Role Model – Bethany Riechmann
Flowers or sweet romantic gesture almost every day?
Husband is catching your every word?
Carrying you on his hands after 17 years together?
He knows more about your contraception then you do?
Is it possible?
Let’s find out in this candid and inspiring interview.
Bethany Riechmann is a supportive muse, amazing mother of three and dedicated wife to Dustin Riechmann author of Engaged Marriage and Fit Marriage They started their love story 17 years ago and now they actively help couples to bring more love, fitness and understanding to their marriages.
Dustin’s main message is: “I am at a new peak of wellness in both my physical health and in my marriage and family life”
That is what Dustin has to say
And here are precious secrets Bethany is willing to share:
1 You and Dustin are high school sweethearts, who noticed whom first?
The first time we actually met was in junior high school, 7th- 8th grade, so I was probably 13 and he was around 14 years old. I did not notice him at the time and he was just a guy from school but he felt differently. Then we went to the same High School and I was removed from the driving class because I was not old enough to be in it and I got put in his PE [Physical Education] class. We call it “fate” now because we happened to be in it together and we saw each other every day and we played games together. That is how we got to know each other.
And then he asked me to a dance but I already had a date. So, I went there with my date and he just followed us to where we went, kind of stalking but in a very cute and romantic way. I think, he actually wanted to see what my date was like, but my date and I were going as friends, it was not going to be a romantic relationship.
Then later on Dustin asked me for a date again, this time I said “yes”, but we went for a double date. Ironically, his friend and my friend did not end up being together for very long. So, his friend kept going on dates with us. We would go ice-skating or somewhere the normal couple would go and his friend would join us. We did not go for our first real date for around three months because his friend was always with us.
Initially, I was not sure if I liked Dustin or not but he was very funny and I found his sense of humour very attractive.
One of the cute things was: Dustin had a truck at the time with one long bench across the front, so when his friend was joining us, I had to sit in the middle, close to Dustin, but when his friend stopped coming with us, I had this moment of insecurity: do I sit next to him or not. I chose to sit next to him to show him that I care about him and I want to be close to him.
And since then we grew up together, because I was only 14 when we started dating, I am 31 now. So, we’ve been together for a looong time… more than half of my life.
2 So, Dustin was very intentional about dating you.
Yes, I would use the word “determined”. He did go for his “stalking” exercise to see what his competition was and he really made an effort.
We did have a lot in common, in addition to PE lessons, he was a football player and I was a cheerleader, so we saw each other in sports too.
And our High School was quite small (around 300-400 students across 4 years), so we saw each other a lot.
3 How did Dustin propose?
We both knew that we are going to be together: we talked about our future and dreams and plans but we did not talk about a proposal. The only thing he told me was that he would never propose to me on a big holiday, like my birthday, Christmas or St Valentine ’s Day.
It was my 19th birthday and he called my house to ask my parents’ permission to take me to a hotel for a night. That was my impression, in fact, my parents knew about his surprise and, in reality, he was asking for my hand (I did not realize it at the time). So we went to a very fancy restaurant and had a dinner. Then we went to a quaint hotel, I gave him a gift of cologne (as it also was our anniversary too) and he gave me a card. The card was very romantic all about how much he loves me and in the end, it read: “please turn around because I have to ask you a question”. I turned around and he was down on one knee ready to propose. So, obviously, I said “yes”. He did a very good job and it was very romantic. It was funny for me because my family already knew and I had no idea. When we came home the next day, everybody was very excited and they assumed that I would say “yes”, which I did.
He always tries to be romantic even now: he brings me flowers occasionally, sends me love emails, nice texts or leaves a note. Today he went and got me a drink; it was not very romantic but very caring and charming.
I am here all day with our children and he is not. It is nice to know that I am appreciated even when he is not around. It is nice to know that he thinks of me even when he is at work.
And it is reciprocal; I try to send him an email telling that I love him and think of him too.
We try to keep our spark going.
4 What first attracted you and has that changed? How did you handle the changes, if it did change?
I loved his sense of humour and I still find him very funny. He usually can make me laugh. Sometimes it gets annoying but we have very open and honest communication. So, if I am tired of some of his jokes, I just tell him “that is it, this joke is not funny anymore, find a new joke”.
I think, we have very open communication and we can usually discuss and solve any problem.
5 What are your rules as a couple?
We have regular times to meet as a couple. 15 minutes a day is our goal, always. And usually it does happen after children go to bed, but sometimes, when it gets very busy – we talk less.
We tried a lot of things over these years. We have tried to schedule dates, but because it gets busy, children are growing, and we want to do additional activities (karate, key ball, baseball), the night is taken and babysitting is not readily available (we do not have family living close by), so we have date nights in.
We put kids to bed and do something together, just us, rent a movie or spend time with each other and it has been a very successful practice so far.
