Now (Taken this year in Malibu by David Molnar)
Then… our engagement photo from 1999… high quality stuff, huh pro photographers?
Today is my 13th wedding anniversary!
While I mostly keep my posts related to work and photography, I like to occasionally give a glimpse into my personal life as well.
Now thirteen years isn’t fifty years or anything but thirteen years of an easy, smooth, solid marriage is a pretty good start that we are really proud of.
People have always said things like “watch out for that first year” or “3rd or 5th year is the worst” or they warn us about the “7th year itch”, etc. But I’m happy to report that we never experienced any of those bad years or “itches” whatsoever.
That being said I thought I would share a few random thoughts about what makes our marriage work. I hope this helps other creative families and families in general.
These thoughts are not exhaustive, but are just a few of the top reasons (and in no particular order)…
• My wife and I have always said that marriage is simply having a sleepover every night with your best friend. “Best friend” is the key phrase there. Too many people focus on the things that will fade over time… money, good looks, a good body, success, etc. and they frequently look over the person in their life that is simply their best friend. There’s no one else we’d rather spend our time with.
• ”We should never take life or ourselves too seriously. If you can laugh at yourself loudly & often, you’ll find it liberating.” – John Maxwell. We laugh a lot. Like a whole lot. At each other, at ourselves, at everything. My wife and I are both very, very laid back and never take ourselves too seriously. We both realize we are very imperfect, so we don’t expect perfection from the other person. And we don’t argue often, but when we do, we fight fair. We choose our arguments pretty well, and are both respectful of the other’s opinion. We try to actually listen to each other instead of thinking of our next retort. Because what good is a one-sided marriage? And winning an argument is never worth hurting each others’ feelings. But then add some humor. Even in our occasional arguments, they usually get quickly diffused with humor (when appropriate– and even sometimes when not…) We talk a lot of smack when we get frustrated with each other, and the ridiculous smack talk ends up making us laugh at each other. For example, if I’m having a bad day and my wife asks me to take out the trash, I’ll say something like “I’ll take your face out to the trash” and she’ll respond with “Your face IS trash.” I know, I know, it sounds weird, but it works nearly every time. And it lets us release our frustrations AND laugh a lot. (*And speaking of arguing, try singing your arguments. Yes, singing. Talk about diffusing the heat of the moment. Nothing makes us laugh harder than singing our conversations as if they were an 80′s power ballad.)
• My wife is my ultimate sounding board. She supports me 100%, but she’s also not a super fan. So when it comes to all my ideas, she responds very honestly. And it’s a special moment when she fully embraces an idea. Because when I have her support, I know for sure that I need to do it. One of those rare ideas that she fully supported was called Help-Portrait. Yep, her idea radar is spot-on.
• She has an immense amount of trust in me which makes me want to honor that trust even more. I know far too many creative people whose spouses are jealous or don’t trust them when they travel or work with people of the opposite sex. And in most cases, that jealousy eats those marriages or relationships alive. My wife let me travel for 3 months on the Britney Spears tour with 250 people and that trust has extended into all kinds of other areas of my career. This level of trust just makes me love her that much more and makes our relationship that much stronger.
All this being said, of course we are not perfect. But we’ve had a pretty smooth 13 years of marriage and these are just four areas that have really helped us navigate life. What are some of your thoughts on a successful marriage?
Oh, and in case you missed my episode of FRAMED, you can get a good look into our marriage and how we operate…
The way you live your life Jeremy is even more inspiring than your photos and that the biggest compliment I can give. Incidentally you got married exactly a week after I married my wife
I know shannon and her parents and really love them. so it was nice getting to know you through your blog. . I am so happy for you and shannon and the joy that you bring to one another. I have been married to my husband for 28 years and we also are best friends. We just enjoy being with each other and say "I love you" every day. I am gonna try the singing my argument next time. That will really throw him off. LOL I am actually looking forward to the next argument. Ha ha Thanks!!
Amy: I think if we have love in our heart, religion has nothing to do with how deeply we are capable of loving someone. I believe god to live in us, as us. And if God is love, we are love. Not all people believe in the Christian God, but this does not make them incapable of loving another... However, if a religious figure does take center of your relationship/marriage, then that is also a beautiful thing. Jeremey: Congratulations on 13 wonderful years! It's a true blessing to find a person you want to wake up next to every morning, especially when you're also best friends. There's no greater feeling in the world than loving another, and being loved by another. I agree laughter is a must, always fight fairly, and say "I Love you" as much as possible. DOn't get lazy, keep things fresh and interesting, and focus on the blessings. Never dwell on what you don't have or what others do have. I wish you many, many more years with your beautiful family!
