We’re thrilled to introduce you to our new favourite couple, Chris and Sara from Soul In Wonder. This husband and wife team met in the Peace Corps where Sara survived a gang rape, then both grew to have an enlightened marriage and founded their own company called Soul In Wonder.
To say they have lessons to share is an understatement.
We thoroughly enjoyed chatting with them, learning from them, and laughing along to their incredible humour. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
S: Sara Oakley, I did not take his last name [laughs].
C: Christopher Wilson.
S: I’m a life coach, lifestyle design strategist, holistic wellness practitioner, and co-founder of Soul in Wonder Inc.
C: I’m a certified herbalist, holistic health and wellness practitioner, and co-founder of Soul In Wonder Inc.
Length of time known each other
S: We met 3 years ago on October 31st.
Length of time together:
S: November 16, 3 years ago.
S: We’ve been married for 1 year today! Today is our anniversary!
RP: Congratulations! That’s so exciting!
C: Thank you!
Any breaks or break ups?
S: Not a one!
RP: Can you tell us a bit about your relationship story?
S: Do you want the long version or the shorter long version?
S: So we were both serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania on the East Coast of Africa, although we did not know each other existed just yet. This was three years ago. I ended up going to a big city for some medical things with the Peace Corps and I ran into some volunteers that were a part of his group. Now, in the Peace Corps, you’re kind of a family. There were 250 volunteers in Tanzania and it didn’t matter if we knew each other or not, you’re just friends. And they invited me out to dinner one night and my friend, Ginny, (shout out to Ginny!) overheard me talking with someone that I was desperately looking for someone to go with me to a music festival in Zambia and Zimbabwe near the border for New Years. She pipes in and says, quote who’s going to that! all the other volunteers In this town in Africa, he was the only other person considering Going to this Festival. So she gave me his number and that night we talked for around 45 minutes over the phone.
C: Yeah, she gave me a call that night, and we spoke about the music festival, I told her I was going with a few friends and within 45 minutes I invited her along although I had never met her and I didn’t know her at all it just felt really cool and comfortable. So I went with it.
S: When I got off the phone I resisted the urge to look him up on Facebook. He sounded really cute [laughs] and I thought to myself do I look him up on Facebook? And I decided no. A week later we ended up meeting in a city in Tanzania at a Halloween gathering. I found out he was the guy that I was going to The music festival with I awkwardly flung myself into his arms out of excitement and said, “Hi! It’s you!” I thought he was so handsome and I’m so awkward and that’s was my reaction. [laughs]
C: The funny thing was I was there with my friend who is also named Chris. So we went up to her and he said “Hey, I’m Chris!” and I said, “Hey, I’m Chris!” and it confused her for a little bit so when I told her I’m the one you’re going to the music festival with that’s when she, like she said flung herself at me. [Laughs] Within five minutes of just having met, I turn to my friend Chris and said, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry.”
S: We ended up talking all night while people were dancing we were just sitting on the couch huddled in the corner talking about philosophy and spirituality and family and really deep stuff. And we continued the conversation day after day. We never kissed I was actually there was someone else casually and I wanted to respect that. And Chris went to his supper Village about 3-day bus ride away and I went back to my Village we talked on the phone every single day After that. So we built our relationship on the phone immediately after meeting each other and when we officially got into the relationship, November 16th, we’d only still only met just once.
C: we were talking about 3 hours every single night together that was above the average. Just really diving deep into each other’s lives and our past and everything really. It was extremely refreshing considering both of us have never really started off a relationship that way.
S: Especially me. [laughs] it was nice to build a relationship with something so strong in such a verbal way and intimate way, Then I went to his village and we went to the music festival and the rest is history.
RP: Such a unique story, we love that.
C: She’s from Arkansas and I’m from New York and meeting halfway across the world was crazy.
S: What’s also crazy is that we both went to psychics when we were younger, he was 19 years old and I went right before leaving with the Peace Corps and they both told us about each other.
RP: No way.
