Diaries of a Married

3/31/18: Two things I’ve learned about my Married.

Two things I’ve learned about the my counterpart Married: 1. He loves me a LOT. 2. Our “crucial difference” — the one that had me hemming and hawing during our 2ish years of dating — isn’t as big a tragedy as I thought.

  1. Mark loves me a LOT. The bigness of this realization comes from the smallest slices of daily life. After Mark’s recent promotion, we were reminiscing about just a few years ago, when he started out as a working person with a salary that actually factually qualified him for low-income housing in good old Cville. Back then, when we were searching for real adult housing, each of us on our own, I didn’t even understand the concept of low-income housing and had been amazed to find such deal$ so close to downtown. But after visiting the leasing office, I learned the why and had to walk away, cause even little old publishing-world me starting out just after college didn’t make quite so little money to actually qualify for such housing options. Mark DID. With his fancy math degree, in his fancy IT world, I might add. He used to subsist on $20-25 rations for groceries each week, and buying himself a 6-pack of beer was a special treat reserved for “treating himself.” He’s come a long way since those days, but his frugal ways still linger about him. He thinks and thinks about purchases and tries his best to rein in that secret sparkly side of him that actually really appreciates nice things. And when I re-realized/remembered what a frugal guy he is, I realized what an act of love it is for him to “let” me make my frivolous purchases during our grocery trips each week — the gummies, the bags upon bags of flamin’ hot cheetos, the fancy yogurts, the occasional splurges of buy-2-get-3 quarts of ice cream (yup, this is a real-life grocery store deal. #hteets). It seems like such a little thing, but only to me. It’s a big, much bigger, deal to him. Each time I reach for a bag of Haribos with sparkly eyes, he looks at me and says “Okay. I love you.” Literally and metaphorically. The bigness of his love speaks through in the littlest actions, which is why I’ve gotta be ever vigilant on my lookout for these signs. So I don’t miss them. So I don’t let them go unacknowledged, unanswered. How best to reciprocate, however, is still to be figured out. He’s hard to buy gifts for.
  2.  The kite and its spool. Since the almost very beginning of our relationship as more than just friends, there’s one aspect of our compatibility that’s been a source of worry for me. The fact that Mark is, at his core, a practical, down-to-earth, A = A and B = B kinda guy, and that I’m more of a “but what if A was divided by B and then added to the sum of all the fractals in a SNOWFLAKE” kinda gal. That he wouldn’t follow through on those “what if” conversations with me because he’d be too busy mired in the practical unfeasibilities of my suggestions to just explore my thought experiments with me. But along the way, I made the decision that he was worth the effort that would go into having such conversations anyway. Or that we’d learn to have different kinds of fulfilling conversations altogether. And here we are now. But resolution to love “anyway” doesn’t mean it’s not gonna be hard “anyway,” too. We recently had a conversation that, at first, seemed like just another manifestation of our ultimate incompatibility — where I proposed, on a whim, “What if we dropped everything and just moved [somewhere faraway and unconnected to our lives now]?” and Mark answered with something totally hope-crushing, like “But I wonder what kinds of work we’d be able to do there?” and I did my footstomping and pouting number and protested his too-practical response. ALL I’d wanted to do was DREAMMMM, MARK. But once the pouty face cleared and the footstomping dust had settled, I found myself looking at a pouty face of Mark’s own, cause I’d misunderstood him. Once I stopped pouting, I realized that his question had meant to enable, not inhibit. He was asking the practical questions because that’s where his mind goes immediately, to answer the question, “How do we make this thing happen?” Which, with practice, could make us an unstoppable, world-conquering duo, if you think about it. He’s gonna be the anchor to my sailboat. The String to my balloon. The spool to my kite. I dunno. I haven’t been able to find a perfect metaphor yet.

12/8/17: Safe pings from a Married.

Work has been increasingly stressful in a big-picture, overall-good kind of way. The stress is increasing because I’m growing in my various roles at work and more people are wanting more things of me. Very naturally.

Learning to manage without getting overwhelmed is important, of course, and probably a topic for a different post altogether, but something Married-related that I’ve realized because of all this is that

Everybody needs a safe ping.

Meaning: That at work, everyone should have a person that starts a chat conversation with them not because they want something or need something or would like to voluntell you for something. But just to chat. So that when that little red notification pops up and your chat window starts blinking, you mayyyyy have a teensy heart palpitation thinking of who it could be NOW, but that when you see that person’s name, you relax.

And as a Married, Mark is my that^ person. In life. Uhcourse he also does periodically ask me for things and needs things from me as well as just likes to chat with me for the purpose of shootin’ the breeze. But the point is that the motive, ultimately, is un-ulterior. And even if there are shades of ulteriors all mixed up in there, we’re one team of two bodies in one and care for and about each other to reflect that.

Or try our darnedest, anyway.

