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So Many Things Have Changed (& Haven't)...

On Marriage: The 10 Life Promises We Made To Each Other, 12 Years Ago Today (and How We Held Up or Failed)

Emily And Brian Henderson1

Brian and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary last weekend (we’ve been together a total of 18 years). We went on a magical anniversary dinner date that was strangely romantic, and I say “strangely” because when you’ve been together this long, it’s easy for dates to lose that warm, love-y buzz. It was there last weekend, though, probably because he put a lot of time and energy into planning an extra special date and wrote me the best card ever (therefore speaking to both of my love languages—acts of service and words of affection). I’ll spare you the “we are happier than we have ever beens” because it just feels boastful although true, and not without a LOT of hard work mind you (if you want to do a deep dive into our ups and downs, go here). Because today’s post is about the unearthing of some historic marriage documents.

Last week, I was going through boxes upon boxes of hoarded memories when I found the documents below, from our honeymoon. September 28th, 2006—TWELVE YEARS AGO TODAY.

Marriage Proposal1

It was a very sloppy yet heartfelt (and specific) list of promises to our future selves. I vividly remember the lunch in Montreal where we wrote this. As you can imagine, it wasn’t Brian’s idea and he was a little hesitant because writing to your future selves is totally hokey. But this was not my first go at future-self writing for as a teenager, I had written my future mom-self a letter on how to parent my future teenager daughter and I still read it as a reminder to live up to our younger self’s dream of our older selves. Sure, we are naive and don’t understand the nuance of life, but there is also a lot of value in making simple promises to yourself. He warmed up to the idea more as we drank white wine, don’t worry.

As someone who doesn’t really believe in absolutes, I was surprised at how full of  “we will nevers” and “we will always” it was. It’s the naiveté that can really only be genuinely captured at the beginning stages of marriage, specifically in your youth, before you understand life. What we wrote that day was different than our wedding vows; these things signified the type of people we wanted to become, and were almost meant to prevent us from turning into the type of people we wanted to avoid becoming. It’s two pages long, but today we’ll just talk through the first because, well, you see, I have a lot to say.

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If you hate sentimental sap and don’t like reading about marriage and relationships, come back on Monday. Wait. That’s about marriage, too, hilariously (well, and wood, and how wood saved our marriage, but more on that next week).

I thought it would be fun to go through those promises now, 12 years later, and analyze why we wrote what we wrote and see how it’s all holding up.

2x2 Em Brian Not Boring 2x2 Kids By Lake

“Life will never be boring.”

Then: This was our general fear of being “those people” who disappear from society and go to bed at 9 pm on a Friday night after they have kids. We wanted to stay cool, “with it,” and perhaps, most importantly, relevant forever. We wanted to always sneak wine into an outdoor music show.

Now: Our life feels anything but boring. Literally, that is the word that I would NEVER USE to describe us now, so I guess we have maintained that goal. Sure, there are times when I say “we are so boring now” but it’s mostly to get out of doing something that I don’t want to do and pretending to be tired. I’m pretty sure we weren’t predicting Saturday morning playdates or souping on Sunday afternoons. Your definition of “boring” changes obviously and while our active social life mostly includes happy hour play dates in our backyard (which are a real “parent” fantasies come true), I’m sure others could say that we have gotten boring. However, those people should come and watch the nightly show from 6-8 pm because I DON’T KNOW WHAT ENTERTAINMENT IS IF IT’S NOT THAT. It’s like a nightly docuseries on birth control.

I mean, we have opted to “vacation” at a quiet cabin less than two hours away without nary a bar around versus adventuring internationally with our kids while they are so young, which admittedly is a “boring” life choice, but one that makes us VERY happy. So I suppose with the lives that we have set up, we are actually looking for more “boredom” not less.

“We have to allow each other our days: Brian to watch football and Emily to go thrift shopping.”

Then: We feared losing ourselves to mundanity and the expectation that we would become one person. We didn’t want to spend every second together and valued our alone time or time with friends. The clichés of women never letting men watch  sports just seemed so stupid and gross to me, so this was us trying to prevent that and just let us do whatever we wanted.

