Tag Archives: wedding

crying-depressed-bride-jpg

Post Wedding Depression: Yes, It’s Real

Weddings are beautiful and ridiculous and a waste of money and worth every penny spent. Over the last year I obsessed about the details of my nuptials, but like many girls who grew up on Barbies and Sweet Valley Twins, I had been planning my wedding day in the back of my mind since I was a flower girl at the age of four.

My friend, who also got married this year, made a great point to me about her non-planning wedding planning – if she cared about any one detail too much then she’d be looking for that to go right and noticing if it went wrong, and would be disappointed on her wedding day which is supposed to be the happiest day of her life… so she decided to just let it be.

I, on the other hand, spent what equated to pretty much a full-time job interviewing photographers, musicians, venues, florists, makeup artists, et al. I didn’t hire a planner because I knew I’d drive them crazy and still end up doing all the planning myself. Continue reading

Wedded Bliss and Chaos and Thank God It’s Done

I’m back. From my wedding, that is. My ridiculously expensive, I now wish I could go back and revise my budget (and stick to my original budget) wedding where in the grand scheme of things I’m over the moon to be married despite it not really changing much of anything in my 10-year relationship. After a very short mini-moon we just returned home and things are back to normal, except I have a ring on my finger and he has one on his desk because it’s too tight and he needs to get it stretched. And, in the eyes of the government, we’re legit family now. If I die he gets my savings. I guess I should watch my back. ūüėČ

So I have a lot to say about the wedding, but I’ve spent my last week spinning in circles on what went right and mostly what went wrong, and I’m not sure how much I can get out right now without going off a deep end. The wedding itself was lovely. People had fun – some told me it was the best wedding they’ve been to with such passion I actually believe them. The food was great (so I’m told, I didn’t get to eat much of it – damn missing cocktail hour for family pictures) and my band rocked (despite more than half of the guests spending most of the wedding outside on the beautiful balcony overlooking the lake and missing the entertainment.) I’m trying to look on the bright side of things because a lot went right at the wedding. The ceremony was magical and just perfect – his uncle officiated and we spent a lot of time revising the script so it really reflected us and wasn’t a standard boring wedding. It was super hot and I’m shocked none of the black-tux wearing groomsmen passed out, but other than that the ceremony was a success. Ok, ¬†than the fact that my florist sucked and put the cheapest wrinkliest possible fabric on the previously beautiful birch-wood arch causing it look crappy and the violin-cello duet chose to play “Yesterday” right before my groom walked down the aisle (which, is a beautiful song, but “yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away now it it looks as though they’re here to stay” is not what you want to hear the second before you are to meet your wife at the alter, even if no actual lyrics were involved in the playing of the song at that point.) I’ll give the ceremony a 9/10. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure came close.

I’m such a perfectionist, of course, I’d never be fully satisfied with my own wedding – especially after spending – between my parents and myself – upwards of $70k or even more on one day. I haven’t added everything up yet, but I’m pretty sure we are at least at $70,000 total for a Sunday night wedding in June. I really wanted to stay under $40k and the original budget was $50k so… I failed. After the wedding, I worried I’d feel a huge letdown and be so ashamed to have spent that much money on one day and, while I do think it’s ridiculous, I felt that one day was so full of richness that it was more than just 24 hours. Or, as I tell my now-husband, I want to talk about the wedding every day for the next year at least and ensure it provides some entertainment to our lives so we can amortize the cost of it over the next 365 days. ūüôā But, really, while I know I’m very fortunate to be able to spend that much on a wedding – and equally aware that weddings that cost $5k or less can be just as memorable and wonderful – for me, and for my guests, it was the right wedding to throw. Looking back, I could have saved at least $10k by not splurging in places that didn’t matter (*cough*flowers*cough*) but mostly I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Except my florist and my dress.

My florist was an unfortunate mistake. She meant well -and the flowers weren’t awful by any means – but spending $4500 on flowers was something I was against from the beginning and by two months before my wedding I had gone off the deep end and gave into the wedding industry. My father was paying for the flowers and my parents kept telling me they wanted wedding flowers, nothing tacky (which means nothing cheap looking) and so – after my initial $2k florist flaked on getting me a contract – I was stuck with no florist and went with the best of what was still available, or so I thought. She was a lovely, passionate woman who tried really hard but in the end there’s a certain thing called talent and also something called skill and I think she lacked in both departments – maybe skill more-so than talent, but for $4500 I expect … more than what we got. Well, we got a lot of flowers, for sure, and they were fine – just not flow-y and green like I wanted. She didn’t get the style. The only thing that really bothered me, though, was the arch in the ceremony (now mentioned twice in this post.) The flower arrangements were huge — she says she needed to make them that big to cover the foam but my florist friend assures me that isn’t true. Then she added this horrid, horrible, no-good, going to ruin all my ceremony pictures and make me cringe fabric to drape on the beautiful birch wood arch. When I showed up to the venue and saw it, I freaked, and send the women there and my florist friend (who happened to be my bridesmaid) into a flurry trying to figure out what to do. I was not in the right brain mode to make decisions at that moment so when they asked me if they should cut it down, after one side was already cut down, I said no – and then they wrapped it to the pole making it too short and look even worse. What I realized later is that the drape of fabric at the top not only looked cheap as all hell but also casted horrible shadows on our faces – especially my groom’s face. I went back to the picture I showed her of the draping (as I did ask for this) and it featured a very, very skinny transparent and not-cheap looking fabric (i.e. no wrinkles, folds or pulls) and it barely covered the wood. Her version was just tacky. Later she told me I should have called her to come back but I wasn’t thinking straight at the time. She knows it looked worse once they cut it down and tied it but I was trying to fix things and going absolutely crazy. My $4500 flowers turned my almost-perfect ceremony aesthetically into quite a disappointing picture. — Then, my sweetheart table actually never had flowers on it — she had told someone at the venue to move the special arrangement she made for it to the table after the cocktail hour but whoever she told didn’t remember so we had no flowers on the main table that was being photographed all night. That was less of an issue but just something that I look back on now and realize damn, I should have hired a wedding coordinator for the day of the wedding. I really needed a wedding coordinator.

Ok, so the one thing I didn’t spend on – that I wish, I wish, I WISH I did was a wedding planner. Wedding planners come in all shapes and sizes and costs and not all would have been helpful. A planner for a full wedding (i.e. someone to do what I did in sourcing vendors and venue et al) would cost $5k or more. But month-of planners are around $1.5k-$2.5k. Most are $2k. They help you the month of the wedding make sure you’re not forgetting anything and most importantly manage the crazy that happens the day of the wedding to ensure nothing goes wrong. I desperately needed a month-of planner and almost splurged at the end for one, but at that point I was thinking I already had everything planned and my venue was known for its awesome on-site ceremony coordinators, so why should I spent another entire laptop computer to get someone to help manage the day. Ugh. Wrong decision.

