kathleen and christian barnes

Christian and I recently spent a weekend in San Diego at the beautiful Pendry Hotel and had the good fortune to spend an evening with the beautiful, talented (and Southern!) couple behind Pura Soul Photo.

It was Christian’s first weekend off in almost two months and we’d been planning a little getaway to SD because we hadn’t been in a few years. When I connected with Devin and Skylar the week before, it seemed like fate that our paths were so conveniently crossing. We met up for a drink and some sunset photos that take my breath away!

I love these photos because Skylar and Devin captured a much-needed weekend vacation during a really high-stress time of our lives. Christian has been interviewing for medical fellowships all over the U.S., so between our separate work travels we’ve gone weeks without seeing each other.  I’m talking 20+ round-trip flights, termite fumigations (aka pack up all our valuables and being kicked out of our house for almost three days), missed family trips, many missed hours of sleep, all of his vacation days for the calendar year being used for interviews, etc.

It’s just another step of our journey together, and through all of this we’ve just reminded each other that we are always on each other’s team. I’ve always encouraged Christian to strive to meet his full potential, and it’s what has brought us to California from Mississippi and what will take us to who-knows-where next. Obviously I’m biased, but he has always been a standout for being incredibly bright (our rehearsal dinner toasts were mostly all about him being good at anything he does and me being dramatic and loving Cheetos and wine), and I’ve pushed him to get outside his comfort zone to see what he’s truly capable of.  He does the same for me and it’s why I have a job I never imagined myself actually doing full-time… and I’ve never been more fulfilled in my work.

But I won’t lie, these last few months have been tough. There are frustrated conversations over the phone about not feeling supported, feeling like I’m carrying the responsibilities of both of us… and then some, feeling like I’m so often alone when I need my partner and so on. But this is not forever, it’s just a season.  Christian is wrapping up his eighth (!!) year of medical training after college and still has two to go.  However, the light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible and after 10 years together, we both know that as long as we stay on each other’s team we can get through any season.

Perspective is everything.  Rather than compare my relationship to others, I need to focus on what makes my relationship unique.  All the quirks, all the inside jokes, the moments, the vows, the commitment, the love.  It’s beautiful – flaws and all.

christian and kathleen barnessan diego couples shootcalifornia couples shootbeach couples shootsan diego sunsetcarrie bradshaw liedsunset couples shoot on the beachsan diego cliffspendry hotel san diegocouples silhouettecalifornia palm treessan diego california couples shootsan diego cliffs

photos by Pura Soul Photo


similar white dress here, here and here | similar navy dress here and here + earrings | similar off the shoulder dress here + earrings + bag

If you are a couple in the Southern California area, I can’t recommend Skylar and Devin enough. They are kind, inspiring, upbeat and FUN, and their full hearts show in the photos they capture together. It doesn’t surprise me that they capture amazing wedding and couples photography, and you can check out some of their wedding work here.

Thanks so much for reading! And if you have any marriage advice for those high-stress times in your relationship, I’d absolutely love to hear. XO –

56 Comments|See Comments

56 thoughts on “I’m On Your Team

    1. Loved the photos of the two of you and your wonderful post. Maintaining that connection and support is what will get you through the difficult times, and make your marriage stronger. Love you and your site. ??

  1. What a beautiful and heartfelt post Kathleen. Thank you for sharing. We all feel the same throughout our relationships and feel ourselves drifting apart sometimes but when you step back and remember that you are on the same team it really helps bring you close again. The photos really are breathtaking.

  2. Kat, this is such a beautiful post. I am in a somewhat situation as you as far as being apart from our significant other. I always thank the Lord that I have such a wonderful and supportive honey. As long as you have love and respect for one another, God, goals, and determination, the two of you will be fine.
    And these photos are absolutely gorgeous. I will be saving this photographer’s name for when we are in San Diego.
    Question: How can two people be so doggone gorgeous?!?! You two are such babes!!!


