Month 1.

A month ago today my life changed forever. Can you believe it? A month ago today, I knelt across the altar from my love, and we covenanted to love each other through this life and eternity. And just like a week, a month has changed my perspective immensely. I’ve learned so much more in these past few weeks than I thought I would, and it’s only fitting that I document it.

  • Real life hits you FAST. The Monday after our honeymoon, Tanner started work, which meant getting up at 5 in the morning and coming home at 4 pm, completely exhausted. The first week and a half of living like that was rough, to say the least. The rest of the family works as well, so I spent my days alone in the house, feeling useless. Fortunately, I got a job as a hostess at a restaurant, which is great, but I work from 4 pm to 9 pm, so Tanner and I really only see each other in the morning, during lunch sometimes, and the evening when both of us are tired from work. I also picked up another job, babysitting for some sweet little girls. The extra income is nice, especially since we’re SO broke, but more often than not I find myself daydreaming about our honeymoon, and wishing we could be independently wealthy so we could spend our days traveling the world, not having a care in the world, and spending all our time together. But this is our reality right now, and I am so grateful both of us are employed, so I’m not going to complain too much. ;^)
  • Communication is so, so, SO important. I’ve always thought the two of us had fantastic communication, but we are far from perfect. If I’ve learned anything this past month, it’s that Tanner is not a mind reader, and neither am I. We’ve gotten into several disagreements where the root of the problem was failure to communicate. My feelings got hurt because I didn’t express my desires, and he got frustrated because he didn’t express his. In the end, we were able to have a really good discussion about the problem, and we have been so much happier for it, but the issue could have been resolved weeks ago if one of us had swallowed our pride and just talked it out. I just hope I remember that advice later on down the road.
  • Sleeping together is still a bit of a challenge (I can be a ridiculously light sleeper), but I’m pretty sure I prefer that to sleeping alone. I can’t sleep unless I’m touching him, and I live for our late night cuddles. It just feels so comforting holding each other until we fall asleep, and even though waking up at 5 every morning sucks, it means holding each other in the early hours of the morning, which I am always in favor of. I love that boy, bedhead and morning breath included. 
  • Living with parents is hard. I’m just going to come out and say it. But lest you think I am an ungrateful, spiteful human, let me explain. It’s hard because even though I’m his wife, I’m not really a wife right now. Does that make sense? We aren’t in our own space, so I can’t do a lot of things a normal housewife would. Keep in mind that these are things I WANT to do- I’m not some suppressed, languishing feminist who needs to break out of the mold. No, I very much want to be a housewife, and not fulfilling that role is throwing off my groove. I do love getting to know his wonderful family, though, and living rent-free while we get on our feet is a HUGE blessing. But it’s still tough to not have my own space. It’s tough to have to wear actual pants around the house, too. Hopefully soon we will have our own space, though, and I won’t have to wear pants! And I will be able to decorate everything, and take care of my husband fully and completely. I am so excited for that.
  • Post-marriage weight gain is real, y’all. It’s real, and it’s terrible. My eating habits have changed right along with my last name, and I have paid for it. I’ve even started eating sugar again, which has been simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing that has happened. The fact of the matter is sugar just tastes so dang GOOD, and it’s easier than you would think to fall into that trap again. Even after almost 5 years of not eating it, my body got used to the sugar really quick, and now I’m having to take a step back and regroup. I hate that I allowed myself to do that! Not eating sugar was a piece of who I was as a person, however small and inconsequential it may seem. Losing a part of my identity hurt, and I’ve been struggling to get back on the horse and be strong again. Loving my body has also been so difficult. Before I got engaged and the stress (and sugar) did a number on my body, I was the slimmest I had ever been. I was finally in a place where I felt good about myself most of the time. I was eating right, I was active, and I felt so awesome! Now, I have grown not one, but four pant sizes since February, and it’s been harder than ever to love myself because of it. I know how important it is to love the skin you’re in, but it gets so difficult when you just… Can’t. I think I’ll make a separate post about this, because it’s been weighing so heavily on my mind. No pun intended. 
  • This month, I have learned a lot about caring and being taken care of. Each night when I get home from work, my sweet Tanner has had dinner ready for me. And even though it’s a normal thing at this point, I’m still so touched by that sweet gesture every time. Having someone take care of you is the best feeling, and I couldn’t be luckier to have someone like him caring for me. He treats me like an absolute queen, and I am consistently amazed by the love he continues to show for me. I’ve tried to step up to the plate and take care of him as well as he takes care of me, but it’s hard to top. He really is so fantastic. I’m so blessed. We both have a long way to go, however. We’re both stubborn human beings, and that often means refusing help. Which is like running headfirst into a brick wall, it’s so frustrating. Sometimes I just want to scream, “LET ME HELP YOU!!”, but then I remember that he is his own person, and I can’t force him to do anything. And sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is be patient, which poor Tanner has to be more often than not, because I am not the easiest person to deal with, to say the least. But I’m trying to be better at accepting the help that he gives, and I’m trying to remember that he’s taking care of me because he WANTS to, not because he is being told to. It’s pretty great being loved by him.
Well, this month has been great, and I can’t wait to see what we’ll have learned in a year from now! I really hit the jackpot when it comes to spouses.
Let’s try for another month!
*photo credit courtesy of Lexi Carling Photography
~Haeley