If I had a day-of coordinator…

  1. I wouldn’t have been late in the morning so we would have had an hour more for pictures, and I would have gotten the bridal portraits that I wanted from my $7500 photographer that now I’m worried will have captured no decent pictures because they were all super rushed.
  2. My dress wouldn’t have been all disheveled in all the pictures and my necklace would have been straight because I’d have someone with me at all times to help me fix my outfit and look my best – which, when you’re spending $7500 on pictures, you want to have someone there to help you out. My photographer did not do that really. (*probably picked the wrong photographer and spent too much on that too – we’ll see.)
  3. My mother who freaked out the whole day, showed up super late to the venue, ended up screaming at my flower boy and causing his entire family to storm out of the wedding, would have maybe been a little more managed and manageable with the help of someone else – not sure this would have helped, but I really needed a partner in helping manage my mother who, at numerous points throughout the day, threw a temper tantrum and made a few people really upset/cry (including myself.)
  4. The venue wouldn’t have lost our important ceremony glass (that we poured in the ceremony and were to send off to an artist to make into a sculpture.) I have no idea how they lost this, but somehow it got misplaced. They still haven’t owned up to losing it yet, but where else did it go? It was in a vase that was also ours and that is gone, along with six glasses that had held the glass before we poured it. All gone. And they threw out extra copies of our ceremony programs that are worth $3.50 each (I splurged on those but they were amazing and I figured I’d have extra to frame/keep/send to the bridal party etc but nope, they threw them all out and claim they were all used/taken which is a lie.) If I had a coordinator they would have made a list of all the items to collect back at the end of the night and made sure things weren’t lost. I COULD have done that or assigned someone else to this job, but I forgot as I was focused so much on the wedding itself I didn’t think about after it. The venue did let us keep things there overnight and packed up all our stuff for us, which is nice, but then they lost these important items… I’m still really bummed about it. The sculpture place can get new glass and remake it but it kind of defeats the sentimental purpose of the glass pouring ceremony. The venue doesn’t seem to give a shit about it. I am going to write them a review today and see if it inspires any more compassion.
  5. I failed at feeding my bridal party properly the morning of the wedding, which was a mess. My friend helped source wraps for us but there weren’t enough and a lot of the bridal party didn’t notice they existed. I didn’t realize that most of the bridesmaids hadn’t eaten the free breakfast at the hotel or the wraps (that weren’t that great but nonetheless they were there) which left me frantically trying to find local delivery services in the limo. Well, taking a step back I made the decision to get ready at the hotel because the venue charged $600 to get ready there plus $50 a person for every person over 7, ¬†which was just silly in my mind since we also couldn’t start until 11 then and my makeup artist had to leave at 2:30. The logistics of the day were wonk and as we were an hour behind schedule everything ended up worse. The girls did finally order Panera Bread at the venue and someone went to pick it up for them, so that worked out ok, but it was probably 2pm or later before they ate – which was horrible. The did have a cheese plate at the venue at 1 so people noshed on that but it wasn’t enough. One of my biggest pet peeves as a bridesmaid is not having decent food options in the morning ¬†(because it’s a super long day) and I managed to fail at planning this appropriately. If I had a coordinator they would have made sure this was done without me even thinking about it.
  6. A coordinator would have helped with other little things throughout the night… so many little things that I could have asked them to fix and it would have been done, or, if they were really good, they would have thought about this in advance and I wouldn’t have noticed them in the first place.

Now, granted, there are so many different coordinators out there, and not all of them are both talented at wrangling neurotic Jewish mothers while aesthetically altering venue decorations and making the call to remove cheapo fabric from the arch or recommending in advance not to put it on there in the first place and being able to run around and make sure my damn overpriced Swarovski necklace wasn’t off center in all the pictures — I didn’t believe I could find someone who was capable of all these things, so I decided not to hire anyone. I should have spend much less on the flowers at put the saving into a coordinator. That was my biggest mistake.

The dress itself was a headache from the get go and I spent too much on it and I think I looked horrible. My groom loved it and thought I looked great, and others said the same, but I can barely look at pictures of myself in this dress… it’s that bad. Now, I don’t have the world’s greatest body image but I frequently like myself in nice dresses. Not so in this dress. First off – it was strapless, which was one of the things I didn’t want in a wedding dress because only girls with rail-thin anorexic bodies look ok in strapless dresses… and I’m not one of those girls. Strapless dresses also have to fit just right to not fall down but then also not make you budge in all the wrong places. The tailor at my dress shop didn’t seem to understand this and she first made it too loose and then tightened it to the point where all you can see is my back fat. The dress itself is worthy of its own post at some point because the dress shop was a nightmare to deal with and I spent $7000 on my wedding dress which is crazy and I expected that after spending so much I’d have a good experience in alterations and finally be happy on my wedding day but not so much. I do have expensive taste (surprise) and really it’s a fucking scam the wedding dress industry as $2000 dresses are pieces of shit and to get a dress that is made nicely with good fabric you have to pay $5k plus OR find a used dress/sample. I wanted to get a used dress but then I worried that it would cause unnecessary issues so I splurged and spent $7k and – had the dress been perfect or close to it, I’d say, yea, it was worth it – but… I just look silly in it. And my chest/back/arms aren’t flattered by the shape, nor is the rest of my body. I lost 30 pounds for my wedding and I look at the pics (*not the professional pics yet – hopefully those will be better) and just see fat arms and a fat back and fat chest. Yes, they’d be there in another dress – but had it fit better / had I ordered a dress with straps and a more flattering neckline / had the tailor figured out how to fit it to me properly – maybe it would have looked less awful. I’m bummed about the dress. I hope there are a handful of pictures from the professional photographer where the angles make me look better. I worry I booked the wrong photographer because he didn’t seem to be working angles so much and I should have just booked one of the female photographers who understand how to pose women to make them look good. This photographer I hired is very talented but he typically works with thin NY brides who would look good from any angle. I’m worried I won’t have one picture that I feel good about. The pictures come back in about two weeks now… I’m a little scared at this point, because that’s the only thing we keep with us from the wedding other than our memories (and the video, which we get in six months, and that will undoubtedly feature the starring character of my fat rolls and double chin) — but it is what it is. I don’t HAVE to look at our wedding pictures or video ever. I’m just bummed because I wanted to look beautiful on our wedding day and I hate how I looked. My hair was weird and falling down and my veil was put in the wrong place and slightly off center and it all went so fast I didn’t have time to stop and adjust myself or stand better or anything.