11/18/17: A quarrelsome and fretful Married.

It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. – Proverbs 21:19

A DESERT LAND, it says. A desert land would be a better dwelling than a home shared with a quarrelsome, fretful woman.

That word “fretful” brings me right back to the days of renovations. The nightly cry sessions. The daily complainings. The staid and steadfast Markling, bewildered by my emotions.

The past couple weeks at small group have been essential in finding out some news about the emotional life of my husband. As we share prayer requests, he searches deep to pull out, “oh, this thing has been bothering me a lot, actually…” “Oh and this other thing has weighed heavy on my heart…”

And I cringe a little because I — Madison the Wife — should have known that before he dug it out as a prayer request at our weekly Tuesday evening community ritual. But I didn’t.

At first, that prompted another night-cry sesh, because I felt sad that he hadn’t shared these things with me first.

But, reality check: Has he had much of a chance to unpack his emotions into our little apartment on these weekday evenings together? Has there been Time for Mark’s Feelings, or has it really been the Madison Show all these weeks? Mark isn’t always processing everything on his surface like I am, so if I don’t take time to peer inside and ask him about what all is brewing, settling, growing in there, he might not get a chance to sift through his emotional goings-on. I just might end up taking up all of our collective emotional time and space, whether I’m crying or laughing or whining or running around all excited.

I am ashamed of my emotional-space-hoggy behavior. And grateful for the community we’re a part of that gives us opportunities for these regular check-ins, for these moments where I’m forced to take a step back and let Mark have the stage for a lil bit.

11/11/17: (Re)Falling in love as a Married.

Spending time with a group of our friends is kind of a surefire way to fall in love with you again.

Yeah, I think there’s a bit of the petty comparison-making that happens between human traits — he’s better at this or that than that or this other significant other… But the times that make me fall the truest and hardest are those that require empathy, thoughtfulness, kindness — your best traits.

You care for others before yourself. You get heartbroken for those who are broken. You speak kindly and gently to those who’ve hurt you. And then you prioritize me among all these others. You’re amazing.

Also, alcohol makes you the slightest bit of a Chatty Cathy, and as you philosophize about drip coffee at 1 am, I marvel at this multilayered man I’ve married.

10/31/17: Laundry of a Married. A.k.a. “basically like time travel”

Grows twice as fast but also comes with twice the number of hands to get them did with.

Living with another human, the two of you as one unit, means double the laundry, double the dishes, and twice(ish) the amount of dirt on the floor (and definitely way more hairs on the bathroom than Mark ever used to produce on his own), and all the rest of the entropy that is LIFE.

But the beautiful thing about the whole living-as-a-unit thing is that in the twice as many bodies, there is even more efficiency than just 1+1. While one cooks dinner, the other can fold the laundry. While one takes out the trash, the other can organize the living room. While one is out at work, the other can answer correspondences for the both. It’s basically like time travel. You two, with the same singular goal of running a household, can be in two places at the same time, getting multiple tasks done while the minutes tick away only once.

But to surmount the double mountains and not work myself sick at the same time means that I have to accept the help that I am offered — to accept that the other half of us will take care of things in a way I can trust.

To find a balance between asking for the folding of the underwears just the way I want aaaand letting go of the dirt that gets left behind in the crevices because Mark just isn’t as OCD about the corner-mopping as I am.

And to ensure that the help keeps getting offered, with smiles and love instead of bitterness and resentment, means that I have to say yes and thank you, trusting that Mark, too, will do a great job, if I just gave him a chance.

Learnin’ learnin’ learnin’. Always in the little things lie the big lessons.

10/25/17: Personhood as a Married

You are a person, and YOU are a person!

Realizing that Mark, too, is coming home from a day full of work and stress and other people and funny stories to decompress from and share with me.

That he’s not there to serve my every need, and neither am I for him — but that it’s safe and happiest-inducing if I’m erring on the side of trying to serve him more.

9/16/17: Socializing as a Married

And married life is interesting! It’s fun to be together all the time, but we also have more little disagreements because of that — just being cranky with each other with no opportunity to be alone with yourself, I guess. But all in all, being together is good and in some ways, I feel like it makes me be a better person.

I also just realized that since being married, I don’t have as much of a need or desire to hang out with people outside of home life. Being with Mark all the time just fills that need to socialize, so I haven’t been putting in as much effort to spend time with friends. Since there’s less time for my extroverted self to be alone with my phone, I also don’t text people as much!! Which impedes plan-making. But I’m glad I’ve realized this!! I definitely don’t want to let my friendships fall by the wayside because I’ve gotten married — I want to keep up with my friendships (especially girlfriendships) and be grounded in community outside of just me and Mark’s little unit.

Yesterday, we did laundry together at our new place for the first time. Every little thing is new and feels special. Even something so mundane as doing laundry.