It’s really not about you.

As the official start of “wedding season” approaches, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share a few thoughts I’ve been carrying around since the Mister and I tied the knot almost four years ago.

(Four years?? Wait a minute, that can’t be right…)

I saw this article on Facebook today and thought it hit the nail on the head. I wish we had registered for fun things we would actually use. I wish my dress had had a Scarlett O’Hara-esque skirt. I wish we had done photos together BEFORE the wedding, tradition or not, so that the Mister and I could have spent the majority of our day together instead of him spending it in a bathroom while I walked from place to place.

Those things are important, and I would suggest them to anyone I know who’s getting married, but there is one more important thing that still nags me to this day.

I don’t know who was there.

Wait… what? What do you mean? How could you not know who was there?

I mean, I was so wrapped up in May 19th being MY day – a day where the Mister and I could do whatever we wanted and ONLY what we wanted and ONLY with the people we thought mattered the most.

We were selfish. (And by “we” I mainly mean myself.) Looking back I can see that now, and it is definitely my biggest regret.

We have all kinds of pictures with our family and our wedding party, but we don’t have any photos with our guests. Those people who weren’t chosen to stand up with us, but who made the trip to see us anyway – sometimes from 12+ hours away.

Three groups still haunt me today.

An old high school friend and her sister that I hadn’t seen in more than six years came. I didn’t expect them to care that much, but they came all the way from Knoxville to see me get married. They pulled me aside and congratulated me and probably wanted a picture, but I greeted them quickly and moved on. I haven’t seen them since and don’t expect to ever see them again. I could have gotten a picture.

A group of the Mister’s friends from the university judging team where there too. They stood in a huddle in the lobby for most of the reception, waiting to catch us for a photo. I was so busy hurrying back and forth, checking off the list of must-do things, that I didn’t even realize that’s what they wanted. We have pictures of the whole group at other weddings, but not at ours. I had other things to do.

Third, and worst, I feel, were an aunt and uncle who traveled from out-of-state to be there. I saw them waiting in the hall as we left for photos and, to be honest, I didn’t recognize them at first. We don’t see that branch of the family much, so I didn’t know who they were until I had passed by. I waved when they did, but I didn’t stop. I figured they would wait until we returned. After all, it was all about us.

I didn’t know they had started their 12+ hour drive in the middle of the night, arrived just in time for the ceremony and were leaving as soon as I passed them to head home. They weren’t there when we came back from taking photos. I haven’t seen them since. All I can think about when that moment passes through my mind is that they made a mind-numbing 12-hour drive through the mountains, and I didn’t even stop to acknowledge them. I don’t know that that horrible feeling will ever go away.

So I say all of that to say this to all the brides and grooms and hopefuls out there: your wedding day is not really about you.

Let me say that again.

Your wedding day is not really about you.

Sure, it’s the day you start a new life joined to your husband or wife, and it’s a huge commitment. You should put effort into making the festivities reflect who you are and who your spouse is and who you will be together. But really, when it comes down to it, you will be just as married at the end of the day as you would have been if you’d gone to the county courthouse in your pajamas.

What it’s really about is the people who love you and who have made an effort to be there and witness such a happy occasion in your life. It’s about those people who have had your wedding invitation on the refrigerator for months; those people who spent weeks making handmade gifts that you’ll probably never use, but that you appreciate anyway; it’s about the people who fill all those delicate matchstick chairs and sit in the uncomfortable sunshine to see your smiling face and hear your “I do’s.”

Because without them, you would be standing in an empty room (probably not even decorated, since I’m sure they helped with that too).

So don’t get wrapped up in the check list. Stop to take pictures with the people who are there. Make them part of the memory and let them share in your joy. They want pictures to remember the day you got married just as much as you do. Don’t take that away from them.

Thank them, not just for coming but for being a presence in your lives. Even if you don’t know all the guests from your spouse’s side of the hall – take pictures with them too. They might not be important to you, but you are important to them or else they wouldn’t be there.

If you look through your guestbook years down the road and didn’t even know most of those people were there, you did something wrong.

But if the cake cutting was a little off schedule, and maybe you didn’t throw the garter or blow the bubbles, but you have an album full of photos with the people who loved you most on the happiest day of your life, that is something you won’t ever regret.

