How to Survive Marriage

Happy Valentine’s Day! Ain’t love grand? Unfortunately, according to many people love and marriage are mutually exclusive. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m five years into my marriage and still happy. Our relationship doesn’t stay that way on its own though. I’ll always be learning how to be a better partner, but here are some of the gems I’ve gleaned so far. 

The couple who wears onesies together, stays together.

Know and love who you are. I’m amazing, but imperfect. I am well aware that there are certain quirks of mine that I’m sure aren’t easy to live with–my tendency to expect the worse in any uncertain situation, the fact that I don’t like being talked to for 15-30 minutes after work, the fact that I won’t talk TO anyone for the first 15 minutes after I get up in the morning. . .I’m sure there are more but I’m not going to spill all my tea. Remembering my husband’s graciousness when I’m annoying makes it easier to woo-sah when he’s tap dancing on my last nerve. Although I will never not be irritated when he falls asleep on the couch instead of taking his ass to bed when he starts fading away. ARGH.

Stay close…Marriage is the merging of two separate lives into one. So you can’t be successful at it unless you are willing to share yourself with the other person, and part of that is spending time together. How much time depends on you, but if you do not have kids and can’t remember the last time you and your spouse hung out, you’re probably not spending enough.

…But not too close. No one person can fulfill 100% of your needs, 24/7/365. So don’t abandon your other relationships. For example: my husband, like a lot of men, is very blunt. So if I’m feeling really sensitive about something I might talk to my sister first. Sometimes I get upset over something I know is petty and I just want to complain without being judged or told that I need to be the bigger person. You’ll always need your friends. 

You’re gonna be doing a LOT of this.
Photo Credit: Atlanta Black Star

Get comfortable asking for what you want. Skip the BS where you wish he could just read your mind and keep getting mad at him for not knowing why you’re mad. HE’S NOT A MIND READER, SIS. Do you need him to take over some of the household chores so you don’t feel overwhelmed? Ask for it. Want a monthly date night? Ask for it. Do you need more variety in the bedroom? Tell him (and show him, too). Feeling like you two just aren’t connecting? Let him know. The common theme here- USE YOUR WORDS. 

While you’re at it, get used to awkward conversations. Discussing things like life insurance, finances, and birth control is not fun and probably won’t ever be. But ensuring that you’re on the same page creates a harmonious existence. You’re on the same team, so it would help if you’re using the same playbook. This is the person you’re spending your life with, so you should really be able to discuss anything without embarrassment.

When you’re angry/irritated/moody, just shut up. Every once in a while your spouse will irritate you so much that you can’t even stand to look at them. At that moment, say that you need to put the conversation on hold because you’re too emotional, and walk away. Listen to some music, phone a friend, or work out some aggression in the gym. Some words can’t be taken back so it’s better if they never get said in the first place.

What does a wife look like?

Sometimes when people find out that I’m married, they say things like “You don’t seem like you’d be married” or “I never would have guessed you have a husband”. I laugh it off but can’t help but wonder- what do they think a wife is supposed to look like? I assume a great deal of it has to with my age. If I’m not in my lawyer suit, I get mistaken for someone up to 10 years younger (thanks for the great genes, Mom!). Anyways, it got me thinking about people’s opinions on marriage in general. I believe that marriage isn’t for everyone. But at the same time, marriage gets a bad rap. In 2015, people still seem to think that marriage has to look like June and Ward Cleaver. Why?

I’ve been married two years, and I’m still the same person. Have my priorities changed? Of course. Tex is my husband, and spending time with him is non-negotiable for me. But that does’t mean I gave up everything that didn’t revolve around him. Because we met in college and most of our circle consists of friends who know us both, we usually socialize as a couple. But that doesn’t mean I spend the whole night cuddling him in the corner (although I’m not ashamed to grab a hug and a quick smooch when I feel like it). When he wants to hang at the bar with his homeboys, I’m cool with it. I take advantage of having the apartment to myself and watch the reality shows he hates, give myself a pedicure, or just enjoy the silence and a good book. Unfortunately I don’t have any girlfriends who live less than an hour away from me, but I still keep in touch. Tex is my rock but he can’t be my entire life.