I almost want to have another wedding to fix all these things – except, thank fucking g-d I’m never getting married again. That’s the one good thing to come of all this… it’s done, and we’re quite committed to never getting divorced, and I don’t have to ever do this again (except when my hypothetical future children get married and I hope I can use this knowledge to help ensure they actually can enjoy their weddings.)

Anyway, I’m married. I was surprised how different it felt… it really does feel like things have changed. I don’t know. They have and they haven’t. We still live together in the same apartment. We still say the same things to each other. I still have to go to work in the morning and he still works from home and wakes up late and stays up all night. So what really has changed? We’re keeping our finances separate for now (at least on paper) so nothing is majorly different. But it feels like I’m, well, married. I guess the biggest change is that we want to have kids and we always had said we’d wait until we were married and now there’s nothing really between us and the having kids phase of our lives other than actually getting pregnant (which will be challenging with my PCOS and maybe impossible – but nonetheless there’s nothing stopping us from trying now.) So maybe that is what feels different… because I’m old-ish (I’ll be 33 in November – fuck.) And, you know, baby-making years are limited. And although I am so immature¬†I also feel ready to have a kid. And, moreso, I want two or three kids (at least two) and while I have time to have the first one, it’s going to get tough when I want to spread out having a second a little bit. I see my friend with her crazy three year old who is now pregnant with her second and I think god how hard it is to have two so close together – and that’s not even that close together, that’s really four years apart. If I manage to get pregnant when I’m 33 then I’ll have my first at 34… which means trying for my second pretty soon thereafter. I probably won’t end up having three – which is fine – I’d be happy with two (or one for that matter, but I really want two) — and… I still don’t know logically how this all works (can’t afford house here / job situation not going well / I can’t imagine working this type of job and being a mother / I think we have to leave this area to a place that’s more affordable / we’ll figure it out when we have kids I guess?) — but, anyway, what really changed is now there’s nothing between not being pregnant and being pregnant (other than getting pregnant) now that we’re married. We could have achieved that for a lot less than $70,000… and it would have come with a lot less stress and headaches and regrets… but then again, there were so many magical, unforgettable, priceless moments at my wedding that I think, in the end, it was worth it.

Wedding Ridiculousness

Don’t ask me how much this wedding is costing. I don’t want to know. Unfortunately I do. I am going overboard (and that’s an understatement) and yet I don’t FEEL like I’m having an extravagant wedding by any means. It’s just the little… and the BIG things… add up. The whole situation makes me sick to my stomach – yet I’m so far in I can’t dig myself out.

Case in point – hair and makeup trials. Who the hell cares what I look like on my wedding day? Me. I do. I’m vain. I’m vain but that’s kind of built into the whole wedding situation which requests of you to wear a big white dress and have the more photographs of yourself ever taken in one day. No pressure. I mean, the photos will likely be the only remainder of you long after you die and your children’s children’s children are looking back at that one picture that remains of their great great grandmother and there you are with the world’s worst hair and eyeliner that has run down your cheek. No fucking pressure.

Each hair trial is about $100 or so. Makeup trials run the same. I’ve done two makeup trials (which I think given the situation is reasonable) and have settled on the second artist. At some point I just have to accept my face is my face. It’s not horrible. I have a wonky left eye and eyelid and my profile is unfortunate due to the lack of a substantial chin and unsightly nose. But who cares, right? I mean – a wedding is about love and marriage and not all this fucking vanity that is costing me a fortune because I want so desperately for one day of my life to look beautiful before I turn into a shriveled up old women with no sex appeal whatsoever. Despite being 32, this wedding feels like the end of my extended delusioned youth. Hair, however, is proving to be a major issue. My hair is just… blah… and after three hair trials I’ve yet to really find a stylist I like. But I don’t think it’s their fault, it’s my hair, plus maybe unreasonable expectations for what it can do. We can add extensions (another $100+ investment) and I can go get it dyed (which I probably will do for $200+) and maybe after that one of these styles will look decent but you know what it’s really just my manly Hungarian cheekboned round face and fat arms that make the hair just not work. So. I’ve spent, oh, over $500 on hair/makeup trials (I KNOW I KNOW THIS IS INSANE) and I still don’t like my hair options. Since I’ve spent $7500 on a photographer and $7000 on my dress (including alterations) it just seems at this point rather ridiculous to have horrible hair – though, I’m unsure if it is more or less ridiculous to spend another $500 on finding the right hair stylist.

Then there’s the ACTUAL costs of the hair and makeup styling day of… my hair/makeup will be about $300, then I am paying for 8 bridesmaids to have their hair and makeup done (about $160 each) which I don’t¬†have¬†to do – but I want everyone to look good for the pictures and my girls aren’t vain like me so they wouldn’t spend that much if I asked them to chip in on their own. I’m trying to make this wedding as reasonable cost wise for them so they don’t hate me afterwards… their bridesmaid dresses, the ONE frugal thing in this whole freaking disaster of a financial experiment – were on sale from $290 to $109. Phew. One smart financial choice. Too bad that doesn’t actually help my or my family’s bottom line.

I want to look forward to this wedding. I really do. I know when I’m at the venue – even if it’s pouring rain and flooded and lightning and hailing and five traffic accidents have caused every last guest to miss the ceremony – I’ll still be able to look at my life partner and enjoy the whole “hey, we’re getting married” thing. I’m sure whether my hair is a complete disaster or perfectly coiffed he will still love me and still marry me and at the end of the very fast expensive day we will be married and we can move on with our lives and be adults and never again think to splurge so embarrassingly on a very brief experience that will be over and done before we can say hello to every single guest.

Weddings. Bah humbug. I make them a whole lot more psychotic than they need to be. For sure. But I’m not alone. I don’t think a lot of brides talk about it. Well, there are bridezillas who just have a lot of money to spend (or don’t but act like they do) and don’t worry about the costs. Then there’s me – a perfectionist who recognizes how stupid this whole thing is and how $70k+ that is now being spent on the wedding ¬†would be much, much, MUCH better off going to a down payment on a house or grad school or a trip around the world or even 100 virgins (to do my laundry – what are you thinking?) and I’m so in over my head right now and although I joke here and there about how overwhelmed I am… I am really, seriously, completely, morbidly, enthusiastically, and maniacally overwhelmed at the moment. I feel a major depression coming on and trying to grasp onto mild mania if only to power through this and be able to actually enjoy this nut job of an event that will be occurring next month as long as my fianc√© and I still have a pulse.

On top of all this stupid wedding crap, I’m trying to keep my job and do a good job and I’m so far off the mark on that as well. It doesn’t help that I can’t focus 100% of all my time on it, and it’s pretty damn clear I’m distracted which is likely going to cost me yet another job which I can’t afford to lose right now. I know I need to just let go of the wedding at some point (well I will once it’s OVER) but some details I can’t ignore. I have to figure out transportation for guests and make food choices and somehow coordinate the day’s schedule so my mother’s photography requirements do not force me to go future Dateline NBC-guest¬†ape-shit and slash her with a cake knife half way through the evening.

