marriage

Four more lessons on marriage… (the 3-year edition)

To begin this post, please follow me down two very different trains of thought.

Train one: Three years ago, we got married! It’s hard to believe it was only three years ago. It feels more like 10 years… in a good way, of course. I’m feeling pretty lucky to be here, seeing as I tried to break up with Jonathan before we ever even started dating five years ago.

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Train two: In a recent conversation with my brother, who is obsessed with the Meyers-Briggs type indicator, I told him that I feel like I’m always making lists or trying to organize things, but I can’t ever maintain any of it. He told me, “well, that’s a very common characteristic of INFP’s… you crave organization, but you will never achieve it, no matter how hard you try.” He’s such an encourager.

So, in the spirit of lists and wedding anniversaries, here are four things I’ve learned in the past couple of years:

  1. The ways you show your love for each other become smaller… but they are actually bigger. Before we got married, showing affection meant planning a big date night or buying a gift or driving 20 minutes in the most horrible rainstorm of my life to watch a college football national championship with Jonathan. (Texas vs. Alabama… I didn’t even understand a single bit of football yet at that point. I was smitten.) Now, it’s setting the coffee pot up so all he has to do is turn it on in the morning, or cleaning out my hairbrush before packing it in a suitcase alongside his clothes, or not falling asleep during the Iron Bowl. But the little things add up to even more than the big things, because remembering each other in the little mundane details of life are what shows the other person that they’re special.
  2. There are some areas that will just always be his domain, and some will always be my domain. The DVR is still his spot. I have a folder, but it still lives on his DVR. Nothing is safe. I’m scared to start watching a recorded show and then stop partway through it, because he can see that I started it. He might assume that I didn’t want to finish it and then delete it… even if it is Next Great Baker (which is better than Christmas for me every year). I just. Don’t. Mess. With. The. DVR.
    But the kitchen is my domain. Don’t rearrange things, don’t try to organize things for me, and don’t use the wrong sponge to wash the dishes (there are three: the Normal Dishwashing Sponge, the Baby Related Dishes Dishwashing Sponge, and the Soap-Free Sponge). If I left the paprika out on the counter, then next time I need it I will know that it’s out on the counter. If you put it away, I won’t be able to find it, I’ll assume it’s all gone, I’ll add it to my grocery list and I’ll buy more. This is how I once ended up with three containers of ground ginger, two of allspice, and more cream of tartar than I could use in a year.
  3. When dusting shelves or dressers, you have to know what you can and can not touch. Bear Bryant bobble heads are safe. Books are safe. Snow globes with Bryant Denny Stadium inside are safe. Any kind of ball (be it foot or base) that is inside a plastic box is NOT safe… leave them dusty. Better to deal with the allergies than to risk dropping them or causing damage by breathing on them too hard. It’s not that I would get kicked out of the house or grounded from the Food Network or anything if something happened. But the sorrow that I would cause if I broke something would probably kill me dead. In fact, I rearranged some bookshelves with two boxed footballs and four boxed baseballs last week, and I held my breath in terror as I carefully moved each one to it’s new home. My plan was to not say anything about it… Jonathan wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t. But I felt so guilty for touching them that I confessed about 27 minutes after he got home that day. (He was okay with it… I still felt guilty).
  4. You keep learning things about each other all the time. Do people that have been married for 20 years know everything about each other? We’ve only been married three years, but just when I think I’ve learned all the little idiosyncrasies about Jonathan, something new pops up. He confessed to me only a couple months ago that he really doesn’t care for pasta + tomato sauce dishes. I didn’t know. I LOVE them. I would announce “Spaghetti for dinner! WOOHOO! YAY! SPAGHETTI!” and he’d say “spaghetti? Oh.”
    I always figured he was just too tired to show me all of his excitement, but not until he came out and told me one day, “Lacey, you know, I’m just not really a big spaghetti fan,” did I realize that I should maybe cut the spaghetti back to once every few months rather than once a week (or once a day, which I would prefer).
    I also learned that he uses my tweezers to pluck his eyebrows. One night just a couple weeks ago, he came out of the bathroom and asked, “Lacey? Where are your tweezers?” I stared at him open-mouthed for a long time before he asked again. So first, I had to get over the fact that he used them, and then I had to get over the fact that my tweezers had mysteriously disappeared. I guess the fact that my husband discovered that my tweezers were missing before I did shows a little something about my personal grooming habits. :-/
    Another new thing? The cleanliness of our floors is directly related to his happiness quotient. The floors in this house are lighter than the floors in either of the other two houses we’ve lived in, so you can actually see when our floors are dirty. Sometimes, things get a little rough and he’ll get a little flustered and floopy, for lack of a better term. A trip around the house with a vacuum cleaner and a mop, and it resets him. Unfortunately, I have also learned that I like vacuuming and mopping even less than I thought I did.
    To even things out, I asked him what he’s learned about me recently, and he said “I learned that you like mayonnaise on your grilled cheese, and that you actually need more alone time to recharge than I originally thought you did.”signature

