Broke-Ass Tag: marriage


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It’s been seven months since I got married. I think it’s time (or maybe time again) I take a moment to step away from the discussion of my perfect and beautiful wedding day and instead talk about what really brings us together today: Mawwiage (or Marriage if you aren’t playing a medieval priest during the ’80s). Obviously seven months is enough time to learn everything there is about marriage, so let me impart my wisdom unto you all now … or something along those lines.

I’ll let you all in on a little secret: As excited as I was about getting married, I was also kind of terrified. What happens when you head home from the altar? I’ve been crazy in love with Matt since I was 16 years old. We’ve always been best friends and the happiness our relationship has brought me has kept me afloat on the darkest days of my life. Marrying him and spending my life with him was a no-brainer. It was what I always wanted. The problem wasn’t thinking bout marrying him. It was fear of what would happen if our marriage didn’t last or our relationship significantly changed after we got married. Everybody always said “Marriage changes everything” but what does that mean? What if I don’t want anything to change?

Seven months in, I can tell you that actually getting married did change a lot of things for Matt and I. Our lives have been significantly better since we got married. We no longer have the wedding hanging over our shoulders — worrying about how to pay for it and if we’d even manage to pull it off.  Actually planning a fun, successful wedding left us feeling more confident in our ability to do just about anything. Now, we can focus our time and energy on enjoying each other and our family and friends. We’re both really happy in our jobs, and we’re both really excited to meet the little one we have on the way. We also got a pretty sweet tax refund due to our newfound newlywed status (and Matt’s student loans/tuition) and that — coupled with the extra money in the bank that once would’ve gone to our wedding fund — allowed us to buy a brand new car!

13422333_10100654401800520_7855693557451074852_oEr, a slightly used car from 2013 but it’s new to us and the first car we’ve had from this century (our last was a ’93)

The list of awesome things that have happened for us since we got married continues on. We’ve got a lot of great things going for us, but I think part of the reason we can appreciate our prosperity in this time is because we were kind of put through the ringer prior to our marriage. We both endured unemployment and under-employment. Every time it felt like we were just getting our footing, we’d fall down again. We suffered losses that set us back and some we still haven’t (and will never) fully recover from. We were there for each other through everything and supported one another no matter what though. It’s not necessarily that these last seven months have been overly prosperous, it’s just that in the time prior to us getting married, things weren’t always easy for us and ultimately it made us stronger. With the wedding under our belt, we have one less thing to worry about.

That’s not to say that marriage is nothing but a bed of roses either. It’s wonderful to be married to my best friend, but there are challenges even we face. Being best friends doesn’t make handling our newly joint finances any easier. I mean yes, being best friends does mean that we’re not afraid to communicate with one another in a way other couples might be. We have a very honest relationship and we’re not afraid to say anything to each other. But there’s still the challenge of going from only being beholden to ourselves individually when it came to how our money was spent and suddenly having to answer to someone else and having to make decisions with that person about your financial future.

Take buying the car for instance: If Matt were buying the car himself, he probably would’ve taken the tax return we used as our down payment and bought a more updated version of our last two cars (the beautifully boxy Volvo 240) on Craigslist. I would’ve probably still financed the car, but instead gone with something like a mini-van … and then not been able to do anything with it because I don’t have a license. Instead, we spent several months checking out cars to find out what we both liked and were looking for. We debated back and forth on what we could actually afford each month based upon our salaries. We haggled, for the first time in both of our lives and got a really great deal on the beautiful Honda Civic you see in the picture above. We got something that was ultimately the best for both of us and we were equal partners in making the decisions relating to it. We’re also equal partners in making sure that we have the funds available to pay for it.

This car wasn’t just the first major purchase we made as a married couple — it marked the first time my name would be on a title of a car that we considered ourselves to jointly own. Unlike the other two cars we bought over the course of our relationship, it was actually mine, too. Since we’re both on the loan documents, I have just as much responsibility towards the car as he does. There’s some symbolism somewhere in there because marriage (and finances and children and all the other things that seem to go hand-in-hand with marriage) is the same way. Both our names can be found on that marriage certificate and even if these beautifully prosperous days where only good things seem to happen for us don’t last forever, we have an equal responsibility to one another and our commitment to keep this thing going as best we can. This was always true in our relationship prior to this (just like those other cars were mine too), but now it’s been formalized in a way that it never had been before. We’ve always maintained our happy relationship, no matter what was happening in our life. We’ve always fought to be sure we were on the same page. I realize now that as long as we work to keep our marriage together the way we always worked to keep our relationship, we’ll be okay.

