Davina Fear and I “met” just a few months ago when she reached out to Tony and I for a fun collaborative project called How Do I Love You that she put together in February. We were immediately delighted by her warm and fun personality, as well as her generosity… there are at least two FREE ebooks on her blog that are beyond valuable!
She is further down the marriage and family road than we are, with nearly 20 years behind them and a house full of teens and a pre-teen. Her joy for the every day life inspires me to look forward to being in that stage with my own family.
I am really excited for the next project she is launching. It’s called “Better Together, a Marriage Adventure.” What could be more thrilling? We’ve been chatting over the last few days and I’ve been really eager for all of you to meet this incredible woman, her fun-loving family, and her darling husband. I also thought it would be a great chance for us to learn more about what Better Together is.
Here’s my little interview with Davina Fear on love, corralling teenagers, and my new favorite word: familyness…
A Love Story…
How did you and your husband meet and get married?
Mike and I met for the first time in the front room of my college apartment. He knew my sister and quite a few of the girls in my apartment building. He seemed like he knew everyone and I was resistant to being pulled into the throng of other girls who thought he was awesome. So when he was nosy about who I was talking to on the phone (those were the ancient days of the receiver that hung on the hook with the long curly cord), I gave him a curt answer and walked back to my room.
The next time we met, we had a conversation about religion and spirituality. I was equally rude that time. He seemed like he was a nice enough guy, but I wasn’t going to be pulled into his orbit as easily as all of these other girls. I was back from serving an 18 month mission and I was not going back to being easily convinced of some guy’s cool factor like I had pre-mission days.
At some point, we must have had a civilized conversation… he was always civilized, I was the one that wasn’t… one day I found myself eating pizza at his table with my sister. We chatted for a few minutes before I was picked up at my apartment by my date for the evening.
Not one to be in a food debt, one Sunday I made dinner for a bunch of friends. I looked across the courtyard and saw Mike sitting on a stationary bike, talking on the phone. I yelled across the way that he was welcome to some dinner, if he was interested.
Of all of the people who came to eat, he was the only one who stayed and did the dishes. That evening, we talked at the kitchen table late into the night.
For many months after that we walked to class everyday, did homework together, went to Humanities concerts and symphonies together, and rarely missed a day of long conversations.
One evening, at the top of the longest flight of stairs on campus I knew, I was smitten and completely in love with him.
Since that day, we’ve known a summer of long distance love, marriage, experienced bringing four incredibly independent people into the world, moved across the country, faced financial challenges, always lived far from family, been brave… together.
And #stayedmarried for almost 20 years.
There are so many things to love about my Hot Guy. He’s bold and diplomatic, compassionate and unwavering, devoted and fascinating. From the moment I really let myself be taken in by him, I have loved to hear what he thinks about the issues and people that matter to him. He is passionate about meaningful conversations and listening and being “all in” with the people he is with. He believes in always learning and easily falls in love with a good story. My favorite part is how in love he is with our story, the one we are writing together. I love him beyond the moon… past universes and back again.
Life With Teenagers…
What are some of the challenges of parenting teenagers? What are some of the wonderful things you couldn’t have imagined when they were four and under? (Can you tell I’m trying to have a little bit of long term vision myself?)
A few weeks ago, while Mike and I were in the kitchen doing the dishes and the kids were already off to school for the morning, I was pining over the loss of little chubby hands, the safe cocoon of our having littles life, and the sweetness of little faces and funny answers…and how quickly it all moves forward.
Mike said, “but then we wouldn’t be seeing Emmett make difficult, but amazing choices like he did last night.”
The previous evening, Emmett had gone with a big group of friends to an event. They were unchaperoned. It was understood that some had bought tickets for a concert and some hadn’t. Many of them went along for the limo ride into the city. Those who hadn’t bought tickets would need to find something to do during the concert. Emmett was part of the group who didn’t have concert tickets.
We had a conversation before he left in the limo about the possibilities and choices that may lie ahead of him. He assured us that he knew his standards and wasn’t going to compromise them.
When they arrived in the city groups divided off… a big group of teenage guys and girls decided to find somewhere to get alcohol… leaving only four boys who knew that was not how they wanted to spend the evening.
It was a pivotal moment for those four boys and Emmett was one of them. They weren’t choosing the majority vote, the popular choice. That’s a crazy challenging place to be as a teenager.
That evening, at midnight, Emmett stretched across the foot of our bed, and staying there til 2am, telling us about renting bikes downtown, pedaling to a minor league baseball game, and how he came ‘this close’ to catching a home-run ball. It was awesome to feel the energy and his excitement at having stood up to the crowd and sensing the confidence that gave him to listen to his own voice and in what he believes.
