My Own Happily Ever After

 

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Today Will and I are celebrating two years of being marriage. On one hand I’m like HOW HAVE WE BEEN MARRIED FOR TWO YEARS! And then on the other hand I’m like…wait haven’t we always been married. Maybe it’s because we have been together, in total, for 8 years.

When I was thinking about my upcoming anniversary it hit me that I’ve never really shared my own love story! I think I’ve thrown out bits and pieces of it but I’ve never written it out here. So let’s do this:

So how did we meet?

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I was a junior in college and I’d pretty much figured I wasn’t going to meet anyone in college at this point because I’d either dated the ones I was interested in (small college so it’s not like it was that many) or the ones that I COULD be interested in were definitely just friends at this point or I was NOT INTERESTED. I pretty much resigned myself to the fact I would meet someone after college but definitely not now unless they transferred. (Dating someone that was a freshman was not even an option for me). Pretty much all my friends were in serious relationships and this was the year I was FINALLY okay with being the single girl. I was having so much fun and embracing going on dates when I wanted.

Enter this goofy freshman who always wore his hood up, blasted his music too loud and was always driving like an idiot (seriously he would drive fast and pull the e-brake!). One of my friends was on the basketball team and Will came in as a freshman and was also on the team and they became friends thus introducing him to me.

Was it love at first sight?

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Hahaha no. NOPE. NO. I remember when my friend, that I mentioned before, started hanging out with him I’m like WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS KID HE IS ANNOYING AND STUPID. Then I got to know him a bit but we were just friends and actually, come to think about it, I was crushing on another guy and always talked to him about it because HE was friends with this guy. I EVEN TRIED TO SET HIM UP WITH MY SISTER BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SAME AGE. That was pretty much the joke of my sister’s maid of honor speech at my wedding.

We progressively started talking more and I started enjoying his company more but I still didn’t ever picture an US. I mean we are OPPOSITES. Especially back then. I was picturing some guy in an indie rock band with jeans as tight as mine who would write me songs, would be cultured, go to shows with me because we liked the same music and would read alongside me…and never make me watch sports ever. And well Will….he liked rap. He rocked the typical jock guy attire — sweat pants and basketball shorts and t-shirts — and was obsessed with sports. His idea of dinner was a corndog and fries (yes I love those things) while I was like YES THAI FOOD PLEASE? And Will has probably read like 1 book in his life.  He didn’t necessarily check the boxes for DREAM GUY  though most of my dream guy criteria was pretty superficial because tastes change and develop.

So what made it finally click?

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I’m not sure the exact moment it clicked but I remember feeling a distinct shift in my feelings after one REALLY long conversation we had together in the car one night. We got into more matters of the heart and BIG LIFE THINGS. I talked about my mom this night. At this point in time, it had been only a few months since my mom had passed away. I was a mess even though I was really good at looking like I wasn’t. While my sister went wild and crazy and reckless, I held it together but inside I just couldn’t make sense of things.

After I told him my story, he shared with me that he lost his biological mom to cancer also when he was 4. There was just this vulnerable side of him this night that I had never seen and while I don’t think I was all heart eyed and in love….that couple hour honest conversation is something I will never forget.

I’ll never forget the moment I finally admitted I like him. We had a little house party at a friend’s house. I was a wee bit drunk. I was supposed to be super into and paying attention to the super popular basketball player (the friend that introduced Will and I actually) on campus but that night I kept finding myself gravitating closer to Will. I think it was pissing this other guy off and my sister cornered me and was like “omg he won’t stop talking about you to me” and I was like “yeah, I don’t think I like him…I think I like that kid.” To which my sister was like, “interesting.”

So for the next couple months I spent A LOT of time with him and we were “talking”…going on a few dates (dates are generous considering we were both super broke college kids). We would write each other long emails (where he would woo me with his high school level French), have long chats driving in the car and meeting each other after classes so we could walk together. Then we made it “official” on January 16, 2007 and here we are married two years today despite the fact I never saw this relationship being super serious.

The Day I Knew I Loved Him & Wanted To Spend My Life With Him?

 

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It wasn’t a particular moment but a couple years after we started dating his father got diagnosed with ALS. It’s just him and his mom (stepmom really because his real mom passed as I said but she’s been his mom since he was like 5 or 6) and we spent much time on weekends and in the summer there. Watching him take care of his dad was what made me know. When my mom was sick and dying from brain cancer my stepdad took care of her in a way that made me look at love & marriage in a whole new way. My stepdad is basically my hero to be honest. At some point I vowed, during that time, that I wanted to marry a man who would take care and love me in the way my stepdad did my mom. I never knew HOW I would know at the time but as I watched Will care for his dad in a way that breaks my heart because no son should have to do these things so young…it just made me KNOW. There was no complaining or resentment..just genuine love.

