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Happy 10 Year Anniversary, Brian

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Brian and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary today. TEN YEARS. It’s actually 16 years together in total. He’s truly my soulmate, best friend, and generally my most favorite person in the world.  And folks, I’m happy to say that after some rockier years we are more solid than we have ever been because of some recent changes that we’ve made. You might be dying to know what those changes are, but first a quick bio of our relationship. No one loves a love story like I do, so while this may not be everyone’s version of a good post, if you are into shows that involve, say, Chris Harrison or Felicity and Ben then you, too, might be into this post. It only took me 14 hours to write/edit but it’s something I want our kids to eventually read, it’s something that many of you might relate to, and it’s a story that is so fun to relive. Here we go. 

The second time we hung out ... I think.
The second time we hung out … I think.

Brian and I met our senior year of college at the University of Oregon, in the year 2000. He was acting, shirtless, and in a play where I was in the audience, falling in love with his surprisingly ample chest hair. My friend was the stage manager and I begged him for an intro. It was all very immediate. That night we talked until 4am about our mutual love of The Coen Brothers and Chuck Palahniuk novels, my love of Dido and his lack of Felicity knowledge, etc. He played with my hair until I fell asleep. No kiss. Nothing… The next day as he drove me home we listened to the radio and both started singing the chorus of the same cheesy pop song at the exact same time and I remember thinking, I am going to marry this man. He felt like home, instantly and I was immediately in love.

He didn’t call for 5 days. I didn’t have his number and it was before social media. I was so hurt and confused, but assertive, so I finally tracked it down and he gave me a “Shoot, can’t talk now, I have friends over” excuse. Of course I’m no idiot, I knew what had happened. There was somebody else. He called back and asked if he could come over and talk. I said, sure and the second he sat down I called him out on it. He said he had been trying to get out of the friend zone for a year with this girl and that they had just gotten together a week before we met. He was super confused and couldn’t stop thinking about me, but he felt like he had to give it a try with her. Blah, Blah. We went out that night and had so much fun. Too much fun. Nothing happened, except that I felt confirmed that we should be together because we were the same person.  The way we communicated, our sense of humor, how much we had in common, how much we made each other laugh was absolutely unmistakable. He dropped me off. I went inside and cried. And two days later I called him, and asked him to coffee. 

I told him that we needed to be together. That it wasn’t up to us, that clearly the universe thought that we should be together. It wasn’t just our chemistry, it was like our personalities met and they melted into each other instantly. He looked at me with a smirk and said, “I know. I broke up with her last night.” 

We were inseparable for months. We listened to David Gray and Coldplay, went to pretentious art house movies and bought vintage t-shirts at thrift stores. As I fell deeper and deeper in love with him I realized that it wasn’t being reciprocated as much, WHICH SUCKED. He started disengaging so instead of me waiting until my heart was demolished, I broke up with him. He told me that he didn’t really know who he was and was unable to go there. I must have had the confidence to know that we would get back together because I wasn’t that heartbroken. Of course weeks later when I saw him on campus at 9am with a girl, looking all disheveled, my heart felt like it was full of warm acid and my stomach felt like the outer lining was made of cement. Then I was heartbroken. 

A month later he called and begged to get back together and while I tried to resist, I took him back. Gladly. I hadn’t stopped loving him and missed his everything. But we took it slow. Clearly this guy wasn’t ready for this. 

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Over the next couple years we graduated, I went to Europe for 2 months with my best friend, then Brian and I moved to Sacramento and lived with his parents to save money for a move to New York. 

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We landed with $3k and 22 year old dreams of adulthood. That pic above is the day we road tripped from Sacramento to New York. We wanted to bring our west coast version of cool to the east coast which apparently meant flavor savers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle t-shirts. Dear God. We found a 350 square foot studio in the East Village for $1200 and proudly called it home. He went to grad school at NYU for theater while I walked dogs and bartended, and we slowly grew into our adult selves. But he still wasn’t ready (and neither was I to be honest). Trying to find yourself in New York while tied to someone from college felt strangely constricting and after realizing that we weren’t connecting, and that he simply wasn’t ready to really BE together, we broke up. 

I cried every morning for hours for a month, then one day woke up feeling better. A therapist that was a regular at my bar told me to “exercise my sadness” which meant to wake up, face the sadness, and let yourself cry. Before that I was literally crying while taking drink orders –  I was so incredibly heart broken and not coping well. But it worked, you guys.