Two Years and Counting

Well, yesterday officially makes two years that the Mister and I have been married. Part of me can’t believe it’s been that long already and part of me feels like it’s been longer than that. Even in two years I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually been called “Mrs. Chesnut,” and even though I introduce myself as a Chesnut every day, the title still catches me off guard every time. The first time was an insurance person who called to give me a quote I had asked for, and when he asked for Mrs. Chesnut I told him he had the wrong number. (I caught my mistake and we both laughed, but still.)

We’re definitely not where we thought we would be two years in, but hey – at least we got a tropical island anniversary one way or another.

We went to dinner at a place called Spice Mill out on the tip of the island’s peninsula and enjoyed a beautiful view of Nevis as the clouds turned pink overhead. The service was good, the food was impressive and the drive back under a thousand stars was beautiful. A very good night indeed.

I know that in the grand scheme of things two years isn’t much to brag about – and I pray we are blessed with many, many more – but at the same time, I also know a handful of young couples who married shortly after we did and are already divorced. It blows my mind to think it can happen that fast. How do you choose to marry someone and dedicate the rest of your life to him/her, and then four months later suddenly decide you made a mistake? What kind of unrealistic expectations do you have to have for a marriage to get three months in and decide it’s not as wonderful as you thought it would be? I have no idea. I believe that divorce is hated by God and only allowable in instances of unfaithfulness, so the Mister and I already know that is never an option. I’m stuck with him and he’s stuck with me, no matter how many times he may leave his stinky gym clothes in the bathroom floor. (And we did not live together before our wedding either, so we didn’t completely know about all the other one’s household habits beforehand.)

I also believe that love changes over time. There’s the initial fluttery feeling and the I-need-to-be-with-you-all-the-time feeling, but that goes away after a while and is (or should be) replaced by something more mellow – something that doesn’t have to be together every second and allows for two individual lives, but still feels a deep, glowing pride when you overhear someone say that your husband is the best man they’ve ever met. A “he’s mine” sort of feeling that has gotten over being possessive and clingy and crazy. Sometimes the transition from the first form to the second can cause doubts and make you wonder if you’re still even in love at all, but it’s navigating that transition that I think can make or break so many young relationships. Thankfully we got through ours pretty well and are moving on into a more adult phase of our marriage.

We are definitely through the “honeymoon period” and no longer consider ourselves to be newlyweds. I know this because we no longer try to conceal farts, and sometimes we’re just trying to gross each other out. Yeah. Definitely not newlyweds anymore.

We don’t fight, though. We get irritated and frustrated with each other over little things, but I think I can count on less than one hand the number of times I would actually define as a “fight.” I don’t know exactly why that is; it’s not like we have any secret formulas or anything. I guess we just work together well. (Now that’s not to say we won’t ever fight in the future – I’m sure we will. But up to this point it’s been fairly smooth sailing.) I know couples though that fight almost constantly. I know wives that put their husbands down, in public, in front of his friends, purely to let everyone in the room know that she is right and smart and her husband is wrong and stupid. It makes my skin crawl every time it happens and I have to force myself not to go over and give the beaten husband a hug. Oftentimes – at least in the situation I’m thinking of – he didn’t even do or say anything to warrant such a reaction. That’s just the way his wife is. I can’t imagine living that way, and I’m glad the Mister is such a patient personality. (Although keep in mind that patient personalities tend to explode behind closed doors, and the results can be pretty scary. The Mister knocked a clock off the kitchen wall one time with how hard he slammed our front door.)

I guess I say all that to say this —

To all you newlywed, almost-wed and wishing-you-hadn’t-wed couples out there, whether I know you personally or not:

Be excited about your wedding, your marriage and the rest of your lives together – dream big dreams and make big plans – but also realize there will be stinky clothes in the bathroom floor. There will be dishes piling up in the sink; there will be slammed doors and hasty words and days when you wonder if you made the right choice. There will come a time when you look back on the sparkle and butterflies of your dating days and wonder if there’s something wrong with your marriage because that is gone. But don’t let that moment of doubt ruin a relationship that God intends to last for the rest of your lives. You chose the person you are with for a reason, and for better or for worse the two of you have to figure out how to get through whatever obstacles may come. Whether you have to spend a night apart or even seek professional counseling, do what you have to do to make sure that one day doesn’t determine the path of the rest of your lives. Love takes work. It isn’t always sparkle and giggles and romance – as the Mister says, “it’s not all sunshine and daisies” – but it is a choice you make when you wake up every morning. Some days that choice will be harder to make than on other days, but you have to keep making it. Choose your love and love your choice. All my best wishes for you always.

