Would posing for more pics bring us closer together?
Hi there, I’m Mathew Jedeikin and I’m a happily married man.
I’m also a big fan of NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) and his husband David Burtka.
Especially the adorable photos they share of themselves and their precious children Harper and Gideon on Instagram. They just always seem so damn happy and carefree, and it makes me jelly!
I can’t help but aspire to have what they have.
I’ve wanted to be a parent for as long as I can remember. There was definitely a time when I was struggling to accept my sexual orientation, during which I questioned whether or not having children was something that would ever happen for me. My husband (who — as luck would have it — is also named David) and I plan to adopt in the future, so when I see David Burtka’s and NPH’s Instagrams I often have this feeling of wanting what they seem to have—primarily, a long, healthy relationship and a child/children to cherish.
So, to see if it would have any impact on our marriage, I convinced my husband to spend a week recreating some of NPH’s and David Burtka’s most swoon-worthy Instagrams with me.
Would taking all these photos bring us closer or would the pressure to do something seemingly lavish every night become too stressful? And most importantly: Would I gain any Instagram followers?
Day 1: Showing off our wedding rings at the beach
The first thing you should know about David and me is that we live in San Francisco. Since it’s a coastal city, we were able to drive to Ocean Beach and get a photo with water in the background.
The second thing you should know is that San Francisco is a foggy-ass town, so trying to see the sunset proved impossible.
Now, I like the photo, but when I look at our recreation shot, it doesn’t feel like us.
I almost never smile with a closed mouth. I’m all about showing them teeth, so trying to mimic Neil’s expression felt unnatural. Plus, squeezing ourself and our ring fingers into a selfie was awkward.
To be honest, if this trip to the beach hadn’t been part of a project, I probably would have posted a photo more like the one below to Instagram:
It feels a little more genuinely me and my David, especially since you can see my much beloved but often controversial footwear choice of socks and Birkenstocks.
The wedding ring photo got a lot more likes than my Instagrams usually get, which I kind of expected. The weirdest part was the number of people who congratulated us in the comments.
Did I miss something? Does #lovewins imply that we just got married? I felt a little worried about possibly misleading people who might not know me very well, but I did want to see how my friends and family would react to seeing so many pictures of David and me in my Instagram feed.
Day 2: Glamorously messy baking
Throughout the week we tried our best to dress in clothes similar to NPH’s and David Burtka’s, but we obviously had to make substitutions. So, since I don’t have a blue star-print hoodie, I went with a similar-looking tank top. My David doesn’t really wear sleeveless shirts so he wore a striped tee.
Although I like the staging of this photo of us pretending to bake together, I feel like I look really awkward and almost uncomfortable. We used a camera with a timer so we could get a proper shot, but trying to act like I’d just spontaneously smeared brownie batter on David’s face made me feel a little phony. Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering, my David has very specific preferences regarding dessert, which is why I made brownies instead of what I’m assuming is a raspberry tart.
Confession time: I totally cheated with the brownies.
I mean, yeah, I can make brownies from scratch but setting up for the photo took awhile and I knew we’d start to lose light, so I used boxed brownie mix. Don’t judge!
Although I felt awkward and uncomfortable, I couldn’t help but notice how excited David got about trying to take the perfect photo.
Seeing David get super into a project I’m working on makes me feel really supported. Writing for a living can be rewarding, don’t get me wrong, but it can also mean being the recipient of nasty comments and feeling insecure about how good you really are. Knowing my partner is supportive totally helps me feel all the more confident about what I’m doing with my life.
Day 3: Champagne in bed
In their original pic, NPH and David Burtka had Champagne in bed while celebrating Valentine’s Day at a tropical resort. For our photo, we celebrated Wine Wednesday by having prosecco in our regular bed. Oh, and we weren’t in the bed very long. It was pretty much just something we did for the photo, TBH.
Our dog was confused as to why we brought beverages into the bedroom.
Because other than the odd glass of wine enjoyed in a hotel, having a drink in bed isn’t something I normally do.
Day 4: Family craft night
As I’ve mentioned, my David and I don’t yet have any children. But Neil and his David post pics of their kids to Insta on the reg, so it didn’t seem true to the challenge to only recreate photos with just me and my David. The solution? We got our pets involved in our own take on a family craft night, which was technically just us signing and addressing Halloween cards.
Trying to get the cat and dog to pose for the photo was, as one might expect, somewhat challenging.
It took a few dozen shots to get one that looked even remotely close to the original, but again, David seemed to be having a genuinely good time taking the pictures.
Day 5: Finding the perfect city shot
When I was showing David the Instagrams I wanted to recreate earlier in the week he — being better with all things related to directions and maps — offered to locate a pier along the Embarcadero that would offer a perfect urban backdrop for Friday’s selfie.
Taking the photo was easy enough, but I still didn’t feel natural smiling with my mouth fully closed. So I was surprised to see a comment from someone saying how “genuine” we looked.
The more I thought about it, though, I realized he didn’t say actually say we looked genuine, but that our love was genuine. And you know what, our love is genuine. I’m so grateful to have David in my life, and though I may sound like a millennial asshole saying it, sometimes it takes an Instagram comment to give me a quick reminder me of that.
Day 6: Selfie in the car
Let me give you a little backstory regarding our Saturday. David and I are renovating a 100-year-old home and we’re doing a lot of it ourselves. Including the tiling in our master bathroom.
Our weekends usually consist of us working together on the remodel, and this Saturday was no exception.
We were both exhausted by the evening, but I wanted to recreate one more photo, so despite being super tired we got ourselves dressed up and jumped in the car. We didn’t really want to go out anywhere fancy, but it felt silly to put on nice clothes for a photo and then not go anywhere.
So we did the only thing that made sense: We went to The Home Depot for more supplies in our formal clothing.
It doesn’t get any more glamorous than a Saturday night spent at The Home Depot! What can I say? We’re not celebrities—we’re just another normal married couple who spend our days working or running errands and our evenings binge-watching Netflix.
Here’s what I learned:
Sometimes trying to compare yourself to someone else, or comparing your relationship to what another relationship seems like on social media, can set you up for disappointment.
Instagramming photos of David and me didn’t necessarily bring us any closer, and it didn’t really make me feel any more or less glamorous. What it did do was remind me how lucky I am to have such a supportive husband, and for that, I’m glad we did this experiment. That’s not to say I ever doubted David before, but it’s all too easy to become consumed by our daily routines and forget to appreciate what we have. Doing something outside of your comfort zone really can give you a valuable new perspective. For me, it certainly did.
Taking pictures of ourselves each evening was fun at first, but it got old after a little while. It may sound weird to say, but posing for photos every day was actually sort of tiring. Kudos to celebs who make it seem so easy to look fabulous all the time!