5 Tips For A Thriving Marriage

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May 15, 2020

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I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings & engagements and serve our EH Couples in Virginia, South Carolina, and beyond!

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Photo by Adam & Sarah Mullins (The Mullins Photo Co)

NICE TO MEET ME MONDAY SERIES | LYNCHBURG WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER


AS I POST THIS, JAMES AND I WILL BE MARRIED 5 YEARS TOMORROW!!

5 YEARS YA’LL!!!

Did we think we things would be different than they are now? Yep. And I’m not just talking about this COVID mess…We had these grandiose dreams of living in our Fixer Upper style dream home with at least one maybe even two kids by now. Of course we would be the best parents ever! Driving our dream cars, owning all the gear we needed for the business, and being full time in the business.

We also said that for our 5th year anniversary we would be celebrating in a bucket list tour of the British Isles. Man…we were dreamin huh?! We certainly didn’t have the full picture of what being a true adult meant 5 years ago. We are still learning what this adult life has to offer us.

Life has the tendency to creep up on you.
The dreams you had as a “kid” can make you feel like a failure
or like you haven’t had a good life up until now.
Or am I the only one who feels this way?

In these five years, we accomplished so much individually and together: We launched a thriving photography business, made so many wonderful new friends through our business, tackled some hard adult decisions, been through some valleys… climbed our way out of the valleys, laughed A LOT, cried a lot, and if I’m being honest… we fought a lot too.

Our first two years or marriage were WORK let me tell you.

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Communication was by far the hardest thing! I would expect James to read my mind and bless his heart he just didn’t understand what I needed. Instead of just asking in a clear level headed way for his help doing the dishes (we didn’t have a dishwasher at that rental house), I would huff and puff and the moment he stopped what he was doing (which was usually a video game of some kind at night) I would take my built up anger and release the hulk. It would end in some ugly nights and I regret every one of those nights. I know that every marriage sees nights like this at some point… more than we care to admit probably. But there are ways to avoid this!!

PS: Don’t worry there is a point to all this!!

One of the main reasons we began this business together was to be able to work together and be a witness for Christ to our couples. We don’t claim to know it all but we know what our couples are going through to an extent because we have just lived it.

We love experiencing life with our couples and watching their families grow and their marriages thrive! So today, to celebrate 5 amazing years with my best friend I am sharing 5 tips to help all the young married couples out there!

I must warn you though… with each tip I give you,
the advice gets harder and HARDER to do. But…
the REWARD of a healthy marriage is so worth it, my friend!

My hope is that this brings all married couples encouragement and helps them to grow even closer! Because no matter how we celebrate on the wedding day,
the most important thing is your marriage!!

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TIP #1 KEEP DATING

This is actually a tip my parents gave James and I when we first got married back in 2015. I didn’t realize how right my parents were with a lot of things (yes mom, you were right!) but this especially is important!

Life gets busy. It’s easy to become numb to a routine. However, it is so important that you pursue each other even during crazy busy weeks! A date night doesn’t have to look like a typical Hollywood date night out to dinner or the movies. It could be 2 hours of your time intentionally focused on your spouse. No food is required (If you are a man reading this though, it’s smart to at least bring snacks for her to eat haha).

During the busy season this gets harder and harder for James and I to remember to do. James and I have at least one date night every two weeks and they don’t all look the same. Sometimes we stay in (especially during the COVID) and some nights we go out! We find this time creates new memories and is just good for our soul to be with each other ya know??

Finding time to prioritize each other at least one night a week helps fuel a marriage and gives you time to remember why you choose your spouse as “your person” (anyone catch that reference??).


Share your date night ideas with me!! I am always looking for fun date night ideas! In fact, last year I posted our top 5 date nights HERE and I am looking to update that post for 2020! So message me on Instagram or Facebook with your date night ideas!!

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TIP #2 SET GOALS & DREAMS TOGETHER

This one is HUGE for the communication and expectations for current situations and future goals. As time goes on, we change as people. It is so important that as we change individually, we stay together on the same path. Our dreams and goals of life dictate how we live right now! If you want to travel that requires money (obviously) so that means budget talk has to happen so everyone is on the same page. James and I are looking forward to adding to our family in 2020/2021!

