“Happily Ever After” is only the Beginning

All the movies make it seem as though that walk or drive off into the sunset with the love of your life is the end no more conflict, no more challenges, no more changes.

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But Happily ever after is only the beginning

You relationship is not complete when you get married. You don’t stop working on it after marriage you are only really beginning. With all the awkward superficial barriers worked through during dating, you begin to hit at deeper bigger issues. These issues can come on with the smallest of topics. But if you take the opportunity to openly and honestly talk about them you will find yourself work through things that are much deeper. When you work out issues in an frank yet loving way you learn a lot about yourself, a lot of about your spouse, a lot about what “you” as a couple looks like.

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The first two months of marriage included a lot of talking. . . and I mean a lot. These talks came up at the most unlikely and most annoying of times too. Every time we didn’t agree or were confused by what each other meant or expected we took the time to work it out. It wasn’t easy but we wanted resolution, we wanted to understand each other. There was a lot of questions for clarification: What did you think I meant? What do you want me to do ? What do you think I expect you to do?  I found that you may finish each others sentence when you’re dating but it doesn’t mean once you’re married you will be able to read each other’s minds.

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Another title for this could also be: new is new is new is new .  . .

This is just the beginning to married life. Any new element is exactly that a new element. So any new topic or area of life not present before marriage is not magically resolved out of your love. Whether it is deciding on when/where it is ok to flirt with each other (or let it lead to more), what to eat for the week, who does what chores around the house, the budget, outings, etc.. If it is a new decision it requires talking it out-it requires work.

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Remember back when you felt unsure how the person you were dating was going to take your opinion on an issue? Or you were unsure how to bring a new difficult topic up? But in time you develop trust and with it comes honesty, patience for each other, and grace to see eye-to-eye on things. Well that doesn’t change. You will still have those awkward and difficult conversations for anything that is a new element to your relationship.

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New elements to your relationship require effort and compromise to make new decisions. It doesn’t happen through osmosis when you put rings on each other’s fingers. It comes through loving each other enough to want to work it through.  Don’t out of fear of being vulnerable keep your mouth shut when things bother you. But don’t go overboard either. You do not have always instigate a debate-the talks and challenges will come up on their own.

It doesn’t happen over night.  Six (almost seven) months married life is a lot easier than one month. The more we invest in each other the more we see growth,stability and we find ourselves deeper in love . Trust me it’s true! Marriage does not grow like weeds. It grows like trees-change sometimes is subtle but time and consistent investment can make it grow stronger. And if you think you’ve been through a lot as a couple before you get married just wait until  you watch the other person step-up to the responsibilities as husband or wife. You will love and respect them even more.

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I do not claim to have this figured out-we are still working through a lot of topics and issues. But I know that going into the first few months being willing to ask the hard questions knowing you are safe to be vulnerable (that the commitment you made to each other is enough) makes all the difference. You have to know that the other person loves you and will show you forgiveness. That they (and you) will be willing to say your sorry, mean it, and move on. There is a lot of adjusting to do and it requires compromise, patience, and grace.

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Sleep after marriage: isn’t always a dream come true

One thing I thought would be beyond easy after marriage was sleep.

Here is why: I have always slept better with someone else in the house or room with me; their presence is soothing and safe. Also, because Luke and I were super busy while dating I would often cuddle up to him on the couch to watch a movie or on his living room floor while he took a nap before working a night shift and quickly fall asleep.

What I am learning now is that nap time is not the same as sleeping through the night and sharing a bed.

So here’s another myth busted: Sleep after marriage: is not always a dream come true!

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Our bed: before I’m asked the the duvet cover is mine I bought it from World Market a few years ago

 Instead sleep patterns/habits much like personalities are unique to each person.

I grew up in a little twin bed. Usually I am a side sleeper and my feet and hands are always cold; if I am cold I can’t sleep.  I am a light sleeper too–any unusual sound, change in temperature, or odd dream can wake me up. To complicated this, it takes me a long time to fall asleep and sleeping soundly through the night is often a luxury. Because of this I need more hours of sleep; at least 8 if not 9.  When and if I fall asleep soundly I do not move all night.

Luke has at times chosen to sleep on hard floors over his own bed and has slept in beds of different sizes mostly double/queens all to himself (even at age 3!). He is usually a stomach or back sleeper. Luke alway runs warm so he often gets hot in the middle of the night and tries to take off the covers. He is also a very deep-sleeper, and falls asleep very quickly, usually only needing 6-7 hours. To add to this, Luke will move around in his sleep without realizing it.

Now you can imagine what we’ve been working through sleeping in the same queen size bed.

