My Top Piece Of Advice After 10 Years Of Marriage

Today, Ben and I have been married for 10 years!

It simultaneously feels like forever AND just yesterday...it truly truly has just gotten better and better and I feel so blessed. I say it all the time - I'm like a broken record - but I feel so lucky to have met the love of my life at such a young age. You can read our love story here!

I thought in honor of hitting the 10 year mark, I'd share my number one piece of marriage advice. Now, I in no way think I'm an expert - but I do feel very proud of my marriage and I do have a big piece of advice that I think is worth sharing. When I've told people what I'm about to share, they often brush it off or don't quite understand what I mean. So I'll explain.

Because in my opinion, it's the most important thing you can do to cultivate a healthy, happy marriage full of unity and respect. Here it is:

Look for the GOOD in each other.

Ok. So, this sounds simple. This sounds like...no big deal. But it's actually very hard. Let me explain.

I feel like a very common thing is to see spouses LOOKING for things to be annoyed about, or upset by, or to be angry about. They are LOOKING to be let down. They are ASSUMING that their spouse is acting from a selfish place, or a careless place. They INTERPRET actions or words as something negative or bad or careless or insignificant. It can be an easy trap to fall into.

For example:  let's say your husband leaves a mess in the kitchen after fixing himself a snack.

It could be easy to see it this way: he is careless, he's messy, he doesn't even consider the fact that I'm going to end up cleaning this up, he ASSUMES I'll clean up after him, he doesn't appreciate me, he is lazy, etc... etc... etc...

BUT, if you are looking for the GOOD in your husband, you will see the situation from a place of love. Your husband's strength may not be in tidying up - he may not care about it as much as you do...and that's ok! If YOU care, you can clean it up. Or you could ask him if he wouldn't mind helping you out by cleaning up after himself when he gets a chance. You can choose to see the situation in a positive light - maybe it's endearing that your husband is messy. Maybe that's a part of who he is - and you love him! So you accept that!

Or, another example: Your baby has a poopy diaper. You are tired and you feel like you always change the diapers. You wait for your husband to take the initiative and change the diaper. But he doesn't.

It could be easy to see it this way: Your husband is purposefully ignoring a necessary task, he's expecting you to change the diaper, he's not taking responsibility, he's not helping, etc...

BUT, looking for the good in your husband, you could understand that since you DO change most of the diapers, your husband has every right to assume that you are just going to change this one. If you want some help, simply ask - in a nice and respectful way.

These are just two examples where I feel like I've seen spouses react in a way that seems as if they ASSUME THE WORST from their spouse. Doing this breaks down respect on BOTH sides.

You will see what you look for. So look for the GOOD!

The way I look at it is this: Ben is my husband. He is the GREATEST man and husband in the world. He is sweet, loving, smart, brave, hard-working, funny, honorable, humble, devoted...the head of our house, my best friend, my life-long team mate, the father of my children.

It's easy for me to see the good in him! BUT, even in situations where we may disagree, or where we may have a mis-communication, I always stop and LOOK FOR THE GOOD. I try to see where he is coming from in the best possible light. I will stand up for him, have his back, show him respect, fight FOR and ALONGSIDE him, until the end. Because he's mine. My other half. My perfect match. Every situation, I approach from this perspective. Ben and our marriage come first. They are the cornerstone, the foundation, and the base camp. He is my person. I see the good in him. Always.

It's about loyalty. It's about seeking out the BEST in YOUR better half. It's about making your team the BEST it can be by viewing and treating your significant other with respect and with trust and with KINDNESS.

I NEVER speak badly about Ben to ANYONE. Not that I would ever have a reason to. But in general, I don't buy into women (or men, for that matter) bashing their spouse to their friends or family. As a married couple, YOU are one. YOU are a team. YOU deal with your issues or concerns amongst YOURSELVES. YOU show your spouse the respect of not speaking about them behind their backs. By focusing on the negative and discussing annoyances and problems with others, you are weakening the strong front of your relationship with your spouse. It's YOU TWO against the world.

Or, at least, that's how Ben and I see it. :)

Anyways, I'll stop there. I feel so strongly that there is a huge lack of respect and the seeking out of GOOD within marriages. I hope this post makes sense and that it is helpful in some way to at least ONE person.

