Why We Need a Step-By-Step Guide From Proposal to Parenthood

We're Engaged, Now What?

Src: howheasked.com/ Amy and Jordan Photography

Last night, I found myself awake way past my bedtime looking at rings on the Internet instead of indulging in one my favorite pastimes, reading myself to sleep. I laughed at the amazing absurdity of it all, as I scrolled through webpage after webpage. It certainly wasn’t how I expected to be spending a late Monday night—or honestly any night in the near future. But then neither WP nor I was expecting our dinner out after he got home from work last to turn into an engagement celebration either. However, that’s exactly what it became.

The Surprising Proposal

One of the things I love most about WP is his desire to have a formal follow-up on any significant conversation we have. In the past, several men I dated avoided serious, emotional discussions like the plague. Thus, when I had something important to discuss or a confusion to clear up, I got used to zipping my lips to avoid discomfort, awkwardness and conflict. It wasn’t something of which I was proud. Not surprisingly, it did not contribute positive to relationships. With so many words and thoughts left not expressed, I was often left mentally gnawing over things until I got so frustrated that I exploded like a shaken soda can.

In this particularly case, I wasn’t sure I could trust my memory of where WP and I left things the previous night. We’d confirmed without doubt that we absolutely wanted to marry each other, but what exactly did that mean? Had that been a real proposal?

Fortunately, as soon as we sat at the table for dinner last night, WP commented on what a mind-blowing conversation we’d had the previous night. “I keep thinking, ‘Wow, did that really happen? Did we really say we are getting married?”

He expressed some disappointment over the lack of surprise involved in the mutual proposal. There was no elaborate, grand romantic gesture, no bended knee and no ring to present. We told each other everything, he said, so a proposal could never really be a complete surprise anyway.

I reassured him that there were plenty of things we could still carry on with an element of surprise, like picking out the engagement ring. I enthused how I receive grand romantic gestures from him regularly, more than anyone else I know. Just the other day, he expressed how he’s still trying grasp how amazing I am, in his eyes, and how he can be worthy of it all. He revels in my physical touch and waxes poetic during our long, stimulating conversations and in the middle of an achingly tender embrace. He openly expresses to others who are important in our lives just how precious I am to him.

All these gestures wrapped together mean more to me than being presented with a ring at the peak of Mt. Sinai.

So We’re Getting Married, Now What?

So We're Getting Engaged, Now What?“So what happens next? What do we do now?” WP asked me, as we shared our appetizers of lamb lollipops and homemade hummus with scrumptious bread.

I shrugged, laughing. “I have no idea what happens next,” I admitted. “I guess we start planning.”

We talked about the type of ceremony we might like to have, where and why. We talked about whether we wanted a ceremony with just the two of us followed by a party with everyone, or to have our closest family and friends there. We talked about the need for a ring—WP wants to pick it out a ring together. Once we have the ring, then we can officially announce the engagement to everyone. Then we can really plan a wedding. And deciding on the honeymoon will be the fun part.

Why We Need a Step-By-Step Guide From Proposal to Parenthood

While the whole process baffles us, we will take it one phase at a time. I was never a girl who planned her wedding down to the detail. I don’t have a collection of ideal bridal dresses, wedding locations or cake ideas. I don’t know who all will be in my wedding party if I have one. So last night, I decided to get on the ball and start a Pinterest board for engagement rings that speak to me.

In such unfamiliar territory, I feel like we need a step-by-step guide from proposal to parenthood. I am so grateful for the next best thing—a really close friend who loves planning weddings. After a brief counsel with her about rings, I’ve decided I will share the Pinterest link with WP and tell him to surprise me with the one he chooses. He can present it to me in a romantic fashion, and then we can publicly announce our official engagement.

And what after that? We’ll play it by ear.

What The Wedding Is Really All About

“Do you think I’ll be a good husband?” WP quietly asked me later that night in bed.

“I know you’ll be a great husband,” I said.

“I’ll do everything in my power to be the best husband I can be,” he said. He expressed his confidence in me as a great wife, and, if it comes to, mom. “I think we will be wonderful for each other.”

After last few years of loving each other, comforting one another, cherishing each other, and being there for each other—for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, I agree. I believe we will do more than just fine, until death us do part.

