Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 1: Choose Your Battles

I remember asking my newlywed friend how life was as a newly married lady. She said it was fantastic. However, I noticed a spark, perhaps you can even call it a twinge in her eyes that seemed to say, "Yes it is great, but I'm not really telling you everything. Even if I did, you most likely won't understand." 

Most of my newlywed friends have offered simple advice as they have discovered being newly married. As I was single at the time, I would take their advice with a grain of salt. I recall some friends telling me that the first year is always the hardest. I would think, "Oh p-aaa-lease, what can be harder than waking up alone? At least you are married and have someone, right!? If only I would have payed more attention to the advice of my newly married friends. But perhaps it something I need to learn and the only way to do it is to live it.

There is a chapter in the book Little Women entitled "Domestic Experiences." In this chapter, the newly married little woman Meg, experiences one of her first little rows with her new husband. In the story, the couple has their first disagreement and both go their separate ways to fume and ponder the situation. When they came back together, the book recalls "Neither spoke - both looked quite 'calm and firm' [as they previously determined to be] and both felt desperately uncomfortable."

The story continues.

" 'Oh dear,' thought Meg, ' married life is very trying and does need infinite patience, as well as love, as mother says.' The word 'mother' suggested other maternal counsels given long ago, and received with unbelieving protests.

'John is a good man, but he has his faults, and you must learn to see and bear with them, remembering your own. He is very decided, but never will be obstinate, if you reason kindly, not oppose impatiently. He is very accurate, and particular about the truth-a good trait, though you call him "fussy." Never deceive him by look or word, Meg, and he will give you the confidence you deserve, the support you need. He has a temper, not like ours, - one flash, and then all over - but the white, still anger that is seldom stirred, but once kindled is hard to quench. Be careful, very careful, not to wake this anger against yourself, for peace and happiness depend on keeping his respect. Watch yourself, be the first to ask pardon if you both err, and guard against the little piques, misunderstandings, and hasty words that often pave the way for bitter sorrow and regret.' "

In the end, she resolved to be the first to ask forgiveness, but in the moment she could only give but a sweet kiss. Needless to say, this passage struck a chord with me. I have always been a stubborn one. I thought I had practiced the art of saying 'I'm sorry,' first, and found myself often being the first one every time. And it is not just about saying it first, but truly meaning it. 

While "I'm sorry's" should not be avoided, there are some things that can. Allow me to elaborate.

One night I was startled awake by my new hubby shaking the bed. I immediately turned to him and asked "honey, am I snoring, sorry." He glared at me, turned his back to me and proceeded to try to sleep. I was immediately aggravated by this behavior. It was so easy for me to come up with all of these reasons to not like him at that moment.

1. I had to get up super early the following morning, and his blatant disregard for my apology was worse than the time my friend stole my longest and most held-onto French fry at Arby's
2. If he couldn't sleep, I would have gladly moved to the couch, something I wasn't keen on doing, but would if he wanted me to
3. I couldn't get back to sleep. 

So, as you can see, it was really easy for me to blame him. I was angry and showed my frustration by getting out of bed, stomping around, knocking things over, etc., so that he couldn't sleep either (my stubborn streak: if I'm going down, I am taking everybody with me). After I disappeared to drink some hot herbal tea to help lull me back to sleep, he came to check on me and asked what was the matter. I told him I was mad at him for waking me up so un-cooly and ignoring my apology about snoring. 

What he said next was shocking to me. "Honey, I didn't shake the bed on purpose because you were snoring. In fact, I don't remember having shaken it and all, or you saying anything to me." To which my embarrassed and remorseful response was, " I thought you did it on purpose....sorry." I was mortified. I can't even express how much in the larger scheme of things, this little run-in didn't even really matter. We both went back to sleep and all was well in the morning.

First off, who cares if he shook the bed to stop me snoring anyway, right? The point isn't that he actually shook the bed, which he didn't, but that in my selfishness, I proceeded to get uptight, irritable, and angry....all while he had no idea, and was sleeping. I certainly know how to work myself up over little things like this.

We laugh about this little issue now, but at the time, this seemed rather HUGE. In honesty, things like this shouldn't be worried about in the middle of the night anyway. I once heard a talk in which the speaker said that nothing good comes from someone who lacks one of the following: 1. sleep 2. food 3. exercise.

After recalling this story, per hubby's bringing it up, I decided to practice some sage advice. To avoid a potential row, I now ask myself:

Q: Is this a roommate issue, or is it a long term issue? 

Helping to distinguish between the issue area helps me decide if the issue at hand is really worth discussion and potentially getting in an argument, a.k.a. choose my battles.

My mother also had some sage advice. If you find yourselves arguing about something, write it down on a paper. After things have calmed down a bit from the argument, decide to read the items together and determine HOW these issues affect your relationship, then go from there. 

