I was reading Lauren’s blog yesterday (you’ll remember Lauren from her fabulous wedding in the MIT chapel). And I came across something that made me really sit up and take notice. Really take notice. Because when I talk about having a brave marriage, and not wanting to put off things like travel, and wanting to really voraciously experience life together, without kids, with kids, however, whenever that of course has a little to do with my family of origin. My parents (you’ll remember their wedding from back here) are very happily married, and have had wonderful lives doing work they love. They did, however, always put off things like travel till “one day” or “when the kids are grown.” And now they are less spry than they were, and still haven’t traveled the world together, which makes me sad. So I want to make sure I don’t miss that.

So here is Lauren, ending the week with a really important story:

Last night, I ran into a professor I have crossed paths with over the years at the university I work with. He is a quirky, thoughtful, poem-emailing literature professor, probably in his mid-sixties, who lets long pauses happen in the middle of conversations. I don’t see him very often, but have been given very weighty topics to think about every time I do.

The last time I saw him was over a year ago. I was walking with some coworkers to get lunch, and he was walking the opposite direction, and I waved, and he called out, joking, “Why don’t you get married and change your last name so I can finally pronounce it?” (Like I said, quirky.) To which my response was to hold up my left hand, since I had gotten engaged only a week earlier. His eyes got very wide, and he gave me a congratulatory hug, and then told me that his wife had passed away from a long battle with cancer…. a week earlier. When I asked him why he was already back at work, he said he didn’t know what else to do. And then he looked at me very seriously, and said “My best marriage advice for you is to never, ever put off what you want to do. No matter how good the excuses seem, or how little money you have, or how practical it would be to wait- don’t wait. Travel, move, experience new things together, and do them right away. Don’t ever put these things off. Promise me.”

And then yesterday, Lauren posted this about planning a budget with her new husband:

We also set a savings goal that would make us both feel comfortable with any emergencies that came up (after buying a house and paying for a wedding in one year, our savings is severely crippled.) We figured out how long it would take to reach that goal, and then Jeff said “So, should we not travel until we reach our goal?” My response was “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Buying a fridge- sure, we can wait on that. But traveling, exploring, experiencing new things together- non-negotiable. I don’t care HOW little money is in our bank account.

A wise lady that one. I’m proud to share a wedding day with her.

So with that, I wish you a multitude of gratitudes this (American) Thanksgiving weekend. Because as frustrating as planning a wedding can be, and as complicated as negotiating being a wife can be, having a life partner is such a huge thing to be grateful for. So go, plan, dream scheme together. I’ll see you back here on Monday.

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  • i like this post. i definitely plan on dream scheming for the rest of our lives. Because like you said- experiencing the world together & continuing to explore together is so big in a relationship. Our honeymoon alone brought us so much closer.

  • Great post. Way to make me cry :)
    Have you thought about helping your parents go on a cruise? It is a good, preplanned, safe way for them to see the world and I know several older couples who have traveled this way. They might love it.

  • thank you for this great piece of perspective about love and life amidst the insanity of wedding planning.

  • I let out a little sob reading that first story. Sheesh!

  • Meg

    Ah, sadly no I can't do that. Illness.

  • Happy Thanksgiving, Megaroo.

  • I've never commented on your blog before, but I've been a silent reader for some time now. I loved this post. My Fi and I constantly talk about doing everything we can together while we can–we want to experience so much together at every point in our lives–boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance/fiance, husband/wife, mom/dad, grandad/grandma and we definitely don't want to miss any of those stages!

    Thank you for this post!

  • Thanks for posting this, Meg- it was a lesson that still gives me chills and I'm glad it got passed on.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • sam

    @ Ellie – I love the concept of having local adventures

    As far as saving vs. traveling goes. We will be traveling to Ft. Collins for my cousin's wedding in January, and eating a lot of PB&J; in February. Because I love my cousin, I love Colorado (Rich has never been) and we both love the New Belgium Brewing Co. It's gonna totally be worth it.

  • The same could be true for a whole host of other dreams: tackling post-grad degrees, moving to a new place, writing a book or doing serious research (to one day turn into a book/exhibit/etc.) Don't let marriage, kids, or what everyone else thinks you should do way down your ambitions. Forge ahead!

