With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

 When I spoke with her, Leslie told me, “We were the least likely candidates for marriage.” Both John and Leslie’s parents had divorced, and John had been married twice before. So I asked the tough question, hoping not to make either Leslie or John feel uncomfortable: What was it that made their marriage work? Both Leslie and John looked at each other, smiled, and then looked back at me. Magic,” they said. Well, magic, respect, and celebrating their anniversary every day.

They both believe respect is one of the keys to a happy marriage. “Respect can sustain love as it changes, and respect can sustain friendship as it changes. Respect means you go out of your way not to hurt the other person,” Leslie said. One of their tricks for getting through conflicts, John said, “is to sit with it together and not react, not respond.” Leslie agreed, but pointed out that she is still learning that lesson after 29 years!

John and Leslie keep the spark in their marriage by continually celebrating their marriage. John explained, “The people you’re closest to are the ones you shouldn’t take advantage of.” Which is why he’s known to bring home flowers and little gifts throughout the year. “We don’t really celebrate one day,” said Leslie. “We celebrate our anniversary all the time.” That’s John and Leslie’s sweet recipe for a magical marriage.

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. 

Despite Megan’s successful battle with breast cancer a few years ago, the story of her marriage to Mike isn’t about dramatic ups and downs. Rather, it’s about appreciating the quiet moments in between.

Megan tells me, “When it came to advice, sadly I really don’t think we got any. We each came from split families, so when we began dating we came up with our own specific guides. We talked about what we saw work and what did not, and talked openly and made a pact about each topic.”

And after more than a decade of marriage, they have some bits of wisdom to pass on. “I married my absolute best friend and we’re very compatible, but I still found that we have seasons in our marriage just like there are in nature,” says Megan. “I didn’t expect this and wish someone had told me. Sometimes it’s boring and bleak and other times it’s abundant and warm. What I’ve learned is to recognize that it’s just a phase and the low part will pass. It’s normal to have highs and lows in all areas of life.”

The couple has used this mindset to get through both the big things, like battling breast cancer, and the smaller things, like a spilled drink in the car… Early in their marriage, Megan and Mike set out on a long drive to get a puppy. Not far into the drive, Megan dropped the drink she was sipping into her lap, covering her shorts, legs and seat with juice. Megan recounted, “I froze. Mike looked over at me, his face nervously awaiting my reaction. I looked at the mess, looked at him and busted out laughing hysterically. He took a breath and smiled with relief. I’ve always remembered that day and over the years have reminded myself to consider all of my options before reacting. I could have thrown a fit, yelled and demanded we turn back for home and the day would have been a bust. Instead we found a gas station bathroom, I rinsed my shorts in the sink, and we were on our way. And we got our puppy.”

Mike’s advice for new couples is calm and matter-of-fact, and deceptively simple. He explains, “I really don’t have a plan or any tactics to marriage other than pick the person that makes you a better person and pick the person that you always choose first to spend time with, because in the end all that time together will result in a great, long and happy marriage. When I think of something fun to do or a great place to visit Megan is always the first, and many times the only person, on the list that I want to share the adventure with.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. 

Though Ben and Erin have been through the unimaginable, they have come through the other side stronger. Two years into their marriage, a freak accident left Ben without the use of his arms and legs. Erin says, “I went from wife to caregiver in a matter of seconds and we have spent the past 5 years learning how to be husband and wife again.” Erin explains that at the time of the accident, she thought she and Ben were working as a team but quickly realized how much she leaned on him for everything. After the accident, she says, “I had to make sure the bills were paid, the medical decisions were made, the house was taken care of and our daughter was taken care of, too.”

“I remember sitting in the ER not knowing if my husband would live and thinking ‘would he want to stay on life support?’ I know the answer now, but I didn’t then, and it scared the hell out of me.” Ben and Erin offer this advice to married and engaged couples: “Have the difficult discussions early and often. They are important.”

In many ways, life has returned to a new normal. Erin and Ben each has the same job as before the accident and they are both studying for their Masters’ in health policy and management (they enjoy having heated discussions about health care!). And their five-year-old daughter, Isabel, has recently found a fun upside to Ben’s accident. Erin explains, “Ben’s chair can stand up so he’ll stand up – it’s amazing – and she’ll climb up it, then stand up and jump onto the couch. She also ties her bike or play car to him and he’ll pull her around outside. They do crazy things together!”

I asked Ben to tell me a story about their marriage, and he summed it up saying, “Our life is a story. After a freak injury left me a quadriplegic, the fact that my wife and I are still married shows that our love is unconditional and the partnership makes us stronger.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
8 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. 

When Mandi and Phil got married, everyone was shocked that Mandi didn’t plan to take Phil’s last name: “My whole family was saying, Of course you change your name,” but Mandi had a different view of the situation. “I felt I was bringing me to the table,” and she felt it was important to keep her name as part of her identity. Phil said the decision made complete sense to him: “I wasn’t prepared to lose my identity, so I could understand why she felt that way.”

Twelve years later, Phil says they’ve found their “identities have grown together.” Mandi echoes this, explaining that since she was only 22 when they married, “We needed time to find out who we were, both together and separately.”

And while they both have always felt it was important to preserve their independence in marriage, they’ve become a team that works to protect that independence. Mandi said the best piece of marriage advice they received is not to volunteer your partner for anything. “I don’t volunteer Phil to give someone a lift home just as he doesn’t invite guests home and volunteer me to cook.” While they both might be willing, they try to check with each other first.

Teamwork is just as important as independence for Mandi and Phil. Their small businesses often overlap, his as a graphic designer and hers as an illustrator, and they work together to raise their two small kids, trading duties when one has a big deadline looming. Their trick for getting through busy schedules with two small children? Mandi says, “Everyone likes to look forward to something, so we try to plan something we can look forward to every month, as a family or just the two of us.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
6 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

In the four years that they’ve been married, Kristin and Iggy have lived in Chicago, Calgary, New York City and now they’ve just completed a move to Dublin. That’s four cities in three countries on two continents! That’s a lot of change for any couple, but especially so early on in a marriage, but they’ve adjusted to the latest change gracefully by keeping a few things in mind.

Iggy’s mantra for the couple has been to “embrace the change,” embracing each relocation as an opportunity to travel, to meet new people, and to strengthen their own relationship. Iggy explains that it’s important to him that Kristin knows she’s “the absolute first thing” in his life, before anything else. And Kristin echoes this sentiment, explaining that they both try to make the other feel that “no matter what, I have your back.”

I asked Iggy if he had any final advice to offer newlyweds. Sitting in their Dublin apartment with the Packers football game on in the background, he answered, “It’s good to remember that you may not always be in the honeymoon phase – you’ll just be in a different phase.” Kristin shook her attention from the game on television, an equally avid football fan, and sat down beside Iggy to give her husband a dramatic hug. “Oh honey, of course we’re still in the honeymoon phase!” Honeymoon phase or not, it’s clear this team is in it together.

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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