Tag Archives: Relationships

Marriage is always Sunshine and Rainbows. Duh.

One of my Weddingbee friends wrote yesterday about realizing how damn hard marriage is, and that post went up around the same time other people were discussing how marriage changes your relationship.  Turtle and I were sitting on the couch together, my eyes glued to the screen, my mind deep in thought, so I turned to her and said, “What do you think has changed the most since we got married?”

Trust her to be in the same mental place I am, right?  Um, no, wrong.  She looked at the dog at our feet and the cats, one on either end of the couch, and then at me: “Uh, our animals started getting along better?”

true love/mild tolerance

For us, so far, marriage hasn’t been Super Especially Hard, or at least not harder than we expected.  But I wonder how much of this is because we sort of expected marriage to be really hard.  Several months before we got married, someone on APW (I can’t find the exact post) mentioned that she’s been told marriage isn’t about getting through hard days or hard weeks – marriage can be about getting through hard years.  And at our premarital counseling stuff, our minister sat across from us and laughed and said, “Sometimes you really just don’t even like each other.” She laughed like, you know, she knew what she was talking about, like she’d been there.  “Sometimes,” she said, “You just want your mom.”

moms will help you fight the world, if you need them to.

And then the other part of it is that so much of what sealed our decision to get married was the Hard Stuff.  It was that Turtle could handle my sitting in the kitchen, just sobbing and not being able to stop; it was that I could handle her losing her job and subsequent depression.  It was that we figured out how to talk about the really big stuff or how to say “we need to talk about the really big stuff.”

The third part of it that I’m toying with is that there has also been so much other life stuff happening; if we needed something to be angry or anxious or stressed out about, let’s try job stuff or family stuff or sick and/or neurotic animal stuff.  I think that maybe all of this circumstantial difficulty has given us the option of falling apart or deciding How Our Marriage Is Going To Work.

The answer, again, is goats. Goats help our marriage work. (honey, can I get a goat?)

Guys, I am super duper for sure NOT saying we have it all worked out.  I am not saying we have answers or that our marriage is winning (though, ahem, it is winning for us!).  I am just thinking about why it hasn’t been as hard for us as other people (or as easy for us as some other people).  It sure hasn’t been sunshine and roses… but instead of waking up and being (as we saw on Mad Men yesterday) all, “WOW, someone is making me dinner and it will be waiting for me when I get home! Marriage is awesome!” we’re all, “Wow, this hard thing is happening but there are arms to hold me and ears to listen when I get home because that’s what it means for us that we are married.”  That, and also we are silly a lot.  There is a lot of giggling.

Has marriage been harder than you expected? Easier?  Are you expecting sunshine and roses or big changes or no changes at all? Who had a honeymoon period beyond their honeymoon? ANSWER ALL MY QUESTIONS.  Just kidding, you can answer just four of them.

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I’m still smitten

I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned how Turtle and I originally got together, but this video reminded me of the whole thing:

Back when we were still just coworkers, we spent several weeks playing Scrabulous and sort of flirting over the little chat box they had there.  I got her to join Facebook (because I wanted to get to know her, sort of – I needed an in! But I told her it was so we could play Scrabulous.  Word games are a good way to snag a spouse?) and then I spent a lot of time looking at this picture and feeling fluttery.

Finally, one Friday night when I was supposed to watch a movie with my mom, she sent me a message; I’d just scored really high on some word and she said, “I’d be mad if I weren’t so smitten.”

Swoon.

From there, it all just sort of started: I saw her two days later, we had a seven hour date, and I didn’t kiss her goodnight.  Don’t worry, I made up for it the next day.  I spent the first month of our relationship not really talking; I was afraid we would run out of things to say to each other and that our relationship would be doomed: maybe we had nothing in common, maybe she was secretly a crazy cat lady, maybe our age difference would be a big deal or my friends wouldn’t like her.

Well, here’s what I have to say to that, Bird-of-the-Past: thanks for giving it a chance and finally opening your mouth.  And Turtle-of-the-Past? Thanks for speaking up, for waiting for me to finally find a voice and words and trusting the whole crazy thing.

