Sunday, October 3, 2010

For Better or for Worse….and to be the Bug Exterminator

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fan of bugs – cockroaches, hornets and wasps really bug me (no pun intended). If I see one of those the shoe comes out or the paper gets rolled up and the swatting commences.

Those other bugs though, the little small guys that sometimes slip in from under the door or randomly appear from an air duct are harmless as far as I’m concerned. I mean, chances are they’re just going to head back to where they came from soon enough. Sure, I’ve squashed one or two here and there, but they’re not up there on my list of concerns.

However, bugs for Mrs. I are a different story. We’ll be on the couch watching TV, and I might even see the same bug out of the corner of my eye and ignore it, but once Mrs. I catches a glimpse of it, I know it’s squashing time.

Mrs. I: "Ahem"

Me (thinking): If I play the "Ahem" off as her clearing her throat and ignore it, then maybe I can just stay here on the couch

Mrs. I, more obviously: "Ahhh-emm"
Me (I look over at Mrs. I, and see her eyes look at me, then back at the bug on the wall, then back at me. No need for her to say anything verbally.)

What I hate most about the tiny bugs is their speed. Sometimes I wonder if Mrs. I points out to bugs because she really wants them killed, or if she just wants to watch me chase the little thing across the wall, floor, etc. – sometimes I think it’s a little of both.

The other day though, I realized that Mrs. I can actually kill these little guys on her own. I woke up one morning, and it was clearly evident that our office chair had been rolled from the office into our bedroom and back again. After trying to think of why on earth that happened, or when it happened for that matter, I asked Mrs. I. She put it quite plainly and matter-of-factly, “There was a bug on the wall last night and it was too high for me to reach and of course I wasn’t able to wake you up.”

I actually wish I had witnessed this, because chasing a bug around on a rolling office chair, in a dark TV-lit room, probably wasn’t easy but without a doubt it would have been funny. Some little bug sure wouldn’t have gotten me out of bed to chase it around.

So to all the husbands-to-be out there, don’t forget that when you say “I Do”, you’re also signing yourself up to be the household bug exterminator – a task that’s really not all that bad, so long as you’re not a bug-lover!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Marriage is the minority (?)

We’ve already discussed what it like to be Young and Married, but the other day when I saw this article in The Guardian, I wanted to share. It discusses the steady decline of young Americans getting married, not only over the past 30 years but also drastically in the past decade.

The study, conducted in 2009-2010 by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) shows that less than half (44.9 percent) of the population of Americans between the ages of 25 - 34 were married. This is down from the 55.1percent just ten years ago in 2000. For the general population, ages 18 and older, the marriage rate fell from 57 percent to 52 percent from 2000 to 2010.

The authors of the study at PRB attribute the decline in marriage rates to the rising income of women. They no longer rely on a husband to pay the bills, and therefore have the option to wait longer in life to marry. They also explain that the economic decline of the past few years has couples delaying an expensive wedding and the costs associated with a new marriage. Both extremely valid points. Maybe in the future people will actually marry for love?

Also interesting is that Cleveland (our hometown) in particular had a sharp decline of the marriage rate in the past decade. In 2009, less than 20 percent of young adults in Cleveland were married, making them one of the least likely to be married in the country.

Apparently Mr. I and I are much more traditional and "against the grain" for our generation than we thought. Who knew that when we said “I do” we were putting ourselves in a minority category? Not that we would change a thing, and as we’ve discussed there are many reasons we made the decision we did, but it is surprising that find out just how “unique” we are.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rules, Guilt and Mad Men

First, I must apologize for breaking one of the primary rules of blogging: keep up with a consistent posting schedule. Not only has this past summer been packed with weekend travels, twice the amount of family get-togethers and other “real world” activities. And I must admit, we’ve also been busy watching episode after episode of the Golden Globe and Emmy award winning series, Mad Men.

The critical acclaim buzz, our mutual interest in marketing and advertising, and the fact that at a soon-to-close video store in our neighborhood was practically giving away the DVDs, gave this show wide appeal over others. After two episodes we were hooked. After the completion of the first season, I had a realization. We aren’t just breaking the rules of blogging, we are breaking the rules of gender roles of marriage every day.