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We took 6 months of space, and when you are 22 and a bartender in New York that meant a lot happened (for both of us). Hilariously we have never ever, ever spoken about that time – even now! It wouldn’t be that painful, it was 13 years ago!!! But still – he doesn’t know what I did or didn’t do, and likewise (P.S. He thinks it’s sooooooo much worse which I’m letting him believe). When he came back he begged and begged, saying that he had grown up, that he was ready, that I was his #1 priority, etc. I believed him. Sure, I made him work for it, but I believed him. 

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He moved in with me, we lived our 20’s lives in New York together. We were so happy. We worked on our careers, we went out a lot, we made amazing friends, and lived a ridiculously fun 20’s life. We adopted some cats and as soon as he graduated from grad school, he booked his first big off broadway show and got an agent. He felt like he was ready. He proposed to me when we were 26. Which now of course sounds so insanely young. It was in central park, with candles and his friends playing our song on the acoustic guitar. It was shocking and amazing and romantic and impulsive and yet totally right. We were so young, but at the time we had already been together for basically 5 years and it felt like it was the right time.

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We got married a year later. Our budget was $7k. I bought a $60 dress off eBay, a ring at an antique store, and we had a taco truck WAY BEFORE THEY WERE COOL to cater it. It was the best, laid back, low key, wonderful night of my life – before Pinterest, blogs, pressure, or options. It was perfect for us. He was, and is, the best man I’ve ever met and I knew how lucky I was to be locking him down so young. 

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On our honeymoon in Montreal, we made a list of promises to each other, one of which was that we would prioritize our own personal happiness over the happiness of each other or our kids. Oh how naive (and yet so wise) that was. We were so happy at the time that we didn’t know the cause or result of personal or collective unhappiness. I had no idea how much his happiness (or lack thereof) would affect my own so much. We lived for another year in New York until he became restless and unhappy and, while I couldn’t have been happier in New York, I agreed that following his heart (and the hollywood gold rush) was the right move.

The move to LA was the beginning of our more challenging years – but maybe it was also because we were in our late 20’s, which tends to be a pivotable time in many people’s lives. We moved to Santa Monica 6 days before the writer’s strike which shut down Hollywood for years and it has never recovered. We had no friends, no jobs, and were in this extremely alienating city that made you feel old every time you went out to dinner. After months of crying and drinking too much we looked at each other and knew we had to change our situation. We left for Vietnam the following Monday and stayed there ’til the strike ended. It was what we needed and after we came back we moved to the east side and restarted our LA life. I auditioned for DesignStar, Brian got a new agent, booked a couple plays and it was looking on the up and up. 

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But then I won DesignStar, started shooting Secrets From A Stylist and he was wildly supportive, but LA wasn’t as friendly to him as it was to me. Without ripping Hollywood apart too much it’s fair to say that talent is valued far below most things and my resentment towards this industry was only matched by Brian’s disillusionment towards it. Acting was his passion, and I don’t use that word lightly. He went to a 3 year conservatory in New York that is so intense and basically sets you up for success (or so they were told). He had really dedicated his life to it as an artist, not for fame but as a performer, as his sole creative outlet. To not succeed was devastating to him. As I was shooting 60 hours a week and getting so much attention, he was falling deeper and deeper into situational depression.

We grew apart. After a while we realized we were in a really not so good place. We both knew that we were meant to be together, but we didn’t know how to get it back. We didn’t fight, and we were still being romantic (at times), but his depression and my absence deeply affected our relationship. 

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He made a shift and decided to assistant direct an indie film in Nicaragua for 6 weeks. He left and due to the lack of cell service and the time difference we only spoke twice in six weeks. It was almost like a trial separation that we didn’t label. Neither of us missed each other. After 10 years of an extremely strong loving, border-line perfect relationship, 10 years of being emotionally and physically so connected to each other, neither of us missed each other for six weeks. Once I realized that fact, I was devastated. The night he got back we cried about how much we didn’t miss each other and decided to enact Extreme Marriage Makeover, 2012. We would go on new dates, together, without our friends (crutches). We would avoid our easy local date joints and instead push ourselves into having real experiences and adventures again together. 

