back to good

Posted on January 27, 2009. Filed under: back to good |

My dearest mister:

I know that the all-wedding, all-the-time mode that I seem to be on is tiring for you, especially because I know that you’d be perfectly happy with a quick courthouse wedding and a nice dinner out.  I also know that part of the reason that my obsessing drives you nuts is that, it seems to you, it just leads to me stressing out.  You hate to see me stressed out, you sweet man, and sometimes you think that I work myself into a tizzy over things that don’t matter.  Fair point.

Here’s the thing: the most important thing to me is that I get to marry you, but only slightly less important is the idea of celebrating that milestone with our people.  Since that leaves eloping out, we have a minimum of stuff to get through in order to make a wedding happen, and I need us to do it together – because I can’t do it all alone, because I don’t want to do it all alone, because I want to be doing this with you.  You’re my favorite guy, and this thing is all about us.  It’s exciting to me, and I want to share exciting things with you!

So, with your agreement, I propose a new way of working together.  I think we can agree that I care more about the details than you do and that I am more specific about what I like and don’t like, so for that reason, I will do the legwork.  I will find the inspiration photos, narrow them down to the ones I like, and present them to you, because not only do I want to plan our wedding together, I want you to be involved, and that means discussion.  I know that you may not have a preference, but I’d like you to consider the options and come up with one, then tell me why.  That’s what I like – the discussion.  The dreaming.  The planning of the future together.

In exchange, I’ll stop griping about how I have to do a thousand things and you only have to do ten.  I’ll choose a regular date and time for us to talk about our wedding, and I’ll keep my wedding-related thoughts outside of that time to a minimum.  I’ll get my act together and under control so that I don’t feel like all thousand of the things I have to do need to be done now.  They don’t. (But if I say they do, you will trust me that they do and then do them).  Of the two of us, I will be the planner but I will remember that you are the doer and I’ll follow your lead there.  I’ll remember that you’d much rather get things done than talk about them, so we’ll come up with things to accomplish in addition to things to plan, each week.

Forgive me if I get all “work-y” on you, by the way.  In the end, I know that you just don’t want me to be unhappy, and the best way I know to be comfortable with details is to handle them with all of the professionalism I’d throw at them at work.  Except with the happy benefit that we can drink wine while meeting… and maybe even make out a little.

This is going to be fun! (and if not fun, then at least productive)….

Lovingly yours,

At the urging of a few kind readers (looking at you, suzanno), we are now re-instituting Wedding Planning Meetings. Every so often before we go to bed, I hop into my comfy blankets with my planner, laptop, and a notebook in hand… and my future husband next to me.  I hand him a written agenda (I’m pretty sure he just likes to know how far from the end of the list we are) and he gives me his attention while I show him pictures, describe my ideas, and outline the pros and cons.  He thinks for a second, then offers his opinion.  I won’t lie, sometimes when I then reply to his opinion with my thoughts, he gets annoyed (“But I just told you what I liked, and now you’re telling me that’s wrong?” “No, I’m just giving you my opinion now.” “Then why did you show me something you don’t even like?” “BECAUSE I’M NOT SURE AND I WANT TO DISCUSS IT!”… <he thinks> “What’s it worth to you?”), but it’s better than before.

And surprise of all surprises, he thanks me after every session — for including him, for not making him guess what he needs to do, for doing the groundwork.

Funny thing is, we used to do this, and then we postponed our wedding and I stopped scheduling them.  Somewhere, deep down, I was hoping that we’d have the discussions naturally (and evidently while laying in a meadow and eating strawberries off each other’s bodies, sheesh!) so I fought what was in front of my face: if I schedule it, he’ll play along.  Lesson learned — stop wishing, start doing what works.

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Confessions of a second-time bride, part II

Posted on January 13, 2009. Filed under: back to good |

Part I

The problem is that I want it all.  I want it all because I don’t want to have regrets, but if you’re the kind of person who is afraid of regrets, chances are you’ll find them no matter what.  (I know of what I speak.)  I want a traditional wedding, an intimate wedding, and a private wedding all at once, and I believe I can make that happen.

So, I sat myself down and made lists: what appealed to me about eloping, what appealed to me about a traditional wedding, and anything stressing me out.  The rest of this post is taken directly from my private notes, and I made a sincere effort not to edit in case my thought process is helpful to anyone else.  Yes, I’m nutty.  I’m okay with that.

