“Oh God, Is This The Right Move?”

It’s officially official and I can now start sharing with the whole world that my little sister is engaged!! She and her (now) fiance got engaged on her birthday (June 13th) and it’s looking like they’ll be getting married in mid-August. Does the short turn around time sound familiar to anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Well, if it does sound familiar it’s likely because you had a short turn around too. And that short turn around might have meant that you were also getting married to a service member. That’s right, my sister is marrying a Marine. Though, unlike me and my husband (Army), they’ve known each other since they were kids. They graduated high school together. He was even her first real boyfriend in like middle school. After graduation, he joined the Corps and they kinda lost touch. Last year, while she was working the renaissance faire circuit with Inner Beast Leather they worked the Southern California Faire and they reconnected while she was there. For over a year they’ve been in a long distance relationship (he was in California for a portion of it as well as being deployed to the Middle East while shutting down bases) and now they’re getting married. Yay!!

Personally, I’m super excited for her. I know she is as well, but I’m like over the moon excited for her. Mostly because I know what her love life has been like her entire life and she deserves this. Her boyfriend is beyond good to her and gets the big sister stamp of approval.

When a normal engagement happens, the girl generally has no idea it’s going to happen. For military engagements though, a lot of the time the woman either knows when it’s going to happen or knows it’s going to happen soon just not when. So she’s always on the edge of her seat wondering “is he gonna do it now?”. The latter was my sister and I. With our boyfriends being so far away from us (admittedly, hers was further) we knew it had to be during one of those rare windows when we were together. We had an idea, just not a certain time. So in the days leading up to her boyfriend arriving back home for his summer block leave (he came back to Kentucky since it’s his home state as well), she was growing more and more nervous. Of course, she came to me for advice and I gave it to her the best I could.

And now that it’s all come to a head and there’s no more need for her to be nervous, I find myself wondering if those moments of “oh God, is this the right move?” is something a majority of mil-spouses go through. Whether it is or not, I felt compelled to write this blog. These are the things I told myself (since I didn’t really have someone to discuss it all with like my sister did) and things I told my sister — which also includes some things I wish someone had told me.

Despite What People May Say, Marriage Isn’t That Big A Deal
Or at least it doesn’t have to be. Nothing has to be a big deal in life unless you want it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t think hard about the decision to get married before doing it, I’m just saying that making the decision to do it doesn’t have to cause you agony. In fact, if it does, that should be tip number one that you shouldn’t do it. I’ve lived with almost every boyfriend I’ve ever had in my life except Daniel. I can tell you that living with him now is a lot like living with all those boyfriends I’ve ever had. Yes there are differences, but those differences (for the most part) are the things you don’t constantly have on the fore front of your mind. For me, the biggest difference is that I’ve only had insurance through one boyfriend before (because we were technically common law married). My insurance is through Daniel (except dental, that’s mine) whereas I’ve always had insurance through my parents or myself (minus that one time previously mentioned).

You Can Keep Your Lives Separate
Do you have to take his last name? No. Do you have to get joint bank accounts? No. Do you have to completely erase your identity and become “Mrs. So-and-So”? Most definitely not. I took Daniel’s last name because I wanted to, but he had absolutely no issues with me keeping my own name. We have a joint account but our paychecks go into our personal accounts so we can pay our separate bills (phones, car insurance and car payments) and the rest goes into joint so we can pay other bills (cable, groceries, etc). But you don’t even have to do that. No where does it state that you have to share money when you’re married. It makes sense and it’s easier to run a household that way, but you don’t have to do it.

Your Friends =/= His Friends
While it makes sense that you’ll have friends in common, it also makes sense that you won’t have them. There will be people you’re close with that he isn’t and vice versa. And that’s okay. While you get along fine with each other, your spouse might not get along with all your friends and you might not get along with all of theirs. That’s human nature and by no means should you feel bad because of it. Now, when he wants to be friends with all of your friends or doesn’t want to know your friends at all… that’s when you have a problem and should probably consider not getting married. While you are thought of as a whole by the government when you sign your marriage license, you are still two very separate people and should live your lives as such. This kind ties into the previous point, but you can and should keep your lives separate.