Untangling Crossed Signals in Relationships

Miscommunication in couples

Src: twoofus.org

From the moment he walks into the house at the end of the day, an hour earlier than I expect, I can tell he’s already in a state. He looks at me with joyless eyes as he gives me a half-hearted hug. He engages in conversation politely, but the normal lively spirit isn’t there. He says he is simply tired, but I feel like my words suddenly either bore him or annoy him to no end.

When we finish with dinner, we chat about work and a new app he wants to invent. When I ask questions, he seems defensive. I stand to bring the dishes back to the kitchen, scraping some leftover off the plate. Without looking at him, I can tell he’s irritated by the sound so I quickly head to the kitchen.

I return from rinsing off dishes, and he has logged into Facebook on the computer/TV in the main room. I don’t think he was expecting me back so soon. As I begin to fold the freshly laundered clothes, including some of his own, he comments about a ridiculous post by one of his friends. He talks in a mocking tone, though he is part of that online dialogue, I point out. When I try to get at whether he’s being sarcastic or serious about his observation, he is visibly annoyed, cutting off the conversation and closing out Facebook with a “Whatever.”

After finishing laundry and putting my clothes away, I return to the living room and find the lights turned off and him nowhere in sight. I call out for him curiously, and he says he’s going to read in the room before disappearing again. Taking that as a sign he wants to be alone, I change my direction for the night. I do the dishes after all. I read for a bit. I do yoga for a bit, and then I read some more.

Somewhere during this time, we cross paths in the kitchen, and he reaches out for a hug. “Sorry for my lack of exuberance,” he says. I shrug it off, with a typical, “It’s okay,” even though I’m not quite sure what he means.

Src: Ink361.com

Src: Ink361.com

I know when he needs his space, I must respectfully give it to him, without questions, or there will be problems. Our relationship almost derailed permanently two years ago this month for taking his distance personally and for pushing too far, with attitude, about the way he disappeared. In similar situations, I’m still walking on eggshells, but so it is. I understand this occasional need for sudden space, after more than a year and half of living together, but I still wish he was able or willing to warn me ahead of time—or that I could read auras of mood immediately to ensure no feathers are needlessly ruffled.

In the middle of the dark, I grab my cell phone and send him a message on Facebook. I tell him if he needs more extended time alone to just let me know, and I’ll get away for a couple days. I think to myself, maybe it will give him a chance to miss me (and I him). Maybe not seeing each other at all for a couple days will remind him of how interesting and desirable to be around I can be.

When I am finally ready for sleep, I hesitantly go into our room and get into bed. Even though he’s fast asleep, I feel waves of discomfort. I’m still processing today’s sudden change in temperature of our interactions, plus the cough of my cold is picking up again. I head to the couch, where I run through the cycle of cough, toss and turn, sleep, and repeat.

At 5 a.m., I wake up with gooey cobwebs in my eyes. My body no longer feels comfortable balled up on the couch. I decide I’ll go back to bed, to have any chance of falling back asleep. Unfortunately, my cough picks up to an almost constant refrain. After more than half an hour, I can tell he is fully woken up by this. And I am too. I hear him get up, go to the bathroom, then head back to his office. I cough and cough, rolling onto my back, eyes closed, willing myself to fall back asleep.

He’s likely watching porn, as per his early morning routine. I imagine him deriving more pleasure from rubbing it out alone in the shower than the blowjob I had been planning to love him up with the night before. Before I was given the freeze out. I’m not upset; just tired and bewildered.

I wedge another pillow under me, raising my upper body. My cough begins to wane. But it’s too late for more sleep for him, for m….

An hour later, I awaken. He hasn’t said goodbye to me for leaving for work. This disappoints me a little, but I’m too distracted by my cold to get truly upset. That’s when I hear him walking the hallways. He’s moving slowly this morning apparently.

I get up and go to my “office.” When he gets out of the shower, I go into the bathroom to wash the cobwebs out of my eyes. He is standing in the kitchen, getting his bags together when I get out. I decide it’s ridiculous to wait for him to talk before saying anything.

