Hey guys! We’re back again with another Feature Friday and this week on the blog we have Shannon and Curtis. (You may have seen Shannon’s recent spotlight on Post Partum Depression and Relationshps–if you haven’t, you need to. It’s worth the read, we promise.)
Today we’re sharing our chat with Shannon and her hilarious husband Curtis. These two have an amazing story, they knew right away this was it. (They literally moved in together the day after they met!) They’ve been together for over a decade and married for years and just welcomed a shiny new addition, Anderson, into their lives.
In today’s Feature, we’ll be getting into their relationship lessons, struggles with Post-Partum Depression, how their relationship changed with a newborn son in the mix, and their admirable ability to navigate any circumstance with honesty together.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
C: Curtis William Ledger
S: Shannon Marie Ledger
C: HSE Manager (Safety Manager)
S: I have multiple. I’m a make-up artist and a micro-blader and I am on maternity leave right now.
Length of time you’ve known each other?
S: Well, I met you the day before I moved in with you.
C: So ten and a half years that we’ve known each other.
Length of time together?
10 and a half years
C: None, but the first time we fought, you thought that meant we were breaking up.
S: [laughs] Yep.
Married for 4 years in July
C: We met at Santa’s kids (a fundraiser) where Shannon was singing and I was rapping. She was really nervous and when she came offstage I gave her a hug like, “good job!” and it lasted an awkwardly long time. [Laughs] It was my chance to be like, “Look, I’m enjoying this hug!” [Looks at Shannon] and I don’t why you held on so long?
S: I think I needed the support. [laughs]
C: So we finished that hug and then we were talking, “We should exchange numbers, we could get in a studio together to collaborate on some music.”
Shannon: That’s what he said….that was a lie! We have yet to collaborate.
C: That was on a Sunday, I think. So the next day I was at work and we started texting. She said she was really sick in her pyjamas at home and I was like, “I’m feeling really sick too!”. You know, I was fine, but I wanted to build rapport. [laughs] Then it turned into, “Man we should be be on a couch watching movies and drinking Neocitran together!” Which turned into “Let’s do that tonight.” After work, I sort of freshened up, as well as I could while still pretending to be sick, and brought her back to my place, and again, me being the sort of shy guy that I am and her being the lady that she is, she spent the whole night at my house but it wasn’t until two in the morning that I built the courage to actually try to kiss her. Nothing else happened though and we talked all night.
S: Until 6 in the morning. [laughs]
C: I called in sick to work the next day and we went out for dinner, our first date. Then she’d come over and sleep over, and come over and sleep over until eventually a month later, we decided it was silly to pay rent at two apartments.
S: I never spent another night at my apartment, again, ever. After Santa’s Kids, I went to his place the next day and never left. [laughs]
RP: Wow! That’s amazing!
S: We literally moved in together the day after we met.
C: So weird, but that’s how it went down!
S: Everyone thought we were insane. [laughs]
RP: That is quite a story! [laughs] Let’s get to it. What is the best thing about your relationship?
S: It’s the team. I feel like some relationships are very one sided. The woman may take the brunt of house hold things for example, but in our house, it’s very much a team. We each have an equal share of responsibility and that’s what is so great about it.
C: Teamwork makes the dream work. We put a focus on this household and this unit. For lack of a better phrase, it’s us against the world. No one is going to stand up for this team like we’re going to stand up for this team. If we’re divided here, we’re at the whim of the world. It’s not like we dislike the world or think it’s a horrible place, it’s a beautiful place with some bad things from time to time. But it’s team. We look at it from that aspect.
RP: We love that. So, what’s your greatest relationship challenge?
C: Have you guys read the Love Languages before?
S: Yes, that’s what I was thinking!
C: We had to read it for our marriage prep class and I’m so glad that we did. I’d say the biggest challenge is that we have different love languages and even though we recognize that, sometimes we don’t fill others expectations or meet that person’s needs. I’m an Acts of Service guy. Cook a meal, clean the house, or wash my car while I’m away, and that stuff’s like, “Oh my God, that means so much to me!” It feeds a bit into my obsessive nature. [laughs]. So even though Shannon is far from lazy, if I’m having a really bad day and I come home and there’s dishes in the sink and she’s been home all day I may let slip, “Oh I guess I just do all these dishes even though you’ve been home all day.” Or some passive-aggressive bitch slap like that—
S: Always passive-aggressive.
C: And then I’ll get one back. “Well, maybe you should raise this baby!”
S: I would never say that! [laughs]
C: [laughs] Of course not, but we’d exchange a couple barbs, you know? For Shannon, it’s physical touch.
