We are super fans of these two and are thrilled to share behind the scenes of Natalie and Hugh’s REALationship.
You may have seen these two on Instagram, changing the world with their community The Rising Tide.
Now, we have to be honest.
To say we are super fans might be an understatement. After being a part of their community, we got to know Natalie in the digital world and when she announced her brain tumor and following brain surgery last year, we felt such a personal response. We had so many questions about their journey and their relationship.
These two are the heartbeat of many entrepreneurial communities and receivers of comments like #RelationshipGoals (which we get into, don’t you worry!) and we knew we had to reach out and share their story.
After chatting with these two for over an hour, we discovered so many more reasons to fall in love with them and we know you will, too.
Without further ado, let’s get to their (lengthy!) relationship story and interview. Make sure to scroll to the end to see what they’re up to next, as always, it’s amazing
H: Hugh Hayes.
N: Natalie Hayes, although I go by Natalie Franke, legally I’m Natalie Hayes!
H: I’m 28 years old.
N: I’m 27.
N: Occupation, I… a lot of things [laughs] entrepreneur and community builder are probably the two I would go with.
Length of time known each other:
N: Oh, 12 years?
H: It’s longer than that I think?
N: Is it?
H: How old were you?
N: Like 13.
H: So…grade, no… like 13 years right? Yeah, 12 or 13 years.
Length of time together:
N: All of that, so 13 years. [laughs]
Breaks or break-ups:
H: She tried, but I didn’t let her.
N: [laughing] I tried to break up with him for 6 hours. I was a teenager! I can’t even remember why I was upset with you. It was probably something very…
H: You were like, “we need a week off!”. I was like “Nah”. You were like, “Well, maybe just a day?”. I’m like “No”. You’re like “Well, I’m just going to like, go out of the room for a minute”. I was like, “That’s fine.”
N: Married for 5 years.
N: May twenty… actually, I should test you!
H: No you got it! [laughing] May 23rd!
N: May 23rd! [laughs]
RP: Can you tell us a bit about your relationship story?
N: You want to do it?
H: I think you’re the one to tell that.
N: You sure?
H: Yup. for sure.
N: So, we met when we were 15. He was actually 16, I was 15. And we met rowing on the crew team.
RP: Oh that’s so cool!
N: It’s kind of a funny story ‘cause his mom signed him up to get off the couch to stop playing video games and I had played competitive lacrosse my entire life and then in highschool I just… and this is not a shock to anybody, realized I wasn’t as competitive as everybody else. [laughs] I went for the community aspect of sports and so I decided not to play anymore, my mom said “you have to do something”. I researched rowing and randomly our worlds connected. We started dating as teenagers, 15 & 16, and we’ve been together ever since.
H: I think we met, like the first or second practice and then almost immediately I tried to get everyone to go get ice cream so I could take her on a date…
N: He considers that our first date!
H: That was our first date!
N: I think the next time was our first date because that night was more of like a group dinner, but we did talk the whole night.
H: Yeah. Then, as soon as I locked down Natalie, I just left and didn’t do rowing anymore. She went to go do it for a while. I got what I wanted out of it! [laughs]
RP: [laughing] That’s a pretty good win out of rowing! [laughs] Ok, so we start off with easy questions. Can you tell us the best thing about your relationship?
N: Oh, I want you to go first!
H: No you can go first!
N: No! I want you to go first! I know what I’m going to say.
H: Hmmm…I feel like I have like a partner in everything I do.
N: I agree with that, I know I probably shouldn’t say the same thing, but I think the thing I like the most is the fact that we don’t feel complete unless we’re together. We’ve been together for so long, and I know it’s so cheesy when people say “Oh, someone’s my better half”, and I think that we’re whole when we’re separate, but when we’re together it’s like we’re the best of each other. When we’re together, we really empower each other to chase after our dreams and support each other. Mainly him supporting me in this season but I’m excited in the next season to hopefully do the same for him.
RP: We love that.
N: I got a little emotional when I said that! [laughs]
RP: Next question, what is your greatest relationship challenge?
H: Natalie leaves all the drawers open in our house…
H: It drives me absolutely nuts! If she opens a drawer, or a cabinet, or even the refrigerator, she just leaves and walks away with it open!
H: It’s bad.
N: For many people, they call this a pet peeve, but Huey’s dead serious, this is the worst thing!
