Guest Posting: Meg, on tips for a lasting relationship

While I’m out honeymooning it up, I thought I would keep the entertainment headed your way with some pretty fabulous guest posters. Wahhoo!

Today, the lovely Meg, of A Practical Wedding, is chiming in on what makes her relationship work, and how to keep it a lasting one. How to dig through the day to day in order to find the “us-ness” in it all. Thank you for taking time out of your crazy-busy schedule to give some fabulous advice. We are all better for it.

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I sat down to write a guest post to run on Lauren’s honeymoon, and I suddenly realized I’d agreed to write a story about my honeymoon or a vacation. Well, sh*t. Here is the thing: I don’t write about our vacations (and most certainly our honeymoon) ever. Particularly on the internet. Way to read the fine print Meg. Awesome. Which means, I suppose, this post will be about the other topic Lauren suggested to me: relationship advice. Or in short, I will tell you why I don’t write about our vacations.

After two years of marriage, and seven years in a committed relationship with the same person, I’ve found that life has a way of getting in the way of our us-ness. Often, I often feel like life is literally hanging out between us. Sitting on the couch with us, cc’ed on our emails, listening in our gchat. It is everywhere, all the time. Life is the million small things pressed into the big picture: it’s to-do lists, job applications, papers that need to be written, books that are due, businesses that need to be run. It’s finances that need to be juggled, vacations that need to be planned, parents that need to be cared for, dinner that needs to be cooked, and social calendars that need to be kept. It’s easy for our time together to be full of inquires, “Did you…” “Wouldn’t you…” “You didn’t…” “Have you…” It’s easy for discussions to center around what happened that day at work, and what needs to happen the next day at work, and groceries that need to be bought, not who we are and what we’re thinking and what we just read.

And the funny thing is: we’re only sort of together because we’re a good team. We’re also together because we really like each other, and in the whirl of day to day, sometimes that gets a little bit lost. So, after seven happy years with one person (A seven year itch joke goes here!) I have to tips for you. While they are not rocket science, they’ve taken me awhile to figure out, so please nod kindly at me.

Laugh. Our day to day break is cracking each other up. That’s it. That’s all. A year ago, Anna wrote on APW, “In our marriage, laughter is vitally important. I am pretty much happiest when Daniel and I are laughing together. I feel about laughter’s role in our marriage the same way that some people feel about sex (I also feel this way about sex, don’t worry): If we aren’t laughing, something is wrong. If days go by and one of us hasn’t made the other emit a belly laugh then I know that we might need a check-in, just to see what is up.” That’s exactly how I feel about the subject. Part of why David and I are together is because we think the other person is the funniest person in the universe. We make inappropriate jokes. We tell absurd stories (ask me about Ralph the Corporate Seal one day). Maybe it’s our shared theatre training, but we always, “Yes, and…” each other, like good improv participants. And those moments of the day when we’re laughing are like miniature vacations. We’re really connecting with each other. We’re fully paying attention, not staring at our screens, or wondering what we have to do next. We’re sitting there, laughing, thinking, “I married the best person in the world.” We need that at least once a day. And that brings me to…

Unplugged and Private Vacations. Over the last few years, we discovered that the way for us to sanely make it through high stress work environments (law school, investment banks, self employment), not to mention an internet-fueled public writing career, was to totally unplug at least once a year. So just as the San Francisco summer fog is getting unbearable, we go somewhere (Italy or a local campground, the details hardly matter) and we unplug. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, laptops, all out the window. What happens on vacation stays on vacation (no matter how funny that one-liner was, and how much we want to share it). And what happens is remarkable. It’s less that we unplug from computers, and more that we plug into each other. We experience the world differently. We make memories, eat strange food, have horrible mishaps, get in fights, and notice odd things in our environment: all together, all privately. We don’t have to-do lists. We lounge around, read books, sleep late. We keep building a life together, just like we promised to do on our wedding day. It means that five years later, I can still turn to David and say, “Remember that strange fight that couple had in the Indian Place on Notting Hill Road?” and he’ll nod and say, “Yes!” And just like that, I’m reminded of what a long and amazing trip it’s been.

When I got back from my honeymoon, I cried. It had been two of the best weeks of my life, intensively hanging out with my favorite person, and I was afraid I was never going to have anything like it again. The truth of the matter is that I probably won’t: honeymoons are special. But I have something better: a story of togetherness, winding from laugh to laugh, from private vacation to private vacation.

So Lauren, I hope you’re unplugged somewhere, blissing out. May you remember to do nothing with Kamel often, over many many long, adventurous, and happy years. Here is to the two of you!

26 thoughts on “Guest Posting: Meg, on tips for a lasting relationship”

  1. Meg: wonderful advice. I’ll take at heart to make him laugh today.

    Lauren: many thanks for treating us with such a great guest!

  2. I strongly second private vacations. We do a lot of traveling because we live far away from my family, but the first time we took a real vacation for just the two of us was even better than our honeymoon. I get huge warm fuzzies every time I remember it.

  3. I second the private vacations. For us, we just need something that is privately ours every once in a while, not necessarily a vacation; just something no one knows about, no one hears about, whether it’s time or a thing or a place. We engage in that private thing whenever we need it. My husband and I both have a way of giving ourselves away too much, so we need to actively try to keep some things private to remember and maintain the “us-ness”. I think it’s been vital to our relationship. So yeah, totes agreed, Meg.
    I actually learned this lesson from the wedding. We gave away a lot of the wedding, and I wished I had held some things a little closer, a little more private. The honeymoon was then what we got to keep to ourselves. I’ve taken that lesson along with us into our marriage.