C: Yes. The psychic I went was quite renowned and helps to solve crimes and things like that, it took me months to get in to see her about eight years before meeting Sara. She told me I was going to be traveling to another country when I was in my late twenties, I joined the Peace Corps when I was 27, and I was going to meet a girl in her name was going to start with an s. And she said when I see this person I have to make sure that I don’t lose her because she was my twin flame. And honestly, at 19 years old, I didn’t care. Laughs. I was too consumed with partying and having fun and whatever and thinking to myself ten years from now I’m going to meet some girl? Whatever. I kind of forgot about it and when I met her I started thinking about all these things again and about two weeks after being on the phone with her I said listen you’re going to think I’m crazy and I told her the whole story. And she was like well I have a story for you.
S: Right. [laughs] He was so hesitant Because he thought I would think he was a nut job. Laughs. But the crazy thing was before I went I also went to a psychic and she was right about many things and she told me I was going to transfer to a different country than the one I was currently serving in and I did and she told me that when I did I was going to meet this guy and she described to me exactly what Chris looks like to the T physically everything. And she said this is the man you’re going to marry. And she continued to tell me about the future we would have together and I thought she was crazy. Because I just got out of an engagement and was boycotting marriage I thought it was all the Sham! Laughs. I never thought it was going to happen. But when it did happen regardless of the psychics it just was. It was meant to be.
RP: That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing that story! Let’s get to the questions. What is the best thing about your relationship?
C: Honestly, for myself and most likely Sara, I think it’s that we’re able to do every single thing together and not get sick of each other but love each other more. We work together, we live together, we work out together.
S: We cook together. [laughs]
C: Since we own our own business we’re pretty much together 24/7 unless I run out to get groceries or something.
S: Which we will also often do together. [laughs]
C: Falling in love with each other, every day, more and more, despite being with each other all the time, would be the best.
S: That’s not to say we don’t bicker. [laughs] I would say my favourite thing is that we’re so well-balanced. We couldn’t be more opposite on the things that matter to balance each other out. But yet, we have the same foundation of values. This allows us to grow steadily. He’s extremely motivated and a do-er and won’t stop until it’s done whereas I can sit and Meditate under a tree for 8 hours and not even know that eight hours passed. [laughs] Our opposites motivate each other, you know. my right end of the spectrum slows him down a little but it’s to the point where we’re able to come together in the middle and complement each other so whatever he’s not good at I am good at whatever I’m not good at he’s good at did I say that right and it just seems to work well in that sense.
RP: That’s wonderful. Opposites attracting is a real thing! We so resonate with that. Okay, what is your greatest relationship challenge?
S: That’s a good question, I want to make sure we give a good answer. [laughs] I would say he disagrees or has a different perspective than I do. When our opposites, for some reason, clash when they normally don’t. For example, when he’s extremely motivated and keeps adding things to our to do list,
S: [laughs] It pulls me up but there’s a point where my zen personality is like this isn’t going to work here. We might butt heads. He can’t see why I can’t keep pulling and I can’t see why he won’t slow down. It causes bickering, sassy tones of voices [laughs].
C: I’ve gotten better with that I think!
S: We both have! We’ve addressed it and we work together everyday, you have to be honest when you’ve maxed out and throw in the towel. It doesn’t sound like a big challenge but it is for us overall.
C: I have nothing to add to that, I agree 100%.
RP: We totally agree and think that’s not to be underestimated! Marriage is in those everyday moments, those challenges matter. So, when conflicts come up, what is your go to response?
C: We came up with a good system that started as a joke but works really well for our relationship. If we get into an argument or bicker, we will let it go for a few minutes and do our thing. Then when we come to our senses we will go to each other and say, “I’m wrong, you’re right.” Or the other way around.
S: It’s a humbling process. We’re both willing to see it that way. The answer is always quite obvious that there’s someone who was wrong, and it’s okay to be wrong. If I see that I’m wrong I’ll say it. And then we often laugh about it. It started as a joke because we see so many that are afraid to say that they’re wrong and I’ve always seen that women on sitcoms who are always right even when she’s wrong and I don’t want to be that. [laughs] I think for both people to laugh about it and say “You’re right I’m wrong” allows the situation to be dissolved.
C: We don’t want to sweep it under the rug, we want to address it and move on with our day.
S: In a bigger situation, if someone’s feelings got hurt, taking it too personally, usually me. [laughs] We try to communicate and talk it through. It diffuses the situation.
RP: Since you both value self-growth and wellness, do you find that you grow at different rates? If so, how do you manage that?
