I'm always in awe when I learn that you guys want to know more about me, because let's be real putting yourself out there in the world isn't easy. Its a challenge to do so when you're a single person, but its even more challenging when you're in a deep and serious relationship especially a marriage. When you allow others into your life, you invite them to see parts of your world that isn't always pretty or perfect, but life isn't all about that perfect highlight reel. Think about a movie, it takes months sometimes years to get a 2 hour film just right and even then I'm pretty sure the producers are watching the final cut thinking about ways they could've improved it.
In life we are taught so many different subjects: math, reading, social studies, history, and more; but we're never taught the basics of how to have a healthy relationship. It's insane to think that we spend a large majority of our life in a relationship with another person and you might have the opportunity to have a 4 week pre marital course before you say "I DO!" That's just so wild to me. On top of all that, somehow as a married person you have this idea in your head that once you go through marital issues that you're not supposed to talk about it with other people. It's not that other people don't want to hear about it, its just that shame begins to build up on the inside and now we have this shame story that we tell ourselves about why our marriages or relationships are falling apart.
Last week I invited you all into a Q & A session with me on marriage because a post that went viral a bit talked about saving my marriage from near divorce. That was an "OH SHIT" moment for me and the first thing I said when I looked at my husband was "I hope you're ok with the public knowing that we were close to our final threads of marriage last year." He looked at me and said "Oh yeah I'm ok with it." And that is why I love him. He's unafraid of what is real, raw, and sometimes painful.
Q & A with JO: Marriage
Truly. I too have a lack of self confidence, and I feel like lately especially more as of lately that I'm letting that come between my relationship too. I tend to push so many people away as a defensive mechanism because I don't really know how to love even myself. Moving on from that, I really love to hear about how you got to the point where you felt secure or he made you feel secure that he would not cheat on you. Was it just realizing your self worth and going with that which brought you ease? (@aliceinwondrland)
The journey of rediscovering yourself worth is such a process. I don't think its one that's meant to truly end. You redefine it as the lessons life mold and shape you. In regards to security and worth in my relationship with Jon, I don't believe that I have ever felt insecure in that he would cheat on me. When we first started dating almost 15 years ago, I was coming out of a devastating heart break and I was on a "I'm lining boys up and breaking hearts" rampage. Since Jonathan and I have known each other for some time he made me feel at ease. I felt like I could be myself. This was the first time in a long time that I had felt like that and looking back now maybe that was the first time ever. In my previous relationships I had always felt like I needed to fit into a certain mold or lie about things I was into just so that I could impress my other boyfriends. With Jonathan, I could be myself, I could embrace my suffering and my happiness all at once.
I think what brought me to ease was the idea that I could be whole heartedly me. I didn't feel ashamed for my past with Jonathan and sharing some of the most painful parts of my life didn't make him run away from me. It was his security in himself that allowed me to be at ease.
This is a question about the opposite end of your marriage but how did you meet & fall in love? (@helloburpees)
My husband and I met years ago when I was 15 years old leading a Youth Camp called YFC. Funny enough my hair was teal back then too. I told this terrible joke to open up the camp weekend retreat and he fell for it. We became friends and stayed friends, but not anything close, just friendly. As a matter of fact going back to the first question when I was in "heartbreak rage" mode, I had Jonathan drive me to Sacramento one day to go see some guy I was into. Mind you, we were just friends at the time and I didn't even think that we would be where we are today.
It is so wonderful that you were able to admit what you were doing wrong in the relationship and then work hard towards fixing it. Most people will let their pride get in the way and blame the other person for everything. I'm so happy for you and Jon that you were able to get your marriage back on track! ❤ My question is: did you guys go to marriage counseling or therapy? (@shixels)
We did go to marriage therapy. We spent about half of 2016 in weekly sessions and by August of 2016 we both were feeling like nothing was working. Therapy did however, open up our methods of communication and placed areas of concern on the table that we knew we had to face. We were terrible at making time for one another like legit time with each other that didn't involve talking about our business, working together, or being around our kids. We're very simple people and although we would say "Shooting weddings together is like our dates." It really wasn't. We would excuse this time we spent together as our dates rather than making the effort to carve out any date time.
Along with making time with one another, we were absolutely terrible at communicating with each other. Which you would think came with ease considering I was a department manager at VSCO for 5 years and had to coach my teams with communication. A lot of the same techniques in communicating with my teams can apply in a relationship, but he didn't want to be managed nor did I want to apply my work techniques on our marriage. But over time, we both had to set aside our own pride to listen to each other and some of those techniques made it into the way we communicate now.