S: And gifts.
C: If we go a length of time where the intimacy isn’t where it ought to be with a couple, she can start to be owly and frustrated. Sometimes I can be like, “Yo…I’m super tired from this baby and work. I’m not a physical touch guy so I don’t think to put my arm around you, but now I’m too hot and I want to go to sleep because I’m tired.” [laughs]. She’ll be like, “Well, why don’t you want to cuddle me on the couch and NOT go right to sleep?” [laughs] So when we’re focusing on the team and making efforts to fulfill one another’s desires and language for affection, everything’s good. But that’s the biggest challenge. I would say that’s the second actually, the biggest challenge now is having a baby. We still need to find a way to maintain our couple team while maintaining the family team with our son, Anderson.
S: That’s the biggest thing – bringing a baby in. I would say that right now in our relationship, having Anderson added to the mix is the biggest challenge only because it changed the game.
C: The dynamic is different, yeah.
S: It changed everything. We’re still not even a year in, so we’re still learning how to navigate that. The love languages and satisfying one another in that way can sometimes get lost in how hectic our life has become.
RP: Definitely different with a baby, hey? So how did having a baby change your relationship?
S: Some people say that having a baby is often the hardest year of your relationship. I wouldn’t say that mine and Curtis’ relationship really got hard – things about life got harder – but I don’t think the relationship got harder. I don’t feel more angry towards him or more animosity or more resentful, I still love him and care about him the same way that I always did. I just think that life is just busier. There’s not as much time. That’s the biggest thing. It impedes us taking the time for one another because your baby always takes priority. You might think you know what it’s like, but you really don’t know until you’re in it.
C: Yeah, I agree with everything Shannon said. She wrestled with some unhappiness at the start which we weren’t used to ‘cause we’re both pretty optimistic people. He came along and presented us with some new challenges and we had to get used to that. At one point, we had to sit down and be like, “Look… things are not happy right now. We love this baby but we feel sort of trapped in life .” I was like, “I need to go out and get shit-faced drunk and not come home the next day. Like, just to do it right? Just to tell myself that there’s an escape from this rigorous routine that is keeping this human alive.” And I thought that conversation made a big difference. Shannon was truthful about some of the struggles she was going through too and after that, things got better. I never did have that night though. [laughs]
S: I would say it changed things, especially at the start. It gets better as it goes. The first three months were hard, but I know we’ll get into Post Partum Depression in a little bit.
C: But some of it is torture.
S: The sleep deprivation. If anyone tells you it’s roses and sunshine all the time they’re lying.
C: Sleep deprivation is literally a form of torture.
RP: Oh we’ll definitely be getting into that, later. Tell us, what are your go-to responses during conflicts?
S: Well, I have quite the temper. I’m super fiery. I don’t know, maybe it’s a woman thing. When I’m mad, I spew venom. But I’m also incredibly quick to get over it. I do not hold a grudge whatsoever. If I said what I needed to say then it’s off my chest and I’m fine. So that’s for sure mine, anyway.
C: That’s true.
C: One is I’ll be passive-aggressive, especially when I’m initiating the conflict. And then sometimes I’ll try to just reason out a bit and try to talk my way out of it. That’s how I feel when there’s conflict, I want it to go away and I want it to be like it never happened. I would try to reason what I did was logical to try to get out of it. The other side that you rarely see – like when Shannon thought we were breaking up – if I’ve got enough drinks in me and for whatever reason I feel the world has just bared down on me too long and I do decide to go to anger, I go very much to anger. Not physically or on a person, but like screaming and F bombs and slamming.
S: I haven’t seen Curtis do that in like nine years though.
C: Not since Cuba.
S: [laughs] Cuba? No, you were just really drunk and you rolled down a hill…
C: No, there’s that one when I was drunk and I was like, “I’m standing up for myself!”
S: That wasn’t really your temper though.
C: To me, it felt like finally standing up to the bully. “Not today! I’m getting really drunk with my boys!”
S: It didn’t go much further than that.
C: But I mean, I’ll yell and swear and be stupid about it. That happens once every… Two, three years? Four years?
S: It’s happened maybe twice in our relationship? Not often!
C: But the passive-aggressive bit is probably how I deal with it most and try to reason my way through it with logic that she doesn’t care about.
RP: So, what are your partners strengths and weaknesses?
C: I’m trying to think of the most encapsulating strength of yours. You know, the weaknesses – there’s just so many to choose from!
C: Like being at Baskin Robbins with all of your weaknesses on the wall!
