Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Newlywed Q&A: Marriage, Cockroaches, Dysentery

We had a great weekend with Jeremy & Courtney, who gamely consented to our little experiment. They were busy with a wedding on Saturday, but we managed to squeeze in a few questions between the ceremony and the reception.

I have to say what a blessing this was. There was something about not only hearing their replies, but actually watching them talk all this out that was so moving. There's nothing earth-shatteringly profound here (though Jeremy gets points for name-checking Dietrich Bonhoeffer), but you could see in their responses that they were both reaching to connect in their perceptions and growing understanding. This even manifest itself in a little game of footsie that was played toward the end of the interview.

Courtney's only concern in reading the transcript was that she felt like she didn't come across as loving to Jeremy as she really feels. Trust me, Courtney, we all felt it that afternoon.


Let's start off with something light, literally. Christmas lights: white or multicolored ? (Erin McCroskey)
J: We didn’t have that discussion
C: We didn’t but we did decorate your tree together last year. We have varying styles. You use tinsel.
(Katy gasps)
K: We used tinsel when we were kids!
C: We always had the multicolored lights, with a hodgepodge of ornaments, so that’s what I like.
K: Will you start your own traditions?
C: I don’t know.
J: I get tired of the same thing year to year. Maybe we’ll have two trees. Are you willing to compromise on Christmas?
C: I don’t know.
J: I don’t know that you are either
(everyone laughs)

How do you show Christ to your spouse? (Tyler Anderson)
J: That is a tough one…we’re still in a lot of ways figuring out who we are as individuals and together. Maybe in encouraging you. I’m not good at the daily encouragement, but encouraging you to do the thing you love.
C: I think the biggest thing is patience with each other, you’ve made these big decisions and trying to maybe, die to your own desires.
J: It’s one of those things in premarital counseling that you knew would be a big deal, but you had no idea. Thirty-three years on your own, and you’re used to doing the same things you always did.
C: You have these dreams, and now there’s this whole other person who…
J: …may not have those same dreams. I don’t want to go to Calcutta…cockroaches, dysentery.

What’s something from your parents’ marriages that you’ve taken to help your marriage? (Laurie Wersching)
J: I think for me, and this is not…in our culture today, we can be swept up in romance. I think I look at my parents and I see that it’s not this great romance so much, but that they’ve worked hard at it, and I knew that we could do that. It’s not like I’ve had a lot of conflict, but I do see that they’re just so committed to each other. It’s not just about the feelings. I remember in our premarital counseling, we read this article by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, were he challenged you to be more committed to the marriage than even your partner.
C: I think some of that is the same with my parents. They seemed like they were really good friends, were really supportive of each other. There was maybe some conflict, but it wasn’t always played out in front of us. My dad was always really good about asking for forgiveness when he needed, even to us kids. And I know I’ll need to ask for forgiveness too sometimes.
J: We still don’t do the best at it.

Do you sleep with the bedroom door open or closed? And how would you react to the sound of your spouse slamming into a closed door in the middle of the night?(Kristin Fillingham)
J: We kind of leave it open, like half.
C: I always grew up with it closed.
J: One of is usually getting up in the middle of the night.
(what would you do if Courtney ran into the door?)
C: Jeremy’s response would probably be to laugh, then ask if I was okay.
J: (long pause) Probably.

What’s the biggest compromise you feel you’ve had to make so far? (Angie Lindsay?)
J: I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it. Apparently, when we get to decorating the Christmas tree…
C: I don’t know, I typically think the big things, like where to live, naturally made sense.
J: I know…it’s that you get to drive the [new] car. Now I’m okay with it.
C: Mainly because it was replacing my car.
J: You made compromises with Katie (Jeremy's dog).
C: I feel like bigger compromises are probably yet to come. Holidays somewhat.
J: In a way, I guess I feel like all of our decisions are compromises, and you tend to go with what’s sensible, especially with the holidays.
C: Maybe the biggest thing is, he is more social than I am, and I think I would be more comfortable being at home more…making plans, not making plans.
J: I would say that’s pretty true. I could be social all day, but I think she needs more down time than I do.

