Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Getting In Shape

In September, I stepped up my half-marathon training and my husband started running again.  We both quickly realized that his four or five miles runs were as hard on him as my ten and eleven mile runs.  This is a problem because in the past, he's been able to run 4-5 miles with very little training and no problems (yeah, I know, I'm jealous too.)  I thought that the fact he rides his bike to work and goes rock-climbing regularly would be enough to keep him in shape - but the reality is that those daily bike rides amount to maybe 3 miles of riding, and with our crazy schedules these days, his rock-climbing went from regular to occasional.  We stopped going on long weekend bike rides when we got back from our trip to Wales, for which we had done the long weekend bike rides as training.

So we've started working out together.  I use the term pretty loosely.  But for the past month or so, we wake up at the same time (which means I'm getting up a half-hour earlier than I used to) and go into the office/gym together, where one of us uses the treadmill and the other person does weights, or we both do a workout video, or I do a workout video and he lifts weights.  It's been going pretty well, although we are often considerably tired and hard to get out of bed.  Sometimes we oversleep and skip the workout.  But overall, it's a better routine for both of us.  One thing I have realized is that nobody ever taught Mark the proper form for squats or lunges, so I'm really glad we started working out together and I can make sure he doesn't hurt himself.

We've also started running together.  Not actually running together, but when I go for a run, my husband also goes for a run.  We had a somewhat successful run in Michigan in which we stayed near each other most of the time, otherwise we just leave the house at the same time and run along the same general path.  Since I'm training for my first marathon, my runs are typically longer.  As winter sets in, it's too dark in the mornings to run outside, and soon it will be too cold in the morning and too dark in the evening, so we are struggling to come up with creative solutions.  I can run later in the morning, once the sun is up, but I think Mark is going to be stuck on the treadmill through the winter.

Our semi-together workouts have got me thinking that it would be nice if we had a way to workout that actually involved us working out together, besides going for walks.  I've been thinking of setting up some kind of circuit that involves some kind of partner drills, but the only ones I can think of involve a medicine ball, which we don't have, and pose the possibility of significant risk to the wall.  I've considered moving our Wii Fit upstairs to the gym-office so that we can do Wii boxing against each other, but I don't know how well that would work out for us.  Are there any other good games we could check out?  (We don't have a Wii fit and I don't want one.)

It feels good to be getting back in shape together, and it feels even better to have somebody who motivates me and pushes me to get up and work out.  We could look at this as working out together will help us live longer and have a better life together, but I prefer to think of it as a way to spend time together and enjoy each other's company and try new things together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Really Lazy Bunting

I went to RenFest last week with my in-laws and my parents, and one of the things I noticed was that they had awesome bunting strung up.  Except it wasn't actually bunting.  It was lazy-girl bunting.  (I'm not assuming that only girls make bunting.  I'm using lazy-girl as a generic term here instead of poor man's bunting.)

What does lazy-girl bunting look like?

A single strand does look a little bare, but they had it zig-zagging the whole way through the festival and it looked awesome.  I thought it would be a great way for somebody to add a lot of color to their wedding for almost no money - because everyone has extra ribbon lying around (especially anyone that registered at Williams Sonoma) - and ribbon can be bought for pretty cheap at craft stores or online.  I love the look of all the multicolored ribbons, but if you wanted to only do your wedding colors, you could still spice it up with different textures and shades.  It also takes up less space than regular flag bunting, and would be much more reusable, since you could re-purpose the ribbon to wrap Christmas presents or make crafts.

Any other ideas for lazy-girl bunting?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Working Late

So back in June, I found myself a job - it's not technically full-time, permanent employment, and it's not really lawyer work, but it's a job and I like it and things have been much better with both of us working, for about a million reasons.  But there is one thing that is kind of frustrating about working, which is that things happen.  They happen at the end of the day when we are desperately trying to get something in the mail, or ready to be filed, or signed, or faxed.

For the past four years, my husband has been working at a job at which things frequently happen that keep him after work.  He gets home anytime between 5pm and 2:30am.  (That only happened the once though.)  I used to get really annoyed when I would have dinner ready at 6pm and he wouldn't get home for another half hour, or when I asked him when he was coming home and he said, "eventually."  But, sometime in the past four years, I realized that I really shouldn't give him a hard time about coming home late, because usually he can't help it, and unless we have something we are trying to go to, it doesn't really cause that much disruption in our lives.  (I did start a rule that if he wasn't home by 6, I was allowed to eat without him, since I liked to eat and then do homework.  Since I'm not in school anymore, I no longer have this rule.)

When I started working, I got the same treatment.  Mark is generally understanding that sometimes I get caught at work, with the only exceptions being when we have some place we need to go, like a flight to catch or a dinner party or something, which we have previously discussed and previously agreed to be home by a certain time for.  I strive to do the same, although I think we can both admit it's a little frustrating when the inevitable happens and the other person gets stuck at work, even though we discussed this.  

