Planning a Marriage

"When's the date?"
"Where is it?"
"What are your colors?"
"Who's in your wedding party?"
"What kind of dress do you want?"
"What's your theme?"
"Who's going to photograph?"
"Are you excited?!"
 I’ve only been engaged a few weeks, and I already feel like a broken record.  I know they’re just thrilled on my behalf, but family, friends, and strangers keep asking questions about the wedding–the details, the aesthetic, and whether or not I’m excited.

Of course I’m excited–I’ve been daydreaming about my wedding since I was a little girl.  But since the day of the proposal, the whole idea of planning the wedding made me uneasy, and I couldn’t quite nail down why.  After some reflection, I figured it out: I don’t want a wedding, I want a marriage.

Prince Charming…the fictional ideal of Disney princess lore.  Charming (of course), charismatic, handsome, smooth moves, and that HAIR.  I love classic Disney movies as much as the next person, but I experienced a major negative side affect: until I met Nate, the guy next to me at the altar in my wedding daydreams was just a faceless Prince Charming.  It was more about the dress, the flowers, and the decorations, than the fact that I wanted to get married.

But meeting the right person changes that–suddenly, you have a face smiling back at you when you picture your big day.  The other details fall away, and all that matters is the words you plan to say to one another and the commitment you want to make.  I realized that to balance my wedding planning, I needed to incorporate elements of planning for our marriage into the process so I felt that emphasis.  I’ve heard of couples getting caught up in the small battles over invitation wording and seating charts, but I think people who do this “fail to see the forest for the trees,” if you will. What’s more important is how you plan on communicating, handling disagreements, and making major life decisions together, and even who’s going to take out the trash. The everyday “stuff” that goes into making a marriage. I don’t believe that weddings are inherently about marriage, at least not these days. Relationships take work, and if we focus too much on the petty details, we lose sight of the importance of the event.

© Nathaniel Knobel

I also need to give myself permission to be enthusiastic about wedding planning. I can answer excitedly and discuss colors, centerpieces and dresses all I want, and focus equally as much on celebrating the relationship I have with Nate and the intricacies of a lifelong commitment to love and support one another.  I think we get out of something what we put into it–and the work Nate and I are putting into preparing for marriage will carry over to our wedding’s atmosphere so the day is not just a ball of stress.

I’m looking forward to our pre-marital counseling as much as I am to trying on dresses!  Cheers to weddings AND to marriage.

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P.S. “I said yes to the dress.” And it was amazing, but–it’s just a dress. 🙂 What matters most is it’s what I’ll be wearing when our next chapter begins.

What I’m reading now: A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene (check out the site http://www.apracticalwedding.com if you’re planning too); The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm; and Fall In Love for Life: Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage by Barbara “Cutie” Cooper.

January's Bookshelf

January’s Bookshelf

What books did you read/are on your list to read to plan your marriage?

Unplugged, or, How a 30-Day Social Media Hiatus Improved My Relationship

In December, I went on a “social media hiatus.” It was originally intended to be a break from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram distractions for the good of my finals week productivity, but about a week in, I decided to extend it for the entire month.  I chose to journal every so often here to keep track of how I was feeling, and I made a surprising discovery in the process. Not only did I get an A in every class, but I improved my relationship in ways I didn’t think possible.

unplugged

Day 1: I don’t feel quite deprived yet, since it took me almost an hour yesterday to turn off all the notifications on my phone from various apps, reorganize my folders so only the most important, work-relevant things were on my home page, and…create an adorable “unplugged” profile picture for Facebook and Instagram with my Phonto app. Oops.

Day 3: I’ve been pretty good about not checking any social media. But I am realizing how often the urge hits…and how ridiculous some of the things are that I want to Tweet about. For example, I had string cheese for the first time in several months, and felt the need to send a Tweet announcing this to the world (in less than 140 characters, of course).  I realized that in the online world, we make a MUCH bigger deal out of things than they actually are.