In my opinion, a marriage is the most important relationship of a person's life. Everything else revolves around that union. Love, look for the good, respect, work together, trust, encourage, compliment, listen, forgive... cliche, but so so important.

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 2.16.27 PM.png

 

 

 

 

29 Things

IMG_1517.JPG

Well, today starts the beginning of the LAST year of my twenties! So strange! My twenties have been amazing...so much has happened, I've achieved so many things, I've learned SO much... and honestly, I'm looking forward to turning 30 next year! I think being in my thirties is going to be really fun!

But, I definitely plan on enjoying this last year of my twenties to the fullest, because each year it becomes more abundantly clear to me that time never slows down and you can't ever go back. Living in the moment and truly cherishing and embracing where you are at right now is so important. Especially since becoming a mom, I have come to know this with the utmost clarity, and it is both a beautiful and sobering realization.

Today, I wanted to share real quick 29 things that I've come to know, think, or question in my 29 years of life!

  1. Family is REALLY all that matters.
  2. Time is so fleeting.
  3. NOTHING is a given in life.
  4. Humility, kindness, and patience are qualities that I think make a person the very most beautiful.
  5. Daily exercise is so important for both physical and mental well-being.
  6. Marriage to your best friend is the best thing in the world...along with being a mom!
  7. People always say that being a parent is the best, but you HONESTLY don't understand this until you have a child of your own. You just can't possibly understand the bond and love and incredible fear and hope that comes along with being a parent. It's breathtaking and magical and incredible.
  8. In the end, NOTHING matters...not things, not money, not social status...JUST love and family.
  9. Traveling outside of the country is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself.
  10. You are NEVER wasting time when you are reading.
  11. Your skin, hair, body...everything starts to change as you get older, when you get pregnant, as you go through different experiences. It serves a person well to embrace these changes rather than wrestle with them. Because wrinkles, stretch marks, scars...they all are signs of a life truly LIVED.
  12. If you want something badly enough, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try.
  13. I'm an introvert. And I like it.
  14. The more sleep the better...but nothing beats an early morning when the world is quiet and still.
  15. Being in the backcountry away from it all is good for the soul.
  16. I'm getting more and more interested in makeup as I get older, and I'm having so much fun trying out new products and techniques...I always bought drugstore makeup until recently. But the nice stuff really DOES make a difference!
  17. Don't be so hard on yourself. Have high standards for yourself, push yourself, always strive to do better...but don't punish yourself. Be kind and loving. Appreciate all that your body, your mind, your heart do for you every single day.
  18. Laugh more.
  19. Get outside every single possible chance you have.
  20. Eliminate toxic relationships from your life.
  21. Hold on dearly and fight for all of the GOOD and precious relationships in your life.
  22. My number one piece of marriage advice: Always seek out the BEST in your partner. You find what you look for. Look for the good, the beautiful, the pure in your loved one.
  23. Always be true to yourself.
  24. Say 'no' more.
  25. Say 'yes' more.
  26. Create something you're proud of.
  27. Discern truth for yourself. Look beyond what you've always known, what you've always been told...figure out what YOU believe, what YOU agree with, what you DON'T agree with, what is worth fighting for to YOU, what YOU want to change.
  28. Better to be quiet than to talk about things you don't know anything about.
  29. Spend less time staring at your phone or other electronics, and more time being present with loved ones, watching a sunset, reading a book, meditating, drawing, creating, LIVING.

Those are just the top 29 random things that came to mind as I started typing...sorry if they are super random! haha But anyways, I've learned a lot and I know I have a lot MORE to learn too.

Here's to a new year of creating, adventure, love, productivity, and self-improvement! Thank you all for your love and for following along!!

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 2.16.27 PM.png

A Father's Day First

This year, Father's Day is extra special because it is Ben's first! Well, he was a father last year, but I was still pregnant, so this will be his first since James was born! I can't wait to celebrate what an incredible father Ben is. It has been so amazing and beautiful to watch him become a dad and to see his love for our son. James is the luckiest little boy in the entire world to have Ben as a dad.

In honor of Ben's first Father's Day, here are a few of my FAVORITE pictures from the past year. These are of Ben becoming and being a father, and they seriously bring me to tears to look at. I feel so very blessed to have such a wonderful, loving man as my husband and as the father of my children!