N: I would say, for me, it’s the fact that we’re polar opposites on the spectrum of being. I’m an optimist, and Hughey calls it a realist, although I say a pessimist. [laughs] I have the optimism of a 5 year old child and I really look at the world through the lens of ‘everything is possible’ and ‘everyone is good’ and ‘the world is a great place’. I’m often, unfortunately, proven wrong by the world but I refuse to give up that desire for that to be the case. And he’s just a great realist. He’ll look at a situation and he can just call it out very quickly. Where I’m like “No! There’s no way that’s like that!… No!” That balance between optimist and realist/pessimist, that’s been a…challenging thing.
H: Yeah. Very different for us.
RP: We hear ya. What would you say is your go-to response during conflicts?
H: I think that ties into the last question. I take everything very literal and logical, so if Natalie’s having an issue about something, I try to logically explain to her why it doesn’t make any sense and it’s not the best way to handle the situation. [laughs]
N: [laughing] That’s not what I want to hear!
H: That’s not what she wants to hear, it’s not very helpful. So, even though I know that, I keep doing it, over and over again… I should try to fix that. [laughs]
N: I’m very passionate and very emotional, so I just cry. A lot. Even quickly after I got my brain surgery, where I was trying so hard to do things, I remember how mad I got at you because you kept saying to me, “Get back in bed! You just had brain surgery!”
N: He’d say, “Get back in bed!” I’d be like, “My head hurts!” He’d say, “Of course your head hurts! You’re running around the kitchen trying to cook Thanksgiving dinner! Get back in bed!” On and on. [laughing] Like, that’s us.
N: The logical explanation, versus, passion emotional.
H: Yeah. Like you want to be comforted during something.
N: Yes! I want him to be like “It’s okay! It’s all going to be fine!” And he, well, that’s not his style.
H: Nope. [laughs]
N: But I will say, we’ve been through a lot of shit the last year, and I… Sorry I cursed!
RP: That’s ok! [laughs]
N: [laughing] As much as I’m in the moment and I get mad at you about that logical stuff, I appreciate the fact that you don’t allow me to self pity myself or be a victim. It would be easy for me to need that nurture, I want that nurture and that coddling when I’m upset about something. But I think the fact that you remind me how strong I am has really been a good thing this year. That’s helpful.
RP: We can’t wait to dive into that more. This leads to our next question. What would you say is your partner’s strengths and weaknesses?
N: Ooh, I think I have to think about it.
H: So, Natalie, I think it’s a strength and her weakness, is that she won’t stop working.
H: She works way, way, way, way, way, way too much. And she has a problem with stopping working and she starts feeling anxious if she’s not working. I think it’s a strength and a weakness. But then, for a true strength, I think she’s an incredible speaker. I think when she speaks it’s really, really good. It’s ridiculously good.
N: Umm, let me think about this… Your weakness…This is tough, cause I don’t want to pull the whole “it’s a strength” too card, but I think one of Huey’s weaknesses is that he thinks through everything! Like overanalyzes. He’s very strategic and incredibly brilliant, he just will think through a scenario to the point where he’s thought through every aspect of something. I think that can be a negative sometimes, a weakness because then it stops you from just appreciating things and you get kind of caught up. But then on the flip side, I think your strength is that you are rooted, he’s ridiculously rooted. He’s somebody who’s deeply rooted in the things he cares about and he’s a rock to everyone. To me, his family, our friends. He’s the one you call when things don’t go right. He’s the one that his mom calls when she needs something, his brother calls him when he’s going through a tough time. Huey’s the rock, Huey’s deeply rooted for everybody.
RP: It’s so interesting that you guys say your strength is also a weakness. We’ve found, interviewing couples over the last year and a half, is that most often their weaknesses are their strengths turned up too loudly. It sounds like you two are describing that, too! So great to hear. Okay, tell us, what’s something you always bicker about?
N: There are many with me. [laughs]
H: So we have a double sink in our bathroom…
N: [laughing] I knew this was going to come out!
H: [laughs] We’re each supposed to have our own sink. I clean so that Natalie gets her own sink back again because she usually uses it for storage. Storage for makeup, like in the sink bowl.
N: It’s all my makeup brushes!
H: And then the morning she goes, “I don’t have time to clean!” so she uses my sink…
N: Just to brush my teeth!
H: Then she makes me late going to go to work.
RP: Oh man!
H: So, along with the cabinets not being closed. Not cleaning her side of the sink and using my sink.
