When Marriage is Hard

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When is marriage hard? Always. 

I think we are usually ashamed to admit when marriage is tough. I know I am. 

It’s not like I didn’t know this before diving into marriage. It’s not like I want to throw the towel in. It’s not that I don’t believe in marriage. 

I wouldn’t trade in my marriage for anything. Even on the days when I have red moments and all I think I want to do is be alone. 

But the fact is, marriage is hard. It’s one of the biggest risks you will ever take in life. Putting together two people from two different backgrounds for life with two different ways of dealing with conflict – it’s kind of crazy right? But with that crazy comes an unfathomable beauty….that sometimes gets lost in dark times.

Ryan and I have a hard time while he is gone at school and while under a lot of stress.  The past couple of weeks I have broken down to a girlfriends about marriage troubles. Every single one said she had been there. Here, I thought I was the weak one. That I was all alone in my troubles. There is comfort in knowing that we are not alone and I think we can all learn from one another. 

So,why don’t we share our hardships?

The moments where we feel unheard, misunderstood. When we just want to be selfish and not put the spouse first. When the other person surprises us and we feel like we don’t know them at all. 

It’s so much easier to share the good. To brag about your perfect weekends and the over the top romantic gestures. Sometimes you want to show everyone that you are OKAY and la-di-da ain’t love GRAND!

Truth: Ryan and I fight.

Of course we fight about countless stupid things that all cohabitating couples fight over:

The fact that there are 6 pairs of his shoes in the front entry way and I nearly break my neck carrying in the groceries. We fight that I don’t properly rinse of the dishes before loading them in the dishwasher. We fight when it takes 30 minutes to choose which movie to watch after a long Saturday. He wants to kill me when I leave 6 empty water glasses on my bedside table and I will scream if he squeezes the middle of the toothpaste tube again!

The silly things like that we usually end up laughing over. But there are the bigger issues too. The big choices, the dreams we sometimes have to sacrifice, the times when money is tight, sleep is nill, and hopes are squashed. The fights that lead to us asking ourselves, “Are we making the right choices?” The days that end in a big fiery ball of fury where every wrong word is said and you don’t think you have any more tears to cry. 

When you are stressed and feeling down, who is the first person you generally vent to or show anger towards? The spouse. Ryan and I are both guilty of pushing each other away in times of stress and sadness. Life is an ongoing lesson and I’m forever grateful to have Ryan as my co student for this education. But like all good students, we make mistakes along the way. 

Marriage brings out the worst and the best in me. It’s only been a short time, 1 year and 4 months, but it has taken me on an amazing journey. We’ve both changed since marriage, and for the good. I’m more humble, giving, selfless, loving, and hopeful because of my marriage. The crazy emotions in marriage are the same ones that make it absolutely beautiful. 

After the darkness descends, I always look at Ryan and know that although every choice we make may not be the best, I made the right choice in marrying him. We choose each other. Every day. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.  

Love can do amazing things, but that doesn’t make the dark days any less numbered. 

It’s okay to admit marriage is hard. There should be no fear in sounding as if you have any less love for you spouse in doing so. 

As I grow older, the more and more I learn how small this world is. Let’s share our stories and grow together. If you are going through tough times, even ones that last a day,  you are not alone. 
  

One-Year Anniversary Gifts – Paper

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On June 2, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Since I’ve decided to take the slow and easy approach to blogging this summer, I haven’t gotten around to recapping our Anniversary celebration in the Finger Lakes – that day shall come, but today I’m sharing our one-year wedding anniversary gifts!

Our way of celebrating was to take a long weekend to the Finger Lakes, aka wine country in NY. The trip was our main “gift” and way of honoring our anniversary and celebrating our love. However, we still wanted to commemorate with small gifts to each other as well. We decided that we will gift each other small anniversary gifts each year and following the traditional gift rules.

According to tradition, the first year wedding anniversary gift is to be made of paper. (You can view the traditional gifts for years 1-100 here).