(I posted five things I learned in the first year here: The Top Five Things I’ve Learned Since We Got Married )

 

The Top Five Things I’ve Learned Since We Got Married (A Countdown)

5. Sign out. Log off. Switch user. Whatever applies. Not because J will change my status or make me a 53-year-old male from Switzerland, but because it annoys him to have to go behind me and sign out of everything. When I stop to think about it, I can understand. Email, Facebook, Pandora, Amazon, eBay… the list goes on. All those things we still have separate accounts for, and all those years I went without sharing a computer have led to a lot of signing out on J’s end. I’ve been working on this. He hasn’t said anything about it lately… I don’t know if it’s because I’m doing better, or because he’s just given up.

4. Cleaning is now non-optional, and hair removal is essential. I never liked cleaning, and to be honest, this was the area that terrified me the most about getting married. I knew J liked things clean… as a bachelor, he still mopped his kitchen floor on a regular basis. He had told me, before we ever even got engaged, “if we get married, the bathrooms have to stay clean.” Yikes. I tend to put things like that off. Not that I can handle gross conditions (except in the case of the bathroom I used for my first year at college, but that was a very special case), but I tended to wait longer than I maybe should have when it came to cleaning.
All that has changed, I am proud to say. I am now an active cleaner. Working at a hotel as a maid has helped this… first, it has turned me into the fastest, yet most thorough, bathroom cleaner of all time. And second, it has opened my eyes to just how gross people can be (during just one overnight stay, too!), and has spurred me on to prevent us from ever, ever being like that.
Part of being this new, clean person is keeping track of where my hair goes. J’s hair phobia is intense, much like my toenail phobia. I make sure to clean out the drain in the bathtub. I do not keep my hairbrush at the bathroom sink… beside his toothbrush! I clean out my hairbrush regularly. In return, I simply ask that he trim his toenails into the trashcan.

3. Bedtime is not talk time. I am still struggling to get past the estrogen-induced “slumber party” mentality that arises when more than one person is in the bedroom at night. At night, you are supposed to talk. For a long time. And you laugh, and tell stories, and goof off, and have a general good ol’ time. Then you transition into the deep “this is what I’m feeling” conversations and you tell all your secrets and hopes and dreams. Then, when it is far past the time you should have gone to bed, you turn off the lights… but that still doesn’t mean you go to sleep right away.
Turns out, J doesn’t view bedtime as slumber party time. He views it as… well, bedtime! It was a shock to me the first time he addressed it. I was laying there, chattering on about what I had done that day and how it made me feel and what I was looking forward to the next day, when he rolled over and simply said, “I am going to sleep now.” His tone, however, said much more. And that’s when the realization hit me that, in his opinion, I wasn’t supposed to be talking at that point in time.
But, I thought, if we don’t talk at night, when do we talk about the important things?? I asked him. He said, “during the day!” Hmm.
Turns out, dinner is talk time. Riding in the car is talk time. Taking a walk in the evenings can be talk time.
But bedtime… bedtime is not talk time. I still have trouble remembering. Sometimes I have to lay there with my hand over my mouth to keep words from bursting out. Usually, that doesn’t even work.