-the Mrs.

wedding picture

wedding picture

bridal portrait

wedding picture

Be Our Guest (be our guest… Put our service to the test…)

A blogger I follow, Sarah, is hosting “Wedding Week” at Sarah’s Brand New Chapter in honor of her first anniversary, and I am proud to be one of her guest bloggers! Head on over and see my guest post and check out some of her other wedding week entries. 🙂

Part 2…

I’m not going to post a link every time he updates (at least I’m not planning to at this point), but because of the interest I wanted to let you all know that this blogger is creating additional parts for his original post, which I linked to yesterday. Follow him on wordpress or scroll to the bottom of his blog and follow him via email if you’re interested in his additional thoughts in the coming weeks. 🙂

How I Know My Wife Married the Wrong Person (Part 2).

How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person

Obviously my wife didn’t marry the “wrong” person (haha – get the joke, people), but these are excellent thoughts by somebody that I don’t know, but I already respect just from reading this. Enjoy.

-the missus

How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person.

Thoughts from the “Marriage Manual”

This week marks the Gardner Church of Christ’s spring gospel meeting, and it is off to a spectacular start. Keith Mosher, the guest speaker and a teacher at the Memphis School of Preaching, is just a wonderful speaker. Words can’t even describe. He’s conversational, engaging, funny and relevant. He doesn’t talk “at” you or “over” you like so many preachers do; he talks TO you and makes you think. Seriously, when a preacher can talk for an hour and fifteen minutes, and you don’t even notice, that’s when you know you’ve got a good one.

Last night he spoke of marriage and brought out a few points from Matthew 19:3-6; and Ephesians 5:21-31.

First of all, leaving aside the fact that marriage is stated to be between one man and one woman and can only be scripturally ended by death or adultery (since those are a whole other ballgame), Mr. Mosher started with Matthew 19:5, where Jesus is speaking on marriage and says, “…For this cause (meaning marriage) shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (King James Version).

As Mr. Mosher pointed out, and as so many of us have already observed in society, the adolescent phase of life is getting longer and longer. Instead of children becoming adults at 20 or 21, they are now waiting to really grow up until 25 (women) and 27 (men). They are getting their degrees and then moving back in with mom and dad to finish growing up. They are not being taught to be adults on their own in the world. This contributes to the high percentage of failed marriages these days, because in many cases you essentially have two children getting married and then having no idea how to run their own homes.

People don’t seem to know what it is to “leave father and mother” anymore. I totally agree with Mr. Mosher when he said that “the husband is to be the protector and the wife is to be a supporter in A NEW HOME.” If you’re getting married and then moving back in with mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa or whoever, maybe you should have waited to get married. Whether it’s a maturity issue or a money issue, it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t have the money saved to support a new home, then you should still wait. Now of course, there are obvious, temporary reasons where this might be acceptable. Maybe you’re moving, maybe the house is being remodeled, maybe your husband is deployed and you’re expecting a baby so you move home to get help with the pregnancy – makes perfect sense! But these are all temporary situations.

(This also applies to in-laws and parents being involved in the new home. STOP IT! To all you parents out there who want to make your married child’s decisions and “help” run his or her home – get out of it! That is not the biblical way, and you, regardless of how well-meaning you may be, are disrupting God’s design for their new marriage. [And no, I’m not talking about my own parents and in-laws. You guys are great.])

Mr. Mosher’s second point was the idea of “cleaving to his wife” (or husband, as the case my be). Couples are to be each other’s best friends, closest companions and first resource. The marriage relationship comes even before the children, because you train the children to leave the nest, but you will always have each other. How sad to get all the children out of the house and then look at your spouse (notice, not “partner”) and realize you have nothing in common.