Emmett’s experience reminded us of how our girls have grown, too.
A few nights earlier, we were having our family DEAR time (we drop everything and read through something inspiring, typically scriptures or talks). Each person has their own time to read what they choose and then we share what we’ve written in our journals, an insight or inspiration we’ve discovered or felt.
Nestled onto sofas, books and pens spread around, listening to our kids share with us the connection they have with God and the words He speaks to them is amazing and surreal. There’s so much happening in their lives and, even though we chat around the dinner table often, those glimpses into how their hearts are being deeply moved and changed is pretty powerful.
When they were small, we were teaching them to make choices and listen to their own voices about what was right for them. We would see that play out some when they were little, but now we see it in action every single day.
Having three teenagers and one pre-teen brings with it new and deeply felt emotions, the heightened awareness of what other people are saying or doing, and the deep need they have for independence– their resolve growing everyday to be their own person contradicting, and creating tension with, their desire to be cared for and protected and staying young and little (while we… especially me… fight those same battles as their parents, too).
In the last year or so we discovered the book, The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle. I’ve always thought I had the pulse on who my children are… I’m their mom, for heaven’s sake! I know them better than anyone. This book opened my eyes in ways they had never been opened to my children. I’m deeply grateful that it came into my life before they were full blown teenagers. It’s saved me from a world of misunderstanding their nature and the way they see the world and it’s helped me to embrace who they are with so much more understanding.
Marriage and Familyness…
Why do you think marriage is important? Why do you invest so much into familyness?
A happy marriage makes life for the couple happier, more fulfilling, more meaningful, and more fun! Happy parents create happy homes. Children in homes with emotionally healthy parents are better able to make friends, be confident, feel more optimistic, share deeper intimacy, give respect, and feel that problems and burdens are shared and lighter to bear.
A happy marriage creates happier, healthier, more resilient children.
Familyness is so important because these are the people we make the biggest investment in, share the majority of our time with, and have a massive influence on. There is so much good to be had and felt within those strong and beautiful ties. The world and our schedules are so busy and chaos is everywhere. Being able to find ways in the midst of that hubbub to truly connect can have a great deal of power and peace in our lives. I want to help more people feel the delightfulness of that more often within their own familyness.
Tell us about the Better Together project. Who is it for and how can a couple participate?
Better Together is for everyone who wants to have a deeper, more meaningful connection with the one they love. It is also for those who are looking to put some fun and spark back into what is already a connected and loving relationship.
Most couples feel like they are doing OK. They don’t feel destined for the therapist’s office. Life is going pretty well. They are just busy. They are raising kids. They know they love each other and they are holding onto that. Occasionally, though, they remember those newlywed feelings of excitement and newness, and they miss it a little bit. They know their love has grown in new ways but they wish there was more of something, but they can’t quite place what it is.
Better Together will remind you of all of the ways you are… better together. You’ll have fun like you’ve not had fun in awhile, talk about things that will bring you closer, do things you forgot you used to do while dating and newlywed, and light up each other’s days in unexpected ways.
And your kids will notice. And they will feel your love more deeply. They will be affected in ways that will improve their behavior, they will feel more understood and more loved.
Your marriage, the two of you, can have that kind of affect… because you are Better Together.
Ahh. I always feel like a good long exhale after I read Davina’s thoughts and words. I follow her on Instagram, and you can too, for the full effect. I hope you feel as inspired and delighted by her as we do. I also hope you’ll invest in Better Together. For less than the cost of ONE therapy session… ok, with my therapist… I don’t know how much yours charges… I can have weeks of challenges and encouragements and interact with a community of people who, just like me, want to #staymarried.
Davina Fear created the Familyness Revolution. She earned her degree in Family Science and now writes at davinafear.com for families world wide. While being a professional relationship photographer for 10 years, she created the groundbreaking Get To Know You Questionnaire, the mentoring fundraiser for Thirst Relief International, and co-created the widely popular Love Affair Workshops. Now she helps families create more acceptance, living in the moment, and FUN! She’s loves dates with her husband and the smell of clean laundry, especially when they collide. Davina lives in South Carolina with her four crazy kids and Hot Guy, Mike.
You are reading Are We Better Together? … an Interview with Davina Fear. If you enjoyed this post… well, shoot… I have none that compare. Just go ahead and check out her blog for yourself and enjoy!
Credits: All photos provided by Davina Fear. The photos of Davina and her husband Mike, as well as the family photo in color, were done by Millie Hollomon. All the rest by Davina Fear herself, and she is a fantastic photographer. If only we didn’t live on opposite coasts!