Things I’ve Learned From Finding My Happily Ever After

 

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* The story is still a work of progress and happily ever after does not mean we ride off in the sunset with no more battles or conflict or work involved. It does not mean I am happy every day. Good fictional reading related to that topic: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid & Landline by Rainbow Rowell

*Sure, common interests are good but it isn’t necessary to like all the same things (obviously I learned this also while dating him because OPPOSITES). When Will and I met he was an 18 year old boy and he hadn’t even begun to discover what he was into. He never cooked when we met and now cooking is one of the things he loves most in life. He dresses differently now (and not on account of me changing him or anything) and he’s even discovered he likes some of the same music as me. I’m okay with our differences and I embrace and love them. They are what make us remember that as much as we have become “one” in marriage we are still very much our own person. We learn and experience new things because of our different interests and I’m glad I never tried to mold him into who I wanted him to be in some areas.

* Most of my ideas about love and marriage were highly romanticized and were mostly based on movies and tv…and books to some extent but mostly movies and tv. How it works on the big screen is not necessarily how it works in real life.

* Sometimes you will go to bed angry. It happens.

* I never realized the new and exciting things I would learn about Will and the ways I could fall in love with him even more after marriage. Sometimes I think you have this idea after being together with someone that you know ALL THE THINGS but you don’t. And the falling in love part isn’t just a beginning occurrence…it happens to me at the most random of moments.

* Our relationship is not perfect and that’s okay. In the age of the internet and social media, it’s easy to look at the lives of others and think our relationship is inadequate. I’ve learned to reject the feelings that creep up when I see things online with someone else’s picture perfect relationship and it makes me start to doubt or think less of my own.

* I don’t ever want to stop fighting. I’m not saying I want to fight day in and day out in an unhealthy way. No, no not at all. I don’t want to FIGHT and scream and be miserable and awful to each other. What I’m saying is that, coming from divorced parents at a young age, I watched a relationship that eventually they became so apathetic/indifferent that they just stopped caring. They FOUGHT LIKE CRAZY but it was no longer serving a purpose but just to spite and let each other know how much they hated the other. (This kind of fighting is not want I want). I want to care enough to still disagree and that any “fight” we may get into will result in us taking the effort and time to work hard to bring a clear end to it.

I could write a lot more about what I’ve learned but those are just some of the most pressing things on my mind as I write this. I would LOVE for you to share your love story if you have one! And if you don’t, that’s okay too! I’m telling you…I really loved and embraced my days of being single once I came to realize it was okay and I wasn’t strange for NOT having someone.

You may also like:

10 Things My Husband Is Sick Of This Bookworm Saying
Being Married To A Non-Reader…It’s Not As Bad As You Think!!
Book Talk: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
You Mean I Have To Work At This Still?

Beyond the Pages: You Mean I Have To Work At This?

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

Landline Rainbow Rowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

Oh you guys! This is one of my favorite books of the year so far! I read it in January and I still can’t stop thinking about it and need to buy myself a copy to re-read it. Rainbow Rowell’s second adult book is about a marriage that has been off for some time and she knows it has been. It’s not an issue of not loving each other but between jobs and kids and all somehow it just has gotten a little lost. When they are a few days out from leaving for Omaha for Christmas, Georgie has a huge work opportunity arise and she has to stay in LA for it. She assumes they’ll all just stay home but is surprised when Neal decides he and the kids are still going. Scared of what this implies, Georgie wonders if it has all fallen apart for good and if/how she can fix it….until she’s given an opportunity to talk to Neal in the past.

What I said about it:Rainbow Rowell continues her trend of being able to write poignantly and candidly about all sorts of love. I loved that, while this was partly a story about a love going wrong, it’s also a story about falling back in love and remembering the first time you fell in love with that person as well…especially in the face of maybe losing it all. She makes love just come alive and feel true.” You can read more of my thoughts about it here!

What It Got Me Thinking About:

relationships (marriage & friendships), not being passive in relationships, how much “work” relationships take, my own relationships

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There’s a lot of things Landline gave me to think about while reading it and after but one of the biggest things is how much care, commitment and “work” needs to go into a relationship — any kind of relationship. In Landline, the marriage was not dissolving because of necessarily huge things but these small, tiny moments. Little decisions that happened daily and were almost unnoticeable until one day you look up and realize,” WOW how did we end up like this?”

I’ve only been married for almost two years but I could see how easy it would be to get to this point. To get too complacent. Take things foregranted, unintentionally stop TRYING and let it all slip away. I think it’s easy to become passive in a relationship and not even realize it — to just let it BE and not do all the things to cultivate and nurture that relationship.

When I was younger I used to always say, “it shouldn’t take this much work to have this friendship/relationship.” And yes, in some cases it shouldn’t be THAT hard and shouldn’t constantly FEEL like work. But I think what I always thought was that relationships shouldn’t ever take work. That they should just naturally be. Maybe I was just too young to quite get it yet or maybe I was just mistaking what WORK meant in regards to relationships. But I truly believe that any good relationship worth having requires a certain degree of “work”. We must be active in maintaining it and nurturing it. Taking care of it. Not just putting it on cruise control or auto-pilot. I’m not saying we need to constantly be doing this but I think, as I reflect on my marriage already, I need to be mindful. It’s easy to slip into patterns, to stop communicating, to stop trying, to ignore things, stop making an effort to love each other. To just settle into the marriage and think it’s going to work because we love each other and smooth sailing from there.