After a full day of work, Mr. I gets home and prepares a dinner that is typically ready when I walk through the door. He is the one who stops by the grocery store and picks up milk or whatever else we need for the week’s meals. While I am out at the gym working out or staying downtown for drinks with a friend after work, it’s Mr. I who dusts or vacuums around our apartment. And more often than not, he is the one who gets our laundry started.

And you have no idea how guilty this makes me feel (and typing it all out just now makes me feel even more guilty). Do any other wives out there feel guilty when their hubby does housework? I feel like I’m not playing my part as the wife or like I’m letting down our team in the rookie season. Compared to how wives of the 1960’s are portrayed, I am a far cry from what Betty Draper (the wife of the main character in Mad Men) and June Cleaver would consider a suitable wife by any means. Often, I worry Mr. I might feel the same way.

Then, one evening a miracle happened. We watched a scene where Don Draper reprimands his wife for not having enough dinner for himself and his boss, who dropped by unexpectedly. After a second or two of shock, almost simultaneously we BOTH laughed at how ludicrous and unwarranted his anger would be now, acknowledging how much gender roles in marriage have changed in the past 50 years. It was comforting to know not only did I believe the traditional pressures of a housewife were a bit demanding, but so did my modern-day husband.

But still my guilt remains. Am I simply less of a wife then those women of generations past? I refuse to believe I am. Although it seems like I am failing as a wife at times, I have to remind myself of how much the dynamics of relationships have changed since then. Sure, I probably would fail a housekeeping test in the 1960’s, but today it would be a whole different exam.

I have to remind myself of what I DO contribute to the team. I clean the bathroom, do the dishes, send cards and packages to families and friends, decorate our apartment and plan our vacations (and of course, my ever-cheerful, sparkling personality has got to fit in there somewhere). I have to believe that this counts as something.

What I do believe is that men, Mr. I in particular, are more of a husband and equal partner then they have been in previous generation. Mr. I willingly (for the most part) does the chores around the house so that we have time to spend together instead of doing housework. And he is the one who enjoys cooking so he is the one who makes dinner.

Maybe we aren’t actually breaking the rules. We are simply redefining them to fit our relationship, our generation and our life together.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Family - New Traditions!

3 ½ months after getting married, Mrs. I and I got to go on our first trip out of town with her family – the destination? Michigan International Speedway for a weekend of NASCAR racing.

Having never been to a single NASCAR event, let alone a weekend full of it, I was definitely excited to be a part of a yearly tradition that Mrs. I and her family have had for over a decade. So after work on Friday, it was time to head to Cleveland, pick up Mrs. I and head to “that city up north” (Ann Arbor for the non-OSU people out there) where we’d be staying for the weekend.

Between the qualifying, practice sessions, Nationwide Series race (CARFAX 250) and the Sprint Cup race (CARFAX 400), I’m pretty sure my ears are still buzzing with the roar of the engines and upon opening my suitcase and unpacking, I definitely could still smell the exhaust-heavy scent that lingered on the hot drive home in the car trunk. Some may think this is a drawback, I think it’s a great take-away from the experience.

I learned a lot about the sport of auto racing in just a weekend. Soft-sided coolers can be used to bring in your own snacks and drinks (can’t do that in any other professional sport!) and just about any type of food can be found “on a stick”. Fans still will yell and wave at their favorite (or not-so-favorite) drivers, just as fans will do with athletes in other sports, except it’s practically guaranteed that said driver can’t hear what you’re yelling at him over 43 roaring engines – yes, this includes you Mr. Random NASCAR Fan that felt it to be necessary to yell and wave for your driver to consistently pass the car in front of him despite the 185 mph speeds from the massive and loud racing engines – at least it’s an enthusiastic effort!

The best thing I learned about the NASCAR experience is how much fun it is. On TV it may look like hundreds of left hand turns all afternoon, but when you actually get to the track and see it in person (and we didn’t even see “the big one” as far as accidents go), it’s an exciting sport to watch. Watching how easy the drivers make it look to glide in and out of traffic on banked turns makes me wish that even ½ the people who drive on Mentor Ave. would drive just as intelligently.

