Creative Marriages

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A couple of weeks ago, Tyler and I did a shoot with one of our long-time friends – Michelle from Michelle Kim Photography. We met her back in our early married years when we were selling t-shirts and jewelry at college vendor fairs.

She came to us with a project she’s been working on called Creative Marriages – where a couple is either working together on something like a small business or each have their own small businesses doing something entrepreneurial and creative (and unstable! ha!) We loved the idea of this project because there’s been a lot of trial and error in our relationship while we’ve worked together, lived where we work and both have inconsistent schedules and income.

Below you can see the outcome of our shoot and some open and honest answers to her questions from both Tyler and me:

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How did you guys meet?

We were in the same college church group and had a lot of mutual friends. Each week we all went country line dancing and that’s where it all started. A couple weeks of hanging out every day straight and we were in love.

What’s one thing you like about your spouse?

Michelle: Tyler has a heart for people and the energy to fight for good – even in situations where helping others is inconvenient or even difficult, he still does it. He also has incredible determination and passion and it’s by his example that I learn to strive for both myself.

Tyler: Only one thing?! The first that comes to mind is how innocent and courageously she loves. I don’t know anyone that is committed to her family like my wife. No matter the pain, no matter the sacrifice, her heart is big enough and strong enough to hold you.

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How do you have a successful business and marriage simultaneously?

We are still learning but communication, balancing time and creating boundaries are big things for us to focus on. We both have busy and unpredictable schedules so we have to manage our expectations of one another and be ready to forgive when needed!

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When has your marriage and work conflicted? How was it resolved?

Michelle: When we worked together in the first 4 years of marriage we had a lot of conflict between decisions, leadership and equality. It was hard to balance the roles in work and then at home. In a lot of ways we complimented each other and were able to succeed as a unit but it was difficult to not also let our differences make us opponents. In the last couple of years we have been off and on working together part-time and now we each have our own projects to focus on. We still have some conflict with irregular work hours, unstable income and expectations of each other but we talk about them as they arise and work through them one day at a time.

Tyler: Hmmm the first 4-5 years of our marriage?!?! Only since the last 6 months it feels like, we have always worked together, side by side. Though there are many fond memories, and I miss it dearly, we were forced to separate our work lives for the sake of our married life. I am not sure we would have been able to find resolution any other way. Though, redemption always prevails. Now we begin a new chapter of re-learning how to work side by side and I am excited and anxious to grow closer through our work, rather than apart like in the past.

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What advice would you give to newlyweds?

Dear Newlyweds, 

You know all of the hopes and dreams and plans that you have written in your head? The way everything is going to work out like you think it is? Well, I’m (tyler) here to tell you likely it won’t. I know, I know, that is some pretty crappy news to hear. BUT, don’t be scared. It does get better, so much better. Even though it may not go the way you want, the way you always dreamed, as long as you stick it through, as long as you love your spouse as much as you can and never give up on them, I can tell you with certainty… your marriage WILL. be. good.

What advice do you have for couples that work together? Work separately?

For working together – it’s important to define your roles within the business and allow each person to own their roles separately. While your life together is a partnership, it’s easier if one person is the leader in a business. If you work separately on your own things – we have found that interest and support in one another’s projects goes a long way! And to prevent conflict, establish expectations that you each have for one another – anything from chores to phone calls to dinner plans.

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What do you do for rest?

We love to go out for drinks and dinner on the weekends and usually we keep it low- key during the week. Netflix and take-out is a nice way to wind down together. We go to church together, hang with friends and I (Michelle) read and exercise to keep sane.

What do you do to improve your business?

Michelle: I push myself by setting a routine, making appointments and having deadlines. It keeps me going and I thrive off of building something bigger each day.

Tyler: My business isn’t improving at the moment. What do I do to keep it afloat? I don’t give up. I suffer tremendously. I cry in my wife’s arms as she tells me it will get better someday. It helps having a partner when things aren’t going your way.

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What do you do to improve your marriage?

We spend time together, there are many times in our marriage where we’ve sought professional counseling and we face conflict with intentional conversations. Don’t just sweep it under the rug… bitterness grows when you don’t deal with it.

What does your spouse do that lets you know you’re loved?

Michelle: I feel most loved when I know Tyler is thinking of me when he makes decisions.

Tyler:  The list is long! But here are a few of the tops: She believes in me more than anyone, no matter my failure. She cleans, and cooks, and cleans more so that I don’t have to. She gives me the best head massages EVER. I would list one other thing, but I know Michelle will delete it, sooo use your imagination.

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Is it your similarities or your differences that attract you to each other?

We were originally drawn to our differences but there’s a lot of comfort in having similarities now…

What would you most like to accomplish in the next 12 months?

Michelle: A big word that had come up for me over the last couple of months is simplify. I want to weed out the things that aren’t working and get more efficient with the things that are. Stability is another thing – having two small businesses keeps us guessing each month but I’m hoping that in a year we’ll be closer to making ‘adult’ decisions about a home/kids etc.

Tyler: In the next 12 months there is nothing I want more than to finally have stability. As much as I live for adventure, taking risks, standing behind what I believe in, and building intentional, real relationships, I am so tired! Calculated decisions, way less risk, and balanced life for at least a couple years please! (Never thought the words would come out of my mouth haha)

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What’s your favorite iPhone (or Android) app?

Michelle: It’s a toss up between Instagram (basically my business) and Postmates.

Tyler: Though I have many favorite iPhone apps, my favorite pertaining to my marriage is definitely Life360! Gotta know where the only thing in my life that matters most is at all times, with auto alerts and everything

What’s the dumbest argument you have ever had?

Michelle: I like to give Tyler a hard time about this but he’s kind of a germaphobe and we once got in a fight about how I need to clean the washing machine better in between it washing our clothes…

Tyler: They are always centered around miscommunication and our “love” cups being on empty. With that formula, it doesn’t matter what it is, shit is going down! From painting a wall or not to eat a slice of pizza, the arguments can get pretty dumb!  I think that is one of the harder things to learn through marriage. How to communicate better and dig through the surface shit and really get at each others hearts – or more than anything, to love the other first and put their needs first. Whew, forever learning!

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What personality trait of your partner do you wish you had more of?

Michelle: Patience. I’ve gotten better but I still don’t have the patience Tyler does to perfect a project, wait for an answer or sit through meetings/events that I have no interest in. I’m such a ‘get it done’ person that sometimes I miss out on being in the moment.

Tyler: My wife doesn’t procrastinate nearly as much as I do. She is focused and gets shit done. I’ll take a can of that please!

Michelle: cream dress, Cameo // orange heels, French Connection // white dress, Abercrombie // metallic sandals, Louise et Cie // black hat, Otte // black crop top Lovers & Friends // black skirt, J Brand

Tyler: denim button down, Levis // tee, Love Nail Tree // blazer, Zara // jeans, Talley Denim // dress shirt, Express // Boots, Royal Republiq