    1. Girl I could say the same thing about you! And yes – if you’re in SD they are fabulous!

  3. I could relate to these exact feelings as we are currently in the same situation but a year behind you guys. The journey that we have embarked in with our husband’s is a lengthy one but the finish line is right around the corner. I’ve found that speaking to people that are experiencing the same situation as me has helped a lot. I used to feel alone because he was either studying or working until one of my girlfriends told me that at least we have the better end of the stick because they are the ones studying and working 80+ per week. Imagine how they feel she said. I would forget to put that into perspective but once I did it shifted the dynamics of our relationship. I’ve become more patient, understanding, and loving as he needs all the love and attention he could get. I ignore the mood swings a little more and by me doing so he has become reluctant to take his frustrations out on me. Wishing you guys the best as you continue this journey together. I’m sure having to do interviews and the match again is very nerve wrecking but all his hard work will pay off and this season will come and go before you know it. Keep us posted on where the fellowship takes you. I’m hoping it takes us to California or New York (Wishful thinking) Best wishes, Madelin

    1. SO true. I very often am thankful that I’m the one done with school! I appreciate your advice. I need to be better about ignoring the mood swings!

    1. Absolutely. No relationship is perfect and there are always highs and lows.

  4. This photos are absolutely STUNNING but nothing in comparison to your relationship with Christian! My dad is a doctor and my mom always talks about the struggle throughout med school/ internships/ residencies and now as my brother is about to embark on his medical school journey, she is always reminding his girlfriend that is will not be easy. It’s so nice to hear how supportive you both are of each other, I love hearing/ seeing your relationship- you two seem like the dream team!
    xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

    1. What a sweet thing to say Tess! Thank you so much. I’ve found most of it to be ok but for some reason the past few months of fellowship interviews and the constant conversations about his career and which road to take and where to go… it’s worn me down a little bit. I think I just need to keep my eye on the countdown and be patient through this season, knowing that it’s only temporary. The only way I can get through it sometimes!

  5. I needed this today – thank you so much for sharing. My husband plays baseball for a living and between spring training and the season, it’s 8 months of every year of heavy travel and 12 hour work days. It’s grueling but I’ve always thought the same thing, I’m on his team. It’s tough but it’s worth it to watch him live his dream.

    Xoxo Melissa

    1. Oh girl – you have an even more intense schedule on your hands! What an incredibly supportive wife you are. He is so lucky to have you!

  6. i loved reading a little bit about your marriage! we are going through a crazy time in our marriage as well…my christian is in his second master’s program (ummm…totally hear you on the “i’m married to someone who is good at everything he tries” front) & i’m chasing this crazy entrepreneurial dream of mine full-force. i think you hit the nail on the head…marriage is about teamwork, friendship, & support. thank you for sharing…i always love reading your posts & hearing your perspective! xx

    1. Thank you so much Jess! And cheers to your super smart hubs. The light at the end of the tunnel is sometimes the most motivating thing to focus on! And your Christian is lucky to have a supportive gal like you!

  7. Thank you for sharing this! I love following you – your style and humor are the best, but I love that I can relate to your husband’s medical journey as my husband is about to start his 4th year of medical school. While you both are luckily ahead in this long process I can totally relate to the time spent apart and the stress of not knowing where you will be next year! It’s an exciting time and it will all be worth it in the end! Wishing you two all of the best during this time! XO

    1. Thank you so much Stephanie – and good luck to YOU guys! Enjoy this 4th year and know that the journey that awaits is going to be some of the most fun AND challenging years!

  8. Such a beautiful post and so real- I loved it 🙂

    I can promise that you are not alone when it comes to difficult/high stress times in relationships because my husband and I have been through many ups and downs.

    We’re really similar to you guys- been together for almost 12 years, we met our freshman year at Auburn in 2005 and got married in 2010. We’ve been through multiple different jobs and his most recent position at his company requires A LOT of travel. Granted, it’s mostly back and forth from Charlotte to Atlanta which isn’t horrible but it definitely puts a toll on you when they are gone almost every day during the week for weeks at a time.