Day 5: Aaaand, I relapsed. I logged onto Facebook to ask my friends for massage therapist recommendations because I twisted my back again (I trust people I know a lot more than random Yelp reviewers). The recommendation status wasn’t the problem…it’s the 20 minutes I spent on my newsfeed after I got an answer. But I’ve got a big paper rough draft due tomorrow, so I think I’ll be able to avoid it for the rest of the night.

Day 9: Finals are upon me, and I hardly have time for social media as it is.  I’ve got three large final papers due in the next week, and a couple of presentations to boot. In past years, I’ve blocked social media to make it through finals week, but I don’t even need to block the sites to stay away these days. No time!

Day 13: Taking time off from homework tonight–it’s been a long week.  I noticed this week how much my time off from social media has improved my communication with Nate.  Not that we communicated poorly before, but in a long distance relationship, sometimes the frequency of contact is a point of contention. Now, if I have a unique encounter, see a funny internet picture, or read a thought-provoking article, I send it to Nate instead of posting it online.  When it comes around to our evening phone call, we’ve got even more to talk about than usual.

Day 19:  One paper down, and then computer problems.  Had to write a paper in the car on the 16 hour drive from Kansas to Georgia.  While I wish I wasn’t finishing finals while I’m trying to visit my family, I feel very focused.  I haven’t been tempted to post photos online of our travels or my (adorable) nieces–but of course, I’ve been taking pictures!  I figure I’ll gather them all up and post them in a lump after the trip.  It’s kind of nice knowing I have that option and not feeling pressured to post immediately.

Day 23: Before bed, I usually check my social media sites and catch up on my phone games. These days…I’m chatting with Nate as I fall asleep. I love hearing his version of what we did that day and hearing him describe moments I didn’t notice. I’m loving all the time I’m getting with him this holiday break, and I think we’re both loving how much we’re connecting with each other, instead of social media.

Day 31: Guess what? On Day 24, Nate proposed! It was an absolute joy keeping the secret to ourselves until today. I almost didn’t want to post online about the engagement at all–it feels like suddenly, the whole world is invited into our relationship (which up until now, wasn’t even “Facebook official”).  But, I have a healthy respect for how easy it is to quickly disseminate information to far-away friends via social media, and as long as it’s used responsibly.  I loved reading the reactions of our friends who hadn’t heard the news over the phone, and I screen-shot the congratulatory wall-posts.  There are ways to make this temporary form of communication more permanent, and I’m going to take advantage of them.

This month made me feel free. I stopped experiencing the overwhelming pressure to share that I did early in the month, and I started feeling the excitement of getting to share my day with Nate.  Before the hiatus, our evening conversations would occasionally fall flat, and I couldn’t figure out why.  I now realize it was because I had already shared my day online, and I wasn’t interested in retelling things to him.  Now, he’s my go-to text message or phone call.  That distance doesn’t seem as long when we connect more often throughout the day.  I thought we had great communication before, but increasing the frequency of communication brought us even closer and taught us more about one another. I would absolutely encourage anyone (single or attached) to go on a social media break–and hold yourself to it! It’s challenging at first, but you might start to connect with your friends, family, or partner in a new, special way.

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This Weekend I…

This weekend, I…celebrated a milestone (sort of) in my weight loss journey.  At first, I got on the scale and thought I had reached my first milestone of 10 lbs down.  Well, not quite.  When I stepped on again, I learned I still have another .8 to lose.  BUT, first thing this Monday morning, my supervisor at work told me I need to buy smaller clothes because my outfit is looking baggy! Some might not call that a compliment, but to me it definitely is.  Today is about 9 weeks into my weight loss journey, and since I have been losing slower than most, I thought this saying wouldn’t hold true. I’d say that’s close enough! Now onto the next goal.

