Archive for July, 2011

Important Words – Meg

I need words! No idea what the ceremony will be like yet, but I’m sure there will need to be words. And there are so many people who have said and written so many awesome words that I would be a fool not to collect the ones that I think may come in handy (or that I’ll never actually quote but will re-read and learn from).

And I’d like to start with a quote from Meg from A Practical Wedding (but not on APW but guest posting on the APW editor Lauren’s blog, Better in Real Life).

“After two years of marriage, and seven years in a committed relationship with the same person, I’ve found that life has a way of getting in the way of our us-ness. Often, I often feel like life is literally hanging out between us. Sitting on the couch with us, cc’ed on our emails, listening in our gchat. It is everywhere, all the time. Life is the million small things pressed into the big picture: it’s to-do lists, job applications, papers that need to be written, books that are due, businesses that need to be run. It’s finances that need to be juggled, vacations that need to be planned, parents that need to be cared for, dinner that needs to be cooked, and social calendars that need to be kept. It’s easy for our time together to be full of inquires, “Did you…” “Wouldn’t you…” “You didn’t…” “Have you…” It’s easy for discussions to center around what happened that day at work, and what needs to happen the next day at work, and groceries that need to be bought, not who we are and what we’re thinking and what we just read.”

I wanted to do another post tonight, but because of the health part of that upcoming ‘ in sickness and..’ I need to get my ass on our Body-Bike for some lung-friendly cardio.

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On a completely different note – argument

It’s been a tough week. We’ve both been working ourselves to the bone, job-wise and life-wise.

When both of us are stressed and in a state of discomfort, we get less patient with one another. We know this, we’re aware of this and try hard to not take things out on one another, but it’s tough. I want to distract myself by doing fun things with him, he wants to turn inward and spend more time alone. I think this reflex is the biggest point of contention in our entire relationship.

We’re both introverts, but of different types. I don’t like large groups, loud gatherings and situations that require complex social interaction. However, I can spend (relatively) large amounts of time in the company of selected people (like Beloved). He, on the other hand, loves wild parties,  rowdyness and loud arguments with fifteen people at the same time. When he’s done with that, he wants to be entirely alone. We have different ideas of what ‘spending time together’  means. Me, I feel that it requires some dort of actual interaction. He feels that sharing the same space counts too.

Normally, we negotiate this difference pretty gracefully. If I make sure to spend time in a different room, and he takes care to occasionally drop by for a kiss, we’re good. If we have a very general schedule for the day to reserve solitary time and joint activities, we’re also good. When were both tired, stressed and grumpy and there is no schedule (or life changes the schedule) our needs drift further apart and things get somewhat less harmonious.

This week? Not so harmonious. We said some harsh words and felt like shit. We misinterpreted things and said things that were misinterpreted. We tried to be nice, but failed, tried to give in, but felt resentful. And yet, whenever we argue, it feels healthy. It may be frustrating, but it’s not destructive. It’s painful, but not damaging. We’re not perfect of course, but I can call him out on arguing to win, instead of arguing to solve the issue. And he can call me out on being unrealistically negative and making things ‘about me’  that never had anything to do with me to begin with. After the tension has been released, we also know how to negotiate to ensure both our needs are met.

I hate fighting with the Beloved, but when it happens it is a tremendous relief from all the other relationships arguments I’ve had with people who came before. Those were unbalanced, unfair, missed the heart of the matter and (in case of my previous relationship) regularly turned abusive. It may sound strange, but in part it is having had a a handful of arguments with the Beloved that lets me know we’re healthy and solid together. So, while the week may not have been very harmonious, it has convinced me even more that I should marry the man with whom I argue the way we do.

Ringing true

I’m not  a jewelry kind of gal. He’s not a jewelery kind of dude. The whole ‘wear something around your finger’  kind of business that comes with commitment has been rather odd for us. I’m very grateful I live in a place where people don’t really do engagements, let alone engagement rings. Well, people do ‘ do’  engagements, these days, but it’s a new-ish custom that I (quietly and sometimes less quietly) contribute to having our eyes westward, when we look towards what’s fashionable.  A couple of acquaintances of mine got engaged over the last few months. Most of them don’t plan to get married for a good long while, though.

