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Well, we’ve made it to five years!  It’s been a truly wonderful five years despite the challenges.  It’s funny.  Looking back, I realize that all of my “problems” were not due to marriage.  A lot of the challenges are just the growing pains of becoming an adult.  We’ve bought a house, we’re preparing to start having kids, we’re paying student loans, I could go on and on.  I have learned a lot over the years, about myself, about relationships.  It’s amazing how similar I am to my parents and how behaviors I’ve learned from them have affected how I act in so many facets of life.  Becoming aware of those influences and learning how to behave the way you want despite your first impulse can be really freeing.

I realize I’m not really a newlywed anymore, so this will most likely be my last post on this blog.  I don’t really have regular readers, that I’m aware of, and most people happen upon this blog for my post on Post-Nuptial Depression.  That said, I’d like to give you some general relationship advice that I’ve learned through my five years of being married.  I hope you’ll find it helpful and that you’ve enjoyed the few posts I’ve written.  If you’d like to get in touch or follow me in other avenues, you can find my email on the Contact page.

Here goes:

  • Compromise:  One of the first things I learned after getting married is that compromise is essential.  It’s almost impossible to do anything together unless you’re both willing to give in, even if it’s just a little bit.  Every time we make big purchases, it takes us weeks or months (or more!) to make a decision, because we both have to like it.  If you just go along with whatever your spouse wants, you’re not going to feel a sense of ownership, and you might be setting yourself up for either resentment toward your spouse or disappointment in yourself for not being strong enough to fight for what you want.
  • Communication:  I have always found that it’s better to communicate how I feel even if it’s silly.  I feel like this one should be self-explanatory, but in case it isn’t: talk to each other, and listen to each other.  Talk about sex, talk about the future, talk about having children, talk about finances, talk about your biggest fears, talk about your insecurities, just talk!
  • Expectation:  Lose it.  I’ve learned that you cannot expect someone to behave how you want them to behave just because you want them to.  Expectation only leads to disappointment, especially if you haven’t fully communicated what you expect out of someone.  Recently I had a talk with my husband about something trivial (it seems like it’s always trivial…).  I think it was something as little as putting his dirty clothes in the hamper.  I asked if it’s just a waste of time for me to keep asking for him to do it, and he said it was.  He knew I wanted him to do it, and he was just choosing not to.  My nagging literally didn’t matter.  I don’t even think the nagging bugged him, he just totally ignored it.  So, I sort of just realized there’s no point in even bothering.  He’ll do it if he wants.  If he doesn’t put his socks in the hamper, they won’t get clean!  And, as weird as it might sound, it’s almost like a relief.  If I’ve already told him to do it, he knows.  Then it’s just up to him whether or not he wants clean socks, and I can just kick back and let it go.
  • Roles:  As egalitarian as you think you are, there are always roles that people fill in relationships.  I’ll give you an example.  We go to a movie theater that’s technically a bar, and they serve food and drinks.  When the pizza (or whatever) is ready, your number comes up on a little thing next to the screen.  My husband always goes and gets the food during the movie.  I don’t know why.  It’s just always been that way.  I would never want to do it.  I never have to ask him to do it.  He just does it.  In the morning, I always put the blinds up in our front room.  I always do it.  He never does it (ok, if I ask, he does it).  But, it’s not something he would do by himself.  I even tested it.  The other day, I just left them down, and he didn’t even care.  We went through the whole moring with them down, and it only bugged me.  So, since I care, it’s like part of my role.  It just works.  Also, I take out the trash.  He has an aversion to taking out the trash, and I have an aversion to smelly trash being inside the house.  So, it’s easier and faster if I do it.  I’m sure there are other ways we fill “roles” in our marriage… (get your mind out of the gutter…).
  • Fun:  Have fun together.  Find something that you both like to do, and do it regularly.  I did ballet when I grew up, so I was never allowed to ski.  So, I had this totally irrational thing against skiing.  And then I married a ski-obsesso.  He was basically born skiing.  He thinks our kids will come out of the womb with skis on their feet.  Eventually, I decided to learn to ski.  I didn’t do it to make my husband happy, I did it because it’s something he really likes to do and maybe I would also like it.  Well, it was a rocky first couple of years learning, but now it’s something that we do together most Sundays during the winter and totally love!  Doing something together that we both really like has made us closer as a couple.

I’m sure this list could go on and on, but that’s probably a good start.  Best of luck to all you newlyweds!  Hang in there.  The beginning can be tough, but if you’ve found your perfect mate it can only get better!

