Those Exit Doors, Though

My husband (SC) and I had our first squabble maybe three or four weeks into our relationship. I can’t remember what it was about, but I must say, we both handled it with grace and poise. Looking from the outside in, it seems that neither of us felt the need to be right per se. It was more about hearing the other person’s perspective and finding common ground. I think it was in that moment that I knew I was in love and I knew that this would work. We promised from day one to be perfectly honest with each other. Sometimes honesty is a double edged sword, but the blade is duller than if one holds on to what irks them.

If I have learned anything in the last 3 and a half weeks, it’s that disagreements once you are married hold a hell of a lot more weight than those you have when you’re dating, even when the disagreement is pointless.¬†

Any time SC gets annoyed, I automatically worry about the strength of our bond. I think things like, “Does this mean that this is over? Is he going to leave,” etc. If you recall, we got married to close the exit doors. Even so, it feels like there’s a lot more to lose now. Our emotions are heightened, and as a result, our tones of voice are a little more combative. Because we are still getting to know each other we accidentally push buttons we didn’t know existed.¬†Fight or flight is the default response because human brains are wired that way for survival. Not only do we have to contend with the issues at hand, we also have to train our brains to remember that the other person means no harm. We are a team.

Thinking that this thing, this commitment is so fragile that it can’t withstand a difference of opinion is absurd; at the same time it means so much that it takes conscious effort to remember that words said in distress are not in fact another nail in the coffin. There is no nail, and there certainly is no coffin. There are only things to learn and teach and problems to be solved.

He, like, I, would prefer to solve problems, even if that means one of us takes a walk and gathers our thoughts via text. I don’t necessarily recommend the texting thing, but he tried it out one day and it worked. Something interesting happens for us when we communicate our frustrations using the written word. I’m not talking about venting a frustration via text when one or both of us is out somewhere. I’m talking about us stepping away from an argument, taking separate walks or drives, and texting back and forth. Surprisingly, even though you cannot convey tone over text, it affords me the chance to slow down, read, re-read, ask questions, ensure that I understand his point of view, and draw my own conclusions, even when he uses all caps. (Why do people do that?)

Once we have calmed down, we return to the same space and review what we need to.

Let’s walk through an example, shall we? It gets more absurd as it goes on, and there are a lot of moving parts so bear with me:

SC promised to do laundry one Sunday, but did not. It was now Tuesday and I started sorting and washing as soon as I got home from work. SC is still in his lease for his apartment for the next few weeks. We live in the desert and the air conditioning at SC’s place is far from adequate. Yes, that is an issue for the state’s tenant’s association, but in the meantime, he had two rabbits and two cats living there.

That same evening, while I was doing laundry, he went to check on the pets. One of the rabbits was dead. It happened right before he got there; rigamortis hadn’t even set in. He alerted me via text. The high was 122 that day and I didn’t hear from him after that for over an hour. When I finally got him on the phone, he was disoriented, distressed, and frantic. I could not get a coherent sentence out of him. That’s not like him at all. He was as much at risk for heat stroke as the remaining rabbit, Babs was.

My first thought was I have to get him and Babs, out of there. The cats would be okay because they could lay in front of fans and the barely there air conditioning. I suggested we bring Babs to our place immediately. I drove down and he flipped because in the moment I did not consider what he wanted to do. I could argue my case to you, dear reader, but that is not the point.

I sat quietly in the 100 plus degree apartment watching him move the rabbit cage and multiple fans around the space trying to get her area to a comfortable temperature, one comfortable enough for her to remain in the apartment for the next 5 weeks. Twenty minutes later, he gave up. As we hustled Babs to my car, I mentioned that we had to cover the seats because I did not want to ruin the leather interior on the vehicle I’m about to trade in. In his mind that meant I cared more about the car than helping him. Not the case, but I can see his rationale.

We put Babs up in the guest room with my sun conure, Marley. I returned to tackling the mountain of laundry while he got Babs settled and faced his feelings about the recently deceased.

I abhor folding clothes. (Residual resentment from my tenure in retail in my late teens and early twenties, perhaps?) Five loads in, I posted something on Facebook about laundry being the bane of my existence followed by a number of hashtags highlighting my first world problems and how starving children should be so lucky. I thought it was funny. SC posted a comment about how he’d help if he weren’t grieving.

Michael, a now former friend of mine, saw SC’s post and stepped in, because he thrives on drama. I hadn’t talked to Michael about the laundry situation, and to date, I’d not asked for his help with any domestic situation. He had the audacity to call me to tell me to have SC delete his post. I asked him to back off, explained the pet death, and that I would handle. Instead, Michael, who has never met SC, took it upon himself to berate my husband on facebook less than a minute after I told him to back off. SC took that as me talking smack about him, although I’d mentioned nothing to Michael and he acted on his own volition. That turned into a larger argument about the integrity of our union. SC threatened to break us up over it. I knew it was an empty threat, but it still rocked me to my core.