2. Compromise is important. Sometimes, there just IS no agreeing. It’s simply a fact. There are a few times when we’ve encountered this. J believes the salt & pepper shakers should stay on the dining room table at all times. Having them on the table at all times drives me nuts. There is only one thing that belongs there: my candle. Spices stay in the spice cabinet. So, they stay there, but I have to, have to remember to have them out and on the table for every meal before J sits down in his seat. Otherwise he tries to keep them on the table after the meal, and it’s a problem.
In October of last year, J bought a 2012 calendar. It has pictures of the Northern Lights on it. He was really excited about it.The first of this year, I bought a 2012 calendar. It was at Target, on clearance for forty cents. It is SO CUTE and deserves a place of honor.
What a surprise when we both brought our calendars out and headed for the same spot in the kitchen with them! I hung mine up first. J moved mine to a secondary nail and hung his on top of mine. I moved mine on top of his. He told me to take mine to my office. I said I already had one there, he should take his to his office. He said he already had one there. Finally, they ended up hanging almost side by side, stuck up against each other all strangely and crookedly, and the truth is we don’t really use either one of them.

1. The DVR is his domain. J is obsessive compulsive about our DVR. He runs the remote control, he sets the timers for recording things, and he organizes things into folders. He’s not mean about it. He just likes it that way. And I’m okay with it, for the most part. He does it all very meticulously. And as SOON as we are done watching something, he deletes it. No time to pause and think about the decision. No time to second-guess whether we are truly done with that show or not. Will we want to watch that movie again next week? Just as I begin asking myself that question- before the first credits make it halfway up the screen- I realize it doesn’t matter, because it’s already been deleted.(UNLESS it is the Alabama-LSU game. It lives on.)
Our recording schedule is always full of sports-related things. Games, pre-game shows, pre-pre-game shows, post-game shows, after-post-game shows, ultimate-complete-total-wrap-up-post-game shows, and shows on ESPN where a bunch of men in suits sit around and talk about all of those shows.
There are movies, too, and of course the various TV series that we both love to watch (American Idol, House, and our new love, Alcatraz.) J has all of these carefully sorted into folders: “Movies,” “Series,” “Sports,” “Alabama” (which technically could fit INTO “Sports”), and “Lacey’s Stuff.” All of the folders, of course, have numbers beside them, indicating how many items are in there. Most of them are high numbers, anywhere between five and fifteen.
Mine has one. One show. It is Cupcake Wars. The most I have ever had in my folder, ever, is three. I did a happy dance that day, because I felt like I was finally moving up in the world… finally establishing myself in our DVR. I try to save my shows. I don’t delete them when I’m done. I stand in the kitchen, chopping up an onion as the last episode of Next Great Baker ends, and I think to myself, “I’m not deleting that!” Then I defiantly go on to the next show in my folder (if there is one).
But then J walks in the door. And I say, “dinner will be ready in 10. You can watch ESPN until then. ” And he says, “thanks,” and picks up the remote, and says, “Have you watched this Next Great Baker?” And I say “Yes,” and in my head I tell him not to delete it. But then I turn to the TV as it says “Please wait. Events are being deleted.”
And then my number is back to one. Or zero.
The thing is, I know it’s not rational to want to keep these shows. I know I’m NOT going to watch them again. I only want to keep them because I know J wants to delete them. It’s the stubborn, un-submissive, non-Proverbs 31 wife inside of me.
The other day, I recorded Footloose. I recorded it WHILE I watched it (I got the courage to start recording my own things about two months ago). After all, I was multi-tasking and I wanted to watch it again, when I had time to sit and really digest what was happening. That was at 2:00 p.m. The movie didn’t live to see 8:00 p.m. I will not be watching it again.
The other day I asked him why we couldn’t keep all of my stuff out, loose, and then make one folder that said “Jonathan’s Stuff.” He could put all of HIS shows in there, and he would have a big number. I wouldn’t have to think about my insignificance in DVR World then.
We discussed it for two seconds, then wrapped up with “that’s a ridiculous suggestion.”

So, married readers… what are the things you had to learn in the first few months after your wedding? What is the number one thing overall? Give us newlyweds (and engaged people) some wisdom to mull over.