So what does this mean for our goals and dreams??

This means one of our dreams of becoming parents is on its way to fruition!! This also means that the budget has to change and we have to change our financial goals. As long as we are on the same page and working towards the same goal that’s all that matters.

Up until now, we had so many fights about finances, family goals, travel dreams, etc. You know why? Because we didn’t communicate about our goals for the future or come up with a plan.


Bonus Tip: Always have something to look forward to on the books. Whether that is a fun weekend trip to some place new, reserve a dinner at a fancy restaurant, purchasing that huge TV so you can host the Superbowl party in style, etc. This way when you have some hard weeks or months, you can remind each other of the end goal for this season of life. It really does help you see the light at the end of the tunnel!

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TIP #3 FIGHT THE RIGHT WAY

Weird advice, I know…. but this is inevitable if you have any relationship in your life. It’s just human nature to want to be right all the time and have everyone agree with you. So when fights come your way, why not fight the right way??

This has been a huge lesson I have learned recently.

I think Joe knew exactly who he was dealing with during our first conversation months ago. (You’ll learn who this Joe guy is soon haha) If anyone knew me, they knew I had to be right all the time in every situation. YIKES. Joe has helped me overcome my pride and deepest fears about myself behind this intense bossy facade. If James didn’t have incredible patience, kindness, and love for me I don’t know where we would be right now…

It’s like I knew deep down the reason why I did and said things but when James and I would fight I had in my mind that we were on opposite sides. However, this sweet man

LOVES me and wants the BEST for me. ALWAYS.

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So when we are in the midst of a fight now, I stop and remind myself that James is for me and together we are going to tackle the main issue and solve the real problem. Having this mindset that your spouse is WITH you and FOR you during a fight is not easy but it is so freeing my friend!!

For example, let’s go back to the dishes dilemma.

What was said: “Why don’t you put the video games away and actually help me with the dishes” of course said in a spiteful manner and annoyed tone.

The deeper feeling: I want to spend more time with him tonight and my self-made expectation to have a clean kitchen before I go to bed is preventing this. If he would help me do the dishes I could finish cleaning the kitchen faster and we can spend more time together.

So if that was my true feeling why on earth did it come out so hateful and include the ugly video games comment??? Because for some reason I had it in my mind that he didn’t care about me and he didn’t care about having a clean kitchen.

Which is just crazy and not true.

Well instead of starting a hurtful conversation, I have learned to start with the deeper feeling. This is incredibly vulnerable at times but it feels so freeing to trust James with my insecurities.


Bonus Tip: Learn HOW you need to fight. I have followed Amy & Jordan Demos for years and their recent podcast episode was another great resource that has helped James and I in this area of life. I will link their episode “5 Rules for Fighting“ here for you to check out! It’s so eye opening!!


5 Rules for Fighting

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TIP #4 FORGIVENESS

I think this one is the one I have put James through time and time again. If you know me, you know that I am a bit of a powerhouse and STUBBORN. I’d like to think that I am doing better with this (only after speaking with Joe about it). Don’t get me wrong, James can be equally stubborn but over the last few years we have BOTH had to

forgive even when you’re not ASKED for forgiveness.

This piece of advice was given to us from my mom as well! She said it is one the hardest things to do in a marriage but the peace it brings you is ultimately what you need after a fight. This certainly applies to marriage but really this applies to any relationships in your life.

Forgiving someone even if they are still blatantly against asking for it is mentally and emotionally taxing. However, this humility and act of love for your spouse is huge for not just them, but yourself! I know from my own example that after weeks (sometimes months) after James has already forgiven my stubbornness, I see what I did was wrong. After apologizing to James, the feeling of freedom and acceptance that I have with him just brings us closer.

I really can’t explain how freeing and how much lighter my shoulders feel after realizing the damage I caused and apologize! It’s human nature to want to be right and justified all the time. However, we are not perfect. Our spouse sees the best and the worst of us at times but guys, forgiving each other even when our spouse doesn’t ask for it, shows just how humble and loving you are for them!!