You’re probably wondering if I picked the winner of the race – unfortunately Team Red Bull, specifically Scott Speed in the #82 didn’t have the best race, but a 25th place finish certainly had no effect on the overall excitement I experienced in my first trip to a weekend of NASCAR. After all, being a Cleveland sports fan, I’m overly familiar with the concept of “there’s always next year”. And when next year does come, you can bet I’ll definitely be ready for another weekend at the track, whether it be a NASCAR sanctioned event at Lake County Speedway or another one of NASCAR’s big, Sprint Cup events or something in between.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The first 100 days

Since the FDR’s presidency in the 1930s, a standard has been developed in which each president is judged by the actions and accomplishments that have occurred during the first 100 days in the oval office. You can read more about this tradition here. So, as our new marriage approached the milestone, it seemed appropriate to take a moment and reflect upon some of the things we’ve learned, accomplished and goals guiding us to where we want to go from here.

From Mrs. I's perspective:
  • While spending almost every minute of everyday together is typically bliss, having a little “me time” goes a long way from time to time, especially when I pop in my kettle bell workout DVD and follow along in the living room during which I look less then appealing. (More on the value of individual time to come in an upcoming post)
  • I don’t know if it’s a guy thing, but Mr. I’s attention span is simply shorter than mine. He tries to be patient with me, letting me read “one more chapter” or get “five more minutes” in of my nap, but when he gets fidgety, it’s easier to put down the Kindle or hit record on the DVR and shake things up a bit.
  • Sometimes all you need after a long day at work is a person to hug you at the door. Mr. I’s hugs are some of the best.
  • When we split up the guest list, carved out 30 minutes a night and worked as a stamp/envelope licking team, we achieved our goal to get all our thank you notes out within the month of May. We were pretty darn proud of our hard work.
  • In a little apartment, with limited cabinet space, you have to get creative with storage. This often includes on shelves way above my reach, in night stands and other not-so-typical locations. The biggest challenge is finding it all when you need it.
From Mr. I's perspective:
  • If we’re not in bed by 10:15 or so each evening, Mrs. I gets a “second wind” and all of a sudden has no desire to go to bed.
  • I've learned that it’s best for me to just stick to cooking dinner and let Mrs. I make yummy waffles and pancakes on the weekend – I can make a mean pulled pork, but pancakes and waffles just don’t end well when I try to make them.
  • I tend to be asleep upon hitting the bed while Mrs. I could stay up reading for hours – but when it comes to road trips in the car, the tables are turned and Mrs. I can be asleep upon getting on the freeway.
  • “5 more minutes” has become a common phrase around the apartment in the morning. It’s never time to get up now, it’s always time in “5 more minutes."
  • There really other channels on the remote other than ESPN, ESPN NEWS, ESPN U. Read about how I had to "re-learn the remote" here.
  • Marriage has put us more in sync with each other, helping to make us great travelling duo. Trips to Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have been just a few of the many great weekend trips we’ve taken – Columbus, Baltimore and a NASCAR race in Michigan in the coming weeks are just a few of the upcoming trips we have to look forward to!
Common goals:
  • It’s easy to get busy with family and friends, cleaning the apartment, making dinners, doing work and so much more, but we are newlyweds. Sometimes it’s nice to go out on the town like when we were dating, and other nights it is even better to stop blogging, turn off the laptops, open a bottle of wine and finally watch that DVD we’ve been meaning to rent. Scheduling more date nights is definitely important.
  • At times, I may have criticized Momma P that our meals could be “predictable” at times (sorry Mom…) I swore when I was married I would challenge myself unique meals on a weekly basis. Well, 100 days down and other than a quesadilla casserole, I haven’t quite mastered this one. Time to start planning ahead and get a little more creative.
  • The wedding is over, the summer is winding down and the apartment is decorated. In is about time we get around to doing all the things we said we were going to do “when we’re married.” The first thing on this list, sign up for some wine education classes. Yeah, we’re classy like that.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dealing with a (sporting) loss

It has been a few weeks since “he who shall remain nameless” left the shores of Lake Erie for the beach of South Beach, but the wounds are still healing. There is the large (and extremely publicized) gaping hole that was left in the hearts of Clevelanders and then there is a smaller, hypothetical below-surface bruise incurred by the wives of the aforementioned Clevelanders who tried to brush “The Decision” off as just another sport headline.