We also gave each other a $50.00 budget max. 

I began thinking about what paper gift to give Ryan a few months ago. Tickets to an event? A nice framed photo of us? Restaurant gift certificate? I had already done the journal for our wedding. I wanted it to be heartfelt, sentimental, have meaning to both of us and also be of some use. Once I figured out the perfect gift, I simply couldn’t wait for Ryan to open it. It was going to be perfect for him. 

When it comes to opening gifts, Ryan has the patience of a 5-year old at Christmas. As we were packing up the car for our roadtrip he kept begging to open his gift now. He couldn’t wait.  Meanwhile I was anxious that my gift was not going to stand up next to his. He had told my best friend what he got me and she kept telling me it was “SO perfect!”. 

But wait we did. We opened our gifts on the eve of our anniversary, sitting on our deck overlooking the lake while sipping local wine. As soon as Ryan opened my gift he started laughing and said, “I can’t believe this! Open mine! Now!'”

If we need any other evidence that we are perfect for each other, the fact that our handmade paper gift were basically the same says it all. 

We both gifted each other artwork that incorporated the song lyrics of our first dance song, Michael Buble’s “Everything”.

Ryan contacted an Etsy shop and had this adorable print customized for me. The tree is made out of paper with the song lyrics printed on it. It was simply perfect! 

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For my gift to Ryan, I designed a large canvas with an excerpt of the song lyrics printed on it. We’ve been discussing a new gallery wall to go above our bed and I designed this with that wall in mind. 

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Great hearts love alike!!! 

What did you give for your first year anniversary? Do you follow the traditional rules?

xoxo Katie
 

 

“Blind” First Look and Wedding Gifts (wedding recap #4)

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I only have a few days left before celebrating our one year anniversary and these wedding recaps may have to spread out after June 2 as I have more to share and document for memory’s sake. So if you’re not one for wedding and sentimental talk this week may not be your week at my blog, or ever really since I’m the most sentimental person I know.

I’ve shared my wedding theme and details, my dress and number one wedding dress advice, and my last wedding post recapped my rehearsal day, mini disaster and all. Today I wanted to talk about the moments leading up to when we said “I Do”. 

Sunday June 2, 2013. I woke up bright and early on my wedding day, a ball of nerves. I was worried about the weather above all else. There was a 85% chance that it was going to rain. My entire wedding was outside….

Me, the bridesmaids, and our moms all went to the salon at 9:00 a.m. to start the beautification process. In between checking the weather on my phone every 5 minutes, I got my hair done and my air brush make up applied and sipped Mimosas. As our wedding was on a Sunday we had the entire salon, which was a Victorian mansion, to ourselves. It was a lot of fun.

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As we drove to the venue it started to sprinkle, just a tiny bit. I crossed my fingers that this was all the rain that would be happening that day. 

At the venue we girls quickly ate our lunch and then started to get dressed. All 5 bridesmaids and my mom and Ryan’s mom got dressed in about twenty minutes.

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Then it was my turn. It took about 30 minutes to get three people to strap me into my gown. After doing some final touches we ventured outside to take some fun bridesmaid photos.

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Luckily no rain yet! I tried to focus on everything that was going on, but everything was so overwhelming, I just kept smiling full force, through my nerves. 

After getting some gorgeous bridesmaid photos we were ushered inside and sequestered into the “bride’s house” on the property. (There was a bride’s house and a groom’s house on the property, very cool.) Ryan and the groomsmen were arriving soon and we had to be out of sight to avoid the faux pas of Ryan seeing me before the ceremony. (I wanted to follow all the traditional rules). 

We poured some Mimosas and I tried to relax while we waited. Weddings are a lot like holidays, a lot of rushing around to just sit and wait. And be anxious. 

mimosas right before the wedding

After I practiced my vows, had some girl talk, and checked the weather five hundred more times, Ryan’s Dad came and escorted me outside for a special pre ceremony meeting with Ryan, where we wouldn’t actually see each other.