Img src: jeanneguy.com

Img src: jeanneguy.com

I apologize for waking him up so early with my coughing. He says he’s sorry my cold is so bad this morning. After a hug, he tells me not to overdo it today. I tell him that I’ll try. My IM goes unmentioned and hasn’t been replied to. I don’t know if he even noticed I wasn’t in the bed most of the night.

With too little sleep, it’s going to be a long day for both of us. I’ll definitely want to tread lightly in our interactions tonight. Hopefully we’ll both wake up on the right side of bed tomorrow, and neither of us will feel remnants of eggshells under our foot.

What Couples Uncover When Chatting About Their Unique Relationships

Src: Flickr Creative Commons/ellenlove

Src: Flickr Creative Commons/ellenlove

This past weekend we went to a housewarming party, where we got to spend time with a few of our favorite couples. As always, the Warrior Poet and I learn so much from our conversations with them, giving us further insight into how others relate successfully and unsuccessfully in their romantic endeavors. Two interesting things arose in conversation that night—how couples communicate (or don’t) and how couples deal with conflict.

One of the surprising statements of the night was that having a max of 15 or so minutes of meaningful communication per day was the reality for others. “Neither of us are big talkers,” the guy in one of the couples explained. They enjoy being in each other’s company, but not don’t feel the need for much chatting. Another couple gets in fights frequently over communication blunders and misunderstandings.

WP and I exchanged knowing glances—our days wouldn’t be complete without some serious downtime talking with each other about more than just a play-by-play of our respective days. Whether we are discussing our goals for the next steps in our respective careers, contemplating the cosmos or trying to solve the world’s crises over lack of resource, or we’re making up parody lyrics or ridiculous names for our brood of non-existent dysfunctional children, a day doesn’t feel complete without looking into each others eyes and really jumping into each other’s minds for a good chunk of time. Two-and-a-half years into the relationship, we continue to lose track of time some nights because we’re so busy talking about whatever comes up.

Admittedly, we haven’t been together for more than a decade; as much as we already know and understand about each other, we still delight in discovering even more. And we don’t have children, which takes up a lot of time, attention and energy for parent couples. Nor are we a workaholic power couple spreading ourselves too thin to have the energy to do much more than the necessary check-ins. Yet, we also have our own, full lives we’re living.

I am working on building my own business, am constantly educating myself and following a half dozen passions—while also dealing with health and financial stress. WP’s work life is consistently frustrating, and he is extremely driven in his pursuits outside of work and rarely gets home before 8 p.m. at night. Yet on the two days we both work from home, we make an effort to briefly check in throughout the day. And each night, we eat dinner together and spend time in each others company until falling asleep.

Admittedly, sometimes the night is full chill mode of listening to podcasts or watching something or the computer. Or we decide to wind up the night reading side by side in bed. Sometimes, WP gets home late and exhausted, and we have barely enough time to prepare and eat dinner before he falls asleep. Yet, whatever we are doing, the time together is paramount, and we enjoy the time we carve out to talk to each other, no matter the topic. It’s what makes us feel happy and complete.

The other big thing that came up in our couples’ conversations the other night was how conflict is resolved. One couple is aware that it is made up of two, explosive and stubborn individuals. The longest they’ve gone without talking was a full week, which I cannot even fathom. The individuals in the other couple both hate conflict, but the man can’t stand leaving things unresolved for very long so he initiates airing things out. The rare times that things get weird between WP and me, I’m usually the one who has to bring up the topic to get us to directly address it.

Interestingly, yesterday I got on WP’s nerves because I was washing dishes while he was trying to cook meals for the week. I thought I was doing a good thing by cleaning new dishes that he would was going to need for the baking. He started sighing loudly and eventually went to sit in the corner and got one the phone until I was done. I left the room in an annoyed huff, mumbling, “I was just trying to wash the dust off the dishes for you.”

I sat and stewed for a while. I know WP is very sensitive to people and sounds, and it can drive him crazy not to have full reign of the kitchen when he is cooking. Yet he does all the cooking, and I feel better when I can do anything to help. Sometimes this is tolerated, but yesterday it was not.

