Four weeks ago, Ash and I released an episode of Ballistic Performance Radio titled “What You Don’t Know About Our Relationship.” The episode was centered around the struggles, setbacks, and failures we’ve experienced while building the business, and how those obstacles impacted our relationship, how we’re navigating the dark seasons, and lessons we’ve learned along the way.
We wanted to be real, honest, and vulnerable with our community. We wanted you to understand that regardless of what you see on social media, life is not always rainbows and butterflies. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are merely the highlight reels. Real-life is hard AF; it’s challenging, overwhelming, uncomfortable, and downright ugly at times. We wanted you to know that we’re in the trenches with you - you’re not alone.
“What You Don’t Know About Our Relationship” was an incredible episode, and we received countless DMs, texts, and calls from the Ballistic community thanking us for opening up, explaining how they could relate to the setbacks and struggles we’ve experienced, and expressing love and support. Yet, we also had folks reach out to express their concern in regard to our relationship and upcoming marriage. As much as we appreciated that sentiment, it caught us off guard.
Our relationship is not in jeopardy. We are in a great place. Like any couple, we’re working on a few things, but overall, we are incredibly happy and excited to see that the Lord has planned for our life together. That said, we wanted to pull back the curtain and let down our guard one more time to share all of the shit that we LOVE about our relationship.
Ash and I met in 2015. We were both Graduate Assistants at the University of Pittsburgh, and as fate would have it, we shared an office, and our desks faced one another. At the time, we were both living with other people. Ash was in a five-year relationship that appeared to be on the fast track to an engagement, and I had recently relocated from St. Thomas and moved into an apartment with a woman I had met on the island.
Our first impressions of one another were questionable at best. Ash thought I was a self-centered, conceded, CrossFit douche (which was 100% accurate), and honestly, I didn’t think anything of Ash. I was so consumed with myself, my training, and my girlfriend that I didn’t even consider Ash to be a friend.
Eventually, I became less of a douche, Ash decided she could tolerate my presence, and we started spending time together. In the beginning, it was innocent: studying together, covering each other’s shifts, going out with the other Grad Assistants, and flirting…A LOT of flirting. We spent 10-12+ hours together every single day, and as time progressed, we quickly realized that we were in trouble. Studying together turned into walks in the park and playing frisbee; covering shifts turned into working shifts together; going out with the Grad Assistants turned into three drinks, and Uber, and time alone (nothing happened…get your mind out of the gutter).
Funny story: I remember the exact day, time, and place that I realized I had feelings for Ash. All of the Grad Assistants decided to meet at Mario’s Bar in Shadyside on Friday night. I was one of the last to arrive, and when I walked in the door, our friend Nicole pulled me aside and said, “Ash needs to tell you something, but she’s too embarrassed.” Immediately, I got butterflies. The first thought that ran through my mind was, “Holy shit! She has feelings for me, but she’s embarrassed to tell me, or she doesn’t want to compromise our friendship.” So, I approached Ash, we stepped into the hall, and I asked her what she needed to tell me. After way too much flirting, laughter, and procrastination, she finally said, “I’m nervous about riding to the conference with you because I don’t want to fart in front of you.” It wasn’t until after I stopped laughing that I realized how disappointed I was to discover that it had nothing to do with her feelings for me.
All of that happened very early on in our friendship. In fact, we didn’t start dating for another 1.5 years, and although that was incredibly frustrating and emotionally exhausting, it was a blessing in disguise. We both needed that time. I needed time to grow in my faith and become the man that she deserved, and she needed that time to sort out her feelings and emotions prior to making what had the potential to be a life-altering decision.
Finally, in the summer of 2017, Ash and I officially began our relationship. It was the classic cliché, “When you know, you know.” We said, “I love you” within a few weeks, we moved in together within a few months, I surprised her with Koda a few months after that, and within a year, I had bought a ring.