C: I don’t think we grown at different rates. We’re growing at the same rate but just in different ways. We’re both addressing our shadow selves, the dark sides of ourselves that need to be addressed in order to grow and expand as people. For example, Sara is addressing things in her past, she’s growing in different ways, her spiritual side. I may not be doing that work, but I’m doing other work to help me to grow. At the end of the day when you put that together, it makes us a stronger team.
S: Right, it’s full circle. He’ll joke that I’ll take care of my part, and he’ll take care of his.
RP: So you feel that the growth balances each other, that’s awesome. Because you two spend so much time together, do you have any challenges together around that and balance?
C: I’ll be honest here, I’ve never been in a relationship where I’ve wanted to be with that person so much. There have been so many times in the past where I’ve been like “I need my own space, I need to get away. I need to be with my friends for a couple of days.” But with us, it sounds cheesy, I miss her when she’s away.
S: I think the reason it works is because we’re very good at being in our own worlds at the same time in the same room. I can be doing something entirely different than he is but in the same room. I like being in his energetic presence so to say. If there are moments where we’re distracting each other or both meshing 100%, he’ll put on his headphones or I’ll go into an extra room. It’s a respect thing. He’s in his bubble, I’m in mine, and we’re a finger tap away for attention. We’re respecting each other’s space so we’re not having to ask for it. It’s an intuitive thing I think.
RP: We love that, often there are those honeymoon comments around not being sick of each other, but we agree that being in each other’s space can be a respectful and joyful thing without smothering each other. Great point. Okay, what are your partner’s strength and weakness?
S: I’ll go first, it looks like Chris’s gears are turning. For him, his weakness is struggling to turn off. He’s a robot that goes and goes, He’s an energizer bunny. While that is a strength I’ve seen it take a toll on his stress level, which then takes a toll on the relationship at times. His strength? I’ve never met another man who is more attentive than he is. To my needs, and the relationships needs. He’s always thinking about it. I’ve just never been taken care of like that. I’ve always been the one taking care of others so, he’s very mature and doesn’t expect anything in return and is always so attentive.
C: How am I going to beat that? [laughs]
S: [laughing] And in all aspects of our relationship. I think as women it’s important to realize that attentiveness goes from working together, talking and listening and in the bedroom. I’ve never met a man who cares that much.
RP: That’s a great answer!
S: There can be this weird gender gap in the bedroom with heterosexual relationships that men aren’t as attentive as women and it makes me feel so lucky that Chris is so attentive.
RP: Awwww! Okay, Chris?
C: Man, it’s hard! There’s not really a weakness! I guess, being that I’m so motivated and go-go-go, sometimes I feel that Sara stays in the clouds a little too long for my liking.
C: It’s those days when I feel like I have to push it and she’s sitting back and not moving forward the way I want to, but I know that’s not her, that’s what makes her special. And it’s not a weakness, but when I’m in those moods I see it that way. [laughs] As far as strength? She’s honestly the most beautiful, loving, caring and sincere person I’ve ever known. I’m not just talking about her to me but her to the world. She wants nothing more than to just help people. It makes me emotional.
S: You’re going to make me cry!
C: Just to see her care that much. I can get frustrated with the world, but she doesn’t. She can spend so much time with just one person, even a complete stranger who has reached out to her, she’ll always take time and give feedback. I’ve never seen anyone have the amount of patience and everything else that she has.
RP: That’s such a good one. So, what’s something you always bicker about?
C: It’s generally perspective if that makes sense. It’s either mine is skewed for her or hers is skewed for mine.
S: Right. It’s not really a topic but it’s usually a misunderstanding with things we’ve said or not agreeing with each other. Responding in sassy ways, and five minutes of sass, and then laughing and back to normal. We try not to take things personally, we try for the ego transcendence. That doesn’t mean it always works [laughs]. But there’s usually something going on under the surface. If there’s sass, it’s not because we’re mad at each other it’s just that moment and something underlying that.
C: It’s like the book The Four Agreements, not to take things personally. We really try to do that.
RP: We love that book!
C: Yes! It can help prevent situations from being bigger than they need to be. But we also bicker about accumulating.
S: Oh no!
C: I call Sara the accumulator. When she gets home she’ll change and leave her stuff and her clothes on the floor beside the bed,
S: On my side of the bed!
