31 July 2010

Phase 3

We'll, he's gone again. He's in the third and final phase of his Blackstone Internship, which is located in Arizona. It wasn't as hard to say goodbye this time; in fact, I didn't even cry. I teared up at a few points, but no full on tears. I keep telling myself that it's only for a week - I'll pick him up from the airport next Friday night. I am hoping to enjoy my time to myself. I made myself a weekend goal list (believe it or not, blogging is on there), and I am going to get some work done. I mapped it out so that I'll do some relaxing on Sunday; hopefully watch a movie and give myself a pedicure.

In other news, I finally took my own advice and joined a book club! An acquaintance of mine invited me and I really enjoyed it! I couldn't believe how much my friend and I agreed on interpretations of the book. The other girls in the group are nice, some are insightful. I struggle with pride when it comes to literature because I studied it so heavily in college (English major!) and I can usually discuss circles around most people. I have to remind myself that I am not the final and absolute understander of these books. Luckily my terribly shy and awkward social skills keep my mouth in check. Between the magazine on which I volunteer, the book club, hanging with my husband, and my summer goals list, I am staying pretty busy.

My sister-in-law is coming to visit the week Matt gets back as well. I'm excited to have a visitor (one of Matt's brothers may come with as well, which would make visitors plural). I revisited a list of things to do with visitors that I made a little while ago, and, in true designer fashion, I made a snazzy little pamphlet out of it. I am hoping to finish it up this weekend and get a few copies printed. (Maybe one of my printer connections will do it for me cheap?) She'll leave the weekend of the 13th, then the following weekend Matt has Law Review Orientation during the day and then...law school starts back up and Matt is an L2!

PS. One year ago today was our last day in Michigan.

29 July 2010

A Degree in Mattology

Our parish priest when we were married taught us this. It's a fun metaphor for us law school wife types as we're quite academic, even if only by association.

You ought to know your spouse better than anyone else. Know them inside and out, backwards and forwards. Think of getting to know your spouse as getting a degree in them. You take a class in "my husband's strengthens," "my husband's weakness," "what my husband does when he feels lazy on a Saturday," "what my husband does when faced with a crisis."

Matt and I extended this metaphor even further in a "life-long education" style. We have to get multiple degrees in each other during the different phases of our lives, working up to a PhD. For example, I have a degree in "newly married Matt with a job a no kids." I am working on my degree in "Matt in law school far from home with no kids." We assume that we start off each program with at least an associates because we still have the same personality, same likes and dislikes, etc. Anyway, one day I'll have to get a degree in Matt with kids, Matt with new lawyer job, etc. You could also treat each of those like classes on the life-long journey to get a PhD, or, in our case, a JD.

It also makes for a fun joke. When we incorrectly guess something about the other person, we joke, "well I guess I'm going have to retake that class," or "I'm never going to get my Masters in Mattology at this rate."

27 July 2010

You start walking my way, and I'll start walking yours

I often wondered as I prepared for my marriage about how mature Christians argue with one another. Surely they do, as everyone argues, including mature Christians, but I didn't know how.

The solution came shortly after our engagement: Matt and I had to take an anger management class as part of our marriage prep classes. The class was hokey, the VHS they played was from the 80s, but even though the techniques were good, we, or at least I, quickly forgot them. We have a magnet on our fridge that reminds us, but it's been there so long now (2 years!) that I don't even see it.

Today in the Wall Street Journal Personal section, they had a piece about "arguing happily ever after," which talked about how fighting smartly can actually strengthen a marriage and talked about how to fight respectfully. Humorously enough, both our long-forgotten class and this article draw from the same source: Fighting For Your Marriage, a book about fighting nicely, so to speak. The article reminded me how much I want to fight like a mature Christian instead of a teenager. They say that if you can teach the concept to others then you truly understand it, so here goes!

1. The listener shuts up and listens. The speaker explains her position in a few sentences. The listener does not interupt.
"I am angry because I cook dinner and do the dishes every night. I feel like you don't help."
(There are lots of other sources who caution that you shouldn't say "you always, you never, I always, or I never" as this will only put the other person on the defensive).

2. The listener repeats back to the speaker what he heard the speaker say. The point of this is to make sure that the speaker is clearly communicating her point.
"You feel like I am not helping you around the house."

3. The speaker is then given the opportunity to re-explain her point until the listener clearly understands and is able to repeat back how the speaker feels/what is upsetting her. Only one person may talk at a time!

4. Now they switch positions. The former listener gets to explain his position.
"I feel like you boss me around when I help you clean and only want me to clean up your way."

5. The listener repeats back to the speaker what she heard him say.
"You feel like I always want you to do things my way."

6. The speaker is then given the opportunity to re-explain his point until the listener clearly understands and is able to repeat back how the speaker feels/what is upsetting him. Only one person may talk at a time!

