The BEST Marriage Advice : Weekly, Monthly, Yearly

We’re in the middle of year 5 of marriage. We are just at the beginning of the years we will spend as husband and wife, but there is something that I read the month before we got married that has proven to be the best piece of marriage advice. It was in a newsletter by a photographer in Canada that I follow, Matt Kennedy.

It wasn’t the standard “Don’t go to bed angry” or “Always kiss each other goodnight” or even “Be the first to apologize”.

It was simple. It was easy to remember. And we absolutely think that it is something that has strengthened our marriage.

“Every Week, Go on a coffee date. Every Month, go on a dinner date. Every Year, go on vacation together.”

Now, before you protest and tell me that you hate coffee, dinner, and vacation, we can make some substitutions. But here’s the general idea & why we absolutely are #1 fans of this.

Every Week. 

“Every Week, Go Out for Coffee.”

Instead of coffee, sometimes we go for ice cream. Or happy hour. Or donuts. But the idea is that weekly, you are doing something with your spouse. It doesn’t have to be for hours and hours, because some weeks don’t allow that. But it’s an intentional time each week where it’s JUST THE TWO OF YOU. A coffee date is normally about an hour + some drive time. But it gives some space for you to be alone and to be present. Sometimes you have to set aside the time for important things, like an appointment. It might not feel romantic to have to schedule time each week to be with your spouse. Oh, but it is. It is so romantic & gives you something to look forward to!

…BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

Well, if you don’t have a baby sitter, maybe drink coffee during nap time downstairs cuddled up on you couch. Or make root beer floats after the kids are in bed. Or take an hour to eat pizza on your kitchen floor in the middle of the night. All you need to do is make some time to be together.

Because you know what it does for our marriage? It brings us back. Right to the hand holding or the laughing or the memories of why we love each other. It’s not that we forget during the week, but sometimes during trips to the grocery store and paying the bills, life doesn’t always feel like it’s full of romance and joy. And it might not be. So this is a weekly reset. Get back to the simple things. Like conversation. Like cups of hot coffee. Like cold bowls of ice cream. Or slices of cheesy pizza. Hold hands. Make eye contact. Quit drinking your coffee and make out. Whatever it is, give yourself some time to be together. Just the two of you.

Every Month.

“Every Month, Go Out to Dinner”

This. SO SO SO Good. Sometimes, we go to expensive restaurants and order steak & seafood. Other times we go to Chipotle & order burritos with guacamole. It’s not so much about where you go, or what you eat. It’s about taking a night off, to be together.

I think there is something that happens when you prepare for a date. When it’s not spontaneous, but you take time to pick your outfit, get dressed up, do your makeup, and go out with your spouse. It feels special. You anticipate it. You look forward to it all week or sometimes all month. Multiple hours together. Uninterrupted.

Maybe there are flowers given. Maybe there is a photo taken. Maybe there is red lipstick or slacks instead of jeans. Maybe there is hand holding in the car. Or dessert ordered. Or a blanket is packed & you eat your favorite takeout in a park down the street!

Whatever it is, once a month, you are going to need a night.

A WHOLE NIGHT.

Together.

JUST THE TWO OF YOU.

Because giving yourself some time to be together, to communicate, to enjoy life together is necessary. Sometimes we end up laughing the whole time, and other times we have to communicate through some hard things. Either way the outcome is good. Communication needs space. It needs time to happen. It sometimes needs a place where you are out of the house. Out of the familiar surroundings. Where the things you need to do aren’t right in front of you. But the only thing that’s in front of you is fettuccini & your spouse.

…BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN???

Well, chances are you have a friend, or sister, or brother who also has a spouse & some children. And they ALSO need a date night. So do a trade. Switch off so you both can enjoy this. Or spend some $$ on a babysitter. Or bribe your parents.

Something.

But it’s worth it. Let me tell you. It’s so worth it.

Oh, also. Make out.

Every Year.

“Ever Year, Go On Vacation.”

We’ve done this since being married. A trip, just the two of us. And it’s SO fun to get away. To have adventures. To explore new cities. Or to be a tourist in your own city.

I think the most important part is to get out of your home. Go somewhere that the beds are made for you. Or that is right across the street from a coffee shop. Or a beautiful campsite in the mountains. Or by a beach. Someplace only 1 hour away, or someplace that requires an airplane. Either way, GET AWAY.

