With the move is coming a lot of change. We’ve done this before, admittedly only once, but this time although the same some things are slightly different. As much as change is exciting it is also unsettling. I’m mixed, one day excited the next mildly panicked. Work, housing, friendships, finances all of these things are whirling around and around. I know it will work out in the end somehow and things are falling into place slowly. Things will work out. I’m learning again that I need to bite piece by piece and work on things a little bit at a time. I’m also learning again how important it is to talk about everything. Poor J is having his ear chewed far too much. I process by talking, it helps me work out what I do or don’t want, even if it means I go round and round in circles far too often. Lots to write about once I organise my thoughts.
I was going to tell you about my birthday weekend in NYC (which was amazing and I will write about it soon). But right now I’m processing all that has been happening in my beloved city of London and beyond in England. As I’m sure many many people are.
I don’t know what to make of what has happened over the last few days. All I know is that there clearly is a reason this happened, which we won’t be able to understand immediately. I just hope we try to understand rather than lay blame without reason.
I’ll be back in a while. I’m off to think and go and look at Zooborns and find some things to laugh about for a little while. In the meantime my heart is with everyone affected and I hope that the glimmers of light such as the huge clean up operation and the communities bought together to protect themselves can shine brighter and we can move forward positively from this somehow.
At church this morning the priest gave a sermon about listening. Really listening to what others are saying and it made me think back to a post Cate had written which to me hit the spot and again made me think about how I listen and how it really is a skill I can continue to improve on.
Part of the reason it struck a chord was because we’re in a situation where we’re having to make decisions and there are a lot of variables and therefore different approaches. I can see myself being guilty of not listening to what I don’t want to listen to. I don’t want to do this I want to listen and then to work through the issues we disagree on and hopefully come to that point where we share the idea going forward.
One suggestion this morning was this technique:
#1: Says what they think
#2: Repeats what #1 said they think
#1: Says what they think
#2: Repeats again
And so on and so forth. When #1 stops talking #2 asks ‘Is there anything more you want to say’ If not then #2 describes to #1 what #1 was saying. It is then #2′s opportunity to say what they want to with the same process, #2 speaks, #1 repeats. I was intrigued by this, intrigued because it sounds like a good idea of a way to talk about a difficult subject without reacting. And by having to repeat back what the other has said really listening to remember and think about what they’re saying rather than thinking about your counter argument.
It’s something I might try but until then I’m going to think about Cate’s bowls and trying to become a right way up no holes bowl. Hopefully in the process achieving a decision and less uncertainty, uncertainty being one thing I really really hate.
I am a planner, I like knowing what will happen, when and how. I like organising things and being in control. I don’t therefore like when things are beyond my control and I can’t plan. Hence when we were waiting for the visa decision it distressed me not to be able to plan things and have my life being decided by someone else.
I came to terms with it though, even managed to roll with it a little and after however many months of having it hanging over me, relaxed.
The thing is we’re going to get to that point again soon. We have to reapply for visas and so therefore have to try and make decisions now about things we cannot confirm and with variables we have no control over. The truth is that we don’t *have* to make the decisions now, more that I would *like* to feel like I am able to make the decisions now. So I am struggling, struggling to let go again and relax instead of trying to plan the unplannable.
I think perhaps the best plan for now is to focus on the closer things, the new job, a visit from a wonderful friend soon and not being so damn cranky because I can’t plan things, oh and toning up for summer. Now to plan for all of those…
A while back I wrote about what I felt like being a wife. I got amazing responses and support from everyone and it made it easier for me to stand proud and tell people that at that stage in my life my role was a wife. Nothing more, nothing less and most importantly absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Things have changed since then. I am now gainfully employed again. So I’ve been thinking about how I feel now. I am delighted to be working again, I like the feeling of going out and earning my keep, of being in an office of lovely people and being able to talk to people all day and of course being able to answer the question of “so what do you do?”
But I also feel more confident and more valuable. Funny because I really had grown to be very happy just being a wife. I understood the value in what I was doing and was proud of all I was doing. So I almost feel a little bad about feeling better to be working again.
I think what this has all made me realise is that regardless of what I do I should be proud of myself and regardless of what others do I should not judge them for that but instead understand it and be proud of them for the choices they have made. Because if that is what I want from others that is what I should do myself.
It’s been 2 years already! I certainly didn’t imagine on that freezing day in January 2009 that in 2011 we’d be living in Washington DC. Nor did I imagine that marriage would change me, change us, change our relationship. But change has happened, good change, tough lessons are being learnt, bonds are being built ever stronger and all this is possible because I have J by my side. Marriage has given me a confidence I didn’t have, a belief in myself and my abilities and the support that I need.
Here’s to many more years and all that may come with them.
What do you do?
I’m a wife.
Or at least that’s how I feel the conversation seems to go these days. Which is odd. I hadn’t realised quite how much I took my identity from my job and being able to feel valued because I did something. I’ve been surprised that not having something to answer the question ‘what do you do?’ with has knocked my confidence in myself.