When I think about everything that has to get done my thoughts drift to those common suicidal ideations which aren’t exactly real but nonetheless are so appealing as everything seems so impossible right now. I’m running faster than I’ve never run before but unfortunately it’s straight into a brick wall. I want out. I don’t want to feel like this right now. I should be excited. I should be so thrilled that my big wedding day is coming up and my friends and family are flying in from all over the country to see me and my man tie the knot and celebrate with us. I am excited about THAT but everything else is killing me. I mean. I think it might be literally killing me. I can’t handle it all. I should probably call my therapist but then what crazy OCD bride can actually afford therapy? Not this one, that’s for sure.

For the first time in my LIFE I’m at risk for not being able to pay my monthly credit card bills. That is terrifying. I certainly make a lot right now and luckily my fianc√© has liquid savings we can spend (I’d pay him back of course) but – it’s scary when you look at your monthly credit card bill and it’s like $10,000 and you don’t have $10,000 sitting around to pay it. That’s when you know you are making DUMB AS FUCK (TM) financial decisions. At 32 I’ve saved $350,000 in networth so I keep telling myself it’s OK To splurge a little bit (or a lot bit) once in my life and then I’ll go back to frugal living and get myself to $500k in the next 2-3 years which is still a major accomplishment ($500k before 35 isn’t so bad) so … it’s fine. I just want to be able to stop worrying about how much it costs and focus on how much fun it will be. Or, you know, how much fun it will be when it’s over.

Wedding Registries and the Pile of Boxes in My Living Room Corner

Thank you profusely to all the kind wedding guests who have sent me a gift for my bridal shower in advance of my upcoming nuptials. Thank you for going to my online registry and selecting a gift that I already picked out from a store like Macys or William and Sonoma and purchasing it and having it delivered to my apartment. Suddenly, I’ve gone from having no quality household items to a smorgasbord of things I want, need, and thought might be interesting to own that I don’t actually need that fit that golden present cost requirement¬†of “around $30-$50” so everything on my registry wouldn’t be too expensive and offensive.

Thank you for the china that I asked for – it’s beautiful – and likely will be about half of the items I will need for a complete set due to how these things work out – so then I have the choice to either return the china to get something I actually really need and feel guilty that I’m returning your gifts (that, mind you, I asked for) or keep it and somehow find the money to buy the rest of the set after the most expensive year of my life (and, thank you for reminding me that I get a special extra 10% off discount six months after my wedding to buy anything that wasn’t purchased on my registry – that will not actually help me afford these items.) Also, thank you for suggesting I use any cash I do get for my wedding to complete the registry because all the bills for the actual wedding will be paid for with fairy dust.

Thank you for avoiding the items on my registry which I actually need but are rather bland or unladylike¬†to purchase (buying knives for a bridal shower seems so unromantic.) Thank you for the fancy measuring cups and vegetable cutting contraptions¬†and vases and towels and wine glasses. Thank you for taking me serious when I put items on my registry I clearly don’t need when I live in a household with two plates and a thousand steak knives and a few random pots I purchased at Target when I moved into my own apartment 10 years ago. Thank you for all these beautiful gifts I will likely exchange for things I actually need because the reality is I have no where to put all these items I don’t need at the moment. My apartments is small and I’m not sure what to do with all this amazing stuff that I asked for but didn’t realize the consequences of getting.

Thank you for the piles of boxes at my door everyday I get home which should be exciting but instead are a tall pile of doom in which I must identify another spot in my living room in which to store these items which likely will go back to the store eventually when I have time to get around to it and be turned into a nice set of pots and pans.

Thank you for registries not allowing you to ask for either a complete set of something or individual items so either you have a set that a group of guests can go in together to purchase that is quite expensive or individual items that seem too expensive on their own for a group to buy even though they’re what I actually want (hey, good knives are expensive.)

Thank you for editing registries after two shots of whiskey and the brilliant idea to put about five different knife sets and individual knives on my registry to see if any lovely friend out there will get the hint that the most appreciated gift of all would be some high-quality cooking knives that I one day will likely slice off one of my fingers with due to their high-quality sharpness. Thank you to wedding registries for being outdated yet the best option since the various “cash funds” online all take a percentage of the gift which is a waste of money – i.e. honey fund, down payment funds, etc and it’s still considered rude to ask for cash.

Thank you to all of the people I invited who sent me gifts who can’t come to any of my wedding festivities as you won’t get to partake in the celebration or enjoy the food or band and you still sent me a gift and I feel guilty about that but thank you that’s very kind of you.

And now, back to the pile boxes.

Thinking Towards the Future

Time is flying by and soon I’ll have tied the knot and be smack dab in the (hopefully) center years of my life. While my father drives me nuts every time he brings it up – it’s time to make some serious life decisions. I’m not getting any younger. I’ll be 33 next year which is absolutely insane but at least I’ll be married so that seems like a bit of an accomplishment. I really can’t delay much in having children if I’m going to have them – and I’ve definitely gotten to the point in life where I want to have a family. I’m trying to take it one day at a time but I can’t help but think about the future as a collective whole of holy shit.

Things are going fairly well at work – not perfectly, mind you, but at least I think I’ve found a job where I add a large amount of value via my natural abilities vs trying to be something I’m not. At this point I plan to stay in this opportunity at least until I have a kid and then I’ll figure out what’s next. That’s at least a year from now if not more. It’s a great place to be as I’m learning a lot and gaining the skills I need to move into more senior roles going forward. I’ve learned over my career that you can’t get caught up in the small things but instead must focus on the bigger picture of helping your company and specific contributions which you can talk about in your next job interview. I know there are gaps in my experience so while I focus on adding value in the areas where I am strongest I also try to improve in the areas where I know I’m weak. It’s a challenging process but in the long run it will only help as I eventually look towards what’s next in my career.

I still don’t know how it’s all going to work when I have children. Plenty of mothers¬†work because they have to or because they want to – or both – and they do just fine. I think of my schedule right now and how absolutely exhausted I am from the standard office job and question how I’d ever be able to do this and be a mother. I come home after work and basically go to sleep immediately, or lounge in bed braindead until I pass out a few hours later. I certainly don’t have the energy to come home and take care of children.

That means if I want kids I can’t just pretend like this whole working mother thing is going to work out, at least in an office job scenario with a long commute. Even without a commute being in an office 8 hours a day drains me. If I had a job where I could be in different locations and work remotely I’d feel much better. Long term, I think that’s what I need to find. So I’m trying to build up the skill set and personal brand to be able to have that freedom later on. I have no idea if it will work out, but I’m going to try and hopefully somehow things will just happen and be ok.

