How did you meet?
We met in a media scrum in Red Deer in 2004. We were both working as news reporters for competing radio stations, which made for an interesting dynamic out of the gates! There was an immediate attraction, but one of us (Kari) wasn’t “on the market,” so to speak, so it took a while for our eventual love to blossom.
How long have you been together/married?
We dated for a couple of years before getting married at Playa Potrero, Costa Rica on March 22, 2009.
When did you realize you were in love with your partner?
We shared a very memorable moment relatively early in our dating life. Sitting in a Red Deer lounge, sipping on martinis, I (Ryan) realized I’d never felt “this way” about anybody before, and the words “I’m falling in love with you” just spilled out! You can imagine my relief when the sentiment was reciprocated!
What I love about our spirit/spirituality.
We operate very much “in tune” with each other. We experienced similar upbringings, and on the “spirituality” front, our journeys have aligned. The dynamic of our relationship is an inquisitive, open-minded one, and it makes for interesting, challenging, enriching conversations. The three most important components of our relationship are honesty, integrity, and mutual respect.
What sort of routines or traditions do you hold in high regard?
We dedicate specific family time each week, where we focus solely on each other, and quality moments without interruption. We cherish meals around the family dinner table, which was my maternal grandparents’ table for decades before we inherited it. It’s a special piece that’s seen many meaningful moments! We love to stay active as a family (skating, snowboarding, dog walking), and we love to debrief together in the hot tub after a long day. (Our six-year-old son Wyatt controls the jets!)
What is the best piece of relationship advice anyone has ever given you?
Listen. Truly listen.
Do you have children?
Our son Wyatt is six, and he’s excited to be a big brother in June 2022! (No, we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl…)
What aspect of your relationship changed after you had children, and how much?
Of course, adding a child to the mix changes virtually everything, but the changes were all for the good! We’ve spent more time together as a family unit, our “downtime” is much more precious (and frequent), and our communication and collaboration (“teamwork”) has dramatically improved… Because it has to when you become a parent! We’ve prioritized date nights whenever possible, to ensure we still share quality time as a couple.
What was your most meaningful moment of true relationship inspiration?
I’ll never forget our trip to Chicago in 2007. Kari surprised me for my 40th birthday, and it was an incredible four days together. An outdoor concert (Jack Johnson), a Cubs game, improv at the famed Second City, and the most wonderful meals you can possibly imagine. It was a magical time together, where the friendship side of our relationship really deepened. That trip reminded me how much fun we have together and felt a lot like our early dating days.
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome in your relationship?
We’ve experienced challenges around pregnancy, which can be very difficult. We lost a baby before Wyatt, and it took us quite some time to become pregnant with our current little one. We’ve navigated grief, despair, frustration, and disappointment together, and ultimately, it’s forged a bond that’s tough to describe.
When you argue, how do you best deal with the issue?
We don’t argue the same way, and we’ve realized we need to keep respect paramount, even when we’re frustrated with each other. I (Ryan) prefer to hit issues head-on and “right now,” while Kari prefers to take a step back, reflect, then check in with each other after some time has passed. Respecting each other’s boundaries has been a big part of improving our communication, and ultimately, strengthening our relationship.
What is your favourite quality about your partner?
Ryan: I absolutely adore Kari’s commitment to the people she loves. She’s selfless, thoughtful, and very generous with her support. Kari: I love Ryan’s passion. Everything he does in life is “all in,” with his whole heart.
Has your marriage made you a more balanced person?
Without a doubt. It’s cliche, but it feels like we’re a perfect fit. I’m more social (I’d be out on the town seven nights a week if possible), while Kari values time together at home a great deal. I’m right at home in big groups, while Kari prefers more one-on-one time with her friends. I’m not great at self-care. I run myself ragged. Kari has probably saved my life in that regard.
How do you approach problems or situations together to find the best solution?
We take as much time as an issue demands and commit to thoughtful debate and discussion. We keep communication channels open and respectful, and truly consider the other person’s perspective. Ultimately, we determine a course of action that both of us can support. It’s not always easy, but it’s what works for us.
How much does compromise factor into a relationship?
Huge! Every day! All the time! On issues big and small! Both of us are pretty accommodating to the others’ needs, but that doesn’t mean each of us don’t dig our heels in from time to time! (We’re currently long-listing potential names for our baby on the way…there’s been a few “veto power” moments!)
Was it compromise, love, or both that held you together?
Without love, we wouldn’t be together in the first place. Without compromise, we wouldn’t still be together. We’ll say both!
Describe some of the changes your marriage has gone through over the years.
We’ve learned to appreciate what each individual needs to flourish. Sometimes, it’s quality time together. Sometimes, it’s quality time alone. Our communication has improved immensely, which has taken a lot of work and commitment. We’re both big personalities, which led to some dramatic moments early in our relationship. The boat feels like it sails in calmer waters these days.
Does the passion/energy of your relationship translate into other things you do?
Without a doubt. We’re passionate people – it’s just the way we’re wired. When we commit to something, we take that commitment seriously, whether it’s people we love, causes we support, or projects we undertake. We don’t know any other way!
Have you ever gone to marriage counselling, and if so, did it help your relationship?
We’ve spoken with a counsellor on a few occasions, and it’s been a positive experience. We didn’t have big issues to “fix,” per se, but it was a beneficial opportunity to see issues through each other’s eyes with a moderator guiding us through. We’ve really committed to developing strong communication, and this was a helpful step relatively early in our marriage. We had some of the tools, but we didn’t necessarily know how (or when) to use them. We believe everybody can benefit from counseling, regardless of their situation. Truly, society’s attitudes around positive mental health and healthy relationships are moving in a positive direction!
Kari Skelton is a lifestylist and blogger at KariSkelton.com, an online community focused on fashion, family, and fun! A former radio and TV personality, you can follow Kari on Instagram and Twitter @KariSkelton.