N: It’s not that it’s not clean…[laughs] It’s just that if there’s a lot of stuff. It’s messy like my creative mind! It’s makeup brushes, dry shampoo, and hairspray…all on and around the tiny little sink that we have. And his is the only open one!
H: And mine’s very clean, so then she uses it!
N: Oh! Then we fight a lot about the microwave. So, if I don’t cancel the time…
H: This is really little!
N: Huey will go, “Oh what time is it? 26 seconds? What?” [laughs]
H: Usually it’s one or two seconds, like she just didn’t let it go. Just let it run!
N: These are the honest things.
H: Oh, Natalie has started cooking more and more lately, and she’s actually got pretty good at cooking, but she refuses to turn off the oven. So hours later, I come in and the oven’s still on…
N: I think all of these things come from having a creative mind and ADD. I really do! I’m terrible at like remember those little things, even though I don’t want to forget!
RP: Natalie, no complaints? Everything’s good?
N: [laughing] Yeah, nope! I don’t! Well you know, I think it’s because our personalities are different where I’m always “big picture”. I think that affects our relationship because I don’t have any kind of bickering complaints. He puts up with me and my crazy overall [laughs]. Well…maybe it’s just the negativity sometimes.
H: Yeah, that’s that’s probably it. I can be very…realistic.
RP: Has the entrepreneurial journey affected your relationship. And if it has, how so?
N: Oh, it’s been rough.
H: Yeah, it’s not easy. A couple years ago, the biggest thing for me, was when Natalie was shooting weddings. For the majority of our relationship, I didn’t actually see Natalie on the weekends. And then I work during the week, so the only real time we had with each other was sort of at night. So, that isn’t as significant now, because of her changing jobs, but that was probably one of the harder aspects. Especially for a couple years, when she just took more and more and more and more weddings. I’m like “Hey, can you take like two weekends off or something?” That was probably one of our bigger issues, it’s just time. Cause we were working so much.
RP: We hear that.
N: Yeah, I agree with you. I think I’ve been a lot better since my surgery. There’s a difference between that day and afterward. But I would say time really was difficult because I prioritize my work over our relationship more than I can care to admit. And I think that I can only say that confidently in retrospect, being able to look back and say, “Wow, I really chose that much work.” cause people will say “Oh you have to hustle!” and you do, I get it. But you’re also making a choice, it’s not happening to you. As much as I loved it, it really was like I either had to keep shooting weddings or I had to have a really healthy marriage. We had opposite schedules and I was so passionate about that work that it made it really tough for us to have, just time. To do life. I mean, I never made it out to a family vacation, I never could make a single holiday weekend celebration, not for anything.
H: You also probably could have, like…
N: Cut back on weddings.
H: [laughs] You could have shot weddings and still had a relationship, I think the problem was that you were going non-stop. You were like, “I have a weekend free…I can shoot more weddings!”
N: That’s an important point I think. Self awareness. I do think most normal people don’t work the way I work, I don’t think it’s healthy.
H: It’s not.
N: Yeah. We’ve learned more about my personality type and how work is weirdly something that I have a problem with. I get very addicted to the craft of working and hustling. It fills me with this adrenaline, it lights me on fire, and it’s great when it’s contained, but those early years of our relationship were hard, because I did — I just worked myself to death. It affected everything. But we’ve learned, I think, that we’re a heck of a lot stronger now having gone through that.
H: Yeah, I don’t regret anything.
N: It’s not easy. I think it’s a lesson: the best and the worst of you come out in entrepreneurship. I think you have to learn how to navigate that together.
RP: Thank you both for that honesty. So powerful and relatable. Alright, what do you think of the comments you guys often get like #goals on social media?
N: Ah, I don’t know, what do you think?
H: Uh, I don’t know, I’m not sure, I don’t see that. I don’t read any of the comments or anything, so I really don’t know.
N: Well, it’s interesting I think. So one thing to mention is the fact that he’s very private. He doesn’t use facebook at all. We joke that I’m only allowed to share about him, how often? You used to say like “You can take one selfie a month!”.
H: Or a year!
H: So some people can see the changes over the year!
N: Yeah, so you can see the beard growing.
