A Change of Financial Perspective

The few months before our wedding were a complete whirlwind. Not only were we secretly engaged, but Kyle was laid off in February and took a new job in Dallas in April. Because I had no idea where I wanted to work once I got here, I was left completely dependent on another person (and another salary) for three months.

After college, I had been working and living on my own, with roommates, for three years. My money was mine to do with what I pleased. It took me a very short amount of time to realize that what I wanted was to pay off my student loans, so I did. All $16,000 of them. I had extra money to shop and play and dine and drive and create. What was mine was mine.

There’s a strange thing that happens when you’re dependent on someone else at age 27. There was a huge mind hurdle I had to jump through to understand that mine is no longer mine, but that his is ours. I felt weird and guilty and lazy and bad every time I had to spend money on something. Until I didn’t any longer.

I learned to spend and be fine- we needed what we needed, and I stopped feeling bad about the extra $3 on the Target receipt for dark red nail polish. Sometimes I bought things from the store that I wanted, even if Kyle didn’t want them. I was becoming liberated. Now? I’m earning a paycheck, small as it may be for the part time I’m working, but suddenly I’m having to shift again.

So what’s mine is mine, and what’s his is ours. Right?

Wrong.

Learning to share in Kindergarden is one thing, but learning to share in adult life is even harder. The last few months have been a struggle as we work to undo years of independent living, independent households and cars and belongings and habits. Some days I still feel like I should write my name inside all my books or under my dishes, just so I will remember that they were once mine.

We continue to struggle through sharing so many things: emotions, belongings, time, holidays, last names. We’re working to find a balance between who we once were and who we are together. One book at a time.

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Public Speaking

The way you speak about your spouse in public shapes the reality of your relationship.

Usually these are my goals when talking to Jen around friends or acquaintances:

  1. Be funny
  2. Be respectful

Why? Because I’m selfish and I want people to like me more than I desire to show respect to my wife.

Most of the time humor in a large group of people comes at the expense of another person. That’s something I constantly battle with because it goes against everything I believe to belittle another person for a few giggles, especially when that person is my wife.

What do you struggle with publicly?

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Camping is Intense (get it?)

I went camping this weekend with three of my better college friends. They’re the kind of guys it’s easy to rekindle (no pun intended) good conversations with around a weekend of hiking and other manly things (like driving 20 miles from our campsite to watch the Oklahoma State game at a Buffalo Wild Wings). They’re also the kind of guys who aren’t ashamed to borrow camping supplies from their girlfriends/wives, so we didn’t have to go far in the conversation before humility came up.

Anyway, here are 7 unsolicited thoughts on marriage from 4 guys who have been married a combined 36 months. Grains of salt and such…

1. Pursue who you actually like – file this away under the “don’t over-think it” category. The idea of liking someone is fun, but it’s vastly different from actually liking who that person is. Especially when you have to get to live with them 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

2. Continue to romance – This is something we all admitted we struggle with. It’s just so comfortable to fall into the “let’s just hang out, cook dinner together, and read every night” routine. Romance is different. It’s emotionally strenuous. It’s necessary.

3. Learn how she learns – As the male is the de facto leader of the pack, it seems to us that to understand the way your wife learns things is an effective way to lead her to the places God would have for both of you. Then again, we also gleaned hours of entertainment from burning plastic spoons so maybe “us” and “leadership” need to get reacquainted.

4. Ask “why am I doing this?” – This goes hand in hand with #3. In fact, I think asking “why am I doing this?”, honestly answering, and changing our actions based on that answer would solve 75% – 99% of all marital fighting. But we’re human so it’s not always that easy.

5. Love her generously – All four of us commented multiple times about how wonderful our wives/girlfriends are about submitting to our leadership and playing the beautiful role God would have for them in the relationship. It’s easy for us to take this for granted and yet in today’s world where women are idolized for all the wrong reasons it’s up to us, as guys, to lavish our girls with praise for their humility and honor.

6. Be consistent – The most difficult of all these if only for the longevity needed to accomplish such a task. It’s funny (and not funny) that 35 years of consistency can be thwarted by 1 minute of indiscretion. Success = prayer + humility.