Moving in Ephesians 5: Wives are commanded to be subject to their own husbands. This does not include other men, only the one you married. There is no commandment that a woman is to be in subjection to the whims of the man down the street who thinks he’s better than you because he has a Y chromosome. Ignore that man. He’s got bigger problems. Marriage is structured this way so that it will function properly, because “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…” (verse 23). Many women take this offensively, with the attitude of “Why should I have to listen to a stupid man?” Well, if you thought he was stupid, why did you marry him?

Men actually have it harder, because they are commanded in verse 25 to “love (their) wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Wives are told to give their husbands the last word, but husbands have to be willing to die for their wives. Now, ladies, which would you rather be? There is no commandment in scripture that wives be ready to die for their husbands. Personally, I think this is because God understands that men are oftentimes difficult to live with and do not always live up to what we wives hope they will be. It’s a reminder to men that, while wives are to be subject, they (the husbands) cannot lord themselves over their wives and exalt themselves to a position of infallibility.

Mr. Mosher’s last two points came from verse 33: “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” He talked about how women, because of the way we are wired, need to hear that we are needed by our husbands; women need to be told how much we are appreciated for our daily efforts in the marriage and the home and whatever else. Men, on the other hand, need to be “reverenced.” Many women hear this word and see themselves physically bowing down to their husbands, and reject the idea. (Of course! Who wouldn’t?) But, that’s not what that means. In this context, it means “respect.” Wives should respect their husbands, not only in words but in deeds; not making fun of him or bringing him down, letting him know he is a good provider for his family, etc. This really shouldn’t be so difficult. If you don’t respect him, why did you marry him?

(Also, if you were just planning to “change him,” why did you marry him?)

 

So, in summary:

  • One man, one woman, NEW HOME.
  • Parents and in-laws, stay out of it.
  • Wives subject to own husbands.
  • Husbands be willing to die for your wife.
  • Tell your wife you need her.
  • Tell your husband he is good at what he does.
  • Don’t marry him if you’re just wanting to “change him.”

 

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? Have you ever had to move in with your parents or in-laws? How did that work out?

Confessions of a Future Vet School Wife

So last Thursday was a pretty typical day, until the phone call came.

“Honey? Guess what?”

“What?”

“I just got a phone call from someone on behalf of Erica Wasserman. I got in to Ross vet prep.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. We’re going to vet school!”

“Holy crap.”

*Hang up phone. Burst into tears.*

Yeah… not exactly the celebratory happy dance I was expecting to do. I want the Mister to go to vet school. I had finally gotten used to the idea of moving to the Caribbean (or so I thought). But the practical part of me was still preparing for plan B in case he didn’t get in. I’d been scanning potential job options and apartment styles, and thinking about puppies and babies – all the things I wanted out of the next phase of our lives. I guess I never stopped to think about how, if he did get in (and deep down I knew he would), I’d have to give all that up. At least for a while.

I cried for the high-profile job I always pictured myself having and I cried for the three-year gap in the impressive resume I’ve tried so hard to build. I cried for the amount of debt we’ll be in and the distance between us and home. I cried for the babies we’ll have to push back that much longer. And every “excited” phone call I made to parents and relatives made me cry that much more. I was determined not to let the Mister know that I wasn’t jumping up and down on the inside, but I did finally break down in front of him. I felt horrible for ruining his special, long-awaited acceptance day, but I couldn’t help it anymore.

I was giving up my life.

But I slept on it Thursday night and by the time I woke Friday morning I had come to a sort of subconscious clarity.

I’m moving to a place of indescribable beauty; a place tourists visit and wish they could stay, and I’ll get to watch their cruise ships leave as I call the island home. I’m going to have all kinds of cool stories and pictures to share with friends and family and to someday tell my children. I won’t have an awful gap in my resume because I’ll be able, hopefully, to work with the VIP spouses’ and children’s group to plan their social events and recreational activities. Hey, that’s PR too, isn’t it?

And maybe that big corner office isn’t as glamorous as I’ve always thought it would be. When we get back, I want to have babies, and that office often comes with long, unpredictable hours, phones ringing in the middle of the night, and un-family friendly schedules and responsibilities. Is that really what I want? And is it even about what I want, at that point?