    You seem to be a very independent person but an extremely supportive wife and friend, but you are definitely not alone in this department- marriage is hard, rewarding, but super hard and we all go through different seasons. Obviously we don’t know each other so it may be strange to say, but if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here!

    1. Are you the sweetest person ever or what!? Sounds like you have a very similar situation on your hands. Some days are easier to be the supportive wife than others, but I agree that being an independent person can make a HUGE difference. Thank you so much for taking the time to share!

  9. Fellow ENT wife here!! We’re a year ahead y’all. The stress is real and we had 2 babies during residency so I get it. I remember how annoyed I was that his vacation days had to go toward fellowship interviews and I always felt alone and put second. We now have a babysitter for a few days/nights a week and if he’s out early we go out together and if not then I just take the time for myself or get together with girlfriends. You’ve just got to find what works best for y’all! It takes a strong independent woman to be a surgical wife!! Best of luck with the match – keep us posted!

    1. Oh lucky you!! You just have one year to go! It DOES take a strong, independent woman to be a surgical wife – AMEN, sister. Thank you so much for the advice and encouragement. Match is in mid-June and then we can take a little bit of breathing time. Hopefully!

  10. These photos of you two are absolutely breath taking. I think everyone goes through hard moments in their relationships, let alone marriage (especially when they have amazing jobs that require a ton of traveling). I think it’s amazing that you each have your own passions and can still support each other even if you don’t always hear it enough 🙂
    Keri Elaine

    1. So sweetly said. I appreicate this because we need to appreciate our travel opportunities more and not just “get through them.” Great attitude!

  11. I loved reading this. My husband travels a lot for work, so I understand how terrible it can be to be separated so much. You wrote a beautiful post about how hard it can be, but how worth it is for your spouse!

    Xo Helen

  12. I can totally relate to this! My husband and I are in the same position but the roles are reversed (I’m in residency and he is my rock keeping me together while working full time). The light is at the end of the tunnel as I graduate at the end of June (not doing a fellowship as I think the hubs might kill me lol). Through all 4 years of med school, residency, 4 board exams and countless stressors he has been so supportive! I can say it does get WAY BETTER. Once the attending contracts are signed, a huge weight/ stress that you both have been carrying around for all of medical training is suddenly lifted. Hang in there!

    1. Hats off to you, Rebecca! I think when mid-June is here and C has matched somewhere we can at least take a few months to breathe. Hopefully! Congrats to you for all of your accomplishments, including snagging such a great guy. xo

  13. Sending you lots of hugs right now. I went through this with my ex- plus 4 years of him being a flight surgeon with deployments. It’s really tough…I would always remind myself that this was a necessary step to his dream and that I needed to put him first because I loved him so much, that what he was doing- all his hard work- was going to lead to great things for us both, and that my role was to be as supportive as I could. When I was frustrated or felt alone etc, I would focus on the small things- actions speak louder- and remind myself that he didn’t have to text/call every night, that he didn’t have to make me grilled cheese, that he didn’t have to… I used these small actions to remind myself that was his way of showing he cared and that through everything, he was still trying. It helps to remember that you are so clise to the end…you can stick it out just a little more ?

    Those pictures are gorgeous!!

    1. WOW – what a road you have been on. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for the encouragement!

  14. I really appreciated this! My fiance are getting married in early June, 10 days before he starts his first year of his anesthesia residency. Like you, I’m in a much more creative role and it’s been really interesting/insightful to follow your journey moving across the country for his residency and watching you balance supporting him and also chasing after your own dreams. Thanks for sharing this part of your life with your readers.

    Also all these photos are beautiful but those last few with all that gorgeous light…amazing!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this feedback, Christy and of course – best wishes on your upcoming wedding, so exciting! I think there are highs and lows with any demanding job, and as long as you’re patient and try to be as understanding as possible, you’ll get through it just fine. And I wouldn’t think anesthesia would be as cray cray hours (hopefully)!

