Today marks fourteen weeks until our wedding day. Whilst July still seems a long way away, fourteen weeks seems alarmingly close, tangible, like I can actually 'see' the day, in the distance.
Another week passing has left me thinking a lot about how people feel 'prepared' for their wedding day, and also for marriage.
In terms of our wedding day, we aren't doing too badly, with just a few loose ends to tie up, and are fairly confident that we have sufficiently planned and prepared in advance to avoid too much stress.
But recently I was reading a blog post by Carley at A Summer Full Of Peaches.
The post details the 'pitfalls' of blogging, and how it can be disheartening reading about other bloggers apparently perfect lives, when you find yourself without heaps of money, or lots of time together.
I think the case with any type of social media - be it blogs, Facebook or Twitter, is that people want to portray the ideal. A seemingly perfect life can be created, only showing what you want others to see - whether that be in an over the top 'OMG, look how perfect/happy/in love we are' way, or just in the understandable way that people enjoy talking about happy times, but may not feel like blogging etc when things are not so happy/interesting/exciting. We are aware of people who seem to do things solely for the social media pictures - we've been confused at pictures of champagne from people who've told us they hate the stuff! We just can't see the point - how could posting 'impressive' pictures be better than doing things you actually love and enjoy?
However, in some respects, talking about the good times is something probably all bloggers, ourselves included, is guilty of. This isn't something we have a conscious interest in - it's fairly obvious we didn't start this blog to showcase a celebrity-esqe life style! Obviously if we've had a lovely day out, we usually record it here, but alternatively, if we haven't seen each other for a full day for three weeks, we probably wouldn't be compelled to write about that!
The blog is for us to remember the journey of planning our wedding, and has of course included a lot of really happy moments, but also includes me complaining about losing my job, Lauren describing her weight loss battle, never seeing each other due to working so much, and both lamenting over our sometimes less than perfect family situations.
Saying that, I know our lives are very good right now, and I imagine we fall into some of the circumstancial descriptions listed by Carley - we have a lovely home together, a cute dog, and are soon to be married and start a family. We are happy in the city we have settled in, and although money is occaisonally tight, we enjoy as many dates and breaks away as we can, although I sometimes envy girls who can go shopping for new clothes, or book lots of exotic holidays, I try to be mindful of how lucky I am in other amazing ways, although that's not always easy!
What we have is amazing, and I can honestly say I wouldn't want to trade lives with anyone - I can honestly say my life has never been better.
I'm sure the blog posts we write about wonderful days spent together look lovely (hopefully!) - and, they are! But those days are often the only full day we have spent together in a month, and we sometimes struggle to find a balance between spending just enough money to do things together, whilst saving enough for our wedding. But equally we know money problems are temporary, and once the wedding and honeymoon are paid for, our lives will for the first time in nearly nine years be fairly care free where time and money are concerned.
I sympathise with Carley in the fact that sometimes the struggle to reach the 'perfect' life can seem never ending. In our earlier days as a couple, I would never have imagined our lives would be so lovely, but whatever your present situation, its part of your journey.
When we met, Lauren was 18 and I was 19. We have, as anyone would, changed a lot in that time, and we were extremely lucky that we grew closer together, and not apart. I strongly believe the strength and happiness in our present lives comes from how well we have coped together with anything life throws at us. We are a team, and a good one at that!
We spent our first five-ish years together living either seperately with our parents, 100 miles apart, or together in a tiny bedsit full of woodlice and spiders with absolutely no money and no family or close friends anywhere nearby. I had a full time job in a book shop and Lauren had a full time unpaid midwifery placement, a full time un-funded degree, and a part time job on a supermarket check out. We didn't have blogs, Twitter or even Facebook even though it was popular at the time, so to us our situation was normal, as we had nothing to compare it to. I think we had been so unhappy previous to meeting each other, that everything seemed wonderful at that point. I had my soulmate and it felt magical. Although times were often hard, I have so many good memories of our early days, although I'm not sure how seeing a stream of the constant 'perfect' lives of others contantly thrust at us through social media would have changed this - I'm sure it would have took the shine off things!
We both battled depression as teenagers which seeped into the very early days of our relationship, family troubles, money worries, and have had other people (male and female!) trying to split us up after deciding they would quite like one of us for themselves. No couple is together as long as we have been without arguements, and we wouldn't be as strong or capable without those arguements.
I'm glad we learnt from our bad times, so we are more prepared for whatever marriage can throw at us. If I sound like I think I'm a wise old owl - definitely not! Whilst I am grateful for the things life has taught me so far, I don't think it ever really stops teaching you.
One thing we have learnt in our eight and a half years together is that hard work makes it worth it - there is nothing like stepping back and thinking 'we created this, just us', and that if you want something, quite often its possible to get it, if you plan lots and work hard!
Our lives at present, 14 weeks before we marry our soulmates of eight and a half years, ages 27 and 28, are wonderful, I can't deny that, but the reason for that is not because we can boast about loving each other more than any other couple on the planet, or because we spend every day together doing amazing things - we can't claim either of those things. But we can come home to a home, one we created and worked for, and likewise an amazing relationship, that we created and worked for, even if it was the easiest part! And the fact we have each other is what has made our journey wonderful, and possible. But I want to assure people it hasn't always been that way, and I'm pretty sure every 'perfect' couple has had, or is having, a less than perfect circumstance in some way. I strongly believe that in life and relationships, every hard thing you get through as an individual or a couple is another thing you can add to a list of 'things I/we can deal with'.
We didn't start out as a fairytale, and every moment hasn't been magical, but the majority of them have been, mainly because when you have the other half of you by your side, its easy to find happiness in every situation - hard work or easy peasy. It's the things that you overcome together that make you strong, and appreciate the amazing stuff when it happens.
As much as I'm sure not many brides feel completely 100% prepared for their wedding day after checking off lists of suppliers and to do lists, the one thing I do feel well prepared for, is marriage.