In addition, worried that Babs would be distressed, or worse, die overnight, SC slept in the guest room with Babs and Marley. The following night he said he’d be sleeping in there again, not so much for Babs, but because he thought it’d be good for our relationship. He rehashed everything that happened the night prior from my desire to bring Babs to the condo, to the laundry, to Michael’s interference. I didn’t argue.

I’m an Aquarian, so I’d been craving space. We’ve done everything together for the past two and a half months. I needed a quick respite, but that was not the break I was looking for. He was grieving and he knew my standpoint. He’d either come around or he wouldn’t. So I treated him like a roommate, no good mornings, no kiss hello or goodbye, no have a nice day, no communication throughout the day. If you read the previous post, you know he’s been texting me every day since February. (In fact, he is texting me right now.) He eventually sent his thoughts and feelings via text. Although I did not respond, it gave me a chance to consider where he was at, which I hadn’t done before.

I guess he thought about it all because the next night when he got home from work SC got down on his knees and wrapped his arms around me. He told me he understood now that him sleeping in the guest room made me feel like there was a possibility that he would leave me. He apologized for making me feel that way and promised he would never make me feel alone in the relationship again. Can he really promise that? No, but I appreciate the sentiment.

We’ve had heated discussions over more pertinent issues such as raising our future children and agreeing not to make unilateral financial decisions. I used this particular situation as an example to highlight what we learned about some of each other’s triggers. I learned that he wants to be consulted about decisions. He’ll absolutely go along with what I say if it makes the most sense, but he needs the chance to put in his two cents. Not feeling like an equal partner seems to set him off. He learned that I don’t do well with being shut out, that when I am pushed away, my automatic response is to shut down. Can you see that both of those involve unilateral decision making? Aha.

So we have to remember to consider the other party when making decisions. We are both so used to operating as singular entities, that we need to remember we are a unit now.

And we are learning. In fact, last night we had a discussion we’ve had many times, one of those where we end up agreeing to disagree until further notice. This time I really saw his side and I could see he really saw mine. Neither of our reasons changed. The only things that changed were our methods of delivering our thoughts and feelings, our receptivity to the other’s thoughts and feelings, and ultimately, our desire to compromise. No buttons were pushed and both parties were engaged. We are, in fact, learning how to communicate effectively.

I imagine trivial situations that lead to disagreements will crop up in the future, but I trust now that we have the skills, patience, and enough respect for each other to work things out as our union continues to grow.

 

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Where It All Began

SC claims he knew I’d be his wife the moment we met. How? We didn’t even shake hands because he was sick. Perhaps it was the DayQuil talking?

Back in September, SC was a new addition to the sketch comedy troupe I’m in. From the moment we met I was fascinated by him and it wasn’t just because he’s nice to look at. I wanted to get to know him. It might have something to do with that whole Gemini/Aquarius connection.

Upon his arrival to the first couple weeks of rehearsals I greeted him every night with a friendly, “Hey, SC.” To which he replied with an unusually loud and shrill, “Hello,” as he raced by. He never even looked at me. I don’t recall interacting with him after that aside from the few times we were the last two outside during a smoke break.

In February, we were in another show together. There was a sketch where his character pinned me up against a wall and humped me for all of 20 seconds. No big, except he blushed every time. He also began missing his cue to let go of me and I had to resort to giving him a gentle push when our cue came.

Next thing you know, he’s backstage smelling the “delicious” hand lotion I just put on, making jokes, and laughing a little too hard at my jokes.

There’s always a celebration on closing night, but I wasn’t going. I was training for a half marathon that was a month away and sticking to my sleep/workout routine was most important. He begged me to come out with them, puppy dog eyes and all. I declined, but suggested that meant we should hang out outside of the troupe,¬†thinking he just wanted to be friends.

We exchanged numbers and once he started texting, he texted daily. I knew I liked him when I stayed up till midnight in conversation. He kept asking me to hang out, I continued to decline until the night before the half marathon, I got in a car accident. I was t-boned, but I was able to walk away from it in one piece, just sore.

After three weeks holed up working from home, I was bored and my body hurt. I needed to go out. He texted me early on a Saturday to ask me to join him at any point in the day for pho at our favorite new pho spot. I scheduled it for dinner since I was going to see his show that night. I didn’t realize it was a date until he gave me “that” look and later paid for dinner. I went out with them after the show the following night and he pulled me aside and told me he loved me. I didn’t know what to say so I turned back to my conversation and left him standing there with his arm around my waist. He later took me by the hand and brought me to my car. When he kissed my hand goodnight, I was sold.