What things with the wedding should we not miss? (Catherine Cooker)
C: I feel like I had the experience of being able to take it in, like, people’s faces…I can remember coming down the aisle and seeing it all.
J: I would say I really valued having the time getting ready with the guys, taking that time, it was fun, trying to figure out the bowtie. I think people are right when they say it’s your day, do what you want to do. I think one of the things was being able to connect with my parents a little bit. From their perspective, it was really nice. My dad especially was really happy for us.
C: I think some of that was the same for me. Seeing my best friend a few days early, going to get coffee, having those pockets of calmness with people I didn’t get to see a whole lot.
J: There is a lot going on, but for us, I feel like it went pretty smoothly. I didn’t feel overwhelmed.
C: I liked that we had breakfast the day of the ceremony, that we got to see each other a little bit.

After three months, what’s your favorite part of being married? (Catherine Cooker)
J: I would say, living together…waking up together, the nice little moments that make a day. Getting ready for work, we all do it, but its nice doing it together.
C: I would say the same thing, you don’t have to say goodbye. I wasn’t sure what I would think about the getting ready, I’ve had roommates before, but it is different.

What has been the most unexpected aspect of your transition to married life? (Eric Wheeler)
J: I think…I really did…it would be easier, with conflict
C: It hasn’t been THAT hard. What is he talking about?
J: It hasn’t, but that whole loss of independence, dying to yourself, even mourning that. My time isn’t really my time. But it’s all hers now, too. I think it’s that social aspect, too, knowing that I can make plans.
C: Maybe this interview should be over

For ladies: what makes you feel loved? For men: what makes you feel respected? (Shannon Kekhaev)
C: He can be really encouraging, about pursuing dreams, photography, I can tell that he’s supportive and has confidence and faith in me. Last night I was upset about some other stuff, and he just reached over and took my hand. I think that means a lot to me.
J: When she has dinner on the table and does what I tell her to do (everyone laughs). That’s an interesting question, I don’t really think about “being respected”. I think those terms more with regard to my job, but…respected…I think it’s just that it’s knowing she’s listening to me, and hearing what I’m saying. I think of it more in terms of feeling “valued”. I know, too, that there is that role for me as a husband when I don’t know what to say to her, but I know that grabbing her hand makes a difference, and that makes me feel valued, there’s a special role that I can play that someone else can’t


Pretty sweet, huh?

As for the "winner" of our favorite question: that person has already been notified and their prize will be on its way shortly. But I'm curious to know...who would you pick?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hey Lovebirds, Where You Gonna Build Your Nest?

We developed a new wrinkle in our plans today: Katy's beloved building has gone pet friendly.

Huge one bedrooms, 10th and 16th floors in an elevator building one block from the lake. Same views she's enjoyed all these years.

She's been awesome this whole time about moving in to my place. While the apartment itself is pretty bare-bones, we've both fallen pretty hard for the neighborhood and, in particular, the abundance of street parking.

Then there's the money. Lake views and space come at a premium. About twice what my current rent is. Which means we could technically afford it, as it would be the same as what we each pay out of our monthly budgets now. Whereas staying at my place would give us a nice cushion each month by cutting our rent budget in half.

Katy's coming over tonight to discuss it a little more. I told her earlier, it's a pretty sweet position to be in when your Plan A becomes an equally awesome Plan B. And while there's A LOT to say about a frugal beginning to a marriage, it's hard to underestimate the allure of building your first love nest in a perfect perch up in the sky.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Old Pros: A Q&A Contest

This weekend I'll be playing host to my friends Jeremy & Courtney, who have been married for just under 3 months. It dawned on me last night that this is a GREAT opportunity to get some newlywed advice from a couple in the thick of it.

So I'm opening up a contest. In the comments section below, offer up your best questions to ask a newlywed couple. Anything goes: money, in-laws, TV remote power struggles, bedroom encounters. I'll pick my favorite 10 and publish the Q&A with them after the weekend. Katy and I will also pick our favorite question, and the person who submitted it will win a jar of delicious homemade hot fudge from Margie's Candies here in Chicago. May not mean much to you unless you've had it before, but trust me it's goooooood. The polls close at noon on Friday, September 24. And just a disclaimer that even though we ask the questions, the newlyweds may still choose not to answer them. But we can at least try.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


On Saturday, Katy and I spent all day downtown on errands for the wedding. It was a full day, exhausting really, and at the end there was less to show for it than we had hoped; maybe a few new ideas for invitations and, after a conference call squeezed in during lunch at Macy's food court, a strong lead on a Dallas photographer.