Now: We were certainly great about this before we had kids and basically did whatever we wanted individually while still giving each other the right amount of attention. It helps that we have the same friend group. Since having kids, it’s harder to take that time obviously and it has to be done fairly. It can become a competition and you can easily start tallying your partner’s time off, which is a very dangerous and marital game that everyone loses. We’ve always tried to give each other one night off a week and if my girlfriends are around on the weekends I all but beg Brian to take the afternoon off because I know he’ll be a happier dad and I’m just as happy co-parenting with my friends so we can catch up on life.

Last Sunday, Brian literally watched football all day with a friend while I went shopping at the Pasadena Antique Mall with his wife all day, and this was BEFORE I found this letter.

Hot marital tip: If you want more time off to spend with your girlfriends (or be alone), the fastest way you can do it is to offer your partner a night out first. Start the cycle and if they will likely reciprocate.

“No complacency.”

Then: Fear of not being an active participant in our own lives and just going through the motions. Losing passion, interest and the general fight to make daily life a better one. Fear of being a 6 on the 1-10 scale of happiness.

Now: Personally and professionally, I’m the opposite of complacent, but in a strong marriage it’s hard not to feel complacent at times. We go in and out on this but have realized again and again that complacency in a marriage is a real bacteria that can grow into a serious disease if you don’t recognize it and shift gears as early as possible. After being together for 18 years, we’ve certainly had our years of being more complacent with our happiness level at a 6, but both really try to cognizant of when we are letting it slip, not connecting, just co-existing and we actively make that shift. Right now, we are in such a good place—I’d say a 9. 🙂

2x2 Kids At Home

“Our children will never doubt our love for them and each other.”

Then: So serious, Emily. It’s like I was in a Victorian novel about families being ripped apart in war. I think it might have stemmed from me being the middle child of six kids.

Now: When it comes to the kids, I mean, they KNOW. They’d have to be deaf, blind, limbless and floating in a sensory deprivation tank for the next 20 years not to know and feel how much we love them.

But as far as our kids knowing how much WE love each other? I’d say we are pretty good at this now but haven’t always been and we could probably be better. We made a conscious decision three years ago when we were functioning as zombie parents to make sure we are verbalizing and showing our love for each other in front of our kids and not just telling them how much we love them. I think we were too tired to even greet each other with a hug. And it makes a difference. They watch and smile and it literally puts them in the mood, too, and they often want to do a family hug right after. Birdie always comments “You guys are best friends, right?” and then she’ll look at Charlie and say “and we are best friends, too!” and then I want to close the curtain on life and die because there is no better feeling than that.

“We’ll let each other fly away a little and come back.”

Then: I’ve got to give us some credit for knowing that at such a young age but I have no idea why we wrote this.

Now: I don’t know how we are doing on this. I know that you aren’t always going to be as connected which mostly has to do with your individual happiness and identities. Sometimes a little bit of space is needed knowing that being at the same point in life at the exact same time is virtually impossible. This is hard. Seeing someone kinda disconnect can be scary. I suppose we have been through this a few times, and I guess my advice would be to be supportive, let them know you are there and can be a touchpoint for them when needed. You aren’t always going to solve their problems. Fine. I don’t think I’m good at this. I want to solve problems. I’m not even sure if that was what we were referring to! Maybe it was about not smothering each other. If so then we are good at that. 🙂

“We’ll both always share in household duties.”

Then: I suppose I wanted to avoid this cliché argument and it made sense to him, too, being the modern man that he was and is. He also probably saw my household abilities and knew that it was an area in which he would have to pony up.

Now: Hmm…he leads on the cooking front and I lead on the organizing front, and we both clean all day every day, but cleaning this house with those kids is like painting the Golden Gate bridge—as soon as you finish, you have to start all over again. We do have help, though. Which leads me to the next one…

“We will deserve a cleaning lady.”

Then: Ha. I suppose I phrased it that way to imply we would both be working so hard on other things. We knew even then that neither of us is type A and that while we have our strengths, keeping a house clean and orderly is neither of ours. We try hard but fail harder.

Now: This year, we looked at all the things we could use help on and what stresses us out as a family the most and it was the household mess. So instead of getting more child care, food prep, organizing help or a personal assistant we are getting more help in the house cleaning realm. As of this week, we now have a once-a-week full clean (that we have had for years) and a second 1/2 day cleaning later in the week to help maintain and start the weekend with less chaos. It’s a total luxury we realize, but my mental well being, like a lot of yours, is directly affected by the level of visual chaos in my house and I start cleaning the second I get home and I’d rather be spending quality time with my kids. So I suppose we think we REALLY deserve it—like twice a week deserve it.