  4. Yes to all of this, as usual, Meg nailing it 🙂
    During our prenuptial classes, Mark said, and it is noted that one of the most important things for our marriage is that we are able to joke with each other, to laugh together.
    Also, when “life” is getting in the middle, we love to take walks together, go to the park, and just unplug.
    Great advice.

  5. Definitely with the laughing. Oh yes. My boy is the funniest (to me).

    And I think you do get more than one honeymoon. Maybe it’s just because we didn’t get much of one the first time round, or maybe living apart makes our vacations together feel all the more special, but when we two go away, it quickly feels like a honeymoon all over again.

    Which reminds me… Time to plan the next Just Us Two vacation.

  6. This makes me feel infinitely better about forgetting the camera battery on our last trip to Puerto Rico, never putting up photos from our trips on Facebook and instituting a no work on vacations including e-mail/phone calls/texts, etc. Thanks Meg!

  7. Unplugging is the hardest thing for me to do (I also work from home and run a small freelance biz on the side). But I agree that it’s vital. Vital! I mean, how can you hear those hilarious one-liners if you’re Facebook stalking your high school bully’s baby? Private vacations: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

  8. I definitely agree with just how important laughter is in a marriage. My husband immediately knows something is up if I don’t even giggle at his butt wiggle dance (too much info?). :p As for trips… we actually really like sharing our adventures with our friends and families and the fun things we encounter. However, there are many aspects of our lives I don’t blog about and we keep private, and I agree that it helps if parts of our marriage are “unplugged” and just for the two of you.

  9. I love this post. Our honeymoon a few weeks ago was my first unplugged vacation EVER, and it was partially by necessity since we were up near the Canadian border and neither my hubs nor I have an international calling plan and we were certainly not down for having a $300 phone bill every time a text message or phone call pinged off a Canadian cell tower. So we turned off our phones and all electronics and I promptly went into electronics withdrawal. A sign that I’m too plugged in perhaps? I digress.
    Unplugged vacays are awesome, but they have a steep learning curve, for sure.

    At the end of the day though, THEY ARE TOTALLY WORTH IT. A million times over.

  10. Himself has to be on call pretty much all the time for work, so unplugged time is incredibly rare, sadly enough. We did get a chance to sneak a ski getaway last February though, and we were in a place that didn’t get any reception. It was such an unexpected thrill! I mean, we were there, eating and talking and generally just hanging out together, without either of us glancing at our phones every four and a half minutes (whether it was beeping/flashing/tweeting/whatevs or not)! Madness!

    Glorious, glorious madness.

  11. Our wedding was our first vacation together. And while I didn’t cry when we returned, nor when we went back to work, I was really, REALLY sad. Still am. But, yes to all of this. Especially to the laughing. I couldn’t imagine if he DIDN’T make me laugh all the time.

  12. HELLZ YEAH! Great guest post, Meg. And congrats to Kamel & Lauren on your wedding.

    This post was so great – I found myself nodding my head at every line. Regarding laughs – absolutely. I admit my husband makes me laugh a ton more than I make him laugh… but I’m a serious soul. The upside is I’m able to laugh at my over-thinking, over-analytical ways which makes him crack up and lightens the overall mood.

    And private vacations? Well, we’re working on this one. The Mister is REALLY social and enjoys vacations with tons of people. Which means he goes with them and I stay home. MEH. Like I said, we’re working on that one.

  13. That was beautiful, Meg.

    Oops, I blogged about our honeymoon. Lol. That’s ok. I totally wanted to cry after the honeymoon too, but then my husband said,”We’re just going to consider the entire month of July our honeymoon too.” That helped although he had to go back to the office. Boo!! Super cute picture!

  14. Every time we go on holiday it feels like our honeymoon too. Perhaps it does come from living apart 3-4 days a week. And yes to the keeping what happens private (and laughing lots).

    Hope you have a wonderful honeymoon Lauren.

  15. Oy! We constantly make fun of those people who are tweeting and facebooking on their honeymoon. “At the airport” “At dinner” … Just be on your honeymoon already!

  16. Laughter absolutely!

    I write up a summary of our holidays on my blog, mainly so my friends and his family can hear about it all at once, and none of them complain about missing out – but its always a fairly basic rundown – what we enjoyed, the main places we visited (and whether we recommend them), a restaurant recommendation if we have one, the friends we caught up with. Conversations, in-jokes and finer details? No-one outside your pairing really cares about what you talked about over dinner!

    1. See, I live in a world where that’s not true. So it’s temping to write up the blog posts everyone wants to read about the trip to Italy, or what have you. And I have to remind myself that it’s important to keep things just for us, to keep the well full. Giving readers what they want is not my first priority… my family is. But sh*t if that’s not hard to remember sometimes…

  17. spot on, meg.
    I too shed a few tears on the plane headed home from every vacation with the husby … he probably thinks I’m a bit of a freakshow (“maybe a hug will cork her cryhole?”) —and once upon a time it was misinterpreted it as disappointment — but as glad as I always feel returning to loved ones, it’s hard transitioning away from “vacation us,” back to “real life us.”

  18. Gah! There we are! I’m stoked that you quoted me.

    Also, YES to the couple vacations being vitally important. If D and I can get away from our busy lives to spend time together on a vacation, even for a night…it just makes everything work. That moment when we hop in the car for a weekend trip is sometimes the most gleeful moment I’ve had in weeks or months. We have a week in Orcas Island coming up and I am basically wetting my pants in anticipation.

  19. I LOVED this post – thanks Meg! I always struggle with how much of my personal life I want to write about, and this is a great way to think about it. It’s not that there are many topics that are ‘off-limits’, it’s more of a way of ensuring that we actually take time to LIVE moments with the people most important to us, and not just go through the motions to create blog/facebook status/anecdote-worthy material for other people.

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