This weekend, I…babysat for one of my favorite families.  Just had the little boy and the Great Dane, but this lovely couple has nine (yes, I said NINE) boys (yes, I said all BOYS).  They are a blended family making it work and balancing a lot of different schedules, and I am inspired by their faith and their dedication to family every time I visit.  I’m overnight babysitting for them in a couple of weeks (no, not all nine kids) so they can go to a wedding in Las Vegas! It will certainly be an adventure.

This weekend, I…got all caught up on Glee! Only problem is, I’ve rekindled my addiction. I don’t know what I’ll do if I miss an episode now! SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING.

This weekend, I…recognized Daylight Savings Time, but my body did not.  It was so hard to fall asleep last night, and even harder to wake up today! Alas, here I am.

Sorry I don’t have more to share this lovely Monday.  My weekend was generally uninteresting.  BUT, I’m on my way to Minnesota for a wedding on Saturday and Spring Break with Nate and my parents, so next week’s post should be chock full of pictures and fun!  Until then, I’ll leave you with some more of my favorite motivational pictures!

What I’m doing in 2013. (#MAKEITCOUNT via Nike+)

Making it count…

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Linking up:

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Syndal @ Synfully Delicious

Sarah @ Life of Love

Laura @ The Luckiest In Love

This Weekend I…

This weekend, I…decided to start doing a weekend recap! I can’t take credit for the handy idea. It comes from three other lovely ladies. Please check out their links at the bottom of this post! I love the idea of doing a weekend recap. I’ve been sporadic about blogging due to my busy schedule, but I’d like to make it a regular hobby, and a weekend recap seems like the perfect way to make sure I post regularly.

This weekend, I…started off Saturday by meeting Laura for coffee.  I was first inspired by her dedication to health, fitness, and her own weight loss journey, which she’s chronicled on her blog here.  But now that we are blog/Twitter/Instagram buddies (and since enjoying some great conversation over coffee), I’ve learned so much more about her! She’s a strong, faith-minded, fashionable young married woman, and her adventures are certainly worth keeping up with!

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This weekend, I…enjoyed Mexican food and shopping with our favorite couple friends! I wish Mr. Photographer could have beenthere.  We love spending time with these two.  They helped me pick out a new dress for a friend’s wedding in two weeks! Can’t believe March crept up on me so quickly.  But it means our Spring Break trip to see my parents in Minnesota isn’t that far away! I can’t wait!  I also met up with these two for a final weekend party at the Orange Leaf (frozen yogurt place) on Sunday evening. Yum!

Aren’t they a stylish pair?

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New dress…I love that it’s so versatile! I plan on dressing it up and down often.

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This weekend, I…started getting caught up on one of my favorite shows–Glee! I just started the most recent season.  I know, I know, I’m way behind. But I always have class on the night it airs! Man, did it ever make for a wonderful day! Now, if I could tear myself away and focus on schoolwork… (Schoolwork? What’s that?)

This weekend, I…learned I am another pound closer to my weight loss goal.  I’ve only lost 7 pounds since I started in January, but I keep reminding myself that each one of those counts!  Sure, I’d like to be losing faster, but it’s nice to know that even when I “slip up,” I’m still slipping up within reason, and I’m still losing weight, slowly but surely. Gotta keep my eye on the prize!

This weekend, I…celebrated (from afar) one and a half years with the love of my life. While I wish we could have been together, he always manages to make me feel like he’s never more than an arm’s length away.

And there we have it! I have a feeling next weekend won’t be quite so eventful…more like working ahead on homework so I can actually enjoy our Spring Break trip!

What are you looking forward to?

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P.S. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful blogs of my first ever link-up buddies! Thanks for the idea, ladies!

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Syndal @ Synfully Delicious

Sarah @ Life of Love

Laura @ The Luckiest In Love

Things I Take For Granted

The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.

-Richard David Bach (Author, 1936 – )

A few posts back, I wrote about some of the benefits of long-distance relationships. You learn so much and come to appreciate one another in a wonderful way. But I would be remiss if I didn’t let myself have a pity party once in awhile, and as he prepared to leave tonight and drove away, I found myself desperate for him to stay and just be “normal” for a little bit longer.

