Archives for posts with tag: communication

I am fortunate to have many very talented, caring and involved aunts. Jarak has almost as many. And then there’s my Easter family, so that’s another bunch of involved and awesome people. They are volunteering to make food, dye cloth, find silk, help with setup and cleanup and generally be awesome people who aren’t *in* the wedding party, but are very close to it. If we didn’t have aunts, I don’t think this wedding would be happening. We are very much powered by aunties. So thank you all so so SO much!

On the not-so-wonderful end of things. I’m starting to get planning fatigue. It seems like the decisions to be made are never-ending, and the money to be spent is never-ending as well. Things that I thought were settled in one way, Jarak assumed were settled another way. Our communication has been breaking down, which has been tough.

Added to that is the stress of not seeing a whole lot of each other, and the times that we do have together, we are doing wedding planning, talking about money, one of us is half asleep or otherwise not focusing on us as a couple. We barely see each other during the week. Jarak is doing a bunch of web design work, partly for wedding stuff, and so he’s focused on that during his free time.

Part of me wants the wedding to just hurry up and get here so that we can go on our honeymoon and spend a week together without any more decisions to be made than when we should get up and what we want to do that day. We’re planning on taking a couple of days in a week or so to just spend time together

I also want the wedding to just hurry up and get here so that I can go back to having a normal life. I feel like I turn down so many things with the excuse “I can’t, I have to save money for the wedding/plan for the wedding/do xyzq for the wedding.” Fortunately, I’m told that not being able to do anything except wedding is pretty normal. My friend Kels told me, after I was lamenting about not getting my cousin’s wedding present put together and in the mail, that there is no way to do a very do-it-yourself wedding and get anything else done in the meantime. That made me feel a bit better.

I hate wedding planning. Or rather, I’d like it a whole lot more if I had more money. Weddings involve lots of Things and Things cost money. We’re broke. Not poor, but broke, as in “If we didn’t pay 1/3 of our incomes to student loans we’d be great.” I’d also like it a lot better if stupid Facebook didn’t bombard me with stupid ads down the side of the page about getting married and “the white dress diet” and shoes and ack!

I keep picking up wedding magazines, hoping that they’ll tell me something interesting or new or doable, and then I put them back. I don’t need to spend $5.99 on a magazine that is trying to sell me a vision of my wedding that is totally different from the one that I already have. This is what happens when you have two artist types designing a wedding. We already know what we like, and just because this season’s hottest color is pink, doesn’t mean we’re going to have anything to do with it. I bought one, a Martha Stewart one with neat hair ideas and some cool favor ideas. All of the others stay on the rack.

That being said, I’m a girl, and I’ve been envisioning my wedding since I was about 10. I clearly remember having a conversation with one of my 5th grade friends about what we wanted our weddings to look like and I said I wanted a purple dress. She informed me that I couldn’t have a purple dress unless it was an evening wedding. May I remind you, we were 10?

My parents got married outdoors at my grandparents’ house in rural coastal Maine. It was simple and beautiful. I’ve always kind of wanted to recreate that. However, my father has sold his house, and Jarak’s parents’ back yard is half swamp when it rains, so backyard wedding was right out. And this is where we ran headlong into the Wedding Industrial Complex. Searching for reception venues kept bringing up big banquet halls, plated dinners, and lots of fancy, expensive stuff. We didn’t want any of that.

My dreams for the wedding:

outside
lots of flowers
purple things (dresses, flowers, etc.)
good food and drink, maybe potluck
dance party!

Jarak’s requirements:

not too hot
open bar
as little money as possible

These did not connect very well at first. We agreed on open bar and outside, but otherwise? We were on two separate planets. I’ve been to a lot of weddings. Jarak has been to three or four, and two of them were with me. We had to be on the same page before we could even begin planning. We had a number of very grumpy conversations about money and not spending it frivolously, and whatnot. We started the budgeting process with the question of “What is reasonable/ what are we comfortable spending on this.”Getting on the same page in terms of the language that we were using was really important.

We finally realized that we needed to ask for help. We suck at asking for help. We don’t like to impose on anyone. But once we started to ask, it became clear that people would love to be part of our wedding and to help us out. One of my aunts was overjoyed when I asked her to help with the flowers. We’re bartering for things, we’re making things, and we’re learning to ask for help.

A big issue of contention was my dress. It seems like madness, when you have very little money, to spend upwards of $200 on a dress that you will wear once, for 10 hours at most. We had our biggest fight over the damn dress. At first my mother was going to make it, and it was going to be silk, and all handmade and beautiful. I wanted a princess dress, with a corset bodice, full skirt, sweetheart neckline and straps. All white, mostly plain, not a whole lot of sparkle and certainly no ruching. My mother and I went out to go try on dresses so that she could see what looks good on me, and what I like. We went to a big boutique and I was feeling fat and yucky and grumpy about shopping. I tried on about 20 dresses, and decided none of them were good enough,(bling! ruching! pickups! Lace! Ivory! ugh!) which annoyed the heck out of the consultant. After an hour, we gave up and went home. We stopped to get coffee for me, tea for mom, and to split a really good raspberry chocolate cheesecake. It was the perfect palate cleanser.

