Cathy ZielskeCZ Life100 Comments


Twenty-one seems like a lucky number.

Twenty-one years ago today I married Daniel Ezekiel Zielske in a simple ceremony on a very chilly October afternoon.

At just over eighteen years into it, we decided to try and figure out the stuff that wasn't quite working; the stuff that was slowly but surely bogging our union down. The stuff that was surely going to either drive us apart, or drive us to live unhappily forever after.


And learning about that stuff has been nothing short of mind-blowing. Of course, I can only speak to the mind blowing aspect that I personally have experienced. As I've learned, he and I are very different people in this world with completely different issues we've both carried with us all these years.

But I've learned so much about myselfβ€”and continue to do soβ€”and as I've mentioned here on the blog during the past few years, there've been some hard pills to swallow along the way.


Pills that had to go down the old gullet, whether I wanted them to or not. And let me tell you, I've put up a good fight on a lot of them.

Here's to swallowing pills and finding connection and redefining a relationship together.

Me and d

Happy anniversary, Dan Zielske. We've got way too much invested to stop now.




Cathy Zielske21

100 Comments on “21”

  1. #2

    Cathy and Dan, Happy Anniversary from me also! And also thank you for sharing. I’ve been married for almost 35 years now and am happy for every couple who tries to make their marriage work. I love mine.

  2. #4

    Happy Anniversary to you both, loved the cute photos of you together . Best Wishes for many more.

  3. #5
    Cathie Australia

    Congratulations, we will be celebrating 25 years this December, and like you many times I thought we would not get there. It is important to stick it out, glad to here things are going well for you.

  4. #8
    Karen Freeman

    Happy Anniversary to you both. I didn’t realise that you share your anniversary with my twins birthday. They turned 5 years old today and life is just whizzing by. Congratulations on digging deep and working hard on your life together.

  5. #10

    Happy Anniversary! If marriage were easy, it wouldn’t be nearly so rewarding. Love that you have figured your stuff out.

  6. #11

    Happy Anniversary to both of you!! So glad your sticking with it and staying together. Great photos of you two!! Wishing you many more years together filled with happiness and lots of love!

  7. #14

    I’m with Vera! Congrats on a major accomplishment:) Loved your socks – so like me. Have a wonderful anniversary!

  8. #16

    Happy Anniversary to you both! I have to admit, when I first opened the page, my knee-jerk reaction was, “Why is he kissing his daughter on the lips like that? Seems a little weird.” ….. HA!!! Photos are great, congrats on the milestone.

  9. #17
    Kendra B

    Happy Anniversary!! Love your sharing and your honesty … and your socks!!! and I have to admit I thought like Kristie did at first LOL!!!

  10. #23

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, but have never commented much if at all… and I’m trying to change that habit. Today seemed like a great day to say thank you for your honesty, especially about what a real marriage looks like. It’s encouraging to me to see that you and Dan are willing to invest in your relationship, and willing to admit that if you don’t it’s not going to be “successful.” I hope your story is an inspiration to all of us, married or not, that it’s never too late to deal with your crap. Happy Anniversary!

  11. #29

    I wish you the very best in the coming years together. Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency in sharing this journey with the world. It encourages me.

  12. #30
    janet k

    Happy Anniversary!!! Thankyou for sharning your story, I know if helps me and I am sure so many others.

  13. #35

    Happy Anniversary to you two cute love birds. I enjoy reading about your love story and the journey in your relationship.

  14. #39

    Congratulations!! You two make an adorable couple! Glad to hear that you are in it for the long haul. Your family deserves it!

  15. #43

    Happy Anniversary!

    Thank you for sharing with us, it certainly has helped me identify that I have been supressing my internal struggles. At times it is hard to remember the message I see in everyday examples around me: this marriage is so worth it; turn towards it, rather than away from it.

  16. #44

    Happy Anniversary! Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share. For me personally, reading your story thru your blog has given me hope that buried issues can be dealt with and it is never too late. You are an inspiration because you are so real!

  17. #45

    Happy Anniversary! Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share. For me personally, reading your story thru your blog has given me hope that buried issues can be dealt with and it is never too late. You are an inspiration because you are so real!

  18. #46
    Omayra Ortiz

    CHEERS to your marriage today! May God shower you both with many more pills (those help us grow stronger, although difficult sometimes) and many more blessings (those keep us having fun!)

  19. #50

    Happy anniversary!! Keep up the good worth. And, yes, like others, I thought Dan was making out with Aidan and was totally creeped out!!

  20. #51

    This makes me so happy! We only get to the beauty by going through the mire. And then deep connection can happen. Thank you for making your marriage a priority and giving us little looks. It’s very real and encouraging!

  21. #54
    Sue SG

    Happy Anniversary! These are some of my favorite posts. You two are role models for me in my own relationship, where after 10 years, we also had to do some serious work to stay together. 3 years later, we are stronger than ever and even more committed to working through our issues personally and as a couple. YOU GUYS ROCK MY WORLD!

  22. #57

    I am so glad you and Dan have taken the time and energy to work things out (and share it with your readers.) Your blog pics today are wonderful. In those, I see nothing but happy! Congratulations on tacking another year onto your belt. Happy Anniversary!

  23. #58

    Thanks for sharing and Happy Anniversary from all the way down here in Australia.