Emily Henderson 12 Year Anniversary 20 2x2 Emily Brian Now

“We will always say I love you, but not too much.”

Then: We knew it was important to say but we didn’t want it to lose its meaning.

Now: We say it with the kids when we are all saying it to each other, but a few times a week in private, we say it and most of the time feel it. For those of you married for a while you know what I’m talking about. This was something we changed early in our relationship because we felt we were just saying it to say it. But don’t worry, we are totally not sticking to this with our kids because I tell them I love them probably 25 times a day and I mean it every single time, but it’s excessive. 

“We will always try new things together.”

Then: I see a theme here; we didn’t want us to get old, boring, uncool and complacent. What next? Did we promise that we would have sex every other night or something??? (ha, no we were smarter than that).

Now: BOY HAVE WE FAILED AT THIS, the “new things” part. Sure, we’ll seek out a weird restaurant for a date night every sixth date, but we mostly just do what is easy and familiar and fun. I’d like to go ahead and blame our kids for this because they have made us tired and uncreative and schlepping them to Malibu Farms just sounds like too much work (but likely worth it). But as I said, Brian, however, did plan a very wonderful and new date for us where we went to Topanga Canyon, ate at Inn of the Seventh Ray and then saw The Crucible at the outdoor theatre there, which was totally magical. Years ago, before kids when we were having problems and were complacent, we enacted what we called “Extreme Marriage Makeover 2012” and we committed to creating new memories together by experiencing something together we’ve never done, but lately, we haven’t. Fail.

“We will always maintain our friendships, they are very important.”

Then: Don’t be those people who fall out of contact and just go to BBQs once a month or send Facebook birthday wishes.

Now: With less time, you focus on the few friends that you connect with the most so no, I don’t go out as often or with as many people. We still definitely see friends and girls night is in my repertoire, but Saturday play dates are more common. And like I said, co-parenting with your best friends, making dinner for your littles together and having wine is what we had always dreamed of. The best thing you can do for your marriage when you have small kids is to find another couple (or few) where you both like each person. It’s life-changing. We even went “park hopping” when Charlie was a toddler because we only had one couple with a kid and needed a backup for when they were booked on Saturday mornings. It worked, by the way.

“Eventually we will both be in charge of our careers.”

Then: I’m not sure what we feared by writing that. I suppose just not having control over our time and creativity.

Now: While running your own businesses means you are in charge, it’s hard to say if you are ever “in charge” as a creative entrepreneur. Flexibility and freedom? Sure. But control? Nah. 🙂

Writing this blog gives me an excuse for some serious self-reflection and answering to your former self is a very odd version of this self-reflection. I think six years ago this might have been less of a positive thing to read, but right now with us in a good place, it was so fun to go through with a few painful “eeks.”

But I seriously can’t recommend doing this activity enough. I want us to do it for our own future again, make promises about how we’ll be when the kids are teenagers because once in it, we might forget the simple promises that seemed so easy before the fog of life blocked our decision-making skills.

Emily Brian Now

Happy anniversary, my love. Saying that marrying you was the best decision I ever made is the understatement of the century. The girl who scribbled those promises was and is far from perfect, but boy am I glad she had the instinct to go after you and not let you go 18 years ago.

P.S. Let me know if you guys are interested in the other page of promises. This was already so long and I didn’t really feel like editing it down because it’s kinda a journal for me, but I’m HAPPY to do the other page which includes such promises as like what my max budget for a handbag would be (uh?) and where we promised we would never live. Curious?

Emily Henderson 12 Year Anniversary 23
  1. This is so great! I love it!! Thanks for sharing:) And happy anniversary! xo

  2. I love these updates. I’ve been following your blog for many years (at least 5 I think), so it’s fun to see these glimpses into other people’s lives while my own life changes along the way.

    Side note, I think your blog this year is better than ever. As I mentioned, I’ve been a regular reader for years so I’ve always enjoyed the posts, butI’ve been especially impressed by the content lately. Thank you (and your awesome team!) for sharing your ideas and lives with us.

    1. AH thank you!! Yes, I have such a great team that works so hard so every single comment like this is incredibly appreciated. THANK YOU (and thank you for following for so long).

