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Archive for September, 2009

consistency and change

So, I guess if I want people to read this I should probably post more often. The problem with this is that I initially imagined this blog as a place to write about the experience of being married. And I have written about that, as things have happened or just as things have occurred to me.

But the thing about being married is that not much changes.

So I almost feel like the tagline for the blog – “life as a newlywed lady” – is a bit of a misnomer. I mean, I am a newlywed lady, and I’m writing about my life – but I don’t know that very many of my recent experiences and insights have much to do with actually being married so much as just having been with Trevor for this period of time.  I feel like the blog has subtley morphed into more general writing about being in a long-term, committed, monogamous, live-in relationship – which, despite what some may think, is not actually synonymous with being married.

I don’t know at which point it is that you really know your partner – it may be that you never really do, or that you do eventually but they still have the capacity to surprise you – because, really, can you ever know another person completely? We all keep something of ourselves to ourselves. In any case, Trevor and I dated for about 2 months before I moved into his apartment. Then we got engaged another 2 months later. And about a year and 3 months after that, we got married. So far, we have spent the majority of our relationship engaged. This December will be our two-year anniversary (yes, I still think of when we first started dating as a crucial anniversary – maybe this will fade with time, but at the moment I’m still counting it).

I say all this because I am still constantly learning from and about not just Trevor himself but our relationship, too. Does this stop, I wonder? Or do you go on like this forever? I’m not sure which option to hope for, honestly. Because this learning process can be irritating and painful and uncomfortable and make you realize things about yourself you never had to face when you were on your own. But it can also be so, well, enlightening and kind of vaguely magical. I suspect it must, inevitably, slow with time, but cease completely? I find that unlikely. And I think that if it did stop I would feel concerned for the future of our relationsip.

But then sometimes, you also just wish it would stop. Like, aren’t we past this, yet? I often find myself too lazy to learn the lesson being presented to me – I kind of shove it away somewhere and deal with it at a later date when it gets re-presented to me. And then if it’s a painful or difficult lesson to learn I might shove it away multiple times before finally giving in and accepting it, learning it. I feel like this pretty accurately describes how relationships work for me – trial and error, test and re-test, deny and accept until you hit an equilibrium or balance – and then you do it over and over again, so that there’s never a true, permanent sense of equilibrium. But maybe that comes with age or more time spent with one person – after all, at 2 years, this is the longest I will have been with anyone, and also I’m only 24.

So, having just written all that, I have to admit that our relationship has changed, is changing all the time – I am just hesitant to call “marriage” the catalyst. I think the biggest effect my marriage has had on me has been purely psychological/emotional. I conceive of our relationship a little differently now that we’re married, and small issues seem bigger to me than they ever did before – I think because every small issue holds the potential of becoming so much bigger, I just go ahead and approach them as though they are already that big. I’m not pointing fingers or shifting blame, but I think my parents’ divorce and the divorces of my friends and coworkers, and just generally the high divorce rate in this country at this point in history – all of that contributes to my sense that my marriage is at risk, or is threatened in some way, and that if I want it to work I am going to have to be on top of it all the time, taking nothing for granted.

I don’t think this is a helpful or especially healthy way to think or feel. But I’m working on it.

A lot of the time when I think of the ways that Trevor and I, as a couple, are different from other couples I have to remind myself that ‘different’ is not necessarily ‘bad’. And then I have to ask myself if I’m happy with things the way they are – because really, if we’re both fine with it then who cares if it resembles whatever someone else might have? And, maybe this is just my experience, but what is it with women and not being able to answer for themselves that one, simple question: “am I happy?”

I can almost never answer that question decisively or simply. There are always doubts or qualifiers of some kind, no matter what my answer. Maybe it’s because people just aren’t built to feel in black-and-white – I can be happy and angry at the same time, I, in fact, often am. And then I am also the type of person who cannot just answer the question (obviously).

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no one is reading this thing, but if any one was I would tell them that I think this post might be especially enlightening/useful for anyone who has ever dated a woman and wondered, “wtf?”

This is basically what happened: Trevor went out this afternoon/evening with friends to see a movie. They then went to dinner together. I worked during the day and got home around 6:30.

I texted Trevor to see if would pick me up some McDonalds on his way home and never got a response. I was on the point of calling when he showed up at home, having not received the text message. I asked if he would go back out and get me food and he declined. He did, however, offer to order pizza. I just had pizza last night for dinner and again today for lunch so I declined the offer but then asked if he would make me something. He asked what I wanted, but in a way that suggested he did not want to do it. So I told him I would figure it out in a dismissive way and there began my anger.