Fast forward three years, and we’ve lived in three different states, built a business, and planned two weddings (fuck COVID). We’re blazing our own path and leading a life that we’re excited to share with one another. As I mentioned in the beginning, social media is the highlight reel, so what does life look like behind the camera?
On most days, I wake up between 4:30 and 4:45am, Ash wakes up between 5:00 and 5:30am, and we both start our day with devotionals, prayer, and time in the word. Every morning, like clockwork, as I’m finishing my devotional, Ash walks out of the bedroom, crawls up onto the La-Z-Boy, sits on my lap, and nuzzles into my shoulder. We don’t know when that started or why, but it’s something we do every morning, and I don’t think we’ll ever give that up.
Next, I train from 5:30-6:30/7:00am while Ash works, then we switch roles. At that point, I typically take Koda for a 30-minute walk while Ash trains, and when we’re both finished and showered, it’s Ballistic, Ballistic, and more Ballistic. We do take periodic breaks to eat, and while we’re eating, we usually watch an episode of Survivor (I know, that’s so 2000s). Once 7:00pm rolls around, we shut it down, cook dinner, watch another episode or two of Survivor, and start getting ready for bed around 8:30pm. I know what you’re thinking, “8:30pm? That’s so early! It’s still light outside!” You’re right. It is early, it is still light outside, but when you’re getting up at 4:30-5:00am, you need to get your ass in bed at a decent hour.
Now you may read that and think to yourself, “Wow. Their life is boring AF,” and maybe you’re right, but it’s what works for us. We are situational extroverts; if we don’t have to be outgoing and interact with people, we’re not going to put ourselves in that situation. We enjoy spending time together alone at the house; we enjoy watching lame TV shows, ordering takeout, and going to bed at 10:00pm on Friday night. We don’t need the bar, the club, or to be surrounded by friends. We have each other, and that’s all we need.
Pillars of Our Life
In regards to our life, it looks very similar to the core values of Ballistic Performance: faith, family, friendship, fitness, and there’s a reason for that. We are Ballistic. Ballistic Performance is a representation of who we are, what we believe, and where we’re trying to go. Yet, those are NOT the pillars of our actual relationship.
Pillars of Our Relationship
Faith, family, friendship, and fitness are the tenants by which we structure our life, but they do not govern our relationship. There are eight pillars upon which we continue to develop and refine our relationship:
Private vs. Public
Whether you want to admit it or not, there is shit that you do with your significant other in private that you would NEVER do in public, and I’m not talking about sex (some of you are freaks out there and might enjoy that). I’m talking about the lame-ass dance moves when your jam comes on in the garage gym, all the ridiculous names that you call your dog in that high-pitch baby talk voice, or the singing Bieber in the shower. We’ve all got something that we keep behind closed doors, so Ash and I wanted to share ours:
I don’t think pet peeves require an explanation, but just in case you’re unfamiliar, pet peeves are the shit that your spouse, significant other, family, or friends do that absolutely drives you insane. So, once again, we thought it would be fun to share ours with you:
How We Describe Our Relationship
At the end of episode 77, Ash and I each describe our relationship, and I believe these definitions are the perfect way to close out this blog:
“Friendship, companionship, and accountability. We have a really good balance of playing together, enjoying time together, loving each other, romance/intimacy, and everything that’s associated with that, but I also think we do a pretty good job of challenging each other to be better versions of ourselves.”
“We’re best friends. We love to do everything together, we share everything with one another, and we just love doing life together.”
At this point, Ash and I hope that you can see we’re in a great place. Yes, there are times where the business creates overwhelming amounts of stress and anxiety that significantly impact our relationship, but that’s part of the journey. More often than not, we’re very happy. We’ve been blessed with an absolutely incredible life! We have a roof over our heads, running water, food, a place to sleep, an absolutely perfect Golden Retriever, and we’re living our dream! All that said, at the end of the day, we’re just two people in love, running a business and trying to figure shit out.