7. Protect at all costs – The tie that bound this weekend was how much we, as Christians, come under attack. And the (sometimes) humorous punch line was that these attacks aren’t always from who we would deem “enemies.” During one of our long talks, one of the guys said, “Satan works in creative ways” while we all nodded in agreement.

As we stared at the fire’s embers deep into Friday and Saturday night, we thought about how to protect our marriages, protect our wives, and protect our hearts from spiritual warfare. We went camping to have a weekend with the boys and it turned out (as it usually does…) to be all about the girls. I think God was laughing at us and smiling too.

I think he likes camping trips to be like that.

What would you add to this list?

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A Beautiful Mind

It’s funny how 4 months of marriage can change you. I loved Jen when we wed for sure, and yet the love that has grown out of the overflow of my heart when joined in union with the passion I have for her in my mind is something I’ve yet to know in my time here on earth.

I think it’s probably up for debate whether or not one can be passionate about or love something or someone in his or her mind, but to me the head and heart are connected in some sort of beautiful way.

To love something or someone without knowledge of that thing is simply overreaction or a blind grasp for fulfillment. But to know a thing (or a person) fully and for a love to develop and continue to grow because of (or sometimes in spite of) that knowledge is, I think, a little glimpse of what marriage is supposed to be.

You can follow us on Twitter, I promise we aren’t always this sappy.

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Jen Interviewing Kyle

10 for Kyle

1. If you could choose to either stay indoors or outdoors for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Oklahoma climate. And wind. I choose outdoors, mostly because I’m scared my father-in-law might read this and I like my dignity.

2. When is the last time you cried? When OSU lost to Te….just kidding. Those “My Wish” segments on SportsCenter (not to be confused with SportsMentor) always get me. The problem is I’m usually on the treadmill when I see one so it all ends in a messy, slobbery conveyer belt-related accident.

3. We all know you want to be a writer. If you only had one book to write and publish, what would it be about? Wooow. I struggled with this. One book, for the rest of time. I’d have to say I’d go back in time to the 1992 Olympics and cover the Dream Team behind the scenes. That’s the one book I’ve been wishing had been written so why not write it myself?

4. What’s your favorite website or blog right now? Tie. Today’s Letters and Art of Non-Conformity. What can I say? I’m a sucker for nostalgia and world domination.

5. If you could choose to have a second home anywhere in the world, where would it be? You live there 3-4 months out of the year. With me. If I like it. Georgia, it’s not even close. Me and Georgia are besties.

6. If you could start and run a non-profit, what would it be? I’ve told you and you just laughed at me. So I’ll tell you again. I’d start a TOMS-model baseball glove company for poor kids in the Caribbean and Latin America. I can’t wait until 2025 when we make our inaugural baseball glove drop in the Dominican Republic and you’re sobbing your eyes out because of how cute all the little kids are running around with their new gloves. I’ll start running around the country like a maniac, screaming, “WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?!?!”

7. What are you most looking forward to in the next 45 years of marriage? Kids. Duh. As long as the first one is a boy. No pressure. Seriously though, to be refined and made more like the Lord because of you and your character. And kids. Oh, and I thought I told you I’d give you 60, what happened to the other 15?

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad do you want to own a dog this week? 5, but only because 600 sq. ft. does not = good times with a dog. I’ve already got him named though.

9. If you could be invisible for a week, how would you use your superpower? I just sang “If I Were Invisible” in my head…somewhere my mother and Chelsea O’Teter are rocking out to Clay Aiken’s latest. Thankfully I am not at either of those somewheres. I’d roam the White House for a few days, maybe jump on AF1, see what goes down there, then I’d swing by NYC to watch Seth Godin work for 24 hours, and finally I’d end up in Dallas and romantically watch you exist for two full days. Is that a good answer?

10. What’s your favorite meal that I cook? Pappasi….uh….homemade pizza?

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Kyle Interviewing Jen

10 for Jen

1. Who’s your favorite person in the world right now? Hi. You know it’s you. I’m not asking you this question because I know it will be some famous athlete and my feelings will be hurt.

2. What was the last crafting project you worked on? I tried to make a stuffed animal. It was supposed to be a giraffe, but his legs ended up on his sides instead of under him. Like he was a baby giraffe just learning to walk. I think I’ll make him into a pin cushion.