C: And it will just start accumulating, and accumulating. Another pile and another pile, and then a cup, and then something else. [laughs] Now, I’m not a clean freak but eventually I was like, “Sara, you gotta take care of the pile.”
S: [laughing] He’ll say, “Sara, you’re accumulating.” [laughs] and that’s the flag to start putting my clothes away. [laughs] In my defense, I don’t believe in washing clothes if you’ve worn them just once, so that’s why I put them on the floor.
C: That’s what a dresser is for.
S: It’s convenient! [laughs] But I see his point. But now I’ve really made it a point to put things away, it has helped my mental clutter go down, too. [laughs] I’ve really cut down on the accumulating.
C: You really have. I’m proud of her.
RP: [laughing] We love that! Okay, has there ever been a struggle that has torn you apart?
C and S: No.
RP: Wow! So quick and solid!
S: [laughing] Yes, there’s never been a struggle that has compromised our relationship or us.
RP: Amazing! Has there ever been a struggle individually you’ve gone through that affects your relationship?
C: Yes, Sara can speak to it.
S: I was in my first country of service in Namibia, 2013 or 2014 and I was gang raped in the village. That was before I met Chris. I had to come home in January 2014 to deal with the trauma and figure out what I was going to do next. They ended up transferring me to Tanzania and that’s where I eventually met Chris so that was a blessing in disguise for that reason and many others. But because we had met during that first year after it happened I had to go through all the firsts. I had to go through the first anniversary of that happening by myself in my village, he was in his village and we had just started dating that November. It was a pretty big thing for me to be going through and starting a new relationship off of while being away from home and my family entirely. In a different culture and language and especially in a culture that deals with rape entirely different than ours. There’s no support there, no one talks about it there. I was going through that on my own and it challenged both of us in different ways. It was a challenge for me in the above ways I mentioned and a challenge for him because he felt helpless and didn’t know how to be there for me. But the funny thing is, he was the best thing for me. He handled it so well. Dealing with that and coming home and testifying, which also happened on the two-year anniversary, Chris was able to go with me helped a lot. I had to go through a lot of upheaval and restructuring of myself and my beliefs and it definitely affected our relationship in different ways. Maybe I was having a really bad day and couldn’t get off the couch. Or sexually things weren’t on point. You know? That was definitely the biggest challenge we’ve had to go through but it’s never gotten to a point where it’s challenged our relationship as a whole or was jeopardized. He was so understanding and I was doing my best working through it as diligently as I could.
RP: Thank you for sharing that with us. Was there anything specific in your relationship that helped with that healing?
S: Oh my gosh, yes.
C: Yes. On surface level our relationship strength is communication and that really was a good foundation to have to get through something like that in the way we did.
S: For me personally working through that, the strongest part was before the first anniversary, I had a breakdown on the phone with Chris and I was by myself and I was nervous and having to deal with the anxiety by myself and he just put it all out on the table. He said, “Look, I have no idea how to be there for you, I have no idea how to get through this. I’ve never been through this or known anyone who’s been through this and I need you from this day forward to tell me what it is you need from me.” It was so refreshing. I’ve never had a man before in a previous relationship say, “You tell me what you need from me.” Ever. It blew my mind! I told him, “Thank you, I will.” And at that moment, on that phone call, I said, “I need to be by myself for a while, maybe an hour or so.” And he said, “Okay, call me when you’re ready to talk again.” And from that day forward I was honest with him. If I needed a day to veg on the couch and watch Netflix and cat videos I would tell him, “I can’t face the world today.” And he would say, “It’s okay.” And tuck me in a little blanket and ask me if I need anything and then he’d go to work near me. It was this comfortable communication where I didn’t feel like I had to hide anything about being not okay.
RP: That’s amazing. We’re so sorry that happened to you, we can’t imagine that experience. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing that with us. You’re courageous and resilient.
S: Thank you. It needed to happen, as weird as that sounds. I wish it didn’t happen. To me or to other people. But it was a catalyst for change in my own life. Had it not happened, I don’t even know where I would be at this point. I wrote a blog post about my journey in recovering from it and how to empower ourselves after the tragedy, and that was healing as well. I’ve embraced it.