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Things got better. Then he decided to quit auditioning. Not necessarily quit “acting, ” but he no longer wanted to do the “soul-stealing, driving-to-santa-monica-to-audition-to-be-a-dead-person-in-NCIS-but-then-not-get-it-and-be-super-depressed” auditioning. Unless you’ve been an actor, or have closely known one, you can’t understand how soul destroying that career can be. 

Things got even better. So much better. He felt liberated and free, and I stopped shooting the show and had more time for him and us. He was still performing and doing improv and during the day was doing real estate. We moved, got pregnant, miscarried, got pregnant again, bought our house, and had a baby. We were happy. Pretty happy. 

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High rollers on a yacht – he shaved a goatie for the costume.

The year after Charlie was born we were really happy. He was, and still is, the best dad that I’ve ever known. He is caring, patient, attentive, responsible, hardworking, sacrificing, full of compromise, and intelligent conversation with both me and our kids. We’re on the same page and we created this extremely loving, happy family and home. The first year of Charlie’s life I was so smitten by him. Being a good dad is endlessly attractive and I spent hours staring at him thinking thank God I married this guy. 

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But then … the stress of parenthood brings its own challenges as many of you know.

When Charlie was about a year old, Brian realized how unfulfilled he was with his career and he missed being creative. He started definitely not liking the real estate gig (I should have guessed when he said “ugh, I hate going inside strangers’ houses”) and he slipped back into situational depression. 

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But then, he found a therapist that has changed his life, and ours. SO MUCH. It’s a particular style called Narrative Therapy and it’s amazing and something that he would like you all to know about, so we felt compelled to share.

Narrative Therapy is less about psychoanalysis or analyzing the past/parents/childhood and instead helping people realize that they are in charge of their own story and how they tell it to themselves and others. I’ve only sat in on a couple sessions, but it’s really about listening and helping understand how they can open up the perception of their life and what steps they need to do to change it. Brian, like many people I know, felt totally paralyzed. He was so devastated from not acting, something he thought he would do forever. He was full of “cannot’s, ” and “no’s, ” and reasons why he couldn’t move forward or succeed despite being one of the best, smartest, most capable, intelligent, funny, and wonderful people in the world. 

It helped so much. He felt better after a couple of months and the changes I saw in him were insane. He was happier, lighter, and full of optimism, motivation and humor. It wasn’t instant, but it was noticeable. 

Then we had another baby, our little Ellie-Bird.

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The last year has been full of so much love and stress, and we did the dance that only two parents with two kids under three do. Some days were great, and ultimately we have been in a really good place, but there was this underlying exhaustion and stress with trying to keep up with life. To cope with how hard we both felt that we were working, we started secretly competing, parenting-wise. Not competing for their love, but tallying our individual sacrifice and work. We just felt so overworked individually that we were unable to see how much the other person was doing. He invited me to his therapy session to talk about it and I said, weeping, how I just didn’t feel acknowledged. I didn’t need a parade everyday, but I really felt that he wasn’t seeing how hard I was working to support us, and how good of a mom I was being all the while.  He felt so bad, so terrible and, yet,  he felt the same way. He was trying so hard to start his now successful video production company and was still so attentive and exhaustingly loving towards our now two kids, but I didn’t really give him the recognition he felt he deserved either. 

Acknowledgment of hard work is highly underused in our society. Appreciation of it is even more rare. Sure, we say thank you for the big stuff – thanks for letting me go out with my girlfriends, or letting me sleep in on Saturday morning, but the daily hard work goes often unnoticed. And after years of feeling unnoticed, unacknowledged, and unappreciated, even the strongest of marriages can breed resentment. Despite how honest, communicative, respectful, faithful, and fun you are with your partner, resentment is a small but powerful poison that without its antidote can kill or weaken even the healthiest of marriages – something I talked about in my anniversary post last year. Our problems weren’t that we didn’t get along, or that we were fundamentally different people, or even bigger, unfaithful, disrespectful, unsupportive. No, our problem was that we were both too busy and exhausted to look at what the other person was sacrificing and compromising on a daily basis and say, thank you so much

This one thing has made us so much happier and has made us fall so much deeper in love. When I go on business trips he now knows how appreciative I am that he is the kind of dad that can handle two kids all night for three nights on his own. And I feel, finally, that he knows that those business trips aren’t a vacation for me and that they are indeed work, work that will never replace the happiness I feel when I’m with my family. It’s gotten infectious and reciprocal – where I know that we both genuinely really, really see and appreciate how much and how hard we are both working as people and parents. 