And then we found my dress. We went to a little secondhand store in Milford NH called I Do, Again. It’s this tiny boutique with used, bought-and-never-worn, and store samples of wedding, prom and other formal dresses. The woman who ran the store was in the middle of packing it up to move into a bigger space. I tried on a few dresses, which headed in the right direction, and then pulled on an Ivory (!) strapless (!) dress with a lace(!) and beaded(!) overlay on the bodice. It laces up the back corset style, and it fits absolutely beautifully. It’s polyester, not silk, and has a hideous pink waistband. I almost said no. However, when the shop owner found a purple scarf from one of the other dresses in the shop, tied it around my waist and stepped back, I started to cry. Seriously, me, the “I hate shopping, and most girly stuff annoys me” girl, cried when the purple sash went around my waist. It was perfect. And it was under $120. I totally had one of those “Say yes to the dress” moments, and I wanted to smack myself, because I don’t do stuff like this! So my mom and I are going to alter the dress to make it perfect. We’re removing the pink waistband and will add a purple one, we’re taking in the top of the bodice and making the straight neckline a sweetheart and adding a halter strap because I hate strapless dresses, but it will be beautiful. And now I can worry about other things, like finding compostable wine glasses, designing our save the dates and invites, sewing Jarak’s vest, and… and.. and…

I’m realizing that the reason I don’t like any of the wedding magazines is because they’re for people who don’t have their dresses, who don’t know what they want their flowers to look like, who don’t know what the invites and save the dates should be etc. Wedding magazines are not designed for artists. I’m marrying and artist, I am an artist, and it is awesome. And we’re going to look spiffy!

In the three weeks that we’ve been living together on our own, I’ve learned a number of things about Jarak, about myself, and about our relationship.

  • Being able to cook is super-important to both of us. We had a working kitchen the night we moved in. It was the first thing we set up, other than the bed. We had at least one frying pan, and our coffeemaker set up and ready to go for the next morning. We made our galley kitchen feel way more spacious simply by pushing the fridge to the short wall facing the galley, and putting my bread table/shelves where it used to be. Much more spacious now.
  • He won’t do my breakfast dishes after  I rush to work in the mornings, but he will do his dishes after he makes lunch for himself. I mistakenly assumed he would clean up after me. No way.
  • I generate about twice as much laundry as he does. He gets to wear the same thing every day. Uniforms are useful. I have to wear something different every day because A) I work with teens and they notice, and B) I work in an office and it just Won’t Do to wear the same thing.  Suffice to say I’m a bit jealous.
  • When one of us gets sick, the other gets sick, within a span of about 8 hours. I had a sore throat on Thursday night, and by Friday it had developed into a full-blown cold. He came down with a cold at the same time. When we were seeing each other 6 days a month, we rarely ran into this. Now that we see each other every day, there are a lot more germs flying around. But when the options are kissing each other and risking a cold or not kissing and potentially avoiding a cold? We’ll take kissing every time.
  • I don’t like to make house decisions without his input. There are some things, like putting plastic on the windows that I’ve done because it needs to get done and I know he won’t object. (Holy drafty old windows batman! I couldn’t open the thermal curtains without the wind driving cold air in last weekend.) And then there are things like deciding which floor lamp to buy, or which floor pillows. At first I felt like I was being silly deferring to him, but then I realized: it’s our house, not just mine or his, and it’s important to me that he is happy with what I pick out. Grocery shopping is one thing, house shopping is another.
  • The quality of your relationship before you move in together dictates the quality of living together. He makes me happy just by being around. Even when I’m exasperated, I now that I still love him, and that we’ll figure it out. (I’ve only ever lived with one other partner, and that relationship was in trouble from the word go. Moving in together did not fix it, it made it worse. This is so much better and so different and it’s amazing.)
  • I stink at letting anyone else cook. I always want to do it my way. And I need to back the hell off because otherwise it creates hurt feelings and tension. Even if it’s way spicier than I usually like, I need to at least try it, because it makes him happy, and it’s polite, and it’s probably good for me.
  • He is a brilliant spatial analyst. He made our tiny office feel cozy without feeling cramped, made excellent use of the space we have, and still found room for a set of shelves for all of his technical stuff. (We have more Cat-5 cable than any household really should. We also have shells for 3 computers kicking around, one will be the media machine, and one will eventually become my desktop and replace my aging MacBookPro.)
  • We have So Many Books! My two folding 2 bookshelves from my old place are full, and we have 4 banker’s boxes of books waiting for a home, and there are still more sitting in storage. Duplicates may get edited, and some of the stuff that never gets read may get given away, but still. So many books!
  • Waking up next to him never gets old. Getting to hug him every day never gets old. In fact, it’s awesome. And it makes me so happy. It still feels surreal, even 3 weeks later. I imagine that eventually it’ll be “normal” but after 2.5 years of long-distance, every snuggle feels special. I’m going to revel in this for a long, long time.

There are probably things that I’ve missed. We’re still working on communicating effectively about things, and making requests in ways that the other person can understand. It’s a process. We usually get it by the third try, and  before someone gets grumpy.

