We're doing laundry and packing. Buddy's getting packed to go to summer camp, aka to stay with his former foster mom Liz, and tomorrow we hit to road for southern Florida! Where it is supposed to rain the entire time we're there. So much for lingering on the beach during my first trip to Florida. We are visiting grandparents but the main purpose of our trip is to pick up the piano that they are generously bequeathing us. It turns out that I when I joined the family I doubled the number of piano players and I am very excited to have a real piano in our home! I have to confess that my fantasies of marriage have always included something like this:
What is marriage if not a series of duets that are expertly produced and flawlessly performed? Last night while catching up on episodes, S asked me, "is this how you thought marriage would be?" Yes, I imagine the perfect marriage includes regular performances à la Glee.
It turns out that I didn't marry Matthew Morrison. Though a lot of our friends say that S reminds them of Mr. Schuester and my high school students at The W. School told me they thought I was like Emma Pillsbury. I chose to take that as a compliment on my adorableness and not a comment on my obvious neuroses. But Emma doesn't sing so that doesn't really work. Anyway...
I am certain that the addition of a piano to our family will lead to the realization of my fantasy. S better start working on his ballad! Hmmm...I wonder if S would agree to dressing like this:
Do you know about the free art project, Feed Your Soul? It's a website that offers free art prints in pdf format for you to download, print, and display. I'm not gonna lie, some of the stuff is a little trippy for my tastes but each month they feature different artists and there are some cute things. Here are some of the things that I've saved in a folder for future use:
Have you ever taken a Meyer-Briggs personality test? After you take said test, you're given four letters to sum up how life's experiences and genetics shaped your personality. There are two options for each of the four descriptors:
(I) Introversion or (E) Extroversion (S) Sensing or (N) Intuition (T) Thinking or (F) Feeling (J) Judging or (P) Perceiving
Sixteen possibilities emerge.
I am a INFJ and B is, depending on the day, an INFJ or an ENFJ. For men, INFJ is the rarest of personality types with something like 1-3% of the population falling into this category. For women, INFJ is also rare, but not the rarest. When you're talking about precious metals, rare is good. When you're talking about personality types, rare is not necessarily gold.
INFJs are described as complex, scheduled, methodical, systematic, abstract, reflective, quiet. Some words that do not describe INFJs are casual, spontaneous, practical, gregarious, enthusiastic. In other words, INFJs make great students but might have difficulty at a party.
Reflecting on my life, I've experienced this personality label to be true. During summer camp my adjective name was "Methodical Mike." I've journaled previously (not here) that I want a job where I can work one on one with individuals. Lord knows I tend to be quiet in a group, and people have always described me as calm and even keel.
But my co-workers also suggest--> complain that I am too rigid, and need to be more flexible. And since I'm not gregarious, I don't always communicate my need for a schedule or routine. When my expectations aren't met, frustrations follows. But if I had communicated those expectations up front, I might have been prepared for the disturbance...
Now imagine there are two people like this, living together in holy matrimony, trying to resolve deep, personal, and sensitive issues. At least on my end, I know I occasionally leave expectations implicit, I leave appreciation unsaid or under-expressed, and I shy away from group situations (which by attending and honestly expressing our situation in life could lead to normalization of our feelings). Remember when I said that INFJs are complex ...
Moving in together was difficult, and sometimes when things get difficult I freak out and think our life is doomed and our children won't get into a good college and our dog will never stop barking and biting our friends... But it doesn't occur to me to get to the work of acting on a problem by doing something loving or helpful for my partner. Re-discovering my personality archetype validates why marriage has been, at times, challenging. And why I need to be conscientious and deliberate in taking actions to make it work better.
I am a Pete the Cat evangelist. If you do not know this book and have or will have direct contact with anyone under or over the age of 10, you will love Pete and his white shoes!
If you are not yet convinced, then watch this:
You're a believer now, right?
We get our Pete at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA, the original purveyor of Pete and his shoes. You can get it on Amazon BUT wouldn't it be cooler to go to your local independent bookstore and, if they don't have it in stock, tell them about this gem of a book? It will make you smile. :-)
I mentioned earlier that S and I have been visiting Dr. Therapist, a counselor who deals with couples. I always thought that going to see a Dr. Therapist or one of his colleagues was a sign of DANGER, a signal that a marriage is in trouble and there's no turning back. Which, is kind of a stupid thing to think, because why would you put the time, energy, and money into seeing Dr. Therapist if it's not going to do any good? Now I think that all newly married couples should find a Dr. Therapist to talk to.
We had "premarital counseling" just like everyone does with their pastor but ours amounted to three conversations that showed us that 1) we agree on most important issues, 2) we are good at filling in little bubbles and then listening patiently while our pastor explained the results of our test, 3) there is a lot of church conference gossip to share! But we didn't have time to figure out why I get so incredibly angry when S forgets to take out the trash or why S won't tell me when he's frustrated with something I've done. So, a year and a half into our marriage we decided to get some help with these things. This was not an easy decision. As a couple, S and I REALLY like to fix things ourselves, by ourselves, without any help (we also function this way individually which creates some interesting situations). Just wait until we own our dwelling place. It is very likely that you will never see us again because of all the projects we will find for ourselves. But, we decided to go anyway. Think of it as hiring a contractor to help with the really big jobs.
Here's the deal with marriage counseling. I was afraid that if we talked to a therapist all these secret, deep-seated issues would surface and we would find out that we made a huge mistake and Dr. Therapist would tell us that we needed to go our separate ways in order to have any hope at happiness. Eek! I certainly didn't want that! But, as it usually turns out, my biggest fear wasn't at all connected to reality. I'm a chronic worrier so this wasn't a huge shock.