  3. Awww! I loved this post and related to so much of it — helps that I am in same stage of life with young kids and married 11.5 yrs — but I suspect this will resonate for many of your readers as you are so honest & open. I especially loved your comment about showing your children that you and Brian love each other. This really helps children feel safe doesn’t it? Showing love and respect to our friends and extended family has a similar effect I think; allowing our children to see who “their people” are and how we all support one another.
    I would love to read about page two of your promises, and see more pictures : ) Happy anniversary!

  4. I cannot imagine writing those lists let alone keeping them in a place where I could find them to reflect on them 12 years later. That’s super sweet and a wonderful example for your children.
    No shame in hiring house cleaning. I am home with my kids now but I say often, once I can work full time again, that’s the first thing I’ll be spending extra money on. Take the help where you can!

  5. I love this so much. Please post page 2!

  6. I loved this! Thank you for sharing, Emily. I’m getting married this year and now want to make a list of my own. Also, please do Page 2!

  7. OMG yes, I’d read the other page of promises! I’d also be willing to read an entire post on how to find and keep a parents-who-are-friends group, esp. when you factor in that everyone has limited time due to kids’ classes, yard stuff, house stuff, boring errand stuff, etc. Not sure everyone would want to read that, but I am living it.

    1. HA. its JUST like dating. its all about chemistry and finding the right chemistry with people is HARD. But my biggest tip is don’ t over-plan. just text and invite people over on a random saturday afternoon for a hang session. I think trying to orchestrate the first perfect parent/kid date is hard, when to see if you really click with people you just need to hang out once. We park hopped and I literally picked up a couple. Brian was chatting with the guy about The Ducks and later that day we ran into them at a coffee shop where i met the wife and it was so easy to talk to her. So I got their number, which felt strange for sure, and texted them later that day for a happy hour play date session that day. they came, we clicked. it was all history after that. You just have to be assertive and make the move. You really have nothing to lose. if it doesn’t click you just don’t pursue the friendship, just like dating. If you see a family at your local hangout that has kids your age, just start up a conversation,. you can tell pretty quickly if you click or not, and then (and this is the scary part) feel confidant enough to ask their number. …

    2. My tip: keep expectations low when you do find friends that click! Like, no one can get mad if you go a month or two without a dinner gathering or playdate! Cause we all have kids in sports, etc.

      Also, we had a handful of couple friends with kids before ours started school…but once my kids got into school! Man, they did all the work and picked some great families to befriend!! I can think of 5 couples off the tiop of my head that my kids found for us, and we enjoy hanging out with! 🙂

      Also, church, we have found many a family friend there and when you all have the same set of religious beliefs, it makes it all the sweeter!

  8. I loved this post. I’ve been with my husband for most of my adult life and married for 31 (!) years and think it is fun to look back at the people you were then and who you are now. But you know what really caught my eye? You with the dark wig – you are stunning with dark hair! (stunning as a blonde too)

    1. Ditto – am in the same stage of life and completely agree with all your comments! Loved this post and want to see page 2…

  9. Aww you guys are the cutest. Happy Anniversary! Thank you for sharing this slice of your life with us.

  10. I love everything in this post, from beginning to end. It’s so sweet and real to see this peek into your lives! I do have one follow up Q, though…

    “We even went “park hopping” when Charlie was a toddler because we only had one couple with a kid and needed a backup for when they were booked on Saturday mornings. It worked, by the way.” –> My husband and I are rapidly approaching having kids, and it makes me super nervous because all of our close friends either don’t want kids at all, or the ones who do live pretty far away. I know we need couple friends (and I need girlfriends!) who have or will have kids, but it’s really hard to figure out how to find them. My husband reassures me that once you have a child, it’s easier, what with all other other semi-crazed new parents in playgroup meetups…but I’m a little more skeptical. I’d love it if you wrote a post about what “park hopping” entailed, and how you broke the ice or made friends with which to co-parent and hang!

    1. Yes! This is pretty much my life right now. I’m so bad at mom-friending

    2. Yes, when you have a kid it’s easier! I became a pro at picking up moms. Just strike up convos at places moms hang out (breastfeeding support group, library kids reading hour, Gymboree, the playground) and then be like “hey can I get your number”. I have now 4 close friends with kids my son’s age (3) and I picked them all up this way – starting when my done was only 4 weeks old. You have to remember that all moms are hungry for adult interaction and we have to seriously strive to make our own community! Be brave, get the numbers, meet at the park a few more times, then ask them over for play date.