Have any of you gone through this process? What did you learn when you moved in with your partner?

First, the good things! My spent-grain bread came out well, although it could have used slightly less water, and maybe 10 more minutes in the oven. Next time we buzz the grains in a blender before baking. Barley husks are pointy and have a nasty tendency to get caught in soft places in your mouth. (Which is most of it.) Also, today Jarak and I made spent grain cookies. Oh my goodness so tasty! Chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Yum.

Hard things. My cat Mystique has been acting up. She keeps pooing on my bed. I wash my top blanket, she does it again 3 days later. Clean litter box almost every time. I’m very frustrated. Hopefully it will stop when we move into our own place.

Other hard things, and ones that are way more important: learning to live with the love of my life. I knew that the transition from seeing each other for 6 days a month, (3 at my place, 3 at his) to living together would be hard. I just didn’t realize how it would manifest itself.  We’re having to learn to communicate and negotiate in ways that we haven’t previously. I like to make decisions quickly, looking at the facts I have and saying “ok, let’s go for it” (or not.) Jarak deliberates. He looks at all the options and then mulls them for a while. He gets grumpy when rushed or when he feels pushed into something. I got a glimpse of it this summer when we were planning to go to Seattle for my friend’s wedding, but it really crystallized for me during our apartment search.  I see something and go “yes, let’s do this” and he says “wait a minute, what about these things that need to get fixed.” It’s a nice check for my gung-ho self, but sometimes creates hurt feelings when the whys of decisions or opinions aren’t spelled out, from either of our directions. We keep reminding ourselves to work on communicating better, and that we still love each other. We may have an apartment though. Details when things are solid and signed.

Sometimes though, it’s less Big Relationship Things like communication and more the “we planned poorly and now we’re in a mess.” Last week we got 4″ of snow, and I had an 9am meeting. I pulled Jarak’s big rear wheel drive  Crown Vic out of the driveway so that I could get my car out, and realized that A)rear wheel drive cars don’t handle the same as front wheel drive and B) he had postponed snow tires. Our residential street had yet to be plowed, and I couldn’t get enough traction to get up the slight incline. After fussing and sliding and getting frustrated, and his mom not having any luck either, I finally went and woke him up and said “I can’t do it, the car is stuck, and I have a meeting to get to, can you get up and move your car? Thanks, love you, bye!” And because he is wonderful and helps me out of messes, he did. First gear and patience, (which I didn’t have) got the car unstuck, while I raced off to my meeting (which had been cancelled!) And then he went back to bed. He works nights and 8am is not a time that he often sees. For the record, my AWD Subaru managed just fine thanks.

To end with a Good Thing. Which is a very good thing. I get to see my boyfriend, my partner, Every. Single. Day. That is SO COOL! Even if it’s for 3 minutes when he’s half asleep and I’m headed to work, I can still wake him up and give him a kiss. Every Single Day! And sometimes when he gets home from work after I go to bed he’ll wake me up to say hi, and then let me go back to sleep. I get him all evening on two nights a week, and most of the day on the weekends. (Our days off don’t match unfortunately.) Getting to see him and connect with him every day is totally worth any amount of frustration I have.

I officially got the job offer for my new job the middle of November. I had to give my job 1 month, and I had to give my apartment 1 month notice as well. So I looked at the calendar and realized that one month was the 15th or so of December. I decided that I needed as much fight club as I could get, and The Boy’s days off from work are Thursday and Friday, so I decided that my last day at work would be December 14th and then I’d move the 15th and 16th.
December has a way of sneaking up on me. I didn’t even consider the fact that I’m moving a week before Christmas. I didn’t consider that it starts getting dark around 3:30pm this time of year, which inevitably makes me lethargic and cranky. Now that I’m in the throes of packing, I’m realizing that this was poorly considered. I have too much to cram into too small an amount of time!

The stress is getting to me. I’ve been eating very little, and what I have been eating is all carbohydrates. That’s how I know I’m stressed. Chocolate and clementines and coffee seem to be my go-tos right now. I forced myself to eat some bread and cheese (more carbs, but at least it was homemade oatmeal bread) around 2pm today. I hope I can force myself to eat something real at my goodbye shindig tonight. If I don’t, I’ll be very drunk, very quickly. My stomach is in knots right now, which is quite uncomfortable.

*EDIT* I found a solution to the ‘nothing seems tasty’ dilemma. Marinated mussel salad from the grocery store. Salty, vinegary and high in protein. It’s junk food that’s mostly healthy. 

I keep warning The Boy about how I am when I move. I invariably forget to eat or am too stressed to eat, I get over tired and overwhelmed quickly and there are inevitably tears. And that’s just when it’s a regular move, not when there’s lots of emotional stuff to deal with in addition to it. I despise moving. At least this time I’ll be moving when it’s cold out, instead of in June or August, which is when I’ve moved in the past. The heat always makes me more of a head case. I just have to remember to keep talking to him and asking for help when I need it.

What about you guys? Do you have any ideas for staying sane during a big emotional move?