3. What has been the most rewarding part of writing on Marriage Project every day? I know we say this all the time, but it really does force you to be creative. It stretches me to think and create and write. And it’s a lot less scary to be vulnerable and share my heart when I’m doing it with someone else.

4. What one thing do I do that you didn’t expect? We had a friend recently ask what we were most surprised by since we’ve been married. Everyone always made jokes about how different it is to live with a boy… hardy har, tee hee, etc. At least I thought they were jokes. The thing is, Kyle was so clean and organized before we got married. It only makes sense that it would carry over, right? Hi- he has a wife to clean up after him all day, what’s the point of being clean? We have discussions quite often that start like this: “Cakes are these your shoes in the middle of the floor? They’re going to cause a fight…”

5. Who is your fictional character hero of 2010? I wish it was someone from a book since that would make me sound more intelligent, but it’s probably Tami Taylor

6. If you could play any sport professionally what would it be? Tennis. Minus the tennis elbow.

7. If you could have one tool to make this blog better, what is it? A graphic designer.

8. You can be transported to one country NOW, where are you? Possibly Israel. New obsession.

9. What is your lasting memory from our wedding? This is a hard question because I feel like I mostly remember all the little things that went wrong, even though nobody noticed. I know I’m not supposed to focus on those things, but it’s hard not to when you put so much time and effort into it. But my favorite memory is probably seeing all our friends and family after the video. That, or driving to Oklahoma City with you after the wedding.

10. What book are you dying to read? They’re not really reading books, but I have three on my Amazon wish list right now; all sewing books. Handmade Beginnings, The Bag-Making Bible, and Twinkle Sews. Gah, I’m an eighty year old woman.

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A Letter

Dear God,

Yesterday at church I was helping out on the parking team and I watched a girl get out of her Infinity and walk into church wearing her TOMS shoes. The girl is probably a really sweet girl with a much bigger heart than mine but for a moment she was the object of my own self-aggrandizement. I patted myself on the back, not because I don’t have an Infinity (I can’t afford it) or a pair of TOMS (I look like a clown in TOMS), but because I don’t want them.

Then I realized that I don’t want a new house either, my 600 square-foot apartment will be just swell, thank you very much. I realized I don’t want a limitless gift card to the Nike and J. Crew outlets or a lifetime supply of Southern Tide or Vineyard Vines shirts. I realized I don’t need a new iPhone, in fact, God, I don’t even want a new iPhone.

I realized that as much as I would love to watch Oklahoma State go 12-0 in football some year and play for a title, it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things.

God, you made some really intelligent people who created this thing called the iPad. Apparently it makes Bible-reading much easier, but I don’t want one.

I got to thinking about it and I don’t really think sports are all that important either, which implies that fantasy sports are even less important. I realized I love sports, but sports don’t love me, and sports don’t actually matter eternally.

Oh, one more sports note, thank you for making that tract of land us humans named “Augusta” but I guess it’s not really that wonderful, you know, relatively speaking.

I realized that I don’t really want to be wealthy someday, or famous, or even moderately well-known. I don’t really care about those things. They’re vices, mostly. I don’t have much desire for power or what our depraved culture labels “success” for my marriage or family.

I realized that all I have any yearning for is you and my community of family and friends. I patted myself on the back a few more times at church last night for all these realizations. I’m so holy.

After I realized all that, I realized something else:

Every word I speak and action I take…
Every Tweet I proclaim and ‘like’ I click…
Every email I send and website I visit…
Every magazine I read and meal I eat…
Every phone call I make and conversation I have…
Every TV show I watch and thought I think…
Every single day I live, my life…

Says something vastly different from what I wrote above.

We’re worlds apart, you and me. Thank you for relentlessly shattering me with your grace.

Your son,
Kyle

P.S. Thanks for my wife Jen, she’s pretty cool. And she’s always reminding me of how unworthy I am before you. Do you think you could maybe, you know, get her to be a little less sweet about it though, it makes getting mad at her pretty hard. Thanks.

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On Decisions

If you haven’t noticed (and with our at-times-ridiculous-stream-of-consciousness writing style I don’t know how you couldn’t have) we tend to write about what’s happening at this very moment in our lives. We tend to live like that too. Plan next week’s menu? It can wait. Save money for Christmas presents? Don’t start before December 15. Next year’s vacation? Excuse me?