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I know that we aren’t the only ones that had this problem, which is why I’m writing about it. I know this because every single person in my life feels this way – both man and woman. NO ONE feels as appreciated as they feel they deserve to be, which begs the question – WHY DON’T WE ALL TRY TO APPRECIATE EACH OTHER MORE?????

Additionally, we now give each other a night off GUILT-FREE. Doing bedtime by yourself with 2 kids under 3 isn’t easy, but it’s doable. So now we each know that we can take one night to go out with friends, get a massage, go shopping, or watch a movie without the other saying anything but, “have so much fun.” It’s been amazing. Some weeks I don’t even take mine, but knowing that I have it feels so good. You guys, DO THIS.

Meanwhile now that we are learning how to handle two kids he is going to get back into acting – doing theater, more improv, taking some creative classes so that he feels like he is using that muscle that he spent years developing – something that I get nervous about, but super supportive because I know he needs it.

To be able to say that 16 years in we are happier than ever is something I don’t take for granted. The longer you are married the more lessons you learn, right? One big one that we have learned is while you should put family first, you can’t neglect your own happiness or it can destroy the family you are working so hard to protect. Individual happiness is one of the true keys to a good marriage, and with us both being happy, we are in such a good place with each other. But we have many more lessons to learn, I’m sure.

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If I had to give one piece of advice to someone before getting married it would be to truly like the person you are marrying. It’s so easy to love someone, but it’s harder to really like them. Marry your best friend. Marry the person you have the most fun with and who you want to hang out with. I think you can get through any marital problem if you are best friends and I’m so happy to say that this man is truly my best friend, forever, and I love him more than I ever thought I could.

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So that’s our love story. 16 years. Meeting your person when you are 21 is tricky, but we helped raise each other, we’ve been there for each other through everything, and we’ve gotten stronger, happier, and fallen even more in love every day. I know we are very, very lucky. 

Brian, ours is a love story – not grand or fancy, but still epic. If I didn’t know you and you were in the middle of a room of strangers, I would choose you immediately, I know it. I would be drawn to your face, shoulders, the kindness in your hazel eyes and your loving, protective soul. And your sense of humor. And your still-ample chest hair. No one is as good as you are, and no one loves anybody as much as I love you. Happy Anniversary, my love. 

To quote the end of our marriage vows 10 years ago, Grow old with me … the best is yet to be. 

Here’s to 50 more years. I love you.

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*For those of you who are curious how we are celebrating …. I’m traveling today to Vancouver to speak at IDS West (a design conference), so the week after next we are going to Sacramento to relax at his parents, then leave the kids with them while we head to Napa for two nights of grown-up honeymoon time. Then a week later we are throwing a very intimate party, celebrating here with our best friends where we will watch the wedding video that we haven’t seen in YEARS, which will be so fun. Have a great weekend, folks. 

**Pushing publish on this gives me anxiety even though Brian, Brady, Sara, and Becca all read through it and helped me edit so the tone was neither ‘we have problems’ nor ‘we are perfect’ nor ‘I know everything about everything’. Someone, somewhere will find something negative to say, but ultimately my goal is that by telling our love story and how we handle average marital issues, readers can relate and feel inspired or confidant in their own relationship. We are just two human beings in love, working through life, careers, marriage, depression, and parenthood in the best most positive way possible, like everyone else. Thanks for reading (and commenting). 

*** If you want to see us in action, me pitching Brian our new kitchen design LIVE, check it out on my Facebook Page. Hint: He mostly likes it, except for one thing…

Fin Mark
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Jenna

Thank you for sharing. This was beautiful. Your love story rivals every love story ever told.

Hayley

Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading this. Happy anniversary!

Natalie S.

Bravo and Congrats to you both! I rarely comment on blogs, but I sincerely appreciate how open you’ve been about the ups and downs of marriage. My husband and I met in college and recently celebrated our 11th anniversary, also with two kids, and your comment about appreciating the other more and verbalizing it deeply resonates with us as well. Yes! That is something that has saved us. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful story- best thing I’ve read today by far. Happy Anniversary!!

