getting real … on our 8th anniversary..!

Today, we celebrate 8 years of marriage! Hooray! Cheers and joyous uproar all round! We made it, we made it, WE MADE IT!!  Even though everyone said we would fail and it would never ever work out.  Even though we had to secretly elope in a frenzy of intercontinental passion and relentless romance; where nothing mattered except our love, the $5 in Jayden’s pleather wallet and the open road. Our rebellious hearts fused by nothing else but a common wind in our hair, and one singular fist extending to the heavens in triumphant glory … (insert 1980’s power-pop anthem here) … Even though we faced all of that, we made it!

Well, that’s not exactly how it happened, and we didn’t even face all that juicy dramatic antagonism either … but at least you have some insight into how we remember it 😉

Actually, our story was far less Hollywood-esque, but exponentially more dynamic and meaningful – it was real. So, we decided that for today’s blog post, we’re gonna get real. Now, who’s up for this sesh of marital Truth or Dare?

One of our biggest ‘nuggets’ of wisdom goes something like this: the more fun you have together, the closer you seem to get.  On top of that, the more adventures you go on, the better you get to know one another – even if you think you know all there is about the love of your life.  (That’s part of why we travel so much!)  In 8 years of marriage, and 10 years of being together, we’ve changed a L O T.  For one thing, we were just kids when we met + fell in love, so let’s hope we’ve grown up a bit, y’know?  Growing + changing is a natural part of life and being a human, but when you’re married, it’s really important to grow and change together (not apart).  Many, many of our couple-friends have changed as individuals and gradually grown apart through their years together, which makes it seem only natural to eventually go separate ways.  For what it’s worth, we say — grow + change together — and no, that won’t always come naturally.  Even if you’re both growing in good ways, if the growth isn’t together, you’ll eventually end up in two different spots.  We both make effort to give each other space + freedom to ‘evolve’, but keep up with the other in whatever shifts are happening.  This has meant that our dramatic changes over the years (everything from our careers, educations, country we’re living in, citizenship, and even hair color + style) have been things that we’ve gone through together, even if the decisions only start out being initiated by one, and not both of us.

Our second biggest nugget of the day? (And this is a biggie…) Counseling. That’s right, we’ll admit it with no shame or inhibitions! Let’s be honest. If you’ve been in a serious relationship for very long, you know that it isn’t always 100% peace + fun. In fact, there are some really, really rough times, (especially if you both have strong personalities like we do) where you might even wonder if you’re going to make it back to lighthearted + fun days ever again.

Our society says, “Get premarital counseling. Of course! Why wouldn’t you? But oh man… if you get therapy or counseling after you get married? Man, then something’s really wrong with you.  Only people who have problems go see a shrink.”

We think that the shame attached to the idea of counseling couldn’t be more counterproductive! We don’t go to a doctor once every 5 years, or only when we’re really sick, do you? (Let’s hope you said, “No!”)  You can’t walk into a doctor’s office when you’re on your death bed and hope that they can give you a quick fix, just like you can’t walk into a counselor’s office and walk out an hour later ‘all better’.  A close + connected relationship takes hard and diligent work — and constant effort, too! We have made it our uncompromising practice to seek the ear and advice of a trained third party our entire relationship – rain, shine, tidal wave, smooth season, or serious challenges – we’ve always made time to preserve that neutral zone where we can talk freely and get some decent feedback. Maybe at the very beginning it kinda seemed like it was an expensive coffee date, that is, until we actually found ourselves really needing to talk through some legit issues. By that point, we had a foundation built with someone who was able to weed through the confusing conflict, while we were able to trust them in the process. Throughout the years, some of the insight we’ve gained into how each other thinks + the roles that our personalities play in our life together has honestly completely changed our relationship (for the better)!  Definitely the smartest investment we’ve continued to make, and we’ll never look back.

Last nugget? Expectations. Talk about them! You’ll be amazed at how you think you + your partner have the exact same expectations in your heads, but sometimes, you’re actually mega off. That’s the beauty of being two different people — you have different imaginations, different dreams, different goals, even when you assume that you are both ‘one’ — so let it out! What are each of you assuming will happen? What things match up? What things are totally different? Having periodic [lighthearted] chats about this kind of thing will be enlightening, fascinating, fun, super practical + helpful, and hopefully never stressful. 😉

Above all, we want to reiterate what a joy it is to be married. How worth it it is to really hold tight through the yucky bits, because the sun will / does shine again. Seriously. By the grace of God, our love for each other has continued to grow, and we are way more in love now than we were when we were just kids. We’re grateful for our friends who have encouraged us, talked to us, listened… and prayed… this community of support is so crucial. We aren’t an island, and we love you friends. So much.

Thank y’all for reading our ‘getting real’ post … we’ll leave you with this lil gem that our friends the Parsons made of us in Brisbane, Australia earlier this year. They were holding a Don’t Give Up workshop + generously invited us to come along and be their models.  (Ha!)  While it was only slightly unnerving to get all up in each other’s biz-nasss with 20 people watching us, we really + truly cherish these images that Ash + Jer captured of us, and we are so grateful for their reminder to us all : Don’t Give Up!  xo

caroline and jayden : the Don’t Give Up project from WE ARE THE PARSONS on Vimeo.

*thanks to our friend Jordan Irish for the first weddin’ image from 17 june 05, a random stranger by the Sydney Opera House for the second one from may 2004, and our beloved Dan O’Day for the last two shot in ’11!

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