More importantly, the Mister is going to get to go to vet school – the only thing he’s dreamed of doing since he was young. I should be grateful to the admissions committee for seeing his potential and giving him the opportunity to chase that dream when state-side schools wouldn’t give him a second glance. He is going to be a fantastic vet.

But most importantly, I also realized that I’m not giving up my life. It’s not my life anymore; it’s OUR life, and I promised to follow him for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, through sickness and in health. I promised to laugh with him and cry with him and be the soft place for him to land. I “gave up” my life almost a year ago, and the “our life” we’ve been living since has been wonderful. What’s to say the “our life” of the future won’t be just as good?

Sure we’ve got challenges ahead of all shapes and sizes, but we’ll figure out how to beat them one at a time. And who knows, maybe we’ll just learn something along the way. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

Advice about traveling, living as an ex-pat and handling veterinary school is all appreciated.

And Now We Wait Some More…

Well last week was the Mister’s interview for Ross Vet School. After an eight-hour trip to Columbus, Ohio, a thirty-minute meeting and a horrendous eleven-hour trip back in the driving rain, we’re finally in the official waiting phase. His interviewer was very nice and estimated five weeks until we know the board’s decision.

Assuming the Mister is accepted for the upcoming May term, we’ll have about five weeks (after we find out in five weeks) to sell what we can, pack and store what we can’t and make our way to the island. For those who may not have been around when I first explained this situation, I’ll give a brief overview:

Ross Vet School is an American-accredited veterinary school located on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean, just south of Puerto Rico. It’s a year-round program, so the Mister would take classes there for two and a half years and then return to the states for his last clinical year.

St. Kitts is the smallest island federation in the Caribbean, everyone drives on the left side of the road and the monkeys are known for sneaking up on you and stealing your drinks. So yeah, it’ll be different. At first I was very nervous about the idea, but I’ve finally gotten excited about the adventure. We’ll have some awesome stories to tell our children one day, that’s for sure.

The island of St. Kitts is located in the mid-Caribbean region south of Puerto Rico.

This is where we could be living!

But in other news, while we’re waiting for those results to come in, here are a few things the Mister and I learned during our trip to The Great White North.

1. Parking spaces are much narrower in Ohio than they are out here in rural Tennessee, even for my tiny Honda Civic. There’s no way a good ole’ southern boy’s pickup truck would have fit anywhere!

2. Drivers in Ohio are not afraid to change lanes, even if that means wedging themselves between other cars at the last minute.

3. Nothing is connected directly to the main road; everything has to be reached via an access road running parallel to the main road, which creates a series of intersections-from-Hades.

4. Just because a sign hangs over a particular lane on the interstate does not mean it necessarily applies to that lane. This causes much turning around.

5. In fact, there are very few visible road signs at all until the last possible moment, at which point you still have to turn around in the next parking lot.

6. Just because you don’t see anything in the road doesn’t mean you won’t hit it hard enough to bulge a tire.

6. The people at the GoodYear Tire Repair Shop in Louisville, Ky., are very nice, even when you come in tired, frustrated and trying to outrun a snow storm.

7. It really does snow a lot farther north. I’m not sure if it’s because of the Great Lakes or just because of this particular storm system, but the flakes were HUGE! However, they do know how to prepare their roads up there, as opposed to our poor Tennessee salt trucks who get very confused by snow.

9. You can go to Jack Hanna’s Columbus Zoo in 18 degrees, although you’ll be pretty much the only ones there. There are indoor areas, though, like the aquarium and the nocturnal house.

10. Speaking of which, did you know there is a species of kangaroo that lives in trees? YES! It blew my mind too. It’s really cute.

A tree kangaroo

…in a giant rat sort of way…

So have you traveled anywhere new lately? Did you see anything there that is different from home?

Job Description

Growing up, whenever my brother and I would say something about my mom not having a “real job,” we would immediately get a laundry list lecture on all the jobs a mom actually has.

Chauffeur, coach, cheerleader, psychiatrist, pharmacist, nurse, doctor, chef, principal, teacher, maid, waitress, babysitter… you get the picture.