For all the " what about Jesus?" comments...maybe he doesn't have to say it because it's so evident. If you all thought that then I guess they are doing it right. We shouldn't have to wear t-shirts that say "I follow Jesus" because our actions should make it abundantly clear. As someone who has known this couple since before they were a couple, they don't need t-shirts or to blast it on the blog. Their lives make it clear.
you touched on some good areas of what it takes to have a succesfull marriage. one thing you left out.... i thought you were a follower of our lord jesus christ. i attend a great christian church up here in buffalo new york with your brother benji, we pray for you and family every week.. he simply admires you and your family.. just a little disappointed you left christ out of your message, especially after our support of help portrait over the years. we love you and your family up here at the chapel at crosspoint in buffalo, ny. I (we) will continue to keep you and your family in our prayers, christ should be first on everybody's list. thanks again for all you have done int the photographic community, you are an inspiration for me.
Hey Jeremy! Your work has always been such an example to me ("hope in the dark" was the first major inspiration for me in pursuing photojournalism), especially because I know you are a follower of Christ. my husband is not a huge traveler, but i am super passionate about traveling. As I am beginning to consider pursuing photography full-time, I wonder: How do you deal with being away from your family for long periods of time? How do you keep your marriage strong?
Congrats Jeremy! Marriage is an awesome thing and to have a wife is an incredible privilege and blessing. Best friend is right. I always said, marry your best friend and thank the Lord that's what God let me do. I understand your comment about Christ being the glue for a marriage but wanting to speak to those who also aren't necessarily Christians, so good on you for that. I've always applauded your manner of being in the world but not of it, and trying to reach others who need Jesus without putting the Gospel down their throats. Congrats again and thanks for the inspiration you provide.
Jeremy, you are an inspiring photographer and I enjoy reading your posts and watching your videos. Thank you for posting about your happy anniversary. We need reminders that a good marriage is possible, and your post is an inspiration on that front. My precious Carol and I recently celebrated 27 years of blessed monogamy. She would get a laugh out of your comment "marriage is simply having a sleepover every night with your best friend" because I said something similar when we first discussed marriage. We are indeed best friends, but she knew from the beginning (and I quickly learned) that marriage is far more. You aren't just friends--a dedicated married couple truly become one. "You complete me" may be cliche, but my love for her continues to grow as I learn how to complete my wife (and vice versa). As an example, I am a bit of a tightwad and she is naturally a bit of a spender. I could impose my will on her and insist that we both be thrifty. But I've seen the pleasure she brings others with her generosity. She taught me to be more generous, but my thriftiness has helped us live happily on a single income. So we don't chafe at the differences between us but embrace and benefit from them. We also recognize that God created men and women to be different. I don't mean cosmetic or reproductive differences, but psychological and behavioral differences. Carol doesn't enjoy my silent periods, but she knows it is a male trait and doesn't take it personally. Likewise, I recognize a woman's desire to verbalize things and I try to be honest when my reverie is interrupted with "whatcha thinkin'?" A house full of laughter staves off all kinds of ills, but there are a few subjects we never joke about: divorce, infidelity and dishonesty. Just about everything else is fair game. We also enjoy praying together, kissing, hugging, saying "I love you," and holding hands.
To the person who wrote right before me with the sentiment about Jeremy not mentioning "Christ as the center of his marriage" -- Isn't Christ's Presence plain as day in Jeremy and Shannon's smiling faces? Also, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, Jeremy. You and Shannon are an Awesome example. Your testimony reminds me of a favorite quote by GK Chesterton: "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly." What an awesome quality for you to share with your wife!
I THINK THE KEY WOULD BE TO WEAR THE SAME SHOES THAT YOU WERE WEARING IN YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTO WHILE YOU FIGHT! THAT WOULD STOP IT REAL QUICK :) ALL JOKES ASIDE, GREAT STUFF...KEEP IT LIGHT, RESPECT, TRUST...MARRIAGE DOESN'T HAVE TO BE HARD. THANKS FOR SHARING!
mY WIFE AND i JUST CELEBRATED 34 YEARS, OUR SECRET, BEING BEST FRIENDS. tHE MORE TIME WE SPEND TOGETHER, THE BETTER WE LIKE EACH OTHER. congratulations ON 13 YEARS TOGETHER, AND MAY THIS BE JUST THE BEGINNING!
As a wife of a photographer/videographer/creative, I appreciated this post from the other side. being married to a dreamer, creative, and self-employed artist has had its unique set of difficulties (for both of us) and although we've learned a ton these past 5 years of marriage, it is always helpful to hear from others in similar careers what they appreciate about their wife and what has been helpful to them. From a wife who wants to be a great supporter and helper to my husband, Thanks for that ... and for being someone my husband is challenged and inspired by. Congrats on 13 years!
Love this! Husband and I have been married 20 years this year. The key is that we've always let each other be our own person. We have our own hobbies, our own interests and we respect that in each other. We have shared interests as well and we try to keep a sense of humor about everything. That's tough some days, believe me. Congrats! Here's to many more years of happiness.