In any case. Beloved not proposing, his not giving me a ring and the decidedly unglamorous announcements of our plans have raised less eyebrows than I feared. That’s good 🙂 I hope that upon meeting his extended family, we will get the same kind of mildly but pleasantly surprised responses.

So, no engagement ring, for which I am glad. We talked about not doing wedding rings either. Or maybe tattoo wedding rings. Then we didn’t talk about it for a while, and I consulted the internet regarding such tattoo rings. I have not been able to find one that looked appealing. They’re either ‘ squiggly’  and will fade badly because they’re so small and the lines so thin, or they’re very ‘heavy handed’. Also, while I appreciate the romantic thought behind a tattoo ring, I’m just a teensy bit too practical to really feel comfortable with it. So then I thought about no rings. Which made me sad, which surprised me. I suppose that despite all the traditions I don’t care about, this one somehow means something. Maybe it’s because I so clearly remember my mom and dad showing me theirs and fitting one into the other  with room to spare (my mom has teeny fingers, my dad has big ones). Maybe because it’s the one marriage custom that I’ve always been around? I don’t know. I don’t really care either (I’ve at least decided I don’t). If I feel like wearing a wedding ring is important, that’s okay. I get to feel that way and (yes) I get to tell Beloved that it’s important to me and that I’d appreciate it if we could get wedding rings.

To soothe Beloved’s mind, I promised that I’ll buy him a dower which will take the shape of a sturdy necklace. If even after trying for a while, the ring feels uncomfortable to him, he can put the ring on the necklace and wear it like that.

All that said and done, we went looking at rings last Saturday. As I mentioned before, we’re not jewelry wearing people, so we had no idea where to go. In the end, we just walked into the main shopping street and found the closest shop. Dude. That was a fancy-ass place. An impeccably suited lady opened the heavy weight outer door remotely, letting us into an airlock-type room. Once the weighted door had closed, she used a key to open the inner door and let us into the shop. Everything was carpeted, everything shone and everyone was dressed to the nines (I felt rather out of place with my shaved head and my hoodie).

We had an idea of what we wanted in terms of looks (white metal, no stones, rather narrow and most of all: comfortable(read: flat)) and the suited lady let us try on a few different types of bands and widths. Then, I asked for the price of the ones we liked best and nearly fell off my chair. Over a thousand euro for two simple bands? But I get to stay in an expensive hotel and drink champagne for breakfast (no, seriously, that’s what you got as a present when you bought the rings). Naa-awwww..

Somewhat stupefied we walked back out of the over-carpeted place of shinyness, back to the ordinary world of street food and sunshine. We’ll find rings somewhere else., I’m sure.

Receptional thoughts

Earlier this week Beloved and I sat down for conversation. We’re leaving for the US in a few weeks. There will be a family reunion (argh!!). For a full week, I will interact closely with not just my direct in-laws-to-be, but another forty aunts and uncles and cousins. Have I ever mentioned I’m not good with groups? No? I should have..

This family will be the largest group of people present at the US reception. They’re also the reason we’re organizing said reception at all- that’s just one of those things we were given to understand. I’m sure you know what I mean.

In any case. I’ll be meeting them all for the first time. The second time I’ll see them, I’ll share their name. Oh dear.

Beloved’s idea about the reception was to only start thinking about it once the entire ceremony was over. Who cares if we only throw a party after we’ve been married for six months? USCIS does, unfortunately. With the change in the visa process as I’ve seen predicted so far, I’d possibly face ten months of not being allowed to travel to the US (when the visa application is running). Since our idea was to start the visa process immediately after the wedding, this would mean waiting close to a year before we could organize anything. That’s a bit much, even for Beloved. It would also prevent us from honeymooning in CA (getting a feel for the place to see if we would want to live there).