Forget Whatever Norm or Standard You Think There Is For Marriage
Everyone is different and because of this you can’t create a “norm” for how a marriage should work. So long as you’re both happy, who has the right to judge your relationship? No one, that’s who. So whatever you think a “normal” marriage is, throw it out the window. Do what works for you and your spouse. I recently altered my schedule at work so that I work all day three days a week and have two days during the week off. This allows me to be home to do the crafty projects I want as well as teach horse back riding lessons (oh yeah I started teaching those!) AND spend time with my husband since he’s home from work due to a medical profile. So that’s two days during the week and both days on weekends where I’m with him pretty much all day (minus the few hours I’m at the barn). While I love my husband and love spending time with him, I do like doing my own thing in my spare time. So the norm for us on my “days off” is making breakfast together and then him playing his video games while I work on crafts in the backyard or the other room. We’ll go hours without talking to one another. Strange, maybe, but it makes us happy. We’re not happy to be apart, but we’re happy that the other respects the things we do in our alone time and that the other allows us the time to do those things. Really, it all comes down to respecting the fact that your husband or wife might not want to spend every minute of free time with you. Or respecting that they do and accommodating to the fact that you might not want to.

Communication Is Your Best Friend
I’ve known this even prior to getting engaged, but talking about things that bug you is the most important thing you can do in any relationship. If Daniel is spending too much time with his video games, all I have to do is tell him that I want to watch a movie with him and he puts the controller down. It’s so much easier than sitting on the couch with my arms crossed and staring at him or the TV screen in silent hatred. There have even been times I didn’t care if he was playing or not but he could tell I was bored and he put the controller down anyway. Even if you’ve been with your fiancee for years before taking the step towards marriage, open lines of communication are the only thing that’s going to keep your relationship healthy and happy.

Your Big Day May Not Be What You Imagined, But That’s Okay
I know a lot of girls dream of the day they get married. They have thoughts of this big, beautiful party with all the trimmings. Well, when you get married to a service member, you might not always have the time to plan something like that. Daniel wanted the big wedding. I did not. So we agreed to instead do something small in the beginning and plan something bigger for a vow renewal. I don’t know what my sister’s plans are, but obviously she won’t be planning the party of the year either. I’m sure it’ll be small and just for family and close friends, but whether or not she does something later I have no idea. My point is, you likely won’t get the wedding you imagined, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it later. Honestly, getting married is all about the legal part of it. You don’t have to have a ceremony and reception to get married. All you have to have is a piece of paper and an ordained minister (or the magistrate in your county seat can do it). The requirements vary by county so be sure to check the details before you get everything set. EITHER WAY… it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Honestly, if I could have met with the woman that married Daniel and I at a coffee shop and just signed the papers I would have… but our parents wanted a “ceremony” of sorts.

You’re Going To Have Your Best Friend In Your Corner. Breath.
I know I’ve been promoting the fact that you can still be separate and be married at the same time, but the biggest thing you cannot forget in this journey is that, no matter how scary it may be, you’re not alone. Chances are, if you’re taking the necessary steps to getting married, the person you’re with truly loves and cares for you and doesn’t want to see you fail. Ever. If that’s the case, they’re going to be there for you no matter what. I’ve never been the best at this thing called “adulting” and at 27 years old, I often look back on my life and wonder what the hell I did wrong. Why am I not better at this? I beat myself up a lot over it. A lot. Daniel kinda knew that before going into this, but he didn’t know that there were days I was beating myself up over it so bad that I literally wouldn’t want to get out of bed. Now, those days are very few and far between, but one of them happened to come up soon after moving down here with to be with him. Any other time I’ve had these kind of days, I’ve had to deal with them by myself. Even if I was dating someone, I didn’t want to bring them down with me. But Daniel literally wouldn’t let me shut him out. He pulled me up (again literally because I didn’t want to get out of bed) and forced me to go out and do something I enjoyed. He picked me up, dusted me off and gave me the “you don’t have to do this alone anymore” speech and it was in that moment that I realized it was okay to let someone else help me. It was okay to lean on him. He was my husband after all. It’s not that he was doing it because it’s expected of him. He was doing it because he hated seeing me like that. When you marry your significant other, you’re marrying your best friend and like a best friend, they never want to see you cry. They’re not going to let you fail.