S: His strength is clearly not his humor. [laughs] Well I’d say for sure, Curtis’ strength is that he’s a fantastic listener and leader. And that comes into our relationship too ‘cause he’s so great at leading the household, he just listens so well. Everybody thinks so, I would say. Like, if you ever have something you need to talk about, don’t come to me – I’m a fixer. So I’ll just give you advice, I won’t stop and listen when all you really need is someone to just hear you. Curtis is the person you go to when you want to be heard, when you want to feel like you’re being listened to and that you’re important. He’s really good at making people in his life feel important.
C: Aw, thanks.
S: I think you know that because everybody tells you that. It’s rare. I find that most of the time people are waiting for their turn to speak and Curtis always listens. Like, he’ll sit in a room with somebody and be silent the whole night if that person just needs to talk. He will respond only when necessary but that’s it. I just think that it’s a really strong attribute.
C: As far as strengths go, I’d have to say for Shannon, it’s her body odor.
C: No, no, I’m kidding. I hope this answer isn’t offered too often, and I hope it’s not too cliché or whatever ‘cause it’s true, but Shannon’s strength – her greatest strength – is her strength, in my opinion. So, when she’s physically ill, if she’s stressed out, if she’s scared, all that, she has this uncanny ability to still put on a happy face, to totally fool you that there was anything wrong. To have a gourmet dinner prepared and to hold a conversation. For me, I’m a typical guy, I’m like, “My tummy hurts so much! I need chicken soup!”, you know? And for me, my tummy doesn’t even hurt, sometimes I just want to watch a movie.
C: But Shannon is really, really good at being there for other people, being there for her family and managing herself when it comes to just being strong, whether that’s physical pain or emotional pain. She can muscle through and still be a force to help and a force to love. Her strength is her strength.
S: Aw that’s nice. Thanks, babe.
C: Then let’s get right to your weakness!
C: OH! And this one’s the biggest one –
S: [laughs] He discovered it!
C: Legit, deeply held genuine confidence. She lacks it. Except when she’s cross-fitting hardcore. When she’s exercising intensely 5 days a week, I think she has confidence that goes well beyond her physical body, it’s real. But if she’s not doing that, it causes her to struggle. When she takes on new challenges, thankfully she has the strength that she’ll still muscle through it, but I can tell it’s painful ‘cause every day it’s “I suck” in her mind, right?
S: I would agree. I feel like I’m pretty self-aware, especially when it comes to my weaknesses. Because of my “confidence”, I’m very aware of them. Curtis’ weakness is easy, his OCD tendencies. I’ve tried to get him to go counselling for it. Lot’s of people say that, “Oh, I’m OCD” but with Curtis, it’s to a point beyond that. He fixates on it and will sit there for days focusing on it. With Anderson coming into the world, there’s no room for that. Everything is moved aside to make room for toys and minimize spaces to bonk your head. Everything’s not in it’s place anymore. And I think that’s why Anderson coming into the world was so difficult for him. It jostled his ability to keep things as he wanted. He struggled with it when he was young and he still does and it makes him unhappy sometimes. It can even cut into his time with Anderson, but he’s getting better with that.
RP: We know that struggle, too! [laughs] What’s something you always bicker about?
S: He’s not romantic. I complain about it a lot. I wish that he would do little gestures that make me feel special ‘cause one of my love language is gifts, too. Even just a note or something that indicates that I was thought of. I’ll definitely bicker about that, especially if I see something on social media. [laughs]
RP: Ah! The highlight reels!
S: Yes! [laughs]
C: I’m about the budget, it’s hard for me to think of the gifts.
S: Yes, he’s very practical. We live a very good life because of that. But that’s definitely something whine about.
C: And house hold stuff. Not often but that’s another one.
RP: Oh you’re not alone. What has been a struggle that nearly tore you apart? And how did you get past that?
S: You know our relationship has never been one that almost fell apart. There’s been things in life that have been hard but nothing that has come in and attacked what we have directly.
C: Sorry, we don’t want to give you the Facebook, glamorous answer, but I’ve never felt like we’ve been close to being torn apart. We’ve had big fights and on-going challenges, but remained strong.
S: Loss of grand-parents and people.
C: Yeah, but there’s never been a time where we’ve been compromised. I’ve never been like, “Let’s see what this Tinder is all about!”
C: There’s never been that moment.
S: Nope, never.
RP: Amazing. What is something your partner/relationship has taught you?
C: I don’t want to be cliche, but it’s definitely taught me that you have to sacrifice. Not like crazy, it’s not a struggle, but there’s times where you have to make that effort. Like, if I don’t want to spend that hundred bucks on a romantic gesture, but I do anyway, cause it does happen sometimes, it pays off in spades. It’s really effort and it pays off. And it’s taught me that it takes two in the team. Some of this is luck based on our personality and goals, but we both value the same thing.