Thanks Jeremy for these words! I know Marriage is something a lot of people are loosing their faith in and in the idea of true commitment. I think your advice is solid obviously cause it works. We are two imperfect people indeed. I've only been married for 2.4 years so far it's been amazing, each year getting better than the last! I know with Jesus at the center of our relationship that's what keeps us together going strong. And when the storm comes, we will be ready. Thanks again! Cheers!! I also think a Marriage Conference is something worth investing in for a marriage even when it's going well, you can always grow and learn together and I for one LOVE a good marriage conference. P.S. This whole caps thing is throwing me off... haha Blessings to you and your family!!!
good advice, all of it. The one other thing that I think will make a humongous difference is living with a grateful heart. if you can do that you are left with no choice but to be happy and love your life, yourself, and all the wonderful people in it. gratitude is a necessary ingredient for happy.
Great article, Jeremy. I'm a creative who's been married 13 years as well. It's amazing how our lives are enriched by a great partner by our side.
i'VE LOVED WATCHING YOU GUYS LOVE EACH OTHER FROM THE BEGINNING! wHAT AN ABSOLUTE BLESSING! oNE THING MY HUSBAND jOEL AND i HAVE AGREED ON IS TO NEVER MAKE THE "D" WORD AN OPTION. wE DON'T EVEN MENTION IT. we KNEW FROM THE BEGINNING THAT IT WASN'T ALWAYS GOING TO BE FUN OR EASY BUT THAT WE WERE WILLING TO TAKE THE RISK AND LOVE EACH OTHER. wE'VE ALSO PROMISED TO COME AFTER EACH OTHER, WHEN ONE OF US STARTS DRIFTING. i CAN'T TELL YOU HOW i'VE BEEN FREED TO LIVE KNOWING THAT i WASN'T ALONE AND WASN'T EXPECTED TO BE PERFECT. mANY, MANY, MANY MORE YEARS OF BLESSINGS TO YOU GUYS! lET YOUR FAITHFULNESS CONTINUE TO BRING UP THE HONEST QUESTIONS FROM A SEARCHING WORLD.
I love the simple advice. Coming from someone who is in a realtionship with a man on the go. I love learning from others tips on how to have a ealthy loving commited realtionship. And I commend your wifeits hard to be the one left home (I am learning) you have one anazing woman! But you realize that already.
SINGING YOUR FIGHTS LIKE AN 80'S POWER BALLAD! THAT IS HILARIOUS AND AWESOME. I CAN'T IMAGINE STAYING MAD WHEN THAT IS HAPPENING. CONGRATS TO YOU TWO ON 13 GREAT YEARS AND HERE'S TO MANY MORE! THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS.
I'm definitely not expert, since i've only been married for 9 months, but i couldn't agree more on everything you said! I think communication is quite important too, to be able to talk about absolutely anything! and knowing that whether is something deep or something silly, you can still talk about it and feel entirely comfortable doing so. I'm happy I married my best friend too, we get along amazingly and we've had some tough moments, but we have worked them through and kept moving. cheers on the 13-year anniversary and for many more to come! :)
A big congratulations to you both. I like your advise, maybe if my wife & I ever fight I'll try singing it through, should be great to defuse it as she can't sing in tune at all. Make the most of every moment, building a life together is so important not just daily life passing by. I wish you joy, smiles & laughter for all your days together & may they be many. Thanks for Help Portrait, thanks for inspiring work & words Ps, this is typing in capitals no matter what I do, hope it sorts it out when I submit ;)
for my hubby and it has been respect, honesty and knowing that yes we are very different, but those differences are right for us, I always have said that I am chaos and he is calm therefore we get the balance we need.. another key, make time for kissing, hugging, cuddling, cause even on my worst days this turns my mood right around. touch is very important to any marriage.
Congratulations on your 13th anniversary!! and Amy is right, except that probably have already put Christ in the center of your marraige and lives and that is the right for your wonderful marriage! Many more happy anniversaries are sure to come!
Hey Amy, first of all, I'm not sure why this is in all caps haha but I'll say this... what you're saying is a given for sure. But I try to think about advice for people who don't believe the same as I do, which is a lot of people here. Hope that makes sense.
A good rule we made right away is never to use words that would leave scars. Love your point about laughing, when we get into an argument that gets a little heated I start laughing, nothing is worth angry arguing about, nothing.
I love this post, Jeremy. I've always looked up to the way that you praise your wife on social media (and likely real life too). One question I have: I've especially always loved the way you described your wife as the ultimate sounding board. Did you see that as being true in your relationship before you were married, or was it a trait that she developed over the course of your marriage and career? Thanks again for always inspiring.
I'll just say Congrats, because relationships are hard in general. My turn for marriage hasn't come yet. Everything's going in the right direction though :D
Congratulations on 13 years. My wife and I just had our 25th anniversary. Your right it takes trust. I'm often photographing beautiful women half my age and it takes trust from my wife to do so. Of course she says I'm old, fat, and don't have any money so there isn't much to worry about.