A lot of these points tie into one another, but really that’s how all advice should be if you think about it. This huge problem you think you’re having often isn’t really that big and thusly can be answered in one go. But it is always nice to hear lots of things to back your decision, even if it would take less oxygen just to name one thing.

What things did you figure out after getting married that you wish someone would have told you before hand?

Someday I Hope You Get The Chance…

About six months ago I updated my tumblr with a more personal sort of blog entry. I’m trying to keep personal entries, journal like things, over there and using this one to reach a broader audience. But I digress. I made an entry over there I called the “confidence bucket list”. I’m just going to copy and paste my description of this bucket list in here for the sake of ease and I’ll link the actual entry below that in case you wanted to see what was on that list. Because I’m going to be making a new one now, though some of the same things will still be on it.

“So a friend of mine recently posted a “confidence bucket list”. It’s essentially things you wish you had the confidence to accomplish. Things that may frighten you a bit because they’re outside your comfort zone. I wanted to do it too, not because I have a list of things that I don’t feel confident doing… but because I don’t have a list of things I don’t feel confident doing. I’m a pretty confident person, both in the things I can do and the things I’ve never done. I know that sounds weird, but my biggest fear is failure, so I don’t accept anything less than success from myself. No matter what it is, I give 150% until I succeed.

Like this past weekend, I was on a lake for about four days and day one I was asked if I wanted to try wake boarding. I’d never done it before, though I’d seen it done several times. I understood it in theory perfectly, but I understand a lot of things in theory. It’s the application of said theory that gets tricky. So the first few times I tried it just having it explained to me. Well that failed and I ended up drinking way more of the lake than I wanted to, so I took a break and when we went back out the woman who owned the boat showed me how to do it first. I’m a visual kinesthetic learner, so that worked out better for me. Even though I didn’t get up that second time either (the boat got too low on gas to keep going), I know the next time I try it I’ll do it. Was I scared before I attempted it? You best bet I was, but I was confident I could do it. I believe my exact words after I swallowed half the lake were “I’m fucking doing this before we leave”. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to do it again after that first day, but I have plans to do it before the summer is over even if it kills me.

But I digress. My point is, there’s very little I don’t have the confidence to do so making a confidence bucket list is more about finding those things that I don’t think I’d excel at and doing it anyway. Not accepting the fact that I don’t think I’d do well at them as a reason to avoid them. So these might be stupid, but they’re things I’m scared to try because I have a gut feeling I’d fail. Here goes nothing”

This is the link to the actual entry, and while I’m not just going to copy and paste the things from that list, a lot of them (actually all of them) are going to be on this one… but with a few more added.

1) Enlist in the United States Air Force Reserves.
When I originally made this entry, I was trying to enlist in active duty. I have since changed my plan and am doing reserves first. For those of you who don’t know, I was originally disqualified because of heart surgery I had when I was 17 but I’m appealing that disqualification. My fear isn’t so much that I won’t go through with the enlistment process, it’s more that something else will come up that will prevent me from doing it. That my dream will come to a screeching halt again and I’ll be left not knowing what end is up. I’m not usually the kind of person to put all her eggs in one basket, but I don’t have a plan B for this. I don’t want a plan B. I don’t want to think of any other outcome besides the one I want. But I can’t help but wonder sometimes…

2) Go skydiving.
It’s not the heights that scare me, it’s not even the falling that scares me, it’s the landing if anything goes wrong. I’m not afraid of death by any means… but those moments before you hit the ground and you know you’re going to die… I don’t want to live that. My unease with doing something like this has only gotten greater since I met Daniel. He’s a paratrooper with the 82nd at Fort Bragg and injured his ankle on a jump back in June. Needless to say… it makes me even more nervous about it.