N: It has been both a gift and a challenge. I think in a world where people market their relationships, that’s not really something that we’ve done from that standpoint at all because we’re very private. Like, we’re public facing but very private. I think the second thing is just that, whenever we get that, and we do, the whole, “Oh you guys are so cute! Oh, goals!” and this and that and the other, is that I think a picture is just sort of, a curated face. That snapshot of the moment and it only tells half the story. One of the things that we’ve really worked on especially, since announcing about my brain tumor and stuff, is telling the other half of the story. That’s the thing I want to point out, it’s half of the story and it’s the half that someone’s chosen to show.
N: I am grateful that with the work you guys do around relationships. I think there are some shifts happening. Like, these stories are becoming more honest and seeing more real relationships. And they don’t look like the cookie cutter relationships I think we saw for so long and that’s going to be really powerful for this next generation that’s coming up. To remember, it’s not the full story.
H: Yeah, I think it’s fine when people say that. I think they just say it not realizing that people usually just share the good stuff and not the bad stuff. We have to remember both.
RP: Mhm! Exactly! We love that. Thank you for those kind words, Natalie. Okay, so, now we get to some good stuff. Can you tell us a little bit about your brain tumor story? How has that experience, and the continuing recovery, affected your relationship?
N: I can cover the story, and you can cover the relationship, maybe?
N: Yeah? It’s been a tough chapter, I think tougher for him than even for me because he has to deal with being steady and the rock. It’s been my chaos in this season. When I was in my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. I mentioned us being private and we kept it private for 5-6 years. You know, our families knew and then a couple of immediate friends knew, but other than that, we never posted about it publicly. It was never something that I felt I was ready to share because I was so in it and not able to really look at it retrospectively. In the fall of 2017, we went back for an MRI and the doctor’s determined we needed to get it taken out. You know, the time had come. And it’s funny because we knew that was a possibility, when we first found out they said, “Okay, well there may come a day where you have to get surgery…But you know, we’ll wait and see.” So, in the fall we got that news and made the decision very quickly to get it removed and it just felt like everything went on pause, like time stood still. I had to kind of pause my life, and you [Hugh] had to pause your life, for weeks. It’s been really tough, I mean I’m doing a lot better now, there are things that I still deal with, but the fact that I’m able to do an interview right now and the fact that we’re able to live our lives, is, you know…I’m very grateful. It’s hard to talk about that. I know recovery’s not the case for everybody. I know that when a lot of people get a brain tumor diagnosis, it’s not benign. And mine was. It definitely impacted our relationship, I feel like a lot.
H: Yeah, Natalie, is a little bit of a control freak. [laughs]
N: JUST a little. [laughs]
H: So, when in recovery and I’m telling her what she can do, what she can’t do, she doesn’t really like it. For example, her trying to like, cook a turkey on Thanksgiving, 2 weeks after her brain surgery.
H: I’m telling her to go to bed and she just…
N: I didn’t want to!
H: [laughing] For me, it was hardest before her surgery because I’ve reconciled, “Oh my god. Is my wife going to die?” Honestly, it was tough. After, it was also tough because there was a lot to do to take care of her, but I was in a much better mental state because it was like, “Yay! My wife’s not dead!”
H: Now, whenever complications come up we can sort of take them on one at a time. It’s manageable. But the part before was absolutely hardest for me.
RP: Thank you for sharing that, Hugh.
N: This is going to sound kind of weird, the one comment he kept making to me…
H: Is that she’s nicer!
N: So after my surgery, I was really concerned, that I was like going to come out different, I kept hearing stories that I’m going to come out different. I was so afraid to be not as emotional, and not as empathetic, and not as whatever. And he’s like, “You’re so much nicer now!” Even though I was nice before!
H: It’s not that she was mean before!
N: Cause when we say that it makes it sound like I was mean.
H: I think she finally had to let up some control. She had to give herself up to other people to help her out with things. I think that made her…I don’t if nice is the word I’m looking for, but I think that’s what I’ll call it. [laughs]
N: The way we prioritize time now as a couple is a lot different.
N: Even the way we approach really great opportunities, I’ve turned down a lot of them in the last 8 months. I’m just realizing what I value and what I don’t value. When we found out that I needed the surgery, I just remember I kept feeling over and over again, the one thing I would do anything for more, was time.