I might add that if it is temporary or a "roommate" issue, there are most likely ways either party can compromise. If it is long-term, you both might need to come up solutions apart from one another, and combine those ideas together to formulate a new solution in a calm and collected way. There is no reason to try to identify solutions when you or the other person is upset. It doesn't help. It is most likely the case that the other person may just need to air grievances. I am generally a "solutioner". When someone tells me a problem, I want to solve it right away. Most of the time, a solution is not what the other person wants. In fact, sometimes an argument occurs because the other person feels like the other party isn't listening. A person's reaction during an argument really doesn't have to do with being or feeling understood, so much as it is important that the person they are talking to is actively listening.

Another piece of advice that ties in somewhat to this category is that when an issue is presented, it is better to let the issue breathe. This requires taking some time to think about the issue, mulling it over for a couple of days, then trying to resolve it. I have yet to be effective with this.

I am happy to be married to a man that despite my weaknesses, still sees in me the potential to be someone who doesn't stampede through the house when lacking sleep, who sees in me the possibility of getting over these silly arguments that prevent progression, and who loves me and loves being with me. And for that I am grateful. 

So, how will I respond when people ask me how newly married life is? Perhaps I will share this sage advice. My hope is that they will respond and receive this advice differently than I did.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Washington Post Article

Some of you might be tired from reading all about us, love, happiness, weddings, etc. But, I can't help it...we are in it and I love it and I love him.

Adam and I were recently featured in an article in the Washington Post in the Wedding section. The feature is called "We just had this amazing emotional and spiritual connection."

As we read it, we laughed and giggled remembering the experiences of when we met, and how we can joke about some things that seemed so serious in the moment, but are now wonderful memories. It was such a great opportunity to share our story. 

Just to share some random thoughts: Even though at the moment it was difficult, I really take value in the experiences I had being single. I was able to do and accomplish so many things that I perhaps wouldn't have otherwise. I am grateful that even at 30, I am able to be with a man that seems as if he was prepared for me all along. Just the other day, I caught him singing to himself, something that I had on my 'wish list' of traits I wanted in a man. He catches me off guard in how he fulfills what I need. I guess being married now as opposed to when I wanted it is how it needed to happen. I thank God for it everyday, well try to at least.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Having a Wedding in the DC metro, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland area

We were married in Kensington, MD and our wedding celebration happened in Vienna, VA at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Atrium. The following posts are recommended for weddings in the DC metro area, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland.
I wanted to give a shout out to all those people who made the wedding amazing. And guaranteed there is more to come!

Enjoy y'all...I know I did!

Dress Alterations: Angie Cavalarro

I would recommend Angie over any other wedding dress shop in the whole DC metro area. I needed work done to the shoulders of my dress, as well as loosening of the arms, a bustle for my train, and potential hemming to the bottom. I took my dress to one shop that was recommended to me in Vienna, Virginia. The lady at the shop told me that lowest estimate for this work would be $400 for the shoulders and arms, $100 for the bustle, and $200 for hemming. This was the lowest estimate. After realizing that the price for alterations would cost at least half of the dress, I was despondent. My amazing hub, Adam, called some other alterations places, including:

1. Mrs. Kim: (703) 323-0979 (independent): recommended by a friend
2. Maria Main (out of her home): recommended by a friend
Maria's Bridal Designs

3. Green & Blue alterations in DuPont: 202-223-6644
4. Lynn Nelson at Bridal Silhouette,, Arlington. T: 703-402-2266
5. Fashion Dream in Clarendon. (703) 243-8877

At the end, I ended up going with Angie, who has been working in the industry for 25 years. She used to have a shop, but now works out of her basement on a referral basis only. If you are interested in her services, send me a comment, and I can send you her contact information. 

Her price was incredibly reasonable. She had me come for three fittings, and was completely friendly, professional, and easy to work with. I now consider her a friend, and recommend her to everyone! Here is a picture of my dress as altered by Angie, oh and my handsome man!

The Venue: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

I can't say enough great things about Meadowlark! I worked with Renee, Wayne, and with the Event Planner/Catering Manager Liz. They were just phenomenal. We mostly corresponded over email, and when I had freak out moments, they would listen and respond with cordiality and helped get my ideas from paper and turned them into a reality. I was worried that I would have to have everyone show up and help set up. I found out that part of my contract with Meadowlark included help with that. That was a huge burden off my shoulders. All I had to do was provide a list of where everything needed to go. When I showed up the day of, I was amazed at how everything was just perfect! The only recommendation I have is beware of when the sun will set if you decide to set up your ceremony facing West :) It was still gorgeous, but the sun hit our guests eyes during the first portion.

The Event Food: Blue Heron Catering (Meadowlark's Catering company)

Adam, my mom, and I attended a tasting prior to the wedding. We were completely impressed by the food. They were willing to switch things out, add to the menu if we wanted, and let us ask as many questions as we wanted about the food, including how they prepared it, what ingredients were used etc. We were sad when we didn't get to stuff our faces during the actual reception, because bride's and groom's never get to eat, even when they ask someone to make sure they do. The main chef has been working in the industry for years and has such a love for food, which we could tell in what he let us sample. My favorite was the goats cheese with raspberry filled pastry.