While having scheduled dates is nice, you have to pay a lot of money: for the restaurant and for babysitting, so date nights in are a good compromise.
6 How both of you changed in these 17 years together?
We certainly have matured; I am not the same person that I was at 14. Do I have changed beliefs? Absolutely. Have I changed life standards? I believe so.
Real life comes into play and you have questions like who does the chores?
We both went through college and we both have degrees. I like to think that we are both educated people and that helps us to see ourselves and our family unit in a new way. In a way that we would like it to be. We grew up around a lot of different families and we thought of how we would like our family to be.
I think we have had minor crises in our life, nothing that was shattering, but we had moments when I was frustrated with how things were going and I just had to tell him: “I am lonely” or “I feel underappreciated” or “I am upset”.
And in Dustin’s defence, all I have to do is tell him and he will be all apologetic: “Oh my Goodness, I had no idea!” and he will try his best to fix it. Because men are not women, they do not think the same way as we do. They do not see our daily activities the way we see them.
And that is something we had to grow through together.
7 You believe in natural birth control, what is it about?
We both believe that we have to keep the birth control the most natural way possible. We use the fertility monitor and it works for us. Calendar method is an old method and if we had used it, we would have had 12 children by now.
This fertility cycle method also requires a lot of communication, because we have to talk about it. And if anything, Dustin knows more about it then most males do. [indeed, here is Dustin’s post on 5 benefits of using the natural birth control method]
8 What was your biggest crisis in marriage?
I was a teacher. And then we had 3 children. The amount of time teachers are supposed to work and the amount of time teachers actually work, is not proportional. Teachers have to grade papers. If my child is sick, I have to take a day off but then I have to do a lesson plan for the person who would be replacing me. Dustin was trying to help but he has his own work to do and he is the breadwinner. He is an engineer and he made more money than I did. It is not that my job was less important or I was not contributing, but there has to be some justification of my effort.
So I started struggling, I realized that I was not the best teacher, I was not the best mother, I was not the best wife. And I was good to no one: was not good to my students, my children, my husband and myself. So the decision had to be made. And I chose to stay home. That was our biggest crisis. We had to sit down and talk and make decisions.
He asked me whether I would consider staying home with children as an option. And I said that I would be happy to do that. That made a huge difference because I was unhappy and overwhelmed and concentrating on family brought peace and happiness to me and my family. It was a difficult decision. On the one hand, I loved my job and I loved being teacher, but on the other hand I was not happy and stressed. Also it wasn’t easy because all of my friends are working; hardly any of my friends are stay-home mothers.
Part of my struggle was that I am a traditional woman and I do a lot of cooking and cleaning and everything else around the house, in addition, I am probably a control freak and like certain things to be done a certain way. Probably, it is because that is how my mother was. She worked, but she also did a lot around the house. Dustin’s mother was the same. Both of us saw that is how a mother traditionally is. It is not as if he “made” me be this way.
Dustin did not know that I would be happy staying home with children but when I told him, he did everything to make it happen.
There are times when I feel underappreciated or lonely, but all I have to do is to tell him and he will do anything he can to fix it. If we have to get a babysitter that night and go for a date, he will do it. He feels that if that is the way I feel, then it may be that he is not giving me the attention that he should give me. It is not that he is trying to take me for granted, but because we are busy people and we have busy lives that is what happens sometimes.
It all comes down to communication. We go through our issues together and that keeps us going and keeps us positive.
For now, me choosing to stay home was the biggest change in our life, and a change that we both felt very strongly about.
9 How have children changed your marriage?
One of our biggest challenges came with our children, not in a bad way. It was simply that our life had changed completely. Of course you want the best for your children, so children require a lot of sacrifices and self-sacrifices. It is very rewarding and challenging at the same time.
I think it is a very big challenge for a couple, while you can see it with your friends and family, experiencing it first hand is not the same. You have new worries and new stresses. Of course, there comes an excitement and happiness and fun things but when you are talking about things like: who is feeding child, who is buying clothes, who is cooking dinner or doing laundry and etc.
With our first one, it was a very new experience, we did not know how to divide the responsibilities, but I was the one who did more caretaking. Probably because I had younger siblings and I love children. Dustin helped out a lot in a man’s way. Would he rush off to change the diaper? No. But would he let Braden climb all over him or throw him in the air, of course. That is where his strengths really come through. I show my love through action and caretaking (changing a diaper and fixing a snack) and Dustin shows his more through taking care of us as a family.
When the second one came along, it was easier, because I will take one and he will take another. And when the third one appeared, it was a little bit difficult because we had one each already. At the same time, it became easier as our oldest one grew up and could help now.
I am still the one who does all the general stereotypical mother duties, but we both understand that we are raising these children together. We take turns giving baths and reading books and making their lives better. We do not want them to think that it is only one parent who is doing that. We are trying to share it more equally because it makes everyone feel happier. No one wants to feel that it is only him or her doing it all.
