Where Logic Meets Love

Married Life

Sunday, August 30, 2009

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Married Life | Faith Permeating Life
July went very, very quickly. I moved into the new apartment, was without Internet for quite a while, started a new job in the midst of still moving in, did an insane trip to Columbus over a weekend for which we were in Ohio for literally 24 hours, and then managed with much stress to wrap up details in the last two weeks of wedding planning.

And then I got married. And it was the most perfect wedding I could have ever imagined.

It still blows me away when I think about the vast number of guests who have told us (or my parents/Mike's parents/Mike's brother/etc) that it was the BEST wedding they'd ever been to. How did that happen? I know we can't take credit for all of it, that's for sure. I mean, I am happy with the decisions we made along the way, the fact that we made almost all of them together, and the fact that we almost aggressively didn't care about things we thought were not important to the wedding. We also were blessed to get the very best -- the very best reception place was magically available for our date, the very best DJ was available that day, and the most awesome priest came all the way from Ohio to do a fabulous job with the wedding. And all of those were factors.

I think what it really came down to, though, was -- and I realized this on my wedding day more than ever -- we have amazing friends and family. The DJ said it was the best crowd he'd ever worked with. Everyone fit together beautifully; people made friends with people they'd never met before. By the end of the night the son of my dad's high school best friend had spent most of the reception with Mike's coworkers from college, and one of the groomsmen had hit it off amazingly with Mike's cousin who he hadn't seen in forever. I'm not sure if the wedding ceremony just put people in a good mood or if there were just far more people than I'd ever imagined who find something to get excited about in my and Mike's relationship. Mike and I discussed this after a lot of people told us that we inspired them or something like that, and we decided that even if we aren't up to whatever standards people are seeing us at, if our relationship can provide something positive for another person, so be it.

The support system of our attendants, a smaller and stronger subset of the above "friends and family," was definitely a huge factor in the success of the day as well. I said it probably a hundred times, but I seriously had the most amazing matron of honor any girl could ever ask for. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, and really wasn't, because of what a great friend she's been all these years, but I don't know how I would have made it through the week before the wedding without her. Ok, now I'm starting to cry and I have to stop. My attendants, collectively, were amazing as well. Each of them played a role, whether it was Cat keeping me grounded or Ladan or Susan making me laugh hysterically when I needed it. We have amazing friends.

I will never forget when we got to the playground to take pictures, and even though it was drizzling, everyone just burst out of the limo and went to play on the playground. Taking pictures with our friends was incredibly fun, and you can see that on our faces in the pictures. Another great moment was when we got to the reception place and the photographer was taking pictures of Mike and me in front of the limo -- all our attendants got in a circle and went around introducing themselves and how they knew Mike or me. They all bonded with each other. It was amazing.

Enough about the wedding.

The past month has really been great. I love my job, I love our apartment, and I especially love my husband and love our relationship. Part of me can't help waiting for the other shoe to drop -- the "honeymoon" to end. But at the same time, I don't feel like we're on cloud nine and everything's all picturesque. Yeah, we're still enjoying some things that are new, like being able to kiss, but other than that I don't really feel like things are a whole lot different than they've been for the past five years. I mean, we spent five years doing things a lot of couples don't do, like discussing our opinions on practically everything, but especially about how we want to live our lives, raise our children, etc., and we've also spent that time not only figuring out how to communicate with each other but actually having involved conversations about the way we communicate (what happens when you put a communication major and a psychology major together, I guess). That's not a guard against arguments -- we've still had our share of disagreements over the past month -- but it keeps them from turning into full-blown fights.

Will we still fight? Yes. But what I learned in my interpersonal communication class is that, all other factors aside (age at marriage, race, SES, whether parents divorced, etc.), what determines whether a couple stays together and is happy in their marriage is how they communicate with one another. My fear when we got married was that I was going to fall into a schema for how I thought married people should communicate, and we would fall into the destructive cycles that so many couples fall into and for which we've had plenty of models. And there's no guarantee that won't happen in the future. But what I've found is that when we got married, I automatically became more on my guard against being sarcastic, or stonewalling, or any of those bad traits I've seen in other marriages. And I discovered right away that if I was unhappy about something, using humor to approach the situation, which is what I'd often done in the past, was a bad way to do it. Example (not one that's been an issue, but the only thing that comes to mind): As much as I might initially think that a lighthearted "D'you think you could wash your dishes out every once in a while?" with a smile to show it's not a big deal to me would be the best way to deal with a situation, that still comes across as an attack, and a sarcastic one at that. If I simply said, genuinely, "I would really appreciate it if you would wash your dishes out as you use them so they don't stack up in the sink," then this would give him an opportunity to respond equally as genuinely if he had a legitimate reason not to, whereas the typical and easiest way to respond to a sarcastic question is defensiveness, one of the things that breaks down a relationship.

It also seems to me that another thing that "ends the honeymoon" for married couples is when they discover something new and unacceptable about their spouse. There wasn't much opportunity for that in our relationship. Any and all deep, dark secrets came out in the first six months of our relationship and were worked through, successfully, by the time we were married. And we'd spent a summer living together with his aunt, as well as practically lived together when we had apartments next door to each other at school sophomore year, so we'd already met and conquered things like different methods for doing dishes or how I hate to have anyone watch me cook if they're not cooking with me. We didn't have to learn to compromise after we got married; we'd been doing it for a long time.

If anything, the new things I've discovered about my husband have been very positive. Until he starts school he's been at home a lot of days while I'm working, and I've found that, left with a to-do list (that we created together! I'm not that bad), he will do a lot more things on there than I would have anticipated. Yes, he still watches a lot of TV, but I don't really care about that as long as I don't come home and find that he's ignored everything he had to do that day. And yesterday he actually asked me if I would leave him the grocery shopping for Monday rather than doing it today while he was at work. He said he enjoys shopping, that it gets him out of the house. He even uses the little chart I made for the fridge where you mark stuff as we run out of it, and he keeps a running list of extra stuff to buy on the to-do pad on the side of the fridge. He also cooks every night -- very well, I might add.

Does the apartment still get messy? Yes. But I discovered yesterday, when I went to pick it up, that it only took about 10 minutes, plus 10 minutes for sorting and filing the paperwork on the table. This is what I've always said -- I don't mind living with mess as long as we're organized, because then everything has a place and can be put away easily. And that's exactly what happened.

Maybe I'm idealistic and this all won't last. I hope that's not the case. I know things are going to get more stressful when Mike starts school again. He will then be busy every day of the week, literally, and a lot more is going to fall on my shoulders to do on the weekends or on my lunch break at work. But at that point a lot of the big stuff will be taken care of, like all the name and address change things that had to get straightened out this past month, and all the other wedding wrap-up things we've been doing, and we shouldn't be missing too many essentials in our household anymore, so I'm just praying that will simplify things a bit :)

But of course, I'd better use my spare time today and get a lot of that stuff done!

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