February 1, 2012

Sticking Together: Surviving a Plane Crash and Celebrating on Saturdays.

“Sticking Together” is a column written by Gillian Pierce of Global Glue Project (GGP) created to document, preserve, and give voice to inspiring relationships. Let’s celebrate those that set the example and the glue that holds them together. You can find Global Glue’s entire Sticking Together series here.

“Surviving a Plane Crash and Celebrating on Saturdays” Jeb & Ashley

Walking into Jeb and Ashley’s house for a GGP interview, I knew I was in the right place when I spotted the handwritten pyramid taped to their kitchen cabinet outlining their intentions and goals for their relationship.

The bottom base layer of the pyramid establishes their daily rituals. Every day after work, they take care to connect and focus on each other. They turn off cell phones, shower, change clothes, play music and cook dinner together. This daily ritual incorporates touch, scent and emotional connection, and it intentionally focuses them on the relationship with consistency and commitment.

In between laughter, Ashley admits that the top level of the pyramid is the most memorable, it simply reads: “SEX.” It is what all of the lower levels lead to.

Their hope is that by living the priorities of the pyramid, including keeping their bodies and minds active, they will continue to have a vibrant emotional connection and sex life at age 60.

Their weekend ritual coined “Celebration Saturday,” means that every Saturday they celebrate their lives. They say “anything goes” on “Celebration Saturday.” In the summer, they will hang out with friends by their pool, hike or go to one of their favorite restaurants in Boulder.

I too, am a fan of rituals. In my own relationship, we practice “Snuggle Sundays,” where we purposefully spend extra time in bed, if we do get up to ski or play in the morning, we make sure to get back in bed in the afternoon—at some point on Sunday we snuggle.

My original interest in interviewing Jeb and Ashley stemmed from their story of surviving a plane crash together.

I thought that surviving a tragic event would make for a good “Glue story.” It is a compelling story, and one that you can view below, but in my opinion, their strength lies in their daily commitment and dedication to their relationship and the choices they make to connect vs. surviving a plane crash. 

Yes, they survived a plane crash, but in their minds it was a blip on the screen and not a defining moment because they already had the foundation to pull them through that difficult event. They do admit that the free counseling they received after the plane crash helped them to further deepen their connection and learn more about their individual reactions and triggers, but the event itself did not deeply affect them.

After 10 years together, Jeb and Ashley’s connection, attraction and devotion to each other is palpable, but they readily admit that they work at it, every single day.

They love the work, but it requires dedication. They thoughtfully put on paper their priorities within their relationship, and they check back in with their pyramid to ensure that they are putting those intentions into action. They bring a level of mindfulness to their relationship that is enviable. When they do find themselves in a disagreement, they do not have to fear their arguments (and often times fiery emotions), for they have the foundation of trust to know that they will find a resolution together.

Perhaps most surprising to me about their relationship is the fact that they appear so deeply connected, yet they claim that it is the work that they put into it and the choice that they make to stay committed that keeps them together, not some cosmic connection beyond their control.

When asked to summarize the glue that holds their relationship together this is what they said:

Jeb: The rituals that they have developed together, knowing how to fight and their natural chemistry.

Ashley: Communication, commitment and attraction.

What keeps you and your loved one sticking together?

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