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."