Instead, in our every-other-week or once-monthly sessions we have the exact same conversations that we've been having for about three years EXCEPT this time there is a third party present to look at us and say, "so what are you going to do about that?" Oh. You mean we should come up with a tangible solution? Huh, we never though of that. Dr. Therapist also reminds us that while our problems seem big to us, they are normal. Like I've said before, my closest friends live far away and we're not able to have regular conversations about marriage, careers, and life. When we do have these conversations we realize we are all having the same frustrations and can laugh and not be so worried about it. But these normalizing moments are rare. So, our insurance pays Dr. Therapist to help us realize this. And now when S forgets something I told him three times, we can laugh about it and then he goes and puts it in his gmail calendar so we don't have to find a way to laugh at it again. Yeah, sometimes something kind of unexpected comes up in our discussions but it's usually something we were sort of aware of before but weren't sure how to talk about. And Dr. Therapist helps us stay productive and thoughtful rather than getting defensive.
We're also reading The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman which is a really good book based on 20 years of solid research. We recommend it.
So, that's the big secret! Seeing Dr. Therapist isn't scary or bad because S and I like each other, we love each other, we're best friends, and we want what's best for each other and our marriage so this is just one way to ensure that.
The comment settings were wacky but I fixed it. Now anyone should be able to comment. Sorry about that!
If you don't have an account to post from, then click on "Name/URL" and type your name into the "Name" box. It will publish your name with your comment and that way we know who it's from!
Before the mania, I would like to say that I now remember the real reason why I discontinued my previous blog: I never write anything. So, I'm just sayin', don't let your expectations get too high.
And back to the mania. Well, it's not really mania exactly, more like mild interest. But I do like doing things myself. In this way I am very much like a 5-year-old. My recent underemployment and increase in free time has led to some redecorating (and a little too much shopping...eh). I wanted to share one of my more successful projects -- hand-painted curtains! This was crazy easy and also crazy cheap. I've been looking for bedroom curtains for a year and a half and I fell in love with these Ballard Design panels that Nate Berkus used on a Oprah show makeover.
Soooo beautiful! And $65 per panel. We would need four panels. No Ballard Design curtains for me. Then I saw simple white curtains at Target for $8! Regular price! (I can't find them on the website or I'd share my find.) I made a trip to Michaels, got the cheap craft paint, a package of stencils, and a foam stencil brush.
(hi Buddy paw)
Stencil, hang to dry, stencil, hang to dry, stencil a little bit at a time and about 4 days and 40 dollars later we had this!
It was a cheap, easy, and custom project. Oh, and then after we rearranged our room I got excited about painting and did these -
Again, really simple: a 2-pack of canvases from Michaels, 89-cent craft paint in yellow and white, and some picture of birds and branches that I looked up on the internet. A coat of yellow, some copying of pictures while I watched Dr. Oz and TA-DA! ART! And now our bookshelf area isn't so boring.
OK, enough of that. These are things I thought I couldn't do and now that I know that I can, I know that anyone can! :-)
Everyone has a blog, right? I have friends who have two or three blogs for their personal life, jobs, hobbies, kids, etc, etc, etc. While I was living in NYC I started blogging so that 1) I could comment on a friend's posts because I didn't understand how comments worked yet and thought you had to have a blogger account and 2) I could share what was happening in my life in the BIG CITY. Except, not much happened in my life in the BIG CITY. I mostly ruminated on why I was still single, what I should do with my life, why it was so difficult to make friends after college, and why I didn't have a job that I liked -- the basic stuff of today's facebook statuses. Then I went back to school and, lo and behold, got married. I wanted to have a place to write about marriage and share struggles and victories and information about what's going on with us but it just didn't seem right to share about S on a blog that didn't include S.
S has a xanga. 'Nuff said. It's time to move on.
So now here's my gripe about blogs, facebook, etc, etc, etc. It's f-a-k-e. It's all, "my life is so great! Here are pictures of my perfect spouse and my perfect kids and my perfect vacation and if I'm sad it's because of some great injustice, say, my job or the person that didn't give me exactly what I want." Side note: this is a gross over generalization. I, of course, have friends who write about real things and share their real lives with the social network, but you understand what I mean, right? But what people don't talk about is how they have doubts and marriage is hard and things aren't always clear. If they do talk about these things it's in more of a "my life sucks so let me tell you about it in a tweet" manner that leaves the reader going, "uh..."
I live far away from my closest friends and family. My best friend doesn't live around the corner and we can't share our daily worries and frustrations and help each other know that it's okay, I feel that way too. When I do have the moments with friends I immediately feel centered, grounded, normal, like I'm not the crazy in the corner while everyone else goes about their happy lives without a worry in the world. I haven't exactly run this by S but I'm hoping that this blog can be a place where we can share normalizing real-life experiences. We don't want to get into TMI territory but maybe let cats out of bags like the fact that we go (wait for it...) to see (wait for it...) a marriage counselor (shock! awe!).
Oh yeah, and we'll also show you pictures of our dog and tell you about the homemade doughnuts S has started making on a weekly basis and whether or not our tomatoes were a success this year.
We are B and S. We have been married since July 19, 2008 and recently returned back home to Oklahoma after a three-year stint in Decatur, Ga. We have a doggy-child named Buddy. He is the cutest dog in the world, it's the unbiased truth. If you can't tell from our picture, we are both excited about and terrified by adult life but hoping to make it through together. We are happy all of the time and never have any problems.* We will now tell you all about it.
*This is a lie. Sometimes we are not happy and often have problems. This is not a problem-free blog but we think you'll like us anyway.