A few months ago, my close friend Lizzy requested a post: how has marriage effected our relationship? Has anything changed since signing those papers and exchanging vows in front of our friends and families and God?
|At our rehearsal dinner|
It has been an interesting post to try to craft. I have thought about it for a while. In a way, everything has changed; we live in Finland, we eat dinner on the couch every night and watch tv shows and sleep in on Saturdays and share a bank account and a cute little apartment. In another way, after nearly ten years together, there is very little about us to change. The wedding almost seemed like a formality in declaring our commitment to each other. Afterwards, we continued on being us, just on a new continent.
Before our marriage, we lived across the country from each other for a year, communicating over long phone calls and many many text messages. A lot of the time, we would just hang out together over skype. I would do homework and Jimmy would be making dinner and surfing the web or playing a game. It sounds very silly, but we had a virtual, real time connection for a few hours. If something funny popped into our heads, we could blurt it out, instead of laughing to ourselves and then saving it for a text or a later conversation. We just wanted to be together and that was the best way.
But in the last 5 months, we have spent every single day and every single night together, until this weekend, when Jimmy was away on business for 3 nights. Neither of us have stormed out of the apartment to get space, or threatened to buy a plane ticket back to the States. We have a very comfortable relationship that sometimes has very few words and sometimes has longer conversations. It can just be quiet hours reading on the couch or crafting on the floor. Either way, what we have found over the last ten years is that whatever we are doing, we would rather be doing it together, from monumental occasions to the most menial, everyday task.
So many times we have asked the other how some new experience was, and the answer is almost always “It would have been better with you.”
How was the party? How was the concert? How was your trip? How was dinner with so and so?
In fact, that is exactly what brought us to the conclusion that we should probably get married, about 3 years ago. I was on a dream study abroad in Italy, traveling Europe and learning about art and food and history. Amy taking on the world and loving every horribly lonely minute. Jimmy was in Utah, serving as vice president of his fraternity, living inside the frat house, surrounded by great parties, amazing friends (and probably beautiful women). But everything we did over those few months, we wished we had done together. We knew we would have enjoyed it more if we had had the other’s company.
|We always have more fun together|
In that way, things are perfectly different. We are doing everything we ever wanted together. Watching movies, traveling, trying new restaurants and bars, figuring out life in a new place and how to balance it with everything else. That is the easiest difference.
Otherwise, we are first time cohabitors, so I would say that living together is the newest part. For all you ladies out there, be warned before you move in with a man: They smell, they snore, they leave the toilet seat up. They leave their dishes in the sink, right next to the washer. They take up 90% of the bed, but blame you for hogging the covers. They play little boy video games and laugh at gross humor. They hate when you leave a coffee mug by the computer or clothes on the ground. They do not approve of your decorative pillows, your charming accent candles, or your impulse knick-nack purchase. They are baffled by hair tools and confused by make up. They cannot wrap their head around all the bottles in the shower. They don’t understand why we need different colors of red nail polish or multiple shapes of black pumps.
But they tell you every morning that they don’t want to get out of bed. When they come in the door from work, they’ll tell you that dinner smells good. On date night, they will help you pick out the dress that they like the most (no more guessing) and tell you that you look pretty. They’ll kiss you goodnight and blame you for being the furnace who is heating up the bed (we all know its them). On the weekends, sometimes you can get them to make breakfast. They’ll try to fix blown fuses, they’ll lock the doors at night, and they will deal with all the stupid electronics that they just had to have in the first place.
I think Jimmy and I are in too unique of a situation to give any advice on the changes of marriage and what to expect.
Yeah, its different.
For some, I think that the idea that they are eternally stuck with someone my be the hardest change to deal with. That piece of paper and those words really seem to get to people. But Jimmy and I swallowed that one a long time ago.
Moving in together is different and has its challenges, but we moved across the world, so I think that it became the easiest part. In a new city and new country, living together for the first time was a constant that we had to grasp on to. Sure, we’ve had arguments, but most were unique to the situation we are in and probably more induced by the horribly gloomy fall we experienced than our close living quarters.
Finances, I am sure, are the main cause for issues in a new marriage, and it is certainly a sticky topic. The chances that both parties are equal earners is extremely slim. Fortunately, we were on the same page about what is most important to spend money on: experiences rather than things. We cant buy furniture or appliances or power tools or houses or dogs. Instead, we can invest in weekends in Germany or trips to cabins or concerts or shows. I think that this is an important position for any new couple -married or not- to put themselves in. Make it happen. Spend your first few years doing things and wait to buy that couch you really wanted until you are ready to settle into it.
It has been very hard for me to find my contribution to the relationship when I am not currently a financial earner at all, which is not how I expected to come out of college. It has taken me a long time to feel comfortable with the “what’s mine is yours” idea. But then again, it just takes awhile to find your role in any situation. I am very happy in making delicious dinners, in running errands (that sometimes take forever to even find the right store) and in keeping our house clean. I find a lot of worth in that. I am taking the time to start my own projects and begin to craft the career I want for myself, from the ground up. It is a luxury not granted to many and for which I feel extremely blessed.
I would encourage all couples to find their worth in more than earning figures. Being a mom has more worth than a CEO’s salary. Be the volunteer or the trip planner. Be the one who cheers on the other in the face of new challenges and says “I am here for you no matter what.” Hell, being the one who takes the trash out has a lot of worth to me (Jimmy….)!
|Being a Bertelsen had its perks.|
A few weeks ago, while taking a sauna at Denisa’s apartment, I was chatting with a naked Finnish woman (is there any other kind?). She was asking what the hell I was doing in Finland. I told her that I had moved in September with my brand new husband and that we both liked it here very much. She laughed and very seriously stated that the only possible reason we could like it so much here in the winter is because we are newlyweds. That was the reason for our happiness.
That got me thinking.
Maybe she was right. Maybe this “newlywed” stage is well timed and keeping us alive and happy through the winter. In which case, I hope it doesn’t wear off too soon.
But then again, we are not just newlyweds, we are newlyfleds. We jumped two feet into this experience, not just because it was well timed but because it is who we are. We have this solid foundation, laid down over ten years. We have this extremely natural love for each other. We are ready to adventure. When we are done with this, when we shake of this adventure bug -if we ever do- we will have experiences that most people dream about. And we got to share them with each other.
After all, if we are stuck together for all eternity, at least we will have something to talk about.