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Since we decided to follow tradition and not see each other before the ceremony, we found a way to have a romantic rendezvous where we could hold hands, exchange love notes, and give each other that little extra piece of private encouragement before saying “I Do” in front of everyone. We were both highly nervous, not about our commitment, but about being the center of attention. 

The “blind” first look was perfect for us.

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Ryan’s normally gruff and non sentimental father tenderly walked me up a hill toward one of the barns on the farm. Ryan was hidden away inside of the barn while the photographer set me up on one side of the large barn door. Once I was situated, Ryan quietly made is way out of the barn and to his side of the door. I blindly reached my hand over and we gave each other an encouraging squeeze.

I felt his energy and his love and after all of the stress of the day and worry about the weather, I was instantly reminded that this was what it was all about. We exchanged our notes, shed some tears, and had a perfect moment. 

Our awesome photographer caught the entire experience on film. 

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Ryan and I then went back to our separate houses and finished any last wedding prep. During this time my maid of honor delivered my wedding gift to Ryan and Ryan’s best man delivered Ryan’s gift to me. Wedding gifts are just one of those  traditions that have lately gotten way out of control. When we first started wedding planning we decided that our vows and commitment were gift enough (also the honeymoon!). But we still wanted to exchange heart-felt gifts that were under $40 each. 

Ryan gifted me an adorable necklace with a heart and key pendant that has an engraving that says “My Heart Is Locked To All But You”.

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I gifted Ryan and pocket watch engraved with “I Will Love You Til The End of Time” as well as a journal that I had kept over the last three-month. In the journal I had written Ryan a letter/entry for every day from March 1 – June 2.

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groom gift pocket watch

They were both perfect.

As I gushed over the thoughtfulness of my husband, my friends alerted me to the fact that the string quartet had started to play and the guests were finding their seats.

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It was time to go. I was going to be getting married in the next hour! The sun was shining and there was no rain. We were going to make it through the ceremony! We weren’t going to have to scramble and move everything inside the tent. Thank goodness!

I had to remind myself to breathe as my mom and maid of honor helped me down the stairs.

My mom and I had a final moment together before she was whisked off to start her walk down the aisle with her father. We shed some light tears over the fact I was wearing the necklace my Nanny (her mother) gave me. It was a delicate gold chain with 5 pearls. She gave me one pearl of each year of my life, she passed when I was 6. We were both wishing she was there.

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After she left my dad arrived and I held on tightly to his hand.  The day we had been waiting for since December, and since I was a little girl was happening. (also the sun was shining and there was not a drop of rain!). Let’s do this! 

…to be continued. 

xoxo Katie
 

5 Tips To Stay Stress Free While Wedding Planning

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Wedding season is officially upon us! Exactly one year ago I was in a constant mode of anxiety and excitement, jumping through many hoops and putting out many fires. Yes, last May I was deep in the final stages of wedding planning. As I survived and enjoyed a very lovely and beautiful wedding day, I thought I’d share some tips with brides to be on how to stay calm and less stressed in the weeks leading up to your wedding day.

There’s no doubt that the time surrounding a woman’s wedding day is equally one of the most stressful and exciting times in her life. After a quick 6-month engagement, my husband and I got married last June. It was a beautiful day but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I endured my fair share of stress and anxiety throughout those 6 months.

Stress and bride are two words that inevitably go together. No matter how carefully you plan or how organized you are, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. You feel like you’re riding an endless emotional rollercoaster as you deal with the stress and the pressure from vendors, money, family, the wedding party, and all of the upcoming change.