Robby

Wonderful, delightful post, Emily. I smiled, laughed and teared up several times as I read it. Relationships are hard work and your story will be familiar in subtle ways to many of your readers. The fact that you and Brian always seemed to find your way back to one another says that you were meant to be together. The two of you have created a beautiful family. Congratulations on your 10th anniversary…and may there be many, many more!

Anon

What Robby said, exactly.

Kristi

Simply put, this post gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing your love story.

Kelly

I would just like to say I really enjoyed and appreciated the real-ness of this post. Wishing you both many more years of happiness!

Erin

Emily, I love this! Thank you for hitting publish! I’ve been married 1.5 years and will probably be ready for kids in another 1-2 years. This is all so helpful and real and important. Saving this advice for later!

Victoria

You guys are amazing. Tears to my old eyes. Congratulations on a truly amazing, realistic life.

CC

Thank you for your honesty. It is a relief to know that marriage doesn’t have to be constantly perfect and rainbows and unicorns to be a happy marriage. Sometimes the picture perfect world that I see on various social media outlets makes me look inside and feel inadequate. Thank you for sharing about your therapy as well. It is truly appreciated.

Megan

Beautiful and congratulations! Thanks for sharing! I met my now husband when I was only 19 and we got married young and relatively fast (it’s the Mormon way ;)). We’re now in our late twenties with two boys roughly the age of your sweet kids and while we are still deeply in love and connected, the personal happiness thing has been much harder to figure out! It’s rough when the life you envisioned for yourself doesn’t pan out or ends up not being as enjoyable as you hoped. I feel like we are in the thick of trying to figure ourselves out, and still growing up, but with two kids that depend on us and that has definitely been hard. Your story brings me hope! Thanks again!

Jamie

Megan, your comment resonated with me because I was married at 21 (LDS also) and, while being a stay-at-home mom to small children, I often wondered why living my “divine nature” wasn’t making me happy. After 19 married years and six kids (the oldest is 17 and the youngest is 4), I think if I had stopped focusing on what I lost or who I wasn’t anymore, and thought about what I had gained, I might have found more happiness early on. Sophia, a few comments down, commented on every night thinking about something you love about your spouse, or your children, or yourself or your day. Elder Eyring recently talked about how every night he would stop and remember at least one thing the Lord had done for him that day. It really works. Also, as Emily said, getting time alone just for me is really important. When we were broke students, I would just go to Barnes and Noble and read magazines. I’ve gone out to dinner alone, to the movies, taken a photography class, learned bee keeping, trained for a triathlon or had a friend’s night. It’s also okay not to love every minute of motherhood. I… Read more »

Ivana

Dear Emily,

you are an incredible person and I think I haven’t meet anyone with such a big heart and honest mind. I’m almost in shock when I read your posts about your private life, they are so truly open and … I don’t know how to explain it … beautiful and powerful. I love to read them to my partner, since we both can learn from your words and experience. I wish you and Brian many many happy and profound years together… an eternity!

Happy anniversary! <3

Rachel

BEAUTIFUL! Happy Anniversary from a total stranger, but huge fan! 🙂

Mandy

Love Love LOVE everything about this! Thank you for sharing!

esme

Emily. This is why I will forever love you and this space you’ve created — for design, for family. Thank you so much for putting your heart out there. We’re on the same train — two babies, two crazy careers and a clock that seems to tick faster each day. It’s so tough and so thrilling. Thank you for reminding me how much I love my husband and how necessary it is to tell him so. Enjoy!

Rach

This was so special, actually helpful, and like all good love stories I cried at the end on your message to Brian. Congratulations! And thank you for braving to put yourself out there and share such a close to your heart personal story.

That was a lovely and uplifting love story. Thank you for always sharing your life stories with such openness. Now I want to call all my loved ones and let them know that I appreciate them 🙂

If you are looking for outings in the Sacramento area, Ashley at hitherandthither.net is based in Davis and has some great looking activities on her blog.

Amelia

I love this, and love you for being brave enough to write (and post!) it. Happy anniversary!

Nicole Perry

One of the best posts you have ever written. I’m divorced and it gives me so much hope. Please believe when I say I am _never_ moved enough to comment on a blog and yet here I am…

Sophia F.