How did you guys work it out? What did you do to rebuild your relationship? (@j_g0)
There were a lot of things we had to do, but ideally and most simply we had to listen to one another's needs and understand that we were both on the same team. I think for a while we were both a little hesitant to want to listen to each other. There were moments where it felt like I needed something that he couldn't give me or resisted to give me and vice versa. Looking back I think I started to compare our relationship to some sort of metric of "what it should be like" rather than focusing on what is right for us. To each their own right?
How much of the recovery is you finding your self confidence on your own and how much of it is him making the extra effort to communicate when you couldn't? Or is it too much to expect your partner to pull you out of your darkest moments? In what ways did it affect how you communicated and how did you find ways to fix it? (@jaymeehlee)
I LOVE these questions. Jonathan has never ever told me that I was never enough. Unfortunately, I had told myself and him that. There were moments where we would argue and I would say shit like "am I not a good enough wife for you?" "Why can't you just change xyz...am I not good enough?" Reading these words I'm like damn woman! It's not his job to change for you, its your job to change for you. I don't think its too much to expect your partner to help pull you out of your darkest moments, but I do think the work is something the individual has to go through on their own, but can rely on others to help when needed. While going through all my dark episodes of depression he was there supporting me and loving me. There were moments however I could see that it was too hard for him to help, not because he didn't want to, but because the efforts are exhausting for someone who has no idea how to maneuver through depression and anxiety. These were mental illnesses Jon had never had to face until I came into his life.
I had to learn how to be honest with him. Sometimes honesty hurts and I had to come to terms that the most important person I needed to be honest with was myself and if he truly loved me, he would understand that. That same understanding goes for him too. We had to learn to trust one another and to accept that trust isn't about knowing the result will be the best on the other side, but rather understanding that trust is about being vulnerable with our feelings and giving each other the space to feel safe.
How important are date nights after you're married, and have kids? (@misswynnn)
SUPER IMPORTANT! We became parents at a super young age and because we both were working parents at a young age, our family typically baby sat for us while we were both busy being weekend warriors with our wedding/lifestyle photograph business. This didn't leave us having too many date nights. We often made the excuse that the days we were out photographing weddings were our version of dates. In hindsight, it wasn't it was just WORK.
We've been together for a year and half and his depression became severe enough that he had to stop work for two months. It's been on-going journey, but he's slowly headed towards the direction of recovery. This relationship has tested me in ways that I could've never imagined, but I stay grounded and fight for our love. My question is: What advice do you have for the couples who are going through clinical depression together? (@faith_mimi)
First off, I think its so beautiful that you fight for your love. Someone once told me that as long as one person is willing to fight then you still have a chance. It's when both people are done fighting when its over.
I wish I could touch on this, but Jonathan doesn't have clinical depression so we don't have the experience there. However on my own experience with coping with depression and anxiety, I can definitely offer insight there. It's important to express what you might need in the moment even if it might not work. Some days I've had to tell Jonathan I just need to be alone, other days I need him to simply hold me. It's crazy to think that in an era where technology allows us to connect with one another with ease, isolation and loneliness is more common than before. Both in relationships and and in life I believe its so important to be honest and to be unapologetic about showing the sides of your life that might not be so pretty. It's when we hide and feel the need to put on this facade of strength when we're ultimately crumbling on the inside is when we hurt the most. So to wrap up my advice: be unapologetic in how you feel at the moment. True healing comes when you are authentic to yourself. Problems resolve when you're able to face them head on especially in the moments where uncertainty is on the other side.
What are yours and Jon's communication methods when you are in a fight? If they differ then how do you come to a compromise so you each understand each other? (@justdimpleit)
Fighting sucks! We've had our fair share of both calm conflicts and conflicts that make hurricanes look like drizzles. When we were younger our fights were fiery. We have enough broken locks, a few doors with punches in them, and a handful of ripped up photos as proof of these tumultuous fights. Over time we both learned that the volume of our voices never solved anything (we still forget this from time to time). These days we give each other space when the other needs it and we do our best to try to understand the other person even if it seems impossible.
In conflict resolution its important acknowledge the other person's feelings and to try as much as possible to see things from the other perspective and if that's not possible to have the other person explain it as much as they can. I often start our conversations with "So what I understand from what you're saying is..." or "I appreciate you telling me how you feel and what I'm hearing is..." By acknowledging that the other person's feelings are heard you let them know that you heard them. By repeating what you may have understand invites them the opportunity to either confirm that you heard them correctly or to correct what you heard. Its not an easy practice, but just like getting into a handstand in yoga, you gotta keep trying till it becomes habit. Compromise is all about give and take. Some days I don't "win" our arguments, but it's not about winning a fight with one another. It's truly about winning the fight together.
I love these Q & A sessions with you guys, I hope there has been some extremely useful tidbits here. Fight for love always.