Let’s talk wedding photography.

Apparently all I’m going to blog about for the foreseeable future is marriage. (not that I’m complaining, just giving a heads up for all the people out there who think love is gross.)

Let’s be real here. One of my favorite things about people getting married- aside from committing your life to the person you love most, of course- is the pictures! I love looking at the pure emotion and love being portrayed in those precious snapshots. It’s just so honest and sweet and sincere! I look at wedding pictures more often than I’d care to admit, and now that I have my own…. I think it’s safe to say they will be EVERYWHERE. ;^)

Looking through my pictures, I realize just how special certain shots are to me, and how grateful I am that they were taken. I also have a few pictures that I wish were taken, and I will forever kick myself for not making absolutely sure they were taken in some capacity. So, since I am obviously a) a marriage expert, and b) a professional photographer, I will now condense my wisdom into a List Of Pictures I Highly Suggest Taking. Cool?

  1. The first look. 
I’ll admit, I was skeptical of this one. I am not a huge fan of cliches, and I kind of feel like taking a first look picture is kind of cliche at this point, because everyone takes them nowadays, it seems. I wasn’t planning on taking them at all; in fact, I was planning on having a very private ‘first look’, with just Tanner and I. No photographers, no weeping family members, nothing. Just the two of us. And while I still think that would have been a good idea, I’m still so glad we took first look photos. Because even though ours will never make it onto Pinterest with how perfect we are, and Buzzfeed will never put us on a list of “most emotional first look photos,” the pictures are still so sweet. Please don’t have sky-high expectations for your first look though. 
No, no, NO. DON’T force your emotionally charged demands on your man, okay? You want his reaction to be absolutely genuine, and if he doesn’t cry, he doesn’t cry. I personally wouldn’t have really wanted Tanner to cry, because then I would have cried, and our wedding pictures would be all red-eyed and snotty. No thanks. So just remember: your first look pictures might not look like this:
And your husband might not fall to his feet in a dead faint because of how gorgeous you are. That just won’t happen. But you will get his honest reaction,

and you will be happier with your first look than you ever thought possible. (look at his smile! Better than anything I could find on Pinterest.)
      2. Posing.
I think posed wedding pictures look so pretty- most of the time. A serious face can really make a picture go from cute to downright classy really quickly. In my head, I always pictured a good amount of serious pictures, because as I said, they’re just so darn classy! But eventually I decided that our personalities just didn’t quite match what serious pictures portray. Serious pictures have always implied maturity, poise, and… Wisdom? I don’t know where I’m going with this, but the point is, it’s just not me, and it’s not Tanner. We’re goofy! We’re not all that mature! We just don’t exude the serious vibe, and that’s okay. I’ve learned not only to embrace it, but to run with it. It’s us, and that’s awesome. 
I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that posed pictures look so good, but oftentimes the ones that aren’t posed are the ones that are the most genuine. The ones where we are clearly teasing each other or laughing are my favorites, because it’s just so US!

      3. Get the details.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Get a close up of the groom’s look,
Your bouquet,
Your hairpiece,
And so on and so on. It might not seem like a big deal, but the details are important, too!
      4. Aerial shots. 
You guys. You guys. These pictures are so gorgeous! They are at a flattering angle, they really show off your dress, and they’re just so, so pretty. I got the idea from the wedding pictures of one of my friends from high school. They were so gorgeous and original, I knew I needed to get some shots like that. And boy, am I glad I did.

