status-worthy moments of life.

For me, it all comes back to the famous line in our wedding vows: for better or for worse.

Yeah, I’m totally cool with slowly aging alongside my wife for the next 40 years as we live happily ever after, until ultimately one of us finally dies first, leaving the other person with the insurance money- and unimaginable sadness.

But what about the in-between of better or worse? Not everyday can be a Michael Bublé song. Many days are more like Huey Lewis, when he sang, “Yes, it’s true, I’m so happy to be stuck with you.”

I love my wife for the moments in our life together that are just normal and forgettable; the B-roll footage that no one would care about watching if our lives were a reality TV show on TLC, called Our Crazy Vegetarian Life. Being grateful for your spouse through all the filler moments, which honestly, make up most of our time on this planet, is what real love is all about.

So maybe I’ve failed to hold true to the title of this article. Maybe there really is something romantic about building a life together, running it like a business, creating and raising mini-me’s, and choosing to love a person until the day you die, even if most of those days don’t have fireworks and champagne.

Maybe there’s something undeniably romantic about the unromantic parts of loving the person you married.

If so, consider me a hopeless romantic.

Photo credit: Mohamad Alaw.

About the Author:

I am an accidental stay-at-home vegan daddy blogger based in Spring Hill, Tennessee. I have no spare time, but by default, my hobbies include playing guitar, singing, songwriting, mountain biking, skateboarding, running, and going on road trips across America with my family in vehicles that Toyota and Lexus provide for free because it’s smart advertising for them.

Additionally, I enjoy making videos for both of my YouTube channels: Nick Shell, which is a mentorship program for younger men who are psychologically dealing with going bald, and Family Friendly Daddy Blog, which celebrates and explores ethnic diversity based on DNA test results.

My Parents’ 40th Wedding Anniversary Celebration in Hawaii

Yes, today is Father’s Day. So, Happy Father’s Day! (Even though 73% of my blog readers are actually female.)

But for my parents, it’s an especially epic day: Exactly 40 years ago today, my parents got married.

The date was June 18, 1977. My dad was 20. My mom was 19.

And now, 40 years later, they have two children and four grandchildren.

For their special 40th wedding anniversary, they decided to go big, as it was literally years in the making:

They had been planning and putting aside $20 a week, for the past few years, to fund their tropical vacation/anniversary celebration in Hawaii.

And now, after a whole week spent in the Aloha State, my parents are back.

The whole time they were out there, my mom kept me up to speed by sending me pictures from her phone. I am glad my parents were not shy about asking strangers to take their photos, at each place along the way.

So much for taking it easier. Instead of the word vacation, it seemed more like an expedition!

They were so proud of the Mazda 3 they rented and were able to go exploring in.

It is obvious they made the most of their journey to Hawaii. Instead of just hanging under an umbrella on the beach all day, they were on the move!

Among many other adventures, they hiked a volcano, swam in a waterfall, and visited Pearl Harbor where they met a 97 year-old survivor of the attack.

Not to mention, they definitely enjoyed the local cuisine.

It’s funny because if it were my wife and I taking this trip, I am convinced we wouldn’t have been so ambitious! But my parents were dedicated to making the most of their 40th wedding anniversary celebration.

They got their money’s worth.

And now, they will have these memories as their souvenirs.

Happy 40th Anniversary to my parents!

This is 36: A Symbol of Our Love for a Decade, Broken and Restored

Travel back in time with me over a decade. On March 8, 2007, a month away from my 26th birthday, I walked into Kay Jewelers at the Cool Springs Mall in Franklin, Tennessee. A kind salesman, of Indian descent yet who spoke with an English accent, helped me find the perfect piece of jewelry.

I had only been dating this California girl for a month, but I felt compelled with all my being to spend $238 on a diamond bracelet as a gift to show her how serious I was about her.

It was simple: I knew she was the one. I knew that if she’d let me, I would promise the rest of my life to her.

This diamond bracelet would be followed by an engagement ring just 10 months later. But whereas the engagement ring (and wedding ring) would be taken off at times, like to wash the dishes and to get the rings cleaned, this special bracelet would ultimately never been taken off.

For the whole time we dated, then were engaged, then were newlyweds, then became parents the first time, then became parents the second time, then even saw our 2nd child turn a year-old and saw our 6 and a half year-old son prepare to graduate Kindergarten… my wife wore that diamond bracelet. For 10 years and 2 months.

