Congratulations are in order for ABC newsman Gio Benitez and his husband Tommy DiDario: One year after tying the knot in a romantic wedding in Miami, the New York-based couple is celebrating their first anniversary on Sunday.
“We can’t believe it’s already been a year!” says Benitez, who shared the couple’s wedding photos and love story with PEOPLE last April. “They say time flies when you’re having fun, but when you’re in love, it really moves at the speed of light.”
Even though Benitez and DiDario, both 31, have spent 12 months wearing their matching platinum Tiffany’s wedding bands, DiDario has not yet adjusted to introducing Benitez as “my husband.”
“I can’t say it enough,” gushes DiDario, a social media influencer and branding consultant who first connected with Benitez on Instagram in January 2015. “I’m proud to say ‘my husband’ any chance that I get. He’s more than my spouse, he’s more than my partner — he’s my husband.”
Looking back on photos of the tropical wedding, “we truly feel that love,” says Benitez. “In fact, the wedding photos are still our backdrops on our phones!”
“To know that I was officially giving my life to the man who I want to spend forever with was a surreal feeling,” adds DiDario, whose sister Megs officiated the wedding. “One that will stay with me always.”
Reflecting on their milestone, Benitez and DiDario are sharing with PEOPLE what marriage has taught them. Read on for the five biggest lessons the duo has learned so far.
1. Never Stop Doing
Breaking news determines Benitez’s schedule, meaning he might miss date night to travel across the country for reports on Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir and 20/20. But DiDario rolls with the unpredictability, finding creative ways to let Benitez know he’s in his heart.
“When Gio is traveling for work and he’s been gone for a few days, I’ve sent thinking-of-you flowers to his hotel room and even chocolate-covered strawberries to just put a smile on his face after a long day of work,” says DiDario. “I never want him to stop knowing how important his happiness is to me.”
Case in point: When Benitez covered the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting and aftermath in Orlando for ABC News last year, DiDario surprised him with flowers.
“In the midst of such tragedy, the rainbow roses Tommy sent made me think about strength, courage, endurance, and love — qualities I saw in every survivor I met,” recalls Benitez.
As I leave Orlando, I'm sharing an image of the flowers @tommydidario sent to my hotel room. These colors have come to represent strength, courage, endurance, and most importantly, love. I will never forget the brave survivors I met. All of them believe love is far more powerful than hate. How right they are. ❤️
For Benitez, it’s all about the simple things — including quality time.
“It might seem cheesy but there’s something so special to me about just grocery shopping together,” he says. “Seriously, you learn so much about a person when you’re shopping for food! Plus, I now know which dark chocolate bar to sneak in for him when I have to run to the store for something quick.”
2. Make Time For Adventure and Keep a Sense of Wonder
“Life is busy and we both have unpredictable careers, but we realized early on in our marriage that it’s important to make the time to get out and make memories,” says DiDario, who traveled to Bali with Benitez for their honeymoon last year. “We made a promise to, if we can, experience a different country together every year.”
“We try to find little adventures nearby, too,” adds Benitez, pictured on a boating adventure with DiDario in the Instagram below. “We’ll go to an upstate New York lake or the Jersey Shore and jump on a kayak, try something unique like aerial yoga, or even just take the train to discover a new spot and explore. We like to keep a sense of wonder about the world.”
3. Surround Yourself With Love and Positivity
Benitez deals with chaos in the 24-7 news cycle, and that’s where the couple likes to leave it.
“We’re very low-drama people,” says DiDario. “We’re so low-drama that if we have a disagreement, we can talk it over without raising our voices. So we surround ourselves with like-minded friends who just want complete happiness for one another and thrive on each other’s successes.”
“Look, whether you’re in the public eye or not, you’re going to have people who may be a little negative,” says Benitez. “Shake it off!”
Adds Benitez, seen below with DiDario and their friends, GMA alum Sam Champion and his husband Rubem Robierb: “We truly embrace those in our lives who bring love and light to the table.”
4. Truly Respect Each Other
“There’s no greater lesson I’ve learned than to show respect for Tommy,” says Benitez. “I’m talking massive respect and admiration. With every decision, we are always thinking about each other and we are always thanking each other for all we do — even if I can’t figure out how he fits so much into his schedule! See? There I go again! Sometimes I show it with hugs and sometimes with the words ‘I love you’ about 200 times a day.”
5. Create Your Own Traditions
Raised in an Italian-American family in New Jersey, DiDario appreciates his Cuban-American husband’s appreciation of tradition — and his excitement to create new ones together.
“You know Italians and Cubans — we love our traditions!” says DiDario. “We learned creating our own as a family can be really fun. Each year, we put up our Christmas tree right before Thanksgiving and host a big feast for our family in our apartment. It’s just a simple reminder of what truly matters — being surrounded by friends, family and love.”