3) Be a mother.
That might seem a bit weird, but failing as a parent is the biggest reason I’m on the fence about having kids of my own. I know it’s one of those fears you never really get over until you do it, but I want myself to be in the best position possible for success before I even try it. Seems smart right? Well, when you don’t know when that position will come up, it’s a bit scary. What if I’m never there? Will I really hold off on ever having a child? I wouldn’t mind adopting in the least, but I would like at least one of my own. And this “when is the right time” question gets even harder now that I’m actually married. I know that family will start asking when we’re going to have kids eventually (hell, his mother is already begging for one), so we’ve talked about it but it’s still a bit daunting and nerve racking. Very, very nerve racking.

4) Sell a car.
Okay, now that one is really weird and random, I admit. But I’ve applied for lots of jobs in my life and every time I’ve ever needed a job badly, at least one person has told me I should go sell cars. That I’d be good at it. I’ve worked at a dealership before, I know what goes into selling cars, and I know I couldn’t do it. I have a personal problem with putting someone in a vehicle I know they can’t afford just so I can make something on the front end. I’m too honest and compassionate to sell cars. Which is precisely why I want to sell at least one. I probably won’t make anything off the commission, but that’s okay. I sold a car. And if my job search down here keeps going like it is… I might have to resort to trying to sell cars.

5) Open up to a stranger.
Not sure if anyone else will count that I did this one… but I’m going to. I met Daniel online (not even gonna lie about that one) and we talked virtually for about a week before we actually met in person. The conversations we had through messages were pretty average. We talked mostly about our days and the like, but when we actually met up at a Starbucks and sat down to talk… we just sort of instantly clicked. Here was this complete stranger, some guy I’d only just met and been talking to for a collective of maybe two days, and yet I couldn’t help but tell him everything. And it wasn’t just me spilling my guts. He answered every question I threw at him without hesitation and without avoiding the feels. It was weird and refreshing and unexceptionally nice. Four months later… we married.

6) Fail at something and be okay with it.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this one first. I even said in the beginning that my biggest fear is failure, so it goes without saying that I’ll have mastered my confidence bucket list when I’m comfortable failing. When I’m comfortable not being successful at something and not thinking less of myself because of it. I don’t know when that will be, if ever, but it definitely deserves to be on this list, if not at the top.

7) Become a wife.
This one should have been on my list from the beginning but I didn’t really think of it until I was faced with it. When Daniel asked me to marry him, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to. It wasn’t the marrying him part that I had an issue with. It wasn’t until later that I realized it was the letting him see all of me part that was my problem. And I don’t just mean just-woke-up-no-make-up-bed-head me either. I mean the part of me that feels like a failure when I realize I’m going on 27 and have nothing to show for it. The part of me that feels like ugly baby crying every time I hear “Amazing Grace”. The part of me that gets short and rude and defensive when things aren’t going how I want them to. I didn’t want him to see those parts and not love me anymore. I still don’t want him to see those parts and not love me anymore. But it’s something I had to do anyway. If I wanted to marry him (which I very much did), I had to be okay with the fact that he might see those and wonder what the hell he’d gotten himself into.

8) Start my own business.
This isn’t something in which I lack the confidence to do. I’m sure that if I put my mind to it, I could start my own business. My issue is not knowing which business to start (chainmaille jewelry, DIY crafty things, photography, dog training, pet sitting, horse back riding instructor, etcetc) and not having the revenue to really focus on it and solely it. I’d love to get back into photography more, and actually plan on doing so, but until I have a clientele set up and enough jobs coming in, I can’t focus on photography and just that. The same with any of the other ideas I have. It’s just going to take time… and I’m not the most patient person in the world.

That is not the end of my “confidence bucket list” by far, but it’s a good start. What things would you put on your list?