Saturday, September 5, 2009

What worked for us

My lovely friend Lindsey became a Mrs. today, and I'm so excited for her! I know how long she's been waiting for this and I hope it was everything she dreamed it would be.

Of course, it wasn't, at least not entirely. Something always goes wrong or gets overlooked at a wedding, and you just have to hope that the thing that goes wrong is either minor or you have a sense of humor about it.

That thing at our wedding? I lost our marriage license. And no, we didn't find it until the next day. So technically we weren't really married on our wedding night.


Anyway, there were a couple things we did at our wedding and in our marriage that, though unconventional, worked beautifully for us.

And so, internet, in honor of Lindsey's day, I will share my vast wisdom with you.

You're welcome, internet. You are welcome.

#1. Taking pictures before the wedding

I know there's that whole "it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding" thing most people care so much about, but I don't believe in luck, so we decided to go ahead and take our pictures before the wedding.

Best decision ever.

For one thing, there's only so much time you get the reception hall, so why waste that time taking pictures? Enjoy your party, I say!

Plus, having been guests at weddings where you have to wait for an hour after the wedding to eat dinner because the couple has to take their pictures, we thought it would be far less annoying to our guests to be able to eat right away.

Also, it made the hours of waiting for the wedding to start much more enjoyable; we were relaxed, we played, we took lots of pictures, and we got to enjoy each others' company all day long. I waved at guests and made faces at Jack through the window of the little house. It made it fun.

#2. Waiting a week to go on the honeymoon

I can't imagine having to leave right away after that wedding and travel for any amount of time, much less to Hawaii like we did. We chose to spend the night in a nice Dallas hotel, then go back to work for a week before our honeymoon. It turned out to be a brilliant decision, since we were completely exhausted after the wedding and needed the entire week to recuperate before leaving for the honeymoon. Plus, we got to visit, open gifts, and eat lunch with our family and friends who were still in town.

#3. Letting go of some of the responsibilities

The week before our wedding, we found out that the sparklers we had bought for our departure weren't able to be used since there was a burn ban in town. Instead, my neighbors went and bought a bunch of those stupid little bubbles for people to blow when we left. My neighbors, a few bridesmaids, and Greg Potter also took it upon themselves to tie pretty little purple ribbons around each one. They looked really nice, and I didn't have to worry about them at all. It was so nice to have things like that just happen for me on my wedding day. It's nice to have friend like that that are willing to help. Let them.

#4. Root beer floats instead of beer; lemonade instead of champagne

We decided not to have alcohol at our wedding, but most of the fun of alcoholic beverages is how diverse they are. There are colors, cherries, flavors, textures... you have to admit, even without the alcohol, grown-up drinks are fun. That's why I wanted to make sure we would have fun non-alcoholic drinks there.

We got a champagne fountain and filled it with lemonade, and served root beer floats in specially-made float glasses with our name and wedding date on them for our guests to take home. It was one of my favorite touches at the wedding.

#5. The shoe game

This was kind of a surprise to us. And we loved it. A lot. There's no other way to describe this one than this video. It was awesome.

#6. Premarital counseling

Going into premarital counseling, we didn't really think we would have all that much to learn. We had been together for four years, and we never had drama or fights to speak of. We learned more than I ever thought we could about each other and how to communicate. Plus, because we used a one-on-one counselor instead of a group, we have a good Christian counselor to go back to if we ever want to.

#7. Assigning chores

It's rough living with a boy sometimes, but really, the boy I live with isn't so bad. Because Jack and I know what we're basically responsible for at our house, we don't have to argue over who's going to do what. I cook; Jack does dishes. I vacuum; Jack mows the lawn. I clean the bathrooms; Jack does the towel-type laundry. Obviously, sometimes we do each others' chores, but for the most part, if we stick with what we know, we don't have to worry about who's supposed to do what.

#8. Having some separate money

For some reason, this is a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people. When I told my mom about Jack and I having separate checking accounts, she said "that's not a husband; that's a roommate!" The other day, my friend Eric was completely appalled that not all of our money was "our" money.

I have a hard time taking any arguments against separate accounts seriously (for us), though, since money is a huge source of conflict in most marriages and Jack and I have yet to have a single fight about money. Period.

Here's how we do it: We have three checking accounts. Technically all three are joint accounts (meaning either one of us can access the others' at any time), but one is "mine," one is "his," and one is "the bill account." Each pay period, we put the money we need for bills into the bill account, and what's left over is ours to do with what we want. It's not a lot, but it's enough to be a little independent with our money sometimes.

There are a few things we love about having separate accounts. For one, I never have to worry about Jack making a big purchase at the same time I do and accidentally over-drafting. I know what's in my account; he knows what's in his. We're responsible for our own money.

Secondly, we don't have to explain every little purchase to one another. If I want to get a pedicure, I can if I've budgeted my money to have a little extra. If he wants to buy a new phone, he can. But it comes out of our own money, and we have to budget the amount we have accordingly.

Finally, and my favorite reason, is that the gifts we give each other are truly gifts. If all our money was lumped together, Jack giving me a CD he thought I'd like wouldn't be anything special; it would just be "us" buying another thing. Instead, this is a sacrifice on his part to actually give me a gift. I feel like that makes it more authentic.

If you're still not convinced, Jack's parents have had separate accounts for more than 30 years and haven't gotten divorced yet. :)

#9. Saving and only buying things a little at a time

While we're on budgeting and money, I figure I'd mention the fact that we are vigilant about not buying anything until we have the money for it. I realize this sounds like a no-brainer, but I'm shocked by the number of people who have credit card debt in this country. We don't do debt.

We have been renovating our house for the last 2 years, and although it's a slow process, we really enjoy the fact that we don't have to go into debt to pay for our wood floors, paint, tile, etc.

We save a specific amount every month for house renovations, as well as medical needs, travel, insurance, taxes, and even an account we call "toys" (which is something we decide we want together, such as a new TV, camera, or furniture). By saving for specific purposes, we know how much we have to spend on things like toys and house, and always have enough money when we need money for things like medical needs and taxes.

Like I said, this is basic stuff, but by being vigilant about saving and sticking to our budget, we have avoided 100% of financial conflict in our marriage.

#10. Never seeing each other

Alright, so maybe I don't recommend this one for everyone, but the fact that Jack and I work almost opposite work schedules means that we don't see each other more than a couple hours a day, if that. It gives us time to miss each other, and that has actually been kind of nice for us. We tend not to get sick of each other that way, and enjoy our weekends together that much more.

In addition, Jack having time alone during the day and me having time alone during the evenings after work is really nice for getting things done, such as housework, hobbies, or starting worldwide non-profit ministries.


Jessica said...

thanks for sharing so much, Mandy--so much great advice here! And we waited to go on our honeymoon, too; not quite a full week, but maybe 4 or 5 days...It was a great decision! YOu have so much wisdom to share :)

Jacky said...

I am totally agreeing with you on #1! When I get married, I want pictures done before! My sister thinks it's ridiculous and unromantic, but I think it'll be perfect. Just hope my wonderful groom will agree...I haven't mentioned it to him yet, and he tends to be pretty traditional. We'll see. =)

Shane Crawford said...

Alternatively titled "10 Secrets to One Year Of Marriage"?


Mandy said...

Yeah, and you with your four years are so much wiser.

Shane Crawford said...

My website doesn't say so.

Guest said...

I toally agree with you on #8 and #9! Your philosophy on finances is very similar to mine. My hubby and I also have 3 bank accounts.