S: I think we just both grew in the same direction. Some relationships don’t do that, they grow apart. We’ve been together for ten years and we just keep growing together. We want the same things and need the same things.
C: Our efforts and luck played into it. It taught me that it takes two people with common goals to succeed.
S: And a little good luck.
S: The thing it’s taught me is that open communication is everything. There’s not a single thing that I can’t talk to him about. We’re very open. Our communication scores have always been really high, there’s no secrets. Being with him and our relationship has taught me that is a main component.
RP: Great lessons. How do the roles of father and mother come into play between the two of you in terms of your relationship?
S: If anything, we talk through the baby. Like, “Did Dad not put the dishes away?”
S: Or like, “How did Dad leave you in that gross onesie all day?”
S: He can be my messenger. [laughs] We always call each other on it too, “Saying it through the baby huh?”
C: So that happens.
S: [laughing] But in all seriousness, we probably hug less, kiss less, we show affection less, because when he walks through the door, it used to be just me. He would hug and kiss me, but now there’s Anderson with this huge smile saying, “Da-da-da-da” and Curtis picks him up right away and loves on him. And I love that he does that, too. It’s so sweet. But it’s almost like we forget about each other. This little person entering your life changes everything. You don’t know how big your heart can expand. It’s insane.
C: The Dad Hat and the Mom Hat are the biggest ones that get worn the most.
S: And we have to make a concerted effort to take them off.
C: And they’re the ones that are most naturally there.
S: The down time we do get is also the only time we get to be alone. I find by the end of the day, I just want to have a bath. I am all touched out. I just want to watch some Netflix and be by myself. I’ve been with this little person all day long and I need a break. I don’t remember requiring ‘me time’ before, but I definitely require it now. I think as they kids get older it gets easier, but as of now, it’s really hard to take off those parenting hats.
RP: So, you’ve [Shannon] wrote a whole guest post on your battle with Post Partum Depression, can you tell us a bit about that and how that affected your relationship?
S: Like Curtis said, I am internally strong so I don’t think he really knew at the start how bad it really was for me. I look back at pictures and I feel like I was robbed of that time. My dad died tragically when I was 13 years old and even with that, my battle with Post Partum Depression was easily the worst time of my life. Hands down. It was terrible. I felt like I was trapped inside my own body and I couldn’t escape it, I was stuck. All I could do was cry and be irrationally angry. It was horrible. I knew I was at risk, I have a history of mental illness in my family, and looking back, I think I started to feel symptoms before I even had the baby. When he was born, I remember it being intense, but I don’t remember it being this all consuming love. When we got home I was so tired, I think I had been up for 60 hours, and man was breastfeeding daunting—they’re literally hungry every five seconds. It’s hard for all moms and it was horrible for me. When Curtis went back to work I cried everyday. I knew things were really not right when our dog would go hide under the bed to escape the crying and I had the strongest urge to crawl under there with him. I was thinking to myself, “I can’t do this”. This responsibility is too much. I didn’t have the urge to hurt or harm him or myself, thank goodness, but the urge to leave and run away was there. I think all moms go through that huge change, but feeling that way as intently and for as long as I did was the difference. I always want women going through it to reach out. The best thing I did was reach out to a group on Facebook, and that support was amazing. I also had a thyroid problem which we discovered was the cause is my Post Partum Depression. 1/10 women get it after pregnancy so it’s important to go get it checked!
RP: How did it affect your role as wife?
S: I don’t know if it affected it until I really opened up about how bad it was for me. I think a lot of women don’t talk about it, I was trying to cope.
C: Well, I think for my role as husband, I went so long with no idea thinking, “Dum-de-dum-de-doo, I’m a Dad now!”
C: I found it weird that she didn’t go crazy over the baby, I was losing it around him thinking he was so cute, I went goo-goo-gaa-gaa, and when she didn’t, I thought it was odd. But when she started to open up about her struggles, I felt like it changed my role as a husband because of our foundation as a team. I needed to not be passive aggressive about house cleaning, I needed to make romantic gestures, I needed to sit down and ask her how shitty she felt that day so she could get it out. I needed to turn up the support part no matter how rough the day was on me. She had some real stuff going on, I had normal stuff. The wife role didn’t changed much for her, she still did everything, made dinners and had the baby taken care of. I don’t know how she did it.