It made me feel badly that I was just another annoyance to him at the time. I know how territorial he is about his kitchen at times and that I can’t take this too personally, but I would much rather have had him say something than just very audibly and dramatically sighing in annoyance over something that lasted less than five minutes. So I clung to my hurt feelings for a couple hours, though he seemed fine.

But after watching thought-provoking documentaries together, he initiated discussing the global issues the shows brought up that were much more significant than a kitchen showdown. Any awkwardness that had built up dissipated, and I openly engaged in the conversation as usual. No harm, no foul.

I know, like any couple, we can still improve on our communication, especially when neither of us is feeling at our best. We like to assume we can read each other’s minds, and get frustrated when it’s not always so. Yet I’m grateful that these moments aren’t very frequent and almost never lead to frustrated outbursts or tears. Neither of us thrives on such things.

It’s different strokes for different folks, and that’s what makes observing and learning about other relationships so fascinating. Different personalities have their own ways for navigating through the landscape of their relationships and making things work for them. Sharing our varied experiences can be a great way to learn from each other…and it definitely makes for entertaining group conversations.

Can You Ask to Bring Your Love to a Wedding?

CanYouAskToBringYourLoveToAWeddingSummertime is finally here, and with it comes the annual parade of graduations and weddings. The Warrior Poet and I went to his cousin’s graduation party last weekend, have another cousin’s wedding coming up in September, and one of my cousins living a couple states away is getting married in August. Yet I came up against a wedding etiquette conundrum the other day: When in a committed relationship, can you ask to bring your love to a wedding if the invite is only for you?

WP’s invitations to the wedding and Jack-and-Jill party included a “plus one.” My invitation, which was actually part of my parents’, did not. This absence instigated a humorous battle between my parents that has stretched over several days.

Find out how I decided to handle this sticky situation on Singles Warehouse:

http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/06/can-you-ask-to-bring-your-love-to-a-wedding/

How to Deal With Your Partner’s Ex Who is Still Hanging On

HowToDealWithYourPartnersExWhoIsStillHangingOnFrom the beginning, my boyfriend and I have been very open and honest with one other about our past relationships. He knows about many of the issues that led to the breakups with my biggest exes, and I know his perspective on what some of the biggest factors were that ended his last four-year relationship. He knew that I casually kept in touch with a couple of my exes, considering a couple actual friends, and I found out that occasionally he and his ex had text exchanges. It became apparent that she hadn’t moved on from him, though it’s now been almost two years since they officially broke up. Yet it never really concerned me because she’s never made a presence in my actual life…but that’s about to change. So now I’m left wondering how to deal with your partner’s ex who is still hanging on.

Read more here: http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/06/how-to-deal-with-your-partners-ex-who-is-still-hanging-on/

On Singles Warehouse

Is There One Secret Formula for a Successful Relationship?

IsThereASecretFormulaForRomanceHer eyes were filled with tears when we got into the car with them to go for our hike. She hid behind big sunglasses and the front passenger seat. The Warrior Poet and I had seen the two of them sitting in a different parking lot than the one we shortly met them at. We instinctively knew that they were having a fight. When we joined them in the car, the tension was blistering. It wasn’t the first time we’ve been in the midst of their conflict, and I daresay it would not be the last.

The Warrior Poet and I often wondered why they continued to weather the strain of such frequent friction. It was obvious they had intensely strong affection and attraction for one another, yet they seemed to be in constant strife. Just because we saw one vision for a happy relationship, did that mean that they weren’t equally satisfied with their one? Is there one formula for a successful relationship?

Read more about what I have to say on the topic at Singles Warehouse here:

Is there one formula for a successful relationship?

 

How Do You Move Forward When Your Soulmate Walks Away?

Walking Away From Everything by vampire_zombie

Walking Away From Everything by vampire_zombie

I’ve always felt that through every significant life experience, even—especially—through my mistakes and failures, there are countless lessons to be learned and shared. Love, dating and relationship experiences are no different. For what is life about if not for building awe-inspiring connections, for finding endless opportunities to learn more about yourself and develop an appreciation and love for the people who cross your path in life—yourself included?

Yet I’m finding it hard to share my most important love experience and lesson with you all, and that is: How Do You Move Forward When Your Soulmate Walks Away?