  • Elopement (my version – a private ceremony with a reception to follow): private, personal, low-stress (less stress about other people, anyway)
  • Wedding: public, higher-stress (all around), meaningful
  • Stress Factors: catering/ food, seating, expectations, “guests”, wedding parties, walking down the aisle

I can do this!  Stressful things first (in reverse order, for some reason):

  • Walking down the aisle*: I want us to approach our ceremony site together, with a moment to chat and de-stress first.  This avoids the mess of figuring out who walks me down the aisle and my fear that I won’t feel what I want to feel when we see each other (I tend to disengage when I’m embarassed).  Also, the romantic in me loves the idea of leaning on my guy as we pick our way down the treacherous path.  I’d like us to get ready separately, then meet somewhere to have a quiet moment. Everyone else will head to our ceremony location, and when we’re ready, we’ll head down the hill.  How to cue people that we’re coming?  Bell ringers!  We’ll send people/ kids/ someone down ahead of us ringing bells!
  • Wedding parties: I love these people and I want to honor them.  I do not want to have to deal with too much shopping, have them walk (hike?) down an aisle, or have to deal with any details that don’t matter to me (um, us).  We can instead ask each member of our extended family (that’s immediate family plus attendants) to do or say something, depending on their level of comfort.  We have one guy who plays guitar and sings beautifully and my sister sings and my brother plays guitar as well.  Check.  I’d like our best friends to find and give readings and for our parents to offer us advice.
  • “Guests” = too much pressure.  These are our friends and family, and they are more than willing to lend a hand.  I’m going to think of this as our friends throwing us a party and us throwing our friends a party.  The former helps me deal with the discomfort of throwing a party in our own honor, and the latter helps me deal with the pressure of making sure they have a good time.
  • Expectations: Drop them.  I’m mostly worried that they’ll show up, realize how casual it all is, and be disappointed. We’ll call it a marriage shindig, if we have to, so that people have no illusions that this isn’t a formal affair.
  • Seating: Honestly?  I have no idea.  We have to find a level area on our property, do all of the measuring and calculations, and then place an order… all while knowing how it should look.  Stress.  I’m going to ask Mr. Cheese to handle this one.
  • Catering/ food: I’m gonna have to ask for help on this, and I know the perfect person.  I want a cookout, essentially, with various salads and snacks and steaks on the grill (maybe skewers)?  While I am inclined to “water down” that idea in favor of something easier, my daydreams have been consistent, and the whole idea is very “us.”  The challenge will be in keeping my groom with me as opposed to hanging out with his friends by the grill, but I must stop trying to manipulate an outcome.  Maybe if we spend some time together first, I won’t feel abandoned.
  • Music: I want it, not sure how to go about it, or if people will dance. Screw it.  We’ll have a dance floor and music and someone to “man” the playlist.  My people will dance.

Now, on to combining the best of eloping and weddings:

  • Private: Maybe we can do limited vows in public and more extended vows in private.  There are things that I will pledge to do that I think will seem silly to others but make sense to us, and I can’t shake the need to care about that.  And there are other ways to get some privacy.  One couple (find link) had dinner together, alone.  I think that we can get the same thing going by having other people get started on the party and leaving for a little while.  I’d love to grab a beer at the place where we first met, all dolled up and everything (but I don’t think he’d be comfortable with that).  If we can’t manage to escape, we can take a walk down the street, or hide out in our bedroom with a couple of beers and some snacks.
  • Public: I believe that our ceremony should be public because our marriage will be public.  This is our chance to seek and accept the blessings of our people on our new family.  And for me, personally, it’s a chance to prove to myself that I can be as honest in public as I am in private about how I feel.

This feels like progress!  I look to a stack of magazines next to me and see this quote: “Progress everywhere today does seem to come so very heavily disguised as Chaos.” –Joyce Grenfell

I’m afraid to ask, but I will: does anyone else have to talk themselves off the ledge like this?  Does anyone calm themselves by typing it all out?

*It’s a repeat bride thing.  I feel like if I were being true to the idea of being “given away,” it would be by my first husband, which is plain ridiculous.  The reality is that I am mine now, and I am choosing to hand myself over to our marriage, but because I tend toward the silly, I don’t want to walk by myself.  I’d be apt to stop and hug everyone along the way, which is cute and heartfelt, but not quite right.  Also, there’s a rather treacherous path down a hill under the best of circumstances, much less in a floofy dress and heels.

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Back to good…

Posted on September 29, 2008. Filed under: back to good |

I’m one of those people that, when things are bad, can’t imagine things ever being good again. Getting “back to good” is always such a relief.

The F and I have been in a really difficult, frustrating, heart-breakingly bad period since the timeline fiasco. Long story short, we’ve been fighting our way back to a trusting, supportive, happy relationship from a nervous, unstable, blaming one.

And we’ve done it! Sunday was a wonderful day. We cleaned out our disgusting basement (1700 square feet of 60’s decor, nasty water from a plumbing problem, and litterbox overflows) in a little over five hours. We got along beautifully! We worked well together! We listened to each other with open minds! We talked! Communicated! Discussed!

What did I learn? I need to be nicer. Not have different opinions or hide my ideas or roll over and show my belly — just be nice. As a not naturally nice person, I’m using a behavioral tactic to help me: I’m calling him “Honey.” My usual affectionate names are so comfortable for me that I can use them in not so affectionate ways. This change reminds me to be nicer to my honey, because after all, he deserves it.

{I’m not letting him off the hook here, btw. He’s working on communicating better and more often, which is just as difficult for him as being nice is for me. The bigger lesson is that waiting for him to change before I even try is a sucker’s strategy, and I’m not a sucker. Er, am trying not to be, anyway.}

Anyone else out there who’s engagement got off to a rocky start? Please tell me I’m not the only one who had to learn to just be nice!

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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.


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