  15. Absolutely love this post! I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a little over 5 years and we’ve lived together for about 7 months. He’s played baseball his whole life and this is his first year not playing professional after college. He’s been having a tough time deciding between his dream of playing baseball, or sticking to his full time job to help us better prepare for a future. It’s been hard on me to go through the struggle of his decision and try to understand his sad moods, but I always tell him (and myself) that what he wants to do the most is what matters to me! I try to step back and understand how he feels, and then hope I can understand the struggle. It’s hard on relationships to go through these different trials, but like you I always think of us as a team – we are stronger together! Thank you for being so open and honest about this. Wishing you both nothing but the best and lots of strength to get through this! Your pictures are stunning, as always! XOXO – Erin

    1. Oh wow. I love your attitude. I tell Christian the same thing when he goes back and forth about which specialty to practice – what’s most important is that he is proud of the work he is doing and happy doing it. Love your mentality and perspective and thank you for the encouragement!

  16. This made me cry. I’ve been following you for just a little bit but it helps to see someone I can relate to. My husband is also a doctor and he is at the end his intern year. We are finishing up a tough (really tough) year of long shifts and no days off. I feel the struggle sister. I hope you both get a fellowship that works for your family! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Aww Heather!! Intern year is tough but it gets better. Personally I feel like the beginning is tough and the end is tough but you have a few lighter years ahead of you!

  17. First of all beautiful pictures. My brother is a med student, and his wife probably knows exactly what you are going through. They just got back home in the US after almost 2 years in Granada. They are waiting to find out where there will be going for clinicals. His journey is just bringing. They also have a two year old. I can’t imagine what you women go though. But I know it takes a strong selfless women to rise up and take care of everything while the husband is always gone, studying, working. And your right as in every relationship you have to be on each others team. In it for the long run. Life is full of challenges, but also beautiful because of the people we surround ourself with. I wish you all the best and I’m encouraged by you. How wonderfully to see the light at the end of the tunnel! You are almost there!!!!!

    1. Amen! Thank you so much for the kind words Christin – and of course best of luck with your brother and SIL and their next step!

  18. Hi Kathleen, I started following you a couple of weeks ago because as I was scrolling down my instagram page, your beauty jumped out at me. Not just the external but the inner beauty! And I hadn’t even read anything about you. I love your style and I love your devotion to your faith and your family. All things that speak to me deeply! My husband is a doctor who did around 10 years of medical training during which time we had 3 kids and moved 3 times. It was not easy and it took me a long time to get over the feeling alone bit. But I was fortunate to have people who supported me spiritually and emotionally. I also started having an unselfish relationship with my God and he in turn opened my eyes to loving without expectations. Now my husband gives me more support than I ever imagined possible! You will get through this but focus on getting through it with grace!

    1. Oh Indu! I need to start praying now that I can be better about loving without expectations. What a beautiful and freeing thing! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and your beautiful relationship with your doctor hubs. I DO need to focus on getting through these years with grace!

  19. I can completely relate to your frustrations. My husband and I went through ENT residency, fellowship and starting his new job as an attending. We were in Pittsburgh when he started his residency. He was working 80+ hours a week and at time, I felt as though we were living separate lives. Next came fellowship interviews. He was gone flying all over the country interviewing. We ended up moving to LA for his fellowship. I had to move away from all my friends and family in Pittsburgh and felt lost and alone. We needed to start to prioritize our marriage at that point, we were both lonely and trying to keep our heads above water. We decided to go to marriage counseling. We had a lot of moving parts in our relationship and we needed new and better ways to communicate with one another. We found that counseling was a good place for us to communicate our fears and worries . It truly helped us unite and communicate better and brought us closer together. We just moved to Nashville and started a new adventure as he is FINALLY done with training and is an attending, which doesn’t come without its challenges either. My best advice is stay patient as possible and carve out a life that suits you both. Relationships are an ongoing negotiation of give and take which encourages relationship growth but also personal goals and dreams. Have faith in love and know that supporting your partner in becoming the best version of himself, will support your relationship as well.

