Melinda and Paul talk marital teamwork, solo time, and commuting craziness in the Lone Star State

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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!

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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.

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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.

Comments on Melinda and Paul talk marital teamwork, solo time, and commuting craziness in the Lone Star State

  1. I am sad this is the last one. These were some of my favorite posts. I feel like offbeat empire has been striving for a different feel, and I don’t know if I belong here anymore.

    • Yeah, I’m sad to see this series end, too… but it’s it’s only been around for a few months, and just didn’t resonate with readers.

      While I’m always sad to hear folks aren’t enjoying any of the Empire’s sites, I respect each reader’s capacity to find online communities that feel awesome for them. Best of luck ‘n’ love to you finding a space where you feel a sense of belonging! 🙂

      • I think that that those of us that LOVED LOVED LOVED these were the ones that were planning our weddings around the time that the weddings for “Where Are They Now” were featured. At least for me, I was so immersed in the planning, the getting everything right, that the wedding features helped me pull my head out of my ass and understand that I should stress less and have more fun and keep it true to ourselves. So revisiting these couples, who helped me during my planning, is kinda like reconnecting with old friends.

        I am also sad to see it go, but I love so many other things about this site that I might not even miss it in a few months.

        • I’m sure that’s true for many people, but not for everyone. I came into the empire through offbeatbride… but I was never much of one, I made the rainbow ribbon streamers, but mostly, my mom, groom, and myself were all in different states from the one where we got married, so our planning was mostly hiring people who would handle things professionally so we didn’t have to stress out.

          I don’t really even remember the weddings that were featured while I was planning, however, I really enjoy hearing about where various couples have found themselves. I love seeing the “after” how couples handle stressful situations, how/why couples decided to move through divorce, where they’ve found success, and where they struggle.

          I love hearing about how intelligent, creative, and very real people are learning to design their lives together as a couple.

          I will definitely miss this variety of post.

  2. Since I found Offbeat Home and Life via Offbeat Bride, I really enjoy these posts! Its wonderful to see that just the way everyone does a wedding differently, everyone does marriage differently, too. But I understand I was in the minority! So thanks anyway and good luck to Melinda and Paul on shortening their commutes!

    • Thank you for the kind words! I will miss this series as well, and we felt so lucky to participate in it! We are finally after 2 years getting used to the commuting. 🙂 We are hopeful to find another in-between spot which won’t be so long…but we shall see!

  3. I enjoyed these but I’ve always wondered why they weren’t on the main “bride” site. Especially with the advice to the newlyweds…I especially would have loved hearing words of wisdom/what I enjoyed most or would do differently when I was still in a planning stage for my own wedding.

    • Here was the logic: We ran “Where Are They Now” on Offbeat Home & Life because it’s the place where Offbeat Bride readers “graduate” to. As this week’s survey confirmed, 80% of Home’s readers are former Offbeat Brides. Hosting “Where Are They Now” here felt like a natural way to express that graduation… we featured their wedding on Bride, we feature their married lives and relationship lessons on Home & Life.

      (It’s worth noting that “Where Are They Now” posts have always been promoted on Offbeat Bride’s Facebook page, because I totally agree that they’re completely relevant to Bride readers!)

      Again, I’m sad these posts are ending too, but ultimately it was a pretty short experiment, and we’ve got plenty of other awesome stuff to publish. Here’s to the future!

      • Ugh, stupid Facebook metrics. I didn’t see any of these on OBB’s facebook page until this last one, and I would have loved this series.
        That being said, I totally understand your reasoning for discontinuing it.

      • Ariel: We were tickled pink when we were featured on OBB. Neither of us felt as offbeat as some of our counterparts on the site. I was also part of OBT, and I will admit deactivated my account probably a little too early. My ‘graduation’ to Home and Life has been good, and I visit the site often. We were tickled pink again to have this one too. I’m hopeful to remain an active part of the community here. So, thanks again.

  4. I’m also on the list of people who are bummed that this series isn’t returning. I’m sorry (but understand that) it didn’t resonate with more readers.
    I think what I enjoyed the most was finding out how much more in common I had with other couples than I otherwise would have thought. Normally, I might have passed over wedding porn with a goth couple, for example, because I’m not a goth person and I wouldn’t be looking at their wedding post to get ideas for my own. But I felt these posts got at the issues that couples will face regardless of what subcultures they belong to — finances, moving, fertility, etc. I know there will be other OBE posts that address these issues, but I really did like this feature.

    • This is what drew me to this site to begin with. I felt like I had so much in common with people I wanted to shout it to the rooftops that I finally found somewhere that I knew that. I am sad to see the feature go, but perhaps more submissions might keep that feeling alive. It’s got to be hard for the OBE staff to decipher what’s next and what will keep us reading and clicking. 🙂

  5. Your anniversary is the same as ours! (Well…technically at the moment it’s our dating anniversary, but we will be getting married on our sixth anniversary in 2015) July 17th is a good day 🙂

  6. I also loved the posts and will be sad to see them go. If the idea was to pull people from Bride to here, perhaps these could have been posted on Bride with a link to a related guestpost on Home (maybe written by one of members of the couple, maybe not), i.e. Melinda and Paul on OBB, concurrent with a story on surviving long commutes here.

  7. As someone who has been engaged for almost five years, I feel like the blog is changing and not in a good way. I liked posts like these because I could link back to the original and scroll through that post as well. It was like a nice little map of other offbeat couples. These weren’t run very often so I do not see why they would deter readers. I’ve seen a lot of OB chapters close, but this is the saddest.

  8. To the couple: You guys are totally cute even out of wedding gear 🙂 Love the advice on learning to go out alone. I think it’s resonates with a lot of couples.

  9. I always like this series as well. I guess I was in the minority. I was an offbeat bride for a moment but spend much more time over here . Weddings are one day. Living an offbeat life is lifelong for most of us. I liked the Where Are They Now series because I think its so important for brides of ANY level, offbeat or not, to realize after the wedding, real life can sometimes look quite different. I have appreciated the honesty in the series. Even though I never even saw some of the original posts.

  10. Though I am very sad to see the “Where Are They Now” posts come to an end, I understand that they probably wouldn’t resonate with newcomers to the Empire.

    Looking forward to other future posts!

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