10 year wedding anniversary

Without really noticing it, our 10th wedding anniversary crept up on us. πŸ™‚ I’m using this opportunity to get extra personal (so feel free to skip along if you’re here for the wedding photos) and share what happened to us as a couple over those 10 years and what we learned.

As a teenager and into my twenties, I was absolutely convinced that marriage was not for me. I had seen the mess divorce leaves firsthand (sorry mom and dad, lol). And I had this notion of “if you don’t get married, you can’t get divorced”. While this is true in a legal/strictly speaking kind of way, in the bigger scheme of things it actually doesn’t mean anything at all. Of course it’s about how willing you are to open yourself up and risk to get hurt.

If you don’t get married, you can’t get divorced.

Enter Jelger. When we first met, we were both a bit of a mess. πŸ˜‰ I was single after an emotionally destructive relationship and Jelger found himself in the aftermath of his own negative experience. Despite our somewhat unusual circumstances, we bonded very quickly. Pretty much two weeks into meeting him, I left more and more of my stuff at his place. And after a good six months, we found an apartment together to rent in Ghent, where we moved in the Summer of 2008.

Summer of 2008

And while our story easily could have kinda ended there with a “and they still live there”. That’s not what happened. From early on, we always worked on changing our lives for the better. We both took individual counseling sessions for years. And Jelger had a dream of moving to the US since he was 18 after travelling there. So after a vacation that ended in Vancouver, we decided to end our unfullfilling carriers in Belgium and try out life in a different country.

As soon as we made that decision, I got it in my head that I’d rather get married in Belgium. To this day, I don’t really know why I suddenly wanted to get married. πŸ˜‰ Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it, haha, but even after all these years as a wedding photographer, I know you can have an equally fabulous relationship without the official documents or party. But since I wanted it, I started poking Jelger, who (somewhat reluctantly) caved and got on board with the idea.

Our engagement photos in 2011

We were married in the city hall in Ghent on May 28th 2011. About 5 months before we made our move to Canada. Our wedding was a fun day, it went by very fast (it really does!) and that was that. And as great as wedding day is, it’s one day! I’m all for celebrating milestones, but life luckily doesn’t stop afterwards. When I hear people say “it was the best day of my life” I cringe a bit, because I sure hope that’s not true. As much as I enjoyed our wedding day, I can honestly say I’ve had some equally fabulous other days with Jelger. (and for sure many more to come)

When I hear people say “it was the best day of my life” I cringe a bit, because I sure hope that’s not true.

Our wedding on May 28th 2011

In the fall of 2011 we moved to Vancouver and a few months later started our wedding photography business. A few years in we got the outdoor bug (in a good way, lol, I mean we started hiking, haha). We changed our lives to invite more outdoorsyness. In 2020 we purchased a piece of land and are now building our dream cabin in the woods. Reinvention and self-development keep happening. While the future seems uncertain, knowing us, it’ll probably be something adventurous and spontaneous. πŸ˜‰

2013 – still fairly well behaved πŸ˜‰

So I have learned a thing or two about being in a relationship during all these years, and here are my biggest take-aways.

The better you feel as an individual, the more you have to share with your partner.

I can’t say enough good things about improving your life as an individual, which then helps you bring more to the table in your relationship. Rupaul got it right: β€œIf you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

2015 – somewhat less tame

ASK for what you need.

Contrary to what we like to think: our partner doesn’t always know what’s going on inside our heads. πŸ˜› For me this was a big one. I often assumed Jelger was some type of mindreader because we spend so much time together. Asking for what you need is also great in conflict situations. Instead of blaming the other person, tell them what’s important to you and what you need, not what they did or didn’t do. (still occasionally failing at that one, lol, but it works!)

2017 – embracing our weirdness

If you can’t find a middle ground, each gets their own.

Maybe a bit unconventional, but sometimes you can’t find a solution that pleases both of you. In Jelger and my case, I’m a lot more messy/unorganized than Jelger. We ended up each doing our own laundry, so I can keep piling mine up until it’s reeealllly necessary (aka down to the last pair of underwear) and he doesn’t have to chase me to sort it out. We also split up dishwasher weeks. When it’s my week, I load it however I see fit. When it’s his week, he does. We DO NOT interfere with each other’s dishes. πŸ˜›

This sounds a bit silly, but if you have a lot of those “small things that annoy you”, why give them the chance to grow and fester instead of finding a solution.

2018 – cough, now you know how long we haven’t updated our portraits, lol

Don’t try to change each other

Let me be clear, I’m all for encouraging your partner in any way they need. So if THEY want to change something, totally different story. But trying to fit them in your mold is never going to end well. I tried to “change myself” for the sake of a relationship and that’s just a long road to nowhere.

2019 – embracing the cold because we finally have allll the layers

Keep having fun

Now this post starts to feel like my wedding tips, haha. But seriously. Fun, laughter and humour will forever be medicine against the darkest days. Recently we went camping together and had a miserable night together with a sick Jelger, a way too cold environment and lots of things going wrong. And in the middle of it all, we had a good moment of laughter. “Let’s go camping they said”. πŸ˜‰

This is a point we consciously have to work on. Life can get serious very quickly and it’s never without ups and downs. But the more we can add fun and good humour, the better we get through it all.

January 2020 – officially Canadian

Congratulations!! You’ve made it to the end of my somewhat random musings. πŸ˜‰ I know we’ll do great for the next 10 years. There’s never a dull moment with a fantastic husband like Jelger and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

vancouver-wedding-photographer-tanja
Summer of 2020 – first time in our lives owning property, we can know refer to it as “insert British accent” the acreage.
May 28 2021 – 10 years with this goofball πŸ™‚