Tag Archives: relationships

better or worse

What is the purpose of a wedding anyway?

As a girl, I envisioned the fanciness, the awe-inspiring grandeur as the movies make it out to be.  More so… when I thought of my wedding, it was really about the PEOPLE you love and the HAPPINESS that came along with it.  I saw the wedding as a ridiculously overpriced party with tons of food, smiling, laughing, dancing, a gorgeous dress, a fabulous husband, and a large crowd of supportive friends and family.  At 26 years old, engaged, and about to be married, I still want those things.  Yet, I didn’t see myself struggling so hard to get there.

Now that this “Big Day” is approaching for me, I’m left with several conflicting feelings of dread, stress, disappointment, nostalgia, and during rare moments, excitement.  It feels like a lonely place to be because I don’t seem to find my issues reflected in the glossy wedding magazines, colorful Knot website, or dream wedding shows.  When people ask me “How’s wedding planning?”, I feel like a freak for not being more giddy in my response.  Sometimes I completely fake it.  The only place of solace are through conversations with other real-life brides.  It’s like meeting another wounded soldier who survived the same battle that I’m about to face.  An instant connection is formed – one based on encouragement & empathy.

The biggest shock for me in getting engaged and beginning the wedding planning was how it drastically changed (or perhaps unveiled?) the relationships in my life.  It forced me to evaluate who were the most important people in my life.  Who to include in this whole planning process.  Who will truly be by my side for such a significant occasion in my life?  Who will truly support me in my decisions?  Who will be consistent?  For better or for worse isn’t just for your life partner; it applies just as much to your other loved ones.  It was a test of some sorts for many of my relationships – both friendships and family.

For the sake of some confidentiality, I won’t list names, but I will say with great disappointment that some of those relationships failed me.  There was a great deal of emotional conflict that arose in the first month of my engagement – family loyalty, selfishness, old history, lost friendships, etc.  In hindsight, I believe that a majority of those issues arose because other people had selfishly harbored issues of their own and decided to use the engagement as a catalyst to bring those issues to the surface.  Funny enough, life was just fine prior to when J asked the question.  So, was it REALLY about me?  Or was it about them?  Sadly enough, no one ever warns you that a wedding could potentially be destructive to your relationships… or to your mental health for that matter.

In the past few months, J & I had some major talks and decisions to make.  How much of our own happiness are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of others’ happiness?  And how much of it is ours to claim?  We’ve realized, with much disappointment and sadness, that it will not be given to us easily.  As much as these people say they care and love us, they love themselves – be it their pride, ego, or traditions – more.

Honestly, I’m pretty tired of walking on eggshells around others’ feelings, especially for an event that’s intended to be mine & J’s.  Compromising is one thing, but losing perspective is another.  I know the difference between support and selfishness, and as much as I hate to say this about people whom I love – it’s downright selfish.

If happiness is our goal, then I’m determined to make sure that’s what J & I deserve and demand.  For better or for worse.

7 Comments

Filed under Bridal blues & bliss, relationships

miscommunication

I’ve come to realize that over half of my issues stem from the lurking source of miscommunication. Or lack of communication in its entirety. Or conflicting messages.

And it’s not just my issue; it seems to be an issue of several of my friends, J, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances as well.

We underestimate how easy it sounds to understand another person. And how easy it is to move past it and resolve the issue.

Well, it’s not.  At all.

1 Comment

Filed under epiphany, relationships

finding a home within a home

So I put off writing an entry explaining my whole San Francisco living situation for some time now.  I don’t even like discussing it in person; it’s almost like trying to explain to people why I had to let go of the “potential love of my life.”  Broken up before anything even got started!

It lasted less than a month, but it was a month packed with the excitement of exploring a new city.  A potential new home.  Evenings were fun because I could meet up with friends in the City for dinner to try out some new restaurants or explore a different district.  Weekends were devoted solely to discovering hidden pockets of the City; sometimes with visiting friends, other times alone.

Then there was the commute.  Waking up at 6:30am to catch the Caltrain, relaxing on board for about an hour as the Baby Bullet jetted across the Peninsula, then taking the Dash shuttle to work.  Total time was a grand two hours – each way.  It sounds awful, but was actually a highlight of my day.  I loved being able to spend mornings and early evenings reclined with a book in my seat, blasting the iPod, and not being in traffic.  My commute is what finally forced me to have that peaceful moment alone – to get away from the noise and stress of my daily life.

Of course, I couldn’t whisk away to San Francisco and pretend I didn’t leave a life behind.  I had abruptly taken a middle of the year “vacation” and reality was creeping in quickly.  I had sudden personal family matters to attend to, a boyfriend who was beginning to lose his patience with his temporary “long distance girlfriend”, and a demanding job in its peak program season.  What became clear to me were two choices: I could leave and make a new life, hoping that things will follow me.  Or I could make a new home for myself where my life currently exists.

I know a few friends and co-workers that had the courage to pick up and start a new life elsewhere.  Some a few hours away, some out of state and crossing from the East Coast to the West Coast, and even one who lived and worked in Europe and Asia.  The reasons why my friends moved vary –  school, career aspirations, a significant other, or no obligations.  I admit, I envied them.

