We Will Never Ever EVER Break-Up

By Friday, March 27, 2015 2 5

I recently went to the wedding of one of my oldest friends.  I’m not talking old as in elderly blue hair, I’m talking old as in decades long.  We’ve been besties since we were 14 and that was – *gulp* – 21 years ago (no need to do the math, thank you).  For those of you with old friends like this, the ones that started before you could (legally) drive, then you know how special they are.

I have the additional pleasure of having two old friends, which is actually just one friendship binding three of us.  This dynamic is even more special because we have to balance multiple people / multiple crazies in one relationship.  When I say “special,” I’m using a loose definition of the word special.  I’ve seen Big Love, polygamy ain’t easy.

Old friendships are the best.  You don’t have to pretend or guess or do anything but be yourselves.  You accepted each other just as you are a long time ago, so there is no explaining because you already get it.  Old friends know who you are but also who you were.  They know all the things that have happened in your life that changed you, all the angels and all the skeletons.  And you know that they will always be there, no matter what you do or how far apart you live.

Old friendships are also kind of the worst because they’re like a mini-marriages.  Once you pass a certain threshold of friendship years, you become family and the relationship becomes permanent.  Once you seal that deal, you have no choice but to weather the hard parts…which is essentially the definition of marriage.

You go through the same waves as marriage: you get the most beautiful example of human interaction and partnership, but it also requires work, patience, understanding, and commitment.  You get all the good stuff: closeness, memories, love, laughter, and knowing each other so well.  But you also get fights, predictability, irritation, butt-hurt feelings, and knowing each other obnoxiously well.  You know so much about each other that you can’t get away with anything, they know what you’re going to do before you do it.  Annoying! Stop reading my mind! Rude…

My two besties and I are all living our own lives now, separate and far away, so it seems it would be easy to disconnect.  When you go down different paths and don’t talk everyday, it’s easy to temporarily forget the reason you signed up for this commitment in the first place.  Like marriage, at some point you will probably think the phrase: “maybe we’ve just grown apart.”  But like marriage, really letting go of that person is a big, BIG deal.  This relationship is binding and that person is family.  It’s forever, in sickness and health, in distance and closeness, till death do you part.

Now we are getting married (as in real life marriages to real life people) and having babies, so our family is growing.  I see each of us opening our hearts without question to these new additions and they are automatically added into our mutual marriage.  We come as a package so whoever marries one of us, marries all of us.  Sorry dudes.

I know that our paths will continue to diverge.  But the roots are there and the roots are deep.  A little wind can’t knock us down; we’ll just bend, adjust, and stay upright.  I know that when life throws something at me and I need them, my two old friends will be there.  If someone pisses me off, watch out for my besties — angry mama bears protect our own.

So, while old friendships do come with unique challenges, I speak from experience that they are worth it.  Old friends will always come home to each other, we will always be waiting, we will always be there.  We are the lucky ones.  I can’t wait to see what the next 21 years hold for my two besties and I.  And the 21 years after that…

To close, on homage to a tradition that started when we were 21 and decided to take the below photo of us making our biggest smiles ever:

biggest-smiles-possible_web

Oh what sweet little, round baby faces.  Since then, we’ve taken this photo at every important occasion.  It’s actually quite physically taxing and results in our necks being sore the next day.  Every time.  Here’s one taken of us last year:

Old-Friends_web

You can guarantee that we’ll be taking this photo for the rest of our marriage.  Love you girls!

Things They Forgot to Mention:

Old friendships, like marriages, require patience, love and commitment.  If you’ve got those things, then you get the good stuff and that stuff is GOOD.  Trust us.

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When Volcanoes Erupt

By Thursday, November 20, 2014 0 6

When the plastic margarita cup hit the floor on purpose, we knew we had probably gone too far.  My husband and I were in Cabo for a wedding when travel stress led to not enough fajitas which led to margarita brain which then led to my husband jumping in the pool with my camera.  All of this led to the biggest and most beautiful fight we’ve ever had.

The specifics of the fight aren’t important because there really was no need for this fight.  Neither of us were that angry about the camera faux pas, and it could have been resolved with one sentence from both of us.  But neither of us said that sentence, we let it escalate and that is important.  What happened the next morning is what is really important.

I got up at sunrise, my spinning head making sleep impossible, and went for a walk on the beach.  I was spinning because I couldn’t understand why the fight happened at all.  As a chronic self-explorer, I wondered what I did to make it escalate and I wondered what we could do to not fight like that again (for more on my self-exploratory ways in marriage, see Mirror, Mirror On the Wall).

I sat on the shore as the sun rose and took this picture.  It reminded me of our fight: a crash against an unexpected obstacle.

Fight Club, Things They Forgot to Mention, photo, blog, Cabo, Mexico

I went back to our hotel room to talk to my husband, to hear what he thought about the whole ordeal.  He was waiting for me with the same confused eyes I had.  What happened last night? How did we go there? Why is the floor so sticky?

I almost started laughing, the fight was that unnecessary, but I didn’t.  Every fight deserves respect and is something to learn from, not only about your partner but more importantly about yourself.  Fights are like sudden eruptions of really honest communication; all the deep, dormant, masked emotions slowly build under pressure and spew out for attention.  When the volcano explodes, it’s important to sift through the rubble.

For those in relationships — particularly the ultra-committed, in it for the long haul ones like marriages — you know fights come with the territory.  They happen and they always will, no matter how compatible and in love you are.  I think it would be weirder if you didn’t fight.  I would wonder who’s holding what in and when is it going to end with a margarita crashing on the floor.