We just do what works for us. A woman in my building was scandalized by the fact that I don’t always wear my wedding band. Neither does Tex. It’s not a diss- I love my rings. But I’ve never been much into jewelry and I work in a really small office where everyone knows I’m married. If I have to fend off a random guy at the grocery store from time to time, so be it. WE know we’re married and a piece of metal doesn’t affect our commitment level. I knew he was the one years before he put a ring on it; that just made it official to the rest of the world. We do our own thing. He does most of the house cleaning; I do the cooking and manage the finances. lt works and if it stops working, we’ll figure it out.

Marriage isn’t a death sentence. I enjoy being a wife as much as I enjoy being a sister, a friend, an attorney. It’s another part of my life. And it can look like whatever I want it to.

Back to the Future

It’s 2015- the year that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future II. We’ve arrived, y’all. But while everybody else is worried about self-lacing sneakers, hoverboards and flying cars, I want to know where my Jetsons-style conveyor belt automatic shower/groomer is. Anyway, going into a new year always makes people ripe for reflection and I’m no different. Last year I was mostly concerned with getting my law license. This year, I really want a full time job (or a clear sign that I need to be putting my energy into entrepreneurship).  Other than that, my goals are fitness related but I’d rather expound on that in a different post. So for my New Year’s entry, I’m giving you a list of 10 things that could have been blog posts but weren’t. Enjoy!

1. I’m deeply uncomfortable with this new TMI world we live in. There’s a difference between keeping it real and oversharing. Just seems like nothing is sacred or private anymore (people take selfies on the toilet, for God’s sake). The desire to be their authentic is eroding discretion. Example:  S.ex is wonderful, but I don’ care to hear about bedroom gymnastics, or anything related to it, from anyone but my husband. You can be gay, straight, or humping a goat- I’m going to figuratively stick my fingers in my ear and yell “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” if you start spilling the details. Sorry, I’m a retro model.

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2. A lot of stuff gets lumped under the umbrella of shaming and intolerance. And I’ve lived long enough to know there is plenty of that out in the world. But there are times when it seems that folks just can’t handle it when others won’t  validate your life choices by agreeing with them. Part of being an adult is learning that

a) You don’t need the world’s approval for everything you do, and you won’t get it.

b) Sometimes the reward for living life the way you want, is simply living your life the way you want.

3. Freedom of  speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Sony learned that lesson when they got hacked and all the water cooler gossip they’d been emailing back and forth got out*. So did a bunch of people on this Tumblr when their racist antics got back to their employers. Some things are best kept to yourself.

 

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4. Being married is boring sometimes. But so is life. You don’t kill yourself out of boredom so why kill your relationship? I think part of the reason people divorce so much is that we’ve got too many options (Tinder, Snapchat, Match.com) and too much time to think about them. 100 years ago there were no washing machines computers, tv,  or microwave ovens. The US population has more than tripled (from 100.5 million to 320 million) in that time so there are quite literally more options out there. At some point, you gotta learn to be happy with what you got, and make it work. And if you’re bored, here’s a hint: try being interesting and see what happens.

5. Sometimes you just have to let  it go. Unless you suffer from a mental illness like depression, happiness is a choice. Stop doing things that make you unhappy. Step away from the computer screen and dance to your favorite song, call a family member, hit that tree pose, whatever. People make changes when they get fed up. If you’re not at that point yet? Shut up and stop lying to yourself and annoying everybody else.

 

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6. “Friend” isn’t a word I use lightly. Friendship means we have each other’s backs. We tell each other the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. We can make mistakes and forgive each other. But most of all, we reciprocate. I have never been popular, and I’ve had a lot of alleged friendships that ended badly.** So I want to know that my friendship is reciprocated. We all get wrapped up in our hectic lives. But if I can look back a full calendar year and my only  contact with you was when you’re returning a call/text/smoke signal from me, I assume we’re not that close. You think about the people you care about most. If we’re really friends, at some point you should think “Hey, I haven’t talked to Lecie in a while, let me see what’s up with her.” Folks who are married and/or a parent get more leeway but at this point, most people I know don’t fall into those categories.

7. If you can’t afford hired help, being a housewife is hard. Balancing a budget, meal planning and grocery shopping, the neverending drudgery of dirty dishes, calling the bank/cable guy/insurance company to avoid bogus fees and keep from getting the runaround….not sure how I’m going to juggle once I’m working full time. As for the dishes at least, I finally said “eff the planet” and bought paper plates. Totally worth it.