Here are 5 tips to help brides stay stress free during wedding planning:

1. Learn To Delegate Tasks
Weddings take A LOT of work. Do not feel like you have to take it all on by yourself. This was hard for me. Too often I felt like no one else would do it as good as me or that I’d be bothering people by asking them to help. Wrong and wrong! Once I got over it, I realized a lot of people were willing to help.
Split up tasks and delegate small jobs to bridesmaids, your fiancé, family, and other friends. They’ll be happy to be a part of executing your big day!

2. Schedule Date Nights (where no wedding talk is allowed)
Be sure to schedule in some alone time for you and your fiancé. Go out, have fun, let loose, and force yourself to not talk about the wedding. This will help the two of you to stay connected and learn to lean on each other – remember, the big day is about the two of you and the celebration of your life long commitment and love for each other! It’s supposed to be fun!

3. Get Organized!
This may sound like a given, but being truly organized with to-do lists and spreadsheets will help you remain put together and not question if you are forgetting anything important. Even if you hate lists – now is the time to start making them! There are hundreds of tasks, items to remember, and budgets to make. I found it helpful to break down the wedding day tasks into categories and make separate folders with their own lists and spreadsheets for each category. Think: Caterer, Florists, Decorations, Music, Wedding Party etc. This helps to not feel so overwhelmed by the magnitude of things to do.

4. Take Care Of Yourself
Schedule some “me time” and be sure to use it to relax and take care of yourself. Continue to exercise and eat healthy, book a massage, shop for the honeymoon, and get enough sleep. Do any activity that makes you feel relaxed and human. It’s easy to lose yourself amidst all of the stress.

5. Lastly, remember, only you will know if something little goes awry
I get it; I worried painfully about every last detail. I spent so much time designing and selecting every element of my wedding – from the flowers, to the centerpieces, to the escort cards, to the tuxes and dresses. Panic attacks woke me up in the middle of the night on a regular basis. The idea of one of my table settings to turn out not exactly as I imagined drove me mad.

In all honesty, no one else will ever notice or care if something small goes wrong. People are there to witness your love and to enjoy a good party. At the end of the day no one will remember most of the small details.

I nearly died when I discovered our tux rental place had messed up our order and did not have enough of the blush ties I wanted each of the groomsmen to wear. Tears were shed. In the end, the groomsmen wore cream ties and looked just as lovely.

People are going to remember how much of a good time they had and how beautiful you looked, not what shade of white paper the table settings were printed on.

Your wedding day is a day set aside to celebrate you and your love. Once you get as organized as you can, try not to sweat the small stuff and to enjoy every moment. A tremendous amount of pressure is put on weddings, but it’s only one day out of your entire life. The day is going to go by in the blink of an eye, be present in the moment and enjoy the specialness of the day.

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This post was originally published on Married To The Game

xoxo Katie
 

 

The Day Before the Big Day

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Oh my, how time flies. I can’t believe that we are approaching our one year wedding anniversary in just a little over a month. I promised myself that I would do a total recap of our wedding and I’ve only managed to give a one or two peaks into the beautiful day. 

But back to the wedding.  I love all wedding related topics – even a year after my planning is complete, I can be found going gaga over centerpieces, stationary, and stalking other people’s wedding photos. So other wedding fanatics out there, I hope you find entertainment in my recap. Otherwise, it will be a nice way for me to remember every element of June 2, 2013. 

The one thing I love about this blog is that it serves as a lovely digital photo album, a time piece for me to look back on in the years ahead for not only me but for our future children. I’m sure this blog will exist as a source of giggles and a way to make fun of their dear old mom while also showing them my true heart.

So, with that introduction, let me tell you about the day before our big day, otherwise known as the Rehearsal Day. 

Ryan and I woke up on Saturday June 1 with more nervousness than excitement. The wedding weekend was finally here! All the details and all the work we had been slaving over was finally coming to fruition! We were to be at the wedding venue at 10 for the rehearsal and to run through last-minute items with the venue. 