My mom, a very wise woman, taught me long ago that it is important to be good at fighting.  What she meant was that it isn’t important to win fights, but it is important to fight well, to fight with respect, with an open mind.  That is what my husband and I are learning to do.  It’s immensely challenging because fighting well requires you to put your ego aside at the very moment your ego gets called out.  Nothing gets resolved when your ego is in charge because the ego just wants to win.  You have to demand that your ego backs down and the ego doesn’t like to do that.  But that’s when you tell your ego who’s boss…

That morning, we walked on the beach for an hour and scrutinized last night’s Eyjafjallajökull — Iceland’s famous volcano that messed up plans for days, causing the need to reroute millions of passengers.  This is exactly what happened to us — we erupted and had to reroute ourselves.

We identified what made it progress from an argument to a fight.  There is a big difference in vocabulary and it matters.  A “fight” typically means physical aggression and use of weaponry while “argument” means differing points and verbal disagreements.  While the only thing that was physically hurt was a plastic cup, it was still a fight.  It was a fight because we threw words at each other and the sole purpose of those words was to hurt the other.  Those were our weapons.  So we declared that morning that we want to argue, we don’t want to fight.

We established ground rules to help prevent our arguments from escalating to fights.  Things like: no yelling, no cussing, no slamming of margarita cups.  These are our triggers.  We agreed to moments of silence and found we should do more moments of silence when arguing.  You can hear a lot in a little silence.  Silences are like pressing the pause button; you can rewind and see things from a different angle.  Silence helps you cool your magma chamber, think about what s/he said, and determine what you really have to say.

That’s as far as we got that day in Cabo, but it was revolutionary.  We still argue from time to time (’cause he’s a boy and I’m a girl) and I’m still learning how to not drop the F-bomb (’cause he’s an Aries and I’m an Aries).  But since the margarita fight, each argument is calmer.  They end easier, without escalation, and always give rise to eye-opening discussions.  We want to prevent hotspots from forming and use what we’ve learned to not throw molten rock at each other.  Because in the end, it’s our choice whether we fight or whether we argue.

Things They Forgot to Mention:

Nobody likes when Eyjafjallajökull spews liquid hot mmmagma.  But it happens and the key is to reroute, find calmer air, and keep the margarita in the cup.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

By Thursday, August 28, 2014 3 7

Before my wedding, I asked many couples if anything changes by getting married.  The general consensus was no.  My husband and I, however, respectfully disagree.  We have been married for, like, eleven months so we know pretty much everything about marriage.  Feel free to ask us for any pointers.

I am moderately serious when I say that.  Something about our particular combination creates a superstorm of self-exploration that we cannot avoid.  I think it’s because we are both extrapolators, meaning we see small things and expand wildly from there, seeing that small thing through to its full, possibly exaggerated potential.  Because of this mutual trait, we went through years in the first three months we were married.

Here’s what happens when you get married: you suddenly realize that marriage is mostly about who you are, not who your partner is.  Your partner is obviously important, but we all know that; why else would we subject ourselves to first date cringing, red lipstick, or getting our hearts trampled? We take our search for our partner seriously, but once that search is over, it moves internal and you start searching for you.

You will find your partner serves as a brutally clear mirror that reflects back exactly who you are.  It’s like one of those magnification mirrors your mom used to have (and probably still does) with the fluorescent lighting specifically designed to show every pore and wrinkle.  Through this mirror, you get to see all your beauty; why your spouse loves you, how you are such a special bird.  But all your peculiarities show up too, all the creepy-crawlies you said you’d get to one day.  They all come front and center and ready for orders.

Some people may have seen this all-knowing mirror in other situations, and some people might not see it until years later, but I first saw it the minute we came back all lovey dovey from our honeymoon.  Then *bam! slap! whappo!* …hoooolyyyyyyyy sh*t.  I immediately felt the weight of what marriage truly is and I quickly went inside to hide.

I went through the shock privately, stunned by the news flash that marriage is kind of a big deal.  Over the next three months, the realization grew and transformed and haunted me like twin ghost girls in a hallway.  I panicked about being a wife and distanced myself from this amazing man I married.  All I could see was everything I had to combat in myself in order to be the wife my husband deserves (aw…).

I failed to discuss any of this with my husband until one night when we simultaneously collapsed.  Little did I know, he had been going through exactly the same shock and, per our similar personalities, we were ready to talk at exactly the same time.

So we talked.  The moment we started talking about the fear, it drifted away.  What replaced the fear was an intense motivation to stop holding back from everything, to be everything I said I would be.  I also had the delayed revelation of what a husband is, and more importantly for me, what it means to be a wife.  A marriage is a fascinating human relationship, the most intimate one you will ever have.  It is the scariest, hardest, most complicated bond you will ever have.  It is also the most self-aware, internal, beautiful place for massive growth.

What I know beyond a doubt is in order to have a good marriage, you have to be a good you.  Harder than it sounds, and such a gift if you think about it.  Marriage gives you an unbelievable opportunity to make each other better people, but it requires habit breaking (yuck), painful exposing (lame), and awkward vulnerability (no thanks).   The bottom line is: if you want a happy, “all in” marriage, you can’t hide from yourself anymore. You have to pick up each creepy-crawly you saw in that mirror, dissect it, research its origins and then figure out how to outfox it.

And now if someone asks me if anything changes by getting married, I will say: “Yes.  Everything.  It’s all a choice.  And you have to choose to fight for it.”

Things They Forgot to Mention:

Getting married means you marry two people: your spouse and, surprisingly, shockingly, yourself.

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