It’s easy during wedding planning to get entirely caught up in the day and not think about the lifetime that follows. It’s interesting to think that so much attention gets paid to the party and not what happens afterward.
Relationships grow and change, just like the people in them. I think this is a large reason why people who get married really young have higher rates of divorce. According to the National Center for Health Statistics 60% of marriages for couples between 20 and 25 end in divorce (it drops to the national average of 50% for 25 and older). That high rate is really sad. (It’s even higher for second marriages—65% end in divorce according to my counseling exam study materials.)
I am very cognizant of my relationship with Sparky and putting effort into making it work. A large part of this awareness comes from my own family: my dad is on his fifth marriage and my mom has been married twice. I want this marriage to be my only one, and Sparky feels the same. (Lucky him, his parents are still happily married. It’s amazing!).
Image via Someecards
The story of how the Road Trips managed to get together is either very simple or very not. The simple version is we met in a chat room, we exchanged some witty banter when I noticed he lived in the city where I was born and we shared the same profession, we hit it off, and he came to visit one weekend in November. The rest is history.
The not simple version, well, that’s not just our story.
Image via soulgeek.com
Many years ago, Dino and Mary Kay were a happily married couple living and working in California as voice actors. Unfortunately, Mary Kay had some private struggles going on and gave in to that battle, leaving Dino brokenhearted.
I already told you about how Sparky and I met. A chance encounter, several months of hanging out, a stolen kiss, and a bit of mess.
Since the start of our romantic relationship didn’t really have a clear beginning date, I told Sparky that I thought it was important for him to actually ask me to be his girlfriend, not just to assume that I was. That way we had a specific date that we could refer to as our anniversary.
In June of 2007 I was still sorting out my feelings and deciding if I wanted to stay with my ex, date Sparky, or be single. It so happened that at the end of June I had a two-week trip planned and I thought it would be the perfect time to take a chance to be by myself and figure my s**t out. This two-week trip contained two weddings and three states (Indiana for wedding one, Connecticut to visit my friend Jam, and Texas for wedding two).
I told Sparky before leaving that I wanted the time to think on my own and that I would talk to him when I returned. That lasted all of 12 hours before I ended up calling him. It was clear very quickly that Sparky was who I wanted. In fact, when I landed in Indiana and walked outside I called him immediately and asked “Why is the air sticky?” (Because it was humid, being Indiana in June.)
Humidity is no one’s friend. (Thank goodness it doesn’t really happen in Seattle!) / From Star News Online
In October of 2006, one of my friends from when I studied abroad in Spain came to visit. We had a blast playing tourist around the city and I introduced her to Sparky. After spending a few short hours with the two of us, my friend asked me the all important question: “You have feelings for him, don’t you?” I had to admit that I did.
Me and Friend Jam, mere hours after she got me to admit I had feelings for Sparky / Personal photo
This admission was complicated by the fact that Sparky and I were both dating other people (mine was in Seattle, his was in Indiana). Speaking for myself, this was an extremely confusing time because I loved the guy I was dating but couldn’t deny that I really liked Sparky. I knew that Sparky wasn’t amazingly happy in his relationship—one of the first conversations we had (the first time we hung out outside of the party where we met) was about how he was sure his relationship was over but didn’t know how to end it—but that didn’t mean he had feelings for me. I made the decision to keep this to myself and see what happened.
In order to better understand how lucky we were that we met, I will start by saying that Sparky grew up in St. Louis, went to college in Indiana (Purdue, like Miss Scooter!), and nearly moved to Chicago upon graduation. (He ended up moving to Seattle for a job instead.) I grew up in Seattle and have lived here my whole life with the exception of the few months I studied abroad.
Thirty-one hours driving, according to Google Maps
In the summer of 2006 I was getting used to being back in the country (having arrived home from three months abroad). That summer was rough; my grandfather died and the father of the guy I was dating at the time also died, both within two weeks of each other. I was very close to my (now ex) boyfriend’s dad, and both deaths hit me hard. I had already begun to realize that I wasn’t wonderfully happy in my relationship, but I kept thinking maybe things would get better. After his dad died I promised myself I would be strong and supportive and our relationship would fix itself.
During that rough time, we were arguing a lot. On one particular day we had been invited to a party at the home of one of my best friends from college. I hadn’t intended to go, but then we argued so I decided to go to the party on my own.
I’ve been doing a lot of my wedding planning lately while watching The Office, my current television obsession. (I may have actually dreamed that I was Jim Halpert the other night. It was like The Office: Detroit Edition.) I started from the beginning a couple weeks ago and have cruised through episodes while crafting and organizing like crazy.
*The Office spoilers in this next section*
Image via Buddy TV
Continuing to examine the reasons I was hesitant to take the matrimonial plunge again, we come to the “don’t screw things up” argument.
Things are fine the way they are—why rock the boat?
This is, possibly, one of my greatest fears about taking the marriage plunge for a third time. Mainly because of the changes that occurred the first two times around.
So I mentioned that even though the door to marriage had opened a crack, I was still on the fence about whether or not I really wanted to give marriage another shot. These were some of my objections and, I’m willing to bet, they’re similar to a lot of women (and men) considering a second, third, or more-th trip down the aisle.
I didn’t want to be a third-time bride.
Hell, I didn’t really want to be a second-time bride, for that matter!
When I, at the oh-so-wise age of 19, decided to marry my college boyfriend I thought that was going to be it. That he was The One and that we would be together forever.
Yeah, you can probably guess how that worked out.