    3. Definitely find a new mom’s group in your neighbourhood. I found it really helped!

      1. I totally agree with you guys. The HARDEST part is getting the husbands to like each other. Guys don’t click as fast or as often with other guys (or so our friends have found) so when they do its honestly a match made in parenting heaven. You go on vacations for the rest of your life with those people. you need girlfriends who are moms, but couple friends with kids is PURE GOLD. But yes, we had to seek them out when Charlie was a baby. Ready my comment above about how we did it, but its JUST like dating. it feels weird to ask their number, but once you do its all about chemistry. good luck!

    4. Also if your kids are in daycare – that’s a ready-made set of families with kids your age. We started a moms group from my older daughter’s class, and not only is it great for moms night out, we also do individual play dates and family BBQs about once a month.

  11. Yes! Def. page two! (Thought I saw a handbag reference-That’s MY love language. Lol.)

  12. I’m dying to know where you promised you’d never live. Is it Utah or the “Mountain West” area?!?!? I’m an 8th generation Texan that met my husband in Utah and I made him sign a contract (no lie) that we would move back to Texas. When people ask how we ended up in Austin, he tells people about it and they laugh- hard. At the time I required his signature, I didn’t think it was that strange and still maintain that though quirky, it worked!

    I’m with you though about making promises and lists and writing things down. Maybe it’s all those YW letters we had to write ourselves (gag) or maybe it’s just a personality thing but there is power to putting pen to paper.

    1. OMG, yes. It WAS those YW letters! My letter to my self as a mom of a teenage daughter is PRICELESS (and something I can never publish because it obviously shows what I felt my parents weren’t doing so well). I love that you made him sign his signature. That’s HILARIOUS.

      Stay tuned for where we promised we wouldn’t live …

  13. I really want to see the ” future mom-self letter on how to parent my future teenager daughter”

    1. Yes! Pls! I have 13 yr old daughter…

      1. Honestly it would hurt my mom’s feelings too much, I felt super mis-understood at the time … but it is a good reminder of a few things to me. I wish I could share. xx

  14. This is so real and so heartwarming. Happy anniversary to you both!

  15. Happy anniversary!! I really enjoyed this – since you guys are in a particularly good place it didn’t feel too heavy and personal, and I think it would be fun to hear about the second page in, say, a week 🙂 Considering my own almost 8 years of marriage and 2 kids ages 5 and 2, you seem to have a great ability to self-evaluate how you lived up to your youthful ideals with contented self-acceptance! I could learn from that…

  16. The Birdie comment made my day, which is what I needed given all that is going on. 🙂 Happy anniversary!

  17. Please share Page 2 as well! One more vote from this lady 🙂

    Also, I just read the 10 year anniversary post as well (thinking back, I must have started reading your blog a little bit after that), and it totally made me tear up at work in the best possible way!

    I have been together with my boyfriend for a little bit more than 2 years, and we are in the middle of buying our first apartment. I think a lot about our “life story” these days, and wondering what moments will get added to them, and it just makes me incredibly emotional to think about the fact that I get to spend the rest of my life with “my person”. 🙂

    So while I mostly look for design inspiration in your posts these days (I am sooo gonna attempt to DIY a headboard similar to Brady’s), these personal posts are what really make your blog stand apart in my opinion!

    So thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing them with us, and just know that it resonates with us. 🙂

    1. THANK YOU. What a nice thing to say re blog standing out. And good luck on your apartment hunting and congrats on finding your person 🙂

  18. YES, YES, YES to the second page!

  19. love love love!! so very special!

  20. This was amazing to read. I went from single to married in my late late 30s to mother in a span of 18 months. It was/has been a whirlwind of adjustments to say the least. So I enjoy reading real life marital stories that give truth! Great post!

  21. Love this!!! Thank you so much for this post.

  22. Loved this post and I would love to see a post on the second page. These posts from the heart are what set your blog apart from the rest and have kept me excited week in and out for years (well this and that Portland front entry reveal, OMG)!

    1. THANK YOU 🙂 This post took no joke, 9 hours to write (doesn’t seem like it but getting the truth + tone + information and then trying to condense it … geez). So thank you.

  23. Love this Emily and even though I am not married, I can still take so much from this. Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. Emily, you look great with that darker hair! Maybe, just maybe, try a dark wig to see how you like it.