Granted, it’s not the best way to live your life and financially we’re becoming better planners but it seems in all other matters the urgency of “right now” is the primary catalyst for anything innovative or creative. See: writing this post at 11 PM more often than not…not that we’re saying it’s creative or anything J

So you might be asking, “how in the world do you ever make decisions or get anything done?” Or you might not be, in which case we encourage you to keep moving in your world wide web meanderings. There are digital newspapers to peruse and farms in Farmville to be cultivated. If you are asking though, here you go. Our decision-making usually goes something like this (this was an actual conversation):

Me: “Hey, you want to go to a preseason hockey game between two random teams tonight at the American Airlines Center”?
Her: “I don’t care, I mean I DO have a job now so I might be tired tonight.”
Me: “Hmmm…ok…well…wait, was that an answer?”
Her: “Whatever, we can go to the game if you want. Your call.”
Me: “Uhhh…OK…so you’re not just saying ‘it’s your call’ when really you have an actual opinion and it’s possible that I can make an incorrect decision?”
Her: “Nope…I mean yep. Wait, what does that even mean?”
Me: “Awesome.”

We (as humans) make so many decisions on a daily basis the aggregate weight of their outcomes can be staggering. For example, I’ve been going back and forth about going to this game all day and that’s one of the smallest of the hundreds of decisions I’ve been presented with. My yes’s changes to nos with each lap of the clock’s small hand.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received (and I’ve received it from multiple people) is this: make a choice and move on. Transfer to Oklahoma State for my Sophomore year after coming within one game of the D-III College World Series my Freshman year? Sure. Turn down an informal offer from the Houston Astros to play many many games of flag football go to graduate school? Not my favorite decision but it worked. Throw a surprise wedding in a barn even though only a handful of people knew we were engaged? Duh.

It’s a waste of time, energy, brain power, and (most importantly) creative process to lament over past decisions. Make one and move on. Make one and move on. Oh…and always consult with your spouse.

About that hockey game…….

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iMarriage

I was listening to NPR yesterday (I warned you that would become a recurring theme) and they were discussing doctors and how they interact with their patients. My mind wandered from “ I wonder what the status is on medical integration of the iPad?” to “Man, I really want an iPad!” to “Hmm…I need to get my mom a birthday present in the next week or so…” to “Jen’s A/C just went out, I wonder if my mom will sell us one of her cars.” And then I was at work and the segment was over. So you can see what Jen is dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Thankfully, I did catch this (and I paraphrase because clearly I did not hear the actual quote):

“Doctors are being criticized for the amount of time they spend punching formulas and diagnoses into a computer compared to how much time they spend touching their patients.”

That sounded a LOT less creepy in my head.

Now you have no idea where this post is going.

And I might not either.

Here was my thought though: I spend so much time instant messaging Jen, texting Jen, and writing blog posts for Jen to check over that it takes away from my actual, real-people interaction with Jen. It’s a wonder we don’t text each other at the dinner table. Actually, I have a semi-confession…we do text each other from the other room sometimes (yes, our apartment is 600-ish sq. ft.)…I like to think it’s because we don’t want to interrupt each other but at least 35% of the time it’s just because we don’t want to get up and don’t feel like yelling back and forth between rooms.

Seriously though, I spend so much time with digital Jen that when we’re actually together in person my mind seems to say “wait, we already caught up with her, we already know what she did today” and tends to shut down, even if just a little bit. One solution could be fewer texts/emails/instant messages (one I should probably implement) but I think the bigger issue is sitting her down, sitting myself down and just staring at each other and talking.

Ayn Rand once said, “you can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”

I’d like to think the consequences of avoiding the reality of having good, solid conversation with my wife are trivial at best, but I know better. I know that my marriage should not be an iMarriage, lest I forget the deep, purposeful eyes of the woman I wed.

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Two Seven

Today is my wife’s 27th birthday (and my half birthday). Yesterday was our 100th post in a row. Those two statements have little in common other than they are both minor milestones she was probably at times unconfident she would ever reach. Now I’m at her side for both of them, what a joyous occasion for her. Perhaps she’ll bake cookies in my honor. In her honor I’m writing “27 absolutely random things I love about my wife in absolutely no sensical order.” Here we go…

27. She up-cycles and amends her own clothes – suffice to say I’ve kept her away from mine, but I know it’s coming. It’s really a war of attrition. I feel like Sly Stallone in the first Rambo, just fighting for my life.

