Week 7 reflection: Him

Already a few weeks into the new year and we have touched on a thought changing, if not life changing, topic. The topic we’ve already touched on. Most couples talk about it within the first few dates. Or, they will at least hint at the topic. As much to my surprise, the topic of children, yes offspring, flew out of the hat and onto our laps. Granted, we pulled several slips out but they seemed to have been topics we have already covered extensively.

As much time as I give it, the thought of kids is a tough one. This paragraph has been written a week after the last and two weeks since our last courtship session. It’s a tough topic! And right now is a difficult time for each of us. I’m working every day and with her watching her cousin, working, and sending in applications, she is busy too. Between a difficult topic and tough times we are between a rock and a hard place.

We make everything work. Earlier this week we met up at Alderwood and watched a movie. It was nice to get our minds off everything and just spend some time together. We make sure to call and text repeatedly. We have also video chatted once last week. I have a feeling that it wasn’t just a difficult conversation about kids that has pushed everything off, but our ability to spend time together. We want to see each other, but there are only so many hours in the week.

That may be a concept that I had been missing in our talks. If we had kids, we couldn’t be selfish about the time we would spend together. I feel like our foundation is laid and we are planning on putting up walls to our relationship (I.e. who to let in and who to keep out). Having kids is an auto include. I can’t help but be on the fence if I’m being honest. I want to spend time with her and, me being selfish, don’t always want to share.

I would love to share! Yup, I’m a hypocrite. If I love her this much, then having another would be great! I’d hope that they would get their mother’s brains and my cynicism. I would love to show them the world. I could get them curious about all sorts of things. We could go on adventures, explore ideas, and have a world of fun. See how easy it is to tip on one side of the fence or the other?

Whatever God chooses for us, we will be ready or we will learn. I hope I’m long around enough to see the decision through. So, to my favorite that someday may be replaced, I love you. Thank you for exploring these difficult topics with me. Thank you for taking each day as they come. I know we will get through the busy schedules. As for tonight, we’ll just make a salad.

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End of the year reflection: him

The “her” and I took a break from a concentrated effort on our courtship the last several weeks so we could concentrate surviving the holidays. I’m grateful for the time she got to spend Christmas Day with her family and the thought that this may be our last major holiday away from one another was my favorite gift this year.

I wanted to reflect on the holiday itself and all the events leading up-to my last xmas alone. It wasn’t the hardest I’ve experienced, but it was difficult. I’m also going to say “screw it” and plainly say what I’m thinking.

My oldest brother is an alcoholic. He is most certainly high functioning, but still an alcoholic. He drank the entire time and every time I see him, he is getting drunk. Besides the constant denial around the whole thing, a reality check is what he desperately needs. I complain about this because I wish I could help, but I’ll never have the ability.

That being said, the support, love, and caring I received was more meaningful than the decorations on the tree. I was able to learn a great deal about myself by reflecting with her.

I also wanted to make a point about my mother’s behavior. She handled herself spectacularly and I’m proud of her for that effort. I know she has struggled herself.

My point in all these ramblings and half thoughts is to express exactly that: half thoughts. I realize that while this courtship is attempting to cover many of the huge impending relationship topics, it is only covering half of the relationship, the half of planning and expectations. The other half, the messy half, is always at our doorstep waiting to let it self in without knocking.

She has done a wonderful job protecting me from shock and surprise. I have attempted likewise to do the same. I mean, we have given each other a run down of all the family history. While that seems like a great idea right before a get-together or holiday, I noticed that the emotional energy then gets weighed on the warner. I feel more conscience warning her about my family members than bracing her. I have a feeling that she is the same way. You can sometime expect the messy half to show up, but it’s just more stress.

The holidays were difficult. Messy had shown up and stayed, but I feel like I have been able to talk it out, process, and move on. I want to thank my other in all of this. Without her, the holidays would have been more of a nuclear explosion of emotion than a firecracker on the foot that it was. We will keep working on the planned so that we may be at our best for the unplanned. Thank you.

Week 6 reflection: him

I wanted to take this week to reflect more on the week than on the conversation. Our topic was finances. Simply put, we realized quickly that the topic was less down-the-road and more on our front doorstep. The reality hit much harder than anticipated that we would need to start figuring out finances if we were going to move together. While the panic of talking money was already enough for me to bear, the real stress came from everything else in the week.

We both had a ton of firsts this week. We opened our first joint Christmas present together (matching pajamas), we had our first couples date (the Andy’s at Mox), and we had our first shared frustration. Without going into too much detail, I’ll say that we were fairly upset by one person’s attitude and actions. It wasn’t anything too big for me, still upsetting though. However, for my counterpart in crime, it was too much too far.