SO PRETTY, right?
      5. Remember what’s important (don’t focus on the negative)
I’ve always struggled with my weight. It’s been a constant battle for me to see myself as beautiful, especially when I’m physically not where I want to be. And my initial reaction when I saw these pictures was sadness. Did I really look that huge in my dress? Am I really that fat? After obsessing over it for a while, I had a reality check. No, I am not super slender. I do not have a flat, perfect stomach that photographs well. I have somewhat of a double chin. I have a ways to go physically, but you know what? I’m BEAUTIFUL. My dress was lovely, I felt good in it, and above all, I married my best friend. And that’s what these pictures are about- the love we share. Not my size, not my arms, none of that. It’s about US. Once I got past that, I was able to truly enjoy these pictures. Am I tiny and perfect? No. Far from it. But this body is mine, and I need to love it regardless of my size. Plus, my husband loves it, which is also a bonus. ;^)
      6. Temple pictures.
I haven’t gotten these back yet, but I already have some regrets and pointers. The day we got married was a beautiful day- especially for it being the end of May in Arizona. The temperature never even went into the high eighties! It really was the most perfect day to get married. However, the sun was still shining, my dress was made of heavy fabric + wasn’t very flowy, and there were small children everywhere. As a result, it felt hot, uncomfortable, and it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences. So we hurried through the pictures and only got group shots. While that’s great and all, I HATE that we only got group pictures. I hate it! I wish we had just stuck it out and took our time getting pictures, because we are missing some pictures I really wish I had gotten. We never got pictures with our bridesmaids/groomsmen, we never got pictures with our siblings, we never got pictures with our parents OR grandparents… We missed out on a lot. And I wish more than anything we had gotten those pictures. I didn’t even get a picture with my own mother! That is messed. Up. And I’m going to stop talking about it right now before I get all emotional (thank you, PMS!).
In short, make a list of the pictures you need, and give them to the photographer. You won’t regret standing in the sun for just a few extra minutes when you can look back and see the family pictures you have.
      7. The most important picture.
I think it’s vital that you get a picture of your favorite butt, personally.
#love
~Haeley

To my previous love interests.

A few nights ago, Tanner and I *finally* opened our wedding presents. Naturally, a bunch of cards were in the mix. As we went through the gifts and cards, I was struck by the amount of love being poured out to us through the kind words being said in the little cards we received.

The evening was a good one, and as things began winding down and the last few gifts were opened, I noticed an envelope addressed specifically to me. I took it out of the pile quietly, and read it to myself. It was from a young man I had had a crush on all throughout my high school years, and rather than wishing me and my new husband congratulations on our marriage, it was an apology letter. It expressed regret for any amorous advances made towards me, and any subsequent confusion it may have caused.

As I thought about the strange note, my first reaction was to laugh. Obviously I had moved on! Did he think that, perhaps, my Tanner was an extreme form of a rebound? Did he think I was emotionally scarred by holding hands with him occasionally over the course of 4 years? Why did he feel the need to bring it up over a year later, at my wedding? 

I don’t know that I’ll ever get answers to these questions, but now I don’t think it’s as funny as I did initially. Rather, I feel sad for him and that he feels those years were a waste of time. Had I the opportunity to go back to high school and change anything, I wouldn’t. Because those years were difficult at times, but wonderful nonetheless. Do you know why they were so wonderful? Because of him, and other boys that came into my life at one point or another and gave me a little taste of just how awesome romance can be.

Perhaps it’s just because I have always been a tad (read: very) boy-crazy, but I honestly think that having crushes and having those experiences have made me into a better person! I don’t regret anything I’ve done; instead, I’m grateful for the small romantic interludes I had every so often.

And so, I would like to write a little letter in response to that note- but rather than target that specific boy, I’m going to address this letter to all of my previous love interests over the years, because they really shaped who I am and influenced my choice of a husband.

Dear past crushes,

I would like to say, first and foremost, thank you.

Thank you for helping me grow into the woman that I am today. Couldn’t have done it without you!

Thank you for being brave enough to hold my hand the first time. It may seem small and inconsequential now, but at the time it made my heart pound, and I couldn’t sleep because of how happy it made me. Thank you for teaching me to appreciate even the simplest forms of physical affection, and to enjoy the feeling of someone’s hand in mine. It’s still one of the most comforting feelings, and you made me realize the beauty and security that holding hands fosters.

Thank you for the little notes and treats you gave me for my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and for no reason. I still have all of those sweet little treasures, and when I was younger I had a few of your letters almost memorized from reading them so much. Thank you for teaching me to enjoy the small, handmade gifts. They mean the most, and are so sincere. Please never stop writing notes to your future wife. She will appreciate them more than you know, and keep them for years to come.