My husband and I have two kids about the same ages as yours and it is so, so easy to get caught up in how stressful and exhausting life is right now. One thing we do that has really helped me is every night before bed, we each have to talk about somethjng we liked about the day, something we are looking forward to, something we like about each of our daughters, and something we like about each other. It sounds silly but it forces a meaningful conversation even when you’re tired and pushes you to notice and appreciate the positives. After two years of this I can say it’s one of the best things we do for our marriage.

Jamie

Sophia, that is great advice! After 19 years of marriage, I know that if you look for the bad, you will find it, but if you look for the good, you will be happier and the bad won’t matter as much

Margaret

As a 22 year old single person, I can only hope to one day find a relationship that’s as loving, honest, sacrificial, and joyful as your’s and Brian’s seems to be. Happy anniversary Henderson’s and as always, thank you for sharing.

Stefanie

Ups, downs, and confusion seem to be a norm in marriages that people don’t prepare you for! Thanks for the reminder of the miraculous affects of acknowledging and showing appreciation for your spouse.

heather

This was such a thoughtful and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing such intimate moments from your life and marriage.

Eva Mendoza

Thank you so much for sharing! Relationships always look perfect from the outside. Your story has inspired me to reflect on my marriage and work on our happiness. Thank you, I am eternally grateful.

Samantha

So real, so wise, so good. I’m really impressed with you both.

Christy

Congratulations! Love you being so frank and sharing your very real story. Marriage often is over romaticized so think it is important to talk about the day to day stuff and that you need to nurture your marriage and most importantly nurture yourself for it/you to blossom and grow. Made me think about how I can appreciate my own spouse even more (and others in my life as well). Thanks for sharing what can happen when you do that and for your being a little vulnerable in the process.

Happy 10th Anniversary!! You guys are such an inspiring couple ; )

http://www.shopthecoconutroom.com

Sarah

I’ve been a longtime follower and fan but have never commented before…just wanted to say how great it is to get such a refreshingly real story of a marriage, with all its ups and downs. You’re an inspiration!

kellie

So honest, touching and inspiring. If anyone finds something negative to say, it’s definitely a reflection of their ugly heart and not of your beautiful one.

Bridget

I don’t usually comment on things, but that was such a sweet post. Thanks for being so vulnerable and sharing your story.

Nanette

Thank you Emily. Yours is a lovely story. It is thoughtful and true and I appreciate you for sharing it. I have learned something today about love and that is a very valuable lesson.

paola

Lovely! thanks for sharing!

Crying at work…

Margo

Echoing everyone else who said “thank you for sharing your heart and home with us.” I can appreciate why you had hesitation hitting publish, but am so glad you did. Thank you and have a wonderful 10-year anniversary!

JoAnna

This is why you’re my FAVORITE. You write about real life in such a beautifully, positive way that very few can articulate well. It’s absolutely refreshing. I’ve been with my spouse for 10 years and we have 2 kids the same age as yours (which is why I started reading!), and your posts on your family/struggles/JOYS/lives have been a true encouragement to me. I also adore my imperfectly/perfect life and while I’m personally in the midst of a tougher year of marriage, I LOVE hearing others stories of trying new things, never giving up, and that it keeps getting better. There’s nothing like knowing you’re not alone in this world. Thank you!!

Katie

Thank you for sharing this. It was a loving, thoughtful post.

Shelby Ramirez

That is awesome! My husband and I just celebrated 5 years on the 24th. lots of ups and downs and kids changes everything but overall I think we are really strong right now. My mom always says you have good years and bad years as a married couple. I think it’s really true.

Kandice

Thank you so much for sharing this!! And congratulations on 10 years married! I’m so glad you hit publish – it is nice to read honest words about life and marriage. So much of society only shows the good times, and one is left thinking that if you’re life isn’t perfect then something must be wrong. It’s nice to see how hard life can be, and also how rewarding it can be all at the same time.

That was beautiful. Scott and I met when we were 21 as well. I can’t believe it’s been so long. And we have had some very similar ups and downs. Its nice to know that there are a lot of people in the same boat.

Amy

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “marry your best friend.” My husband and I just celebrated our 2 year anniversary on Tuesday. We knew each other growing up and in high school I resisted dating him because he was just a friend. I had my mind set on dating and marrying a guy I was in LOVE with. 8 years later, we reconnected, dated, and got married and I can’t stress enough how happy I am that I married him who is now my absolute best friend in the whole world.

I loved reading your story. Thank you so much for sharing. I think sometimes we get too swept up in looking for that perfect storybook romance, when the real life stories are really the best.

