A Warrior Love Story
I have to be honest warriors - that if it weren’t for my husband, I wouldn’t have had the courage to chase my passion of coaching. He has been there, having my back and encouraging me - always pushing me to grow and believes in me, even when I struggle to believe in myself. I always talk about warrior women, but of course there are incredible warrior men out there too. My husband happens to be one of those strong warrior men that I am proud to stand beside throughout our battles in life.
Several people have been asking how my hubby, Steve, and I met. Well, that is a true warrior love story. I met my husband on match.com in Arizona and we were married within 4 months. I also happened to be about 2 months pregnant with our daughter at the time. Shotgun wedding anyone? I’m just kidding - when you know it’s the right one - you just know.
We started by connecting online and then over the phone. He was straight out of New York, where he grew up his entire life - and I had just moved to Arizona a few months prior. We both had just gotten out of a unhealthy long term relationships and weren’t really looking for anything serious. We would stay up late and talk for hours, telling stories and laughing so we decided to meet up for drinks.
That first date lasted for 9 hours. We, again, talked for hours until the restaurant closed and then sat in the parking lot for another 3 hours talking (ok and maybe a little kissing was going on to). The next morning, I flew to Portland to visit my best friend (and Steve had to go directly to work at 4am). We stayed talking on the phone for much of my visit and when I flew back we became inseparable.
If we weren’t at work, we were with each other. I was staying with my parents at the time and my mom had a big problem with the times that I was coming home (I haven’t hit that stage yet as a mom, so I can’t imagine the worry). So, being the stubborn person that I am, I decided to get my own place in his complex. Steve was staying with his family at the time - so he would go home after work and hang out with his grandma until I got off work, then head to my place.
Then, one of the biggest battles of Steve’s life was handed to him - his grandmother passed away. His grandma, Gloria, was one of the most important and influential people to Steve. The loss was great and he was planning her memorial back in New York. I tried to be supportive and make sure to give him space instead of being a needy girlfriend. And then life changed forever 3 days after Gloria passed away - I found out I was pregnant.
The second that the little digital screen said “pregnant” (hey, the control freak side of me needed the digital screen - a definitive answer yes or no, not a line) I knew she was going to be a girl. I told Steve that I needed to see him before he left for New York - I made him promise that he was coming back. Of course, at the time he probably thought I was a crazy stage-five clinger, but he would soon understand. I didn’t tell him that night, I waited another 5 long days with this secret (minus calling my BFF right after peeing on the toilet) until he got back.
We got married a few months later, on a random day that the 5 people that attended our courthouse ceremony could get off work. We both worked that morning, got married, went out to dinner and then back to work the next day. No big wedding. No wedding dress. No honeymoon. Just our love for each other and our hope for the future.
After the birth of our daughter, Steve went back to school to get his bachelors degree. He was never big into school and dropped out of high school to go get his GED, but this man worked his tail off. He graduated valedictorian, top of his class, perfect attendance and he went straight to work for a top engineering firm. I worked from home and took care of our daughter. We had our second child during this time, a baby boy. Steve rose quickly through the ranks and was asked to start traveling for the firm, including being asked to go to NY 1 week after my c-section.
I felt alone, at home with a 3 1/2 yr old, a newborn and a 150lb rottweiler. Steve’s job had him traveling to NY for 3 weeks and then back home for a weekend. When he came home, he would have to try to fight through jet lag just to get a moment to play with the kids. It was exhausting for both of us and shortly after the family was relocated to upstate New York for one of his projects.
All of Steve’s hard work came with a price though. He missed a lot of the kids daily activities of growing up. He always made sure to be there for holidays, birthdays and major school functions, but was absent physically and mentally burned out when he was home. This took a major toll on our marriage and we started arguing a lot. We both come from households that were filled with arguing, screaming and name calling instead of actual communication. We lacked being able to communicate our feelings when we were angry and the whole thing would just explode. Steve moved out and got his own place and I filed for divorce.
This was one of the darkest moments of my life. Since the move to NY, I had been struggling with depression and anxiety - I felt isolated and alone. I thought the move would bring us all back together as a family, but it felt ripped apart. After a few weeks, we reconciled and slowly started the process of putting our marriage back together. Steve quit his job at the engineering firm and we moved back to Arizona.
The move out of NY lifted a huge weight off of our marriage, as we continued to grow and find a way to better communicate. We have always worked as a team when it comes to tackling any other battles that are handed to us in life. There have been times when we felt that we were the only ones that had each other’s backs. My teammate for life.
After struggling through the summer of trying to grow a start up business, we ended up loosing our house and had to move back in with my parents - then the accident happened. Steve, who was the main provider for our family, suddenly had to take care of me and the kids. He proved our wedding vows “in sickness and in health” when the car accident happened. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Steve like that - the wave of sickness at the real thought of loosing each other.
I was T-boned on the drivers side and broke my back, pelvis, sacrum and had a head injury - he was there by my side taking care of me. Showering me, getting me dressed and in my wheelchair to go to the daily doctors appointments, physical therapy and trips out to the park.
I worked on getting through recovery as quickly as possible - I mean c’mon, I’m a mom of 2 kids so I showed up to PT the first day and told them “I don’t have time for this”. I wasn’t used to asking for help or not being able to do everything. The control freak in me was screaming inside and I had to get used to asking for help - with everything. You know your spouse loves you when they literally wipe your nether regions, help you shower so you don’t stink and shave your legs because you can’t.
We have been on a mission to get as healthy as we can so we live a long life together. We have made major lifestyle changes and more importantly changed our eating habits. I have lost 70lbs and Steve has lost about 80lbs and we continue to focus on staying healthy. This was one of the main things that helped play a major role in my recovery.
Since the accident, we have spent pretty much 24/7 with each other - living, laughing, working and playing together as a team. My entire life, I have loved helping others and have always been ‘life coaching’ in some form or another. However, after the accident my passion was reignited in guiding and helping others come back from their major battles in life. One of those battles being relationships and/or marriage. I now spend my days living what I hope to be my legacy life, sharing my warrior story with others and coaching them on how to transform their lives.
Sometimes, it can be so easy to loose sight of each other and create distance. It takes effort to make sure the other person knows how much you value and appreciate them. It takes communication to work as a team - without being on the same team - you are bound to struggle. Trust me, we found out the hard way. Our bond with each other grows stronger and stronger everyday - we are each other’s soulmates. We still sit up and talk for hours (though usually I fall asleep - sometimes in mid-sentence). We still have our love for each other. We still have our hope for the future. 9 1/2 years and going strong. One day we will renew our vows with a beautiful ceremony and a honeymoon on the beach - until then we continue to dream and go through this life, side by side, as the warriors we are, Team Paulsen.