I know the next 10 years ago going to go by in the blink of an eye. I’ll be writing very soon “holy crap I’m about to turn 43.” Where does the time go? I don’t know what I’m going to be like 10 years from now… you know, either a married women with no children and a hot, high-stress career — or married with three kids in tow, all under the age of 10, all who I love dearly yet who drive me batty at the same time. Who knows. It just has to happen. Life, that is. We can change a lot of things and we can control so much of our destiny but we can’t stop time. Every blog post I write I notice my hands are aging just a little bit more – the wrinkles in my¬†knuckles more pronounced, the skin thinner and colder, showing through to blue veins which are getting ready to make an even grander appearance in the coming years.

For now – I’m trying to just feel – happy. It’s hard for me. It’s a foreign feeling. It’s as if I’ve been trained to not allow myself to feel joy because it’s a naive emotion. It is better to be sad or anxious or appreciative but never joyful. Never happy. I want so badly to allow myself at least a few moments of happiness amidst¬†my upcoming wedding celebrations. I want to pause and reflect on the last 10 years of my life which led me to my husband-to-be, and how despite the ups and downs we made it work, and I love him more today than I ever have before. I want to be happy because for so long I was alone and thought I’d forever be alone and I have this one person who will no matter what be by my side to give me a hug and tell me everything is going to be ok. Now I know what people mean when they say they’re marrying their best friend. I need to allow myself to have joy, despite all the stress, all the frustration over the high cost of weddings, the failure to have perfect etiquette, the complaining relatives, the misspelling on invites, the transportation logistics and music playlist and food selections and dress that may or may not fit and inability to find comfortable attractive shoes. I hope more than anything on my wedding day I can allow myself to feel truly happy. Maybe just for a moment. But I need that. And, after all 32 years of my life, I think I deserve it.

Weddings are Dumb.

Ok, I’m at the phase of wedding planning where I genuinely want to quit – but I can’t, because, you know, multi-thousand dollar deposits and shit. While I always thought weddings were dumb, I still had my heart set on throwing a big party, wearing a pretty white dress, and being whisked away to some exotic destination for a honeymoon. Blah blah blah. Weddings are ridiculous. Well, they don’t have to be – small, intimate gatherings with close family and friends are exceptionally smart. Doing what I’m doing – dumb, de dumb dumb dumb.

There are way too many things to decide on for a wedding, and it’s all wasteful. Eventually, you just end up throwing money at things to make them go away. You end up over budget by far and you aren’t sure how that happened – except that every decision ended up costing you more than you expected. And because of all those costly deposits, there’s no turning back now.

But – on top of the craziness of the actual wedding itself – you have to do these nutso things such as PLAN THE GREATEST VACATION ¬†YOU’VE EVER TAKEN IN YOUR LIFE (and pay for it) and PUT TOGETHER A “REGISTRY” OF ALL THE KITCHEN SUPPLIES YOU MIGHT EVER NEED WHILE WORRYING IF YOUR GUESTS WILL THINK YOU’RE CRAZY FOR PUTTING NICE THINGS ON YOUR LIST THEY CAN’T AFFORD.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m on the registry part of this adventure right now. Registries are bullshit. I don’t understand them at all. First of all, they’re supposedly for the SHOWER, not really the wedding, because people give cash gifts at weddings, unless they don’t, in which case they may give from the registry, or they may not. Well, the registry is supposed to be filled with things for the home that you need – but those things can be quite costly. It may make sense for someone at the wedding to gift you a $100 saucepan, but unless you have super wealthy friends that’s insane to expect at a shower. Meanwhile, that $100 saucepan can be found on sale for a much lower price if you were to buy it yourself, but you can’t exactly buy yourself a gift and ask your guests to reimburse you.

The whole idea of “here’s a list of shit I want now buy it for me” is absolutely ridiculous, but so is getting a bunch of shit you don’t want or need and can’t return because that’s rude too. You can’t fucking win.

I’m currently researching cookware. It so happens at 32 I’ve never invested in decent pots and pans or anything kitchen related (though I’ve managed to collect a large collection of cheap steak knifes for some reason, hmm.) Researching every single item you may want for your kitchen to select the best ones for your registry that people will likely not end up buying anything from anyway seems like a big joke. The biggest joke of all is asking for things that are part of a set – so if you get a few items from the set, you have to go out and buy the rest of the set on your own, which ends up costing you more than not having the set in the first place.

Of course, I’m grateful for any gifts that my friends kindly give us for our wedding. It’s more that I just think the whole idea of a registry is silly and I’m afraid no matter what I put on it I’ll offend people – but if I don’t have one then we’ll get who knows what.

On top of planning for the wedding itself, I’m starting to think about our honeymoon. I really would like to take a honeymoon because after 10 years of dating my fianc√© and I still somehow haven’t been on an international trip together. Which. is. crazy. I want to take a significant trip but the timing just isn’t working out. I’m still so new into my job that I’m afraid to take that much time off, even if I asked for it when I started. Unfortunately because my wedding is on the other coast, I am going to miss a few days of work just around the wedding itself (I was hoping to work remote a week in advance of it to get on the right time zone and hopefully get over any sicknesses I might pick up on my flight since I often get sick when I switch coasts.) Before that, I need to get to the other coast for my dress fittings (twice) and so that will take a few days as well, even if I’m working remote I won’t be at the office so people won’t realize I’m working. I’m also hiring a team of employees who I can’t just leave for weeks at a time…

The original idea was that I’d take a brief trip right after the wedding for a week and then come back and take a longer one two months later. I just worry that it looks worse to come back from my wedding after a brief mini moon and then to take another two weeks off a few months from the time I get back. I don’t really have time for a honeymoon at all this year. We could wait until next year, but hopefully I’ll be pregnant by then. We could just do a week honeymoon which I know is more than most people get to take and would still be nice, but I see this as my last international trip until my kids are, like, 10 years old… so it’s important to me. I have a bunch of frequent flier miles saved up and I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. But time just isn’t working out. I guess I can just go ahead as planned and hope work is ok with it (I can definitely clock in a few hours while abroad) — I just don’t know if it even makes sense to go anywhere at this point…

I mean, I don’t even have time to plan this trip. I have some ideas – but, planning a 2-week international trip takes time. Time that I don’t have. Time that I’m spending on the wedding finding a last-minute florist and figuring out who will be doing makeup and hair for the bridal party and trying to sort out how to get to the other coast for dress fittings and a bridal shower and all this stuff that honestly I want no part of. I knew a wedding would be challenging to plan but I had no idea about the amount of stress it would bring. I realize I’m a particular sort of person and at some point I just need to let go, but god help me if I can actually manage to get through the next four months of my personal life while remaining a high-value employee at work (my number one priority) and planning a trip of a lifetime (and figuring out which stainless steel cookware is the best for our future cooking needs?)