N: Because I knew that surgery date was sort of like, not that it was a deadline, but it felt like a deadline, you know? It felt like a moment in which things are all going to change and I didn’t know what was like, what life was going to be like on the other side of that. Whether for a short period or forever, and I just desperately wanted more time with him. I wanted more time to do stupid things like watch Netflix and hang out on the couch and just enjoy each other’s company. I think that in the prior months I would give up that time very freely and easily to things like work, speaking opportunities, traveling. But after surgery, it just really made it clear to me, the things in my life that I care about. Time is a thing I can never get back and I have to make decisions when they come my way so that I get more time with you. I think that that really influenced our relationship, I feel like it’s been sort of an entire change in our relationship.
H: Yeah, I can say that the change doesn’t feel temporary.
N: No, it doesn’t feel temporary.
RP: Wow. Thank you both for sharing that with us.
H: Before the surgery it was tough, I was in pain. There’s a chance my wife’s going to die, there’s a chance that she’s going to be taken. To be honest, if something horrible happened, but she still lived and I had to take care of her forever, that didn’t really bother me. But the thought that she could die…I remember the night before thinking, “Tomorrow might be the last night I have with my wife..” and that was…very tough.
H: I know her journey basically started with a lot of recovery and that it sucks, but for me, when I saw her after surgery, I was like “Oh my god. Thank god! She will be okay. We will be okay”
N: And I was drooling with a popsicle!
H: We came in, she had a red popsicle that they’d given her and she was drooling all over it.
H: It was coming down all over her chin, and what was the thing you said to me?
N: I looked at him and I said, “You’re so much cuter in real life omg!”
N: I don’t know why I said that!
H: I was like “Oh good, she still likes me!”
RP: [laughs] That’s awesome. And how do you feel about her recovery now, Hugh? Because it’s something I think you eluded to that is still ongoing and ever changing. How do you feel about your role in that now as a husband?
H: Good! I try to go to every meeting or appointment that she has. I try to be emotionally supportive, but it’s not really working.
RP: [laughs] Work in progress!
H: [laughing] Sometimes when she’s talking, she’s like “You know I’m feeling this way, or that way” and I logically lay it out for her but that’s not the correct answer. [laughs] She’s like, “I don’t want to hear that, just tell me things are ok, tell me I’m fine!”
N: [laughing] Yeah, there’s just no start date and an end date to recovery because even when you physically have recovered, there’s a lot of other stuff you’ve gotta unpack. What he just said, it’s hard for me to even hear that. You know you can compartmentalize things for so long and to really process through them you have to process through them with both emotionally and physically, so I think that that’s still something we’re working through.
RP: You’re so right.
N: Also one of the outcomes of the surgery is…we’re walking through an infertility journey right now. It’s kind of tough and we knew that…
H: They’re tied together.
N: Yes, they’re tied. Part of the thing that we don’t really talk about is, 2 and a half years ago, when we went to the fertility center, we talked to an endocrinologist who specializes in people with tumors like where mine was located. He told us, “I want to wait until you guys deal with this tumor before we try to get you pregnant”. So, we knew this was going to be part of the journey. But it’s the next hill that we’re climbing and it comes with a whole other set of both physical and emotional challenges. I was having to inject myself every single day. He keeps always having to be the caretaker in this season of me. Getting me my ice cube, then turning on music, we even have like an injection playlist! [laughs] I mean it’s just, it just feels like the recovery is never going to end. And this infertility journey is so hard.
RP: Wow, thank you for sharing that with us. We can’t imagine how far reaching the effects of your tumor, the surgery and recovery can go. Can you tell us what it is that you’re hoping for with fertility and what it is that you feel is holding you back?
N: Mmm, I think what I’m hoping for, is a family. We always wanted to have a family and both of us have really strong, really amazing families. We’ve always envisioned that for ourselves. I think the fertility journey’s really changed the way I look at our potential family, because to me growing up, you think like, 2.5 kids, you know, your biological children, and they look like you! All of that. When you start to go through this journey you realize that’s not necessarily what a family is. There’s nothing wrong with that and there’s no ‘one’ family that’s better than any other, the path to parenthood’s going to look different for everybody. What’s holding me back in this season I think is, I’ve always been the overly positive one as we mentioned, except for this. This is the first time in our entire relationship and our entire marriage, where I need him to be the positive one. I have been, unfortunately, REALLY struggling with this. I’ve been really negative, and again, it’s not in my character. It’s not me being negative. This is such a deeply emotional thing for me that I’m so afraid to want this openly.
H: It’s a coping mechanism.