Change is scary. I was terrified when I found out I was pregnant even though I’ve always wanted children and I know that Matt is going to be an amazing father. I was scared when we finally bought our car, despite all our calculations and research and test drives. I was afraid when Matt took his current job and when I accepted my current position (two years ago for me, mind you) because the road in front of us where these new things would take us was completely unknown. So far, though, for all of these things, the road has had it’s bumps along the way but we’ve been able to make it past them all unscathed. I jest when I say that seven months in, I totally get marriage and can actually profess to give any kind of real advice on how to get through it. I know there are twists and turns ahead of us that I can’t forseee and who knows how we will ultimately deal with them. I hope we will be able to do what we’ve always done before and maybe even figure out a few new tricks of the trade along the way. What I do know is that so far, we’ve made it through and the things I have been most afraid of have also brought me the most happiness. Not to mention there is literally nobody else in the world I’d rather in the driver seat/someday as my co-pilot than the guy I chose to make my husband. Unless of course, Han Solo suddenly becomes available. Then I’ll have to think about it.

(Also for anyone wondering, The title is totally a Supernatural reference.)


  • 4/28

    Newlywed bliss.

    Sunshine and rainbows.

    Honeymoon phase.

    Society likes to imply that getting married magically transforms life into this beautiful, perfect thing, but then you hear that sage nugget: “The first year of marriage is the hardest.”

    Wait. I’m confused.

    I rarely feel bliss when I’m dealing with something that isn’t just hard, but hardest. I love a good challenge, but I’m not typically twirling on my toes through the process. Being a newlywed absolutely can be both blissful and hard, but typically you’re only feeling one or the other at any given time.

    Just over halfway through our first year of marriage, we had our first fight. I did, anyway. No, the honeymoon isn’t over. It was a good fight. An honest fight. Most importantly, a fair fight. As cliché as it may sound, we came out on the other side stronger and with a better understanding of each other. I came out on the other side genuinely proud of the way I handled the situation. Well, most of it. I’m not one to shy away from a little over-sharing, especially if I think the information could help someone. Now, keep in mind that I’m not a psychologist. I’m not licensed in anything. This is just a real world account of that first-fight milestone and how it all got better.

    To put it succinctly, this fight was over the fact that my husband told me he was going to add me to his insurance plan through work and unilaterally decided that we couldn’t afford it without telling me until I needed it. I have never had insurance in my life and am one of those people for whom the Affordable Care Act was not particularly affordable. I had been waiting to see a doctor for a troubling increase in migraines among other things, and the past month has been a particularly miserable time and waiting was no longer an option.

    A couple weeks ago, after 10 full days of being so miserable that the very act of standing made me need to take a nap, I told him, full of disdain, that I needed to see a doctor. I had been monitoring my blood pressure and found that the episodes in which I was particularly exhausted, I was measuring in the neighborhood of 80/40. I had tried supplements, every diet change imaginable and vigilantly consuming all the water I could drink, but nothing was making this better. We went to the doctor who listened carefully as I read off a front-and-back page of notes and who called this state that had become my new normal “deeply disconcerting.” Oh, wow. She ordered blood test to check for several things and referred me to a neurologist, warning me that the battery of tests likely to be performed could easily eclipse the $10,000 mark without insurance. We shelled out $500 for the blood work that turned out to be completely inconclusive and I cried as soon as we got in the car and out of view.

    I cried because I was scared. I cried because I was angry. I cried because I felt like I had been so completely let down by this man I love more than I can express. I felt shut out of an important decision-making process and I was angry at myself for not pushing harder. I cried like a toddler cries when what they really need is a nap; I had been so consistently exhausted for so long and to top it off, I was generally in a lot of pain. I felt hopeless because if he didn’t think we could afford the insurance premium, this low-end figure suggested was going to be impossible. I felt certain that I wasn’t going to get better because my health wasn’t worth the sacrifice.

    I spent the next day practically unable to communicate any of this. It felt like too much to spit out all at once and honestly, it probably was. Rather than shut down, I just explained that I wasn’t ready to talk about it because I was scared and emotional and felt like I needed some time to process things. That was the turning point. Once I was allowed a little space to collect myself, thoughts and ideas started to come together cohesively. I was able to make sense of what was in my head.

    Perhaps the most important thing I said through this process was, “I love you even though I’m very upset right now.” While it was absolutely and 100% the truth, it provided this buffer that allowed me to put things together in order: I’m hurt that I wasn’t able to be a part of the decision. I’m scared about my health. I’m worried about the money. I want to be a part of the solution.

