We just celebrated our 12 year anniversary. I look back and think of us when we first met, it feels like only a few years. We acted like puppies at play, laughing, rolling around, so excited to be together. We met in Huntington Beach through friends. I had just moved to CA from Utah. Thomas just finished college in Hawaii and was now home in San Diego trying to figure out what to do next, then I came along. If you believe in love at first site, well that was us. When I saw him, I thought this guy has broken many hearts and then he talked... he couldn’t even look me in the eye, he was so sweet and shy. We went for a walk on the beach and that’s when I really saw him. He was kind and had no idea how darling he was. It truly felt like magic being with him. I was myself, at ease with nothing to hide, he wanted to know everything about me. It felt raw, innocent. A different kind of love, love at first site. We dated for a year then he proposed. We had a beautiful wedding in San Diego then left for our honeymoon to Thailand. I wish I could say, then we rode off into the sunset and lived happily ever after but our story to a very sharp turn. I can honestly say we are happy but our journey was not always filled with hearts. My heart was broken a month after we got married. My sweet Dad, died instantly of a massive heart attack. We had just returned home from our honeymoon in Thailand when I received the news. The last day I saw my father was on our wedding day. I was heart broken and full of regret, I didn’t get to say “goodbye Dad, I love you”. I went from the happiest girl, a couple walking on clouds to sadness that I couldn’t have imagined then, the depression hit. But guess what? We did find happiness again, it is possible and we are proof. We are still standing. Thomas was and is my glue and I love him more now than ever. I must say, we feel pretty resilient. We learned so much about life, marriage and one another through our good and trying times. I want to share some lessons and experiences that helped us, that may help you. Tools that helped me out of my depression and I think saved our marriage.

1. Therapy. I went to an amazing therapist that helped me save my life. I remember crying to her saying“I want to be the old Jess, the happy one before my dad died. How can I be her again?” She replied “you will never be her again because you have come out of this a different person but stronger”. I bawled hearing that news but I needed to hear it. I couldn’t live in the past and I couldn’t bring back my dad. She then gave me some homework, she told me to go home and write a letter to myself. Talk to yourself, talk about what’s hard, why you hurt and why you feel so guilty. Tell yourself and tell your father that you love him and say goodbye. Believe it, talk to yourself like you would a loved one, with care. Then when you are done, be done. Know that your father now knows how you feel, he knows you love him, he is listening so try not to feel guilty anymore. He doesn’t want to see you in pain. Forgive yourself and then get rid of the letter. I did everything she said, It didn’t happen over night but soon after, I started living again. I believed what I told myself and my father. That was the best I could do and I had to choose to live again, for today and for my future.

2- Another therapy lesson. Learning to let yourself cry and letting those around you know, I need to cry, this will help me heal. When my father past my family and Thomas had the hardest time seeing me cry. I get it, it’s so hard to feel helpless when someone is so upset but after about 6 months of trying not to cry and just trying to move on to be a happy newlywed, I felt like I was breaking inside and that’s when I knew I needed to see a therapist. That’s when I went to my first visit. She told me I had to cry to heal, to release. And sweet Thomas learned that he couldn’t fix me, he just needed to be there and listen. I think it’s really hard for men to not fix because that’s what they are so good at. It took years but now we just try to listen to one another and not fix right away because crying and releasing instead of bottling it up inside can be so healing. Of course if you can’t stop and the depression is taking over, please go talk to someone like I did. ♥️

3- After therapy we needed to work things out in real life. Just be with your loved one, one on one and depend on each other to get through the hard stuff. Thomas and I moved to nyc three years after we got married. What helped our marriage there was, it was just us in a tiny one bedroom apartment. Nowhere to run away from our problems but face them head on because we only had each other. No distractions, no family, only a few friends...really just us and our weenie dog Fancy. I’m not saying you need to move away but what helped us was to just be together, to depend on another. We couldn’t run away from our issues, all we had was one another. We learned a lot in those 6 years there. We learned to laugh again, to be one. We both cried when we would talk about our feelings. We would fight. We would walk ten feet away from the living room to the bedroom then we were forced to see one another because our apartment was so tiny. But, we never went to bed without talking it through because we had nowhere to run or hide. We learned to say we were sorry then face another hard nyc day, together.

4- Communication. Yep, maybe the biggest and best key to our marriage. No matter how many times I thought, Thomas knows what I am thinking....nope. And I didn’t know what he is thinking but we have learned ques and learned when we need to talk and yes, you need to learn to fight/discuss conflict healthy. We were never the yelling type but we would get very frustrated when would argue because we couldn’t communicate our feelings, we didn’t know how. After 12 years, we have learned and are still learning how to communicate our feelings. And there is definitely a time and a place to discuss issues AND what battles to pick. We are both learning to bite our tongue when it’s not worth it and when it is, we talk. I try not to bring up a big issue when Thomas is stressed or late at night when we are tired. It’s not always easy but if we communicate when it’s a good time (it doesn’t always happen that way) and without exploding we both hear one another so much better! I try not to attack. I try to take a deep breath and say “I feel or when you do or say this it makes me feel......”. I swear, that simple! Why can’t I do that every time?! Haha but we are learning and getting better.

5- sometimes all you can do is laugh. When the kids are both crying, when chocolate milk has spilled everywhere I try to just laugh and not freak with the babies. Thomas and I always try to laugh or take the light hearted approach with the kids because if you give in with the craziness you might seriously loose it right?! Don’t get me wrong, I have cried with them and that’s okay too. Your babies need to know mommy’s cry too and that’s okay but for the most part I try to be their stable mama. We keep on keeping on and laugh together after a crazy day.

6-This one is a recent one I learned. Asking one another each morning before the day and craziness starts “what Can I do for your heart today?” That simple but so hard to do when life gets going. Maybe it’s just getting a cup of coffee or something more heavy like talking about what you are stressed about.

7- I need your advice for spending time alone because honestly we never have that time and we desperately need it. If you have any advice, please. I feel like I’m here with a voice, to be real with you about lessons I have learned...maybe it will help one person and that would be amazing. I am still learning, we are still learning. I don’t have all the answers but we are getting better and that’s what is important.