We’re starting the year with posts on marriage from readers who started reading APW when I started writing it, and who have been growing right along side me and the site. Nicole was part of the first week of wedding graduates (back when it was an every-now-and-then kind of project), and she wrote about how her wedding was still crazy joyful, even with a wrecked wedding cake. Now she’s back, with her adorable baby girl, talking about how the lessons she learned in wedding planning have continued to matter every day of their marriage. So for all of you newly engaged ladies: What you’re doing right now is valuable and important. Cheers!
Now that I’m a mom (What? That still feels weird to say), I read a lot about parenting. I take a research approach: learning about the different ideas out there, gleaning a few things here and there that work for us, filing away little things that might be helpful now or later. You know, I try to be practical about the whole thing.
One of the parenting philosophies that has resonated with me has to do with creating a secure base for a child. The theory goes that if you create a nurturing, loving, secure home base for your child, he or she will be more free to explore and spread his/her wings as a confident independent little person, knowing they can always return to you for security and reassurance when needed.
The idea applies to marriages as much as it does to babies. It wasn’t intentional, but that’s exactly what Patrick and I have created for ourselves—a home base of support.
In the three years since our wedding day, we’ve moved back to our hometown, finished a degree, lost jobs, gotten new jobs, bought a house, had unexpected cuts in income, marked two 30th birthdays, celebrated joys, lost loved ones, and welcomed a daughter into our family. Planning a wedding taught us a lot about how we approach decisions big and small, and we use those lessons all the time. Those months of making lists, talking to vendors and deciding what was important to us taught us about when to rely on our guts, when to run the numbers, when to splurge, when to be thrifty, and when to talk it out.
Through all of these decisions and changes, our partnership has been crucial—and that’s never been as true as it is in the intense adventure that is parenthood. It’s not always easy, but we try to pay close attention to that partnership. We have each other’s backs—recognizing what the other person is doing and high-fiving a job well-done, thanking them for doing one of the less desired tasks, taking over late-night baby comforting when they’re exhausted, giving them a night off when needed, encouraging each other to have time with friends, scheduling time for the two of us, and prioritizing time as a family. We know that if we don’t nurture our partnership and that home base of support, everything else suffers.
When we began planning our wedding, we decided that one of the priorities was having our large families there. We kept the large guest list and made decisions that enabled that to happen. Way back when I wrote my wedding graduate post, I said that in the end, the stuff that mattered had nothing to do with our toppled wedding cake. What mattered was “the love, the laughter, the people we brought together, the joy, and the moments that never could have been planned—no matter how careful a planner you are.” Over the past three years, those are the things that continue to matter in day-to-day married life. And after our busted cake, I feel totally justified ordering beautiful desserts for every celebration for the rest of our lives!
Three years of marriage is only the beginning, and I’m no marriage expert. I can tell you that three years in, I’m still giddy over the fact that I get to be married to this awesome guy. And now I am so excited for my daughter that she gets to have this awesome guy—this wonderful man—for her Daddy.
Our wedding set us on our way with a celebration full of love and joy. I know that whatever we face, we have a strong foundation, and I know that as long we as pay attention, it will only get stronger.
And you better believe there will be cake every step of the way.
Photos by: Upstate Photographers (top photo), Nicole herself (second photo), and Grace Savercool (last photo)