Happy Father's Day, everyone! ESPECIALLY to my amazing dad!! I love you, daddy!

60516_1521400646767_5219676_n.jpg

At Home Date Night Ideas

As any new parent can attest, getting out of the house -without the kids- for a date with your significant other can be hard! Not only can it be difficult logistically, what with securing child care, etc... but it can be very difficult emotionally as well.

Since James has been born, Ben and I have gone out on a few date days. We have done date days rather than nights because we like to be home for James' bed time routine. Although my mom is learning the bedtime routine so we'll be able to get out for a date night here soon! We're fortunate to live by family now that we live in Washington again, so we always have someone to watch James for us. But honestly, what we've found to be a more realistic and, in some ways, more enjoyable option as far as a date goes is at home date nights!

At home date nights are dates that can be enjoyed right from the comfort of your own home after your little ones have gone to bed. Ben and I have these AAAALLL the time! It's such a great way to get in quality time together sans children and to be able to reconnect and have fun just the two of you.

I love being able to spend time really focusing on Ben and having conversations and doing fun things, all while knowing that our baby boy is safe upstairs. Don't get me wrong, going OUT for a date is FUN and I really really enjoy Ben's and my dates! But I also like the option of being able to do a date spur of the moment, all while being close by James if he needs us.

Here are a few fun at home date night ideas:

  • Cook dinner together.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Sit by the fire and chat.
  • Play board games.
  • Read together.
  • Do a puzzle.
  • Plan a trip together.
  • Have your own beer (or wine, or whiskey) tasting - try all different kinds.
  • Make a fun, new appetizer.
  • Listen to new music.
  • Dance - around the kitchen, by the fire, wherever.
  • Light candles.
  • Make a blanket fort.
  • Watch the sunset together.
  • Do at-home yoga together.
  • Paint together.
  • Have an ice cream night.
  • Karaoke - pull up songs on YouTube and take turns singing (not TOO loudly, if you have sleeping kids ;))
  • Give each other massages.
  • Lay out a blanket and watch the stars.
  • Take a bath together.
  • Shop for houses online together.

What are some of your favorite at home date ideas?? I'd love to hear! We're always looking for new ideas. :)

Snapchat Q&A

A couple of days ago, I told you all to snap me any and all questions you may have for me. While I didn't get around to answering them live on Snapchat, as promised, here are my answers to ALL your questions! (I consolidated similar questions so that I only have to answer them once. ;))

Let's dive in, shall we?

Q: How do I get started as a blogger?

Commit. Find a platform that is easy for you to use and commit to posting frequently - at least a couple of times a week. Try to have a niche, rather than trying to appeal to everyone, focus on appealing to a targeted and specific audience. And invest in a good camera!

Q: Do you plan on having more babies?

Yes! :)

Q: How often do you get your hair done and what do you get done to it?

I get my hair done every 6 months or so. I usually get a trim and some long layers and then a full foil.

Q: How do you grow your hair so long??

I don't use a hairdryer and rarely curl my hair, so I don't use heat on it very often at all. I use a deep conditioning treatment every couple of weeks.

Q: What kind of bronzer do you recommend?

I don't use bronzer, but I've heard good things about this one and this one.

Q: What places MUST I visit while in Paris?

The catacombs, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame...the usual things. BUT I would honestly just recommend that you walk EVERYWHERE - don't take a taxi. Just walk and see the city by foot. You'll find so many hidden gems. It's magical!

Q: What does Ben do for work?

He is an Area Manager at Amazon.

Q: What is the hardest and best thing about being a mom?

The hardest thing is just adjusting to not having as much free time, and the best thing is watching my little one grow and learn new things!! Being a mom is the BEST thing in the entire world!!

Q: What are your tips for eating healthy while being busy all day with a baby?

Meal prep! Make big portions of healthy meals and save the leftovers to eat throughout the week.

Q: Do you have a sunless tanner that you use/recommend?

I use this one. It's the best!

Q: What exactly do you do for work?

I am a social media consultant, a blogger, and a writer. But honestly, none of these things feel like work because I LOVE what I do so much!!

Q: Do you still write outdoor articles for magazines?

