Free Marriage Advice: 8 Things We’ve Learned in 8 Years


(Photo above is by Beth Rose Photography. Hopefully I’ll have a bunch more to share from this shoot soon!)

As our 8th wedding anniversary approaches (it’s Tuesday!) I thought I’d share some nuggets of marriage goodness Jason and I have gathered the past few years. In our opinion, we have a pretty awesome marriage. We’re not marriage experts but you get what you pay for! Here we go:

1. Share a sink
Now, if your master bathroom already has two sinks you might as well use them. But Jason and I always thought it was pretty silly when some couples go through a lot of trouble to make sure they each have their own sink. We also have one relatively small closet. It’s about sharing. It’s about moderation. These are important values to us.

2. Turn off the car radio
Actually, it rarely gets turned on in the first place when we’re together. It’s not a “rule” but just something that we’ve gotten in the habit of. Jason and I have had most of our best discussions in the car. The uninterrupted alone time is precious and perfect for debating, dreaming and digging into important issues.

3. Do home repairs together
Not only do DIY projects save money and increase our skills, they force us to work together as a team. Sometimes we get frustrated, grumpy, tired but we’re able to encourage each other, brainstorm and troubleshoot, and ultimately celebrate our finished project together.

4. Don’t let each other get away with crap
We have chosen to lovingly, gently hold each other accountable. It’s been a process learning the “lovingly, gently” part of this and even more so, how to receive the constructive criticism without defensiveness. It’s one of the greatest gifts we have given each other. No one cares more about your personal success than your spouse.

The next 4 are things we were told before we got married so we can’t take any credit for these ideas:

5. Go on date nights
I think it was my parents that suggested this. Even though we don’t have kids yet, date nights have proven to be worth the extra commitment on our budget sheet. Sometimes we really just need some time away together that doesn’t involve work (dishes, cooking, tiling, gardening, etc.). We always come back home feeling more in love.

6. Pray together / pray for each other
“Couples that pray together, stay together” is the old saying and apparently it’s statistically true, too. I can’t say we’re great at making time to pray together but praying for each other is a huge priority in our house. It means so much to me when I catch Jason praying over me at night (when he thinks I’m sleeping). And I know it blesses him knowing that I get up early most mornings and spend time praying for him in his studio.

7. Be the first to say you’re sorry
Because being right and holding your ground really isn’t worth it.

8. Don’t quit your marriage
Way to end on a high note, huh? Seriously, I think all marriage couples have times—fights, incidents, rough patches—that make us want to just walk out the door and never look back. Humans are selfish by nature. We want what we want, when we want it. We’ve never allowed divorce or separation to be an option worth considering. It’s just out of the question for us. We have to make a choice to resist selfishness everyday and to put each other above ourselves. That is love.

Advice for Fresh Graphic Designers


(Me at work approx. 3 years ago)

We have a new graphic design intern at my office. She’s still in school but preparing for the job market. It got me thinking about ome valuable advice I got from my professors and some things I wish I had known 3 years ago. Maybe this advice will be worth something to someone out there:

• Learn the keyboard shortcuts. Over time this will make you much more efficient. Added benefit: someone looking over your shoulder will have no idea what you’re doing and be completely impressed.

• Stay organized. Files. Deadlines. Emails. Meetings. Don’t let things pile up.

• Seek out inspiration. When you have free time peruse websites, blogs, magazines, your competitors publications. Become familiar with the things your target market loves.

• Say yes. When someone asks if you have time for a side project say yes. It’s OK to say, “Can it wait until tomorrow?” or “When do you need this? I have a lot going on today.” Don’t roll your eyes, let out a stressed-out sigh, say “maybe” and for-crying-out-loud DO NOT say no!

• Do a good job and work effiiciently. Turn things around quickly, especially unexpected requests, like above. Before long you will the everyone’s favorite designer and the go-to problem solver. Welcome this. It’s job security.

• Volunteer and have a service attitude. When you’re not busy help someone else with their work load. (You may learn some new skills.) When your boss asks if anyone has time to help him move boxes from the storage unit to the new office building. Say yes. And then make the time. Your helpful attitude and hard-work will not go unnoticed.

• Say hi and smile at your co-workers when they walk past your desk. Be friendly. Say yes to lunch offers as often as you can afford. It’s important and useful to know—really know—your co-workers; they’re people with families and full lives, too.

• Look for tutorials for design techniques and new software. Know the free resources for stock art, textures, action sets, fonts. Valuable inspiration and also saves your company money. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Challenge yourself. Never stop learning.

• Pray for your company; without it’s success you have no job*. Pray for your co-workers. Pray for your bosses. Pray for yourself—for creativity, for inspiration, for efficiency, for a good attitude, for peace, for energy, for raises (doesn’t hurt!).
*By all means, DO NOT curse your company! Do not say “This job is going nowhere.” “This company is going down the tubes.” “I’m on a sinking ship.” I’ve been guilty of saying all these things in the past. Take authority and bless your company, do not speak negativity over it. Speak what you want to happen, not what you do not want to happen. Your words have power.

• The ideal graphic designer is a combination of creative, efficient, organized and cool (enthusiastic, pleasant, stylish, trendy, fun).