the foundation of a solid relationship

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communication and trust. those are the two words i would use to describe what started our foundation of our relationship (let me explain why so you don’t just roll your eyes at a somewhat expected answer).

i have spent the last hour (okay, maybe 2 hours) looking through old emails and pictures of when my relationship with ravery started. woohoo technology and social media! it has been full of things that make my heart quicken, roll my eyes, make me blush but overall make me incredibly happy that we started our relationship the way we did-although i certainly did not think that at the time.

how we met: we had quite a few of mutual friends in college but never really crossed paths for a length of time until our friend cassie’s birthday party. he was sitting and talking with this woman and as i walked by she said “i bet you don’t know my name, do you?” he exclaimed “of course i do!” (he didn’t). i locked eyes with him, mouthed the name ‘amy.’ when he repeated that…turns out her name was really jessica, whoops. cue “that boy is mine” by brandi and monica. we ended up laughing for 5 hours solidly (and soberly, i might add). we became essentially inseparable for the next few weeks but absolutely did not classify ourselves as dating, because ravery was leaving for 7 months to work, travel and study abroad. i was just ending my unhealthy relationship (for about the 4th attempt) and was ready to be single for a while anyways.

then a group of us went out to chili’s for his 20th birthday and he did something that shocked everyone at the table. he gave me the first bite of his birthday milkshake. why is this a big deal?? a) he never used to like sharing his food with anyone and b) he had never ever ever given anyone his first bite of anything. evidence below (i am in shock and he looks like he has doubts):

chelsea avery first bite ever

a few days later he asked me out on our first official date and i eagerly accepted to go back to chili’s (it is his favorite restaurant ha). we talked about what a relationship would look like 7 months apart and overseas. we talked about how important trust, loyalty and communication would be in order to make this work. ravery also threw in there he wasn’t just looking to casually date, he was looking for a life partner so he wasn’t taking this lightly. thankfully, my chicken fajitas had just been set in front of me so i obviously couldn’t run out the door in fear. we agreed to have honest and open communication, remain faithful and give it our all because we knew the connection we have doesn’t come along very often. 2 weeks later he left (and i cried for a day straight because my heart ached so much-a little pathetic maybe but i had honestly never felt this way about someone before and it felt like a piece of me had been ripped out).

he sent me a hand-written letter every single day he was gone.

i did get to see him 3 times during the 7 month stint (once in DC, once in NYC and once in prague, czech republic) but man was it hard.

chelsea avery and ryan avery in prague

thankfully we did have the internet for most of the 7 months so we could communicate via email and webcam calls but it is completely different getting to know someone and learning about who they are when you are 5,000 miles apart with an 8 hour time difference and no making out.

obviously, trust played into this enormously since we only had one another’s word on what was going on on that continent. it also forced us to figure out how to communicate and what our communication styles were. i did not fully appreciate this until about 2 years after he came back that our foundation had to be built off of open and honest communication. of course we had our virtual disagreements, rough patches, and times when we both felt it was just too hard to be away from one another (especially since we had only been in a relationship for 2 weeks prior to him leaving). but what got us through those times was our willingness to communicate all of this to one another and talk through it (and of course lots of ice cream, whining to friends and them feeding me wine).

Anne Taintor captions: all I want is an umbrella in my drink

i find these anne taintor pictures hilarious.

from the moment we started our relationship, we both agreed to open, honest and tough conversations and we continue that now. i would say 87% of our conversations usually involve lovey-things, laughing hysterically and what we should eat for dessert but those other 13% are tough talks (i should probably note that the ‘tough talks’ part is even higher right now because of moving to a new state and starting a business together). but those tough talks are essential because it means we are getting everything out there in the open, speaking our own truths and willing to work on things together as a partnership so we can get back to the ooey-gooey desserts/conversations. so whether you are in a brand new relationship or have been in one for years, are both on the same page in terms of communication and what your expectations of each other are?

i just asked ravery what he thought our percentages of the “tough talk”s were and he said 10%-pretty close but apparently some talks are harder for me than him.

wife lesson: it’s important to be conscious of how your relationship started or what you are going to change to make sure it stays healthy.