    Great post Meg and hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  • wow… thank you.

  • Very true. I sent an email off to my husband.

    No real weddings this week or last?
    My heart is breaking—I adore them.

  • Ellie

    My parents traveled the world, with their 2 small children in tow. We didn't have a lot of money growing up, and my parents put every penny they had into either saving for our college and their retirement, or into travel. Our house regularly goes without minor repairs and my parents drive crummy, cheap cars – but they took jobs that have lower pay than the private sector, but more vacation and more travel opportunities. Almost every trip we took as kids was subsidized in part by a conference that one or both of my parents was presenting at. We bought lunch at grocery stores and had picnics in the street. We stayed with friends. We did free activities. A lot of people think that traveling without kids is impossible, and I assure you, it is not. (However, until they are at least 7 or 8, they will not remember or value many of the experiences you gave them.)
    At the same time, one of our goals has been to simply get out and do more. A few months went by where every weekend, we got to Sunday night and realized we had done nothing. So we started to change that and go on small, local adventures more. Even riding our bikes to the farmer's market or going to the library can become a new experience. Also, don't discount living in a nicer and/or more expensive place or something – because for us, when we moved to an apartment we loved, in an area of the city that we loved, with a kitchen we can both cook in, that spilled over into our relationship. It has created an opportunity to experience new things together in our own home, and that's great too.

  • Meg

    Slow season. People haven't been sending them in. I'm going to post a new prompt to see if I can get the summer brides writing, but winter is always sloooowwwwww like that.

  • My mother calls things you don't do "sins of omission." Happily for her, she has done so much in her life, I don't think she has too many. She always encouraged me to take chances and have adventures, so I have been fortunate…although I think this week that sometimes creating a home with someone you love is the greatest adventure of all. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • I've really been struggling with the spend/save dichotomy lately. Having been a spender my whole life, my current inclination to save, save, save is both surprising and confusing.

    Lauren's story is moving, but on the same token, for every anecdote about people who spend their lives saving and planning for 'someday' only to die the moment they get there, there's an anecdote about people who lived it up, took advantage of every opportunity, satisfied every whim, and got to "old age" with memories galore (which are invaluable, don't get me wrong), but no means of supporting themselves.

    As always, balance is key. There are probably a lot of things that we'd all like to do right now, but we've chosen to put off for some reason or another. Some of those reasons are really just excuses, and they're usually rooted in fear. But some of those reasons are totally valid, well thought out, and rooted in hope; in even BIGGER plans for the future that require some sacrifice right now.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    Thank you. Perfect, beautiful, moving. Perfect.

  • Nat

    If only my partner and I had this problem, maybe we'd get somewhere. We absolutely can't save because we do everything we want. I think it comes from us both having broke-ass upbringings, now we can afford to have the things we want we thing we deserve them all.

    This is probably related to the last big discussion (apologies for causing it's untimely demise), but I can't wait for our wedding to happen. I also can't wait for it to be over so we can move onto the next exciting adventure, travel, buying a home, moving states, changing jobs, maybe having sprogs, all of it so exciting and necessary for us!

  • Nat

    @Meg & @Rachael
    Here in Australia we're hitting the peak of wedding season, surely there's some Aussie APW readers out there with a story to tell?? Could help to get us all through the US down season??

  • Meg

    Point. I also got some in my inbox today. Or the beginnings of some. Clearly I need to drop some hints. This is what happens when you don't take photographer submissions….

  • Meg

    And here I thought you guys didn't care *that* much about real weddings because they were low comment!

  • What great words of wisdom from the professor. Thanks for sharing this.

  • j.

    I love you, guys. I need to say it. I HAVE to say it. I've been a steady lurker (could you call me a lurker since I have you in my Google Reader and out of the 100+ blogs I have to read, I always check to see if you have new ones first? Yeah… I'm a lurker alright) for quite a while now, but I had to say that I felt the need to tell you that I totally agree. With everything in this post… and I'll tell you why.

    My fiance (Mark) and I have been engaged for about a year, with our relationship spanning over almost four years. Why has it taken us so long to get married, let alone be together? Because, technically, we aren't together — physically, that is. The fact of the matter is that he is in the US, and I'm in Canada — so for us to be together everyday and finally married next month, is a huge step.