The following week he brushed off my invitation to hang out that weekend. I was fine with that. After being single for three years and having plenty of guys to hang out with, I let it go. He asked me Saturday to drive him to his car. He’d blown out two tires that morning and left the vehicle in my area. We hung out for hours waiting for the new tires, went grocery shopping and had some dinner and drinks at my place. All I wanted was for him to hold my hand. It didn’t happen. He slept on the couch.

The following day he asked to come over and said he thought there was mutual attraction between us. I agreed and that was that. He’s slept here every night since. That was back in April, but it feels like a lifetime ago.

That’s how we ended up here. I’m an Aquarius and he’s a Gemini. We’re both known as being cold and flighty in relationships. Is it totally true? Every Gemini I know who has met his Aquarius had one date and they’ve been together ever since. Take my bro, a previously noncommittal Gemini. He and his Aquarius partner had one date seven years ago…

22 Days In

When my husband (SC) first started courting me, he told me he didn’t want to get married or have kids. He waxed poetic about how the world is over-populated as it is and how marriage is just a contract that society forces on you. I’m paraphrasing, but you catch my drift.

I did not engage. Instead of adding my two cents, I just listened. As someone who went most of my twenties and early thirties not wanting to get married, or have kids, I learned that conversation can be a trap. I’m not saying that all men who say they don’t want to get married or have kids secretly do. Those that I encountered secretly did and it caused a weird rift in our relationships. Trust that there was a future and that I’d stick around was shattered by nine simple words. “I don’t want to get married, or have kids.”

To be honest, by the time my husband came around, I was still on the fence about marriage. My previous relationship showed me that marriage could be beneficial, but the thought of being tethered to someone forever not by choice, but rather, due to a piece of paper seemed unnecessary. Over the years I recall saying, I just want someone who I’m happy to wake up next to every day and who is happy to wake up next to me.

Kids, however, have always been 99.9% off of the table. They seem to be a drain on physical, mental, emotional, and monetary resources. Any time I ask my friends with children about the joy of having kids, they get this pained look on their face. They tell me how frustrating and sometimes soul sucking it is. They follow that up with a pained smile and say, but it’s rewarding. The realest of the real will say that they have kids so they have someone to take care of them when they get old. (FYI kids are 65% on the table now, but more about that in a future post.)

Maybe 6 weeks into dating and only one day apart, SC brought up marriage again. By this point, I felt comfortable revealing my uncertainty. I told him that I was engaged when I was in my early twenties, but that was dumb. Dude only proposed because I wanted to get married. After that, and before, really, I never wanted to get married. It seemed unnecessary. However, I also explained that the relationship before SC showed me that marriage is a way to close all exit doors.

I didn’t have to elaborate. Over the course of next couple of days, I received a few drunken proposals from him, which I neither turned down nor accepted. I don’t know what I was waiting for, a sober moment, perhaps, or more time?

Fast forward a couple of days and SC got some devastating news. I spent the evening, into the wee hours of the morning supporting him through the five stages of grief. He yelled, he screamed, he stomped, he cried, he bargained. And I was there as the calm within the storm, an anchor that kept him tethered to reality while making it safe for him to go wherever his emotions took him. He was not okay and I was glad I could be there for him.

It just so happens that the bad news freed him up to take a trip he’d had to cancel for his birthday the following weekend, a trip to Vegas. There was a choice between staying behind for a huge party his friend was throwing or going to Vegas. The decision was up to me. I knew we’d get married if we went to Vegas even though he hadn’t said anything about it. I let it marinate for 24 hours and told him he should book a room for us.

So there was a proposal, down on one knee and everything. I can’t remember everything he said, but it was a showering of flattery, and the words, “I knew from the moment I met you that you’d be my wife.” So we went and got our marriage license and were married just off the strip by a very nice, if somewhat tweaker vibed, reverend and his wife. Technically, we’d only been dating for 7 weeks, and official for 3. We had known each other for 8 months, but we didn’t even start talking for months. I’ll get into that in another post.

We’re married because I talked about marriage being a way to close exit doors and boy can I see the value in it now. Marriage forces you to work with what you got and who you have. This thing is not all unicorns and rainbows. A quick internet search will show you it isn’t for anyone in their first year, no matter how long they knew each other before they got married. We are learning and we are growing and it will be great.

I started this blog for all of the other couples out there who married quickly, whether after meeting in person or online. It doesn’t seem to happen as often these days as it did in our parents’ generation. And the internet really only provides an article or two about a couple that married in a month or so and how it’s either great years later or why it was a bad idea. I want to share the ups and downs with people who can relate to jumping into marriage right away, the reactions from outside parties, and the efforts involved.

If even one person/couple finds this helpful, then I have done my job.