Thank you for being so entertaining to talk to, because it taught me the importance of being able to talk to my future spouse, and the importance of being able to have deep, meaningful talks one moment, and silly, pointless banter the next. Communication is so important, and you helped me realize that.

Thank you for allowing me to imagine a future with you. Granted, you never knew it because I never talked about it to you, but I loved dreaming about our potential future together. I would imagine our story, how it would be different from everyone else’s, and how romantic it would be to tell our children how we met, holding hands and smiling as the old feelings came rushing back alongside those precious memories. I loved picturing the two of us growing old together, surrounded by grandchildren. I loved secretly trying out your last name (every girl does this, I’m not crazy), and quietly saying it out loud to see how it sounded.

Thank you for being so kind and caring with my little brothers, because it made me realize that having a man who was good with kids was a non-negotiable item on my mental checklist of marriageable qualities. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy watching a guy play with little kids? Yum.

Thank you for being my best friend, and doing random, crazy things with me. I knew that I would want to marry someone like that someday- someone I could laugh with, cry with, and go on completely random adventures with. Thank you for being the kind of person I could tell anything to, and thank you for never judging me for my feelings.

Thank you for breaking my heart, and for letting me experience the feeling of emptiness. As hard as it was, it built me up into a stronger person, and allowed me to appreciate the power of loving myself. It taught me to be independent, and showed me that my happiness did not rely on the approval of male counterparts.

Thank you for being a jerk. Thank you for texting other girls while you were on a date with me, and thank you for making me feel stupid by acting like my superior constantly. Thank you for being inconsiderate, because without your sour example, I wouldn’t have decided that I was worth someone’s full attention. I was worth being treated as an equal, and I was worth someone who would be KIND to me. Thank you for reminding me that settling never makes anyone happy.

Thank you for all the lessons you unknowingly taught me through the years. Without you, I would never have found someone who had all the qualities I both wanted and needed in a man. I don’t regret any of the experiences I’ve had over the years, because if I hadn’t had them, I wouldn’t appreciate Tanner for the true gem he is.

So never apologize for your past feelings. Even if we didn’t end up together, we had a good time, and we both learned a lot. I hope that you don’t feel bad for any feelings you had towards me, because I don’t regret having liked you. I am excited for the future you have ahead of you, and I pray that the woman you eventually make your wife will appreciate the man you have become because of those experiences.

Best of luck,

~Haeley

Week 1.

Holy cow, guys! I’ve been married for a full week now! Typing that I realize that it’s nothing compared to the grand scheme of things- our marriage is just a baby! We haven’t gone through any struggles or hard times yet! So what am I doing celebrating a week (and two days) of marriage?

Well, like all big changes in life, it’s brought so many growing experiences, and I feel like I should document them in some capacity. This is my new life, and I love recording the important changes here. So without further ado, I will now write down some things I’ve learned in my whopping 9 days of marriage.