    Shaina Sheaff Photograpghy

    Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photograghy

    Focusing on how to be a part of the solution was the magic bullet. I didn’t want to take over; I didn’t want to belittle his efforts. All I wanted was to be partners in this. I know my husband sees himself as a provider and a fixer and it’s so very important to consider those characteristics when you want to resolve a fight. Up until this point, I had left him feeling like a poor provider and, true or not, swiping at his core values made him defensive.

    TIP: Use your “I” statements and talk about what you will do and what you’re able to do. In this case, I will sit down with you and look at our budget. I will take the reins in finding an affordable plan and we can find some places where we’re being less purposeful with our money and we can find a way to make this work.

    We started with a bank statement from a previous month and immediately found places where our spending wasn’t out of control, but it wasn’t responsible. Food and fun were going to need to be re-evaluated and the relatively common resolve to curtail that spending left us with plenty of money to take care of insurance. As I shopped around for plans, I found one that worked well for us in terms of premium, deductible and coverage. We signed up immediately, found a neurologist in my network and scheduled an appointment.

    At that point, it didn’t matter why it took an emergency to make things happen. It didn’t matter why he made a decision without telling me. It didn’t matter that he didn’t look into more alternatives that would work better for our budget. There’s still a part of me that would like answers to those questions, but I have to let that part of me go and focus on the fact that we found a solution and I now have the resources to find the cause of my health issues. I can focus on the fact that when I asked to be a part of the solution (an offer I don’t think I had made before), he enthusiastically accepted and treated the situation with the immediacy it deserved. I also have to remember that it’s always going to be his nature to fix things on his own because he sees that as his responsibility; therefore, it’s my responsibility to remind him I’m here for both of us when problems arise and communicate that I appreciate the things he does.

    It’s very easy to focus on shortcomings, but resolving to look into your capacity to find a solution makes things so much easier. My mother, knowing my tendency towards anger and ability to take a pound of flesh with words, asked me if I left him any dignity (fair question). When I told her that I did, I knew it was the truth. He also left me mine. We really are better for it. While the rest will be left up to doctors and could take months to fully understand, we have the most we can hope for because we found it together. We truly are better together. That first year of marriage can be hard as you rediscover boundaries and learn to work within them, but when you’re able to do it together, it is so incredibly worth it.

    Have you hit a milestone fight with your partner? What did you do to resolve it? Let us know in the comments below!

  • 4/18

    We all check in here to talk about how to make the most of one day of our lives on the least amount of money. We come here for bad-ass wedding ways to make a single 24 hours take the smallest bite out of our bank accounts as possible. I read an article the other day that said the average cost of a wedding is…

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    When I read this piece on The Huffington Post, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Because I totally get feeling like I deserve more and feeling resentful when it isn't doled out. And guys, let me tell you, it's those feelings that will dance with --if not spell uncertain -- doom. But a shift in thinking can help considerably, as this article points out. My wife doesn't…

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    A lot of times during these On Marriage posts, we delve into deep, sometimes emotionally exhausting subjects. Ones that pull out all the feels. So, occasionally, I like to find the odd lighthearted listicle to get back to the shinier side of things. This post, written by Lexi Herrick and found on Huffington Post, does just that. Because sometimes, it is about the little things. Via…

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  • 8/11

    A funny thing tends to happen, even if just momentarily (you know, before you snap back into real life) once that big ol' sparkler lands on your finger: The party becomes the goal and we forget about what it all really means. I did. So when I read this piece on The Huffington Post and found myself nodding along in agreement, I knew that it might…

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    As an often-times (admittedly) snarky person, I'm not immune to flippantly "predicting" the outcome of others' affairs. I know it's not a good thing and it can breed negativity, but I also mind the company I keep when doing so, and I know with all certainty I'm not alone in my passive judgements. But what's more telling than an outsider's view on a couple's status…

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    **This post is brought to you by our friends at, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. By Slightly-Less-Random via Flickr Creative Commons. Guys, this isn't the most romantic of wedding topics, but it's real. And it's important. I mean, as I type this, Dana herself is headed into yet another surgery on her eyes. Health care and the necessity of insurance is a…

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  • 5/27

    Y'all, speaking from experience, marriage is tough. And there are times when it doesn't work, maybe because it wasn't "meant to be" (I don't really know what this means, other than fate/destiny/a flying spaghetti monster may have had some sneaky upper hand in my decisions as a lonely, confused mid-twenties female) or maybe because of our own action -- or lack thereof -- leading up to…

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