Being stressed right now feels so ridiculous and yet – weddings — ugh.

Hello 2016! A Toast to an Amazing, Productive, Healthy, and Sane Year

I’ll admit it, 2015 was rough. With my long commute to and from work, my sanity and health sank to perhaps an all-time low. Although I achieved networth growth over the year, it wasn’t nearly as much as I had targeted. In fact, in the year when I made significantly more than I had ever made before, I ended up saving less than I had in the past (including interest.) I closed out the year with $344k in total assets with the exception of my car (I don’t count that in my networth calculations, though, I guess I suppose I should.) I wanted to be at $400k in networth, but between some bad investments, general stock market blahs, and being unemployed for a brief while, I just didn’t get anywhere near that.

What I try to remind myself is that $344k at 32 is not too shabby. If I don’t touch that, don’t add anything else, and it manages to grow at 5% YoY that’s $1.3M by the time I’m 60. Ok, so I want to get to $4M by 60 (which requires about a 10% YoY annual return with my current principal and no annual additions), but even if I get to $1.3M by 60 I think I could remain working and manage to grow that another 5 ¬†years, which gets me to $1.7M and that isn’t counting any savings from future Mr. HECC.

The plan was to hit $500k net worth, have a kid and save for a house while living in an apartment with young kid, and then over the next five years save enough for a 20% downpayment ($300k) on top of the $500k plus annual interest that I wouldn’t touch. That goal is looking rather unlikely right now, and I’m actually ok with that. I’ve gotten to this point where I’ve accepted that the life I am going to lead as an adult is going to be at a lower class level than the one I was used to as a child. While I grew up in an upper-middle class household, my family will be squarely in the middle class (for my region of the country), and we’ll be fine. We’ll still be doing much better than the majority of households in the country, even if we can’t afford a house for a long time, if ever.

Right now, my focus must be 100% on excelling in my job. With my current salary and responsibilities, I have the opportunity to set myself up for a very successful next 20 years of my career. I also am very seriously confronting the reality that if this doesn’t work out for any reason, if this is a failure, then it means a significant shift my career trajectory and networth projections. I very well might return to school – which I’ve been talking bout for a while but haven’t seriously pursued – to study to become a psychologist or design researcher with a psychological focus. But I don’t want to think about that right now, I’m heads down, fully in the game, trying to relax and thrive despite the many challenges at hand. In other words, I refuse to mess this up.

Beyond work, this year is just a huge year of major life changes. I get married in a few months (tax bill goes up next year, woohoo), and I also likely start trying to have kids, confronting the soon-to-be-proven fact that conceiving doesn’t come so naturally to me (thanks PCOS.) I’m hyper-focused on losing weight, eating healthy and exercise right now. My weight fluctuates significantly — in 2012 I was at 180lbs (my highest ever, which is very heavy for a woman who is 5’3), to 155lbs a year later, to 176lbs a year later than that, dropping and holding steady at 170 through 2014 and most of 2015, ending 2015 at 160lbs. I hired a personal trainer 3x a week ($50 a session which is a really good deal for this area) so we’re working on getting my weight down to about 130 in the next couple of months (5 pounds a month is my goal to lose, which is a good, achievable goal.) It’s mostly so I can feel happy with how I look in my wedding pictures, but it’s also just something I need to do in order to save myself from premature aging. Plus, I just feel mentally more clear and balanced when I’m eating healthy and exercising. It’s good to have such short-term goal so I am focused the entire way through, no matter how hard it gets.

This year, my goals are going to be a little less intense on the networth side. I’d like to get to $400k in networth, including $23.5k in new retirement savings (401k & IRA). That leaves $31.5k to make up for in interest and other savings, or about $2.6k per month. I’m planning to try to save an additional $2k per month on average, and hopefully the rest (~$7200) will come from interest on, say, $250k of invested, interest-earning assets, which is about a 3% gain on those investments. I’d prefer to go well over this, but trying to be realistic with the goals, especially with the wedding spending. I don’t think this is going to be a hugely profitable year but I could be wrong.

2016 Goal Summary

1) $400k networth – including $23.5k in retirement savings, $24k in taxable investments, and about $7k in interest.
2) Be 130lbs by summer
3) Thrive at my job (and be gainfully employed and loved by my colleagues when Jan 1, 2017 rolls around)
4) Get pregnant before I’m 33!?!

Well, here’s to kicking off what is sure to be a crazy year. Fingers crossed it’s a good one. I think it will be. I hope it will be. Oh god, it better be. ūüôā

 

 

 

My Big Fat American Wedding

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve given up at any semblance of frugality when it comes to planning my wedding.

This goes against everything I’ve learned and preached as a quasi-finance blogger, but it is also aligned to creating an event that meets my family’s expectations of quality while also creating something that feels like a reflection of myself and future “Mr. HECC.” Weddings are crazy expensive, especially if you have expensive taste, and I’ve passed this period of trying to save dollars here and there to just giving up at being the picture of smart finance moves when it comes to this once-a-life event.

My engagement ring cost $500 from Etsy, yet my wedding, all said and done, will be about $60k. That’s insane. I know. I started by having a Sunday night wedding to save costs. I’m having 135 guests, not hundreds upon hundreds. And still, I’m signing contracts left and right which increase the cost. It’s ridiculous to be spending this amount one day, but it’s happening, and as much as many of you out there will roll your eyes at me in disgust, I’m laying off the guilt and trying to build up my own excitement.

In case you’re wondering — How the F*!k can a wedding add up to $65k, here is how…

Ceremony Venue $1,418
Reception Venue $24,255
Vendor Meals $1,040
Ceremony Music $500
Reception Band $5,500
Flowers $3,000
Dress $6,000
Alterations $500
Bridesmaid Gifts $1,700
Rings $3,000
Accessories $1,000
Makeup/Hair $600
Stationary $1,000
Photo $7,000
Video $5,000
Coordinator $1,700
Tips, etc $1,604
TOTAL $64,816

So – clearly weddings do not need to cost this much. There are plenty of splurges in here. My parents are footing the bill for up to $45k of it so my personal spend will be about $20k (which, btw, is more than I’ve ever spent on a car.) This doesn’t include cost of a honeymoon, which may¬†be put on hold for another year so I can ensure that I can still save money this year. Or we may just spend the money this year because we want to have a honeymoon before trying to have our first kid, and we want to have our first kid soon.