    1. HA. only with super dark eyebrows and lashes and cool outfit. Me, going to the gym with that dark of hair ….
      but thank you 🙂 Brian LOVED it.

  25. Yes to page two, please!! And Happy Anniversary! So glad that you and Brian have worked through whatever came up to be where you are today!

  26. Yes, please share the other page! I loved this post. My partner and I have a 3.5 year old and 2 year old. I’d love to do this together!

  27. YES WE NEED TO SEE THE OTHER PAGE!!!

  28. I celebrated my 10 yr wedding anniversary yesterday (sept 27, 2008) so it was very seridipitious that your insta post showed up in my feed.
    I truly enjoyed reading your post- you are spot on!
    A little about me: We’ve been together for 14 yrs and have 2 daughters (age 5.5 and 3 yrs).
    Our marriage feels like it has been put on the back burner to children, work, etc lately but last night we reread notes and cards we have written to each other during our engagement. It was a great way to reconnect. Again, I enjoyed reading your post and Happy anniversary to y’all!

  29. Yes, want to see the rest! Love this, thanks Emily!

  30. Oh yeah, I want ALL the promises. We didn’t do this as newlyweds but nearly 34 years later, we couldn’t be happier (well, when the Dems take back Congress and Senate maybe…). One promise we did make before we got married was to travel. I came back from my first trip requiring a passport (Italy with girlfriends) and told my fiancé he needed to get a passport because we were going to travel.
    And we’ve been everywhere and done everything … and planning on doing more before we’re done…

    1. That’s awesome. Honestly when the kids are 4 and 6 we plan on getting back out there. NOt that we can’t now, but its just so much more work and less fun with nap traps, etc. SOOOOOONNN!!!!

  31. Yes! Curious!

  32. I love all the pics! And, honestly, you’re gorgeous as a brunette! Speaking as a brunette, I could never go blonde. Makes me jealous to see folks who are spectacular as either one. 🙂

    The other thing that struck me…omg, I’ve been telling myself I’m going to go the Inn of the Seventh Ray since I was in HIGH SCHOOL. I will get there before I die. Promise!

  33. Yes to page 1 and Yes to page 2!
    You are a marvelous writer!

  34. More, more, more!

  35. Awww, this was amazing. I have been with my guy for 8+ years, not married yet, but just moved in together. I can definitely relate to soooo many of the things you wrote. Thank you , as always, for your honesty! So refreshing 🙂

  36. I’ve been married 15 years and with my husband for 19 years and so much of this is true! We are raising 3 children together and running our own business together (that should be it’s own post!) and so much of the time has been amazing when you step back, and damn, I totally relate to thinking how could life ever be boring!

    I want to commend your openness and honesty, it’s very refreshing. And one thing I would definitely agree with is showing affection in front of your children. We’ve had lots of tribulations with our business (almost failing many times) so it can be very challenging when you both come home defeated at the same time, but if you can show them your love and how you work thru problems together, then everyone is better off in the household.

    As for new adventures, I would advise you with someone who has older children (mine are 12, 9, and 5), that it DOES get easier to do certain things with them…..like going to the movies, going to a restaurant, and international travel (we took ours to Italy this past summer!). Now, we are starting to adventure as a family and it really is fun. Good luck with yours!

    Ciao for now,
    Leslie Aiken

    1. Ah thank you. And always so nice to hear that it gets easier. it already has (thank goodness). xx

  37. You guys are adorable!!! My husband and I just celebrated our 50th anniversary. we also have a son and daughter. You remind me so much of us….in our youth😉 Our love feels just like it did 50 years ago…true love does last! Congrats to you both❤️

    1. AH. 50 years. That makes me so happy. I think my parents are approaching 50 years, too. Congrats 🙂

  38. Thank you so much for sharing!! I loved reading the post (as I do every single one of your posts and that’s a rarity for me!) and it was inspiring for my own marriage with 2 young kids! Thanks for your (and your team’s) hard work, dedication and creativity!!

  39. I really enjoyed this and it was exactly what I needed today. THANK YOU. And I agree with another commenter that the blog is better than ever. Arlyn and Velinda have been great new voices (and of course we’ve always loved Orlando).

    1. Thank you Francesca! You made my day!

  40. I really enjoyed this and would definitely be interested in part 2.

  41. Good for you both, and Happy Anniversary. Strong communication will take any couple far.
    If the parents communicate, the kids watch this and makes it much easier for them to put their words into play.
    Bravo to best friends, and great parents.