That night was tough for us. We were both restless. Neither the lack of productivity for the day nor the carryout pizza we had for dinner sat well. We tried watching a movie, but we were each miles away. She left for home early, checked out, done. I couldn't blame her.

On Sundays, we try to observe a sabbath from wedding talk, but there was one more paper store to check out for invitations. Initial excitment gave way to practical realities. Another confusing and fruitless afternoon.

We went back to my apartment. The Cowboys were playing the Bears. We had chili, dozed off and on lightly. Again, restless. The weight of the decisions to be made, tasks to be checked off the list, budgets to be reconciled, all piled up in the back of our minds. We were overwhelmed, and each too afraid to admit it.

It came to a head for me yesterday. More confusing/potentially costly news about my car. A reprimand at my second job. A swing in weather patterns bringing an allergy attack. The combined stresses instigated a migraine. I had to drop off Katy's car at her place last night, and I warned her, "I'm only going to stay a few minutes. I just need to get home to bed. I can't take much more of today."

Tonight we had to repeat the car hand-off. She picked me up at work, then drove us both to her place, where she parked in front of the building. As she reached over and turned on the hazard lights, she asked, "Want to talk about it?"

So we sat in her Toyota on Wellington Avenue and unpacked it all. The frustrations of the prior few days, the difficulty of seeing the other so stressed, the uncertainty of knowing how to help, and all the worries and fears it triggered in me about my ability to provide for her, protect us.

Katy listened patiently, looked me in the eyes, held my hand, and spoke to me about her love for me, her belief in us, the promises of our faith, the reality of both the inevitability of some failure and the great things which had already been done. She touched my face, kissed me gently, rested her forehead on mine. As we sat silent for a moment, I grabbed a few breaths and made the choice to trade an overwhelming worry for an overabundant love.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You're My Obsession

Katy will tell you I'm totally fixated on our gift registries.

They're not even five days old, and I think about them all the time.

And trust me, this is not about grand Western materialism. Or maybe it is. Alright, alright, it definitely is. Who doesn't like new stuff?

But what gets me is how quickly I'm caving in to this. I mean, I've lived on my own for over a decade. There are scant few items on those registries that I haven't owned in some form or another (and likely bought for myself) at some point before. Except for maybe the kitchen torch. Come to Papa, kitchen torch.

After my apartment was flooded a few years ago, I made a conscious decision NOT to replace a lot of things. Strip down, live simply. This was reinforced when I moved into my current place, which has considerably less storage than the old one. I did another hard edit of my stuff, and took quite a bit to the donation and trash bins.

I even had a conversation with Katy about a month before the engagement.

"You know," I said, "If we really want to travel the world someday, there's no point in having a lot of stuff we have to worry about."

(There's a lot that's unitentionally comical about this statement, but I was drunk at the time. ON LOVE, people, DRUNK! ON! LOVE!)

Now I obsessively curate a list of 200-some-odd items intended for my wedding home. The same home with not-so-ample storage.

And while some of it is about the stuff (Kitchen Torch! A TORCH for the KITCHEN!), there's definitely a fascinating psychological component to it all, too. How can we be so bold as to draft a list of stuff, and ask people to buy it? Will people like our list of stuff? Will people like US enough to want to buy our stuff? How's the balance of big stuff to little stuff? If I was buying from this list of stuff, what stuff would I, could I afford, to give as a gift? What psycho charges $250 for a frying pan, let alone asks someone else to buy it for him? Where will I store all this stuff? How will this stuff hold on to its value in case we need to, you know, liquidate our assets and flee the country? Just kidding...or am I? (twirls mustache)

But I think ultimately it's about the tremendous excitement I feel when I think of building a life with Katy. After all, this will be OUR stuff. Those kitchen towels...we picked them out together. That china/flatware combo? My bride stunned us both by pairing them so elegantly. And in that moment I saw a series of holiday dinners unfolding with her by my side, OUR forks feeding OUR family from OUR plates.

So thanks, to whomever already bought the "Lenox Wine Glasses, Set of 4 Red Tuscany Balloon". You're generosity absolutely flattens me. And I'm looking forward to celebrating from them in the years ahead with more anticipation than I knew I was capable of. But don't worry, I won't overdo it. I'm already drunk enough. On love.