She makes life a lot easier for me. The main way she does this is by constantly revealing what she wants. She voices what she wants all the time. I hear “oh how cute!”, “isn’t that adorable?”, and “don’t you just love it?”. Every time we go into a store is another opportunity to find something she likes. She loves to love and be excited. Most of the time she thinks about others. Those initial expletive statements are always followed by, “(fill in blank), would love that”. The amount of love she has to give is more than she can give in a lifetime.

I saw two concerns with this last week, both involving me. The first, financially, I’m going to need to learn how to be comfortable with her gift giving. I’m not very good at receiving gifts or spending too much. The second, I’m going to have to learn what to do when we are both upset. This second one is much harder to explain.

Essentially, this last weekend we went back and forth with anxiety, anger, and depression. At times, I was confused and couldn’t identify what the heck was eating at me. Other times, she was overwhelmed, but couldn’t figure out what was going on. It wasn’t until we sat down for dinner that is dawned on both of us: Saturday was a difficult day, albeit a good one. We both had the same reaction to a shared event. We both were bothered by the same comments. We both couldn’t figure out what was happening.

We talked through the feelings. It helped to map out what had happened and we were able to share a moment of emotional release. Really, it was our first time taking care of each other emotionally. This is something that being single is much harder to accomplish.So, while I can worry away about finances and she can take care of me, and I can take care of her with her “gremlins”, it is wonderful to know that we can take care of one another. This last week was fraught with all sorts of emotions, some good and some not-so-good. I know that will continue down this path towards discussing the difficult topics.

Week 5 reflection: him

Holy Himalayan deliciousness! We decided to have a change of scenery this last week with our talk by going to a Himalayan restaurant. Neither of us were familiar with the type of food or the people, but like our discussion, we were happy to try. We talked about “What does looking for a church look like?”. Much like trying a new restaurant, there is much to consider. For this reflection, I though it would be fun to set it up like looking for a restaurant.

Ambiance

Ambiance in a restaurant is the same as one at a church. We both agreed that when you look around, we should feel welcome. A church can be difficult to join if age, culture, or attitude are vastly different. While many attributes can be mitigated, we generally came to the consensus that politically charged churches or ones with a terrible agenda, were not for us. Bad ambiance is walking into a restaurant or church and wanting to immediately want to walk out.

Entertainment

Most people I have met will bend their decision on a church based solely on the music. Really, this makes sense. The average Sunday service will have 1/3-1/2 of the time allotted to music. We can attempt to move past this if the sermons are amazing, but both of us get a real energy boost from music. Like a restaurant with live music, if the music is bad, the food better be outstanding.

The Food

Speaking of food, the messages must reflect a mutual doctrine. While most people don’t really know or understand doctrine, we both felt that a church with an overused “bad ingredient” would leave a bad taste in our mouths. For instance, a church that believes women to be subservient to men (and uncomfortably reminds you each week) will not be our church. Really, this is a questions of extremes. It’s not about going to a steak house and saying “we don’t want steak they have too many steaks”. It is more like going to a steak house and finding out that they cook all their steaks well-done with ketchup. You are what you eat and you are what you believe.

Service/service

The word “service” takes on two separate meanings when in comes to churches vs dinning establishments. Service at a church means going out and doing good for the community, while service at a restaurant speaks more to the quality of being a wait staff. They are really more the same than expected. Both require doing a job that no one wants to do, but we feel compelled. Notice how I loosely use the word “want”. In any case, choosing a church and restaurant based off their service is very common. Invariably, if a church lacks service, it really makes you wonder why they exist at all. The same thought goes for a restaurant.

That conclusion

I didn’t realize I could go this far with two metaphors, but it has been eye opening.

When she and I talked, we realized something special and unique. Some of these topics, that we cover every week, will require us to-do as opposed to talk about the question at hand. Half way through we realized that we will have growing to do together, later. We will need to check out churches and find what we like together. This is a major change from each of us bringing what we have and seeing if our current selves are compatible. So, when choosing a restaurant, a church, or a partner, remember that the food is the most important.

Week 4 reflection: him

I’ve been avoiding writing this post. Mostly, my issue hasn’t been time. I can find time, but I can’t always find the energy. That is a major issue that arose this last week. The topic by the way was our personal meaning of weddings. While weddings are joyous occasions filled with family, fun, and frivolity, they require energy and a ton of it.

Now, I feel fairly firm in my belief that weddings, like marriage, take coordination, commitment, communication, work, time, money, etc. I understand that the “et cetera” I just provided is a big one. However, before a couple jumps into the “et cetera” of life there needs to be a definite line between dating and marriage. Like right-of-passage ceremonies, graduations, and birthdays, weddings are a seminal part of life. These moments need their own time, but how much?