Whatever your style of vacation is, go there. At least for a night and two days. But more if you can afford it. We’ve taken nightly trips to Bellevue, just an hour away and bought hotel rooms on Priceline. We’ve also taken weekend trips to Portland. Or trips to Maui & Cabo. We even took a 12 day trip to Ireland once – and saved up for a whole year for it. BUT IT WAS WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

But the thing is this. Getting away and unplugging from your “normal”, from the routines, from the chores. IT’S GOOD.

You will be happier. You will connect more. You will probably have a lot more sex. Good. You probably needed to. You will talk more. And hold hands more. And kiss in public more. And take pictures. And make memories. And make each other laugh. And try new foods. Explore new things. Dress up. Wear your bathing suit all day. Stay in bed until noon. Stay up late. Drink champagne. Eat chips & guac for lunch. Make all of the memories.

You made it through a whole year. You deserve a vacation.

In a society where almost half of all marriages don’t survive, it’s good to celebrate the fact that you are. You are killin’ this marriage thing. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you drive each other crazy. Or you miscommunicate.  Being intentional about your time together, about investing into your marriage, about making time to laugh and relax. Those are things that help a marriage thrive. Those are things that help your children. When you show them that marriage is fun, and marriage is full of good things and time together, you are setting such a good example. Your children want to see mom & dad holding hands. They want to see you laughing, joking, playing, relaxing. They want to see a real life example of marriage that is healthy, that is fun, that is real.

So, take some time to celebrate.

Weekly. Monthly. Yearly.

Kels

4 Years Later.

Kyle,

It’s hard to believe that we are celebrating 4 years of marriage today. The last 4 years have not only been the best years of my life – but also the fastest. 

Growing up I remember asking my mom how I would know when I met “The One”. Endless Disney movies made me a romantic from the first time I saw the Beast give Belle her library. (Speaking of, THAT’S what I want for my next birthday.)

Kyle. You are the answer to that question.

Not one grand moment with magic & glitter & music & romance.

But every single day.

One million little moments & little gestures that show me you know me best. You see me completely. And you love me fully. You are the best husband FOR ME.

You are my very best friend.

We have done a lot of very un-romantic things this past year. We have planned funerals & we have walked through grief. We have had hard conversations about how we want our future to look. We have budgeted. We have moved. We have worked, A LOT. 

And through it all you are THE VERY BEST ONE FOR ME. There is nobody else I would want to do anything with. The good. The hard. It’s you – I choose you.

You are the hardest working man I know. But you work the hardest at being an amazing husband. I see that every day. I see that when I walk downstairs in the morning and you have cleaned the kitchen at 5:00 AM before you go to work. I see that when I am overwhelmed and you get out a piece of paper because you know that lists give me clarity.

On this anniversary, I am so grateful to know only have a husband who I am absolutely in love with. But to have you as my very best friend.

I cannot wait to see what the next 4 years hold.

Love you forever.

Happy Anniversary, Babes.

Photos are from our 3.5 Year Photoshoot with Echo Photography!

1,000 Days Later : Happy Anniversary, Babes!

It’s been over 1,000 days since I walked down the aisle in 10 layers of chiffon and said “I Do”.

Now, 3 years is by no means a lifetime. In the grand scheme of things, we are just at the beginning of our journey. But I’m not going to diminish 3 years as unimportant. Because the last 3 years of my life have by far been the best 3.

I wrote a blog when we had been married for 4 months called “Why I Don’t Agree that Marriage Is Hard”. And I had so many people tell me that I was still in the honeymoon phase and to wait until a few years had gone by. That my attitude would change and I would soon join the club in proclaiming “Marriage Is Hard”.

So, here I am.

3 years later.

And marriage is still the best thing in the world. 

Are there moments of marriage that are sometimes hard? Yes. But marriage as a whole? Marriage is not hard. Marriage is the BEST.

LIFE IS HARD sometimes. FRIENDSHIP is hard sometimes. WORK is hard sometimes. PAYING BILLS is hard sometimes. WORKING OUT is hard sometimes. DRINKING ENOUGH WATER is hard. REMEMBERING TO DO X, Y, & Z is hard sometimes.

Marriage is the best thing that I have ever signed up for. It is the best choice I made. Being married to Kyle is not hard, it is easy. He makes my life better in so many ways. He challenges me to grow. He loves me exactly the way that I am. He lets me be so vulnerable. So honest. And never judges my unfiltered thoughts.

You know what I think has been the hardest part of marriage?

Vulnerability.

REAL REAL REAL Vulnerability. Because for so many of us, we have been hurt in the past. Not even by our spouse. By friends in 4th grade who made fun of you for something. By the boys in high school who joked about my appearance. So we put our guards up.