I like to consider myself a sport savvy female fan, especially when it comes to Cleveland teams and sports. So yes, I was also hurt and upset about the fact that Cleveland’s top athlete would be leaving his hometown. But compared to Mr. I’s reaction I merely had a paper cut whereas he was suddenly missing a limb.

And this is not the first time, nor will it be the last time this happens. I’m sure there are plenty of girlfriends, wives, sisters and mothers out there who have vied for some attention during the "big game", wanted to talk instead of watching SportCcenter at dinner, or who made the mistake of thinking a loss is only a loss.

I tried to give him some time. He finished his beer and we closed the tab, I drove us home, worked on some stuff on my computer, watched some TV and figured after a couple hours it would all be over. In our four years together, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so wrong. As we were calling it a night, Mr. I was still fuming (I’m pretty sure I saw the cartoon steam spewing out his ears). Despite my numerous attempts to sidetrack him or distract him, we kept coming back around to the fact the “The King” would no hold court in the city of Cleveland. And ultimately, this angered me.

The difference now is that we’re married. I have to live with him. For better or for worse right? It’s not like I could just say goodnight and go home. I had to deal with it and my sense of annoyance that at this moment, this sporting debacle meant more to him then being buddy-buddy with me. So how long would it be until I was going to have my loving husband back? I started to consider the stages of grieving:

Shock/Disbelief and Denial: This started happening months ago when free agency began the rumors of him leaving became more and more rampant. Denial set in at the bar when the announcement occurred

Bargaining and Guilt: We all considered it, what if Cleveland had more to offer? Then the guilt of “in some ways it is our fault, we couldn’t put together a championship team even with him here.

Anger: This was the stage that occurred that evening (and in the following days) that prevented Mr. I from really noticing the fact that his darling wife wanted some attention

Depression: Somewhere between a few days and weeks after Decision-day the hopes of a championship, or even a decent sports team in Cleveland dwindled. It was gloomy and fans all around the city gave-up hope, Mr. I included. Personally, I think this could go on for a long while until we can all truly accept the situation and move on.

Acceptance and Hope: Fortunately, signs that we are moving onto this stage are imminent. With a decent 6-0 winning streak by the Indians after the All-Star break and football season just around the corner for the Browns, glimmers of hope are returning to the conversations about the future of Cleveland sports.

I’ve learned to tip-toe around the subject of “the one who got away” because, as mentioned before, the wounds are still healing. But fortunately they are scabbing over and I can now have a two-sided conversation again with my husband.

How have/would you handle this situation? Any advice on dealing with the upcoming Browns season? Let us know in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's on me

First, we were waiting for my name change to be official. Next, I needed to be added to Mr. I’s bank account and get my direct deposit switched over. Then, I needed a Saturday morning free to go to the bank (because heaven forbid they would operate a branch with hours convenient for a busy working girl). Now, the time has come for me to close out my bank accounts and move all my financial assets over to our bank account. I’m not going to lie, there’s a large part of me that doesn’t want to do it.

The hubby and I talked about merging our finances, long before we ever started considering the idea of marriage. Then, when things got more serious, we talked about it even more. We decided since we would combine our lives, our homes, our friends/family, we should also combine our bank accounts. It has always seemed like a pretty practical thing to do. And besides, how can you truly share a life with someone who you don't trust with your money?

And I do trust Mr. I completely.

But I have saving money since back in the day when people actually read newspapers and I took over an early morning paper route. I remember going to the bank on my 18th birthday to open a savings account, checking account and CD, all in my own name (something I saw as a rite of passage to becoming an adult). I was proud of how much I had earned and of how much I had saved. I felt the same pride when I could order a pizza in college “just because” and when loved ones open up presents that I purchased with that money.