    The dream of wanting children and the house and the perfect job is overshadowed by the fact that all those things would not matter if we didn't have each other to share it with. Don't get me wrong — when we're ready and prepared, or when it's meant to be down the road, the kids and everything will will come along. We want to have everything, and although some people may say it's impossible, we don't, because we have had (and still have), each other. I just know that right now, I want only him and me, and this is our time to be selfish. Traveling and experiencing new things have always been important to the both of us, and although the American dream is too, we know that the experience of being married, just being young and just being "us" — him and me — will only be caught in the moment that is now.

  • Meg

    Ohhhh @j
    That's me today. Like right this second. And now I'm being told to come to the other room so we can read books next to each other.

    I think, maybe, this first year of formally being a family is the year of imagining. Here we are together. What would we like to dream up next.


  • Mmmmmhmmmm. I agree. Because honestly, I'd rather remember the journeys than the nice fridge with an ice dispenser.

  • Michele brings up an important point. We do need to find a happy medium between planning for the future and having adventures with eachother now. Some of the things I want to save for I also consider very exciting (i.e. home buying), even though they are very practical and settled-down things to do. Right now we are trying to decide if we should still go on our long anticipated honeymoon to Paris next year, or somewhere less expensive so we can save for a house and everything else we want to do down the road. Because I want both those things very much, even though one is kind of boring. (I think we are still probably going to Paris though…)

  • Meg

    Ah, yes. But the point is don't put off what you want to do together… not travel all the time. Lauren and I want to travel at the moment, but that may have nothing to do with what *you guys* want to do together.

    Just do it. Don't put it off. And happy Thanksgiving.

  • I am a true believer in setting life goals and working hard to achieve them. To me, however, they have to make sense and "cents." No matter how old we are and where we are in life, I think part of us will always long for more, more, more. For some, this longing might be for material possessions–for others, experiences.

    My husband and I were married in June and are working to accomplish many of our dreams. We paid for our wedding in cash–which this blog inspired us to do. Our definition of practical was refusing to allow anyone (including our parents)to go into debt due to a day that should be a celebration in every way!

    One week after our honeymoon, we moved 17 hrs away and began our PhDs. It truly was a leap of faith to go from good jobs to assistantships which just barely pay cover all of the bills.

    Although we want to see the world together, our 10 yr goal includes paying off ALL of our debt first. This includes car loans, student loans, etc. We understand that if we work hard and sacrifice now, we'll be a slave to no one later. We will have the financial freedom to travel and explore the world–even if little ones are in tow. (And I hope they will be.)

    And God forbid something happen to either one of us, we will have ensured that the other will have financial stability and will not have to worry about the financial costs of losing a spouse–which can be significant if one is not prepared. It may sound morbid to consider, but unfortunately, it's real life.

    I say all of that to say that I think there is value in postponing some dreams for a short time in order to see those dreams realized–in full–somewhere down the road.

    P.S. Meg–you rock my world!

  • My parents never got to go on their honeymoon. They put it off for one reason or another (having kids was a part of it) and then my dad died not 20 years into their marriage. When my mom told me this, I felt the same way we're all probably feeling now.

    That said, I find I still have a hard time just going for it…I dream and hope and plan, but that last step, actually doing it, is always difficult for me.

    Thank you for this post and thank you for maintaining this amazing blog and giving us all food for thoughts. I loved reading your musings during my pre-wedding period (got married in October), but I think I enjoy the marriage discussion even more.

  • Meg

    But Kristen, the point he was making is not that you should travel, but that you should not postpone doing what you want to do together, because life is short. And you're getting your PhD's!! You can't have it all, the point is to grab onto life (and each other) as it passes. Two Phd's is plenty for now. Plenty.

  • Anonymous

    This post hit home for me. My future husband and I both made the decision that we will follow all of our dreams. Traveling being the #1. So we both got jobs as english teachers overseas. By the time we return home this summer we would have been to 10 countries! We also have no bills, rent or mortgage to worry about and have saved a nice bundle of cash. There are so many excuses we tell ourseles to prevent us from living our lives.. You just have to do it or else before you know it it will be too late.