To justify this crazy amount of spending (to myself), I repeat the following to myself:

  • While the event is one day, it’s really a full weekend of activities for our friends and family
  • My parents want to spend this money and my dad is terminally ill and this is in many ways his party too, bringing his family together from across the country which last time happened for a funeral, so this is a much more joyous occasion to get together. There will be few opportunities for the family to be together again in my lifetime, at least the family as it stands today.
  • I’m currently taking home a little under $10k per month after tax. As long as I can keep my job (knock on wood) I should earn $120k after tax over the year. My rent is $16.2k for the year plus bills and such, leaving about $100k after tax. I don’t exactly spend a lot on other things in life. That will change once I have kids, but all things considered I’ve saved up about $350k in 10 years. I won’t hit my goal of $500k in savings before I have my first kid, but if the stock market improves I can still get pretty close, even if I spend $20k in the next year on my wedding, or even $30k. I’m super fortunate to be in this position, and I have to kick ass at my job in order to make the numbers work, but it will be ok.
  • Yes, a better, more moral person would just donate money to charity vs spending on a wedding – but the people who earn money from weddings do this for a living too, and they need to put food on the table. For the vendors (band, photographers, videographer, florist) these are people who run their own businesses and supporting them is a good thing, despite how much it adds up.
  • I’m saving money on some areas due to good planning (i.e. hotel I found offers a free shuttle for all guests staying at the hotel, which is a major bonus since the hotel is 35 minutes from the venue.)
  • The reason I don’t buy new cars or live in a fancy city apartment or even a fancier suburb apartment is so I can splurge on moments like this in my life.

All that justification doesn’t avoid this nauseous feeling I get when I look at the overall number, but here’s a final one that is making me feel better about spending this amount on the wedding…

  • IVF (in-vitro fertilization) costs can be up to $60k to actually get pregnant (and there is no guarantee.) This wedding is kicking my ass into shape, fighting my PCOS, and ultimately making me more fertile so HOPEFULLY I can conceive on my own. Another wedding cost is my $600 a month personal trainer who kicks my ass for 3 days a week. So that’s another $3600 spent. BUT, looking at the total cost – if my wedding helps me get healthy enough to conceive naturally, that pretty much covers the cost, and is much better for me because I’ll be healthier and better able to carry and take care of my future child. This is all hypothetical (maybe I wouldn’t actually need IVF anyway or maybe cheaper treatments would work, etc.) Still, my health is priceless, and there’s nothing like wearing a beautiful $6000 strapless designer gown to kick a girl’s ass into shape.

Ultimately, though, I’m just excited to get married to my man. We’ve known each other for 10 years now, having dated for most of them, and while we feel pretty darn married right now, it’s time to make it official. I know I’m going to cry a giant river on my wedding day (tears of joy, people, tears of joy) and it will be a day to remember for the rest of our lives. I’d say I can’t wait, but that would be a lie, because there is so much to do before then — but¬†I’m really excited about getting everyone I love together and to celebrate with so many people who have been part of our lives for all these years. So what if it costs $166 per minute. (!) (yikes.)

 

This Wedding is Costing Too Much… and I’m trying not to care.

With the state of the world these days, it feels extra strange to be hyper-focused on planning a rather lavish wedding where my budget is the only thing that is shot. Nonetheless, I have a wedding six months away and I’m furiously meeting with vendors who charge market rates for their services that add up to holy shit this is a lot of money.

I wish I came from a family that didn’t care about things like weddings, but I really had two choices here – go big or go home, literally. I opted for the big east coast wedding for a few reasons – 1, I worry I’d regret not having one; 2, my dad is ill and won’t be around much longer and he really wants a big wedding; 3, I’m out of my mind to think this was a good idea.

The reality is that weddings are expensive, no matter what type of wedding you have, unless you elope. Even $10,000 weddings are expensive for the people who have them. I’ve completely gone off the rocker and completely fell for the wedding industry. I said I wasn’t going to, and here I am, looking at killing my net worth goal over one day. Don’t ask me how much I spent on my dress. That was a fiasco that ended up in me making some very bad decisions. I like my dress, but if I could do it all over again, I’d not allow myself to purchase an outfit that cost almost as much as my first (used) car.

Then again, I tell myself that I should let myself splurge a little and enjoy this day. I’m not frugal by any means, but with most of the country having barely any savings, even my current – $328k in net worth (yes after wedding purchases and unemployment for a brief while and stock market performing poorly it’s down significantly) is something I can be proud of and dip into a little bit to treat myself. My parents are paying for a huge chunk of the wedding (and if they weren’t I WOULD be having a $10k wedding!) so I figure if I spend $10k above and beyond what my parents are paying on it, that’s, well, reasonable isn’t the right word – but it’s not completely crazy.

Still, if I could do this all over again I’d take a long hard look at a realistic budget and 1, book a cheaper venue and 2, buy a cheaper dress. Other than that there aren’t really a lot of places to save money at this point. Even DIY adds up. Flowers are $3k, video is $4k, photography is $6k, music is $1k – $6k depending if you want a DJ or a band (my dad said it’s my choice then continues to whisper behind my back how disappointed he’ll be if I get a DJ.)

I know I’m extremely fortunate to have parents who want to throw money at me for this wedding. But I also think it gets more stressful the more money you have to work with. I’ve discovered that the true “get whatever you want” wedding really costs $100k. That sounds crazy, but it isn’t. Anything less than $100k and you have to make compromises. I’m not advocating $100k weddings, just putting things into perspective for people who look at the wedding industry and roll their eyes.

Hopefully a wedding (day/weekend) is an experience I’ll remember and cherish for the rest of my life. It’s a one-time production bringing family and friends together. There are hundreds of photos taken from every angle and, selfishly, I want to look good. Everyone wants photos with the bride. I could have looked good in a cheaper dress, but that story which I’ll tell one day equaled me making a very very dumb decision on that front. Beyond the extravagent dress (which, btw, doesn’t look extravagant, it’s just a designer gown with amazing embroidery so it’s classy and understated by also double my initial dress budget, oy), though, it’s really a fairly standard east coast wedding. It’s even on a Sunday to save costs.

When spending this much money on something, I become super OCD. I don’t want things to just be ok, I want them to be as close to perfect as possible. Which isn’t possible, but I’ll try. And trying to please everyone is also impossible. Ie right now hiring a DJ would make way more sense financially than hiring a band. But dad is paying for huge chunk of wedding and dad wants a band – I should get a band. Logic brain says get a damn DJ. My fianc√© doesn’t even like to dance.

Anyway, the wedding is happening… and I’m starting a new job… and I’m just mildly stressed, but trying to get amped up about both. It’s so important that I go into all of this with a positive attitude. I am excited about the new job. I’m mildly enthusiastic about the wedding. I’m more so excited about finally getting married so I can move on with my life and start a family. That’s all that really matters.