And then we get married, and we learn day-by-day that our spouse can be trusted with every piece of our heart. And when I say “hard”, I don’t mean that there are arguments and yelling matches – that we disagree and there is tension. Vulnerability is hard in that we slowly have to take down the walls that we have built. Brick by brick we let our spouse into our lives and understand even fully when it says that two people will become one. It is hard because it is something that we have to consistently do, even if it is unnatural. Even if we aren’t used to it. We choose every day to trust, to be open, and to let ourselves be known.

Kyle has proven time and time again that he is the person I can tell anything to. He will love me. The beautiful parts. The ugly parts. The parts that have been racked with insecurity.

Year 3 of marriage was so beautiful. We learned even more how to be vulnerable with each other. We took our first adventure to Ireland. We walked through grief when we lost family and friends. We celebrated every chance we could.

I am so grateful for the things that marriage has taught me. But more than that – I am grateful for the man who I get to wake up next to every morning and fall asleep next to every night. I am grateful for his optimistic outlook when hard situations arise. I am grateful for his compassion. I am grateful for his patience. I am grateful that he works harder than anyone I know and I never hear him complain. I am grateful that he chooses to love me each morning and never makes me question his commitment. I am so honored to be his wife. I get a front row seat every day to watch my very favorite person do life.

On the good days, on the hard days, on the lazy days at home.

He is the man that I want. He is the man that I need.

Happy 3 years, KJC. You are my best.

I cannot wait for the next 1,000 days.

Kels


Photos from our In-Home Session with : Echo Photography

The Best Advice I Can Give Any Bride.

As someone who spends at least half of her weekends every year at weddings, there are MANY things I could tell to any bride who is in the midst of wedding planning. Advice about the schedule of the day, wearing comfortable shoes, waterproof mascara, décor….You get my drift. There are so many things to think about when planning a wedding. But the advice I have has a lot less to do with the wedding day, and a lot more to do with what comes in the first year after the wedding.

I’m speaking as a bride AND a bridesmaid, here. I have been a bridesmaid 10 times. That means 10 up-dos, 10 bridesmaid dresses, 10 specific color and type of shoe searched for and purchased. Bridal showers, bachelorette parties, & being wrapped in toilet paper to resemble a wedding gown more times than I can count.

In the midst of your planning, make sure you take time to just be a friend. Not only a bride.

I don’t mean to sound harsh. I really don’t. I was a bride. I totally understand that in the midst of planning a wedding, your wedding seems like the most important thing. EVER. You are worrying about the guest list, and napkin color, and seating chart, and keeping on track with your budget. You have a million things going on, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. So, I know that the “WEDDING” can be in the forefront of your mind for 6-12 months.

Speaking from personal experience, I have never once been sad when a girlfriend asked me to be a bridesmaid. It was an honor, and I was so glad to be a part of such an important day. Your girlfriends probably feel the same. Which is why they will paint their nails the specific color that you want, wear a dress that they might never otherwise choose, and spend $$ on making sure your bridal showers and bachelorette parties are memorable and fun.

What ends up being the hard part, is when during the planning, the only communication that your friends, family, & fiancé  receive is wedding related.

….ouch.

I’m not big on competition. And I don’t like when people rank who’s life is better/harder/more important. I’m a firm believer that everyone is working through their own things. Good times, hard times, changes, transitions, etc. All of us are dealing with our own mountains.

So, here’s my challenge.

While your girls hand address 8 million wedding invitations, make sure you spend time asking them how THEY are doing. Giving them a call to just check in, sending them a text when you know they have a job interview, or a first date, or are sick at home with the flu. While your family is helping you with setting up and tearing down the most giant party you have ever thrown, take time to go shopping with your mom or on a hike with your dad & brother. While your fiancé is listening to you go over every detail of your invitations, make sure he knows how excited you are not only for the wedding, but also for all of the adventures that will come afterwards.

Because there’s going to be a day when you are no longer planning a wedding. I remember feeling a teensy bit sad when my wedding was over because the planning & the excitement of it all was over. But I was so glad to be able to have my friends over for tacos when we got back from our honeymoon to hear about their new jobs, new boyfriends, and old stories. To have my family over for our first Thanksgiving and make brand new traditions. To settle into life with a new last name, but with the same people who had been there for me through it all.

Weddings are so fun.

But you know what’s even better than a wedding?

Marriage. 

Because the wedding is just the kick off to a lifetime of dance parties in your kitchen. Or pasta around your dinner table. Or holidays spent with your new family. Movie nights at home. Trips to the grocery store. New traditions, mixed with childhood traditions. Picking out your first Christmas tree. Meeting your best friend’s new boyfriend. Becoming an aunt for the first time.

