An ongoing series about real life love stories (i.e. in real life #IRL) wherein we feature the everyday, the romance, the beauty, the messiness and the reality of keeping it all going as two+.

LOVE, it’s the fuel, the reason we’re all here, the thing that charges our engines and inspires us to live life – love for another and our children, all of it. In truth, there’s no loftier goal or greater gift than to fully and deeply be loved by another and to love them right back. If you find yourself the giver and receiver of such, consider yourself beyond fortunate and embrace.

Now, while love may be the foundation, I’m not unrealistic to the circumstances of life – kids, logistics, scheduling, less than ideal living situations, work, etc., all of which can interrupt said bliss. We tapped a few of our favorite couples in celebration of how they fell in LOVE plus what they do to stoke the fire and stay connected on the daily.

First up, Jacq and Scot Tatelman, co-founders of STATE Bags and mom/dad of two. When you’re around this pair their connection can be felt by osmosis – the way he looks at her and she at him is enough to make you melt. This is their story… @statebags

On how you met:

She said: It goes like this…. I was 28 (so young and so cute) living with my best friend in an East Village 7 floor walkup. The year before I’d broken up with my boyfriend of 8 years and was a serial ‘one-date’ dater. My best friend’s boyfriend at the time was set on finding me a “good guy” to date, even though I wasn’t really interested. Eventually, I gave in and let him introduce me to this really Incredible Guy. Said, Incredible Guy and I went out on a bunch of fun dates, but after three, there still wasn’t a killer romantic moment – I was confused and frustrated – then, we abruptly stopped seeing each other. After a few weeks my roommate came bombing into the apartment – barely breathing because of the 42 flights of stairs she just ran up – announcing “Guess who just came out of the closet?! He’s gay! Isn’t that amazing?!” and I was like YES! Turns out the Incredible Guy was gay, I emailed him that second and we became dear friends.

Fast forward to that summer on Fire Island, Incredible Guy asks if he can fix me up with a friend – enters Scot. I was so burnt from dating but said yes anyways. When, he eventually reached out to me, I got this extremely long email filled with bad jokes at the bottom of which he asked me out on a date. I didn’t respond. Then I get a very long winded voicemail from him of which I didn’t return. Shortly after, I ran into Incredible Guy, and he asked “How come you haven’t responded to Scot?” In fear of looking like a total flake I responded, “I will, I will!” He grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said “I think you’re going to REALLY like this guy. Trust me”. So, the next time Scot called, I answered and we had the most hysterical conversation. I also loved (and still do) the sound of his voice. I was suddenly so excited by this Scot guy – despite the strange single “T” in his name thing. A few weeks later, we met up. He was late to our first date and opened with a horrible joke (sensing a theme here?!) but as we sat together chatting I was thought to myself, “Holy shit, I’m going to marry this guy.”

He said: Really long story, not as long… we were set up by a very good mutual friend. When he proposed setting us up, I asked how he knew her and he said they went on a few dates. This totally caught me off guard, not because of the dates, but because he is gay. So, needless to say, it didn’t work out romantically between the two of them, but he’s now one of the closest, most important people in our lives (spoke at our wedding, my Camp Power Co-Director, and enormous STATE supporter). After he told me about Jacq and showed me her picture, I was sold. I always say that I knew she was for me – I fell in love with her via her Facebook photos – 100% true. It just would’ve been nice if she’d returned my first three emails and two phone calls – but I digress. 

On knowing they’re the one:

She said: We’ve been together 9 years now and married for 7. I knew we’d be together after 5 minutes into our first date. He asked me to go to a Billy Joel concert (the last one at Shea) and I said yes. On the night before the concert, he told me he didn’t actually have tickets but “Lets just try anyway.” We met on the train platform and laughed the whole way. We got to Shea and couldn’t get tickets for the life of us. So, we headed back into the city. On the train we shared my headphones (one in each of our ears) and sang to the Black Crowes all the home. When he held my hand on the way to dinner there was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be. We went on to have the best night and next morning together – I’ll never forget that feeling. I was so in love with him already.