S: I wanted so badly for things to be normal so I was trying so hard to keep things normal, in hopes they would eventually feel that way. But it didn’t feel like my life. I couldn’t think or do anything to take myself out of it. I always felt it. I guess our roles slightly changed but we just adapted.
RP: It sounds like it reinforced your roles as wife and husband and as primary teammate, reaching out and supporting each other. Okay, so, what’s something you don’t think people would know/expect about your relationship?
C: How lame we are.
S: I think people think we are so much cooler than we are!
C: She used to sing, I was a rapper, hip hop dancer, lots of Facebook friends because of those things…
S: Make up artist, we do a lot of social things…
C: Post pictures right after working out, you know the highlight reel of social media! They think we’re really cool when most of our time is parenting, dirty because of parenting, watching shows, and in bed at 8:30.
S: [laughing] Watch, people will read this and say, “We didn’t actually think you were cool.”
RP: What is something you want more of in your relationship?
C: Honestly, being out. I wish we had more adventures, I wish we were out and about more. A level deeper than that, I wish we had the drive to do that and be happy when we do. I fear being 80 years old and thinking, “Why didn’t I buy a dirt bike? Or become a runner?” She’s good about getting the baby out, he does so many things. But we’re such homebodies now, I’ve turned her into one. I fear looking back in regret.
S: More outings as a family, but we’ve never been one to have simple lives, we always have multiple jobs, we never know what it’s like to have weekends off. We have so many irons in the fire, when there’s time to relax that’s all we want to do. [laughs]
RP: What are you trying to eliminate from your relationship?
C: Not the baby.
S: I think just stress. For me it’s a major crusher. Eliminating stress as much as possible is the key to a happy life. I think that’s everybody. Add a kid on top of that and it’s even more stress.
C: So it is the baby.
C: That’s a really good answer. My answer was so cheesy. I was thinking maybe we should be on our phones less.
S: That’s so true!
C: It’s a habit, she does it during TV, I do it in meals.
RP: Okay, we’re almost at the end! What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever gotten?
C: Easy. The Love Languages. After the first or second chapter when they talk about the obsession phase going away for everyone in relationships, it’s a normal thing. Good thing for Shannon, cause if I had known that I would have been married like 15 years earlier.
C: Just kidding, I know she’s the one. But I used to be frustrated with that going away. When I learned that was normal, that moments of passion are there, but that honeymoon phase goes away, it’s a physiological thing, took a huge weight off my shoulders.
S: Also, you can’t stay in that phase forever, you’d be broke, you’d have no job, literally it consumes everything! So twitter pated that you would forget everything else in your life. You’d be a dysfunctional human!
RP: Lastly, If you were to tell someone struggling in their relationship one thing, what would it be?
S: If you aren’t communicating, you’ve got nothing. The other person is not a mind reader. They can’t figure things out. Chances are, if you’re struggling, there’s a barrier there. If you’re struggling and open with communication you’ll discover what you need to do, and maybe it’s that you’re not meant to be, or that you can work through it. But there’s no way to know if you hold it in and feel resentful. Communication is everything.
C: Common goals, compromise, and team first mentality. The team first mentality will give you that bond, common goals will give you direction and compromise will allow you to head in that direction understanding that you might not always have the same method of getting there. And, check yourself. I just wanted to reference some Ice Cube in this interview somewhere.
RP: That’s amazing advice you guys. We love that. Anything else?
C: Thank you for making this so comfortable for us!
S: This is great! Thank you!
There you have it!
We don’t know about you, friends, but all through reading this we turned to each other and said, “Me, too”.
Shannon and Curtis, you two have given us such a candid, unedited view in to your successful 10+ year relationship and there have been so many takeaways. For us, these are our top 3:
Open communication, candid honesty is really the key to preventing misunderstandings and working through the hard times.
Own your shit. None of us are perfect people, but we can own who we are–flaws and all–and choose bring our best self to the table.
As Curtis so perfectly said: “Common goals, compromise, and team-first mentality. The team first mentality will give you that bond, common goals will give you direction and compromise will allow you to head in that direction understanding that you might not always have the same method of getting there. And, check yourself. I just wanted to reference some Ice Cube in this interview somewhere.” — We couldn’t have said that better ourselves! (Even with the Ice Cube reference!)
We loved chatting with you both, it felt like we could’ve talked for hours. We think you’re both really nailing this marriage and new parents thing. You’ve shown us that when real stuff happens, the other stuff doesn’t matter anymore and we’ve got to show up for our partners. Your team approach to marriage, parenting, Post Partum Depression and life is so inspiring. Thank you for all the great lessons, the unedited candidness, and the countless laughs. (We should have a six pack now at least, right?)