It shouldn’t be all work.  I’m not saying that. There’s a bigger problem there, I think, if all you are doing IS working on it. But I think we are doing a disservice to our important relationships if we don’t realize that they DO take some degree of work and nurturing and caring for. They need us to be intentional and active participants.

And it’s not even just marriages. It’s friendships too. I think of so many great friendships that just faded away because both parties just STOPPED — for no reason. It happened by letting the communication stop, by not being active in engaging that relationship and letting life get in the way. I never meant for it to happen but it did before I realized it. And sure, that’s life, sometimes friendships are going to naturally fade but I think too often we are passive in relationships and don’t put in the work without even meaning to. I know I do and I’m realizing that.

I’m resolving to work harder at my relationships and be more intentional. Too many valued friendships have slipped away and I also don’t want to, years from now, being in a situation similar to Georgie and Neal in my marriage wondering how I got there — feeling surprised by it. I don’t want to look back and see all the small things that made us seemingly end up on different planets and know that I could have helped it.

Here are 3 things I’m going to do in my relationships starting today:

Marriage:

1. Go on a date at least once a month: I think one of the biggest things I’ve already seen about marriage is how easy it is to ALWAYS sit in our jams and flop on the couch. And yes, I do love that time and it’s valuable to us. But it’s easy to stop dating each other when you get married. Like really, really easy. Our dates don’t have to be expensive or anything crazy but I do want to make it a point for them to be a planned, specific date. I’d like for us to rotate who plans the date.

2. Stop eating dinner on the couch: We’ve gotten in a really bad habit of eating dinner while catching up on one of our shows. If we ever have a family this is something I do not want to EVER happen. I grew up with family dinners that slowly faded to everyone just eating on their own or in front of the tv. I started to miss those conversations and catching up. So I will clear off our kitchen table (which is half filled with books) and we will eat dinners together and use that time to talk. No phones, no tv on, no laptops.

3. Find an activity or a project for us to do together: I used to love when we’d go to the gym together but my interest in Pilates kind of ruined that and that’s okay. He works out with a friend now, which is good for him, and I do an exercise that I really enjoy more than the gym. But I loved that we had SOMETHING we did together. We have so many activities that we do separately (not to mention when we both get in our own little worlds..him with video games and me with blogging) and that is important but I want to find something to do TOGETHER.

Friendships:

1. Get better at communication: Here’s the thing about me. I suck at keeping in contact. I’m real bad at answering texts. I hate talking on the phone. I’m the worst at answering emails. It’s not that I don’t WANT to talk to you (sometimes I’m just not in the mood to socialize with ANYONE or I’m busy/in the middle of something). But I’m just not good at keeping in touch — a few friends aside. But I’ve come to realize it’s an excuse. Not because I secretly hate people. I don’t know what it’s an excuse for but I know that I can work at it*. I just have dismissed everything as “well, I suck at keeping in contact” without really taking steps to be better at it. I truly am not a person who needs constant communication to know we are friends (I have a few great friendships where that’s mutual) but I’ve also gotten in the bad habit of just NOT communicating. And the worst part? I’m not very good at initiating the communication. I let months slip away without saying anything. I’ve got a lot to work on here — answering communication and initiating it. Especially the initiating.

2. Make plans: I also suck at making plans. See, here’s the thing. When I’m with people and spending time with a friend, it’s great! I love it! But the actual thought of making plans? I am the worst. I’m lazy. I’m never the person to ask anyone to hang out because I honestly am so content with doing my own thing or hanging with Will. I know I’ll always be glad I did it (like I normally AM) but there’s this period from the making of plans until I get there where I’m like WAHHH CAN I JUST SIT HOME PLEASE?

3. Do something nice for a friend: Because I’ve gotten in this cycle where I don’t really initiate contact or make plans with people, I’ve slipped into some selfish habits that I didn’t even realize. I used to be the friend who always looked for ways to genuinely do nice things for my friends — a way to encourage them,  to make their day, make a birthday special, help their broken heart, etc. I just stopped. I stopped being thoughtful. And I feel like a shitty person. I’m going to make an effort to be intentional about this once a month until I’ve gotten myself out of whatever weird funk I’m in.

* I think a lot of my issues with friendships is due to some past friendships. Maybe I’m just trying to protect myself by just not taking the risk of nurturing friendships? I don’t know.

 

 

What do you think? Do you think relationships take work? Have you experienced this first hand? Am I the only one who struggles with this? If you’ve read Landline did Georgie and Neal’s story resonate with you in any way?

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