    1. EMILY. So eloquently written! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and journey – I recognize myself in a lot of it. Everyone tells us these years are hard but honestly, it didn’t feel THAT hard until the fellowship interviews. My job requires a lot of travel and with him traveling as well it’s like we are ships in the night. Appreciate your words of encouragement and advice. And cheers to your future in Nashville (I was born there)!

  20. This is such an incredible post with beautiful pictures and an even more beautiful message. I’ve been with my fiance for 6 years (this Sunday is our anniversary!) and we’re currently planning our wedding for next year. I feel like I’m so lucky and blessed to say that we’re always here to support one another and I’m so thankful that he works hard so that I might pursue my own life passions. Having a partner in crime – someone on your team – is invaluable. Thanks for the great post!

    1. I love that. Sounds like you two have a very strong foundation. And best wishes to you!

  21. Omg these pictures are just breathtaking! Gotta frame them all! I say just eat chocolate when things gets stressful, usually works! ? just kidding (kinda). Focus on that light at the end of the tunnel, you’re getting so close!! My friend’s husband has been going through his medical training and they have 5 kids!! I don’t know how people do it and I give them so much credit. Just remember Christian is doing this for you both and for your future together! You guys have made it this far and because you’re both strong and love each other, so I know nothing will get in your way! ?

    1. 5 KIDS!? Holy cow! I often think how blessed we are that we don’t have kids yet because I swear… they wouldn’t know their dad! Thank you for motivation Miriam!

  22. Hey Kathleen, I currently live in Columbus and know your parents. We moved here 13 years ago after residency and fellowship. My husband practices orthopaedics here. I went through medical school, residency and fellowship with him. I totally understand your frustrations! The best advice I can give is what you already stated not to compare your situation with those around you. We can really get caught up in the grass is always greener, but you must keep it in perspective and really try to take it day by day. Those years were such a struggle, but I can promise you if you don’t let it break you, then it will make you guys stronger in the long run!! It’s so good for you to have support from those that are going through or have been through what you are experiencing. It’s not like anything else in the world! I have so enjoyed your blog as well as following your instagram! You are such a beautiful, smart and talented woman! Please contact me if you are ever in town. Until then, please email me if you’d like. We are all in this together!

  23. Oh my gosh, this was so refreshing to read. My husband works in TV and we are in the process of our third major moves in eight years together. We have been from LA to NYC and now to Atlanta, and I am often alone, with young kiddos or pregnant while he is away working for weeks at a time. It’s so hard, and most people aren’t in similar situations and can’t understand, so it is SO nice to know I’m not alone. You are a great wife and seem like such an amazing couple!!

    1. What a sweet thing to say! And GIRL it sounds like you have way more on your plate with the babies, hat’s off to you. I agree it’s nice to hear about other wives who do a lot on their own. We’re not alone gf!

  24. This is such an incredible post with beautiful pictures and an even more beautiful message. I’ve been with my fiance for 6 years (this Sunday is our anniversary!) and we’re currently planning our wedding for next year. I feel like I’m so lucky and blessed to say that we’re always here to support one another and I’m so thankful that he works hard so that I might pursue my own life passions. Having a partner in crime – someone on your team – is invaluable. Thanks for the great post!

  25. This made me cry. I’ve been following you for just a little bit but it helps to see someone I can relate to. My husband is also a doctor and he is at the end his intern year. We are finishing up a tough (really tough) year of long shifts and no days off. I feel the struggle sister. I hope you both get a fellowship that works for your family! Thanks for sharing!

  26. I love this post! Marriage ebbs and flows with hard times and good times. I’ve already seen that in only a little over a year of marriage. I love how open and honest you were about that! And it sounds like the two of you are great communicators and open about your feelings and what you need during your challenging season! Happy you had some quality time together. I hope your trip to Vancouver was wonderful, too! 🙂

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