I’ve always loved that I’m not the girl who expects or needs my dates to pay. I take pride in being able to dish out the dough for a dinner or two. Without my own bank account, I can never say “don’t worry babe, this round is on me.” Sure, I have my own shiny card with my new name on it, but for some reason it’s just not the same.

So I started to consider that maybe there really is something to be said about keeping a little part of our finances separate. Something for personal wants (and I’m not talking about one of those credit cards that it used to just hide an indulgent shoe purchase), something to continue to grow and take personal pride in.

But then something I think I've known all along sparked. It’s not just about me anymore. Marriage, and the financial merges and debates that come with it, is about partnership. It is about contributing to the partnership equally and fully. The partnership is about going out to dinner and knowing that we worked hard to deserve it, a gift we can give each other every time we stop at our favorite restaurant. The partnership is about presents to friends and family being from both of us.

Haven’t we always said it’s the thought that counts anyway? Does it really matter whose actual dollar is spent, especially when we are fortunate enough to be on a fairly equal financial playing field?

So even though on Saturday I will have to drag myself out of bed a little early to get to the bank before it closes and withdrawal all the funds I’ve built up over the past few years, I won’t be upset, sad or angry. I won't be because I know what I’m building with that money. I’m building a down payment towards the house we will someday share together. And more than that, I’m building a strong, equal partnership with the man I married.

And you can take that to the bank. ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Re-learning the TV Remote

Mrs. I's reaction to me flipping on "Top Gear" on BBC America is roughly comparable to my reaction when she flips on "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC. (And in case you thought that she is a car junkie and I'm a fan of watching shows about dress shopping, let me assure you that's not the case.)

So does that mean that we race home and try to be the first one to the remote for the living room television and relegate the other to the television in the bedroom? Not the case - surprisingly we share similar interests in our television viewing - or at the very least, there are a variety of shows we both have enough interest in watching.

One of our favorite shows was '24', before it wrapped up this past spring. Obviously, being a huge fan of action packed television, it's probably assumed that I introduced Mrs. I to Jack Bauer and his world-saving, 24 hour, real-time show. And while it will probably surprise you to learn Mrs. I got me hooked on it, it's not all that surprising to us. So even though I do have to watch "Say Yes to the Dress" from time to time, Mrs. I also knows my style of entertainment and often suggests shows I may have missed or just never given a chance and vice versa.

What you would see if you were able to look at our DVR? Well let's take a look: Ace of Cakes (Food Network), Challenge (Food Network) Criminal Minds (CBS), House Hunters (HGTV), Property Virgins (HGTV), Say Yes to the Dress (TLC) and Top Gear (BBC America). Taking a look at the channels those shows are on, those are certainly not "manly" channels such as ESPN, ESPN NEWS, ESPN U and, well, you get the idea. The point is though, these are shows that we share an interest in (for the most part), and in most cases they are shows we both really enjoy.

Of course, we also watch The Office (NBC), live sports, Saturday Night Live and the many other popular television shows, but these shows out there have a crossover in male and female audiences, especially when they're watched together.

After thinking about it, this post shouldn't be titled "Re-learning the TV Remote", but rather something more along the lines of "Enhancing the TV Remote," as some of the pre-mentioned shows are shows that I, or Mrs. I, would have not watched on our own. Rather, they are shows that we have discovered on our own over the past months, or even years, and have then introduced to one another. As we've learned in years of dating and a few shorts months of marriage, compromise and being open to new things (and shows) is what helps avoid battles, keep the peace and let me catch a few episodes of Top Gear a week.

Rather than worrying that TV shows will get passed over in a marriage, instead take a look instead at the opportunities you'll get to watch and experience new shows.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Young and The Married

You’re married? And you’re how old? With one question, inevitably comes the other.

Yes, I get it. We are young, and while a large majority of our peers are still sampling the local nightlife, we have made a commitment to be with one another for the rest of our lives. And yes, this is a very big decision to make at a young age, but let me assure you it was not made on a whim or in a moment of dream-like fantasy.