The Deejay: Brad McCormick

Adam and I were reluctant to get a Deejay at first. Brad McCormick came highly recommended by my friend who is a Washington Post journalist for the wedding section. He made our decision to have a Deejay really easy. He met with us on weeknight, which is often hard to do in the DC metro area. Prior to even meeting with him, he sent us a site where we could see the kinds of music he could play, including top wedding recommendations. He also sent over an itinerary which helped guide us through what music to consider, dad/daughter, cocktail hour, dinner music, etc. When we met, we talked about what he has done in the past, and he came fully prepared to show us demo material. He is very detailed and wanted to make sure all the music flowed appropriately. We were very flexible with our music selection and wanted him to help us out, but had some requirements specific to our taste, which he was open to. 

Brad is extremely knowledgeable about popular and traditional wedding music, but also knew some of my favorites including some more underground, indie rock. We were impressed by his wide selection, which is why we went with him. Our taste in music ranged from jazz, indie rock, 70s rock, hip hop, 80s romantic classics, and foreign hits (French swing and Latin salsa). His attention to detail proved well as we ended up dancing half the night and accidentally ignoring some of our late-arriving guests. While we have a great group of dancing friends, we have to give a shout out to this Deejay who kept the party going....there wasn't a moment that people were not on the dance floor, including our parents and older guests. We would recommend Brad for his taste in music, amazing mixes, ability to keep the party going, his likeability, flexibility, and attention to detail.

The Photographer: Danielle Schuh

It was so nice to go with such an amazing photographer. I was very happy with the professionalism and artistic nature of Danielle Schuh, who also happened to be my roommate. I had looked at several photographers in the area, but none of whom I appreciated the artistic flare they brought into their photography as well as moderate prices. I can't wait to see the rest of my pictures, but here are two of my favorites.

Honeymoon Location: North Fork Inn

Adam and I went to North Fork Inn on our honeymoon West Virginia for two nights. It was our first BnB experience, and we are happy to say, we are now BnBers for life! Upon arriving, we saw a herd of white tail deer. The atmosphere was perfect for a couple just looking to relax, which we both were after such a party wedding that we had. The rooms exceeded our expectations, and were all very comfortable. Carol was a fantastic inn keeper, and accommodated our needs. In fact, the room came with champagne that she willingly switched out for white grape sparkling soda and fresh fruit. We found out that her husband Ed typically cooks for the inn and was away, but we were very impressed with the Carol's cooking. We liked the food so much, we took home several recipes. 

We enjoyed lounging in the main area, relaxing in the hot tub, sitting next to the fireplace, sitting out on the patio reading, and knowing that we could hike around if we wanted to. We were able to book massages, and were completely impressed by the set up for one of the most healing massages either of us have had. We have since recommended this BnB to all our friends and family.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Things About Being Married: I'm grateful

Some of my favorite things about being far...

  • Cleaning tricks. I caught Adam cleaning the bathroom! My favorite part about this experience is that it was right before bed, he was in his undies, and was brushing his teeth at the same time. What a man!
  • Doing my laundry. We now have to pay to do our laundry, which is hard for us to adjust to. Since Adam is still paying rent at his other place, he will do our laundry there....and he always takes all of mine and does it for me. How amazing is he?
  • Waking up next to him each morning. We are a little goofy when we are trying to wake up in the morning. I used to hate getting up in the morning. I have to admit it is fun to discover those little quirks that make waking up something to look forward to.
  • Not having to deal with difficult things by myself. I like being rather independent when I have to deal with some issues. Being with someone naturally lends the opportunity to figure things out together. It has been quite interesting trying to figure out things and learn how the other person does things. But, honestly, I love having someone who also wants to make the best decision, and who helps me when I don't want to make any decision at all.
  • Whispered conversations and little caresses. Waking up in the middle of the night and having whispered conversations, and hugging one another until we drift off again is one of my favorites - even though we are half asleep, and get a little goofy.
  • Going to church as a married couple. We went to our new ward yesterday, and had such an amazing time. I am still getting used to my new last name, but being called Sister Pence is pretty awesome.
  • Knowing what makes him tick. Adam likes things clean. He is not OCD, but he likes to finish any projects we have, cooking, counting change, moving furniture with Clorox wet wipes or soap. I like that every time we sit down to eat, he excuses himself to wash his hands. I like that I am getting to know the little things that make him tick.
  • Getting creative with space. Since Adam moved his things in, we've had to get rather creative with space in our little one bedroom. I find great joy in being the master organizer and being the most effective with limited resources.

    I am grateful for my sweetheart. We have had some interesting times, but jotting down these little things helps us get past those more interesting times. I waited for this man to enter my life for a long time, and it is up to me on how I am going to make the most of wedded bliss.

My Prince Came

Those of you who know me well, know it was a challenge for me not to be married and have a family when I wanted it to happen. I was finally starting to be content with my singleness when I met Adam. In honor and recognition of dreams finally starting to come true, my mom made this for me....and I love it. Thanks everyone for your love and support.