An entire decade’s passed since we stood at the altar and said, “I do.” I’ve gotten in the habit of writing a post every year in celebration, and they serve as reminders of how each year we’ve grown, evolved, changed, experienced, overcame, and fell a little more in love.
While I love writing these posts, I’ve also noticed that over the years, I tend to keep things closer to my heart, to cherish the fact that the best moments happen offline and I relish the fact I get to wake up and tell my husband the words I really want to say, words that don’t have to live on a blog. I mean, I’m not even sure he reads this thing, anyway! Regardless, I’m taking this milestone as a time to celebrate and reflect on all the life we’ve walked together these past ten years (and beyond!)
Best Marriage Advice
I am definitely not an expert in marriage or relationships, but after being married 10 years and photographing over 100 wedding days, I do feel slightly qualified to offer what I believe has been pivotal in our relationship as a pillar of success. When people ask about our journey, I always say that while we are both entirely different humans than we were when we got married. We grew into who we were meant to become as individuals while also growing together as a couple.
When we whispered those vows a decade ago, Drew had recently become unemployed (10 days before the wedding, no less), and I was feeling the burnout in my windowless corporate job and yearning for a change. We were 23 years old, broke, and hopeful, and while we weren’t sure where the following years would take us, we had this faith that we would tackle it all together — and we did.
Having the autonomy to grow and evolve over the years as individuals, while supporting one another’s metamorphosis along the way, has meant falling in love with each version, each iteration that we’ve been. We still have our own interests, hobbies, and preferences. We’ve maintained individual identities apart from us as a couple, but at the same time, we’d love doing most things together. We each feel free to explore our own interests and likes, knowing we each will be there to support and cheer each other on. Looking at the past decade, we had no idea what was in store from businesses to moves, miscarriages to babies, but we’ve honored the fact that we’re on the same team and working towards a shared vision!
We’re the weirdos who go to bed at the same time together every night… the ones who, if we were on an episode of House Hunters, would require a double sink because we stand next to each other while we brush our teeth and recap our day (which mostly includes obsessing over Coco’s cuteness!) Since we were first married, we have had the habit of saying three things we’re thankful for each day and sharing those with one another. We’ve made a rule that it can’t be the obvious things, that we’ve got to find gratitude in those simple little moments.
I recently found these receipts from Jiffy Lube where Drew and I, on a road trip in his Honda Civic, wrote down where we thought we’d be in 5 years… I laughed because it was somewhat on track, but the vision we held for our future was vastly different from where we found ourselves at that time and wildly different than where we are today! We had a vision of me moving up in the corporate world, moving to Minneapolis, driving a Honda Pilot (how random), and starting to think about having children.
It was wild finding that receipt with our predictions, and coupled with it was a gratitude list highlighting our favorite adventures. It’s been indoctrinated into our marriage to seek out and acknowledge our gratitude for what’s good in our lives, and I love that we lead (and end our days) with that!
Our nighttime routine is now serenaded by the white noise of our baby monitor. Drew also pulls out a parenting affirmation card each night where we talk about a topic when it comes to parenting, and I read a few pages out of our evening devotional. Then we usually create a pillow fort for my baby bump and to separate our dogs (who absolutely hog the bed), and we go to sleep.
Owning Our Roles
One of the most evolved parts of our relationship has been found in owning our identities and accepting our roles. Growing up in the Midwest, there are so many things that have been ingrained in us that we’ve had to shed over time when we realized they don’t fit or serve us.
When Drew spoke the words, “My dream job would be to be a stay-at-home-dad,” we had no idea that it would take three years to make that dream a reality. For those three years, I held a lot of grief and shame that I couldn’t do my part in helping his dream come true because he had always been the biggest support of my dreams. When Coco finally joined us and this dream became a reality, we had to shift identities again and figure out how to live, love, and work in a shared space. Truth be told, we felt like we had been training for years by the time quarantine came around because being home together and working had been our norm.
While people might not understand our more non-traditional lifestyle or roles, we’ve found a beautiful balance of what works for us, and the more we own that and focus on what we love and what makes us come alive, the happier we are. It’s not up to other people to understand or embrace how we choose to work, parent, or live — we’re happy and that’s all that matters. I honor his hard work and he honors mine, and neither of us could do what we do in the way we do it without the other.
I’ll always remember during our wedding, my pastor said, “You guys mentioned how you have a cribbage board and you keep a tally of how many games each of you have won. With marriage, you need not keep score. You’re a team.” Whenever we get frustrated or annoyed, if we take a step back, we generally see that we’re actually trying to achieve a similar end result, just in our own unique way. Remembering that we play on the same team as teammates and not competitors makes all the difference!
Remember to Play
I feel like it’s easy in life to get into a routine that can turn into a rut. There have been times where I wonder, “When was the last time we laughed together or goofed around?” Last night we threw a hula party in our kitchen and taught Coco how to hula before we played a game of balloon volleyball as a family. Becoming parents has definitely encouraged a lot more carefree play, but if you’re sitting here realizing it’s been a while since you were goofy, or you haven’t snuck up on a loved one to give them a hug, maybe this is a reminder to add a little more to your life!
Last year we decided to quarantine up north and boy, did we discover and adventure together. We broke in hiking boots, went on tons of bike rides, did nightly family walks, and we uncovered and discovered parts of ourselves that had been untapped since we were kids. We studied bugs (with our ever-curious Coco) and explored our backyard. Being open to trying new things, learning together, and picking up new hobbies has kept things light and given us new things to enjoy together as a family! From puzzles to painting rocks, don’t be afraid to try something new or mix up your routine to add more play to your life!
Taking things for granted is second nature, especially when you begin to expect them. Like the fact your partner will be next to ya in bed when you wake up or that you could get in an argument and not worry that someone will storm out, but I’d challenge you to open your eyes and pay closer attention. From noticing little ways your partner serves, supports, or takes care of you (things as simple as rolling out the garbage can or brewing your coffee in the morning) to the big things that your partner may be yearning for (like focused time with you or a chance to connect with friends.)
Drew always teases me because I’m really good at getting him meaningful gifts. The truth is, I pay close attention to what he says and he often leaves clues (without realizing it!) For Father’s Day this year, I signed him up for this first triathlon, something he’s said he’s wanted to do for a very long time, and I bought him shorts, a cap and goggles, and a training book! I’ve supported his training, kayaked alongside of him for an open water swim, and helped him prepare for race day. It’ll test him, but it’s a way to show him that I support and encourage his growth and I am a partner in making it happen.
I once heard marriage advice that simply said: pay attention, notice, and acknowledge. Just by saying things like, “Thanks for grabbing the mail” or “I appreciate you getting milk on the way home today” shows that you don’t take things for granted and helps affirm the other person that those things make a difference for you!
Live Your Vows
When you write your vows, you think of all of the people looking on, you think of having a crowd as you say them, and the cheers when you can finally kiss, but so much of marriage is challenging yourself to live out your vows behind closed doors, just the two of you. I thank my 23-year-old self who wrote these because they stand just as true — if not truer — today, one decade later.
Choose promises you intend to keep, challenge yourself to hold those words close to your heart, and live them out with gusto each day. I can’t wait to see the way we will chase our dreams over the next decades, I can’t wait to make your soul shine day in and out, and growing old isn’t the worst when we can share wrinkle cream as we brush our teeth next to one another each night.
“Drew, I still vow to love you without caution. I still vow to encourage you to chase your dreams, because through them your soul shines. I still promise to laugh with you, cry with you, grow old with you in mind and spirit, and always be open and honest with you. I will cherish you for a lifetime, for one lifetime will never be enough.”