• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

12 May 2009

when they're parking their cars on your chest

With barely 4 months remaining before the big day, I really want to get in to the fun part of wedding planning. I want to do the DIYs. I want to buy shoes. I want to spend hours upon end on Etsy looking for the perfect hairpiece. I want to help Bf choose his ring. I want to be a big bubbly ball of nearly-wedded bliss.

But right now... that's just not our life. We're buying a house this Friday. We're finishing one term at school and starting another. And just this past week, we've had a scare with our employment. Without going in to detail, I will say that it's possible that our income may be reduced substantially in the near future. It's hard not to panic in a situation like that. Especially when you're about to buy the most expensive thing you've ever bought. And you're about to get married. And you're both going to school. And you've got two car loans and plenty of other fiscal responsibilities.

How could this be happening? Our lives were really falling in to place. We made big plans for the near and distant future. We need that money. Crap crap crap crap crap. Bf and I allowed ourselves a little bit of time for denial, sugar-coating, and general freaking-the-f&%k-out, but then we sprang in to action.

We made peace with the situation.
It was easy to feel sorry for ourselves, but we weren't looking at the big picture. We temporarily forgot how fortunate we are. After all, we still have a steady income and will continue to (knock on wood) - even if it does shrink. We've also got a reasonable amount of time to adjust our lifestyles to the potentially smaller income. Someone recently told me that "things have a way of working out for the best". I agree wholeheartedly in our situation. I'm often not a terribly optimistic person, but I do believe that a brighter and more lucrative future is going to emerge from this mess. Don't get me wrong - we're nervous. But with a positive outlook, it's easier to tackle the hard stuff.

We took a stern look at our budget.
We listed all of our debts and the payments on those debts. (This was pretty easy since we already had them fresh in our minds from the mortgage approval process.) We listed the things we spend our money on and talked about how we could reduce that spending. We made agreed on clear rules for controlling our financial weaknesses (our big one is eating out). We also devised a plan to pay off at least one (possibly two) of the sources of our large monthly payments as quickly as possible. This will ensure that if our income is reduced, our remaining pay won't all be tied up in monthly installments.

We came up with alternative options.
We spent a lot of time discussing various opportunities that may arise from what (at face value) appears to be a really crappy situation. We talked to mentors, professional acquaintances and friends who offered helpful advice and excellent options for us. And although the situation is still up in the air, we feel hopeful that at least one of the possibilities before us will play out favorably.

I wish I could tell you that Bf and I have solid resolutions for everything that's currently going on in our lives, but we don't. What we do have is each other. Bf and I have been through a lot together. Every time a "crisis" happens, it feels like the end of the world (as we know it). But then something amazing happens: We pull together. We team up. We don't place blame on each other. We figure it out. We find the "worst-case scenario" and then brainstorm ways to make even that a livable situation. We are there for each other. We have each others' backs. We're tight.

This is what I think a great relationship and a lasting marriage is all about. Love, of course, but also support. Sensibility. Being stronger together, and protecting one another in times of weakness. Having someone to stick up for you. To be your greatest advocate (or "devil's advocate," says Bf) and loudest cheerleader. Realizing that an equal partnership doesn't always mean 50/50, and that your life is truly intertwined with that of another. Stowing your pride and sharing your fears. Helping your partner recognize opportunities when faced with hardships, and encouraging him or her to chase their dreams. Understanding that when bad things happen to you, you don't have to face them alone. It's easy to be happy together when times are great, but I really feel that the value of a lifelong commitment hits home when you find that you can function as a team when life sucks.