Meghan

This was such a beautiful post. I really admire you and Brian for using this platform to be so open about such personal struggles, especially on topics like mental health or marriage troubles that are often taboo to talk about (but shouldn’t be). Thank you, and happy anniversary!

Katie

What a beautiful love story and gift to your children!

Thank you for posting this honest picture of a living, breathing, evolving marriage. And a special thank you to Brian for being so willing to share about his struggle in the name of possibly helping others. Y’all are a total breath of fresh air and I’d hug you if I could!

My hubs and I were also babies (20!) when we met in college. We’ve been together 10+ years and married 5. No kiddos yet, but I’m tucking your advice re: guilt-free nights away for later!

Cheers to 10 years! xoxo

Melissa

This is, hands down, your best post ever. I’m not married, nor do I care to be and I believe this to be the most relevant post for everyone. This is real life, mature, open, giving and worthy of replication by us all. Really, thank you.

First, Happy Anniversary!!!! Second, thank your for this authentic, real, post about something that is true for so many of us! The tone was perfect and the wisdom so appreciated. The balance is hard and the needs ever-changing, but being married to your best friend, having a family with them, and each pursuing your passions is truly the best life.

Enjoy each celebration and best wishes for many happy years!

this post made me cry, and i’m not even married yet.
beautifully written! thank you for sharing.
p.s. i wish your love story would be made into a non-cheesy rom-com where you and brian play the adult versions of yourself! 😉

Lauren

Thank you SO MUCH for this post!! You have no idea how much I needed to read this right now. Well, actually, you probably do since you know how hard, scary, and hopeless it feels when you’re in the thick of those hard times. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your post took a little bit of the weight off my shoulders today. xoxo! And congrats on the 16 years together!

Sara

This is SUCH a lovely, authentic, REAL love story. Maybe Brian can one day direct/act in a play/movie that depicts what true love looks like, and your story is it! I feel that same real love every day with my husband, and it is completely stirred into the same crazy mix of life that includes being angry, disappointed, depressed and lost sometimes. But feeling the full range of responses to life is what makes the love so much better, not worse. I fully echo your encouragement to marry your best friend… my husband and I didn’t have quite the same “he’s the one!” moment, but we quickly grew to become each other’s best friends and often remark how much it feels like home to be together. Your post helped me flesh out that “home” gets you through the best AND worst times, and that’s what makes it so fantastic. Thanks for your wise words on what it means to be an individual AND a partner. I hope you have a wonderful anniversary celebration knowing that love that strengthens overtime is the sweetest love of all! Congrats!

Jennifer

So relatable. So real. So honest. Loved.every.word. Thank you for sharing–and happiest of anniversaries!

E

Thank you for sharing this & thank you for being so relatable. Happy Anniversary!

Nicole

Gah, I love this so much. As someone who married their high school sweetheart, I love hearing stories that show how much HARD WORK being in a relationship is. When people ask me how we’ve made it (15 years together) I say it’s a mixture of fate and perseverance. There are a million ways it could have fallen apart, but we didn’t let it. Loved this NYT article on the topic recently: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/22/fashion/weddings/Secrets-of-High-School-Sweethearts.html?_r=0

Beautiful Emily! Thanks for sharing. What a good reminder that there are ups and downs in even the best relationships! And no one is perfect. And that bit about raising eachother…SO true. My husband and I got married 11 years ago at 23 (after what felt like we’d been dating forever…5 years, ha!) and that’s a perfect way to think about it!

Theresa

Aw Emily, good for you, this is a real, authentic love story- messy and beautiful! Happy Anniversary to you an Brian and many, many more!!

EK

I never ever ever leave comments on blogs, but I have to say this was the sweetest post ever! TBH it made me cry. Kudos for such a beautiful post and congratulations on your anniversary. Your blog brings me joy every day!

Jody

Childrearing is tough business. no doubt. neglecting yourself and your marriage is so easy to do during that crazy time. So glad you fought for yours. Best Friends make the best husbands. You are blessed.
Happy Anniversary!

Sara

Augh! I love this. I just got married (at 26! #twinners) and my husband has taught me so much about the importance of appreciation. It cannot be replaced or mimicked by anything else.

Your story is lovely. Congratulations 🙂

Christina

Amazing. I love this post so much.

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