I was a nervous wreck. I can honestly say that I was more nervous on Saturday than I was on the actual wedding day on Sunday. I was nervous that none of the wedding party was going to be on time. I was worried that the terrible heat wave was going to put people in grumpy moods. I was worried people were going to be complaining about things. I was worried the musicians weren’t going to show. I was mostly worried about other people. It took me nearly all day to realize I should only be worrying about myself and Ryan. 

And of course, everything at the rehearsal went fine. Everyone was on time. Everyone was smiling. And some umbrellas and endless bottles of water helped the heat situation. I made these helpful schedules detailing the wedding weekend events in case anyone forgot anything or needed addresses or phone numbers.

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I also pulled my bridezilla card and declared the next 48 hours to be complain free. (gotta use my powers for good, right?!)

Everything was happening so quickly. I had barely hugged my out-of-town bridesmaids hello before I found myself holding my dad’s hand and being directed at how to walk down the aisle. 

Cue the tears. I squeezed his hand and looked into his tear filled eyes and listened as he said, “ok, let’s do this!” Because my dad is the most adorable dad ever, we had, on his insistence, practiced our “walk”. Through happy tears, we did our walk down the aisle while I held my lovely bouquet made from ribbons from the packages received at my bridal shower. I forgot about everyone else and just focussed on my dad and Ryan. This was happening. 

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Rehearsal 1 Soon the rehearsal was over. The groomsmen and the bridesmaids said our goodbyes and went out separate ways. The men went to get their tuxes while the girls went to get their nails done. We’d meet up again later at night for the rehearsal dinner. It was fun time!

After getting manis and pedis all my bridesmaids and my mom had a lovely lunch together. While I was happily sipping on my mimosa and chatting with the girls my mom got THE phone call. As she sat directly across the table from me, she nervously answered the phone with, “What’s wrong Ryan.” 

I was in panic mode instantly. Why was Ryan calling my mom and not me? What could be wrong? Is he having cold feet? Did something terrible happen?

Turns out that our tuxedo rental company completely screwed up our order. Months earlier, in February we had spent an entire day driving around town selecting the tuxes. We settled on a grey suit with lovely blush ties. The colors looked heavenly together.

When the groomsmen arrived to pick up their suits. They were all given baby blue ties. Baby blue! A color that is not remotely close to the pale blush color we had carefully selected. They tried to pass off an awful bubblegum pink tie to Ryan. He was calling my mom to see if this was okay. I quickly stole the phone and ran into the hallway. I proceed to yell and cry. How couldn’t something this big go wrong in their systems? Here I was crying to my husband the day before my wedding. Over ties.

What made me the most upset was the complete blase attitude the tux company had over the entire situation. Yes, in the scheme of things, ties are not a big deal. But this is a company that is in the wedding business, they know all the stress, and time, and not to mention money that goes into every detail. After a few back and forth phone calls it was discovered that the suit company had 3 blush ties that we could use. We decided that Ryan, my dad, and Ryan’s dad would wear the blush ties and all the other men would wear ivory ties. In the end, no one but us would know the difference. 

The show must go on. I told myself that if this was the worst thing that happened then it wasn’t so bad. 

After our interrupted lunch we headed back to my house to get freshened up before the rehearsal dinner. It was a lovely evening full of fun toasts and gifts. We gave the groomsmen fun mustache beer mugs and I gifted the bridesmaids with the jewelry that they would be wearing at the wedding. I gifted the mothers with their own special jewelry. Everyone enjoyed winding down with drinks and telling old stories. I loved having this last intimate meal to celebrate with my closest friends and family before the big day. 

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bridesmaids at rehearsal

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dad and mom at rehearsal dinner

Ryan and I decided to hold with tradition and to not sleep in the same house or see each other before the wedding. He went and spent that night at the hotel that his parents were staying in while I went back to our house for a sleepover with some of my bridesmaids.

