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Photographer and educator Katelyn James is a very dear friend to Southern Weddings, and one of the sweetest gals we know. When she recently mentioned that she and her husband Michael have been working with a marriage counselor almost since they said “I do,” we were intrigued. It’s a topic that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but one we think deserves more love! We asked her to share a bit more about their experience today. Take it away, Katelyn! – Emily

When Emily asked me to share about our experience with a life coach/marriage counselor, I was excited… but then I had a split second of feeling a little uneasy about sharing this part of our life, because there are so many stigmas surrounding the idea of counseling, coaching, and therapy! Then I realized that that is the very reason why I SHOULD be sharing! Just last night we had friends over for dinner, and the fact that we meet with a life coach every two weeks came up. The first thing out of the wife’s mouth was, “Oh, he would never do that! He’s so against counseling of any kind!” I get it. It seems like only those who have super SERIOUS issues go to counseling or have a coach. Well, Michael and I have found that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Michael and I started meeting with our life coach (who is really more like a marriage counselor) over three years ago. At first, we weren’t convinced that it was a necessity. I mean, isn’t it normal to have marital tension, and use tones with one another, and feel conflicted about the balance of working together? Isn’t it totally understandable that we came from different family dynamics and that affects the way we show up emotionally with one another? Isn’t is normal to have weeks of not feeling like we’re on the same team?

I think those things ARE normal… but they don’t have to be. I actually think that the most damaging thing a couple can do in a relationship is just accept the unhealthy parts of their marriage and never dive deeper into the reason they are happening in the first place.

My dad is a pastor, and he always talks about how so many marriages have unhealthy tendencies that get masked by the “children” phase of life. Kids come, and life becomes all about them. It’s exciting and new and fun, but what happens when they are off to college and it’s back to just you and your spouse at home again? When it’s just the two of you and those struggles that you had before kids? They’re going to be waiting for you, which is why you see so many divorces happening when kids reach the end of high school and begin college. The little things matter, and they add up!

Michael and I knew deep down that we wanted to have a third party speak into our life. We love our parents, our siblings, our best friends… but there is something so powerful about having someone meet with us that isn’t biased towards us in any way. Our life coach lives in California, and we live in Virginia. We don’t meet in person, and we don’t even meet face to face. We commit to a simple one hour phone call every two weeks.

The actual commitment of the calls isn’t hard… it’s doing the HEART SEARCHING that’s hard. It’s being honest with how you’re showing up in your marriage that’s hard! Michael and I have grown so much in the last three years. The conversations that we are having with our life coach are the type of conversations that we would have never experienced without someone helping us dig deeper. No one enjoys digging deeper into the mess of their life, but it’s necessary in order to create a new vision for your marriage!

It’s hard to explain what we’ve gained from meeting with our coach in just one paragraph. To put it simply, it has been life changing. Michael and I have a greater understanding of why we are the way we are. The beautiful thing about our coaching sessions is that we have learned to recognize and see more clearly what is truth, and what we make up to be true about what another.

For example, assuming that Michael is mad, frustrated, or annoyed with me based off of his interactions with me totally discredits what could be going on in his world. A lot of tension and tone stems from outside stress. Choosing to respond to Michael based on what I KNOW to be true about him (that he loves me, cares for me, and wants the best for me) instead of the immediate circumstances has been a game changer.

Life coaching or marriage counseling isn’t just for those that are heading down a path of destruction… it’s for healthy marriages! As a photographer, I’ve spent a lot of money on education to improve my craft. My marriage is so much more important than my business, and so it only makes sense that we would invest in our relationship, as well.

If you’re considering hiring a life coach or marriage counselor, I recommend gently bringing it up to your spouse. This is something that you both need to be willing to do. Don’t be frustrated if it takes a few conversations to get on the same page! Sometimes I look forward to our calls, and other times I dread them… but no matter what, I always end our calls knowing that we’re fighting for our marriage together and there’s nothing else that is more important! We are learning how to love each other in a healthier way and even though we’re far from perfect, we know that God is doing amazing transformation in our relationship!

Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Katelyn! For those interested in learning more about Katelyn’s specific coach, you can visit Julia’s site.

All photos by Jillian Michelle Photography

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar Amber Stapp reply

    I love this! What a powerful article with such an important message for all couples! I’m inspired by this wonderful couple and their commitment to creating the best most God honoring marriage they can. Blessings to them both. And their baby is gorgeous!!!

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Our Instagram family continues to grow and grow–over 236,000 friends have spent time with us over the last year. Y’all have swooned over sweet moments and lovely wedding details and laughed along with the behind-the-scenes peeks into life in our office. We don’t use the word family lightly, as we love being able to interact with y’all through the power of social sharing. It’s always fun to see what y’all like the most and which details or moments lead to the most conversation. Here are ten of our most-liked Instagram posts from 2016!

