What I’ve learned after 7 years of marriage

I’m cheap.  There’s a negative connotation to that word, but I’m not cheap in a bad way; I always leave good tips at restaurants.  My theory is that if you can’t afford to leave a 20% tip, then you shouldn’t go out to eat (And, there were times that applied to both myself and my husband).  I’m just a budget hunter, and always prefer to save money rather than spend it.  Everybody says that, though; even the people that buy something everyday and have enough space in their home to house an army will say they are “savers.”

But, I buy most of my clothing at Target (because it’s awesome, so why pay more?), and sometimes have even suggested that we (my husband and I) don’t buy each other anything for holidays.  Not because we can’t afford it, but because we really don’t need anything at all, so it’s better to save money and to give a little to a charity in need.   One year, we gave this house and the moving costs to each other for Christmas.  I know; so romantic.  But, really, neither of us see gifts as necessary all of the time.

If I do spend, I spend the money on travel to see family and friends.  Or, the money is spent on a night away with E or a little get-away somewhere.  Time with family, friends, and my husband is of utmost importance to me.  My husband knows that if he ever buys me jewelry in lieu of going somewhere with him, he’s in trouble.  I just don’t value jewelry that much.  I love the few things that he has bought me over the years, so they have memories attached to them, but I don’t need more jewelry (other than a pearl necklace someday, but that’s not a need anyway).

So, I’m cheap, and I’m not a jewelry girl.  What’s my point?   Getting there.  Yesterday was our 7th wedding anniversary.  We both worked, so there was no celebration or anything special.  Not enough hours in the day.  But, that’s no big deal.  We’ve learned over the years like many have  to “change” holidays or anniversaries to other days to accommodate for the practicalities of life, work.  Not that we’re workaholics by any means.  It’s just the way it is.  Both for us or any other couple where one spouse works in a hospital setting.

So, I called him after work, and suggested we meet at Zoe’s.  (It’s like Panera, but has Greek healthy food).  We both said that if we saw another McDonald’s, we’d just go ahead and ask our doctor for some Lipitor.  (We drove 9 hours each way to a wedding this past weekend with many stops being in the middle of nowhere with options like Arby’s, Waffle House, or McDonald’s).

At least McDonald’s has apples now, chemically preserved, but apples nonetheless.  Though one of the McDonald’s compensated for their apparent lack of apples in my kid’s meal by giving me 2 toys and an apple pie.  That gave us a good laugh as we were driving since a kid would be elated, but I really just wanted apples.

So, anyway, we quickly chose Zoe’s for dinner since our fast, healthy options consisted of either Zoe’s or Panera.  And, for whatever reason, my husband has an aversion to Panera.  I know the reason.  He says it’s over-priced, and the food is not good.  He only likes the corn chowder.  (These are things you learn after 7 years of marriage, and not to take your husband to Panera since he will only complain about what he could have eaten for the same price elsewhere).

I say that as if it’s negative, but, trust me, I know I’m not a walk in the park sometimes either.  Though in your first year of marriage, you tend to think you’re pretty awesome, and that’s part of the problem of what makes a first year of marriage tough.  Or at least it’s tough for most people.  Both spouses think both they and their family traditions are awesome, and the other person is at fault in an argument.  Always.  Oh, and I’m stubborn.  So, is he.  Hence, the argument part.

So, marriage is actually enjoyable now.  And, it has been for a while with the exception of that first year of marriage.  We both have since learned the art of compromise and not being selfish.  Because even people that are generous and thoughtful of others might not be the best spouses.  It’s true.  So, we’ve definitely grown together, and love each other more like we should.  (Not that we didn’t love each other that first year, but we sure had an odd way of showing it most of the time).

So, we’re at Zoe’s last night.  You’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to talk about this Zoe’s place.  There’s not much to say about Zoe’s.  It’s good, quick, healthy food.  Nothing romantic or exciting.  Just practical.  Both worked, both hungry, and it’s now 1945 when we meet.  I order the food, and find a table, and discover that he’s now here at a table in the time since I’ve ordered.  As we sit and wait for the food, I realize that I’m exhausted.

(We got home the previous night from the wedding at 2030, so we made good time.  But, upon getting home, we realize our mailbox was stolen.  At first, it just looked like there might have been a storm since the trashcan was on its side; E picks it up only to realize we don’t have a mailbox.  Or the post where our mailbox was either.  Awesome.  Stupid kids.  So, we have the opportunity to file a police report.  Since stealing mail/mailbox is a federal offense.  Policeman affirms.  Was probably just teenagers and nothing to worry about here.  Nice neighborhood.  Because I’m about ready to put my house up for sale.  Since, if this happened, then it’s only going to get worse.  Oh.  And, my husband has learned that I have a tendency to over-react and/or exaggerate.  I come from a long line of exaggerators.  (As I type that, I’m reminded of Father of the Bride.  Remember the part where Annie is really upset with Brian because she feels he isn’t supportive of her dreams?  And, she comes to the house to vent to her dad?  If you don’t remember that, it’s not one of your favorite movies, which means your favorite comedy isn’t Father of the Bride, so we won’t have much in common with one another).