Ms. Newlywed

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It took me a really long time to decide I wanted a puppy.  I grew up in a family where pets were forbidden.  Neither of my parents were raised with pets, so they didn’t really feel they needed any.  They also had six kids and probably thought that was enough to take care of, enough pitter-patter of feet, enough mouths to feed.  I tend to agree. It would be tough raising that many children.  I fell in line third out of the six and desperately wanted a white, fluffy kitty when I was about eight.  I pleaded with my mom to let me get one.  She wouldn’t let me, because she thought the cat would wrap itself around the baby’s neck and choke it.  She said I could get one after he was a few years older.  But, then she had another baby, and so on until I was in my teenage years and getting a pet wasn’t as high of a priority.  While I wanted a cat, I never wanted a dog, because they terrified me.  I was never bitten, but I do remember some traumatizing incidents with barking and snarling teeth. 

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family where pets were abundant.  He had a pet rabbit, a pet lizard, a hamster, and two salamanders.  They bought a pet dog, a Maltese-Lhasa Apso, when he was five.  He barely remembered a time without her.  When I met him, Annie was 16.  Old for a dog.  I had missed out on her youthful days and only knew her as elderly.  I sympathised with the family when she neared death, but I didn’t have the same connection.  I had never bonded with a pet.  She passed right after we got engaged.  The funeral was really sad, and I tried to be as supportive as I could.

In my early adult years, I really had never considered getting a dog and was known to not like them.  I was always awkward around dogs and kept my distance.  I tolerated being around them, petted them every once in a while but was really not sure what to do.  They were foreign to me.  My stepmom even refused to let me dog-sit, because she knew I would be horrible.  But once I met my husband, I knew it was  inevitable that we would get a dog of our own.  For a long time, I thought we could just put it off until after we had kids.  We would have more freedom.  We could travel.  I wouldn’t have to take care of it.  Also, my husband’s still in school, and I didn’t want to become the sole caretaker.  So, I pushed to wait on getting one until after we had kids.

Then, a couple of months ago, I started getting really fed up with work and living in the Bay Area and was lonely when my husband would have his evening classes.  So I started seriously looking at different breeds.  After much searching and debating, we finally settled on a Maltese-Shih tzu.  We found some irresistible puppy pictures online.  We mulled over the idea for a while.  Weeks later, it was tax time, and our jaws dropped when we saw how much we would have to pay.  Utterly depressed, we decided to give the breeder a call and go see the puppies.  The “waiting until we have kids” concept had flown out the window. 

Getting a puppy was one of the most terrifying experiences.  There were seven in his litter, and it took us two hours to pick him out.  When we left with our new bundle of joy, he was yelping tiny, cute squeeks, and I felt unbelievably horrible for separating him from his family.  Who were we to take this tiny creature away from all he knew in the world?  My husband drove, so I held him on my lap.  We bonded over the drive home from Sacramento.  He weighed only three pounds.  He was this itty bitty helpless creature that now relied solely on us for his survival!  Talk about responsibility!  The way he kept looking at us to comfort him and tell him everything would be ok.  The way he yelped and cried.  He needed us.  We literally became parents that day.  My “it’s just a dog” mentality did a 180 that day to become “this is my baby” and “he’s a member of the family.” 

After having our new puppy for just a few days, I couldn’t believe that I had never had one before.  I was really missing out my entire life on something truly wonderful!  He is a blessing.  He wakes us up in the morning with licks, jumps up and down with joy when we get home, and loves us no matter what.  Now that we have him, I don’t mind taking care of him like I thought I would.  It just comes naturally.  And, my husband helps out a lot.  We take turns getting up in the morning to let him out, and he makes a valiant effort to clean up.  He is an excellent puppy daddy and it makes me think he’ll do just fine with babies when we have them.  I can see why people say that getting a puppy is like a test run for parenthood.  It shows how well you work together when taking care of a helpless being that depends on you for its survival.

It’s hard to believe my husband and I have been married for two years.  So much has happened since June 9th, 2007 it’s difficult to know where to start.  Time has gone by so fast that it seems like longer, and in ways I feel like a completely different person.

Two years ago last night, I was having what we now call my bridal freak out.  After screaming at my loved ones and loudly venting the frustrations that had built up during wedding planning, I called my husband-to-be.  He could barely understand anything I said over the phone, because I was speaking in high-pitched squeaks interspersed with deep breaths.  Part of him was worried that I wouldn’t show up the next day.  I’m sure he got a great night’s sleep!  I, on the other hand, was given my own bed in the hotel room I shared with my mom and sister in an attempt to get more sleep than the two hours I had gotten the night before.  Plus, I think they were both terrified of me after the yelling rant.  In fact, I think the whole hotel was terrified.