    PS – love your new blog banner taking the crap out indeed πŸ™‚

  24. #59
    Mary Jo

    Happy Anniversary to both of you!
    My husband and I just celebrated 15 years on Thursday πŸ™‚
    And the realization I’ve come to is something you pointed out.
    We all come with our baggage. But when you truly love someone it’s worth it to keep trying. And I plan on being in it for the long haul. πŸ™‚
    I admire both of you for fighting for it and trying because that is all we can do!

  25. #61

    Happy Anniversary Cathy! I’m right behind ya sister – 21 years next month. Keep up the hard work – your honesty is appreciated. We have a lot in common – married in 1991, same age, 1984 graduates (Lynnwood H.S. for me) – I’m sure you’re well aware of Lynnwood! πŸ˜‰ I currently live in your old neck of the woods (Silver Lake), not far from the Skate Deck.

  26. #62

    Happy Anniversary! Keep trying, it’s got to be worth it if you both want it to work. The best is yet to come πŸ™‚ x

  27. #65

    First, Happy Anniversary!! Congrats on putting up with each other’s flaws for so long and keep at it! LOL Second, I just wanted to share a piece of advice/insight from my Mom and Dad who have been married a few years more than you two. Mom says that every 7 years there was always a big adjustment in their marriage. You two are right about there. But they pressed on and I can vouch for that from my marriage. We are entering year 8 and year 7 was a doozy!! LOL

  28. #68
    Melanie Hughes

    Congratulations. Thanks for your candid posts – DH and I are going through our own crap at the moment and your honest posts have given me alot of hope. Here’s to the next 21yrs.

  29. #69

    Hey Cathy, ! I did a double take when I looked at the T-shirt you are wearing in that first picture! I live in Gainesville – so I’d know that logo anywhere! happy anniversary and Go Gators!

  30. #70
    Margy Eastman

    Nothing goes better with a bitter pill than a nice, celebratory glass of wine. Wishing you and Dan a very happy, well-deserved anniversary.

  31. #72
    laura kate

    My mister and I get married in 14 hours. I hope to have the perseverance and make-it-work attitude when we’re hitting the 15, 25. 50etc. year marks.

    Happy anniversary!

  32. #73

    Happy anniversary guys! Your story is so ‘real life’! Well done and many more years of happiness! x

  33. #80
    Susi Davis

    Happy Anniversary!! I just recently began reading your blog and I am inspired by your candid posts and realness. I am encouraged that there may be hope for my 28 year marriage that has slipped into the “unhappily ever after” phase.

  34. #81
    Jen W.*

    Super congrats!!!!! That’s what marriage is about growing together. Thanks for reminding me!! Hugs!!! You two look amazing together!!
    Love love love the new look of your blog.

  35. #88
    Cecilia Reyes

    Hi Cathy, Although I have taken your classes and read your blog, I too don’t usually comment. Happy Anniversary to you both, and thank you for the personal comments you made. I too am just married 19 years, and at that same point. So I was glad to hear you say that. Have many wonderful years together! And I loved that picture of you two kissing.

  36. #90

    Hi Cathy. I stumbled upon your blog today while cooking a recipe from Skinnytaste. I really enjoyed this post because I feel that I can relate. I would have loved to hear more about the things that were tearing you two apart. I have been married for 5 years now and at least 4 of those years have been awful. I think I’m too lazy to quit. Or stubborn. I just feel very alone. We have a two year old, and if he wasn’t around, neither would our marriage.

    Any tips?

  37. #92

    Congrats. Thanks for sharing your journey. Marriage isn’t easy but it is a blessing when you are with the right one.

  38. #93

    Well, I would say find someone to talk to, seriously, because that can be very helpful. We both just learned different ways to be in the world that were destructive to each other. I was very controlling and judgmental; he was very passive and would withdraw (which as Ive learned is actually more powerful than someone who yells and screams.) It was just a lot of things, many stemming from who we became by virtue of how we grew up etc. Thats not blaming parents, its just how you learn to be who you are. But at the core, we are very lucky, because even through all of this, we love each other like crazy, and I think that is something that has made us overlook the shit all those years. Its always going to be a work in progress. I wish you much luck. I really do.

  39. #94

    Wow, I am not alone. Almost 33 years and it is still hard. Worth it, but hard nonetheless. My last child just moved out and it is changing the dynamics yet again. I always remember the words my son said to my husband and I when he was in junior high and we were having words with each other, “If you two EVER get divorced, I am never spending the holidays with EITHER of you.” I just cannot imagine not going the extra mile and doing whatever it takes to make it work. So many lives are affected by divorce.

  40. #95

    Happy belated anniversary, Cathy & Dan! My husband & I share the same anniversary date but we celebrated #16. I truly have enjoyed your recent posts about marriage. It is hard work & will always be a work in progress. We are definitely taking our lumps here lately. The last three anniversaries have been the hardest as my mom passed away from cancer on our 13th anniversary. Hopefully we can weather the storms & still find happiness & love too…

  41. #100
    Bax Loving

    Congratulations to both of you! What is important in a relationship are acceptance and adjustment and of course love with each other. Yeah, that’s true that husband and wife are two people who will become one. So, in the beginning things are not easy to deal with but later on everything will be okay.

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