Anyway, so as we’re waiting for the food, and I’m half falling asleep sitting there, E hands me a card.  Was a nice card.  The card was just a regular anniversary card, but what he wrote was nice.  He alluded to some gift, and I wasn’t sure if it was figurative; like, he meant the gift of marriage.  In which, I agree.  I love him.  So, I ask plainly, “Gift?  Or is that figurative?”  He beams, “Turn the page.”  I turn the page, and I see a flight.  For 2.  To Portland, ME.

I’m so excited, so happy, but I immediately think without showing it, “I wonder how much this cost.”  To which, having read my mind, E blurts that the flight was very reasonable, tells me the price.  Because he knows me well enough to know that reasonable wasn’t going to cut it.  I like to know details.  I know, I know.  It’s a gift, so price should be a mystery, and sometimes it is, but it’s just a quirk.  He knows that and has accepted it.  You should, too.

He knows I want to see the northeast sometime, Vermont or the like, that area.  And, so he chose the cheapest flight in that area, and it was a good rate, I must say.  I’m always surprised at the cost of flights.  I never really know when I log into kayak.com what my flight home will cost.  Usually I can guess it within a hundred dollars, but it varies depending on season, day, time of day, flight capacity, etc.

He did well.  I have a week off next month, and so does he, and we were planning on doing something.  We just hadn’t figured out what yet.  We haven’t done anything together, just the 2 of us, in a little while.  Actually, it’s been since February when we went away for a night to the zoo.  So, this was well-timed.  I’m so excited to check out Portland, ME, and the surrounding area.

After my shower (it’s just a necessity for hospital nurses to shower as soon as they get home), we started googling where we’d like to stay.  He knows me so well that he didn’t surprise me with the whole trip already planned.  He knows that I enjoy planning the trip, part of the fun.  So many cool places up there.  I’m excited to explore Portland, and Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor.  I discovered on my quick search last night that there’s even a shop called Cool As A Moose.  It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m in good company.  We may not have thought that our first year of marriage, but we’ve grown together.  Love each other more and more each year.  I know that’s how marriage is supposed to be, but it’s not something to take for granted.

I take nothing for granted.  Working in the ICU has given me a healthy sense of both a carpe diem/you can’t take it with you philosophy as well as both planning and saving for the future.  We’ll do this trip on a budget.  We once did a trip, a honeymoon trip really, for our 5 year anniversary 2 years ago that had no budget in mind.  Stayed at the nicest places, ate out all of the time, and it was an awesome trip.  But….it’s not necessary more than once or twice in a lifetime.

We’ll stay at little basic  2 diamond clean, cottages and have just as much fun cooking on our little stove top that comes with our kitchenette.  It’s getting to be high time to start our family, so this will be a nice trip that will probably end up being the last trip just the 2 of us.  If all goes according to plan.  Which, I’ve learned, that plans are nice, but flexibility is key.  Has been especially helpful to think this way in this economy.

I’m excited to explore the area and to discover if that area is appropriate for a hospice house.  Market/price, etc.  Obviously, I already know it’s picturesque and beautiful.  I told E that it would be cool to live up there at some point.  Guess we’ll get to see if we want to relocate there some day.  I have the tendency to say that I want to move everywhere I’ve been on vacation, but I guess that’s why they’re called vacation spots.

In short [though I realize that I made zero attempt at being concise here.  Truly off the cuff rambling, so if you made it to the end, I applaud you], when you marry the right person, marriage is a good thing.  I think I made it clear not to judge whether or not you married the right person that first year of marriage.  (Though sometimes there could be exceptions obviously).  Just accept the fact that the first year of marriage is tough, but it takes you on the road to marital bliss.  Do we still argue sometimes?  Of course.  We’re human.  And, I happen to be a human that’s argumentative.  So, there’s that.

But, it’s truly been a joy.  And, the thought of ever having to visit my husband in the ICU saddens me.   Or him having to come visit me.   Yes, of course I’ve thought about that.  I see it every day.  It wouldn’t be a normal thought for someone working in IT, but it’s my job.  So, I provide the best care I can for those people.  And, enjoy the time I have with my husband.  And family.

Because the little quip, “Life is short” is true.  It sounds cheesy, but we’re not guaranteed 5 more days or 5 more years.  So, I enjoyed waking up in the middle of the night on the couch last night with a puddle of drool on my face to find myself covered with a blanket and a nice pillow behind my head.  That I didn’t put there.  That’s the true joy of marriage.  The little thoughtful acts.  And quirks.  Though I’m sure E wouldn’t mind if I stopped my “quirk” of drooling all over our pillows.

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