This has also fostered a general attitude of "rolling with the punches" when it comes to job stuff.  When my husband tells me he has to go out of town, I roll with it, even if it means cancelling plans we already had.  When I have a work event or networking function come up at the last minute, he makes dinner and doesn't complain.  I feel like this general approach creates a supportive environment for us when it comes to our careers, which is nice, and it fosters a general spirit of reciprocity which we are trying to apply to other aspects of our relationship as well.

How do you and your spouse navigate working late?  Do you work generally the same hours, or does one of you usually work later than the other?  Do you have things where even though they sorta bug you, you just let them go and your spouse does the same?

Friday, October 21, 2011

A good weekend for weddings!

Two big weddings this weekend!  Sarah, who has a love story that makes you want to cry with happiness and a way of writing about the hard things that makes me feel optimistic, and Melissa, who is actually a real-life friend of mine.  Well, it's weird.  We met on the internet first.  But she lives a mile away and we have a very good mutual friend and we're going to take over the world.  So we're totally real-life friends.  It'll be awesome.
Melissa and I, at the House of Delegates, working to pass same-sex marriage.

Have such great weekends, both of you, and anybody else getting married this weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Weddings as investments

I've talked a little bit about the idea of weddings as investments on here before, and Becca has covered it as well, but I just wanted to say.  After being married for more than a year, I unquestionably see our wedding now as an investment.

Our wedding was an investment in ourselves, in our relationship, in our baby family.  There have been times in the past year when we've fought and wondered whether we were going to make it as a family.  We wondered where the hell the light was at the end of the tunnel.  When these things happened, I pictured the people we love the most in the world, sitting on benches, watching us swear vows to each other, and promising to support us.
When we go through difficult things, I focus on the words in our ceremony.  I remember how the chocolate tasted and how sweet the wine was afterwards.
Our wedding was more than an investment in ourselves though.  It was, as Becca said, an investment in joy.  It was an investment in happy memories with the people I love the most in the world.  When I think about my family, and the difficult things my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and my parents are facing, I think also about the way it felt to have my cousins lift us during the hora while the rest of our family and friends circled us.  
Do I think that how much you spend on a wedding is at all important in determining the outcome of your marriage?  No I do not.  Do I think any of these things we got out of our wedding are because we spent more money on our wedding?  No I do not.  But the number one tip I see for cutting the budget of your wedding is to invite fewer people, and that is bullsh*t when it comes to the people you love.  No savings is worth cutting important people out of your day, or hurting the feelings of the people you love.  But there is more to an investment than money.  There is time - there is investing a full day, or a full weekend, into your wedding.  Some of us invest energy into crafts, into menu planning, into creating an awesome playlist.  Some of us invest time into pre-marital counseling or creating a ceremony that reflects us.  This is just to remind you that the work that you are doing now, the stress that you are feeling now, it's worth it, and it pays off.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Do I need to say it?

Today is National Coming Out Day.  You may have missed it, but we here at Wedding for Two are proud allies of LGBT persons and the movement for marriage equality.  Here in Maryland, I have recently had the pleasure of getting involved with a fantastic organization, called the Free State Legal Project, which works to provide LGBT persons with legal assistance.  You should give them some money, if you are feeling like donating to making the lives of LGBT people who Maryland totally betrayed by not passing same-sex marriage a little bit easier and better until we can actually pass same-sex marriage.

So.  To our LGBT readership and all the other allies, I raise a glass to you today, and say, today, we declare ourselves allies, and tomorrow, we fight!  For injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and as married people, we owe it to everyone to strengthen the institution of marriage by extending it to all who want to take a part.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Anniversary!

What have I learned in the year we have been married?
1.) Marriage is kind of difficult, but the thing that nobody tells you is that once you get married, people treat you like a grownup.  And being a grownup is really effing hard and kinda really sucks.  This is compounded by graduating from school in the worst legal job market in many, many years, and having to deal with being a grownup and being unemployed.  So marriage is hard, but being a grownup is really hard.  I don't know if marriage is easier for people who get married later and were already a grownup first, but I'm curious.