  42. yes please share the second page! Love this!

  43. Happy Anniversary, Emily and Brian. Thanks for sharing this fun post. Yes, to page 2 please. To the negative poster above: 1. Nobody is asking you to read Emily’s blog. 2. You obviously don’t know anything about social media (I was a social media coordinator for five years) – what makes a blog successful is great content, which includes sharing personal stories. It makes the blogger more “real” and shows that it’s not just all about business. Emily sharing about her marriage and family life makes for great blog posts. Especially now, during these trying times in this country, we need to read fun and entertaining stuff. Keep the blog posts coming, Emily and team.

  44. YES! I am curious about the other page!

  45. more pages of promises please!!

  46. “You guys are best friends, right?” Total goosebumps reading Birdie’s quote. Happy anniversary!

  47. Your Brian posts are my absolute favorite. Love is not perfect, but is work worth doing. So happy you are both still googly eyes for each other. Please please please share more!

  48. This is so awesome – please do the second page! I wonder what my husband and I would have written if we’d thought to do this. Not too late though! I think we’ll do this on what kind of grandparents and “seniors” we want to be (I’m not even 40 yet but our oldest is a college freshman so it feels like that could be right around the corner😳). And I’m definitely having her do one to her future mom self! Thanks for the inspiration!

  49. I’ve been a long time reader and mostly come for the design because you and your team are killer! But I love these personal posts too. I’ve been with my partner for close to 14 years, we aren’t married and we don’t have kids. And I partly think it’s because I have the same worries that your promises sort of reflect. But it’s kinda nice to see a fast forward 12 years for you and hear how things went. Thank you for sharing something so intimate with all of us so honestly. I don’t think I ever could do it but Boy did I love reading it and I really appreciate it. Happy Anniversary !

  50. This was a beauuuutiful post! I’d love to see the second page of promises!

  51. Yes I wanna know!! I love this!!

  52. I too have been following your blog for years and was thrilled when you won on Design Star. I even had my husband watching it with me and we were both rooting for you! So being able to see what you been up to since then has been awesome and inspiring. Looking at you going through stylistic changes is helping me figure out my own. And as someone who doesn’t have kids but has also been with their partner for 11 years and married for 8-Thank you so much for sharing so openly honestly with all of us-Please do post page 2 !

  53. Yes! Please share the second page and your insight/assessment of how you have fared.

  54. YES share page 2!!

  55. Loved reading this. I find it so relevant. You’re always so real, and it’s refreshing. I vote to see the run down on page 2!

  56. Would love to see page 2! Love this post

  57. These past few days have been painful for all women across the nation and to read such a nice
    fairy tale became reality story that’s been going on for 18 years (in L.A. you’re a rare breed), it was
    so nice to read and exactly what we needed. Thank you and happy anniversary!

  58. I’d been missing these kinds of posts! Warm, funny and real. Yes, of course we want the rest of the list!

  59. You and Brian are a beautiful couple. I salute your commitment and hard work. I am so happy for you both 💕

  60. Congrats! yay!

  61. Pleaseeee, the second part too!!!! Amazing reflections here.

  62. Happy anniversary! I loved this, and would love to hear more!

  63. Love this! And please do share the other page!

  64. Yes! Please share the second list! 🙂

  65. Yes please do the other page! I have been a long time reader and have loved seeing the transition into motherhood, and then TWO kids, all while your career has taken off. Thank you for sharing such personal things… I love your honesty and willingness to be real. Oh and your posts-my husband and I just bought our first house together and your site is such an amazing resource for all the visions I have.

  66. Yes, please post page 2!!

  67. I love how when I read your blog I can hear you reading it out loud as if we were chatting. These posts combined with insta stories is perfect.

    Generally speaking I love how you’re so down to earth about your talent and you’re more about living life doing what you love and sharing it. Rather than sortve Hiding your process away and the creative that doesn’t want to share or want involvement. True inspiration!

    Happy Anniversary!
    Thanks for sharing this. I got a lot out of this post. Saw some things that I feel like are happening at the moment in my relationship and also some things I know will probably come up haha!