 

the first picture of us as a couple, about a month after we started dating

When we first started dating, Turtle would not let me take care of her at all.  She got a cold and banned me from her apartment.  To someone who needs company and someone to make me tea and bring me tissues, this was a completely ridiculous response to getting sick.  When you are sick, you need someone to take care of you, and you let your girlfriend do that.  Turtle’s response to that: Oh HELLS no.  Leave me alone. Seriously, I think she wouldn’t even let me bring her a blanket.

Last week, as she was lying on the couch crying about how we were torturing our dog, she asked me for a box of tissues.

Look how far we’ve come, you guys.  So tell that someone you’re smitten with that you’re smitten, because smitten is a good word and it makes people fluttery and then they’ll wear makeup and those cute jeans the next time they see you and then you’ll have an awesome wedding and a cute-if-high-maintenance menagerie.  If that’s how you want it.

Who spoke up first in your relationship?

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Coming out of the fog

Since finally being unemployed, a few things have cropped up, and mostly they are things in my head. I have referenced a couple of times that I’ve been dealing with major anxiety, which sort of snuck up on me and took over for no reason that made sense to my logical brain. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a struggle; it’s been hard when it gets dark out, it’s been hard when the TV is on and when it’s off, it’s been hard when my wife kisses me or if she doesn’t kiss me.

Luckily, I have a kick-ass relationship with my awesome therapist, and she knows me well; she hooked me up with a doctor who could prescribe things that might make me feel better, and after exactly 18 days of nearly paralyzing anxiety, I am finally starting to feel clear-headed.

looking towards clearer, happier days

This is something that’s sort of tough to write about, but also really, really important to read about. I find strength every single day from reading Karen’s blog, Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable: she is such a cool person and if she lived closer I would want to be friends with her, but also she deals with all this crap stuff all the time and talks about it in such a normal way.  Plus!  Heather Armstrong of Dooce routinely references the tough mental stuff she’s gone through – and all of this, I think reaches people who realize that it’s really okay to ask for help.

Again: It’s okay to ask for help.

So if posting has been a bit less entertaining than usual, it’s because real life has been a bit more challenging than usual.  But it really is getting better.  And along those lines, I want to thank Karen, for helping me realize that there is hope and that I am not the only person in the world who is dealing with this; I want to thank Ellen for sharing her experiences with anxiety, and how they’re over (i.e. There’s hope! There is an Other Side!); and I want to thank my wonderful wife.

Turtle and I have been married for four months today, and the last four months have been wonderful and challenging.  For the last 18 days, I have been needing her support more than maybe I ever have before, and you know what?  She’s there.  She’s checking in with me, checking on my meds, making sure I don’t get into bed with all my clothes still on.  She’s stretching her own limits and she is doing a damn good job.

best wife, on a better day

When we say “in sickness and in health” (which, actually, I am not sure we did say), I picture someone in a hospital bed, or vomiting over the toilet, or needing a ride to a doctor’s appointment.  I don’t picture the mental health aspect of it, but that’s it, too, you guys.  In sickness and in health is checking in, saying, “How are you feeling today?” and just asking about moods and emotions.  Funny, the things that we promise that we only learn the meaning of later.

And this, four months in.

So, to my readers: thanks for sticking it out, despite the foggy posts.  Knowing you’re out there makes it worth all the trying.

And to my wife, as I said yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that: Thank you, in all the ways.

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But I also really did love last year…

I think maybe I was a little bit harsh on 2010 in my last post.  The holidays were heavy with stress (see: five million petsitting jobs, none of which I am willing to go easy on; if I do a job, I’m going to do it well, dammit. Even if it means being snippy at my wife a lot. Sorry, wife.), we had to put our dog Thumper to sleep on Christmas night, and with all the birthdays crammed in, it was just a really hard time of year.  So: I dedicate today to celebrating what was amazing last year:

My family.  Things have been hard and we are undergoing some changes, but one thing I can be grateful for is how intentional I have been with them.  It’s not possible anymore to just go hang out with everyone for an evening, and that sucks.  But the upside is that I have been able to spend some really quality time with every member of my family, and I love that.  Maybe this is because of the changes, maybe it is because I’m a Grown Up now, or maybe it’s a combination; regardless, it’s a good thing.