2.) Nothing shuts people who ask, "how's married life?" up faster than saying, "It's really really hard. But I think that's just because I'm unemployed and pretty bummed about the future a lot of the time and I sort of take it out on my husband."  If you too find this question annoying, I highly recommend oversharing about all of the ways that being married is really hard.  
3.) I'm still not sure what to do with my last name.
4.) Even the most supportive, loving, saintly spouse will get frustrated if you continuously lose the mail somewhere between the mailbox and the dining room table.
5.) Marriage is a lot of work.  There is something about being married that makes you say, "we have to work on this now, because we're still going to be married in forty years and it will still be a problem, and I would like to not have this same fight for forty years."  Marriage involves a lot more compromise than we expected.
6.) Your wedding pictures have the power to constantly make you happy.  I now understand what photographers mean when they say, "investment".  I always thought it was a snarky way to make sure that you didn't notice them robbing you blind.  But our pictures are art, they are powerful, they are memories, they are my pick-me-up on crummy days, and they make my heart sing.  Worth. Every. Penny.
7.) You may feel an instinct to be a good wife, and to do things because you are a wife.  Fight this.  It's a dumb instinct.  You will do things that actually make you unhappy and resentful.  I didn't realize this until I spoke to a friend about it, and she said she finds it common in friends of hers who have gotten married and then talk about how hard it is.  So. Spend the first year of marriage focusing less on how to be a good wife, or the person you think your partner wants to be, and work on growing up your own self into the person you want to be, because you are pretty darn awesome already, and your spouse likes who you are currently, so it's a safe bet that they will also like the person you are becoming.

8.) Being married is really different.  I wish I could put it into words, but it turns out to be fairly un-expressable.  But I will say, being married is, it turns out, a whole lot more than living together.  Because a lot of people have said, when I respond to the "how's married life" question, with "it's different", with "really? but you lived together for like, three years!"  Turns out that marriage is not, in fact, figuring out how to navigate the issues of who makes dinner and who leaves their socks on the floor and who looses the mail.  Marriage is bigger.  Marriage is building a life together.  Marriage is every decision, every fight, every compromise paves the way for a future that requires you to continue to wake up every morning, and go to bed every evening, knowing that you made the right choice and that this is who you are spending your life with, even if right now maybe you don't like them so much.

9.) Building a life together is no small thing.  There are matters of geography, of priorities, of health insurance and vacation time and how much time is a reasonable amount to spend with the in-laws.  There are questions of spaces in your togetherness, and making sure you spend enough time together to make sure the other person still feels like a priority.  

10.) It is okay to put your marriage first.  Even my parents, who are, and I mean this in the most loving way possible, Dad, the neediest people I know about seeing us, are amazing understanding when I say, "my husband and I need to do x".  My work understands when I say that I have to check with my husband to see if it's okay for me to stay late, come in early, or take a road trip to Pennsylvania.  I turned down a potential job because the hours it required would have put too much of a strain on my marriage, and even in this economy, this was completely understood by everybody I talked to about it.
All pictures by Prema Photographic or personal photos.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Grief

We cannot be everything to everyone, even to the person that we are married to.  For us, there is no better reminder of this than when we are facing grief.  Because as much as we want to be there for us, neither of us is particularly good at consoling the other person.  As we have just lost a very dear friend, the question of how we as people, and how we as married people, manage grief is weighing on me.  Because what does it say about my marriage that my husband and I aren't very good at dealing with each other and raw, inconsolable grief?

Some people are good at managing other people's pain.  My sister, for one.  She is always funny when you need her to be, reassuring when you need her to be, and she never, ever says the wrong thing.  Myself, I am pragmatic, hysterical, and blunt.  I usually can be counted on to say the wrong thing.  I usually take the approaching of feeding people when they are grieving*, and trying my darndest to make myself useful.  I have learned, through much trial and error, that it is much better for me to just hold a person and say nothing than to try to console them, or to pick up the slack in other areas of their life so that they can focus on their own stuff.

My husband is equally bad, if not worse.  He is generally happy to hold me when I am sad, but he also falls asleep when I'm sobbing in bed after somebody I love has just died.  He listens while I talk about whoever I've lost, but he also doesn't understand when I don't go back to normal right away.  When I called him two weeks ago to give him the news, he told me he would leave work if I wanted him to, but otherwise he would stay and meet me in the evening wherever I was with my family.  I told him to keep working**, partly because I didn't want him to have to take the day off, but also because I knew he wasn't going to be nearly as helpful at helping me deal with the pain as my sister would be.  The next day, after making sure our friends made their flight and picking up the pieces, I called in the reinforcements and my bridesmaid (once a bridesmaid always a bridesmaid) came over for dinner and listened to me and said all the right things while my husband made us dinner.

And while I recognize that we all grieve differently, and handle grief differently, and neither of us is trained as a grief counselor, and I fully recognize that we cannot all be everything to everyone, I feel a bit concerned that neither of us is well equipped to deal with the other person when they are facing grief.  I don't really know how to improve this skill, because it's not really something I can, or want, to practice, but when we got married, we promised each other that we would be there for each other in the tough times, and I think we would both like to be there emotionally as well as physically.  So how do you and your partner handle grief?  Do you do everything together, like go to the hospital and the funeral and the services?  Do you have any tips for us when we face this in the future?

*I called my sister on the way to the hospital and said, "should I bring lunch?" and she said, "they aren't us...they don't have inappropriate food-grief relationships."   
**In retrospect, this was a mistake, because I could barely drive the car, and we have decided in the future, when something bad happens and I need to get somewhere fast while trying not to sob openly, Mark will drive me.