So take some time to go to coffee with your fiancé and instead of dreaming about your wedding day, dream about your first year of marriage. Or your first 5 years. Write an list of adventures you want to take together. We did that while we were dating, and we still refer back to it when we are looking for a new idea for date night.

Your wedding is going to be beautiful.

But your marriage is going to be forever.

Make sure that you take some time to plan both.

You’ve Got this,

Kels

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The Not So Bright & Shiny Moments of Love

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love and marriage. I think partially because we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, and my social media was flooded with sweet posts and pictures of couples celebrating their love and commitment to one another. And because I’ve been watching the Bachelor recently & have been watching relationships develop on national TV.

I love Valentine’s Day. I love anniversaries. Not just anniversaries of wedding dates, but I love celebrating the little moments too. Like the day Kyle proposed, the day we started our relationship, the day we bought our first home…I think celebrating milestones is so important.

Valentine’s Day is bright and shiny. Full of red roses, sweet cards, breakfast in bed, couple selfies, romantic dinners, new outfits, red lipstick, romance, extra hand holding, sitting on the same side of the table. And I love that. I think sometimes, we all could use a day full of bright and shiny reminders of love. Days that seem to be set aside to remind us to take some time to look at each other when so many times we are running around looking at all of the things that need to get done.

But I have also been thinking, that in real life, Kyle and I don’t always have bright and shiny days.

Some of our days are just grey. Not that we don’t love each other, but sometimes we just have normal days. Full of work, laundry, paying bills, trips to the grocery store, and dishes. Just a lot of adulting.

I think that the best way to be happy in a marriage, is to find someone who you want to spend the grey days with. Because honestly, there are going to be a lot of normal days. Days that might not be full of red roses. And I would venture to say that you are gonna experience way more normal days than bright and shiny ones. But in my opinion, what you build in the grey days will sustain a marriage. 

I think that might be one of the reasons why some of the couples who meet on the Bachelor/ette have relationships that end shortly after the show. Because the show creates these perfect dates. Like seriously amazing dates. But it doesn’t necessarily create a lot of real day-to-day scenarios. Dates where you go to coffee and your favorite band doesn’t immediately show up for a private concert. Or days where the best you can offer is a messy bun and sweatpants because you have strep throat. Or days where you play rock-paper-scissors to decide who has to unload the dishwasher.

Here’s where we get real.

It’s up to you to make the grey days good. It’s up to you to find ways to enjoy them. 

Whether it’s a short “I am so glad it’s you” text. Or playing your favorite song on your iPod and dancing to it in your messy kitchen. Spending 10 minutes before you fall asleep just laughing about a Jimmy Fallon youtube video, or having a Nerf gun war throughout your house. It’s up to you to find ways to invest in your relationship, even when all you have are a few minutes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved that Kyle planned a surprise dinner at one of my favorite restaurants for Valentine’s Day. I love that he told me when to be ready, and I spent an enormous amount of time doing my hair and make-up and picking out an outfit. I love that the whole night felt special.

But here’s what I love just as much.

I love that last night, we put on our sweatpants and ate tacos while standing in our kitchen. That we watched some Netflix and I e-mailed back clients. That we talked about filing our taxes and upcoming vacation plans. It wasn’t bright and shiny. It wasn’t overly exciting, but it was perfect.

And I don’t think Valentine’s Day would have been as special, or as exciting, if we hadn’t spent time on January 3rd, or January 21st, or February 4th, or any other random day, investing into our relationship. If he only spent time telling me he loved me when there was a national holiday, it probably wouldn’t be received very well. But I love that we will get to celebrate Valentine’s Day together for the rest of our lives.

Because I can visibly see his love on all of the other days of the year. 

We all love when we see a couple in their 70’s celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary, don’t we? We love that their love has lasted. Because we all know that it probably wasn’t always easy. But in the midst of it all, they stayed together and they have a beautiful legacy to show for it.

And I bet if I were to sit down with those couples, they would tell me that there were a lot of normal grey moments. But in those moments of consistency, those moments where they walked through the normal day-to-day of life together, that’s where their marriage was built. That’s where love was strengthened.

So, Here’s what I know…

I think that love is worth sticking around for.

For better or for worse.

For good and for hard.

For normal days and for bright & shiny ones.

For Top Ramen & Filet Mignon.

That a Monday night at home can be just as wonderful as Valentine’s Day at the Space Needle.

That love is built in the grey days. And it is celebrated in the bright and shiny moments. 

Cheers, Love,

Kels