So, despite his hesitation to work on both the ceremony and the US reception at the same time, we’re now aiming for a reception in early 2012. Still a considerable time after the we get married (good, we can use a breather then, I think), but it avoids all the ridiculously expensive travel after the holidays, and only delays the visa process for a month or two. And, should we both decide that California is the last place we ever want to live, nothing is lost. We can still sell all our possessions and become nomads, without being stuck to a fixed time period in which I have to have a Point of Entry in the US and (after that) maintain residence there.

Sound investments..

Or: Why Bogleheads should maybe start giving relationship advice:

I don’t know much about investing money at all. Beloved does, and he’s a Boglehead. He has explained it to me as a way of investing that needs no constant tinkering, endless newspaper reading or screaming at stockbrokers to sellsellsell and buybuybuy NOW!!

Instead you look at your lifelong goals, wants, needs and possibilities. You also look at your current situation. Then, you make a plan. You save a lot and invest in a portfolio that fits your goals. Regularly (but not daily or weekly) you reassess the goals, wants, needs and possibilities, and tweak your portfolio to reflect the changes. This should bring you, regardless of short term market fluctuations, safely and comfortably into retirement.

To me that  seems kind of what one would want for a marriage too. You assess yourself and ‘invest’  in a partner that fits your situation. Regularly, but not daily or weekly, you reassess both your situations. If needed, you renegotiate, adjust and grow, ending with a happily ever after. And a well-off life after you retire.

Just for fun, I want to see if the five major Boglehead principles for investing can be translated into relationship advice too. Here goes:

1 Live below your means

In money terms, this will allow you to save. In relationship terms, it could mean that you do not continually test your partner, or continuously ask them to sacrifice their happiness for yours. make sure you ‘give’  at least as much as you ‘take’ so that no debt of resentment will accrue.

2 Asset allocation (holding bonds) is essential

Bonds aren’t very exciting things to invest in. They’ll give you back what you put in, but not much more. You generally have them for a long time, and they stabilize the value of your portfolio. For love: invest in the long term of your relationship. Make sure you don’t just agree on the awesome trip to Japan next year, but also on your midlife ambitions and retirement dreams.

3 Buy low cost funds that are widely diversified

A strategy to minimize risk and maintain value when the market fluctuates. Have a life outside of your marriage! Getting married is awesome.You get to be each other’s favourite person of all time. Forever! But if that only person is all you have, things get tense fast. Occasionally, you’ll need some stories to bring home. You need to have a network outside of your partner. Have family, have friends, a hobby and a passion. Don;t let your entire happiness depend on this one other person. If they crash, you lose everything.

4 Tax efficiency matters

Because every dollar Uncle Sam doesn’t get, goes on to get compound interest for you. So, be careful in which account to put your income. Make sure to pick the parts of your relationship worth putting energy into – don’t invest energy into solving your one and only disagreement if it is not deeply vital. You can use hat same energy  in a different ‘fund’  (say: the one that says ‘footrubs’  or ‘let me make you your favourite food’) which builds you compound love interest in the long run.

5 Stay the course

When the market fluctuates and you seem to be losing money, don’t panic and sell! Don’t be tempted to go for quick sells and buys in the hopes of more profit but instead, keep holding on to your well-balanced relationship, even when things don’t go very smoothly. It’s okay if a relationship has a few downs amidst the ups and plains. One argument (or a month of them) doth not divorce material make. Like with well-managed funds, a well-managed relationship in which a balance exists, will often return to it’s equilibrium of steady performance. Marriage is a long-term commitment. Like a retirement account, it’s something that you build on for your entire life, so that you will have a joyful, worry-free old age.

Check check

Pre-nup:

  • Individual Preparation – check
  • Agreeing
  • Finding notary – check
  • Making draft
  • Signing

 

Ceremony:

  • Date – check
  • Location – check
  • Photographer – check
  • Witnesses – check
  • Guests – check
  • Catering
  • Outfits
  • Rings
  • Transport
  • Dinner afterwards
  • Picture ordering/ printing
Reception Europe:
  • Date
  • Location
  • Guest list
  • Catering
  • Website
Reception US:
  • Date
  • Location
  • Guest list
  • Catering
  • Website