One of the hardest things about living alone in a strange place is the lack of human contact. As I said in a previous post, when I walk in my apartment after a goodbye, I am suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of “too quiet, too empty, too lonely” (if you know me, this is rough going!). I can go several days at a time with minimal conversation, just because of the nature of my lifestyle. I know I can go out and about, but what I miss the most are the gentle moments of a hand on my face, laughter from the other room, the presence of someone I love next to me on the couch.

In light of all these fresh feelings, I thought I would compose a brief list of things one can enjoy when sharing time with a loved one–things that I especially miss when we are apart. I hope you will find your significant other and take a moment to appreciate the following things:

  • Calling out “I love you” from another room and hearing them call back.
  • Holding hands in the car.
  • Shutting the front door behind you and sitting down to relax instead of packing up their things.
  • Watching shows together and high-fiving at all the best jokes.
  • Having someone to help with cooking, the dishes, taking the trash out, etc…. 🙂
  • Getting a back rub and calming words when you are sleepless from insomnia.
  • Making weird noises to yourself and hearing another’s laugh.
  • Being cared for when you’re sick.
  • Date nights.
  • Slow dancing in the kitchen to no music.
  • Sharing desserts (this might be a downside, now that I think of it…)
  • A hug whenever you need it.
  • Always celebrating birthdays, Valentine’s Days, and anniversaries together.

This list could go on forever! I know that we are blessed to live in the 21st century, and we take advantage of all the communicative technology available to us as often as possible. But nothing will ever compare to having someone next to you when that’s all you’d need to feel a little better.

Thanks for putting up with my brief pity-party! What things do you appreciate most about your significant other?

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Setting the world on fire.

I’ve now been hard at work for two full weeks…only to have my schedule change with classes starting tomorrow!  I love the office that I work in, my supervisor is fabulous and fun, and with students on campus everything feels more energized (or maybe that’s just the sense of reckless confusion mixed with the sweet smell of stressed out academic advisors).  Also, supervising a student staff feels great.  They are so excited and motivated to do their jobs, and I couldn’t ask for more reliable students to work with.

I am nervous for classes to begin.  Sure, I can handle my job when that’s all I have to focus on, but graduate level courses add whole new challenges to my time-management capabilities.  At least I’ll have some work to fill the more lonesome times!

Being away from Mr. Photographer is manageable…we are both very dedicated to the well-being of each other and our relationship.  But saying goodbye to him after a visit…that’s where I struggle.  The most difficult moment is walking back into my apartment after he’s driven away.  Things are quiet, his things are gone, there are dishes in the sink, and I am suddenly very aware of how alone I am.  But my independent spirit hasn’t failed me yet, and having a fulfilling job and work that demands my attention certainly helps.

I did read a quotation yesterday that has been on my mind:

“Absence is to love as wind is to fire; It extinguishes the small and kindles the great.”
          —  Roger de Bussy-Rabutin

I find this to be beautiful, absolutely true, and much more powerful than the usual ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ business.  When you’re apart from someone you love, you don’t want to waste precious time sweating the small stuff.  Time together or conversing is precious.  The meaning of “being a couple” comes to be defined by the big picture stuff, foregoing petty arguments and trivial attitudes (extinguishing the small).

The beautiful thing (the great that has been kindled) from this challenge we have taken on is that when it’s over, we will be fully prepared to take on the world together.  If we can cope, communicate, trust, problem-solve, grow, and display appreciation for one another because of and in spite of distance, we are maturing together and gaining skills we’ll use to work through any obstacle life throws our way.  Hanging onto these thoughts and feelings is how I make it from visit to visit.

Speaking of visits…the next will be our one-year anniversary!  Thank you to everyone who has loved and supported us so far in this journey.  We’re just getting started and it just keeps getting better!