Jeremy Cowart is having a good year.
Recently named the most influential photographer on the web by Huffington Post, he launched a new social network/community called OKDOTHIS in June and celebrated his 15th wedding anniversary with his wife Shannon in August. We caught up with Jeremy and asked him about his first date with Shannon, the secret to his happy marriage, and his favorite part about being married. Learn more about Jeremy on his website here.
We loved your photos that you shared on your 15-year wedding anniversary, especially the one of you and Shannon on your first date in 1996. What do you remember about that first date, nearly 20 years later? What stands out to you?
I just remember that I loved being with her. It wasn’t a typical teenage love thing. It felt more like a best friend for life kind of thing. Two weeks after that date, I started telling friends and family that I’d marry her. 2 years later, I did. I had good instincts! I also remember noticing how she cared for others and had a big heart for the homeless. She was very different from all the other girls.
You say that a secret to the success of your marriage has been that you and your wife have “never taken ourselves or life in general too seriously.” Can you talk about that? What role has humor played in your marriage?
Yeah, we have a very funny, goofy marriage. If you’ve ever seen Anchorman where Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone talk smack back and forth, then you’ve seen my wife and I talking smack. We do it all the time. And strangely enough, it works in terms of ending conflict. Not all the time but a lot of the time. She can be genuinely mad at me for something and threaten me by saying, “I will hit this eject button and eject you out of the car.” I’ll respond with, “Oh yeah? I’ll eject your face.” We basically start one-upping each other and the serious moment changes to us dying laughing. So that’s a good example of how we don’t take things too seriously. And we’re just dead honest with each other. Yesterday, she was telling me that I’m getting a little thick and need to hit the treadmill (laughs). We can have those honest conversations without getting too offended.
What one piece of advice would you give to a couple getting married tomorrow? This can be something you’ve learned in your own marriage, or advice that was once given to you.
Gosh, this is a long list, but I’d say let go of expectations. There’s going to be an endless list of faults in your spouse that you didn’t see coming. Then another endless list of faults with the spouse’s family (laughs). So, keep your expectations low and let everything be a pleasant surprise. Also, in this day and age, unplug from social media and the internet as often as possible. Don’t let your phone time be your marriage. Don’t take your phones to dinner. Keep technology out of the bedroom and just get to know each other. My wife and I spend a lot of time on our phones, but we didn’t have them 15 years ago obviously and I’m really thankful for that. They can be a massive distraction from each other.
What has your career as a photographer taught you about how to have a good marriage?
I’d say it’s taught me about trust. My wife has an immense trust in me. Not every wife would allow their husbands to photograph beautiful people and beautiful women for a living, or go on tour for 3 months with Britney Spears. In fact, it would really be hard for most women to allow that of their husbands. But she trusts me. And the funny thing is, that trust only makes me want to further that trust. It’s the most attractive thing in the world. Trust is beautiful and jealousy is ugly. It’s as simple as that.
With such a busy schedule, what strategies do you have to make time for your marriage? Do you schedule regular rituals of connection?
I think it’s pretty simple. You just choose family every chance you get. When I fly to an event in another city to speak on Friday, I don’t hang out all weekend. I fly back home as soon as I can to spend the rest of the weekend with my wife and kids. I go home at 5:00 every day and take my kids to school in the mornings. I’m just there every chance I can be and I know my wife appreciates that.
What’s your favorite part about being married to your wife?
It goes back to the friendship I felt on day one. We’re still best friends after 18 years of knowing each other. She gets me, I get her. We’ve never had “the bad year” and never really fought either. As my wife once said, “Our lives are not perfect but they’re perfect for us.”