Granted, San Francisco does not measure in the same scale as an international move.  But it’s not exactly down the block.  However, I soon found that the allure of SF to begin with – the vibrancy of an urban city, the exciting people, the arts & culture – didn’t quite measure up to the pieces I realized that I’d be missing.  A farther drive from my family & some close friends, evening activities spent calculating an hour commute home, and missing the opportunity to reaquaint myself with my home city.  One or two hours may not sound too long, but it feels painful compared to the proximity of being around loved ones within ten or fifteen minutes.  If I had to choose between commuting to the City to have fun versus commuting to see loved ones, the choice became obvious.  Within three weeks, I moved my belongings back to San Jose.  Everyone was surprised to see me come back so quickly; they all assumed the “trial month” would convince me to stay forever.  Truthfully, I’m still surprised, too.

And as J and I start talking more serioiusly about our rapidly approaching future, the glamour of living alone in the City has started to fade.  Why couldn’t we have a life here in San Jose?  Why not start something new here?  Which leads us to now… Instead of spending my weekends looking for new sights to discover (though I still do on occasion), we’re using that time to wander through model homes, comparing kitchens, wood flooring, and whether or not the walk-in closet is large enough for our taste.  And I’m loving every minute of it.  San Francisco will always be special, but it doesn’t always require moving away to start a whole new life.  As the past few months have shown me, J and I can plan for a new life together no matter where we are – even if it’s located in the same place we’ve always been.

4 Comments

Filed under city travels, epiphany, relationships

4 years, 11 months.

Happy Anniversary, J!

I can’t believe that we’re steadily approaching the big FIVE year marker.

J:  “It sounds long, but felt like it went by fast.”

Each year of our relationship was in a completely different stage – literally and figuratively.  One year in undergrad together, the next year in a long distance, the third & fourth in LA together, and the final stretch now back in the Bay Area.  Each year carried its own particular set of issues and lessons.

While I would never want to repeat certain years again (ahem*second year long distance*), I’m grateful for the experiences as well as the knowledge that we were able to work through those times together.  I don’t think a relationship can really grow until it faces some trials – those are the moments when you are forced to compromise with your partner as well as with yourself.  It truly tests your boundaries and expectations.

Number one crucial element that I’ve learned in a relationship: COMMUNICATION

Without effective and clear communication with your partner, everything can become a problem – listening issues, not being romantic enough, going out with friends too much, cleaning up around the house, or even what movie to watch on a Friday night.  And the frustrating part is that it probably could have been prevented had there been better communication.

I learned long ago that I needed to voice my expectations if I wanted them to be met.  I also learned to give up on the hope that he would just understand what they were just because he should on his own.  I discovered that the more I communicated clearly with him, the more he began to understand and anticipate my needs on his own.

For awhile, J couldn’t understand why I would get upset whenever he failed to ask me questions.  He figured if it was so important, I should just be able to say so without waiting for him to inquire.  In a sense, that’s true, but I want to feel as if he cared to listen.  Why would I waste my breath on someone who didn’t want to listen?  Soon he realized that by asking me about my day or about something important in my life, it made me all the more receptive to happily share with him as opposed to feeling withdrawn.

In my relationship, reciprocity certainly paid off.  Both of us were willing to give in to adapt to the other person and, in the process, found ourselves wanting to do so because it made the other person happy.  I didn’t think something so simple could have such a profound effect.

Yes, we still fight.  J and I are still completely different people – adapting to the other person hasn’t changed our essential characters.  What has changed is the way we approach our disagreements.

A few weeks ago, we had a minor argument at a Thai restaurant.  It could have easily escalated (and probably would have in the past) if I chose to stay angry and give him the silent treatment for the rest of the evening.  Instead, I reached over and grabbed his hand.  His tightened shoulders immediately relaxed.  Of course, a tough discussion followed suit, but that small gesture melted part of the ice.

It took us nearly four years to work on our open and effective communication.  It’s not perfect, but it’s something that works for us.  There are still plenty of things I’m trying to figure out in this relationship, but I suppose that’s what the fifth year is for.

4 Comments

Filed under epiphany, relationships, simple things

big conversation, small car

I love an unexpected long conversation while parked in the car.

NPR calls these “driveway moments” – the time you spend lingering in the car, compelled by a story or talk you hear on the radio program and can’t seem to step away from.

After dinner with my boyfriend (we’ll call him J), we got into a heated discussion about the possibility of me moving to San Francisco on my own. This idea alone then led to questions about the steadily approaching “what ifs” – engagement, marriage, settling in a house, etc. With nearly 5 years of dating, these topics have certainly been discussed before. However, there was something scarily “real” about this particular conversation.

What does our timeline look like? How soon do we need to be settled in our careers before we get engaged? When we do get engaged, are we moving in together right away? Is my priority to live on my own first, or is it to wait and move in together? And ultimately, where do we see ourselves creating a life together?

I’m torn between wanting to plan our lives out and just living in the moment. Who really knows what will happen in the next few years? As young adults, any small decision has the potential to morph into a life-changing one. Though J and I aren’t always on the same page, we try to communicate as honestly as possible. At the very least, it’s now on the table and we each know where the other person stands.

No major decisions in this driveway moment tonight.

7 Comments

Filed under relationships