  • The morning I got married, I expected to feel a considerable change in the way I felt- a sort of shift in the universe, so to speak. But I was surprised at how natural it all felt! Walking out of the temple, facing all my loved ones as a Rhineheart rather than a Whetten felt so peaceful! I hadn’t lost any of my family ties, or the special bonds I have with my siblings. I had gained something so much more! I now have the opportunity to grow closer to my parents, as our family dynamic has changed considerably. In addition to that, however, I have a whole NEW family I get to meet, and love, and learn with. It’s the neatest feeling knowing I really am a part of this wonderful family- both sides. I don’t know how or why I was blessed with such fantastic in-laws, but I thank my Heavenly Father for them often. I really do have the best of the best.
  • Throughout our engagement, it was like we were fighting an invisible battle with the adversary. We could hardly go a week without arguing over something stupid, accidentally hurting someone’s feelings, and vice versa. I cried over everything it seems, and more than once I questioned whether I was making the right decision in sealing myself to a man I had only known since October. Countless times over the past three months I would feel completely and totally worthless. Yes, I was engaged to someone I loved more than life itself, but why on earth would he actually choose me? I would sit and pick through all my individual flaws and shortcomings until I felt like the stupidest, ugliest, fool of a girl. And try as I might, I couldn’t shake the feelings of utter nothingness. Looking back, I know that those feelings were not mine. I know that Satan was trying his absolute hardest to deprive me of the blessings of a temple marriage, and the knowledge that we won out against someone so dead-set on separating us is the most victorious feeling! Ever since we walked out of the temple, I have felt positively on top of the world. I haven’t struggled with my self image hardly at all since that beautiful day. It’s almost like God has been rewarding us for making it to the temple by letting us feel so great about ourselves and each other.
  • Going off of my previous bulletpoint, I have never felt more beautiful nor comfortable with myself as I have since I got married. Part of that is, I’m sure, because Satan can’t convince me I’m not worthy of the temple, but another, larger part of it is because my husband has seen ME. All of me. Not just my face, not just the outline of myself through clothing. He has seen the full and complete me, without anything covering or hiding the parts of my body I choose to keep hidden from the rest of the world. And despite seeing the thighs that are just a little bit jigglier than I would like them to be, despite having seen and touched the stomach that’s bigger than I wish it was… Despite all of that, he still thinks I am the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. And rather than feeling shy or ashamed of my flaws, I have learned to embrace them. Because they make me who I am, and who I am is perfect for my husband. And I am finally okay with myself because of it. 
  • All growing up, I hated sleeping in the same bed as someone else. HATED it. I would rather have slept on the floor than share a mattress with anyone- regardless of if I was related to them or not. Granted, it has taken some getting used to, and some figuring out (Tanner tends to punch me in the head in his sleep if he’s not on the right side of the bed), but now I don’t want to sleep alone! Being close to him all night is one of the most peaceful feelings. Mornings are also now more bearable, because when he wakes up he pulls me close to him, and that’s just the tops. Plus… That boy is a space heater, and my toes get super cold at night. Win-win! ;^)
  • Speaking of doing things alone… How did I ever shower alone?! (too real? Haha) It’s just nice to have someone to talk to while you’re sudsing up, you know? And, let’s be real honest here for a second: who really gets their whole back cleaned every time they shower? Who can even reach back there? Spouses are a convenient fix for that age-old problem… And showering together saves water- I think. Ha!
  • Even though it’s only been a matter of days, I already have sensed a change in how I feel about my Tanner. I have loved him throughout this whole process, but since we’ve been married it’s become a much deeper feeling. Since I have been with him day in and day out for a week now, we’ve gotten to know each other a LOT better. I know a lot more of his little quirks and funny habits, and they’ve only made him more dear to me. I know, I know, I’ll probably get super annoyed with them at some point, but for now it has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had, getting to know this unique and wonderful human being. Before we were married, we didn’t get to see each other at our most comfortable state of being- not that we were constantly putting on a show around each other, but there are just certain things that don’t happen while you are dating/engaged. But now we know. I know how much he hates wearing shoes, and he knows how much concentration it takes me to get my eyeliner just exactly right. Little things like that have been so much fun to discover, and I am looking forward to learning even more about each other. 
  • Even on our honeymoon, we couldn’t escape some of the realities of life. The first night in California, Tanner felt sick all night. Then two days later I hurt my leg so badly I could hardly walk. We also took turns throughout the week feeling sick at one point or another, because we were VERY adventurous with our meals. Glamorous? No. Picture-perfect? Definitely not. But I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything. I love taking care of my love, and having him take care of me has been so comforting as well. Real life can and will suck, but knowing we have each other, and we’re both willing to do whatever it takes to make the other feel better, is such a blessing. I really scored with this guy.
  • The biggest learning curve of all, however, has been sex. I know it can be awkward to talk about (which it absolutely should NOT be), but I am going to try to have an open and honest dialogue about it on the blog. No, I am not going to go into detail, nor am I going to tell stories, but I strongly feel that healthy sex within marriage should be discussed, and encouraged! Stepping off my soapbox, this aspect of our relationship has been one of the most challenging and rewarding parts to develop. The whole process is a big learning experience, as we learn how to physically express our love and affection for each other. It’s far from the standards of sex that Hollywood has projected all over the media, but it’s unique, and it is a wonderful thing. Challenging at times, but it has been a beautiful way that my husband and I have been able to get closer to one another. Waiting for this powerful expression of love has been so worth it. At times it felt like we couldn’t possibly wait another day, but knowing we waited to share this together has been a reward in and of itself. I’m excited to keep learning and growing this part of our relationship!
And so there you have it. My discoveries and feelings of this whole marriage business so far. 
I honestly cannot believe how blessed I am to have married such a great person. We are far from perfect, but we refuse to give up on each other, and I look forward to how much we will have grown a month, and a year, and a decade from now. 
One week down, eternity to go. 

~Haeley