Sunday, February 20, 2011

marriage 'advice'

I've been reading I Do, Now What by Giuliana and Bill Rancic.  I know.  As if they need more money, and here I am contributing to their success by purchasing their 'manual on marriage'.  I'll admit it.  I went back and forth in my mind about whether to purchase the book, and even went so far as to read reviews beforehand because I felt silly and curious all at the same time.  Curiousity obviously took over, and I'm about halfway into the book.  It's not overwhelmingly innovative--that is to say, it doesn't offer groundbreaking, life-altering advice on marriage--but it does have a great voice to it, as though you're sitting across the table from them having coffee and listening to them share stories about what they're doing to 'make it work'.  I do find myself smiling at the back-and-forth banter they share throughout the book.  But, face it.  There just isn't a 'one-size-fits-all' manual for marriage.  It's a unique and ever-changing document that every couple must write--together.

As I'm reading, I've been marking a few of the passages that I've found inspiring, profound, or just simply important to remember.  I think the one that sums up the book (or at least what I've read thus far), is that "marriage is the one choice that will impact every decision you'll make for the rest of your life"..."because knowing each other makes us better people".  It took me a few times to read it to really process what they're saying.  I 'got it' right away, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it's most definitely the truest statement I've read in the whole book.

Before getting married, I made choices solely based on me.  My dreams, my wishes, my finances...all served as the 'ouija board' by which I guided my life.  Sure, I had relationships before Randy, but I never had a sense where I felt fully invested in the partnership, and to be perfectly honest, several decisions that I made while involved in those relationships proved that very fact.  But then I met this guy.  He lived down the hall from me in the only dorm building with co-ed floors on the whole campus.  I was randomly placed in the room for fall semester, and wasn't quite 'looking' for anything serious (afterall, I was 'technically' dating someone at the time--as was he, not to mention I was just trying to get through the semester so I could student teach in the spring).  But something happened, and we became pretty inseperable.  Even miles and opposite schedules (I worked during the day, slept at night, and he went to class (sometimes) during the day and partied with friends at night), couldn't keep us from saying 'I Do' on June 25, 2005.

It wasn't quite our wedding day when the way in which I made decisions shifted; but when I realized that we were heading in that direction, something in me changed.  The 'me' that once ruled my decision-making process was replaced by 'us'.  The things that mattered most were more long-term than short.  I'm not going to say that we sat down and road-mapped our entire life together, because that's definitely not the case.  But we have taken life as it comes, worked with the cards we've been dealt, and maintained a healthy and happy marriage despite the busy life that comes with young children, a household to run, and two full-time jobs.  Not to mention, we're 1,800 miles away from our family, our 'roots'.  But, to be perfectly honest, I think it's the distance from our extended family that has given us an added advantage when it comes to the challenging times.  Because we've had them...there are disagreements and times where our communication isn't the best.  There are times when I'm not as nice as I should be, Randy's not as understanding as he can be, and we're not 'meshing' like we did when we were dating.  Before marriage (or even 'on the path' toward marriage), the 'me' in my decision-making process would have opted out when the going got tough.  I would have had my mom's shoulder to cry on, my friends to have a drink or two with, and the comforts of 'home' to fold myself into. 

The ring on my finger though is more that just jewelry (ok, not gonna fingers are just a little too swollen to wear my rings now-a-days...but they'll be back on in a few more weeks!).  It's a reminder that we gave vows to each other to be there through it all.  After we took those vows and enjoyed a week in Mexico, we packed up our lives and moved 1,800 miles away from the comforts of anything familiar and into a world where if/when challenges arise...we only had each other.  Over the years we've extended our circle of friends, and have people on which we can rely if we need them, but when you get down to it, we still only have each other.  The absence of the support of nearby family has caused us to work through things without the input of family, without the 'helpful' advice of those who love us.  At first, it was hard for me to deal with this, because I relied on my mom so frequently for advice or just as a sounding board.  True, I still call her to vent my frustrations, but I try hard to keep my marriage out of those phone calls.  It's something that I'm working on, because it can be an easy thing--to gripe just to gripe.  To nit-pick.  To find fault in every other direction except inward. 

While having just each other to rely on when solving problems (big or small) can be a hard thing to adjust to, it is the one thing I find myself consistently telling others is the best thing we ever did for our marriage.  We learned how to be married without anyone else telling us 'how' to do it.  True, we can't just 'drop off' the kids with grandma to enjoy a weekend sans kiddie menus, velcro shoes, and fights over who touched whom; but we've found ways to adapt.  While we've only once taken one whole weekend away from the kids to reconnect during our entire marriage, we're finding other ways to remember what brought us together.  For one, we've become fans of the 'date night in'.  Thanks to the kids' relatively early bedtime, every so often (although not often enough in my opinion), we enjoy a nice dinner, music, conversation, and the company of each other all from the comforts of home. 

This weekend, we had one of those nights.  Our belated Valentine's Day dinner on Friday night was somewhat of a dual purpose.  Earlier that evening, my 'baby' brother proposed to his high school sweetheart, and she, of course said yes (how could you not? my brother is so darn adorable!).  As Randy and I sat down to toast to our own Valentine's Day celebration, we also toasted to another happy couple.  I'm so happy for my brother and absolutely adore my sister-in-law to be.  July 2012 will be one of the happiest times for our families as we celebrate their wedding.  Now I have just over a year to lose the baby weight...and more importantly to figure out how I'm going to make it through that day without my mascara running down my face.

I think my first hurdle, however, is to think of an engagement gift.  Since I *just so happen* to have lots of words to share (and, to those of you who are reading this, I'm sorry...I do mean lots), why not offer my brother and his soon-to-be wife a bit of advice.  I'm not saying we're experts on marriage in any respect...but if you think about it, what makes Giuliana and Bill Rancic 'expert' enough in marriage to have a book published.  Although, I do completely agree with what they said about marriage impacting ever decision that you'll make for the rest of your life.  Our wedding song was 'You and Me' by Lifehouse.  It wasn't 'You and Me (and our families)'.  Stick to the 'us' that you've created by your union, respect the commitment you've made in every aspect of the word, and do whatever it takes to work through the challenges (start by looking inward).  There, guys...I just saved you $25.00 on a book (or $10.00 if you have a kindle).  Love you!

our weekend trip to San Diego, November, 2010

a momento captured from our trip

the newly-engaged couple!

1 comment :

  1. loved reading this! perfect for a newlywed! :)