This one is going to get real—quickly. It is easy to talk about cakes and flowers and dresses and all the pretty things that go along with a wedding. But those are things that go with a wedding, not a marriage. Our marriage is more important to me than any one day could ever be (I say as I still obsess over what shoes I will wear). There is a lot that goes into marrying someone. There is a heck of a lot more that goes into marrying an older man who brings with him two (wonderful) kids and an ex-wife.
Let me start by getting a well-known fact about me out there—I never wanted kids. Really, never. I almost started to define myself by this. I was (and still am, to a degree) independent to a fault. I didn’t need anyone to help me and I certainly didn’t need anything to tie me down. (This is why I have a cat, not a dog.) Life has a really funny way of making sure you know that sometimes you can’t control the outcome, you can’t really control your fate. So here I am—30 years old, never wanted help from anyone, never wanted lives to depend on mine. And I am now a part of this wonderful family I never knew I wanted. What’s the expression, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone? Well, I am here to say you also don’t know what you’re missing until you have it.
Where did we leave off? Mr. B and I were on a path to become more than friends, but was it worth it? Could I deal with the divorce and the kids and the age difference and the baggage? My friends were generally supportive, but they were also very cautious, with good reason. They didn’t want to see me get hurt. Some also thought it was so funny that I was dating someone with kids, considering my borderline fear of them. It was pretty casual, though, and we didn’t make plans for the future. We just had fun and enjoyed spending time together.
In February 2011 I flew to NYC for the weekend for my sister’s birthday. When I booked the trip I told my friend Brad that the only reasonably priced flight option was going to have a four-hour layover at the Atlanta airport. During the Superbowl. Not ideal. He joked that maybe I would meet the man of my dreams at the airport bar and we would get married and it would be fate. Superbowl Sunday came, and as I was preparing to go to brunch before leaving town, I texted Mr. B to ask how his first half-marathon went. It went very well, and he was resting up before heading out on a work trip—a work trip to Atlanta.
Miss B: What are you doing for the Superbowl?
Mr. B: I guess just watching it in my hotel room.
Miss B: OK to say no [I say that a lot] but do you want to meet me at the airport and we can watch it together?
Mr. B: Yes! I’ll let you know when I get into town and we can coordinate from there.
Picture this: In 2005 I was a 22 years old, fresh out of college, and diving head-first into a new job as an aide to a state senator. I divided my time between the senator’s district office in Central Florida and the state capital, Tallahassee. The office of a state senator is a busy place—constituents and lobbyists come in and out all. day. long. It is easy to gloss over the people and just concentrate on the work that needs to get done, but every now and then you are fortunate enough to develop a relationship outside the confines of the Capitol.
Mr. B was essentially just another lobbyist. At the time he worked for a firm that did contract work so he had a lot of clients. He was in and out of our office quite a bit, and we started to develop a friendship. Eventually we would have lunch on days I could break away, and I even met his wife and kids one Saturday after a triathlon we both completed. Mr. B and the kids came with me to breakfast with some friends, where his daughter proceeded to play “rock, paper, scissors” with us—waiting until we threw our symbol before throwing hers, letting the other person win. It was seriously adorable.
This friendship continued for a few years, and it was so nice having a friend who could give me advice on politics and life. Without realizing it, he (and another friend of his if we are being honest) became the last person I would have lunch with in Tallahassee before going back to the district for the summer.
I thought especially in light of my Monday post on getting married young, I would talk a little bit about premarital counseling. I definitely don’t think this is just applicable to younger people—but it does help for us to learn from someone older who has been through all of these years.
I know premarital counseling varies widely—for example, in the Catholic church it’s Pre-Cana and significantly more structured. I found a bunch of posts on Pre-Cana by some other bee bloggers, such as Mrs. Mascara, Mrs. Dumpling, Mrs. Boa Constrictor, and Mrs. Treasure. I’ll yield to the experts since I’m not familiar with Catholic tradition! In many Protestant churches, premarital counseling is often done voluntarily with the pastor of the church—in our circles, sometimes pastors will also require you to have premarital counseling or least a session with them in order to get married in the church.
First and foremost, I want to make something clear: I am 110% about marriage equality. I have written countless papers, made countless presentations, posted endless articles on Facebook, participated in many discussions—you get the picture. This is not to say that I’ve done enough; in my opinion, we’ve not done enough until the issue is no longer. However, I am going to let the past bees that have written so eloquently (and President Obama, who spoke so eloquently) on this topic exist without my lengthy addition.
Moving on—the land from which Mr. Palm Tree and I hail is small (I’ve probably mentioned that 9,094,832,908 times). Small in terms of mind, people, and area. I’ve made no secret that I’m not a big fan of it and I try to distance myself from it as much as possible. I say this because I think (or maybe it’s just that I hope) its all-around smallness contributes to the lack of seriousness, for lack of a better term, surrounding marriage.
Image via someecards / Then again, instances like this exist and Kim Kardashian sure isn’t from a small town 50 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I mentioned it briefly in this post: Mr. Palm Tree and I were on a year-long break in college. This isn’t really a pretty story. I look like—and was—kind of an ass. Although it all ended up well and even though I thoroughly believe that it was necessary, there are parts there were really messy. I could pretty it up, but that’s dishonest and, really, what’s the point? It was what it was.
Personal photo / Kind of cheating, since this is right after we ended our break—Halloween 2009.
I had just started my sophomore year of college and I just felt different. Over the summer, I rented an apartment with a girl I knew from our freshman year and I just felt kind of…steady? For the first time, I felt like I could breathe. I know that sounds dramatic, but so much of my life was rocky and tumultuous—I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be. I had a steady job, I loved college and what I was studying, I had great friends. I was in a good place.
So, naturally, I panicked. Sigh.