Monday, June 24, 2013
On Relocating For Love
As of today, I have about 60 more hours in Andrew's and my little abode, our first shared home, and in our adopted state of the past few years. We're headed East on Wednesday as Andrew gets ready to start his PhD in English in the Fall, and with all the transition going on, combined with it being about a month until our second anniversary, I've spent a good amount of time lately remembering what it was like when I first moved here after our wedding.
I'd just finished a year of service and didn't have a new job lined up yet, so after our honeymoon, it felt like such an adventure moving out to the little college town where my husband was getting his Master's degree. And at first, it really was. After the craziness of planning our wedding, I loved having plenty of time free to get used to a new area and furbish our new apartment (you can read about some furbishing bumps in the road here; I take full blame for them).
The thing I discovered, though, is that there's only so many times you can arrange your books by color and wipe down your countertops. I felt guilty: here I was, so happy to be married to the heart of my heart, but the adjustment of coming somewhere completely new, with barely any connections or work prospects, and a lot of days spent alone, very often felt burdensome. I didn't want Andrew to feel bad that I'd followed him, willingly of course, to a place where I felt alienated, and I worried that I'd one day be a terrible stay-at-home mother, feeling stuck instead of happy to be with my future children.
Thanks be to God, we have made wonderful friends here whom it'll be very hard to say goodbye to, and after a few false starts on the job front, I was blessed to be offered a position that was a huge financial and professional gift to us. But, I can still remember so clearly the anxiety and restlessness I felt in the beginning. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have experienced this kind of just-married transition, so it's very humbly that I offer you my advice on relocating after marriage (and believe me, it's advice gained much more in hindsight than in the middle of the actual experience--I wish I could've given these pieces of wisdom to myself!).
Set a routine for yourself. Sleeping until 10:00 was nice, for maybe three weeks. Then I found myself frustrated by mindlessly whiling away my days. It took a good amount of willpower (and failed attempts), but I tried hard to wake up relatively early to my alarm and to treat exercise, job applications, reading, meal planning, and prayer as a schedule, not as options. I asked Andrew to keep me accountable, and I also set a limit for myself on internet time. Be gentle with yourself when you fall short, too.
Prioritize your spiritual life. We're blessed with daily confession and Mass opportunities here, and getting my butt to the chapel ensured that I at least ventured out of the apartment most days. Mass was at the end of Andrew's workday, so it was nice to meet him on campus and then walk home together after. What's more, it's no secret that idle time can be vulnerable time when it comes to spiritual warfare. I noticed pretty quickly that in stretches where I neglected my prayer life, skipped out on the sacraments, or just didn't spend my time well, I had a much harder time trusting in God, sensing my worth, and sustaining hope that our financial situation (as in Andrew's grad student salary and my unemployment) would work out according to the Father's will.
Go out. Seriously. We were trying to save money, and I have pretty strong introvert tendencies, so at first it was way too easy for me to spend a lot of time on my own. Sometimes I didn't mind, but other times I wanted to pull my hair out. Luckily, as the months went by and we made friends at church and in Andrew's program, socializing became way easier. It was just a matter, I discovered, of actually hanging out with people even during times when I mistakenly thought they were all busier than me. We've been so blessed to become friends for life with another young couple we've met at church, and have done tons of volunteer work with the youth group and NFP classes, and have spent so many wonderful hours cooking and sitting around the table talking. On another level, literally going out of the house most days helped my sanity in so many ways. Walks, working on my blog at a bookstore instead of at home, and visiting Andrew and a few of his friends in their offices made me feel much more purposeful.
But, enjoy this time. Looking back, though I definitely could have been better with time in some instances, I really do treasure those early days of transition in our marriage. Andrew and I had the privilege of plenty of time together, the thrill of discovering our town together (he'd been living here for a year before I did, but pretty much just went to classes and the grocery store, in the interest of studying and saving money), and the test of virtue that came with trusting in His faithfulness and starting out without a lot of income. I know that's always the sort of thing people say, and I'm very aware of the fact that we were spoiled in our situation, compared to some, yet I truly can say that I'm grateful things weren't perfectly set up and easy to come by right off the bat. I feel like it's made our marriage such a shared life, since we've gotten on our adult feet together, rather than having had time to do that on our own and then just combine our lives. Everyone's story is different, but in our case of marrying young and in school, I'm so incredibly grateful.
What about you? Are any of you in a similar situation of preparing to move somewhere new after your wedding? And for you already married ladies, what would you add to this list?