I’ve come to a better understanding of this concept since I got married, but the Mister and I have discovered something that should definitely NOT be in my job description.

Hairdresser.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely useless; I’m just useless where it really matters. I can trim over his ears and shorten his sideburns. I can make sure the line at the nape of his neck is straight. But I am not allowed to cut his bangs.

We discovered this a few short months after the wedding, when the Mister’s hair had gotten so long I was starting to mistake him for a sheepdog. I’d never done major cutting on a man’s hair before, but I’d had enough haircuts of my own to think I could do it myself. I dampened his hair, brushed it down straight and cut. Now this all sounds well and good, except that I had forgotten two very important things: one, hair looks shorter when it dries, and two, just because adjacent sections line up does not mean they are straight.

After several minutes and lots of hair in the bathroom floor, I began to realize I had made a horrible mistake. A mistake which only got worse the more I tried to fix it. I distinctly remember the Mister asking, “So, can I see it?” and me responding, “Why do you want to do that? You don’t have to look in a mirror, do you?”

I was crying before he even got to the sink.

But I have to congratulate him on the way the handled the situation. He stood at the mirror for several moments while I asked, “Are you mad?” over and over, and then tried to assure me everything was ok and it wasn’t that bad. But trust me, it was.

Despite the very odd angle of his bangs, I never heard him speak badly of his new style. He never once complained about how much of his forehead was showing or joked that his friends would never let him live it down. And he’s never brought it up to tease me since then. I really, truly appreciate that.

However, the issue resurfaced this past weekend when the Mister once again needed a haircut. Except this is no ordinary haircut; it’s the haircut to prepare for his Ross Vet school interview this coming Wednesday.

So, Saturday night, I found myself standing in front of the Mister, scissors in hand, hoping against all hope that I don’t screw this up. The Mister looked on with an amused expression, clearly reading my mind.

But it actually turned out alright this time. I didn’t wet his hair (on the Mister’s orders) and I used a tiny comb to make sure all the sections lined up straight across (also on the Mister’s orders). He’s not tossing hair out of his eyes anymore and he doesn’t look like one of my massacred Barbie dolls, so I consider the operation a success.

However, there will definitely not be any little Nuts in highchairs sitting above a floor of newspapers while Mommy cuts their hair. I don’t think they would handle it quite as well as their father.

Not Exactly a Clean Start

Sometimes when I look back on the first few weeks of our dating relationship, I really wonder why the Mister stayed with me past the first month.

I. was. disgusting. No, seriously. We started dating in the last 2-3 weeks of our sophomore year – the weeks leading up to and including final exams. I’m still amazed I even passed my Spanish final, since I’d get through the same four flashcards every night before giving up and goofing off with the Mister instead.

We would be at the church of Christ student center just off campus until at least midnight every night (at the earliest), and by the time I staggered into my dorm room I was too exhausted to shower. Well then the alarm would go off the next morning and I’d hit snooze until the last possible second, inevitably pulling my hair into a ponytail and running to class, notebooks flying. After class we’d be back at the student center and the cycle would continue.

Like I said, I don’t know why he stayed with me. I definitely did not start off our relationship clean and polished.

I’ve decided since then that comfort is one of the most important factors in a relationship, even over whether or not he makes you laugh or if you like her cooking. If she can’t cook, you can get take-out. If you can’t pass gas in the house, you will explode. It’s that simple.

And that doesn’t just apply to gross things, like passing gas or being sick (yes, unfortunately that’s happened). It also applies to things like singing in the shower, dancing in front of the microwave and screaming in high-pitched terror when a leaf that looks like a bug blows across the sidewalk.

(And all those things don’t just apply to me, by the way.)

Now I don’t mean you get married and just let yourself go completely. You do still have to take care of yourself (trust me, showering is still not optional), and I still get dressed in the morning hoping the Mister will like my outfit, but you also can’t check into a hotel every time you have to blow your nose or use the bathroom.

Although I will admit there are some things the Mister and I still don’t acknowledge that the other does. Like when the bathroom fan is on and you hear the air freshener dispense. There’s no reason for that; it just happens spontaneously as the universe wills it.

And it will stay that way.