My girlfriends sat around with me and let me practice my vows in front of them. I couldn’t say them with a straight face. How was I going to do this tomorrow? We got rid of some wedding night nerves by taking a long walk around the golf course that we live on. At night, I lied in bed next to my best friend since seventh grade. We had grown up together and had helped each other through all our growing pains. Once she fell asleep I lied awake and cried happy tears.

Tomorrow was an end of an era and the start of something new and beautiful. 

Return next week to read about our actual wedding day including our vows, music, and more! 

What are your favorite things about weddings? 

xoxo Katie

 

Why We Work

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, Bonnie, from The Life of Bon, and Taylor, from The Daily Tay, ganged up for a love themed link up – encouraging others to write about why they and their partner “work”.

After deciding to participate I just kept muttering to myself “Why do Ryan and I work as a married couple?” over, and over, and over. I kept trying to recall that one magic moment when everything clicked and fireworks went off and I know we were just perfect for each other. Sorry to break it to you, but I don’t believe moments like that exist. No one is perfect for each other.

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While I repeatedly asked myself the question, “Why do we work?” I couldn’t help but envision a well oiled factory machine with many complex parts all working together perfectly to create a flawless and productive product. This analogy may work for some couples (or maybe just in fairy tales?) but my marriage to Ryan is nothing like that.

We are two separate machines and unlike a well-engineered piece of factory equipment, our parts don’t always line up perfectly or complete each other. We don’t work because there is some magic chemistry between the two of us or because it was our destiny to end up together. We work because we work at being together. And it is hard work.

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Not only are we two separate machines, but Ryan and I are often working in two separate factories miles and miles apart. Yet, with communication our two independent factories work together attempting to create a product that will please the other and create a joint profit. Somedays I will create a product with just the hopes of making Ryan’s day, while others I hope that the product I’m creating will work well with the one that he is simultaneously creating for me.

There are days when all lines of communication are down and our attempts are complete failures. We’ll end up creating two useless items. I’ll create a TV remote and he’ll create a picture frame. They are both fine and dandy, but what is a remote with out a TV and a frame with out a picture? These two items are useless alone and they will never be productive together. Failure day at the factories.

Those days are the worst, like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and they are often filled with tears, resentment, and mean words. But no matter what, you are never going to get that TV remote and that picture frame to work together. It’s best to just say goodnight and go to bed. (yes, going to bed angry “works” for us) That TV remote and picture frame will usually be gone by morning and we can get back to work at making something else.

Other days we surprise ourselves and create two separate products that are essential to one another, like a lightbulb and a lamp. You can’t have one with out the other can you? These days far outweigh the bad ones. They, like the lightbulb, ignite our love and give us hope which we use to light the way through those darker failure days. But these days take hard work.

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It’s hard work fitting two different people doing two different jobs together for life. There are days when we both want to quit, that we both want to push the reset button and go back to our factory settings of default. When our machines are in default mode we always come first, we don’t have to think about another person’s needs or ideas. Ryan and I work because we don’t believe in hitting the “reset to default” button. Instead, of the “default button” we select the buttons labeled with words like respect, sympathy, kindness, and patience.

It takes work to be patient when Ryan is dead tired and as grumpy as a toddler. It takes work for Ryan to not jump to conclusions as to why I’m being quiet or distant when I just need some space. It takes work to be understanding when Ryan forgets an important date because he has 5 billion things going on inside his head. It takes work for Ryan to be kind when I forget to rinse out my dirty dishes before putting them in our inadequate dishwasher (once again). It’s the constant little acts of kindness that makes us work.

why we work a beautiful little adventure

We work because at the end of the day our two separate machines have churned out a plentiful array of products. Yes, some are disasters, but others are productive and beautiful. Together the good and the bad create a beautiful work of art. To others it may look like an abstract mess, but to us it is a masterpiece. It depicts our love, our life’s work and tells our story. As with any piece of art, Ryan and I will always view it with a different perception and take away a different meaning. But by choosing to simultaneously admire and to put value in the same piece of work day in and day out; that is what makes us work.

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