Read more about how I feel about soulmates and what it feels like to have to let the one you thought was the ultimate soulmate go here on Singles Warehouse.

A Broken Heart Just in Time For A Day of Lovers

Src: love.catchsmile.com

Src: love.catchsmile.com

No matter what obstacles we may have had between us, we always had our strength in communication. We could clear up misunderstandings by tracing where miscommunication had deteriorated the true message, eventually getting to the root of clear intent. A stop in the flow was only a temporary pause, until we could once again get the opportunity to openly express our feelings back and forth directly.

This silence is killing me. You claim it is to digest things, but I don’t know what there is to digest. You behaved in a way I felt was thoughtless. I voiced my discontent. You saw why I was upset and apologized. We also eventually voiced how we stood at different stages regarding the next chapter in our relationship. I had moved onto the next topic of discussion but you were still sending jabs at me as payback from the other topic. I didn’t recognize you then.

There were flickers of recognition when you backtracked and apologized. Yet when I attempted to further make peace, the stranger returned, metaphorically spitting back in my face, still unable to let go. Then I met stony silence.

You know I don’t do well with being shut out. That’s what started this all in the first place. I get that you are independent. I get that sometimes you need your space. Yet you also have to understand that when I am waiting for you, the respectful thing to do is let me now what’s going on and where you are. The loving thing to do is not to ignore me when you return. If you really want to be part of a couple, you don’t digest what’s going on by ignoring me for several days and expect that’s working through a problem.

You say you’re not angry, so this isn’t a cooling down period. What more do you have to digest? That I can get justifiably upset, and you don’t like that? You don’t think that’s what couples sometimes do? For 10 months of a relationship, having this occur once like this is really not so life ending. Yet you think that that’s reason to just throw your hands up and shut the door in my face?

After behaving like you’ve been so passionately in love with me up until just days ago, I don’t know how you so can quickly shut off the light. It makes me feel like none of this was real. It was all just fantasy. You wanted to want to be in a relationship. You wanted be in love. You wanted to be loved. Yet when it came down it, if it got hard, you were ready to disengage. It was doomed to fail anyway, isn’t that how your mind works?

We were “supposed” to be moving in together in a couple of months, and now I’ll be alone on my Valentine’s Day. Not that the actual day means anything, but your silence speaks volumes. I guess our relationship doesn’t mean enough to you to fight for and work through when the going gets a little hairy. As much as it hurts me, as much as I thought we stood the chance better than anyone, I guess I was wrong. I know I deserve better than that.

Can Two People Love Each Other Equally In a Relationship?

heart-shadowGrowing up, some of my favorite books told the tragic stories of unrequited love, even if the individuals miraculously would up together in the end. It’s not surprising, really, as my adolescent life was littered with unrequited crushes—my falling head over heels with guys who liked me a lot but never wanted to take things to the next level and boys who were infatuated with me in whom I had no romantic interest.

Thankfully that has changed dramatically in my adulthood, but I have noticed an interesting trend in adult romantic relationships as well. In any relationship, it’s inevitably that there will be ebbs and flows of imbalance at different times. Overall though, I have noticed in almost all of my relationships and that of my friends that there is usually one partner who is at least slightly happier about the state of the relationship than the other and who seems to care more and hold the other in higher esteem.

So can two people ever really love each other equally in relationships?

Find out what I have to say on the topic at Singles Warehouse:

http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/02/can-two-people-love-each-other-equally/

The Power of Love to Transform an Embittered Heart

brokenheart-300x257Over the years, I’ve learned not to give up on the power of love to transform an embittered heart. I’ve seen too many instances that contradict that timeworn saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The latest example that turned this adage on its head: My former FWB has ditched his list and has fallen fully in love.

Ditch The Dating Checklist?

You know The List. Your potential mate checklist. Chances are, you’ve had one of your own at some point in your dating life. You may very well still have it. If you’re still unclear what I’m talking about, let me give you an example: he must be at least 5’11”, athletic, not bald, never been married, no kids, well-educated, make more money than I do—you get the picture.

Find out how my former FWB finally dumped his cynicism, ditched his dating checklist and found the light of love on the other side in my post on Singles Warehouse:

http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/01/the-power-of-love-to-transform-an-embittered-heart/