What are some things you thought would happen when you got married?
Jenn: When I close my eyes and think back to the girl I was twelve years ago when I first met Brett, I can’t help but smile. I can see myself in my blue Toyota Celica with the windows rolled down, sunroof open, and blasting everything from New Found Glory to Kenny Chesney. Not a care in the world, just finishing college and falling in love. I knew pretty early on in our relationship that I wanted to spend my life with Brett. I honestly didn’t think much would change when we got married. I thought we’d both have big careers, start a family, and live the life I always dreamed of. I should mention, I also thought I’d be showered with flowers, notes, and gifts. That IS my love language, after all.
Brett: I knew we’d have kids. I knew we’d buy a minivan. I knew we’d be those parents driving their kids to different activities every night of the week. I knew we’d split time between the baseball games and cheerleading practices. I knew we’d tailgate for Gator games. I knew we’d spend two weeks every summer on some crazy family vacation. I knew we’d never fight in front of the kids. I knew we’d have block parties with the neighbors, with Jenn putting on extravagant spreads of food and drink. Well, we got a couple of those things at least….
What are some things you thought would never happen when you got married?
Jenn: One thing I was very firm on was the fact that I would NEVER drive a minivan. Growing up, I told my mom this (while riding in hers) and I was very clear about this when I met Brett. In fact, I was still saying it in April 2008, the same day I walked out of the Honda dealership with my very own Honda Odyssey. For some reason, Brett really wanted a minivan. He was quick to point out all the space, and the selling feature for me was the doors opening with the touch of a button. Our first baby was on the way, so I blame the hormones for caving in to that decision. Although I do admit today that having a minivan and three kids really just makes sense. I also remember us saying, “When we are married and have kids, they are NOT sleeping in our beds. Ever.”
Brett: I never thought we’d disagree so much. Not in a bad way, but you don’t think of marriage as splitting time doing two separate things. Why can’t she just sit down and watch eight hours of football every Saturday in the fall? Who WOULDN’T want to do that? Wait, you’d rather go walk around the outlet mall with another 5 million people? Uhhh, count me out. We’ve learned that it’s ok to spend time away doing our own thing, because that lets us recharge. Yes, one might get “stuck” with the kids, but at least one of us won’t be going insane that day, which is a win! Just because we’re married doesn’t mean we like 100% of the same things. We’re still unique individuals.
What is marriage actually like?
Jenn: Hard. I’m stealing my husband’s answer from a recent marriage video we did. Things look a little different than I thought. I stay at home with our kids and drive a minivan. And after having three kids, I am so tired that I don’t even notice or care who sneaks into our bed. I’ve learned that conflict isn’t always bad. It’s normal and okay. I’m learning that the love gestures of flowers and gifts come in a different way, like folding the girls' never-ending pile of laundry, or letting me sleep in on the weekend. I’ve found that marriage isn’t always 50/50. It can be 60/40 or 80/20 depending on where the other person is during that season of life. It takes work and dedication. Marriage is totally different than I expected, but it's more. It connects, unites, softens, and refines us. I’m better in it because I’m challenged to grow.
Brett: Copy cat! Marriage may come easy to some, but not us. We’re both too stubborn for it to come easy. It's ok to compromise. It’s ok that plans don’t work out like you envisioned in your head. Usually, it works out better anyway. Not in a million years would I have thought I’d enjoy watching our girls at gymnastics with Jenn, seeing them cartwheel across the floor as Jenn always envisioned. And it's even better when Jenn lets me leave the dance recital at the first intermission because Livie is already done (ok, maybe she just didn’t want to hear me complain the entire second half of the show). It's nice to look back at Jenn indulging me by taking a walking tour of the University of Florida, checking out the championship trophies and boring the girls to death with where I went to college. It’s those compromises that you EACH make that make marriage great. The happiest moments of our marriage aren’t her doing what I want, but rather seeing how happy she can get when we do exactly what she had envisioned in her dreams, no matter how much I complained along the way.
Jenn and Brett have been married 10 years in April. They have three daughters that keep them on their toes. They love animals and would have more (if Jenn had her way). The kids' love for gymnastics, dance, soccer, Girl Scouts, birthday parties, and going to Disney keep them pretty busy. They love that as their kids get older, they can finally have a social life again.