And then, it snapped in two:

“Sad day—my heart bracelet broke after more than 10 years—I was playing with it on my wrist and then it snapped 😦   My arm already feels naked.”

The very next day I journeyed back to the same Kay Jewelers and happened to immediately see the very same kind man from a decade before, as if time hadn’t even passed. He was impressed that I remembered him from a decade ago, but he was even more impressed how well the bracelet held up for over 10 years.

He began looking at the snapped bracelet through a special microscope, confused on why a silver bracelet had not turned at all after so long. Then he began typing on his computer, searching the records on my purchase from March 2007.

Then he explained, “I figured it out… This isn’t a silver bracelet… it’s white gold. The price for white gold has greatly increased in the past decade. There is no way you could purchase a bracelet like this, for what you paid for it back then. Just no way. This would go for at least $700 or $800 today. At least that much…”

What did I know about buying jewelry back in 2006, as a 25 year-old? Well, just that this classy diamond bracelet seemed to perfectly match the special girl I was buying it for. I definitely had no idea that the investment I was making back then would transcend beyond a symbol of my love for her- that the investment would also be financial, as well.

So two weeks ago, I paid the nice man at Kay Jewelers $42 to send off the bracelet to be repaired, and just a few days ago, I picked up the bracelet- good as new.

That bracelet, and what it symbolizes, holds so much personal value to both of us. I’m very glad to see it back on my wife’s wrist.

This is 36.

The Awkward Paradox of Gender Roles in Parenting (in a Society Now Less Divided by Gender)

Last week I published Top 10 Masculine Traits of Men (Plus, “I’m a Masculinist, Which is Not the Opposite of a Feminist”), in which presented the theory that a man’s masculinity is subconsciously and collectively judged by society based on what extent he is perceived as being a confident, decisive, funny, healthy, physically active, emotionally intelligent, committed leader who respects women, helps his fellow man, and finds his identity in his skill set.

I had more than one woman respond by agreeing with these masculine traits, but adding that these traits would be good and beneficial for women as well. One told me, “I would say that perhaps we should change our expectations as a society so they are less divided by gender.”

Well said. So true. Very relevant to the conversation.

I feel that out of necessity and by default, our society is becoming less divided by gender. I find it simply irrelevant and outdated when advertising agencies (as well as people) make comments to insinuate that men hate and/or fear changing dirty diapers. Or when people call it “babysitting” when a dad takes care of his own children for the day while his wife goes out running errands.

Sure, I admit there is some personal awkwardness in always understanding my role in the household- to be both “the man” my wife needs me to be and at the same time for me to assume roles that would traditionally have been feminine.

It used to be that if a man was heavily involved in his children’s lives, as well as household chores, that man would be praised by society, and even by his wife, while she would be merely expected to do those things.

But it’s no longer ironic to see the opening sequence of Who’s the Boss?, as the ever-masculine Tony Danza vacuums the drapes.

Men clean toilets. Men do the dishes. Men feed babies. Men sit on the carpet and play with their kids.

None of this is ironic.

In fact, I would be willing to present a theory that a man who is a father and husband, but who is not heavily involved in household chores and the care of his children, is not considered a good dad or a good husband by his wife.

By today’s standards, a good husband is not simply a man who loves his wife, but who also is extremely actively involved in chores and childcare. The two roles are inseparable, now more than ever.

A failure to see that shift in culture is a failure to be relevant as a spouse and a parent.

To me, that’s obvious. To me, it’s not a theory. It’s simply fact.

But then again, this is coming from a happily married man who cleans the toilets and changes those dreaded dirty diapers.

I’ve Got Walls Up, because I’m a Guy

Welcome to the deep, mysterious, likely un-relatable, rarely revealed cavern of the emotionally intelligent male mind.

Back in 2010, when my wife was pregnant with our son, my blog was featured in American Baby magazine; which eventually led to me becoming the official daddy blogger of their sister magazine, Parents; from May 2011 to June 2014.

In the initial write-up in American Baby, they pitched my blog to their readers with this invitation: “Wondering what your hubby’s really thinking?…”

At the time, I remember reading that and thinking, “Yeah, but I’m not that kind of guy. That’s not me. I don’t keep things to myself. My thoughts are no mystery to anyone…”

That was in 2010, before I actually had kids. Plus, I had only been married about 2 years at that point.