7. A solution is reached! Sometimes just talking about the issue solves the problem. Maybe he'll actually pick up a sponge and she'll bite her tongue when it's the "wrong" sponge. Other times it is more complicated; this give and take often brings up deeper issues. In this example, it could easily come up that she does not feel that he loves her enough to want to help her. He could feel that she doesn't respect his decisions around the house.

It is easy to see how arguing happily ever after could lead couples to have a stronger marriage than if they didn't argue at all! You'll grow familiar with each other's "trigger issues," even the ones you could verbalize. Then you'll be able to encourage, protect, and strengthen your loved one. What a good relationship!



(Blog post title comes from Diamond Rio's Meet In The Middle).

20 July 2010

The Summer of (Wedded) Bliss

It is nice being married again. I definitely feel like a (fairly) newly married person (is 2 years still new?) living without kids. There are, of course, the never-ending budget concerns which keep us reined in, but it is still sooo nice to spend our evenings and weekends together. Playing games, watching movies, reading together, going grocery shopping together, having help with chores. I am worried that I am getting too used to have him around again; it's going to be so difficult those first few weeks back. They'll be hard for him to, as he adjusts to spending his evenings doing homework instead of gaming. In the meantime, we'll keep hitting those famous Naples beaches : )

14 July 2010

Inner Demons

(This post is a deviation from the law school theme). I've blogged a couple of times before about my almost obsessive compulsive organizational behaviors. They are heightened by excess of emotion and lately I have been dealing with an excess of boredom. I reorganized the bathroom today. It was all I could do to stop there. I am going crazy in my head right now. Okay, this is totally weird, but part of me doesn't want to clean. I desire the end result: looking back on a clean room. I feel like one day I will finally organize everything enough to where I won't have to clean it anymore. Ugh. This weekend is definitely going to be a serious reorganization weekend. Oi. I am sorry that I am everywhere and that this has nothing to do with being a law school wife. I am probably going to delete this post in the end.

09 July 2010

What is Your BHAG?

There is an expensive fitness store right across the walkway from where I work. They are constantly writing motivational things up on their windows. We are kind of health-nutty at work and quite often comment on the notes and inventive mannequin displays of the store. Anyway, we haven't talked about this one at work yet, but the current comment-of-the-week asks, "What is your Big, Hairy, Ambitious Goal?" I'm pretty big into goals myself; if I'm not working directly for something specific, I start feeling hopeless. My anger-venting post a little while back got me thinking back then too: what are my dreams? I'd love to do a lot of things, love to be a lot of things, but most of them are characteristics I'd like to describe me or hobbies I'd like to have, a lifestyle I'd like to live. But what is my BHAG? I'm sure the store would like me to say, "run a marathon" then dart inside to purchase one of the $60 sports bras, sure to motivate me to succeed. But what is my BHAG? Is it a career? Is it really my big, hairy, ambitious goal to be a librarian after my kids are grown? Is it really my big, hairy, ambitious goal to kayak or built my dream house?

You know what my BHAG is? I'm pretty sure it's my big, hairy, ambitious goal to write a novel that someone publishes.

What is your BHAG?

07 July 2010

Goal Setting

As I mentioned at the beginning of the summer, I mentioned that I made a summer goals list. Well, now that we are officially halfway through the summer, I thought it might be fun to revisit said list. It is made up of 22 things (a few of those were added as the summer progressed). Some of them are fun things like biking different areas of Naples or having friends over 2-3x (not easy for an introvert like me). Some of them are personal development things like having a Bible study with Matt or re-learning some Spanish. I set a short-term weight loss goal, I'm going to teach Matt to cook a few dishes, do some tutorials for the niches of a computer program I use a lot. Humorously, one of the items on my list is to do everything on my list. The deadline is the end of summer, or Matt's first day back to school.

I have fully completed 5 of those things. 8 of those things are multi-stage things that require more time, but I am in the process of doing. Several of the things on my list are easy and would require one afternoon. The point of revisiting my list is to remind myself of my goals and do some more of them.

One of the things on my list is to read 20 books. 20 books in four months is ambitious, even for an English major such as myself. These aren't just any books. I've got Anna Karenina, Howard's End, Don Quixote; I've got some George Eilot and Charles Dickens. I tried to sprinkle in some lighter reading, such as Michael Crichton and a few historical nonfiction books. But either way, I'm halfway through summer and I'm on book number 6. I got stuck on Villette. I'm also trying to do a book review for the magazine I'm a volunteer editor for, which is lessening the time I get to dedicate to my list. At this point, I'm just trying to get as far as I can.

Anyway, I am big fan of lists and I'm really enjoying doing fun things and checking them off my list : )

06 July 2010

How to Make Your Marriage Thrive During Law School

If you're a law school widow, or about to become one, you probably got really excited when you saw that title, didn't you? Well, it was false advertising. I have few ideas on how to make a marriage thrive during law school. The priest for Ave Maria School of Law recommends the following:

1. Having a date night
2. Eating dinner together
3. Celebrating the holidays

The dean of the law school recommends to students that they not cross-examine their families. There is ample advice out there geared towards students to keep them sane. Not so much for law school wives. The best place to get advice for us is probably going to come from former law school widows (lawyer widows?) Maybe I should seek some more of it.

