Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Did You Marry Your Spouse?

This was a question recently posed on a forum I sometimes visit, and I got to thinking about why it was I actually married Ed. This was my response:

This may sound silly and simplistic at first, and it is, but hear me out.

I married my husband because I like him and wanted to create a life with him. I make a conscious effort to continue finding things about my husband that I like. He does things that frustrate me too - as I'm sure there are things I do that bug him - but I try very hard to ignore or conveniently forget those things and focus on the things I like about him.

I loved him very soon after we met and the feeling was mutual, and inexplicably, even before we met (we're an Internet romance), we knew that this was The Person (tm). We discussed our thoughts about our futures with each other before we were even dating, just getting a feel about each other. We were open with each other; I have found him easier to be open with than anyone I've ever met; I can share with him my vulnerabilities and fears, and he knows the best ways to comfort and support me.

We have similar senses of humor; we enjoy talking to each other about our days at work. We like travel to weird places and thinking about where we'd like to travel (this is big; my husband is former commercial pilot and at one point he'd been involved with a woman who was afraid to fly and panicked whenever he went to work, whereas I've held a passport since I was 7 - 30 years ago, now - and lived abroad, and dig airplanes and airports).

We travel together well. More than anything else, this for us predicated success. I've heard Slate's Prudence emphasize the importance of sleeping together before marriage ("because otherwise how else will you know you're compatible?") but that we took a two-week multi-European-country trip before we got married (although after we'd gotten engaged; we had planned the trip before we got engaged) spoke volumes of how well we could navigate new landscapes and handle potentially difficult experiences on the fly. I'd actually say that traveling in such a capacity beforehand is a good predicator for success, but that's just my experience; your mileage may vary.

My husband supports my career goals, and doesn't think being a teacher is ridiculous or that my income is inconsequential. He thinks I should teach because I love it and it makes me happy. Period.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Weight Loss Advice & Losing Motivation

There's a lot of really impractical weight-loss advice on the Internet (this is not a surprise). Most of that which I have come across has advised things like simply not going out to eat or traveling until you've lost the majority of weight that you'd like, which is one thing if you want to lose 20 pounds, but not especially helpful if, like me, you've been working on losing 200 pounds.

Not eating outside my own house isn't really something manageable in the long-term. Yes, I suppose it's possible, but that means I could never do wild and crazy things like visit my family (all of whom live out of state), have dinner at a friend's house, or go out to dinner to celebrate an anniversary or birthday, let alone take a vacation. 

I'm down about 90 pounds so far, but I've hit a wall and have begun to lose my motivation because I'm tired of tracking every morsel I eat. It's disheartening because many of things I encounter just don't have a nutrition label. (And "just don't eat anything that doesn't have a nutrition label" isn't helpful when you have vast amounts of weight to lose, because, again, what if you go out to eat at a local restaurant? Or go to a friend's or family's house for dinner? Let's be practical, shall we?) I'm having trouble keeping on track of calculating all my food intake simply because sometimes there is no nutritional information available.

I'm exercising nearly daily - perhaps once a week, I neither get to the gym nor get out for a 3-mile walk. Between going to the gym 3-4 times a week, and going for 3-4 three-mile walks a week, sometimes I come back and I'm just really hungry. I try to eat something sensible, but if I'm hungry to distraction, I find it hard to stop. For many people this is as simple as "just don't eat" but I can't seem to control myself. I was never taught those skills. One wouldn't tell an alcoholic just not to drink; there's the recognition that for that person, it's not a simple thing to do. It's like that for me and food.

Growing up, food was a power struggle. The refrigerator was padlocked; a downright humiliating intervention was staged. I was constantly put on diets that the whole family didn't participate in, which is to say there were still constantly desserts available, instead of changing the whole family's eating patterns. We were not an active family; no one exercised. I was told just not to eat without getting to the emotional roots behind my eating. I felt like whatever I could put in my mouth was the only thing I could control.

Now, as an adult, as much as I love my family, and as odd as it may sound, it's nice being a bit far away. When it's just me and Ed, I can control what comes into our house and what we eat without being undermined.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Honeymoon Planning & Respite

Ed and I are finally leaving to go to Iceland for our honeymoon weekend after next; we're both really looking forward to it. Aside from one long weekend in Las Vegas earlier this year, we haven't had a single vacation since before we got married. It may be ridiculous, but not having that time away has been detrimental to my own mental health.

Not that I'm about to have any kind of breakdown. I certainly don't feel that a vacation has to be international, but we didn't get the chance that so many newlyweds do in getting some time away from family and friends and starting out the marriage with a relaxing time for just the two of us. Again, not that that's absolutely necessary, but I was looking more forward to our honeymoon than I was to our wedding. (Ed had wanted all the pomp and circumstance. I was happy to give it to him, but I did not want that.)

I've been finding myself getting upset at stupid things that shouldn't be upsetting; the mental distress then lingers and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Someone will make a comment that I just find ridiculous, and I'll get shot down for disagreeing or thinking the comment or viewpoint downright asinine - even if it's a question phrased as, "Why do you think that; have you considered [fill-in-the-blank]." I feel compelled to tell the person (hopefully a bit more kindly, but not always) that there are holes in their argument, and that, of course, makes the other person more upset, and so things escalate. Most of the time I'm attempting to have a discussion and am just honestly curious about the "why" of this point of view, but the other person gets defensive or doesn't explain things well, which in turn makes me defensive.

(There are one or two folks I know in particular who really don't do critical thinking well. My asking them to clarify their beliefs, or giving a side of the issue that they might not have thought of - especially if it has to do with education - tends to be ignored. I find this frustrating because not only are they ignoring pertinent information, but when asked what they would do to fix the situation, there is absolutely no response. Pet peeve: Continuous complaints that are repeated multiple times that do not address potential solutions or even acknowledge a lack of a solution. Ditto with responses to public catastrophes: Public prolonged verbal flailing instead of donating time or money doesn't help the situation; it only adds fuel.)

These things stick with me longer than they seem to stick with other people I know, and I'm trying to figure out how to let them go without bothering me; I can't find a way. I'm hoping that just by getting away from people for the duration of our honeymoon - three weeks - I can recalibrate my thinking, and just learn not to respond to idiocy.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Civil Liberties

I'm finding it more and more difficult to maintain a friendship with people I've known a long time; our outlooks are becoming so diametrically opposed that I'm having a hard time getting beyond things I just can't accept as rational thinking. This might be a product of feeling more strongly about things like civil liberties the older I get, but when long time friends act in such a way that makes me question their ability to think critically.

For example, I'm finding it difficult to accept the notion that gay marriage should be continued to be made illegal based on the religious beliefs of a minority. Nowhere does it say that the United States is a Christian nation; even if this were explicitly stated, I would question which Christian sect has the authority to determine the acceptable morality of the majority.

Gun control is another thing. Guns ownership is really big in Utah, and I really don't understand why people here feel such a strong urge to own a gun. I understand owning and using guns for hunting, but for no other reason. Why does someone need a gun? To protect themselves? There are some very compelling arguments that say differently, that guns do not actually or necessarily make us safer.

The biggest argument I consistently hear for the continuing legality of gun ownership falls in the "Because it's in the constitution!" line of thinking. This smacks of blind obedience, the feeling that we must accept something as legitimate or "our right" simply because it's legal. Abortion was legalized in 1973; women's gained the ability to vote in 1921. There are 27 amendments, so our thinking and acceptance of acceptable behavior changes at least somewhat regularly.

Someone explain to me why gun ownership is necessary. Simply because it "says so" in the Constitution doesn't mean you have to actually own a gun. Tell me why it's necessary to own and use one.