One of the great advantages of being married now for 8 and a half years and having 2 kids is that, by default, I have gained emotional intelligence. I grew up on in the inside. I got toughened up.

I became the husband and father I needed to be. The sensitive, and therefore “offendable”, guy I was before wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Essentially, to the outside world, I transcended from “optimistic nice person who everybody likes” to “hopeful yet realistic personable man who doesn’t necessarily measure up to everyone’s expectations anymore.”

Nostalgically put, I evolved from Luke Skywalker into Han Solo.

It was a necessary transformation for me. Perhaps one of the major milestones of this journey was when I published a blog post (and accompanying video) inviting the free world to attempt to offend me.

I had discovered that the only person who has power and authority over my emotions is me. In other words, no one in this entire world can “offend” me or “hurt my feelings” if I don’t first give them permission.

So I simply stopped giving anyone permission to offend me. And up came the walls…

I now live in a reality where I am unoffendable. Since making this conscious decision, the quality of my life has undeniably…

Improved.

Things in life just don’t bother me as much. Life is smoother now.

I am now in control of my emotions instead of them controlling me. For example, I have no shame in admitting I allow myself to cry every time I watch Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. I am in touch with, and in control of, my emotions to the point where the cartoonish yet realistic presentation of a parent’s love for their child gets to me.

Needless to say, on the other hand, other people’s Facebook comments claim no effect on my day.

I have simplified my life so that I can enjoy and appreciate it that much more.

Granted, there’s a perceived downside to the lifestyle of male emotional intelligence.

I’ve got those walls up now. I’m more detached from the popular distractions of the world- and I know this.

But this, for me, is safe- and it’s efficient; less complicated.

In other words, I’ve become that guy I couldn’t relate to back in 2010:

I keep a lot of things to myself. Most of my thoughts are now a mystery to everyone.

I’ve adopted a Libertarian approach to the opinions and lifestyles of other people. What they do doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother them. I don’t try to change them. I don’t need to change them.

Because now, I am truly confident in myself and my beliefs, despite being completely aware of my unending faults.

This is not a classic case of bottling up my emotions, only to erupt later on. To me, that would be weak.

Instead, it’s a matter of consciously deciding not to let people or things bother me anymore.

In turn, I have noticed that I am that much more focused on my own family and close friends, in real life. Not on Facebook.

The 2010 version of me simply wouldn’t function in my life today in 2017. I have evolved out of necessity.

I now see life for the tragicomedy it is. Life is both sad and funny. It’s both inspiring and depressing.

By evolving to my emotionally intelligent state, I have made it possible to recognize when to express my emotions, accordingly.

Ultimately, I choose joy. I choose hope.

My hope today is that others can relate to my transformation.

You are no longer dealing with the young and naïve Luke Skywalker.

For better or worse, you’ve got Han Solo now.

Exactly 10 Years after Our First Date

Exactly 10 Years after Our First Date

On February 5, 2007, the 25 year-old version of me was successful in finally escaping “the friend zone” with a girl who I had known exactly 4 months; a 25 year-old girl from California who I had met while waiting in line to be an extra for a taping of CMT’s Crossroads.

It was a week before Valentine’s Day, which I kept in mind. Meanwhile, she wasn’t aware that the John Mayer concert a couple hours away in Huntsville, Alabama wasn’t actually a “just as friends” thing. I was sneakily being very deliberate in my specific plan to get her to see me as more than just “the nice guy” she had been hanging out with at Starbucks most Sunday nights.

I knew that a road trip could provide an environment for her to see me in a different way than before. Knowing that we’d need to eat dinner but wouldn’t have time to since we both were leaving straight from work, I had used my lunch break to pick up some sub sandwiches for us Lenny’s. I also made sure to grab some Twizzlers, as I had remembered her saying she liked them.

Once we arrived in the parking garage next to the concert arena, I presented her with our dinner; while playing the Counting Crows through the stereo of my Honda Element; the car I still drive today.

The date went exactly as I had planned. And by the time we got back to Nashville, sometime after midnight, I asked her a very strategic question:

“Next week is Valentine’s Day, and I would be honored to take you out. Would you like to go out with me for Valentine’s Day?”

That was exactly a 10 years ago today. And we’ve been together ever since.

So glad I got out of the friend zone.

Though I guess you could say that being together and in love with a person for a decade, and being married 8 and a half of those years, and having 2 kids together… it sort of makes you best friends by default.