We finally came to realize we both have to adjust our sleeping habits and accept the other person’s habits if we want to share a bed or we will be constantly frustrated, grumpy, and sleep deprived.

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My mom made this red brass pinned retro-looking headboard for me during her upholstery class awhile back

It has taken us until 5 months into marriage talk about our sleep habits and decide what helps or hinders good sleep.  Even after talking it through there are still rough nights-this will take time.

A canvas print landscape picture from our wedding day hangs over the bed

A canvas print landscape picture from our wedding day hangs over the bed

If you are getting married soon and have never slept in the same room, same bed, or taken a nap together (or even if you have as I learned) I would suggest talking about your sleeping habits because you may not know what a “normal night” looks like.

Asking questions like: How did you sleep as a child? Do you like a lot of space/little space? Do you move around/stay in one place when your asleep? Do you like a lot of blankets/sleep with none? Do you love your PJs or prefer your birthday suit? might be helpful.

This could provide you with a head-start on developing a healthy sleeping relationships (and may help you determine what size bed you want).

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Our Queen size bed

Any married couples have advice to share? Have you had to make  similar adjustments?

Spring is coming

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Cherry blossom tree at Easter in Seattle

It is still cold outside but there is hope as things are slowly thawing. We are not used to long winters with snowy temps. from October-March. We are told this was a normal to light winter-eek!

Fortunately spring is coming and we have finally moved out of the “settling-in” stage. Luke mentioned to me that he feels like we have finally arrived-things are beginning to feel well . . .  normal. We have been married for 5 months now and the newness of it all is starting to fade . . in a good way.

Our “settling-in” phase was such a scramble. Everything was new, scary, exciting, and anxiety producing. Any little task around the house, errand, or decision was a monumental “first” which involved talking, compromise, patience, and grace.

We are now ready for a new phase I call “branching out”;  it’s time to get involved in the community.

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Now that I have gotten a grasp of some of my wifely responsibilities I am ready to begin the job of finding a job. It is time for me to find my purpose and place here in New York.

As I make phone calls, email inquiries, send my CV to colleges and companies in the area; I have to stay focused on today and not worry about tomorrow as I wrote in The future is . . .

We have also recently been asked to lead a small group of young couples at our church once a week starting in April. We love to host events and build community. Plus I once again have a reason to bake goodies!!!

In addition, we are attending Financial Peace University at our church.  Luke has a good working knowledge of finances I   . . . do not. We thought this class would provide us with the framework/vocabulary for discussion on this stressful topic. This is us taking that desire to procrastinate talking about loans, debt, spending, saving, and shoving it out the door!

Last, we have been exercising. We got memberships at the Y in January. It took awhile to get into the routine. Fortunately the Y has a clean welcoming facility and everyone is polite. There is no judgment, no hogging the machines, no showing off, just genuine people taking care of their bodies whatever their shape, size, or age! It is a far cry from the LA gyms and fitness centers! Still we are looking forward to warmer weather so that we can exchange our indoor exercise for outdoor explorations.

Chinese garden Huntington Library this past May

Chinese garden Huntington Library this past May

Do you have any spring cleaning/changes or challenges ahead of you?

A story definition of self-judgement

A few weeks ago I had one of those days that sent me into a stressed, frustrated fit.

Luke and I had taken time to relax most of the weekend and now it was time to get some business done.

Unfortunately nothing seemed to go right. We both had our independent  “tasks” to accomplish. But due-to elements I have no control over I ended up needing Luke’s help on my “independent” tasks and he needed my help for his.

Also, I am one of those “work first play later” types. I’d rather get work done during the day so there is time to relax in the evening.

But at 10pm I was still doing prep-work for the coming week and Luke was working on banking paperwork. At this point my tolerance for what was out of my control disappeared. When I saw the clock I got angry. Thinking about what was still left  to do, my hope for a few minutes to relax before going to sleep was gone.

It took me a long time (and some help from Luke) before I calmed down. When I did I recognize  I was mostly upset with myself.   It did not matter that the pattern of how events occurred during day were out of my control-I somehow still found a way to accuse myself for the day’s problems. I felt as though I had failed.

Why? Because that is what I do: I judge myself. I determine my worth and evaluate my success by my own internal and flawed standards. And once this introvert succumbs to those feelings of failure/inadequacy all self-confidence deflates. I find myself paralyzed; kicking myself while I am down. I point a finger and ask “how could you?” or “you should know better” or “you should have/could have done better”.

