My marriage survived Ramen noodles. Or shall I say: my marriage is currently kicking Sallie Mae’s ruthless @$$.

When I married my husband I knew he had a ton of student debt. And by a ton, I mean enough to buy a house. I also knew that he was the type to follow his dream to be a stunt man and that I would be following my dream to be an actress. Not exactly the two most consistent gigs, at least not in the beginning.

(Matt, working stunts as a zombie on The Walking Dead)

Since the moment we got back from our honeymoon, we had good ole Sallie calling to collect, and collect she did. Even as Matt made really good money doing part time grip work on films and booking stunt work where he fit the bill, we still ended up spending at least a week each month with a Ramen noodle budget, not knowing if he would have work the following week. I myself did not have a regular day job so that I could focus on training at an acting studio and so that I could be free to go to auditions. Very impractical right? We decided this together though, and it was something my husband wanted for me so I could work towards my career goals as well. As long as I was doing things to work towards my dream, he did not want me to hold a regular job. (In fact, I still don’t!)

So as some weeks go by without any work, and we have to choose which bills we are going to pay, we have to constantly make an effort to be loving and encouraging regardless of what things look like. We take our frustrations out on the punching bag or we go trail running. We get excited about the future together and talk of things as if they were. Whichever way we decide to wind down, we always make sure we communicate. Things never “work themselves out”; you have to put in the work.

People told us that the number one stressor on a marriage is money, especially the first year. But the thing that keeps me from going on a serious chocolate binge and Matt from taking up smoking again is first and foremost our faith. And second, our relentless support for each other’s goals. I am my husband’s number one cheerleader. No cute extra on set or savvy production assistant will ever boost his self-esteem more than I do, she can bet on that 😉 And there is no guy in the studio that woos me more than my leading man.

We work hard to attain our dreams and yes, we still have a ways to go with the debt. But we work harder to protect and cherish our marriage. And if it means that we have to eat Ramen a week straight every month or come up with creative free date nights, we do it. Because our debt to Sally Mae won’t last forever, but this awesome gift called marriage is for the long run, and nothing trumps that.

CWF Photography

-Els Murray, an actress and soon-to-be mama to a little stunt baby.

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