8. Why do plane tickets cost so freaking much for so little? The widest economy seat today is still narrower than the smallest economy a mere 10 years ago, and boarding times have tripled. All so they can nickel and dime you with stupid up-charges. You’d think since fuel costs (probably largest variable cost for any airline) are dropping, ticket prices would go down. Nope. F*ck capitalism.

 

I could go on (rants #onfleek), but my word count is long enough as it is. Ciao!

 

 

*PRO TIP: By this point everyone should really know that you just do NOT talk sh*t via work email. Honestly, for the purposes of plausible deniability you shouldn’t write down your sh*t talking at all, but if you absolutely must, do it on your personal email, on your personal device, on your personal internet connection. You’re welcome.

**Yes, I know the common denominator is me. But given that I have very honest friends and none of them has yet to tell me that I’m an extraordinarily difficult person to make friends with, I think I just had a run of character-developing bad luck.

 

 

Something Old, Something New

I’M MARRIED!!!!!!!

 

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The big kiss

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The cake was beautiful AND delicious!

 

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I’m not much for flowers but I looooved this bouquet.

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A good luck kiss from mommy

 

The wedding was fantastic. Everything went off without a hitch.  My dad owns a car service, so I had a driver to take  me & the bridesmaids from our hotel room to the venue. It was quite the VIP experience! My hair & makeup were just what I wanted–glamorous with a nod to the classic but still unmistakably me. Almost all of my closest friends were there, and true to her word Maya made the trip down from NYC. We had so much fun! I will remember it forever. Not to mention that my dad and my father-in-law are becoming fast friends. I think they found a kindred spirit with whom they could a) brag or complain about their children and b) share deep thoughts about being black male professionals. It’s nothing short of hilarious!

My life is completely changed now, and not just because I’m married. The fact is that mere weeks after I graduated and moved in with Tex, he got laid off. We made it through the end of the summer with our savings, help from his parents and his unemployment. But in three months, nothing had panned out for either of us as far as salaried work so we decided the smart thing to do would be to move back to Houston with his parents, and save the rest of his unemployment money until we got back on our feet. I’m not going to lie, part of me felt defeated. We did all the right things and seemingly none of them mattered. But now I’m feeling hopeful again. Tex has some more job leads and I have some things in the works too. It looks like we’re going to make it.

Life in Texas is pretty good, aside from the heat. Fortunately we only have a few more weeks of oppressive summer weather before things cool off for a while, and hopefully by this time next year I’ll be acclimated to it. My mother-in-law is a faithful exerciser, which is motivating me to strive for the same. I’ve inherited Tex’s friends so I do have a small social life, and I’m looking to get back into music by joining a community orchestra soon. I miss my viola, and playing in concert–the way that every player brings the song to life and you’re surrounded by music. It’s even cooler to play the harmony to me, because often my part makes no sense on its own. It taught me how to listen to what under and behind the melody and appreciate that in music, as in life, it is sometimes the random or subtle contributions that make a huge difference.

I certainly miss being down the street from my siblings, but homesickness hasn’t really kicked in. I feel refreshed here, like there’s no limits on my life. I have no history here so anything is possible. I would say I’m surprised that I like it so much but the truth is, I’ve been feeling stifled in Atlanta for a long time. My family and some of closest friends are there but aside from that, I was just bored and frustrated. Atlanta is beautiful and unique in that it is truly an integrated city; despite the lingering legacy of slavery black people can and do run sh*t. It’s not hard to find a black lawyer, doctor, or politician. We’re at the top, the bottom and the middle class. But still, there’s no unity of purpose and socially, people can be very calculating. It’s all about status. The Old Boys Club has nothing on the exclusivity of some of my black educated peers. To sum it up: in a general sense, I’ve never felt like I belonged in Atlanta. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in.

Everything happens for a reason, and I’m okay with my current circumstances because deep down in my spirit I know that God is moving. Maybe He knew that in order to keep us from falling into complacency and a life lived by default, He’d have to throw all our plans into disarray. I’ve just got to let Him work, and be faithful. Right now we’re 25 with no kids and no mortgage, nothing to keep us from uprooting our lives at a moment’s notice, so I choose to consider it an adventure. I think we’re where we need to be, and because of that, we’ll be okay.

