Thursday, August 23, 2012

mission control

Chris officially asked me to marry him 5 weeks and 3 days before the wedding. This made for a very busy engagement. I felt like I had two full time jobs -- one at a call center, and one at my computer. I answered e-mails, researched my tastes, called in favors, and (sadly!) ignored my poor fiance far, far too much. But my to-do list was lengthy, as was his, so we did our best to push through.

In the midst of all that chaos, we found it essential to clearly compare notes, and often. This helped us better empathize with each other's stress level, remind each other of important tasks, ask for help from the other when we needed it, and seek out each other's opinions on the numerous decisions we were trying to make.

I think we did a beautiful job of that, retrospectively. We learned it's okay to explain our emotional states, to need (and give) patience and forgiveness and a long hug. We clarified over and over again, "it's not you, it's the stress." It's not you. It's the stress. It could never be you. It's just the stress.

Now that we're married and facing a different kind of stress, we're enacting an idea we came up with, one that we call "mission control." It's a prominent wall in our home, filled with picture-frames-turned-whiteboards. Here we can post our calendar, to-do lists, goals, and so on. It's an easy reference for what's going on with our lives, and ideally, a great tool to help us communicate about how our home is run. It's actually my wedding present to Chris, so I'm glad it's finally up.

Beyond the tangible uses, though, I hope it will be a daily reminder of the lessons we learned during our engagement. Chris and I are an incredible team when we are paying attention to each other's needs, separating how we feel about our tasks from how we feel about our relationship, and communicating our concerns genuinely, even if we're a little ashamed of how much we're worrying.

That last one pertains especially to me. In so many things, Chris is the eye to my storm. He balances my bubbly, writer heart with his laid-back engineer mind. Chris counters my chaos with his solidarity, calms my frenetic energy with his level head. I hope "mission control" is a symbol of that beautiful balance, too.

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