 

How to Not Get Divorced and Have a Happy Marriage

Sorry, folks. I don’t know the silver bullet to a long, happy marriage. I do know that while 50% of Americans end up in a divorce, a large chunk of those who remain married do so unhappily. While marriage isn’t a requirement of a fulfilled, happy life – for many of us, having a lifelong partner is a key factor in our emotional and even financial stability. I used to be opposed to marriage as an old-fashioned idea steeped in religion and generally designed to make women a property of a man. Today, engaged to be married, I’m looking forward to that next stage of commitment. After nearly 10 years of dating, it’s time to lock this in forever.

Unfortunately, for MANY people, marriage isn’t forever. I spent last week “hanging out” with my 50-years young aunt and her either unhappily married or divorced besties. These women, all in their late 40s/early 50s, were all uniquely depressed, and the conversation reminded me why, if I have anything to do about it, I won’t be alone at that age (knock on wood.) It intrigues me how everyone is selfish by nature, and that happy marriages are largely the result of two people willing to be aware of their selfish tendencies and to compromise around many things that, in single life, would not be acceptable. Furthermore, the stress on a marriage that having kids brings is immense, and if the parents do not see eye-to-eye about this, they may be doomed to crumble – as no one wants to think about an intimate evening post fighting about their child’s behavior and what to do about it.

I grew up in a very unhappy, abusive household. My parents, now in their 60s, are still married – but rarely go a day without my father telling my mother, in a not-so-nice tone, that she’s a, and I quote, “fucking idiot.” They are not the spitting image of a good marriage or even a decent one. And both of my mother’s sisters are divorced and not remarried. This tells me a lot about the mentality in that side of the family – one which lacks empathy for others. It makes sense since the three sisters grew up with a very narcissistic mother and each of them have pretty much ended up with narcissists because it’s the only relationship dynamic which feels comfortable to them – the youngest, dating a man who is infinity self-absorbed and incapable of commitment; the middle sister, committed, not married to a man who is not exactly the warm and fuzzy type in terms of being open to people who do not fit his limited view on an acceptable human being (but maybe that’s just because he’s French); and my mother, of course, with my “can do no wrong” father who blames the world for all the problems but never can blame himself for anything.

Without self awareness, I don’t know if it’s possible for people like this to have a sustainable happy marriage. What we’re attracted to is not always best for such arduous happiness. Marriage is work, they say, and it’s true. I see some young couples I worry are headed in the wrong direction. I look at friends who do not seem to be able to talk about serious matters to each other. Friends who are married to men who are mama’s boys and who are worried that when their child is born they will be left alone to do all the housework along with childcare and returning to work. I worry about my friends who don’t talk about their finances, where one partner is stressed about work and the other is firmly committed to not worry about money or how it is spent. I worry about a couple who fight all the time with two young children present, who no longer find time to love each other, who maybe will never be fully happy, at least due to the presence of each other.

And then I look at my own relationship — nine-and-a-half ¬†years is almost like marriage in its own right. We live together and split some of our bills, so it definitely feels like more than just dating despite nothing legally tying us together just yet. And I love him more than anything and we get into little tiffs every now and again but generally we can have open conversations about important things and we get along pretty well as long as I don’t focus too much on the serious all the time and we can enjoy musing on absurdities of the world together. I know that for my own marriage to work, it will be a lot of work. I have to change my ways – the many things I don’t like about myself to begin with, so I’m ok with that. First, I need to keep my household clean, and uncluttered. Second, I need to find a job where I can not constantly worry about getting fired and be super depressed all the time (he isn’t so much worried about the loss of the income as he is my constant bad mood about 5-6 months into any new job.) And I need to focus on trying to feel like a woman who can be desirable instead of sabotaging myself with my very low self esteem and body image. If I could do all three of these things and not chew so loudly (he is very sensitive to food noises) and be ready on time when we’re going out instead of always 10-15 minutes late, I think he’ll be very happy with me in our marriage. That’s really ALL I have to focus on doing. The rest comes naturally. Being aware of these things doesn’t mean they ¬†are easy to do, but I know they are flaws in my character and things I need to work on anyway.

But marriages can fall apart when one person is aware of the things that upset the other person and feels they are putting an effort in to resolving these things, when the other person doesn’t make an effort or a strong enough effort to show the other person they are doing the same. This pain point in marriages can be exacerbated by the fact that so married couples just don’t talk about things. Sure, it’s easy to ask someone to clean the house, but it’s less easy for a working parent to share with a stay-at-home parent that they are too stressed out in their job and want to move into a position with less pay and less expectations. Or – things as silly as I miss when we used to get dressed up and go on dates, and now I only see you in your crappy clothes that don’t fit well at home because you’re tired all the time and quite frankly so am I. This is why marriages fall apart. People stop putting in the effort. They start becoming passive aggressive to each other on purpose or accident. That once-novel romance story has turned into a nightmare. And so many men and women get past the point of no return. They can no longer look at each other and understand how they were attracted to the other person in the first place. They long to move on to something new, something where the weight of all the years of passive aggression, poof, disappears, and they can start fresh. They can look at another person and see them not as the man who forgot to take the garbage out or the woman who was too tired from her job to be the exciting, passionate woman she once was. Starting fresh is easier than mending a wounded relationship, in theory, at least.

Divorcees are usually not happy either. Few people can manage being happy and being alone, especially after being in a committed relationship for many years. In spending time with these 40-year-old and 50-year-old divorced or unhappily married women, I wonder if there is any piece of the failings of their marriage that they see as their own faults, or if all the blame is on their former partners, or both. The common thread of conversation is that “he’s awful,” “he’s lazy,” “he’s unhelpful around the house,” et al. Or maybe there were just huge fights about how to raise the children that were unexpected which led to two people who couldn’t manage to love each other let alone spend time together. There’s a musical with a song that asks “When was Dividing Day” that is about divorce. No one goes into marriage wanting to or expecting to get a divorce, or to fall out of love. I wonder if it’s possible for two people to be so aware of their own flaws and especially the ones that rub the other person the wrong way, and to just hyperfocus on changing these behaviors as to always show the other person that you care to be the best person you can be for them. And, the second part of that is for the other person to do the same, all while being verbally appreciative of those changes in behavior, not just accepting them as part of the status quo, when the other person is still working very hard to be a better man/woman for the other person. If two people can do that, I think that a happy marriage is possible. But it requires us to go from our selfish, childish ways to becoming real adults — giving up our wants for the better of someone else, as long as that someone else is doing the very same for us. It won’t always be perfect, but as long as expectations are reasonable and two people really love each other, I want to believe it’s possible, and I want to try. I want to be the old couple that celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary with the same sparkle in our eyes that we have now when we look at each other, and see the man who I fell in love with, and who I’ll always love.