My new family.  My wife is amazing and I talk about this all the time, so I won’t make you gag again now.  Let it suffice to say that I am grateful for her every day, even when I am grumpy about it.

Our wedding.  It was possibly – probably! – the best day of my life.  Not because it was “supposed” to be or because I followed any sort of script; it was the best day because Turtle & I were celebrating and affirming our relationship while surrounded by our most important people.  It was absolutely amazing to feel so much love in that one day.  It was wonderful to spend so much time articulating what we want out of our relationship before the wedding.  It was such a blessing to feel our family and friends rise up to support us in the days before the wedding, and on our wedding day itself.

My job, and deciding to leave it.  I learned a lot there, and it helped me to articulate what I do and don’t want in my life; I think that without that experience, I would still be fumbling around trying to be a vet and wondering why things didn’t feel quite right.

(This is the one and only picture of me at work. Jake is helping by sitting on exactly what I wanted to write on.)

Friends! I mean, of course, friends.  But new friends.  I have met so many people this year through petsitting, through Weddingbee, and through APW – it is is so encouraging to meet so many amazing people in the world.

APW Boston Meetup

What were the best parts of your last year? Please share – I miss you guys.

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Reflections on a year I was grateful to see go

Well, hello, there!  I said I’d be back in the new year, and here I am.  I missed you!  But I also spent the last couple of weeks masquerading as a slightly insane petsitter.  Slightly insane only because I think sane petsitters occasionally say no to jobs so that they can occasionally care for their own pets; I, on the other hand, had up to 13 jobs in one day.  Thank you a billion times over to my beautiful wife for taking care of our own beasts!

I both love and hate year-in-reviews; sometimes I find it really boring to read about other people’s years, but really, if you find this boring? Skip it.  Because when it’s not boring it’s really interesting, so I’m banking on everyone loving my version of a year in review.  It’s a bit more of a reflection than review, but that’s what you get. Ready? Let’s go.

Our 2010 year started off with us screwing up a dinner party.  Seriously.  We thought we were being invited to just a “let’s all hang out, it’ll be fun!” party and we showed up 2 hours after it started.  Um, fashionably late for a regular old party, right? Yeah, well, as I mentioned – it was a dinner party.  Being 2 hours late is very, very bad.

I tell you this because, in retrospect, it seems like an appropriate beginning to the year that 2010 was.

In 2010, we had in our lives or in the lives of people we’re very close to a birth, a death, jobs lost, new jobs started, a separation, a wedding, we moved, we got a kitten, we lost our kitten, and we each turned another year older.  That last part is just how things work.  Other notable things: I started blogging, I started classes, I dropped classes, I got rejected by roller derby (twice!), our dog bit someone, I changed my life plan, we changed our last name, we merged our finances, and – yes, I already mentioned the wedding, but it feels worth mentioning again – we’re married now.

yes, I know you've seen this picture before... but it is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES. So here it is again. Enjoy, because it's beautiful.

What I mean to say is that 2010 was a really big year, and I am really grateful that it’s over.  When the clock struck midnight and our little group of friends yelled “Happy New Year!” I felt this sudden and huge wave of relief.  Really, that’s sort of silly: who knows what 2011 brings?  Maybe more stressors, different stressors.  But I find a lot of hope in this: we made it through this last year, and we did a really good job.  The chances of all of these things happening in the same year again are probably not very high, but, regardless, I know we can handle it.

Being engaged and then married has been an enormous blessing throughout all of this.  When things get hard, I know that there’s someone by my side, someone on my team; even when we’re having a rough time in our relationship, we’re in it for the long haul.

So here’s to 2011, with hope that it is full of love and new beginnings and is only somewhat eventful.  Happy New Year, you guys.

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Tradition… tradition!

Tonight begins our first Crazy Intense Holiday Celebration Week While Married.  Writing that sentence was sort of overwhelming, and the festivities haven’t even started yet.

Holidays this year are a little funky.  In years past, we have trekked the 30 minutes to my parents’ house and gathered there with my parents and brother (all of whom lived there) and my sister and her boyfriend (who definitely did not live there).  This year, things are a little different, and we are hosting!  Whoa, hello there, Being a Grownup, I think I was entirely unprepared for your arrival.  But sure, pull up a seat and feel free to go through anything in the fridge.  Yes, help yourself.  I can handle you because I am now a Grownup and can make up the rules about what time of day I get to start drinking.

