Snapshot of a Marriage | Phil & Mandi, Married 12 Years

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.”

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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 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.


  • Have I mentioned that I think this new series is awesome? I always look forward to ready this, especially seeing how the couples have evolved and matured over the years.

    Again, thank you so much for this!

  • Danielle says:

    Thank you for this. As a Bride-to-Be in the last month of wedding planning, I think it can be easy to lose sight of what is most important. A wedding is a day; a marriage a lifetime. Blessings to all!

  • I think this is fun to see how people have lasted through the years! It is also fun to see what was in style back then versus what people are doing these days. Cute blog idea!

  • As someone who just finished wedding planning with our wedding (October 27), I am so happy to see this series! I was just beginning to feel like I needed to unfollow all of my wedding-planning twitter accounts and such since that’s not my focus anymore, but I’ll keep you guys around. :)

    This is awesome because at the end of the day, what’s a wedding without the marriage?

  • I like how practical all of you commenting on this site seem to be. Once you’re married, the marriage has to be the absolute center of everything. Careers, children, activities all have to revolve around the central relationship. Without that stability, nothing is going to work for very long. You need to be able to rely on each other yet also live lives based on individual aspects of each of your personalities. A happy medium isn’t going to stop the problems that are bound to beset you during your marriage, but it will go a long way towards building that strong foundation and relationship which will be able to weather the storms.

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