This is what then happened (all in my head, since at this point I was quite alone, taking a bath):

Disclaimer: I do not claim my thought processes/emotions were all that rational/logical or just, but they were what they were, presented here relatively unfiltered.

1.) No McDonald’s

2.) Because Trevor did not pick any up

3.) Because he did not get my text message (and why didn’t he get my text message?)

4.) Trevor didn’t get my text message because he was driving back from eating dinner with friends.

5.) I was not invited, even though the dinner part occurred after I was already off work. (why was I not invited? does he not want me around?)

6.) Probably he did not want to have to pay for me, since he always has to pay for me.

7.) I wish I had my own money, and didn’t always run out of it this way and then become so utterly dependent on him. If I had my own money I could just go to McDonald’s myself.

8.) But I might still have money if he had given me that $400 back that I paid for the food out of my dad’s wedding check even though his dad had already given him money for it, or I’d have the dining room table I wanted, or maybe even both some money and a table.

9.) That table is another example of how he is selfish and does not think of me the way I am always thinking about him.

10.) But why wouldn’t he just go to McDonald’s for me? It wouldn’t cost that much, and I am constantly doing shit for him. And I always ask him if he wants to go when I go out to eat with my mom, or I offer to bring him back food – or I’m at home and 8 times out of 10 I have cooked something for him. (I don’t know if he realizes how rare an experience it is for me to have someone just set food in front of me the way I do for him)

11.) But then it’s not like he asks me to cook for him or demands it – I just do it, and that’s not really his fault.

12.) But seriously, it would be really nice to just have food made for me or handed to me without even having to ask, to just have it happen. Hurumphf!

At this point I am out of the bath, and fully dressed again, and am now walking into the kitchen to make the dinner I didn’t want to have to make.

13.) And here are a bunch of bottle caps, and a microwave food carton, and a beer bottle, and a beverage container from the movie theater that he left all over the kitchen, and, omg, he left the tea jug near empty again and now I have to brew another batch – AND WHY DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING AROUND HERE?  He never does anything for me.

14.) Except pay for almost everything, which is really important and great, but I just wish he would pick up after himself, and do me these types of favors on the rare occasions I ask for them.

I have to talk myself down at this point before responding to his casual “what are you doing?” – which is almost surely him testing the waters, since he knows I am annoyed. This is a pivotal moment – this is the point at which I have the option to take this somewhere I will almost instantly regret, to Argument Land, OR I can decide to be friendly and just pretend like this rage is not brewing inside me. I go with friendly and even tell him a short anecdote about my day. He now thinks everything is fine. Then I return to my boiling pot of water, and my thoughts.

15.) It is always so much better just to pretend I am not as angry as I am, especially when I am so angry about so much more than what actually just happened. And also when I realize that some of the reasons I’m angry are kind of irrational or digging-up-stuff-from-the-past-that’s-supposed-to-be-over-with or just that they won’t hold up well under pressure. Besides which, I like to stay far away from Argument Land since he is awful to argue with and I always end up apologizing, even if I wish he would, just to end the argument so by the time its over it just seems really pointless and like I brought it on myself. But how unfair is that? No wonder I’m resentful – I never feel like I can say any of this shit! I can’t decide if it is an empowering and wise decision not to start an argument or just me being a wimp.

And now I can hear the tv turn on and I hear a program starting that sounds distinctly uninteresting to me.

16.) And we always have to watch what he wants to watch. If I want to spend time with him I have to do it on his terms, he never has to do it on mine. It’s not fair. And it’s just another example of how I am always bending to his will and he never bends to mine, LIKE THE MCDONALDS THING!

And, so, it all comes full circle. I hope this was a fascinating forray into the female mind mid-anger. I certainly always am aware of when I am being ridiculous and I find myself calculating whether or not I’m going to bring an issue up based on how solid my argument is. Do I do the same thing I’m angry at him for doing? If so, do I do it a lot, have I done it recently?

If it’s something I don’t do, I feel justified in getting angry about it, but if it’s something I do or have done I always have to step back at that point and remember that. But the fucked up thing is that I’m not remembering it so that I can have a profound learning experience while I realize how awful it feels to have that done and begin to empathize with experiences and feelings he may have had in the past. I just want to remember that I’ve done it before so I that I don’t bring it up in an argument because then I couldn’t say or imply that “I’ve never done that, I would never do that”.

I’m not really spiteful in that way, I just want to make sure he has as little ammunition for his side of the argument as possible.

But more and more, the longer we’re together, I just try to avoid arguments altogether. I’m getting better about being direct when I have an issue I decide I really need to talk to him about – but when I have these dumb meandering clusterfucks of anger where one little thing snowballs into everything-he’s-ever-done-wrong and he’s-a-failure-of-a-human-being – I recognize that these are times when I am just being sort of ridiculous and very angry over very little.

