We got a lot of feedback from y’all that our Where are they now? posts haven’t been a hit, so this will be the last entry in the series. So let’s celebrate this final entry by seeing how Melinda and Paul have made time for themselves, each other, and how they’re dealing with having to drive all over Texas for work.
Name and occupation: Melinda, Forensic Drug Chemist
Partner’s name and occupation: Paul, Research Associate
Our wedding profile: Melinda & Paul’s disability-friendly, southern, sports rivalry wedding, July 17, 2010.
Since we got married we’ve both graduated — we’re Doctors now! We’ve almost moved a ton. Paul moved from Chicago to a town north of Houston and I followed shortly after I finished defending my thesis. Right now our lives are dominated by commuting. Paul commutes to his job at Texas A&M, and I commute to my job at the medical examiner’s office in central Houston. We drive… and drive… and drive.
I miss parts of my hometown of Baltimore a lot, especially the quirkiness and the character of the city. The history and culture are vastly different in Houston, and moving half-way across the United States was a big adjustment after living in the same city my entire life. We’re also getting used to living together after quite a bit of time living separately. A cluttered happy home it is, but let me tell you: it’s a mess sometimes!
Looking back all these years later, what do you remember most about your wedding?
We have gone to so many weddings since then, and I think the biggest thing I remember is the place we had our reception and the bright colors. I remember feeling overwhelmed about making sure we were seeing everyone and Paul got overwhelmed by enjoying himself, his friends, and his family. He wasn’t worried about anything else.
Did you re-purpose any wedding decor or attire?
I still wear my shoes with anything I can match them with! Our wedding book/sign-in sheet became a framed photo of us. We are that couple.
What big challenges have you faced? What have you learned from them?
Moving halfway across the country was a breeze for Paul and has been very difficult for me. As I said earlier, Houston is very different from Baltimore. The people, the places, the sheer span of driving I do on a daily basis, the medical care I receive, the places I go are just so different. It has been very difficult for me.
It has also been difficult for us to transition back to living in the same place and working as a team. We work close to 100+ miles apart on a daily basis. I drive 50 miles to work, he drives close to 60, so we both get home and we are tired. We also work on different schedules. That’s the hardest. I get up early and he’s still asleep. He stays up and I’m in bed. We hardly see each other during the week. We fight about that a lot as well. The worst is that we often fight with silence.
I’m lucky — I work for the government so when I go home, I’m home. I don’t worry about work, largely because I have an hour drive to talk to girlfriends, my mom, or my sister. When Paul is home he still has to worry about his research, what computations still need to get done, and I’m just wanting two seconds to eat dinner with him.
A big lesson we’re learning is that if we want to do other things alone, we should. If I want to go to a movie and he doesn’t, I go — alone. We are really close and we try to be together a lot, but this is often stifling for him. He’s an introvert and likes his independence, while I’ve always been a team player. We are slowly working it out.
Like many couples we fight about money: how to spend, how to save, what to save, etc. We fight, I pout, we fight some more, and then we talk. It has taken time for him to open up to me, but he’s starting to realize after three years that I’m not going anywhere.
How do you keep your romance alive?
We just made it to three years (whoop whoop)! I’m the adventure seeker of the two of us — when we moved to the Houston area, I was bound and determined to be able to say I knew it as well or better than Baltimore. I have partially succeeded. Dates for us are usually the movies, and Houston is really well-known for having a lot of restaurants so we have plenty of dinner choices!
What advice do you have for newlyweds?
Wow: this is a hard one. I think the most profound advice someone gave me in the throes of a fight was this, “Walk away and if you need to go to sleep mad, do it.” That threw me for a HUGE loop. The entire time you’re planning your wedding they say, “Don’t go to sleep mad.” I say do it. If you need to calm down to get past something, slam that door and go to bed.
If you’re better with numbers, fight to be the one that sends out the bills, but don’t argue if they want to see it. Talk out those big purchases, but don’t fuss over money spent on that game he had to have. The small stuff is the small stuff, but if it’s “his” bathroom, he cleans it. Period. Hold yourself to that, and when he gets grossed out he’ll clean it himself.
Be strong enough to fight for what you think is right, but on the flip side know when you’re overreacting. If he doesn’t want to come somewhere with you don’t make him. Decide when things are important and the point will go further then it will if you fuss about everything.