I have been patiently waiting + waiting to share this session with you on the blog … and today is the day!! Today we are celebrating a marriage that is 65 YEARS in the making. I write “in-the-making” because you never “arrive” or have it totally “figured out” when it comes to marriage, am I right about this?!? If we ever get to that point, when we think, “Oh, we’ve got this down! We have it all figured out when it comes to marriage,” that’s when I think we hit a danger zone. Because even 65 years in, there are always new things to learn about one another (I really believe this!) or ways you can do things differently … better … in a fresh + unexpected way. Relationships are beautiful + hard + ever-changing — these things I know to be true!
There are so many things I could write about why this session means so much to us — documenting the story of Joe + Toni, you guys, this is just SO much of our heart. Truly, we feel SO strongly about the opportunity to document couples like Joe + Toni, and there are a few reasons for this (I’ll make this quick, I promise!):
- For the family — the children, grandchildren, + great grandchildren of Joe + Toni will now have these photos to forever remember their grandparents by. Photos that show JOY + love + health … photos that will help to tell + leave a legacy that I know Joe + Toni would be proud of.
- For our viewers — I really believe, deep down, that we all desire to be in healthy relationship that is secure, committed, + lifelong. I think that we were created for this type of community with others. And for many, this looks like a marriage relationship. Yet, we are constantly told, day in + day out … time + time again, that this type of thinking is unrealistic, or backwards/traditional, or naive. But actually, no, it doesn’t have to be any of these things. Desiring this for yourself can be your life’s greatest goal + I, for one, will fully support you in this! Documenting stories of couples like Joe + Toni can prove to those who do have this desire — no matter how far down it’s hidden — that love legacies like this are, in fact, possible.
- For the couple — in the beginning of every one of these sessions (for couples who have been married 40, 50+ years), we have experienced that there is a bit of bashfulness or joking around when it comes to the interactions we help create between the couple on the session. I TOTALLY get this. Caleb + I recently learned that having a couple touch their foreheads together is significantly more intimate than having them kiss … because kissing is done all the time, everywhere, often without a thought given to it. But touching foreheads … now this action is MUCH more rare. Yet still very intimate. So encouraging this type of interaction between a couple who has been together for DECADES can cause a bit of laughter, at first. But then something happens as the shoot goes on … and all of a sudden, the couple is no longer joking about the poses but rather melting right into them. Finding that safe place in each other that actually isn’t all that unfamiliar. And it’s UNBELIEVABLE to witness. And a privilege to play a part in.
SO – that wasn’t really that quick — however, I can’t help but share my heart on this one!! We cannot wait to continue documenting more of these stories in the months + years to come <3 Today, will you celebrate Joe + Toni’s legacy with us?! : )
1. Where do you two live + what is one of your favorite things about your city?
We live in Ottumwa, Iowa. We were born + raised in Ottumwa, and raised our four boys here. It’s home!
2. How did you two meet + how long have you been married?
We met in Junior High — went to first dance together. We have been married 65 years.
3. Joe, what is one of your favorite things about Toni? Toni, what is one of your favorite things about Joe?
J: Her family comes first before anything in her life.
T: Joe is a dear man + has been a husband, father, grandpa, + friend to everyone.
4. What has been a day-to-day challenge of marriage that you weren’t necessarily expecting? How do you battle thing challenge?
We can’t think of a challenge!
5. What is one of your favorite things about marriage? What do you love about it?
Having your partner love + care about you always.
6. What is the hardest thing (or one of) that you have experienced in your marriage? How did you overcome this trial + how has it helped you grow/flourish as a couple?
During our 65 years of marriage, our hearts were broken twice with the death of two of our four sons. Jay was in an auto accident + Jeff was a victim of cancer. Our two other sons Joe + Jon, + their families, helped us with their love.
Before they attended that first dance together in Junior High, Joe was actually the Paper Boy for Toni’s family. They both remember him throwing the paper up to the front stoop as he went by for his daily route : )
These were taken at the Old Train Station in Ottumwa. During the shoot, these two told us that they are actually thinking about taking a train out West for a trip together sometime in the near future. They also told us that they refuse to let age stop them from living + experiencing new things : )
And finally, photos by the front steps of the high school they graduated from together … per their request : ) LOTS of memories here!!!