1) what else makes for a solid foundation to a relationship?
2) how did you and your significant other meet?
3) longest you’ve been apart while in a relationships?

question to ask your partner: what percentage, in your opinion, are “tough talks” in our relationship?


  1. ironladykati

    June 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    ha. just made a post about relationships…check it out.

    Basically what it comes down to is it is okay to not agree. It is okay to know you won’t agree. The key is knowing your limits within the relationship and feeling safe to expose them knowing it might hurt the other person. Mutual respect for diverging ideas or feelings is crucial.

    • chelsea

      June 27, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      hey kati, checked out your post and really appreciated your candidness about having tough discussion, particularly when you already know the other person probably won’t be on the same page. absolutely mutual respect for ideas and feelings is crucial, thanks for sharing that.

  2. Frederique R.

    June 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Absolutely Chelsea and well said. I relate to your story as it is somehow like mine as well. We did not have social media but we had a fax machine  — because the post office was way too slow and the phone too expensive. For 18 months, I pretty much wrote a letter weekly. As to honest talk in a relationship, it is obvious. Agree to disagree is also a must. It becomes much more difficult when it pertains to sensitive topics as life goes on and new challenges are encountered. That is why it is so important to prepare before a commitment and talk about everything that could happened later in life. Money, children rearing, political orientation, faith and many other topics are very important to talk about. A relationship encompasses all that.

    • chelsea

      June 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      thanks for your insight frederique and loooove that you faxed letters weekly-that’s amazing (and 18 months is crazy long). thanks for also pointing out that those tough conversations should also include talks about what happens later in life AND openly talking about that we will continue to grow and evolve with opinions and views perhaps changing! thanks for your comment

  3. Vivien

    June 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    You guys are way too cute 🙂 I love the expression on Ryan’s face from way back when. He has that look of “I cannot believe I am actually doing this.” 🙂

    1) Communication like you mentioned is huge. I think the other thing is probably accepting no matter how great your guy/gal is there will be things about them that drive you crazy, and you have to decide and accept that is just how they are.
    2) I will be gushing about it…when I find him.
    3) Probably the two weeks I was off from school on winter vacation when the city was hit with a blizzard and everyone was snowed in. It felt hard for me since we were waiting until that time to spend almost every day together (a rare thing) and then the snow hit! Gah!

    • chelsea

      June 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      ha vivien i think he even said “i cannot believe i am actually doing this.” the prospect of love makes you do crazy things. yeeeees totally needing to accept that there are things that will drive you crazy about the other person-i have been noticing that more and more recently now that we are together a lot more often! i’m excited for your to gush one day 🙂 snow really does get in the way of some magical moments-too bad you weren’t already together when it hit! thanks for the comment vivien!

  4. Paula Howley

    June 27, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    You look so YOUNG in that birthday picture! And much lovlier now. Word.
    1. I think trust and communication are the most important too but I think it’s an absolute MUST to support the same sports team. Especially if it’s hockey. Ahem.
    2. How did we meet? Well, here’s the sanitized version. The juicy one will be in my memoir. I was working at a club in Ontario and I was in the final leg of my “Kiss My Ass Goodbye” tour before moving to England. My agent had booked me at a dive and I was annoyed to say the least. I phoned her and told her to get me the hell out of here, now. She begged me to stay for the one night and I reluctantly agreed.
    I didn’t feel like hustling so I checked out the bar and noted that there was a baseball playoff game on. More importantly, there was a very handsome man there watching the game. Being a fan of both baseball and handsome men, I parked myself next to him and bought myself a glass of wine half the size of a bathtub. We spent the next 7 hours talking, laughing and flirting. It was an instant connection. It was pretty much love at first sight. He told me he loved me that night. A few days later, he went back to British Columbia where he lived and we spent the next 3.5 months communicating by letter and phone until I got a one way ticket out to BC. I never left.
    3. That 3.5 months that Lloyd and I were apart at the beginning was the longest I’ve been apart in any relationship. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to really get to know each other this way. it really feels like a blessing. We were really forced to discover each other since the physical was a non-issue. I’m sure you can relate Chelsea. He recently went away for 8 days and it felt like forever. It was kind of fun for the first couple of days but man, that bed feels big without him.