If there are issues, usually just bringing it to his attention can mostly solve the problem. If he is unaware and he does not notice it, he cannot solve it. He is not a mind reader, he is a man.
10 Dustin seems to be such an involved father, was he that involved from day one?
From day one. Dustin was as involved as he possibly could be. With the first one he went almost to every doctor appointment and if there was any concern, he was deeply involved. Of course, it was different with second and third. He was more helpful watching the older one(s) so that I could go to the doctor appointments in peace.
He was always very supportive and very excited and very involved. Of course, he was present at the time of the births of all our children.
11 How do you support Dustin in his blogging?
We talk about anything and everything. And a lot of the things that he writes about on his blog are the things that we have experienced.
I am very supportive and he will ask me for a female perspective for some of the posts. I am usually more conservative and concerned with trying to not hurt anyone. He usually takes my comments seriously and sometimes he changes the posts after getting my opinion. Sometimes we have the same opinion about posts, sometimes we don’t.
12 Are you building your family on the same basis as your parents?
We are fortunate because my parents are still together and Dustin’s parents are together. I would probably ask my mother for advice on raising the children but not marriage advice.
I do not want to vent to my mother about Dustin, because I love him and will always be able to forgive him. She is my mother and she is more protective of me because I am her baby, will she be able to forgive him for something or will she hold a grudge at the back of her mind? I do not know. Not that I have a lot to vent about, but I do not want to bring up anything negative about my husband.
13 What do you as a wife and mother of three children do to keep your own sanity?
I have a very close girlfriend, so we do dinners out. It is easier for me to leave children with my husband then to get a babysitter. Sometimes I will go to a very good restaurant with my girlfriends and I will tell Dustin later, “That was a really good restaurant, we should try it one day!”
I like to run in nice weather. Typically I will go for a run with a friend after children go to bed. Dustin is very supportive and serious about fitness.
It does make me feel more at peace, it doesn’t take much: usually, one or two days a week and I feel recharged. And if I need extra pampering, I just tell him and he will gladly say, “ok, go do that!”.
I also like reading. I read a lot of different books. Mostly fiction, I love fiction. I’ve read some more popular books like Hunger Games and Twilight. I love romance novels. Just a short love story. No, I decided not to read 50 Shades of Grey. That is not really romance. I have started the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, but it was a little bit too slow. Maybe I will try again, but then again, maybe I’ll just rent the movie!
14 What are your most important rules as a mother? What is the most important lesson/thing/experience you want to give to your children?
I want my children to have a good role model. And I hope Dustin and I can be those people. I want them to have a positive marriage in their lives, I hope it will be an even better marriage than ours. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. It can only happen through our relationships with each other and our relationships with them.
And I want to instil in my children to treat others as they want to be treated. That is something I have to repeat multiple times throughout the day. When somebody calls the other names or when they are fighting about a toy. “Be nice to the other, or he or she might not be nice to you”.
15 Did you have a role model or anti-role model of your marriage?
My parents have a very strong marriage and they have always been in a loving marriage. While theirs is great, I want mine to be even better.
There are ways to fight fair and there are ways to communicate that are positive and I want to know more about it.
My parents laid a good foundation on how a marriage should be. We have done some work ourselves and our church also gave us knowledge about communication, finances, sex and etc. Work in marriage is never done. It grows as you grow through different stages.
Through the group advocating natural birth control in our church, we happened to be part of a marriage retreat. We did not have any problems and our marriage was regular. But why would you have a regular marriage when you can have awesome marriage?! When we came back from this retreat our marriage became 100% better.
We help in our church with some other couples, and because we help others, it makes our marriage better. When we talk with other people on how to improve their marriage, some issues arise that we need to discuss too. So, through helping them, we help ourselves.
16 What would be the most important piece of advice from you to other women?
I cannot do this by myself and I am in a partnership. And in all partnerships it should be 50/50. While it is not 50/50 with all of the chores, I am working hard in the house and he invests a lot in this marriage by working hard and providing for our family.
I really think that communication is the only way that your marriage can be maintained and improved.
Just talking to one another every day about everything no matter how small, can work miracles. If you had a bad day, talk about it. If you had a good day, talk about it.
Why is it that when you were dating you could talk for hours, but now when you are married you cannot find 5 minutes to talk to each other?
Your marriage should come first, if you do not have a happy marriage everything falls apart. That is not to say that single parents have unhappy children, but you cannot have happy children if you have an angry household. Your bad mood will make everything much worse.
I think we talk now more than we talked before we had kids. Talking is key to any relationship, we talk to our mothers, our children, everyone around us. Make your husband one more person with whom you talk a lot. He should be THE PERSON, do not forget that.
Thank you, Bethany, for keeping the love and connection in your marriage and best of luck to both of you in this important task of raising three amazing children!