In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.
Love is patient. Love is kind. And for many of us in relationships, love can be a delicate blend of ups and downs. Such is the case for Harvey and Casey Kelley.
Having known each other since high school, the two were unknowingly living in the same city around the same time and later reconnected via FaceBook. Harvey was a grant program coordinator through the school system and Casey was a consumer product goods professional and later moved from Atlanta to Jacksonville, Florida after she was unfortunately laid off from Coca-Cola. And it was there that they were dealt the hefty task of trying to meld their new huge (think, five girls and two boys kind of huge) family.
And it's arguably that very task that led them and strengthened their bond to build both in love and in their professional lives. Now serving as entrepreneurs to their own business, aptly named Blended Designs, the two have found a way to bring the story of their lives and passion to inspire into the forefront. Serving as a premium backpack and travel bag, Casey tells me that their mission is to elevate, empower, and educate people of color. And in response to the lack of representation of characters of color in the backpack industry, their endeavor thus found a much bigger purpose.
Courtesy of Blended Designs
Now with six years under their belt in marriage and two years in a thriving career, they let us in on some insight they've learned along the way in this latest segment of Our First Year.
Casey: I have two sisters but I grew up an only child, so I never had to share. I never had a time where I had to share with another adult or thinking about another person. It's not that I was selfish, it's just not a skill that you learn as an only child. [When I realized he was the one] it was a point where I was thinking of him more than I was thinking of myself. I was thinking about the decisions I was making and how they were going to impact him.
Harvey: After I got divorced, I said I never wanted to get married again. But she made me want to be in a relationship again. She showed me all the things I was missing from my first relationship. She made me say, "Wow this is how it should've been. This is the kind of relationship I should've been in." That kept me close to her and getting to know her. She literally does the things that I was looking for in a relationship. She filled all these voids that I had.
Courtesy of Casey and Harvey
"After I got divorced, I said I never wanted to get married again. But she made me want to be in a relationship again. She showed me all the things I was missing from my first relationship. She made me say, 'Wow this is how it should've been.'"
Overcoming Fears in Marriage
Casey: My biggest fear was acceptance with the girls. Harvey has five girls from his first marriage. And at the time we got married, the youngest was in middle school and they're very close to their mom. And I didn't want it to be that whole 'you're taking my Dad away thing.' Some of it I think I projected myself as opposed to it really and truly happening. But once the oldest daughter lived with us for a little bit, it gave her the opportunity to really know me and not the person she sees on the weekend. I just had this huge fear and it's something that I think I put on myself. Because now I have a great relationship with the girls! And I have a much better relationship with his ex than before.
Harvey: That was one of my biggest concerns as well because as much as we were a blended family, we weren't a blended family all under the same roof. So being able to manage that and moving away from them but still keeping them involved, that was the hardest part. You have to constantly travel, constantly communicate to make sure things are working.
Casey: One of the major lessons [I learned in love] is that it's unconditional. Real love will love you through your flaws. I didn't recognize my flaws as much until they were staring me in my face and someone is loving me anyway. Harvey will always say, "We're on the same team, we're wearing the same jersey." I understood that we're the only ones that can control whether or not we spend the rest of our lives together. And we both have an active desire to make sure we're always together.
Harvey: For me it's that if someone loves you, they're going to allow you to be who you are. They're not going to ask you to be different or for you to change and they're going to love you the way you are.
Courtesy of Casey and Harvey
"I didn't recognize my flaws as much until they were staring me in my face and someone is loving me anyway."
Casey: There was a couple that Harvey grew up with and before we got married, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The wife told me to always remember the look on your face when you say "I do". That there are going to be times where we're going to be upset at each other and when things are harder than they should be. But if I remember the look on his face when he said "I do", then I'll always remember--no matter what is happening in that moment, that he loves me unconditionally.
Harvey: The best advice that I got was addressing problems from the start and to not let things fester. I was told by someone to never go to sleep mad, angry, or upset. You need to make sure before you close your eyes that night, that you resolve whatever issue that were there that day. So that when you wake up in the morning, you both are waking up fresh and ready to go.
Courtesy of Casey and Harvey
"If I remember the look on his face when he said 'I do', then I'll always remember--no matter what is happening in that moment, that he loves me unconditionally."
Casey: I know that this is someone who 100% has my best interest in mind. There's nothing self-fulfilling about what he suggests or wants to do. I know other business people and mentors and they have the best business interests in mind, but Harvey has MY best. I don't know that anyone else cares about that. And to be able to travel for business with my husband, it's strengthened our relationship so much. Its being able to bring our relationship to another level that I didn't even know we had. I knew my husband prayed for me but now he prays WITH me.
Harvey: I think the best part is that my highlights are OUR highlights. When we win, we win together. So it's like we're there in the moment as it's happening and we're able to share that because we're both a part of that.
"The best part is that my highlights are OUR highlights. When we win, we win together."
Featured image courtesy of Casey and Harvey