    • chelsea

      June 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      well thanks paula! it was also the time when i felt it necessary to straighten out my curls and before i embraced how freakin’ amazing glasses over contacts are! haha very very true about the sports teams…of your love for sports in the first place (thankfully neither of us are into it-mostly because i get waaaay too into them). go canada! ohhh i cannot WAIT to ready the jucier story of how the 2 of you met but the sanitized one is still pretty good! thank goodness your agent was convincing and he was handsome and you like baseball! whoa. 8 days recently is a lot and totally know what you mean about liking it at first (i dub it “husband vacation”) and then you are over it. glad he’s back now!

  5. jennifermckennasays

    June 28, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Love this post.. Wow 7 months apart, how in the WORLD did you do that?!?!?
    1. Knowing that its the two of YOU against the rest of the world, you are a united front and no one else sees you divided even if you are. IF you disagree, you do it privately, and respectfully. No Name calling, no attacking.
    2. We met outside the karaoke bar where I frequently performed (desperately looking for an outlet for theatre since at that time I was at a job that allowed for no shows so it was my outlet. He was the host. In a very uncharacteristic move, I asked him out. Best decision I EVER made.
    3. A week. I was in St Louis for my aunt’s funeral and he called me every day to check on me and while it was a difficult time for me, I remember telling everyone in my family that while I was sad for her passing, I was also gratified to have met the man I was going to marry. He proposed 6 months later 🙂

    • chelsea

      June 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      yeah 7 months was absolutely haaaard to say the least! i like that- both of you have a united front and when you disagree it’s respectfully-well said jennifer. i also like that you and your husband met outside a karaoke bar-and LOVE that you asked him out-well done!

  6. Jordann Hoelzel

    June 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I thought you might be interested in this. Betsy and I agree with it 100% except the sex part. The other thing I would add to the list is approaching a relationship knowing I am not perfect and when I am upset with my partner looking at how I can improve myself.

    • chelsea

      June 29, 2013 at 9:21 am

      thanks for sharing that jordann-i made it about 1/2 through and will finish up the rest later today. super interesting. i think that’s also a great point about knowing we aren’t perfect and trying to improve ourselves for the better continuously. thanks for commenting jordann and i’m excited for more of your input based on your relationship and wifestyle 🙂

  7. Paeter

    July 7, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Hey lady,
    It’s your old friend Paeter. I’m off facebook because social media is too much for me, but then I saw a link to your blog on linked in and just got addicted to it for the last half hour. Your life is fascinating! And you are hilarious as always. It’s great to hear how well you and Avery are doing. I’m back at Paha this summer (except I’m the art lady now!), and I think of you often. Until we meet again…

    • chelsea

      July 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      paaaaeter! i can’t even believe-so glad you posted on here! social media is totally too much for me too sometimes…it can get bad. cannot believe you are back at paha as the ART LADY! i bet you are amazing. i wish i was taking my campers to art right now-so miss that place and all the fun times we had. thanks for writing 🙂

  8. Dinah Sherrill

    July 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I could and should write a blog post about meeting, moving and marriage!!
    I met Tom in Budapest, Hungary! Had 3 days together in that country and just felt something so special!
    He convinced me to visit him in Denmark, spent 6 days with him there.
    Flew back to Colorado (short version of story) and then moved to Denmark after 6 months of knowing one another!
    It was very difficult to trust these feelings but there was a very strong pull. We were on different continents and building our relationship thru letters and phone conversations! All the important questions were put on the table quickly!
    You have to learn to Trust that tugging feeling of your Heart! Follow your LovelyHeartExcitements!

    • chelsea

      July 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      yes you totally should dinah-i’d read it! wow sounds like quite adventure with the two of you meeting and then continuing to connect. cannot believe you moved there after 6 months of know one another-that’s amazing! absolutely trust that tugging feeling of your heart-so glad you did 🙂