Tag Archives: marriage

Choosing love

In honor of the made-up holiday that I won’t be spending with my husband, due to an ill-timed work trip (seriously, who schedules trainings over a weekend, and over Valentine’s Day?), I thought I’d write a semi-mushy post about the thing I’ve had to work on most during our 357 days of marriage. Our one-year anniversary is in just 8 days, and I can’t believe it. Sometimes, it feels like only yesterday I was stressing over which stamps to put on the invitation envelopes (we went with white roses, I know you were so concerned) or whether all the groomsmen would order their suits on time (they did, bless their souls). Othertimes, it seems like we’ve been married forever.

One of the things I have a hard time with, in life and in our marriage, is trust. It takes a long time for me to open up with people, to truly feel comfortable around them. While I truly do trust my husband, occasionally, there are shards of self-doubt that creep in. Doubt that I’m not doing enough, doubt that I’m not pretty enough, doubt that maybe he doesn’t love me unconditionally. Rationally, logically, in times of peace and happiness, I know that I am and he does.

But what about when we fight over whose turn it is to do the dishes? When he’s exhausted after a long day of work and inadvertently snaps at me? When I’m frustrated over something completely unrelated and want to lash out at him because he’s there and it would selfishly, temporarily, make me feel better? The what if, what if, what if wheel starts spinning in my head and I need to stop it, wrestle with it, before it whirls out of control.

In those instances, it has become my mantra, my goal, my intention to choose love.

I’m not sure where I first heard that phrase or when it started clicking with me. Maybe I heard it in a yoga class or read it on an inspirational tea tag. Maybe I saw it while browsing through Etsy. Regardless, it has changed the way I look at our marriage.

Ultimately, I can’t control whether he loves me. I believe in my heart that he does, and he shows me he does through his words and deeds, but at the end of the day, the only actions and reactions I can control are my own. I cannot be scared of loving fully, of feeling deeply. I cannot be afraid of caring too much. All I can do is close my eyes and continue to allow myself to be swept off my feet by this man who loves me, who I love. When my doubt, my anger, my insecurities, or my shortcomings, real or imagined, try to chip away at our marriage, the only thing I can do, should do, is choose love.

I know, but sometimes forget, that this man I married wants nothing but the best for me, for us. When life gets in the way, or when we argue about something trivial, I could choose to be angry, to be resentful. I could choose to be offended. Or I could choose to love. When I want to put up walls around my fragile heart, when I want to huff and stomp and whine, I’m making a point to choose to love and forgive. To cut us both some slack. To see the sunshine instead of the clouds.

I am so grateful for my husband, who knows my faults, sees my vulnerabilities, and loves me anyway. He is my rock, my world, my liferaft. Here’s to (almost) our first year of marriage, and to many, many more.

On marriage and money

Want to know what our first fun activity as a married couple was (aside from the honeymoon, of course)?

Making a budget.

Yep, we’re that nerdy accounting couple. But seriously, y’all, I’m so surprised at how many of my friends either don’t have a budget or don’t know how to make a budget. It’s easy and so, so important, especially for newlyweds. Getting on the same page financially was crucial in helping us avoid constantly fighting over money (which, as “everyone” likes to say, is the top cause of divorce).

Our budget is simple and flexible, because, thankfully, we both have well-paying jobs and don’t have a lot of debt (with the exception of my student loans, thank you out-of-state tuition). Therefore, our budgeting process went a little like this –

  1. How much money we do we have in our checking, savings, investment, and retirement accounts?  How much money do we owe (total debt)?
  2. How much money do we make each month (after taxes, but before 401(k), health, and public transportation deductions)?
  3. What do we need to pay for every month (i.e. rent, utilities, food, student loan payment, car insurance, health insurance, transportation costs, cell phone bills).
  4. How much can we save for retirement? How much can we save for big purchases? Because we no longer receive a tax deduction for contributions to our IRA accounts (yay, marriage tax penalty), our goal was to contribute as much as possible to our 401(k) accounts (IRS limit is $17,500 per person for 2014). We also wanted to set enough money aside to be able to afford a two week vacation to London and Paris at the end of the year.
  5. Lastly, we allocated a certain amount of money to other expenses (i.e. entertainment, date nights, eating out, gym membership, clothes, other non-necessities). Dividing up our disposable income between saving and spending meant we could work on our long-term financial goals (having enough for retirement) without feeling like paupers.

Overall, we tried to prioritize non-necessities that were more important to us, and focus on our goal of saving for our London/Paris trip. I’d rather be able to pay for a gym membership than buy Starbucks every day. I’d rather be able to eat at one nice restaurant a month than a medium-quality restaurant each week. I’d rather spend less on new clothes and save more towards London and Paris. That’s not to say that I never bought Starbucks, only that I made sure I really wanted that latte before I ordered it.

Everything in moderation, my friends.

So how has that budget worked out for us so far? Well, we’ll both come close to maxing out contributions to our 401(k) accounts, we have 6 months’ of living expenses in liquid savings in case of an emergency, and we were able to afford our trip to London and Paris, which we took a month ago. But most importantly, after 9 months of marriage, we have yet to have a fight about money, which leaves us plenty of time to fight about other things, like whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher 🙂

One last note…I’m certainly not an expert in marriage or personal finance, so this is not meant to be interpreted as explicit advice. This budget process worked for us, but that’s not to say that it will work for everyone. 

Do you have a budget? What are your tips for staying on track? Or are you more of a “spender”?

From the other side

Hello there! I’m now officially married and am writing to you from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I’ve had two rum punches and three margaritas and am typing this on my iPhone; you should be shocked and amazed if there are less than 12 typos in this post.

We’ll be honeymooning for about two weeks, splitting our time on St. Thomas and the surrounding islands. Everyone keeps asking us about our travel and sight-seeing plans; I feel like such a bum for saying we don’t have any, but it’s the truth. I just want to sit on a beach for a few days and enjoy the fact that no one is asking me about whether these napkins would be best for the appetizer table or for the dessert table. Eventually, we’ll make plans and explore and I’ll (hopefully) have something to write about when there’s less alcohol in my system. But for now, please enjoy a collection of photos from my highly sophisticated iPhone.

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This was my car’s temperature gauge as I drove across the Georgia-Florida state line. After weeks of near-freezing temps in DC, I almost got out and did a little dance. Temperature in central Florida while we said “I do” – 82 degrees F.

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Thank you notes that we’re tucked into the out-of-town guests’ gift bags.

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Picture of said gift bags, stuffed with granola bars, water bottles, aspirin, orange juice, tea bags, jelly beans, oranges, and orange flavored popcorn (not as weird as it sounds).

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Neither of us really like cake, so for dessert we had Krispy Kreme donuts that were flambé’d in orange liqueur and served with vanilla ice cream. Apparently they were very good. I didn’t get to have any though. The bride and groom are very popular at a wedding, did you know that? Everyone wants to talk to them.

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Us dancing at our wedding. That’s me in the long white dress!

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A picture of the free travel magazine they gave us as we boarded our flight. I am all about a good travel mag, and free is better than not free! I read the whole thing cover to cover and circled the names of restaurants I want to try while we’re here.

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Of course I dragged us out of bed for 7am sunrise yoga this morning. Not only did we get in some de-stressifyng (yes, it’s a word, trust me on this!) twists and sun salutations, we were up early enough to get some great pictures off our hotel room balcony.

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View from our table at lunch. Yes, it’s over-priced, but the food is good and the weather is heavenly. I’m not going to complain.

I heard there’s another snow dump heading for the East Coast. Y’all stay safe; I’ll try to send warm thoughts your way!