Many thanks to Stephanie for her delightful post—I laughed out loud over her awesome stories, which you can find more of on her sprightly and wonderful wedding blog, Captive the Heart. Hope you enjoy her great advice as much as I did!
I'm so thrilled for
Frank and Tess, and was incredibly flattered when Tess asked me to write
a guest post while she's on her honeymoon! If you enjoy this tale of
my marital mishaps, you can find plenty more of my embarrassing stories,
plus wedding planning advice, at my blog, Captive the Heart.
Sometimes you wind up with one tea kettle too many. Sometimes you
get something weird, like an egg slicer (not a true story). By nature,
wedding gifts are, of course, gifts and deserve to be appreciated as
such, since no one's required to get you anything. I suppose,
though, it's not uncommon for newlyweds to need to return a few items
here and there, or to fill in the gaps of their new nest with additional
I'd venture that it is uncommon for said newlyweds to
frequently return items they themselves have bought. And yet, there I
found myself, flamingo-pink towels in hand, at the return counter of
T.J. Maxx, and not for the first time. My husband Andrew and I got
married the summer after his first year of grad school. I'd just
completed a year of service and was preparing to move to the town where
he goes to school, with no current job prospects yet. I cried my share
of tears about it over the next few months, but in the beginning, at least, I liked not having to
work yet. It gave me plenty of time to adjust to a new area, relax
after the chaos of our wedding, and to engage in my new favorite
pastime, organizing and decorating our new apartment.
Our new apartment. While Andrew was off reading Derrida and
instructing America's young minds in the ways of the independent clause,
I craved a sense of purpose amidst seemingly endless job applications
and half-finished books and craft projects. Consequently, I found
myself enjoying errands to an unusual degree, and even inventing reasons
to go out and run them. My wandering habits resulted in more than a
few impulse buys in the interest of furbishing; buys I genuinely liked,
but impulses all the same. Are you noticing, by the way, how many times
I'm using "I" and "my?"
I got us some picture frames for wedding photos and a little sponge
holder on suction cups to keep in the sink. "Oh, good idea," said my
husband. I found an organic all-purpose cleaning solution that smelled
deliciously of real lavender and could be diluted into dozens of uses.
"Did you have to get the organic and expensive one?" he asked. I
brought home a large coral sculpture and proceeded to artfully arrange
it with books and candles on our coffee table. "Uh, I don't think we
really needed a giant piece of sea life," he said (I was unemployed,
remember, and he was making a shoestring graduate salary).
The pink towels were the breaking point. "Those look," said my
husband as I waved them excitedly, "like something some girl would
have in her trendy bachelorette apartment." I teared up, then huffed away
(Ridiculous? Of course). Didn't he want a trendy apartment? Didn't we need a little color in the bathroom? They had a quadrille print!
I cringe. What I came to realize, not without a fair amount of
resistance to my heart being stretched, was as happy as I was to finally
be married, I was still living like a single lady. I'd been spending
my time how I liked, buying what I liked, and generally not consulting
my husband on decisions that would affect the both of us. I wanted my
marriage to be more than the two of us just doing our own thing in each
others' orbits--I wanted a shared, united life where "our own thing"
meant the both of us together, not each of us separately, towel
compromises and all.
Nearly two years later I'm still learning, and sometimes fighting,
what it really means to belong to another person and to live not just
side by side, but face to face. With grace and a huge dose of humility,
my marriage, I think, will be a lifetime school of love. Sharing
unselfishly, giving yourself fully, disagreeing and, yes, returning the
stuff your husband doesn't like, with charity? Those are the real