Being a Grownup

Kidding.

Since the arrival of the holidays amidst a fractured family can really emphasize what’s missing, my lovely wife and I decided that we need to embrace some new traditions.  One of them we realized we already have: Solstice.

Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and this year there is also an eclipse.  Exciting!  Last year – and now this year as well – we are staying at the Inn of Wedding Fame, and then tomorrow we will go for our annual walk in the woods.  We exchange a couple of small gifts, spend a lot of time reading in front of the fireplace at the inn, and enjoy a lot of good tea.  It’s nothing fancy, there’s not a lot involved, but it does feel sacred.

The second new tradition?  Ornaments.  Not just the Gayest Snow(wo)man Ornament, which maybe should be a tradition, but this year we begin exchanging ornaments.  Can’t show you anything yet, since it’s still a secret from Turtle, but this is one I’m excited about.

And the tradition we are still struggling to sort out: our birthdays.  Mine is the 27th, hers is the 28th, my dad’s is the 29th, and my brother’s is January 6th.  This does not leave much recovery time.  Quick! Find traditions for EVERY DAY for a WEEK, stat.

New Tradition: Being Covered in Dogs

What are your holiday traditions?  What do you wish they were?  If you’re married, have you made up new ones with your new baby family?

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Fixing Everything for Everyone… or Not.

If you read any blogs besides this one, you’ve probably noticed the Reverb10 trend.  Basically, it’s a daily prompt to help us “reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.”  Quite frankly, the prompts have not inspired me much: I don’t really have or care to have one word that describes this or next year; I don’t want to narrow “feeling alive” down to one moment.  But this morning I have a lot to do, like finally put plastic over the windows and finish making an ornament I’ve been working on for a week, and, being who I am, this means I am doing pretty much everything other than those things. Like checking out reverb10.

Today’s prompt struck me, because I really do have an answer to it, and it’s an answer I’ve been putting a lot of energy into.

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Letting go: look, Ma, no hands!

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to make things better for other people.  It’s my goal at work: improve their experience (“Sorry for the wait, help yourself to coffee and tea! Oh, your cat is SO CUTE, cutest cat ever!”), validate their feelings (“Only you know what’s best for your cat, you’re making the best decision…”); I did similar work at the rape crisis center, and that’s the important part of the work I do now.  But it extends beyond that, and it got bigger in the context of planning our wedding.  It became “Our wedding is important for everyone, not just us, and it has to be perfect!” Always in the back of my mind was “we have to make this look like a *real* wedding so that my family who may not be supportive of my Gay Wedding will still see that it’s a Real Wedding.”

a real(ly heavy) wedding dress, totally inappropriate for wearing in a canoe

Over the course of all of it, I realized that the wedding is about other people in a lot of ways, but it is also more about us.  It is about us becoming our own family, and it is about planning something really big together for the first time. In the end, it did look like a Real Wedding (and it was a real wedding!), but each element had been picked out because it was meaningful for us, not because we thought it would look good to other people.

What I’ve started to let go of this year is trying to live my life for other people.  I am realizing that I can love and support other people, but that I have to be more honest with myself and in my relationship.  This is not a Veruca Salt declaration; it is not all about me.  But my life is also not about everyone else, and that is what I am letting go of.

My family has been going through some tough stuff recently, and I have been trying my best to be there for everyone all the time, to be strong and supportive and assure everyone that everything is fine.  And then yesterday I was walking with Turtle, and something just sort of clicked. I said, “You know, as much as I want to fix everything for everyone, I can’t fix it, and it’s not my job to fix it.  It’s my job to be here and let them know that I love them, and let them know that I am here for them.”  And she agreed that I am doing that job pretty damn well.  It doesn’t stop my desire to fix the world, but it makes it a little easier to accept when I can’t.

my closest, awesomest support system: sister and wife

Forget whether or not you’re doing this reverb10 thing: is there something that you’re letting go of or trying to change in yourself?  And if you hate that question, here’s another for you: how do you find the boundaries between being supportive and taking care of your self?

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