The next morning, I had only a few requests.  One was for my brother to go get us jamba juice and einstein’s bagles for breakfast.  Next, I needed a nice long shower followed by extensive “getting ready” time so that I wouldn’t be stressed out or rushed.  I had planned to do my own makeup and hair.  Being a makeup artist, I was anal enough to not want anyone else doing it, and I found it to be very calming.  Eventually I and the other girls were ready to go to the nuptial destination to take photos before the ceremony.  My only real regret on the bridal side of things was that I should really have gotten more comfortable shoes, since I ended up wearing flip flops for most of the evening, and that I should have lost ten pounds so that my dress wasn’t so stifling.

The wedding ceremony and reception were absolutely beautiful, and I am forever grateful to those who helped it be the success it was.  It truly was a surreal experience that I wish could have lasted days instead of hours. 

During the two years that followed, I have gone through several life changes.  I suffered unbearable insomnia that threatened my husband’s normally sound sleep.  I went through a difficult period of adjustment and post-nuptial depression.  I, we, paid off several thousands of dollars in debt.  I reformed my spending habits.  I became incredibly lazy.  After giving it quite a go in the Bay Area, I gave up pursuing a career in film.  I gained weight, I lost weight.  I got braces.  We got a puppy.  I have begun to enjoy the simple things in life.

I’m incredibly proud of my personal growth over the past two years and our growth as a couple.  While it hasn’t always been easy, it has been incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for any other experience.

Happy anniversary Sweetbean!

I thought it was bad when my husband became addicted to his new Blackberry phone a little over two years ago. He had resisted plunging into the world of Blackberry for some time, even buying another smartphone just to rebel. But apparently his other smartphone, which I can’t even remember the name of, was far inferior to the new Blackberry Pearl we were both eyeing after I moved out here. So, we decided to get a family plan together and splurge on the Blackberry Pearls. We got a pretty good deal on them and were required to carry a data plan for several months in order to get a rebate. He instantly became a fan of his new phone and all its functionality and carried it around like a baby. Then, four months later he got another Blackberry phone to use at work. He went from an anti-Blackberry snob to having two within six months. It was all I could do to just roll my eyes.

He soon became one of those Blackberry addicts who had to check his email every five minutes or see if anything interesting was happening on his favorite news websites, just because he could. He would insist on using the slow-loading google maps even when we knew where we were going. Why remember how to get places, when you could look it up on your phone? It was his Crackberry. Addicted. He became so preoccupied with his toy that I could be speaking to him, and he wouldn’t even notice.

One day, he came home from work and proudly proclaimed, “I have bionic Blackberry ears! I was in the kitchen at work and heard my phone receive an email all the way from my office, and sure enough it had received an email when I went to check!!” Wow. Just wow. I really didn’t think it could get any worse.

But then something happened that shook the very foundation of the Crackberry world and all of its addicts. The iPhone. It was new. It had no buttons. No rolling pearl in the middle that would wear out in a matter of months. Just simple, user-friendly design genius. A hard drive to hold pictures and music. Easily accessible internet that didn’t require typing on those tiny little buttons to see a less-than-ideal version of a website. A mini computer with a phone, camera, etc. Need I say more? You have surely all heard of the iPhone by now. Crackberry addicts the world over were salivating to get a taste of iPhone madness, and my husband was no different. He resisted at first, like he did with the Blackberry, saying how it was just all fluff or for show. No substance. Too expensive to possibly be worth it.

Over the next several months, his resolve softened. He had heard that one of the new work phones that would serve as a replacement for broken Blackberrys would be, you guessed it, the iPhone. He immediately began planning his work Blackberry’s downfall. Secretly, he yearned for his very own iPhone, though he wouldn’t admit it at first. Then his brother who works at Apple got one. On a visit, he had the chance to play with the iPhone and began openly pining for one.

Then I concocted the plan to get him an iPhone for Christmas. I needed his brother’s help, and together we made it happen. You wouldn’t believe his unbridled excitement at opening his small-but-expensive gift on Christmas morning. It was love at first sight. Soon, over the course of the day, he had disappeared into an even higher state of addicted bliss. This was worse than a Crackberry. This was an iGone. He began to recede from life. His ears stopped hearing those around him speak. His mind only had enough focus for his new little gizmo. If he didn’t hear me ask him questions when he had his Crackberry, he didn’t even know I was in the room with his iGone. His iGone literally took him into another state of being. An alternate reality. There was no point in trying to get through to him. He was just… gone.