I guess I would say that now I’m very conscious about trying to save our arguments for things that are worth arguing about – things that REALLY matter to me. All of these small things clearly are pissing me off or whatever, but is it an issue we can work on that I feel needs definite attention and immediate change? No. At least, not yet. Maybe one or two things will develop into an issue, but none of those things have anything to do (really) with him not going to McDonalds on his way home tonight. And I’ve also learned to become very relevant when it comes to starting an argument. If it’s not something you just did 10 minutes ago, I don’t really think its worth talking about right now.

We never have argued a lot any way, but I think adopting this modus operandi has decreased the arguments even from the few and far between that were happening before.

I just want to be careful not to set myself up for resentment. Sometimes it is hard to recognize when it is not relevant and when I am just suppressing it (sometimes I think it can be both, and then I really don’t know what to do).

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Has anyone else written about this ever? Might I be the first person in the history of the world to say that what I do with my hair might cause problems in my marriage? Surely not.

No, but seriously.

Not too long ago, I cut my hair. I had been wanting to go short again for awhile, but I waited until after the wedding to do so – as much as I love my short hair, it does not photograph well. Plus I know Trevor prefers it longer.

Wedding hair:Wedding kiss

And therein lies the problem. Trevor likes my hair longer. So every time I cut it I feel really weird about it in a way I never have before in my life. Previously, there was no one involved in the decision but me. Still, there’s no one involved in the decision but me – but now there’s fallout. Haircut fallout.

When I first cut it short post-wedding I texted Trevor while still at work and told him I had chopped all my hair off. When I got home, he looked at me and said “Oh, that’s not that bad. When you said you were going to chop it off I thought you really meant chop it off” – but I had taken a lot off. Come to find out he thought I meant I was going to buzz it again. He wasn’t around for that time in my life, but he’s seen pictures from when I wore my hair buzzed close to my head, and he assumed that was what I meant when I said I wanted to “chop it all off” (although, I would’ve just said buzzed if that were the case). Anyway, maybe it was the relief from thinking it would be much worse, or maybe he just liked the way it was cut – either way, he didn’t mind as much as we both thought he would.

But I just cut it again. And now it’s really short (though, again, not buzzed).shorty!(ignore the awful emo face. I’m in my pjs and I just finished watching “Steel Magnolias”)

And it is so clear that he just cannot fathom why I would do it. And it is equally clear that he just hates it. I ran into this problem with my brother back when I buzzed my head. He could not understand why. They both have asked me, and I have been honest with them – I don’t like doing my hair or even having to take time to blow dry it or brush it or anything. Having really short hair is so easy for me, and I love not having to wait for it to dry (well, wait longer than 5 minutes). It’s convenient – that pretty much sums it up. And I guess there’s a part of me that likes that it’s kind of “different”. But, mostly, I just like that it’s quick and easy. But, when I tell people that, they just look at me blankly, like “No, but really, why?”

In my brother’s case, I think he just can’t reconcile short hair with femininity – they are mutually exclusive to him. I give Trevor more credit than that (no offense, Noah). I just think he doesn’t like how it looks on me. With Noah it was a matter of principle – with Trevor I really think it’s just aesthetics. A skinnier girl with a slimmer face and a super funky-cool sense of style could pull it off for him. I don’t think it’s just “I prefer longer hair” so much as it is “I prefer you with longer hair”. But, ultimately, this is more about me than it is about him.

When I cut my hair off now I feel like I’m making this conscious choice to be unattractive to my husband – but upon actually talking about him with it, I find that’s not the case at all. My actual question was, “Do you still want to have sex with me even though you hate my hair?” And he laughed and said, “Yes. It doesn’t look bad, it’s cute. I just prefer you with longer hair”.  So, in the end, I guess the conscious choice I’ve made is in choosing not to look like my husband’s favorite version of me – which is a lot easier than choosing to be completely unattractive to him, and knowing that makes me feel so much better about it.

I have to question why I would feel bad about it in the first place. It’s my head, my hair – it should be my decision. And it is, really. But I just have felt this guilt about it the last couple times I’ve cut it. Actually, I don’t think guilt is the right word. Fear. I think fear is what I mean. I know I don’t always look my best with my hair this short, it is an unforgiving hair style. A fat day looks really fat when you have really short hair. So, knowing that I am putting myself in a position where I could always look better than I do – it’s just rough. I want my husband to be attracted to me and this kind of thing seems to work against that.

But I have a very good husband. And he thinks I am cute no matter what my hair is doing. So I’m just going to have to try and remember that from now on.

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