N: Yes, I’m protecting myself. Thinking like, “It’s not going to happen. We’re not going to get pregnant this month. This is never going to work. We’ve tried this drug-it didn’t work, we’ve tried that-it didn’t work, now I’m injecting myself every day, and it’s just nothing.” And you know, I do that to protect myself, but it’s been interesting for our relationship to walk through that. When you go through infertility you have to really commit to wanting children. You’re not just getting pregnant because you’re in love, you’re signing up for a really emotionally and physically difficult marathon. One great thing that’s already come out of this is seeing how Huey wants to be a father. Seeing how he stands by me when I waiver and go like, “Maybe it’s not worth it, maybe I can’t do this.” I just can see the dad you’re going to be, and it just makes me…I don’t know, fight that much harder and not give up even when I want to.
N: It’s so hard. The surgery was 7 months ago and so it’s easy to talk about it from retrospect but we’re walking through this infertility journey right now, thank you for letting us share that.
RP: Thank you for sharing so openly about it. We know there’s so many folks going through a similar struggle and we so appreciate your vulnerability Nat and Huey. Is there something in this journey so far that it has taught you?
N: Yes, one thing, I think Huey would agree too, that this kind of taught me is, I love control. [laughs] We want to have control, over our future, over so many things. It’s kind of like any entrepreneur!
N: I want to be my own boss, I would want to have control over my own career, even if I fail, I get my own failing, not someone else’s. I think the biggest lesson here, and it’s important because it’s not a lesson that ends with infertility, it’s a life lesson, is that we are not necessarily in control of certain things. As much as I want to be pregnant, I want to be in control of of certain things in my body, I can eat all the right food, I can exercise correctly, I can work with the best doctors in the world, and it doesn’t guarantee that we’re going to get pregnant, right?
N: For a while I was like “Oh, but once we get pregnant this feeling will go away!” and then my friend lost a baby really early on and I realized, “No, once I get pregnant, then that’s out of my control, and once we have a child, then that child’s running out there in the world and we don’t have control of that child either…” I think it’s been a lesson in trusting and having faith and, really truly, like letting go of everything, right? Working on my desire to clench what I want with my fists.
RP: Mmm, do you have that same urge Hugh? To clench?
H: Nope. [laughs] If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, then we go from there. I very much accept that we’re not in control. I keep telling her, “Well if this happens, then we’ll do this, and then if that happens then we’ll do that.” I’m not like that usually. We’re really reversed right now. I’m the one who’s usually logically thinking out like the 18 different scenarios, but in this case, it’s like, there’s nothing to think out because we’re not in control of this. It’s either we do the next step, if it works, then it works, if it doesn’t, then we look at what our next step could be. I’m have my hands up and seeing how it goes. Now, I’m also speaking from an aspect of where I don’t have to do as much as Natalie does. Going through all her shots and everything like that, my perspective is very different. I don’t know if it’s helping or hurting [laughs] when she wants comfort, I’m going “Hey, just wait, just, let’s see how this works.”
N: You’ve helped us a lot! I think I’ve been very open about how the very human side of me feels like it’s not fair, you know? But Hugh handled it with such grace and you’ve been like “I know, and if I could take it I would, and if I could be the one having to do this, I would.”
H: I would.
N: Even still, it’s something that’s so hard in the moment. Something that we didn’t mention is even before we got married, we knew that fertility was going to be a hard struggle for me. We found that tumor months before our wedding and I remember when we found that tumor, I had very emotional breakdowns and said like, “You know, I’m never going to be able to have kids…” Ah, hang on, all that crying, you’re making me cry too!
Everyone: [teary laughs]
N: I basically said that to him, “I may never be able to have kids!” and I very dramatically gave you an out. I was like, “If you want to run, I won’t blame you. If this is not something you want to sign up for, I understand.” We were 22, we were really young, and it was funny cause Huey just sort of laughed at me, like he always does, and he’s like “No, like we’ll deal with it.”
N: It just was like a really very pivotal moment for me, looking back and remember just how he handled that. Being so young and being a guy that’s like 22, you don’t think about being sick in your 20’s, you don’t think about going through infertility in your 20’s, you think you’re invincible in your 20’s. In your head you have that vision, I’m healthy and I’m strong, I’m going to be young forever…
RP: You have all this time!
N: Exactly! I’ve got all this time and when you’re confronted with like a different perspective or a different reality whether it’s chronic illness, or mental illness, or you deal with infertility, whatever it is, it changes everything. Not necessarily in a negative way, I think it’s changed everything for us for the better. I don’t know if we would be the same couple if we hadn’t walked through all of this.
