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.”