He said: When I moved to New York, it felt like every aunt, cousin, grandmother, neighbor and ‘friend who I play canasta with’ was trying to set me up. I got really burnt out with the dating scene and took a long hiatus from it all. But when I was connected to Jacq, it was this insane instantaneous feeling of looking at my wife that I hadn’t yet met. There was a vibe coming off her FB page (yes, you read that right) that was meant for me. Her smile, her hippy meets fashion style and her genuine love of life jumped off every photo… I got totally locked in on meeting her. If she writes the same about me, she’s lying… don’t believe it. She was NOT convinced. I was a mess…

Babies before marriage or marriage before babies?

She said: Marriage was first in 2010 on a farm in Vermont. Babies followed two years later with our daughter Ayla and then two years after that our son, Ozzie.

He said: Marriage before babies. We loved our time just the two of us and our dog, Pokey. Although I have to say, life with kids has definitely sweetened things up for sure – while totally stressing us out at the same time.  

The proposal:

She said: We hosted a super bowl party at our home in Brooklyn – we had a karaoke machine. Scot changed the words and video for Sweet Caroline and ended on one knee. The whole week before that I thought he was breaking up with me so it was a major relief that it was a beautiful ring and not another beautiful woman.

He said: We had a Super Bowl party at our place in Park Slope and I decided that we would put on our own halftime show, karaoke style. Probably easiest just to drop the video link in here to see how it went down yourself:

Key to keeping it sexy:

She said: Hot? Ummm. Honestly, marriage + two really intense kids + a new growing business is really fucking hard, but our foundation is so intense and so real that it doesn’t take more than simply having time together to keep it steamy. The idea that this man loves the shit out of me makes it easier to slip into the sexy secret santa undies your best friend gifted you for the holidays (even though you’ve had four days of early meetings and haven’t been to the gym all week). We also find the most romantic inns upstate to spend a night or two throughout the year – those getaways are priceless and a lot of fun.

He said: Getaways and date nights. It sounds so simple and cliche, but those moments when it’s just the two of us are everything and never get old. When we’re away from the madness of our kids and insanity of a business that we’re growing together, it feels like our honeymoon all over again. Despite how challenging everyday life can be, I always come back to how strong our foundation is – there’s no one in the world I laugh as hard with, am in such awe of on so many levels, can be as goofy with, and want to spend the rest of my life with other than Jacqueline. I don’t know if that’s necessarily ‘keeping it sexy’, but to me, there’s nothing sexier than admiring, laughing and happily getting old with your life partner. Crazy sexy, right!?

A kiss you can’t forget:

She said: I’ll never forget the kiss on the morning he told me he loved me. We had such a New York night the evening before and were still reeling in the feeling of that. The sun was shining into the apt and against the white sheets. I was laying on him and he grabbed my face and said “I’m so in love with you.” It was so raw and real and the kiss that followed felt the same. It still gives me goose bumps to think about it.

He said: Our first. It was awkward because I was so nervous about her shooting me down – scarred from the multiple failed emails and phone call attempts – plus it was a tough second date where she could’ve easily run for the hills, so the fact that she was into me was game-changing. It was the first time in a very long time I felt like I had a girlfriend and the first person I really wanted to introduce my family to as my potential future wife.  

Love is… ?

She said: When I sat down to write these answers, Scot and I had just had one of our famous Sunday night arguments – so romantic, right? However, when I got to the desk and put my computer down, there was this photo of his grandfather (who Scot was so close to and recently passed) holding our daughter, and beside that an American flag just like the one he used to proudly drive around Florida with on the door of his Cadillac. It reminded me what love is, or at least what OUR love is. That he and I were always meant to find each other and no other soul on this planet is meant to take this journey with me. Through the good and bad we will always have each other. That even when I’m still mad I should say I’m sorry because love goes both ways. Love is our family and the laughter that runs through this house. It’s also the arguments and tense moments because our life is love. Love is our bond, and even though I need little reminders once in awhile, and it’s not perfect, it lives and breathes within us every moment of every day. 

He said: … exactly what we need more of right now and what keeps me going. We’re in a really challenging time where it feels like a lot of people aren’t feeling the love, are getting lost, marginalized, and burnt out. The day after the election, all I could think about was how imperative it was (more than ever) to make sure the limitless love we still have in the world overshadows the darkness. To live with empathy by looking deeper at each and every individual so that we collectively rise above the uncertainty, negativity and division we’re up against right now. To spread the love however possible. It’s why we’re doing these types of project as a brand:

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