I can't tell you how to make your marriage thrive in law school (although the above principals sure do help), but I can definitely tell you the number one blocker that is keeping my marriage from thriving: my tongue.

It is another one of my weakness (geeze, I'm all about telling the world my weaknesses lately) that I don't have much in the way of patience. I've come a long way, but I'm nowhere near sufficient. I am quick to judge and tell Matt what he is doing wrong and VERY slow to acknowledge that I did anything worth reprieve. Matt and I were doing a Bible study the other day and we read James chapter 3, the end of which talks about how if one looses control of his tongue, it is like a small fire that burns down a forest. Well, I struggle with lots of daily brush fires. I'm not very reaffirming, a quality that I admire in other people. A good wife would compliment her husband when he does things well. A smart wife would point out when her husband does things that make her happy without her asking him (like cleaning his desk or taking out the trash). It is eerie how quickly our relationship and his attitude will shed its negative qualities when I make a point to reaffirm my husband's good qualities.

One rather odd thing, when I work out and eat healthy, I tend do lots of good things the rest of the day. Like, I almost always floss my teeth on days when I work out. I don't know why, but I feel "healthy" and I don't want that feeling to wear off, so I keep doing other "wholesome" things. These behaviors make me feel really good about myself. My positive self-worth translates to my loving words to my husband. I'm a big believer in the interconnectedness of the human brain/body/lifestyle, so this fits right in with my world perspective. So, loosing weight equals a happy wife equals a healthy marriage? I can live with that ; )

05 July 2010

Them's Fightin' Words

Matt has always been a debater, but his time in law school has heightened and refined the way he argues. He is much better now then he was fresh out of undergrad. And me? I hate confrontation. I list it as one of my top three weakness: I'm really bad with confrontation and avoid it with a passion. Well, some days he wants to debate everything. On those days, I can't even have an opinion about the weather without it turning into a debate. Sometimes I can roll with the punches, debate with him, make logical conclusions, but other times, I feel like bursting into tears (and some days I do). When my wrong days align with his wrong days, by the time we're ready for bed, I feel so exhausted and demoralized. I wonder how the heck we will survive a lifetime of lawyer-hood. If I were more mature, I could just say to him, "You're switching into lawyer-mode and I'm not emotionally stable enough to argue with you about that right now," and life would move on, sans debate. But I'm not that sophisticated. I argue with him, get emotional, take everything personally. Halfway through the discussions I feel like screaming at him to stop being logical and just agree with me. Yes, I realize how incredibly stupid that is. Stop being logical? Demand that he just side with me for the pure heck of it? In the heat of battle?! While I have yet to act on my desires, I sure do think about them. I did today as we were debating the definition of selfishness. Yes, that's right; I realize the irony in that.

I'm not really sure where to go from here. I guess acceptance is the first step though, right? According to the 12 Step Program, I now need to "[come] to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." So I need to realize that God can restore me/our marriage to sanity in a moment of frustration. Next step? I guess next time we start debating, we should say a quick prayer that we'll argue respectfully. I also remember seeing an article in Women's Health magazine a few months back about arguing lovingly. I need to reread that.

04 July 2010

The (Rainy) Days of Summer

Matt is signing up for things for next year. So far he's got two student groups, he'll be Deputy Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus (essentially VP), and law review (it's a secret, though). He also volunteered to make phone calls for the Republican Party/Marco Rubio (running for Senate). I am getting worried that he won't be able to keep his grades up, maybe do a little around the house, still have date nights. The two student groups require almost no commitments, and the phone calls are only supposed to be 1 hr/week through election (Nov 2). So maybe it won't be that bad? He's also talking about getting a work-study job. Oi! Being the worrying, planning person that I am, I have a really hard time letting go of the fall and enjoying the rest of the summer.

In the meantime, we are enjoying day two of a three day weekend. Rainy days have ruined plans to go to the zoo and kept us inside for the most part. We did go to the 4th of July parade and spent some time at the pool. We are hoping to go to a state park/historic site tomorrow to check out this group called the Koreshans. They believed that the world was hollow and that Collier County (the country where I live) was in the center of it. Anyway, lots of grocery shopping, trying to figure out how to have a garage sale in an apartment, falling asleep on the couch, playing computer games, and watching movies.

Ah, the joy of doing mundane things together : )

01 July 2010

Super Husband

My husband went to pick up the pizza today. All by himself. I didn't even ask him to. Having a husband free of law school means having a husband again. He works for his internship during the day and we do things together in the evenings. I am married again. I don't care if it is 95 degrees outside with 90% humidity, summers are awesome.