It’s odd confidence, how it manifests itself. At first I started looking more and more critically at my body, the bits I didn’t like, the bits which need to be changed. Squidging parts of me to see how much I could squidge. Then I slowly realised that it wasn’t really my body which I was not confident about but me.
It’s made me think a lot about how we define ourselves, how I define myself, how we let others define us. There is no reason I should feel less confident in who I am because I don’t have a job, can’t have a job, yet I do. In part because I think it’s that nasty feeling of guilt hanging around again.
Guilt that I am not doing anything, not being productive, not contributing financially. Guilt at relying too much on J for all my support.
I know this will change, it already has a little, the heavy guilty feeling on my shoulders is no longer quite so heavy. I’m also hoping that I can feel more confident in telling people I do nothing, I am being a supportive wife to my husband, and hope that that will be enough for me and them.
Tomorrow, December 4th 2010, J and I will have been together for 8 years. We don’t have any plans this year, we used to have a tradition of going to a super lovely restaurant in London every year and had some amazing meals to celebrate our anniversary but not being in London it doesn’t feel right to do that.
What every anniversary does (be it this one, our wedding anniversary or the various other anniversaries one can create) is make me reflect on our relationship and why I love J. It also gives us an opportunity to stop and focus on us instead of the grinds of daily life. This year has been one of the toughest in our relationship. The move over to America has been hard for us both. The stresses that it has added and the test of us as a couple have been challenging. It’s good, I think we needed it in some ways but it also makes me grateful that we could spend the time before building a strong base from which to do this together.
I know there will be more challenges to come and I know that we are very lucky that this so far is one of the hardest we have had to go through (seeing as how it’s quite exciting too!). I’m now more able to look forward to the challenges to come in the knowledge that he will be by my side and we will do them together.
Here’s to the next 8 years!
I always knew the move was going to be a challenge, that with it would be emotions I’d not previously experienced and it would be an opportunity to grow and to learn about me, my husband and my marriage. So far that’s proven true. Since the moment we learnt that this whole idea was real we’ve discussed it and worked out how it would work.
One area which I’ve always been concerned about was finance. Let me give you some background here, J and I have been together 8 years, of those 8 years we have been living together for 5, of those 5 years we’ve had a joint bank account for about 3 years. However our salaries were still paid into our bank accounts and then we paid for shared household expenses into our shared account and it worked. It worked because we were both earning, we’re both good with money, we don’t fritter or spend when we shouldn’t and we both had access to the joint account. This seemed to me a great solution, we earn our own money from which we both contribte to the household account and then everything else we buy for ourselves and you don’t have to worry. If I had spent too much one month that was my problem to sort out and I could go into my savings or pay the credit card fees. Or I didn’t have to feel guilty about buying some news shoes…
Then it changed, I moved to America out of choice, to take advantage of an opportunity I felt it would be foolish to miss. And I therefore gave up my job and my earnings. It also means that due to visa restrictions and bureaucracy I have to wait 90 days from this week for my application for employment authorisation to be processed. That’s 90 days from now having stopped earning on 30th September 2010. And so now we come to the crux of this post, how does your marriage change when your finances do?
Admittedly J has been wonderful, I have a named credit card for his account and can spend on it, we speak about all his money and how much there is and how we will work it out. He has told me not to worry that his money is mine. But I can’t help it. It’s different in my mind, spending his money, so instead sometimes I spend mine, of which the pot is rapidly dwindling. It has changed how I think about money. Perhaps for the better as I now think longer about potential purchases be they joint or otherwise. I feel like I have lost my financial independence.
I don’t know what would make it better, partly it’s probably just me coming to terms with this fact, that it doesn’t matter if I have lost my financial independence we are still financially viable as a household and I have a husband with whom I can talk about these things (something which I certainly don’t take for granted). But it also alters the balance, does this make me less equal? I know stupid question probably but I feel I have to ask for things and that I bring less to the table. Which is kind of tough. I used to earn a lot less but at least I earnt, at least I contributed.
And back to the change in the relationship, will it change how we are as a couple? Right now I don’t know, I also know this is a temporary time without my income which will hopefully be no longer than necessary but in that time will we have a different way of interacting. I hope not and I will work at it being not but you never know. Thoughts and overanalysing can do funny things.
J left on Monday, this is my fourth night home alone. Only 18 more to go… It’s funny because I’ve actually slept pretty well, something I normally have trouble with. But this evening is the first I’ve felt that creep of quietness in the flat. No-one to come home and talk to, or just to curl up with. And if I’m lonely surrounded by what I know and my friends I can only imagine what J is going through. In an alien city with only support in electronic form.
So for now a period of loneliness, on both sides of the Atlantic. Although also of productiveness, goodbyes, hellos and oh so many other things. I’m not sure I can still express my feelings. Every day I feel like I go through almost all of the emotions there are.
And so now to quietly sitting on the sofa passing the time, not wishing the hours away but passing them until the hour I see J again on the other side of the Atlantic.