RP: So this brings us to our next question, would be what is something that your partner or relationship has taught you?
H: Well very early on in our relationship, I did not have a very expansive cuisine. I basically ate pizza and hot dogs.
H: So, Natalie has very much expanded my…um, how much I eat sushi and all that kind of stuff.
N: I just have a lot of friends like from different backgrounds, I grew up eating a lot of different foods. My step mom is Chilean!
H: By the way, I had access to all of this, I just didn’t want to eat it. [laughs]
N: So, now I can open up his mind from like the worst cuisine in the world, no offense to Americans, but, to all of the BETTER cuisines in the world.
H: Yeah that’s one things!
RP: [laughs] Nat?
N: Something that our relationship has taught me is that, you can still be an independent person and commit fully to a relationship.
RP: So much yes.
N: When I was in high school, if you had told me, prior to meeting him, that I was going to get married at 22, that we were going to buy a house, and that was my future, I wouldn’t have believed you because I wanted to live alone and travel the world. I never wanted to be held back! That was my fear. I was afraid of that. And I met a partner and I married a partner who has actually enabled me to go do those things. Empowered me to go do those things. When we got the opportunity to move here, I was very nervous, I was like “I don’t want to leave our families, I don’t think we can move to San Francisco, across the country from DC area where we’re from.” and he was the one that said like “We’re never going to get an opportunity like this again, it comes once in a lifetime to do something like this, you need to do it! We’ve got to do it!” Many times, it’s taught me that a relationship can actually make you better as an individual by committing selflessly to that relationship and by taking that input from somebody else when they have your best interest at heart. He’s never once told me not to go to like New Zealand, or the middle east or, you know anywhere that I’ve travelled. He’s been the one saying like “Even though I’m not getting on the plane, you’ve got to go, that’s going to be amazing, you have to experience it.”
H: Especially the thing with San Francisco, I think we’re always trying to look at it like, “Would we regret it more if we did it and hated it? Or regret it if we just sat here and thought “I’m so glad we never went and took that opportunity”” I think that’s usually how we make a lot of the bigger decisions, “How do we minimize our regrets?”
RP: Those are great lessons, we love that! Okay, we’re on to our last few questions. What would be something that people would be shocked to know about your relationship?
H: I don’t know…
N: I would say that we really love spending in our apartment doing nothing. You know, oddly enough, I think the internet makes our lives seem kind of dramatic. Even with my travels, I travel a lot, there’s nothing that I love more in the world than just not leaving our apartment and hanging out. Even when we travel places and we get to our hotel, we don’t even leave! We just turn on the TV and sit there.
H: [laughs] Yeah!
N: Because that to us is the most joyful time. 2 introverts, that’s our dream!
RP: [laughs] That’s sweet!
N: I think that would shock people, because I’m sure they have a very different perception of what we’re like. What else, what do you think, Huey?
H: Uh, I don’t know. I agree with what you said!
N: We’re not that exciting! Maybe that’s the juicy part! We’re really boring! And that’s how we like it!
RP: We love it! Okay, what are something you want more of and less of in your relationship?
H: I would’ve said recently I wanted to travel more with Natalie, but I feel like we’ve actually been doing that.
RP: Oh nice!
H: If you would’ve asked 3 months ago, that would’ve been it, but we’ve actually accomplished that recently and I think travelling together was one of the bigger things. I can’t think of anything else besides that!
N: Especially in this season, I want more exploring what Hughey’s passions are because he’s spent the last 5 years helping me pursue mine. I think that’s something people don’t really get to see, they see me because I’m so outwardly facing, but Huey? He’s brilliant as hell. He has things that he’s passionate about and has put those in the back burner for me. I want more of exploring what he’s passionate about, what he wants to pursue, and then less of always putting my dreams first, because as exciting as they are, I think we’ve done that. It sounds silly but it’s like, we’ve been there, I’ve launched a business and moved to San Francisco, and we’ve actually done these cool things and it’s sort of like, “Alright Hun, what do you want to do?!”
N: Because he’s done so much for me, I want to explore this part next in our marriage. And also have a family.
H: What do you want more of in a relationship? Ummm, babies.
N: We want to procreate, not we want more babies!
RP: [laughs] That’s funny! Aw, we wish that for you guys. Anything you guys want less of?