RP: You’re thriving with it, thank you for being so open with us and sharing your perspective. Okay, let’s move forward here. Have there been any challenges around being a couple that’s in the public eye?
C: Hmm. Not that I can come up with. We’re pretty transparent and in our daily lives, we strive to be transparent. Of course, there are things we keep to ourselves [laughs] but we want to be as open as we can with people and send the message that it’s okay to be you. We all have flaws and things we’re working on. We’re human, not perfect and we want to make sure people know that.
S: I agree. I haven’t experienced any challenges so far with our relationship being in the open. Chris nailed it with that one. [laughs]
RP: So in line with our values! So, what’s something your relationship or partner has taught you?
S: Good question.
C: Sara has taught me, the list is very long, but the two that come up are strength considering her background and story. She’s taught me how powerful it can be to get through these situations and use them as an evolutionary catalyst for personal growth. I can’t honestly say what would happen to me in a similar situation. She’s taught me so much about strength that way. And she’s also taught me patience. Valuing patience. When we first met, I Play not the most patient person, I am still not the most patient person. Laughs. But I’ve evolved in such a way where I’ve come become more patient and understanding. And I’ve learned that from her. I value them very much.
S: That was a good answer babe. Laughs. I would say he has taught me the most is the value of assertiveness. I’m a very passive person, I always have been. And it’s led me to be a doormat in many situations and of course, the pendulum affects where I go the complete opposite and has been crazy and past relationships because I can only take so much before I break. Chris has taught me the value of assertiveness and a healthy level of assertiveness. Him coming from an Italian family who is loud And you States their opinions and they go after what they want in a healthy way. He shows me The importance of standing up for yourself and getting the results that you want and not at the cost of others. He’s taught me a lot about using my voice and speaking up, I still push it off on him a lot [laughing] but Not as much as before, where I want to hide in the shadows, now I’m a lot more confident. And I really value that.
RP: Great answers! What is something people would be shocked to know about our relationship?
S: What kind of shocked?
S: Well, we’re really weird.
S: That’s an understatement. We’re extremely weird.
S: We’re so weird that we will ask each other if other people could see how we act with each other, do they act this weird too? [laughs] We have alter-egos and some aren’t appropriate for the internet.
S: We speak in different voices to each other and refer to each other a lot in the third person. It all happened organically and we’re just very weird. [laughing]
C: We talk about our future child who we haven’t conceived yet. Shout out to Kaia. [laughs]
RP: [laughing] We’re all weird! We love that. [laughs] We’re nearing the end of our questions. What is something you want more of in your relationship?
S: That’s a good question. Give me a minute.
C: I like that question. Hmm. And the awkward silence.
S: I was thinking about this last night. When we met, we were in isolated villages and our relationship started with zero distractions. No Netflix and binge-watching, all we had were each other. There was so much mental space to share with each other with no distractions. We could sit under the stars and think is this even real? Things were slower. And now that we’re back in this fast-paced society and working so hard, our downtime, if it’s not hiking or being in nature, is this Netflix addiction at night when we want to wind down. Another Game of Thrones? Yes![laughs] We do value that time together, but I value the non-distracted time more. If we could remove that distraction and get back more mental space and slowed down environment, I would like that. This makes it sound like we watch a lot of TV [laughs]. We don’t! But to reduce that would be nice.
C: Yes, I would agree with that. And technology in general. Have a technology detox. [laughs] I agree 100%. But honestly, besides that? Wanting more? I’m so satisfied. At this stage in our marriage, I’m completely satisfied with everything. There’s nothing, at this moment in time, there’s nothing I want more of from Sara or the relationship.
RP: So more of the same?
C: Yeah! More time as things are.
RP: Great answers, so what would be something you’re trying to eliminate from your relationship?
S: I think not taking it personally when things get sassy. [laughing]. I know if he’s multi tasking 50 different things on the computer and his mind and I happen to jump in at the wrong time, that’s his personality to tend to be sharp. And it’s not me. I’m shortening my response time in taking it personally. I addressed to him before that when you have that tone, I take it personally. If you could be more mindful of your tone it would help me as I work on taking it not personally. So that would be mine.