In my mind, I would enjoy a long engagement. A year would be most ideal. Right now feels more like a pre-engagement and I have no idea how long that will take, but we will see. The thing is: right now her and I’s relationship is matching up to the effort that we are putting into it. That should remain true throughout our relationship, but with certain big steps coming up in our careers, a wedding seems almost out of the question. It would be easy to just get the piece of paper and be done with it.

My reflection has me a bit more stumped than articulated. I have learned that having a wedding is a fight between what is easy and what is right. That’s not to say that those terms are mutually exclusive either. I know myself well enough to know that I would put more strain on our relationship than needed. I know my timing is terrible with talking about stressful topics and that I don’t want to make her residency harder than it needs to be. Planning a wedding, as we have established, takes a lot of “et cetera”.

I don’t know then. I don’t know if we should wait or rush. Both of these choices have pitfalls that can leave the relationship broken or strained. We can’t be afraid of making a mistake together. I know we could heal and work it out, but I would like to avoid the relationship ER for as long as possible; indefinitely, would be a good choice for any ER. We will have to make a decision at some point and we will be tired. I have no doubt in my mind that we can pick up each other’s slack. I’m very certain that we will make the right choice for us at the time we need to make it. God is on our side.

Week 3 reflection: him

Last week we probed what scared us about marriage. It was a hard hitting topic that really pushed us to confront fears of our future together. It is only appropriate that we asked what makes us feel safe and what threatens that safety. When God speaks, we listen. When the hat asks, we answer.

I tried to capture the feeling the best I could. Listening intently, I wanted to know her bodily language, tone, and word choice when talking about stressful situations. This conversation, more than the previous ones, was more about recognizing immediate needs versus the big-nasty-relationship-breaking fears. If anything, it reminded me that the day to day is just as important than the philosophical relationship stuff.

That feeling, of which I mean the empathetic understanding, hurt. I could feel anxious for her and felt anxious when describing my own issues. For me, personal space is important. Avoiding clutter and people is sometimes all I can do to avoid stress. Time is the factor that helps the most after a fight or a fit of anger. Guilt will always control me in any of those situations that merit space or time.

There were several pleasant surprises. When we talked about our safety nets, I felt comfortable. I felt like I could really be there for this other person. I want to be there for this other person confidently fighting off any demons that may present themselves. My issue, and her issue too, is allowing the other person to be there and to comfort. I will have to learn how to rely on her, but I’m sure it can and will be done. I already complain to her like I’m sitting at a DMV. Se la vie.

We also brought forth topics that we will need to add to the hat. We have started talking about our concerns with intercourse and the inevitability of living together. That will be a challenge not going to lie. On the other hand, I would love if she got to brag the rest of her life. I want that for her and for us.

I’m excited for our discussion next week where we talk about weddings, but I already know she is scared witless. So, I will try my best to not scare her too much. In the meantime, I’m going to try and survive Thanksgiving without her. Again, se la vie.

Week 2 reflection: him

At a deep level, one that pushes me further to be myself, the topic for this week still pulses in the back of my head. A fear revealed is awareness: a fear shared is vulnerability. However, fear has a way of sneaking up on you. I wasn’t expecting to feel so raw from sharing my fears about marriage. I especially didn’t think to feel raw after sharing them with a person I am considering one day marrying. I could feel my heart race whenever my mind wanted to process. Often times I felt angry and something unrelated or emotionally nude with an overactive self-awareness.

The list of fears compound on one another. I’m grateful for this post. I can make a stopping point to reset. My stomachs still churns. My arms still ache. I can feel a flare coming any moment. I’ve learned that true vulnerability comes at a cost and I’m grateful that I can feel all these feelings.

Yes, I’m grateful. Earlier this year, I was a rock, a shield of faith raised to protect me from a scary situation, but my emotions were a study and unmoving as my disposition. I had to defend myself against someone that I had shared a few vulnerable topics, but they had decided to take them to unwarranted extremes. You can see why I would be nervous when, here I sit, going through the process of revealing layer after layer to someone else.

We may be the sum of our experiences, but the experiences we reveal to others reveals our character. Who we are, versus what, is more important. I may have a series of feelings based entirely in my experience, but what I choose to do with them constitutes more of my being than the experiences themselves. Plain English: this year sucked, but how I address it of the rest of my life is more important than being in fear of it.

I guess what I’m attempting to say is that my biggest fear was being vulnerable. Yes, the task was to be vulnerable about my fear, which is to be vulnerable. I think recognizing where the initial fear stems makes the world of difference. If anything, I’ll be more aware in the weeks and months to come and knowing is half the battle. I can and will confront this head on. Both her and I deserve that much.