N: I would say less ordering out, more cooking in, but we’ve been doing that!
H: Again, recently we’ve been trying all these things!
N: Less, hmmm…I don’t know, these are hard! These are not easy questions!
N: We should really talk about this later! [laughs] I mean I don’t know… what’s something you want less of, Huey? Me leaving the bathroom a mess?
RP: [laughs] Closing the fridge? Closing the drawers?
H: Yeah it’s all very minor stuff, I don’t know, I can’t think of anything… it’s probably a good thing, right? [laughs]
RP: Okay, last question. If you were to tell someone struggling in their relationship, one thing, what would it be?
H: Communicate with each other…a lot!
H: I think this goes back again to my personality, I’m very logical, so I’m just like, “This is how I feel”. I just say it [laughs] Natalie, on the other hand, it’s like I could tell something’s up, but she doesn’t want to say it. It’s like a hassle, getting what the hell is actually going on, what you’re upset about.
N: So true!
H: And then sometimes when she doesn’t tell me, it sits there and it’s not resolved and then like, 2 weeks later something minor happens, she blows up. I’m like “What the? Where did this come from??” and it’s because I did this thing 2 weeks ago that she didn’t tell me about!
H: So I think that in a relationship, communication is probably one of the biggest things, because I think you can understand where everyone’s coming from and what is really bothering them. If there’s an issue that comes up, deal with it right away, that’s better than having it sort of sit and simmer because it’s going to come up eventually and probably at not the right time.
RP: So good.
N: I don’t know, I’m kind of torn between a couple things. My parents were divorced, so I come from a different background. A single mom kind of family. My grandparents had an extraordinary marriage, they weren’t perfect, but they fought for each other, so I think a lot of what I’ve brought to our marriage has been from my grandma and advice that she has given me. And knowing how hard my mom fought for our family. So I’d say, if this is something that you want in a relationship, if you want this to work, you’re going to have to fight for it. That’s going to look different for everybody. I think so often, we are easy to give up, it’s very easy to just want to throw in the towel because it’s hard. But fighting for something over and over and over again, after 80 years, is what a real marriage is about. Looking back, I want to be able to say we didn’t give up on each other, not when we faced the brain tumor, not when we struggled to have children, and not when those kids eventually came to our family in one way or another, and things got really hard and messy, and life got tough. I think choosing to fight for each other rather than against each other is really important. I also think acknowledging that you are also an imperfect person is huge. I think it’s easy to just point at your partner and be like “This person’s making all these mistakes!”
H: But I’m perfect, so it’s really hard for her to, you know, say that… [laughs]
N: [laughing] You know, there are situations where you’re at fault and it’s hard to say, “Oh, someone’s at fault.” but I think in a marriage where both people are coming to the table with good intentions and their desire to stay together when things get really rough, it’s important to like look inward. To say, “How am I taking care of myself so that I can be a good partner for this other person?” Because that’s where I have failed, personally. I didn’t take care of myself, I overworked, I didn’t set aside time, I didn’t take care of my mental health. I did all these things wrong that I thought were just affecting me. Selfishly, not acknowledging that in order for us to have a good marriage together, we each have to take care of ourselves as well. It’s the airplane mask analogy, put on your airplane mask and have oxygen, so you can take care of each other. I think we’ve really improved but I can see that when you’re struggling, it’s easy to just focus on what the other person’s not doing for you, or not doing right. Those are my 2. Oh! Gratitude also, but I don’t want to ramble on for hours!
N: Okay, one last part. Be grateful for those little things cause life’s going to be hard, it’s not going to be easy, but you’ve just got to appreciate those moments when you get them.
RP: [laughing] Yes, amazing. We’re nodding right along with you two! [laughs] Thank you guys! We so appreciate you both taking the time to be able to talk about your relationship so openly with us. We love ya.
H: This is fun! This was fun!
RP: It usually is [laughs]
H: [laughing] Thank you guys!
N: This was great! This was the best, we really appreciate this, this was a lot of fun! Thank you guys so much!
Well, there you have it folks. Aren’t they amazing?
Thanks, Nat and Huey for taking the time to sit and chat with us, we had a blast and lots of laughs! We are proud to now call you two friends and are honoured you chose to share your stories with us. Wishing you all the best and sending you big bear hugs!
Check out what they’re up to below! (Hint: It’s amazing)
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