A note from my mom: “sometimes you just have to live with the fact that you won’t get an apology. Forgiving that person anyways gives you peace and helps you move forward”.

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TIP #5 INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE

So James and I haven’t actually told you guys officially but at the beginning of this year we started talking to our Life Coach, aka marriage coach or marriage counselor: Joe Malizia. I know that usually there is a stigma with this kind of coaching but honestly it has been a GAME CHANGER!

Like even my friends and family can tell a huge difference in our relationship!!

I used to think we had this marriage and life together figured out but then we started talking to Joe… And he really opened our eyes, minds, and hearts to our currently reality.

We take deep dives into the why behind each emotion we have and solutions to different problems within ourselves and our marriage.

His outsider view at our life and marriage has given us such clarity.

Working with him has helped James and I make such a huge shift towards grace and love in our relationship that I never could have imagined!! Because of the transformation our marriage has seen, I would be remiss to NOT share about his service! Our conversations with Joe are an investment but I mean it when I say that this investment for our family is priceless.

SO MY FINAL TIP FOR YOU TODAY IS
INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE
BY WORKING WITH A LIFE COACH.

James and I have never felt more connected and more at ease in life than right now. Which is saying A LOT because the world is still under the COVID-19 restrictions. There are so many uncertainties in this time but James and I have so much peace in our life. I seriously think that God had incredible timing with us finding Joe when we did!! I am so thankful for Joe investing time, prayer, and care for our marriage and highly recommend all married couples to invest in life coaching! It is worth the commitment!!

I know what a difference he has made in our married life and want the same for you, friend!! If you want to chat with Joe I will link his site here. Also, as I post this, Joe is currently offering free 30 minute calls, if you were interested in hearing more about his services!!  Just tell him I sent ya, you won’t regret it!!
Learn more about Joe

PS: Don’t let the fear of other people’s opinions keep you from trying out coaching!! You don’t even have to tell anyone!! However, I will warn you… when they see a difference in you, people will ask how you did it!! 


SO LET’S RECAP SHALL WE??

Step 1: Keep Dating

Step 2: Set Goals & Dreams Together

Step 3: Fight The Right Way

Step 4: Forgiveness

Step 5: Invest In Your Marriage

I hope these tips will help you with your spouse. Marriage is such a sacred and precious thing. It requires time and hard work to make it thrive!! I pray that all our of couples grow old together! So friend, if there is a way I can pray for you, serve you, or if you have any questions about our marriage counseling please feel free to message me on Instagram or email me!

Until next time,

Emily


A note to my love:

James, these past five years have been the best with you! Well, not all the time if I’m being real but even on the bad nights, you always make sure we are OK. You have pushed me waaayyyy out of my comfort zone and stood by me in valleys and mountain tops. I wouldn’t want to go through this life with anyone but you.

I am so glad that God provided for us both to attend RVCS and meet each other! It’s funny how my field trip seat buddy with a homeless man’s haircut would turn out to be such a hardworking business partner, my best friend, and a patient and loving husband! I can’t wait to start this next phase of life with you soon!!! -still not pregnant at the time I write this- We may have started this life together young against the odds, but I can’t wait to grow old with you and experience all this life has in store for us!! Cheers to FIVE years of marriage!!!

I love you,

Em

Em


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Relive some of our favorite wedding day images with us! Photos by Adam & Sarah Mullins (The Mullins Photo Co)

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR SERVICES HERE!
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I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings & engagements and serve our EH Couples in Virginia, South Carolina, and beyond!

welome to my blog

arrow

Hello

WEDDING DAY TIMELINE GUIDE

Create your custom wedding day timeline to have a stress free & fun wedding day. Sample timelines included for each season!

DOWNLOAD

FREE DOWNLOAD

STEAL THIS
wedding day timeline GUIDE

Create your custom wedding day timeline to have a stress free & fun wedding day. Sample timelines included for each season!

free download