The stunning tented reception space at Emily and Jim’s wedding

Hope and Michael’s darling newlywed home tour with some impressive before-and-after renovation peeks

A breathtaking setting for Erica and John’s wedding ceremony.

Maggie’s magnificent and perfectly pink bouquet

Amanda’s stylish Hayley Paige gown and classic up-do

Brent and Graham’s elegant (and cozy) wedding portrait

This sweet bride’s stunning veil

It is quite possible that this is one of my favorite looks of any #SouthernWeddings editorial. A bold statement, I know. But I’m a classic Southern bride through and through, so when you combine my very favorite style elements (big Southern hair, bows, and pearls!) I’m all in a tizzy! Plus, being married to a born and raised Montgomery boy, I can’t help but love our Montgomery bride just a little extra. Link in profile to see the all our beautiful South city styles. Photo by #BlueRibbonVendor @KatelynJames, hair by @AshandCoBridalHair, makeup by @BellelinaStudio, dress by @MiraZwillinger, bouquet by @StephanieGibbsEvents, jewelry by @Croghans, at @KSHGEvents. – @MarissaKloess P.S. Insta has a zoom now, so you can see how gorgeous this gown is! ?https://southernweddings.com/2016/12/13/favorite-wedding-dresses-southern-brides/

A photo posted by Southern Weddings Magazine (@southernweddings) on

Our Montgomery bride and her perfect bow-backed gown

Peyton and her maids (and their magical winter wedding day style)

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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    Want to hear a little secret? When you serve a signature cocktail at your wedding, it’ll probably be the number one thing your guests order at the bar. And for good reason! Just like your loved ones will be excited to ooh and aah over your reception decor, a special drink becomes a part of the experience you’ve created for them to enjoy. They can sip wine or beer at any party, but when they taste a special Rhubarb-Strawberry Daiquiri created just for your summer wedding, they get to use a whole different sense to get to know y’all little bit better.

    We asked our mixology pro friends from one of Charleston’s favorite services, Squeeze Cocktail & Beverage Catering, to teach us a few signature drink-worthy recipes, as well as a few Southern spins on these classic cocktails. Plan at at-home date night with your fiance to test a few out and choose the perfect fit for your celebration!

    Thank you to Blue Ribbon Vendor Katelyn James for these lovely photos!

    The Moscow Mule:
    2 oz Tito’s Vodka
    4 oz Ginger beer
    1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
    Lime peel garnish

    Fill a copper mug with crushed ice. Combine all ingredients in mug. Garnish with lime peel.

    The Southern Mule:
    2 oz Tito’s Vodka
    3 oz Ginger beer
    1 oz Local strawberry puree
    1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
    Lime peel garnish

    Fill a copper mug or glass with crushed ice. Combine all ingredients in glass. Garnish with lime peel.

    The Hemingway Daiquiri:
    2 oz White rum
    1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
    3/4 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
    1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
    1/4 oz Simple syrup
    Cherry garnish

    Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled martini glass or the coupe glass of your choice. Garnish with a cherry.

    The Rhubarb-Strawberry Daiquiri:
    2 oz White run/Cachaca
    1 oz Local strawberry puree
    1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
    1/4 oz Simple syrup
    Strawberry slice garnish

    Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe glass of your choice. Garnish with a strawberry slice.

    The Mint Julep:
    3 oz Bourbon
    1 oz Mint simple syrup
    Large mint sprig garnish

    Fill a julep cup with crushed ice. Combine all ingredients in cup. Garnish with a large mint sprig.

    The Blueberry-Mint Market Julep:
    2 oz Bourbon
    2 oz Blueberry-mint reduction
    Large mint sprig garnish
    Blueberry garnish

    Fill a julep cup with crushed ice. Combine all ingredients in cup. Garnish with mint sprig and blueberries.

    The Gin Fizz:
    2 oz Plymouth Gin
    1 oz Club soda
    1 oz Lemon juice
    3/4 oz Simple syrup
    1 Egg white (1/2 oz)
    Lemon peel garnish

    Add the club soda to a Fizz or Collins glass and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients to a shaker and shake without ice for about ten seconds. Add three or four ice cubes and shake very well. Double-strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

    The Ginger Fizz:
    2 oz Plymouth gin
    1 oz Club soda
    1 oz Lemon juice
    1 oz Ginger simple syrup
    1 Egg white (1/2 oz)
    Orange peel garnish

    Shake the gin, lemon and lime juices, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters with ice. Strain and serve in a highball glass with two ice cubes. Fill glass with club soda. Garnish with an orange peel.

    Cheers, y’all!

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
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      Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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