26. She just ran by our doorway in slo-motion on her way to the bathroom. I have no idea why, I thought she was going to moonwalk back into the living room and break into a limited edition Thriller dance. Alas.

25. She always lets me drive – Some might call this a “control issue” but I prefer to think of it as “the natural progression of leadership a man displays in a marital relationship.” Or something like that.

24. I rarely have to buy gifts for my friends or family – Never mind the fact that we spent $126 and 17 hours to make a scarf J. Crew would have given us for $11.99…

23. She comes up with my fantasy football team names – No really. Get this: Pot of Gould (<— Bears kicker) At The End of Dwayne Bowe (<— Chiefs wide receiver)…you should have seen my face when she said that phrase out loud, it was the same face I imagine my dad made when he got his grades from his first semester at college.

22. She always keeps the house clean…

21. She’s constantly saying things like “wait, under par is good in football right?” and “I heard Peyton Manning has the best ERA in all the world!” She says them with such confidence too so I always feel bad about laughing.

20. She trusts me.

19. She’ll play tennis with me even though we’re both terrible at it. Our “matches” usually end up looking like the first episode of Lost. You know, the one where the plane crashes and utter disaster ensues.

18. She drives a truck around Highland Park, Texas like a tiny-town Oklahoma girl should.

17. She reads. A lot. Or that’s what she tells me via email while I’m at work. Perhaps the wool has been pulled and she’s really been spending all our hard-earned money at the craft store?!? I’m going to need somebody to look into this…

16. She makes me take her to Braum’s instead of Cheesecake Factory. Our house fund would also like to take a moment to say he loves this about her.

15. She won a local pillowcase challenge. Well, she told me she won, then later on I found out that it wasn’t a competition at all, just a bunch of girls getting together to chat and sew. I was devastated. “Why did you even go?” I asked. I don’t want want to live in a world where sifting through various fabrics and sewing chic pillowcases has no more pressure on the line than an afternoon of tea and crumpets. I blame Martha, ever since that prison “incident” it’s just been all fun and games, minus the games.

14. An intramural referee once mistakenly identified her as a male participant in our softball game. It was love at first sight gender-identity crisis.

13. She plays the piano better than anyone knows.

12. I always act like I loathe getting dragged to antique stores and vintage markets, and if OSU is playing I actually do loathe this, but I actually enjoy the adventure. Shhh, don’t tell her though, I’m hoping she won’t read today.

11. She lets me eat popcorn for dinner. And watch tennis.

10. Statements like: “Somtimes, I guess I just wish I was a hobo…”

9. Her iTunes wish list makes indie, hippie, local coffee shops blush.

8. We don’t even ever have to actually bear children to get the effect. Note our 6-hour (six, not sixteen) honeymoon flight to Hawaii: [2 hours in] “Are we almost there? Is there more food? What movie are they showing? I hate this movie!”

7. She won’t let me settle for “good enough” – It actually makes me upset at the time but deep down I’m smiling. You hear me, Jen? DEEP DOWN I’M REALLY SMILING!!!

6. She’s like a fabulous combination of Lorelai and Rory from The Gilmore Girls. Yes, I watch it. Yes, I’m serious. No, I’m not kidding you. Yes, it’s better than 99% of current TV shows. Yes, I’m serious. No, I’m not gay. Yes, you should watch it. Yes, yes, no, yes, yes, no, yes. There you go.

5. 101 days in and we haven’t had our first “I want a baby and I want it now” meltdown. The clock is ticking though…both of them.

4. Matt Chandler is right, boy has a smell. I didn’t realize it until recently. Girl has a smell too and it’s a lot better than boy.

3. She believes in what I am yet to become. That’s tough, she’s great at it.

2. Even if everybody else stops reading my words she still will. I think. Well, I know she will if I can convince her the only way I’ll continue to feed her Netflix documentary fetish is if she can formidably discuss any and every thing I write on this and my other blog. And even then it’s probably 50/50

1. She’s just…mine. And we are God’s. And it is good.

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