    From a not so long time viewer but a dedicated one! X

  68. This is a wonderful post and thanks for linking to your previous post from 2 years ago as well! It is so good to hear honesty from other couples to know that it’s ok to struggle and have ups and downs, and also to help you appreciate and recognise the value in your own relationship. My fiance and I have been together for 10 years (since high school, which is way too young to find your person!) and we’ve definitely been through some wonderful times and some very rough times. Starting young is also tough, especially when you’re still figuring out who you are – but on the flip side, growing up together is so wonderful and special. I love love love the idea of your Extreme Marriage Makeover – being able to recalibrate when things are tough instead of giving up is so undervalued and so important – especially if you feel in your gut that this is your person.
    Please post Part 2! I’m going to take a page from your book and ply my fiance with wine so he’ll do this with me and would love to see the full list 🙂

  69. Second page. Second page! Second page!!! We have been married seven years now, together nine, and this post has been a great conversation starter for us.

  70. This felt so real and heartfelt… and I kind of relate to it for I’ve been with my husband for 14 years now and some of your hopes and wishes as a young couple were very similar to ours. I wish you all the very best for many, many years to come. Happy anniversary!

  71. Thank you so much for sharing!! I loved reading the post (as I do every single one of your posts and that’s a rarity for me!) and it was inspiring for my own marriage with 2 young kids! Thanks for your (and your team’s) hard work, dedication and creativity!!

  72. Great to read this post!
    And good to hear you’ve been at a 6 and are now at 9!!! Gives hope…
    Curious to read the next one!!!!

  73. So beautiful! I also just re-read the linked article on your 10th wedding anniversary and almost burst of happiness. Thank you for telling how it is without hiding the dark spots of love. This makes your love story so much more beautiful.

  74. I loved this and want to see page 2!! Your commitment to your marriage and your family is a delight to read about. I am so inspired by how you maintain passion and creativity on all fronts.

  75. This was a lovely post. Would love to read page 2!

  76. wow. inspiring. 🙂

  77. Wow. Inspiring and such a gorgeous post.

    https://www.christmasimages2018.com/

  78. MORE! We want more!

  79. Loved reading this! Thanks for sharing!

  80. Oh Emily, I love reading this! I wish you two best of the best! Happy anniversary xx

    P.S. Young Emily reminds me so much of Gwyneth Paltrow. Your smile is so beautiful (then and now!) <3

  81. This post…it touched my new momma heart in a way I can’t explain. Thank you Emily for your honesty and transparency about life, love and parenthood. Happy, happy anniversary!!

  82. Well i am sad. It seems my comments never post. They are always positive so curious whats wrong. Came back today to read more comments on this post and i had made a bout 3 yesterday and none have shown up. bummer!

  83. Love! Have 7 month old and 2.5 year old… Can be hard on a relationship but also sooo good. Love reading the reflections and it encourages us to do the same!

  84. This was so sweet, thank you for sharing such a personal thing. I cringe a little when I read things I wrote years ago! It’s so nice to see that, with all you have going on, your marriage is still so important to you both. I loved the part about Birdie asking if you’re best friends!

  85. Can’t wait to read the second half.

  86. hi, it looks really great.omg! I like you very much. and jealous. Hahaha

    Emma | https://theirknowledge.com

  87. Page Two, please!

  88. Page 2, page 2, page 2! I love your story, this is a great retrospective, thanks for posting!

  89. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be celebrating my 13 year wedding anniversary this NYE. We’ve got one 2 year old girl and another due in February. Your promises and hopes all ring true for us as well. I even told my husband about the football/thrift shopping holidays…that is so us!

  90. Def interested in page 2 of promises!

    And i died laughing at the nightly docuseries of birth control….too funny…same craziness at my house. 😃

  91. Happy Anniversary! I love this post and I would read more.

  92. Happy Anniversary!! Your love radiates!

  93. I loved this post and would love to see page 2 as well! 🙂

  94. How brave of you Emily for sharing! Bravo. Loved reading this and I can relate to so many of these hopes and fears. You both have done a great job with your own relationship and with your children, which is just about the best thing ever♥ Happy Anniversary you love birds

  95. I think it’s really nice that you used “deserve” in regards to having a cleaning lady. You’ve always been very self-aware and this proves it.
    When you ‘hire help’ it may look privileged or selfish to some but ultimately- you’re creating a job for someone; the thing every president uses as a campaign tool. You’re someone who can actually do it. Maybe it’s a ‘privilege’ but I think when it comes from a place of respect- it makes it genuine. Not out of greed or entitlement.

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