Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Married & Dating

Whenever people ask my mom how we are or what we're doing, she says we're dating.  We only dated for three months before we got engaged & then everyone knows that the months (four for us) between engagement & wedding are consumed by just that.  You're no longer dating, you're planning.

So this is true, we're dating.  We've still only been married a little over a year, & it's not like we have kids to plan around, but this is something that's important to both of us & we don't ever want to stop.  Dating looks different in every stage of life, but it never has to end.

When we first moved to California, we'd just spent a ton of money on a cross-country move, paying to get out of our lease in Georgia, paying all the initial fees of a new apartment in California, not to mention all that it costs to change licenses, registration, tags & everything.  And all of this on one income.  Seven months after getting married.  Money was tighter than it had been for us before (& we're still only on one income + a part-time job), but I think it's a myth that dating has to be expensive.

I certainly don't claim to know everything, especially since we've only been married a little over a year.  But dating is something that we're good at right now.  There may be phases in our life later that we struggle.  But for now, this is some of what we've learned:
  • It's important to agree upon what is important to spend money on. I may not get to go shopping for new clothes every time I want to, & I can't have every piece of home decor that I pin on Pinterest.  Our guest room still has a mattress & box springs sitting on the floor because when we have visitors a few times a year, a bed isn't really that important right now.  I have a computer I hate that has needed replacing for a long time, but it's not a priority.  
  • That being said, don't be afraid to spend any money.  Even when money is tight, it's not good for anyone to just stay home all the time, eat the same foods every week, & never do anything the requires a little bit of money.  For example, while we're living in California, we want to go & do things that we wouldn't be able to afford if we were having to fly across the country to do so.  Like going to Yosemite for a long weekend or celebrating our 1st anniversary in Lake Tahoe.  
  • Going & doing doesn't have to be expensive.  Grayson is really good at finding deals on hotels & restaurants (Groupon & Living Social always have something).  For Valentine's Day, we bought a Groupon deal for this nice little restaurant right on the water in San Francisco.  With as many coupons as there are online these days, it's very doable.  Before we eat anywhere or buy anything, I look online for coupons.  The Retail Me Not app is great & comes in handy all the time...just this week I've used it twice.  We don't coupon for groceries because I just don't want to take all the effort that that requires, but we also don't buy many name brands.  There are some things we're sticklers about, but a lot of things, the off brand is just as good & often healthier when you look at the nutrition facts.  Even if you only look for deals for dates & unnecessary purchases, that saves a lot.
  • Most of what we spend money on is for both of us.  But there are some things that are a priority to me that aren't to Grayson, & vice versa, & you have to be okay with those things.  Grayson likes movies & phones & I like clothes & makeup.  I don't generally get excited about going to see a movie because I know, most likely, I'm going to fall asleep.  But Grayson likes to go, so we get tickets at Costco (a few dollars cheaper) & we go.  He is a software engineer & writes apps for phones, so obviously, when a new phone comes out, he usually wants it.  But he takes such good care of his that he can sell them on Craig's list for pretty close to what he paid for them, so he never spends very much on a new phone.  Grayson is happy wearing the clothes he gets for Christmas & birthdays, but he knows I like something new every once in awhile, so he makes that a priority.  Plus I'm a great sale shopper :)
  • Thankfulness goes a long way.  I try to always say thank you when we go out to eat, or anything like that.  Even though any money we have belongs to both of us, Grayson is the one working a full time job & I never want him to feel under appreciated.  And not a night goes by when Grayson doesn't tell me thank you for making dinner.  He's really good at noticing when I've cleaned the apartment, or vacuumed, or ironed his clothes.  When you are going to live with someone every day for the rest of your life, it's good to feel appreciated!  
This is just a little bit of what we've learned in the last year or so.  I think it's really important to set that precedent early in marriage.  It's easy to get lost in planning dinner, grocery shopping, paying bills, going to work, going to church, & forget that before you were husband & wife, you were boyfriend & girlfriend, & your relationship is still supposed to be fun!  I want dating to be such a habit for us now that when we have kids & busier schedules, it's still something we see the importance of making time for.  I love this quote from Boyd Bailey: "Intentional marriages set goals to get better: dialogue daily, date weekly, depart quarterly" (whole devotional here). 

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