I do! Since being put on bedrest and then giving birth and then now it being winter and all...I haven't done much outdoor adventuring lately. But come Summer, I'm heading to the mountains, so you can expect a lot more outdoor content and a lot more articles from me!

Q: Tips for not going crazy on bedrest?

Pray, meditate, read, color, write. :)

Q: Do you have any tips on how to be more confident?

Take some time to really get to know yourself - what you love, what you dislike, what you believe in, what you enjoy, what makes you happy, what makes you angry, what makes you sad, what makes you fired up...and then OWN that and manifest that knowledge in your daily life. Be true to yourself.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to all different kinds of music. Blue grass is probably my favorite, but there is hardly any kind of music that I don't enjoy to some extent.

Q: How long have you been married?

Ben and I will have been married for nine years this July, and together for ten!

Q: How did you know that your husband was "the one"?

I just knew. He made me feel safe and loved and whole and precious and understood ... and he still does. <3

It was so fun hearing your questions! Feel free to leave any additional questions that you have for me in the comments below! I do want to do a live Snapchat Q&A sometime soon, so any questions that you guys send my way in the next few weeks, I'll try to answer on Snap. :) Have a great week!

Our Love Story

Today marks eight incredible years of marriage to my handsome, kind, wonderful husband! If I'm being honest, it feels like longer than that...not in a bad way...in a good way. As in, I can't remember life without him in it.

Being married to him just feels like what life is and what life should be.

I thought today would be the perfect day to share a brief summary of our love story! I've had a few requests for this, so now seems like an appropriate time to get it written down. I think it's a pretty romantic, fairy-tale-like story, but then again, I may be biased. :)

Love At First Sight

Ben and I met on the 4th of July in 2007. We were both 18 years old and he was one of my best friend's older brother's best friends... did you follow that? Ok, good.

My parents live on a lake and have a boat, so I invited a few of my girlfriends over to celebrate the 4th and play in the water. My friend brought her older brother along and a few of his friends (one of them being Ben). Ben was in the Marine Corps based out of Camp Pendleton in California and was just up for a visit. Ben and I flirted and we all had a great time hanging out at the lake.

A few days later, I got a text message from a number I didn't recognize and it turned out to be Ben. He had gotten my number through his friend who got it through my friend. He was back in California at that point, so we began a relationship over the phone. We would talk for hours and hours every day, getting to know one another. He was set to deploy to Iraq in a few months. After a couple of weeks of chatting on the phone, Ben flew up to be with me for a weekend and we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend on July 26, 2007. We fell hard and fast.

After that it was a whirlwind. Ben came up most weekends to see me. I flew down to California for a visit too. I started at Seattle Pacific University at the end of September, right before Ben was set to deploy. It was an exciting, crazy time.

One night while Ben was up visiting, he asked me to marry him. We were both 19 at that point and had been dating for about two months. We were unofficially engaged when Ben headed off to Iraq.

The deployment was really really hard. Being a part from one another and not getting to talk very often was rough. Not to mention that I was worried sick about Ben the entire time, all while taking on my freshman year of university. It was a long, hard, emotional time. I wrote Ben a letter every single day that he was deployed, which is maybe a little crazy. But he saved every single letter. They are currently in a garbage bag in our garage. haha

When Ben got back from Iraq in May of 2008, I flew down to California and was waiting for him when he got off the bus. I was so nervous about how things would be, seeing as we had only been dating a couple of months before he left. But my nerves were put at ease instantly when he grabbed me in his arms and held me and asked me to marry him again. *swoon*

I had to go back up to Seattle to finish out the school year at SPU. Ben and I continued to talk for hours on the phone and he flew up to visit frequently. We hated not being able to be together all the time.

On the 4th of July, 2008, exactly one year after we met, Ben proposed again, this time with a ring. We had had enough. We knew that we didn't want to be a part any more. So we made the decision to have me move down to California.

Elopement

I packed my things and headed south. I think I shocked my family and friends when I did this. But me moving to be with Ben was nothing compared to the shock of what we did next. A few days after I arrived in California, Ben and I eloped. We drove to a courthouse in Santa Ana and said our vows and got married on July 17, 2008. We were both 19 years old.