C: Yeah, I think for me it’s about the bigger picture of patience and taking her perspective and eliminating defensiveness. I tend to jump to being defensive, even if she’s not meaning it that way and without having looked at her perspective. I’m working on that and eliminating irritation with that. Over time, I hope it goes away completely.
S: Yes. That works well because he’s working on his side of things and I’m working on my side of things!
RP: We love that teamwork!
S: [laughing] And for me it has a lot to do with past relationships, I’ve got a track record of emotionally and verbally abusive relationships so for me this is also about breaking some of those beliefs I gathered going through that. Understanding that there can be different intentions behind certain tones of voice. It’s been a great learning experience for me comparing reactions then and now in a healthy relationship.
C: We’re teaching each other lessons!
RP: Awww! Okay, what is the best piece of relationship advice you’ve gotten?
C: The best advice we’ve gotten together is to kiss each other every time we leave each other.
S: To the store, to anywhere.
C: Kiss her goodbye and embrace her and how much I care about her.
S: Yes, we got this advice from a man who’s wife passed away and saw us and must have seen a part of his relationship in us that he shared with her. HE told us before he left, make sure every time you separate you kiss each other because you never know when the moment will be that you’ll never get to do that again.
C: To live in the present and embrace the moment that we’re in together. At this point, this is the last moment, embrace the now and that person.
RP: Amazing advice. If you were to tell someone struggling in their relationship one thing, what would it be?
S: Well, we all know to communicate by now. We’re adults, we have to communicate. We can’t read each other’s minds so stop pretending we can. [laughs] But my real advice would be to work on yourself primarily and the good things will come. I don’t want that to be misconstrued, I don’t mean to only work on yourself, but a lot of the problems in the relationship stem from you. I know that’s so hard to hear and we always clearly see the flaws in our partners. But I’m saying this because the reason you’re seeing all those flaws is because there’s something going on in yourself. It may be completely unrelated but if you’re unwilling to do your own shadow work, you’re not going to be able to thrive in a healthy balanced relationship. So doing that self=work in an open and communicative relationship will ensure that both people will progress together. And if that other person is unable to do that same work, then y’all might not be ready to progress together and sometimes letting things go that no longer serve us is best.
C: Mic drop.
RP: Amazing answer! We completely agree. Anything you want to add or are we leaving the mic on the floor?
C: We’re leaving the mic on the floor.
RP: Well that’s the end of our questions! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you want to share with us?
C: I just want everybody to live with meaning and purpose. We see too many people, we’re in the field of self-development and healing and we see too many people who are unhappy or unsatisfied with their lives. Whether that is physical or mental they’re they’re some way unfulfilled. And I think it’s often that purpose. That passion. It’s important to live a life that not only makes us happy but helps others and the collective progress and grow stronger as communities and the world.
S: We see a lot of people settling and we were victims of that before we met each other until we stepped out of that fear to become more. We can all step out of that fear. And to see people settling because they’re afraid to leave their comfort zone and progress, that’s how change won’t happen. We want people to embrace their relationships and push them and move them and challenge yourself to keep growing and expanding and not settle.
C: Get out of your comfort zone and out of the familiar. Travel somewhere or do something you’ve never thought you could do. You’ll be amazed at how it feels to do something that’s unfamiliar or new to you.
S: And if you’re single, that’s probably where you’ll meet your soul mate.
C: We did.
RP: Such a great point. It was such a pleasure chatting with you both! Thank you for sharing your relationship and hearts with us.
S: This has been awesome! Thank you for having us!
C: Thanks, guys!
Shortly after facing a violent near-death experience overseas, Sara and Chris met in Tanzania while volunteer with the United States Peace Corps. Very quickly he became her rock and she his muse.
Their constant thirst for personal transformation and healing within themselves fuelled their desire to create a connected community of healthy, happy people. Modeled after their own lifestyle, the couple planted and nurtured the seed of Soul in Wonder, their transformative holistic wellness company.
As wellness practitioners, lifestyle design strategists, and conscious living enthusiasts, Chris and Sara’s mission is to ignite passion, positivity, purpose, and deep healing in change-seekers to help them uncover their true potential and create a life they love; one of vibrant health, happiness, emotional balance, and peace of mind.
They can be found at: www.soulinwonder.com
Be sure to follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/soulinwonderinc
And on Instagram at: www.instagram.com/soulinwonderinc