Wedding fatigue

It’s less than two weeks before the wedding, and people keep asking me questions. “What time does the wedding start? What gifts do you want off your registry? What are your wedding colors? Are you excited? I’m excited. You must be SO EXCITED!!!!

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

Shoot me in the face!* Maybe I could get excited if people stopped asking me so many damn questions. I know that everyone means well and is excited for me and I’m being a curmudgeon. But as an introvert who is also a highly sensitive person, this wedding shit is practically torture. Ideally, I would have had a super small affair with about 60 of my nearest and dearest and probably had a nice brunch reception with jazz playing in the background. Since my parents would never forgive me for leaving out a single family member or seemingly half the free world, it’s turned into this huge production. l deal with the big picture. If we’ve got a bride & a groom, a pastor, and a pretty dress, then I’m good. Not hard to please at all so long as the wedding license gets signed at the end and we’re not at the courthouse, that’s a good wedding. Barring that, I’d like to be able to stop making wedding related decisions in the three weeks before the wedding so I can relax and enjoy the ambiance of it all.

No such luck.  We are less than 14 days out now, and my mom was asking me about folks to invite last week (!!!) so I just had to put my foot down. This is out of control! She’s also blowing my phone up about flowers–what kind? what color? how many? Hell, I don’t know! “I just want everything to be pretty for your big day,” she says. Of course I smile and thank her like the home trained young lady I am. But really? In Jaleesa’s words, “I’m out of damns to give.” Then there’s my dad, who thinks we’re the Rockefellers and that everyone expects a car to pick them up for the airport because that’s his business. -_- Most regular people rent cars when traveling so they can get around without relying on others. Then today he asked me for the caterer’s phone number. How do you not have their number when you paid for the catering, arranged your own tasting and called them TWO WEEKS AGO? And if you lost it why not GOOGLE it before you ask me? Sweet baby Jesus!!!!! I may turn my phone off for a week after the wedding so I can get some blessed peace and quiet.

*I completely do NOT mean that literally.

Life after law school

I’m still here. I’ve had a lot of life…stuff to catch up on, quality time with Tex being number one. Socializing would be second except for the fact that half my friends are in bar study purgatory, and the other half are, happily, gainfully employed. (I’m still working on that.) So, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and also wedding planning. Now we’re down to the nitty gritty details of decor–bouquets, tablecloths, centerpieces, the whole nine yards. Also, waiting on invitation RSVPs.

Bridezilla break- Can I just say that I hate logistics? Contrary to what my law degree would have you think, I’m a big picture person. I’m concerned about the feel of the day. Will I be a pretty white dress? Check.  Is it a nice place and do we have an ordained minister doing the ceremony? Double check. Will my groom, family & close friends be there? Triple check. I’m pretty much done after that. I don’t give a flying [expletive deleted] what kind of bouquets the bridesmaids have. In fact, after looking into florist prices and perusing the craft shop, I decided to chuck the whole thing and have them wear corsages. My sister almost had a heart attack when I said I didn’t want to carry a bouquet. It’s completely useless, other than the toss, but Tex said I couldn’t just show up with one at the ceremony so he wore me down on that one. We’re also going to buy some nice seasonal flowering plants that the fam can take home rather than drop a grand on floral decor we’re going to have to throw away.  If people come to my wedding and the only thing they take away is that they didn’t like the food, or the centerpieces weren’t fancy enough, then screw ’em! I don’t know, I’m just not that person who goes to a wedding and says, “Hmm, beautiful couple, but the walls were a bit bare”. That’s never what I take away. I remember doing the “Thriller” choreography with my brother on the dance floor, stifling laughter as my preacher uncle hijacks the prayer into a sermonette, and hoping my own special day will be half as much fun.

Oh well. I’m praying to find a job soon; living life as a “kept woman” seems appealing but it does get boring.There’s not terribly much to clean in a 1-bedroom apartment with two adults who generally pick up after themselves, and we don’t have the budget for me to spend all day alternating between mani/pedis, massages, a personal trainer and shopping.  I’ve given myself the project of brushing up on my Spanish on Duolingo (it tests your translations backwards & forwards as well as your pronounciation via the computer mic). I may be a casual Type A, but I’m a Type A nonetheless and I like to be doing stuff….But not for free. I’ve got two degrees now and in the words of Flavor Flav, “They gots to pay me boyyyeeeee!”