I know the fact that Ben and I eloped was very hard on our families because they weren't there, and I regret how that must have made them feel. And I know everyone at the time thought we were crazy. But while I feel bad about not telling our families and about them being so caught off guard and worried, I honestly love the fact that we eloped. It was so special, having our wedding day be just me and Ben.

2009 Marine Corps Ball

Married Life

Married life was amazing right from the beginning. We had such an incredible community of friends from the Marine Corps. Ben and I went on adventures and got our puppy, Gunner, and enjoyed every minute we could together.

He deployed again in January of 2009. This time, he was on a MEU based out of Okinawa. We were able to talk a lot more than we were on his first deployment. Gunner and I moved home and lived with my parents while he was gone.

In December of that year, Ben's four years in the Marine Corps were up. We moved back to Washington, and began our life outside of the military. It was bittersweet and we missed our friends from the Marine Corps terribly...still do.

57913_1506466153414_6738874_n.jpg

Vow Renewal

In 2010, after two years of marriage, we had a vow renewal ceremony so that we could share our marriage and an actual wedding with our friends and family. It was so special to be able to do this! It was such a perfect, beautiful day. My dad got to walk me down the aisle, my grandpa performed the ceremony, and Ben and I got to get wedding pictures taken.

Happily Ever After

Life being married to Ben has been a dream come true. I know that sounds cheesy, but it really is the best way to describe it. I still get butterflies around him. He makes me feel like the most loved, precious, beautiful, cared for person. He teaches me something new every day and we go on the most amazing adventures together.

I know that no marriage is perfect, but honestly, to me ours is. I feel so blessed and thankful to have met my soul mate at such a young age and to have been able to grow and achieve amazing things together. I wouldn't change a thing, and I am so grateful for this adventure-filled life with my very best friend! 

Our Next Adventure

Our first baby is due in about a week, and we are so excited for this next big adventure together! I can't wait for our son to arrive and to see the little human that Ben and I created!

Our babymoon in Paris, January 2016

It is so wonderful knowing that whatever life has in store, I will have Ben by my side. I can't wait for the rest of our lives together and for the future. But I'm also just loving every minute of the present. Life with Ben just keeps getting better and better and I know how blessed I am and I thank God daily for this beautiful life with such an incredible man!

Thanks for reading and for letting me share a little brief bit of our love story! I'd love to hear yours - share in the comments below! I'm a sucker for romance. :)

xo, Anna

 

 

Ways to Show Your Special Someone That You Love Them

10492444_10203628836153265_9121924129325313321_n

It's so important to let your significant other know how special they are to you. A romantic relationship is a precious thing, and love from another human being shouldn't be taken for granted. This July my husband and I will have been together for eight years, married for seven. While we don't necessarily have the experience of a couple who has been together for, say,  fifty years, I think we have this marriage thing down. And we excel at showing each other how much the other person is loved and appreciated. Sometimes, just letting your significant other know that they are on your mind can go a long long way. Here are a few ideas of ways to show your special someone that you love and appreciate them!

 

  • Verbalize your appreciation. Sometimes life gets so busy and we get caught up in things, and we don't realize just how much our significant other does for us. Especially if you are married or live together, it can be easy to take the things that your love does each day for granted. Remember to look your loved one in the eyes and genuinely tell them how much you appreciate what he or she does for you, your home, your family. Be specific - mention a few things in particular that you love and appreciate about him or her.  Having someone appreciate you and the little things that you do is a great feeling.
  • Do something that he/she has wanted to do. If you're special someone has mentioned something that he or she wants to try, or an activity that he or she loves to do, plan a time to try it with them! Make a day or a weekend of it, and try that new thing that they've been wanting to try, or participate in that hobby that they are passionate about. Sharing the experience together will make for great memories, and trying something that means a lot to your love will mean so much to them.
  • Quality time. Make time for your significant other. Take time out from your busy life to spend talking with and listening to him or her. Set aside that book you're engulfed in, put down your phone or laptop, get up early to be together for a few minutes before work... take time to just be with your loved one and give him or her all of your attention.
  • Take his/her side. Have your significant other's back. Supporting your loved one's wishes and helping to back him or her up on an issue that is important to him/her will make your loved one feel respected. Knowing that you have his/her back will mean the world to your special someone and it will make them appreciate you. You and your significant other are a team, first and foremost. Always choose him/her and always have each other's backs.