Back in June, the Washington Post conducted a discussion with Authors Shannon Fox and Celeste Liversidge about their book "Last One Down the Aisle Wins" and the appropriate age for young women to get married. They discuss their theories that it takes a woman the large majority of her twenties to develop as a adult and be prepared for marriage. They argue "young people are staying in school longer, living at home longer and achieving true independence much later in life. We strongly believe that these days, you need to be able to stand on your own two feet (financially, physically and emotionally) before you're able to make a good choice in a partner or be a good partner. The best marriages are between two grown ups."

I agree with them on this point, it is important to be financially, physically and emotionally independent. But this is achieved at different times and in different ways of everyone's life. Further, because "young people" have been nurtured longer in their life, isn't it reasonable to argue that in many ways a good spouse can be a continuation of this support system? And if those support systems who "young people" are so dependent on are around throughout the marriage, this is an added tool when challenges do arise.

I’m not saying they are wrong, they are the experts, their arguments are based on strong research and they have many valid points. I’m just saying that theories and discussions like this create a stigma that everyone who gets married in their twenties is wrong and foolish for doing so. I believe it drastically generalizes what age really means in relationships.

To continue on the discussion of societal generalization, I talked to Mr. I about his take on this subject before writing the post. Something interesting that came up is that while he understands what I’m talking about (on our honeymoon we got a handful of surprised looks in regards to our young age), he did mention that it is not as big of an issue for him as it is me. Do people assume one day I fell head over my adorable high heels and said I do? Or, do they generalize that I relinquished my feminist independence, gave in too quickly, settled down and submitted the rest of my life as a just someone’s wife? (If they do, they got another thing coming…)

There was a time when being unmarried and in your twenties meant you were an “old maid.” And by no means is this the better way to approach the momentous life event, it just interesting to see how drastically society’s perceptions of marriage have changed in the past century. Based on decades of tradition, are we really getting married too young or are the other adults just putting it off longer and committing later in life?

This isn’t a debate about wrong or right. Both sides have valid points and years of data to back them up. My argument is that the age at which people get married cannot, and should not, be generalized.

We have friends from childhood, high school and college. It is perfectly acceptable to declare at any age that these people are going to be friends for life. So why can't we, at any age, take the one person who is our ultimate best friend in life as our spouse?

Finally, I believe at some point you have to just start living your life. We knew ourselves individually, ourselves as a couple, and we know our goals, dreams and desires. And while Fox and Liversidge may think we should still develop individually outside of marriage, we didn't want to just wait for a few more birthdays to get married. We didn't want to be one of those couples who USA Today highlighted because they have been dating for a decade (this topic is a different discussion for a different time).

So yes, we're young and we're married. And hopefully on our 30th year anniversary I'm going to show off my dance skills wearing a cute pair of heels while I can still bust a move.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Introduction (noun)

The champagne was drank, the thank you notes written, the dress was packed neatly in a box and even our tan from the Hawaiian sun has faded. Something that took a year and a half to plan was over in a mere 12 hours.

We have officially been married for two months (to the day actually!) And while compared to a number of celebrity marriages ours may seem like eternity, we realize that by normal relationship standards, this is by no means a long time. In fact, in terms of forever we promised each other on wedding day, two months is barely a single drop of water in an extremely large bucket.

But, as we settle into who does which household chore or discover some “unique” personal habits we never knew about one another, we are starting to figure out what it REALLY means to be married. We are starting to learn that one person snores and the other one tends to forget to turn clothes rightside out. These are the little everyday adventures that make up the life we've always dreamed of...a life together.

Okay, I promise this blog will not be about every time Mr. I is sickeningly sweet and remembers to turn on the coffee pot on a Saturday morning. In fact, we see a few purposes for this blog. These include, but are not limited to, a journal, a commentary on relationships in today's society, a reflection on the changes marriage brings in one's life, a place to discuss the issues young couples face each day and how we went about solving them (whether or not we handled the situation the correct way is completely up to you.) It is a look into how we define (and continuously look to find) our own little part of "happily ever after."