Are we a "we"?

I’m a student of human nature.  Weird, but totally true.  When chatting with a military woman my husband and I met in the lobby of the Westin in Atlanta, I was much more interested in her opinion about the new military BDU’s (or whatever they’re now called… APC’s?) than her weaponry.  (My husband, vice versa.)  See, she noted that her big concern about the new uniform wasn’t about the uniform at all, but rather about the behavior it no longer inspired.  In the old days, new recruits spent hours shining their shoes and pressing their uniforms.  In her eyes, it led to more discipline.

I obviously can’t disagree with her, but I suspect the effect had a little more subtlety.  I think it was easier to spot those who weren’t disciplined.  Does that make sense?  The state of one’s uniform used to be an indicator of one’s discipline, so a CO could scan the group and quickly identify those who were slacking.  Not anymore, not since uniforms were issued in wrinkle-free, crease-free, shine-free materials.  And I suspect putting all of those hours into making one’s uniform perfect inspired a certain pride, the kind that makes you stand taller and walk with more purpose.

Sort of like when I go to work dressed for my kind of altercation – in three-inch heels, a pencil skirt, and a silky shirt hidden under a suit jacket.

~~~

I’ve been married almost a year, and despite the multitude of successes we’ve had together, I still don’t think of us as, well, an “us.”

“We like greenish gray paint colors,” said my neighbor.  Odd, I thought, to have an opinion as a couple on something like paint colors.  I started to wonder if we should have a joint opinion on paint colors.

“We want to start trying for kids at the end of the year,” said my friend.  Hmmmm, I thought.  We’ve had discussions about when to have kids, but I don’t think of it that way.

This relationship of ours has been a very independent one from the beginning.  Despite my husband’s boyish charms (and, ahem, tendency for pouting), I’ve never felt like I was responsible for him like with my first husband.  I had my life — an independent life I didn’t want but learned to defend — and he had his, and though we had love in common, very few of our things intersected.

Except money, sort of.  And the new house.  And our wedding.

Every intersection became a huge battle, one we didn’t expect and didn’t fully embrace.  We each thought we were fighting on behalf of “us,” but really, we were trying valiantly not to lose ourselves.  Our fights were about self vs. team; me vs. us; mine vs. ours.

So we never really became a “we.”

And now, a year later, I feel like I’ve just been let in on an inside joke: we’ve been a “we” all along, I just didn’t see it.  I’m still me as his wife, no need to defend.  My initial reaction to polarize and prepare – he likes the orange curtains, I want to paint the fireplace, he likes the knotty pine, I’m not ready for kids – just isn’t necessary anymore.

Much like the behavioral change inspired by the uniforms, my attitude is derived from my mental wordplay.  I’m ready to make a change.

It’s true that he was fired up about going on a cruise while I preferred the B&B experience, but it’s also true that we are very excited to go on an anniversary trip to someplace warm because we need a break from our lives. He may prefer to watch movies while I’d rather wallow in serial TV episodes, but we really enjoy having people over for drinks on the patio.  And we aren’t ready for kids, even though my hormonal-free life might lead him to declare he’d be fine if we were pregnant now (but, ahem, that’s really only to avoid having to use the dreaded c*ndoms).

Did you see how I polarized that last statement?  Argh.  Much work is left to be done.

I suspect some people become a “we” as soon as they exchange vows — or sooner — but not me.  I needed a year of doing it to believe it.

How about you?  When did you internalize the “we” part?

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7 thoughts on “Are we a "we"?

  1. Ugh. That CLEAR button needs to go bye bye – or at least have a ‘confirm’ option with it. Who designed this UI? Let’s see if I can remember what I wrote……

    ‘We’re’ coming up on our 3 year anniversary. Just over 4 years of knowing each other. And didn’t live together before we were married. (I think sometimes those facts play a role in this question)

    Given that – I’ve always thought of us as a team. Granted we definitely don’t share opinions on everything… he’s still my partner in crime. I skipped the whole ‘finace’ name and went straight to calling him my ‘husband’. Most of our friends are just that ‘our’ friends. “we” is just ingrained in my vocab now.

    BUT – I do catch us planning/living selfish individual lives. Currently we don’t have kids – so we don’t have to plan/share a huge responsibility. We do have the dogs – but often times I catch us planning our day assuming the other one will be home in time to let them out/feed them. We share our google calendars – but rarely communicate when making plans. (I’m talking small plans – not weekend trips!) So Wed will come along I didn’t realize he was going mtn biking until 8 pm and I actually made dinner. Or he’ll be bummed to find out I have girl’s night tonight etc. My solution is to have a little pow-wow on Sunday evenings to review our schedules for the week. I find out his after work gym schedule and get reminded when he’s on call – he knows when I have committee meetings or girls night or a soccer game. We can figure out what nights we’ll both be home and should plan dinner and who’s cooking. Anything around the house we hope to accomplish that week. It’s silly stuff you’d think would get talked about – but sometimes life just has a way of taking over. This helps us feel less like ‘roommates’ and more like a ‘couple’. (Obviously we aren’t the type of couple that comes home every night to have dinner together and hang out. Yes that happens some nights – but we have hobbies and activities that can take over if we aren’t careful)

    Of couse in about 15 weeks we’ll need to come up with a new gameplan altogether. Going from a family of 2 to a family of 3 will definitely have an impact on this ‘we’ feeling!

  2. this is an interesting post– now that I think about I have this problem in part also. But if I could describe it– it’s that externally I am an “I” and he’s “him,” but in the house– we’re “us.” let me see if I can explain this– I like to have an independent social life– meaning I need to not only have my work (in my case school) life independent from us, I relish going out for a drink after school with colleagues, most of whom he’s never met. He works a lot and is extremely ambitious in his field also. He’s naturally not as social as I am, so what he likes is his work and then to come home on nights when I’m out and just have some quiet time reading or watching TV. Because of our different social personas (and probably some of my own issues with being perceived as overly dependent), we often look like “me” and “him” to the world rather than “us.” In the house, however, when it comes to making financial plans, vacation plans, life plans or even small considerations that have to do with running our house, this outside persona doesn’t really penetrate and we support each other and operate from an “us” perspective. I don’t know if this makes sense, but it’s a divide that has really (obviously over years of work) come to work for us.

  3. Both G and I drop that ‘we’ like nobody’s business. It slipped in there so easily that one day I realized I had become the girl that single Meg hated.

    But last night, when I was making dinner, I became distracted by something shiny and the pot boiled over. G said to me, “oh, we forgot to turn the burner down” and I had a bit of a spazz out. No, “I” am making dinner and “I” forgot.

    But then again, hey, if he wants to take partial responsibility for my lack of focus, awesome!

  4. This is kind of funny – most things are mine. The house, the car, the dog, the computer. Even though we’ve been married a bit, and it is “ours”, I still tend to say things are mine. I lived alone for a while.

    I guess I use it when appropriate, “we are talking about having a baby” “we are moving”. At the same time, I tend to use “we” when we argue, because I don’t want to put blame solely on one person.

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