Married to An Artist
When I was young, I often dreamed about what my future spouse would be like.
Would he be short or tall? Loud or quiet? Dark hair or light hair?
I never paused to include what his work ethic would be like, or how his personality would inspire him to create, or even how he would plan for projects around our family schedule.
I never considered what a marriage would look like between two artists.
Growing up, I was always drawing and painting and doodling. I was constantly writing short stories in my journals and typing them away on our old family computer. I practiced my dancing every day. I directed plays with my siblings, and memorized songs from musicals to perform for grandparents. Being a creative person was just natural part of my daily life, and this continued through college and into my career as a teacher. I just made time for it because I loved it. It was easy.
Being a creative single person was very different for me, however, then being a creative person who was also a wife and mother. I found myself married to a fellow creative, and then later having a child, who we both want to grow up in a household that fosters a love of beauty and creative expression.
Interweaving everyday life while simultaneously fostering our artistic passions wasn’t just as easy as “creating whenever the itch struck us.”
Creating art and pursuing your dreams while raising a family isn’t always intuitive and simple. Life is busy and demanding. It would be so much easier, as times, to put aside our creative endeavors until our baby was able to be independent, or to simmer the fuel of our goals because washing laundry and preparing meals and finishing paperwork takes lots of time.
But what we’ve realized, through the first few years of marriage and family life, is that being artists is not only a way for us to pursue our separate passions and interests, but perhaps the surest way express our very selves: to each other and to the world. Without this, a great and powerful part of ourselves will be left forever gnawing away on the inside. Creative work is something worth doing, worth juggling our tasks for, worth prioritizing even when we feel pulled in a million directions. There are two powerful principles that we believe in that have helped us in creating a home life where our individual artistic dreams can flourish:
1. You must be willing to sacrifice your time so that your significant other is able to invest in their craft. As my husband is a producer and musician, this means that there are many evenings that I will watch our son while doing the “after dinner” chores so that he is able to devote an uninterrupted set of time in the studio. It means that my husband is willing to play with our son while I break out the paintbrushes on a Friday afternoon after school, or change another diaper as I write a blog post in a frenzy of inspiration. It means, for us, being willing to forgo that one more episode on Netflix because we have a set amount of time to work. It means being willing to create and work when we’re not inspired, and falling back onto the backbone of our built in habits because we have a vision.
2. You must be willing to encourage from the heart. Now, I am typically a very critical person, and I am pretty quick to judge a song that I don’t like at first listen or throw away a piece of art that I don’t respond to immediately. But when I thought about the type of family culture I wanted to form, I knew that authentic encouragement was absolute key in helping to form artists that are bold and unafraid to speak their truth. When one of us gets in an artistic “rut”, or is downtrodden about their work, it is so important for the other person to affirm their calling to be an artist in the first place, and to really cheer them on in their pursuit or project. As human persons, we already crave this affirmation, but as an artist, honest encouragement is tangible nourishment to honor the vocation to be an artist in this world.
So, to all the relationships and families that are striving to create in the midst of twenty-first century life and all its demands: please, continue your work. Honor your pursuits of creativity by making time for it to flourish within your life and home.
Because, at the end of the day, you may find that nurturing your artistic souls together, as a family, is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give to one another. By allowing one another to stand on the double supports of “coming and going” artistic inspiration and the tried and true habits of work, you may find that you experience life together with a richer, broader perspective.
As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “Being an artist means not numbering or counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap, standing confidently in storms, not afraid that summer may not come.”