This is just one story definition of how self-judgment prevents me from having a proper perspective of myself and events around me. I find myself feeling the need to apologize for what is not my fault. Then it takes conscious effort to recognize it is not my fault, that the day was a success, and that my self-worth is not based in my accomplishments/or lack there-of.

Like I said before, I am my harshest critic.

Are you seeing a better picture of why it is important for me to become judgment-free?

Do you also suffer from put-yourself-down-itis?

Dispelling Marriage Myths

Although I like to think of myself as serious minded and realistic, I cannot ignore the fact that media affects me and what I believed about marriage. I know I definitely fit into the category of “newly wed” but there are some media-induced myths about being married that I’d like to dispel.

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1. You can still feel lonely

Although your spouse does “complete you” they are not your  “everything”. Luke is not my co-worker, student, girl-friend, parents, or God. As we are still adjusting to a new area most weeks he is the only person I have a conversation with that does not end in “thank you and have a nice day!” So yes, sometimes it can get lonely. Sometimes I wish our conversations would go deeper than talking about taxes or planning out our meals (and sometimes they do). But I would be abusing his role in my life to treat him like and expect him to be everyone and everything to me.

Can you imagine the pressure I would be putting him under to fulfill more roles than he was meant to? (I’m pretty sure he did not vow to that). He is my husband and that is very important to me, but opposite to what the media portrays, his role in life is not to succumb to my every whim. Although I am less lonely than I was before he was apart of my life, he is not “all I will ever need in the world”.

2. Your personal problems and insecurities don’t go away.

In fact they are highlighted by how you interact with and treat your spouse.  It amazes me that in the most unexpected moments the lies I believe about myself (you know the ones in your head “I am   . . . ” “I have too little/too much” . . . “I will never be” etc.) get in the way of clear communication. I can easily misinterpret an attempt at encouragement to be an expectation on how I need to live my life!  It is true, we make each other better people-but it is exactly that make, it doesn’t happen automatically or easily, it is what we choose to do.

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Because in reality your spouse is a mirror/window into your self. And Yes! sometimes that can be scary. Honestly: if you don’t like facing your problems and insecurities-don’t get married! The positive thing is that you have someone who thoroughly knows you and  has committed to love you who will help you work through those issues.

Well there is more I’m sure where this comes from.

But now it is your turn:

Those that are married-you find this to be true for yourself?

Any stories about relationships you are willing to share?

Any advice for the newly-wed on other myths that need to be busted?

What the Fridge tells Us

I love to stay organized.

I always have a monthly calendar, an organizer, and sticky notes to put on my computer, bedroom mirror, or car dashboard. If someone begins to list more than 3 steps or ingredients to me-my hands start itching to find pen and paper (just ask my parents or previous roommates).

Luke loathes making lists, and only will if he is absolutely overwhelmed. Otherwise the lists can make him feel overwhelmed. He makes fun of how excited I get when I receive pens and sticky notes in my Christmas stocking.

But when we got married and Luke started his new job I knew we needed some way to stay organized. The answer: the fridge.

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    In my search for organization I went to Target and found whiteboard calendars from a division of Mead called organizher.

I bought a weekly calendar that we keep on the freezer door. I told Luke this is the one he should look at. On it I will write Home, or Out so he knows if I am driving him to work/taking the car for the day (did I mention before that we currently share a car). I also list what days/times we plan to exercise or any important events during the week.

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Also every Sunday night we decide on our home-cooked dinners for the week and write them out on the weekly calendar.  We have made a few favored repeats in the last few months but still enjoy changing it up and seeing new recipes works.

Then on the fridge door is the monthly calendar. I told Luke this is the one he doesn’t have to look at. Here I write down holidays, big events, and my blog schedule (yes I confess I have on of those too).

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We keep a green super sticky Post-it Notes pad for a grocery list on the freezer door. If there are any events we have tickets to or have a flyer for we are apt to stick that to the freezer door with a magnet. My favorite magnet is one from a friend of Pikes Place Market in Seattle.

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Also, on the side of the microwave we keep a list of business or serious talks we want to have. That way we can plan when to talk and feel prepared going into the discussion.

But I think Luke’s favorite form of fridge-communication is seeing my blue mixing bowl on top of the fridge. This means baked goodies, usually muffins, for breakfast.

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The current baked treats are carrot-apple oatmeal muffins.

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What does your fridge communicate?

Do you post an emergency contacts list, your children’s drawings, pictures of friends or family, notes/reminders to roommates, letter or word magnets to spell out funny poems or messages?

Do you own any fun or funky magnets shaped like fruit, sushi, or vintage pictures with sarcastic sayings?

Please feel free to share pictures.