Sarah & Joseph: From welding wedding to renovating and communicating

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Name and occupation: Sarah, pipe fitter project manager
Partner’s name and occupation: Joseph, pipe fitter
Our wedding profile: Sarah Joy & Joseph’s modern and minimalist, welding wedding, May 15, 2010

When we got married, Joe and I each owned and lived in separate houses (we lived together for several months early in our relationship, but that was more-or-less a stepping stone on the path to my realizing my dream to own a house). After the wedding, Joe moved into my house, and we began making renovations to his in order to sell it. Because of the dismal housing market and the fact that we could afford to maintain both homes, selling it hasn’t been a priority. Lo these three years later, it is almost ready to put on the market. We are also planning to put an addition on the house we live in now, mostly to give Joseph some space of his own and me a spa bathroom (the tub has arm and leg rests!).


Looking back all these years later, what do you remember most about your wedding?
I remember the anticipation and nervousness right before the ceremony started. And then I remember the overwhelming sense of rightness and love as I walked toward Joe. He had insisted on the traditional not seeing each other before the ceremony, which I reluctantly agreed to. If I had had my way, he would have walked me down the aisle. But there is something about that moment. I was already crying and Joe took my hands when I reached him, even though there was a point later in the ceremony when we were officially supposed to join hands. (He confessed later that he wanted to hug me, but restrained himself.) His touch was great comfort to me and made me feel like we were in it together, and that only each other mattered.

Did you re-purpose any wedding decor or attire?
Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 1.45.32 PMI haven’t done anything with my ensemble, but Joe wears his tux as often as he can. He wore it to my brother’s offbeat wedding last September!

And we’re planning to incorporate the travertine tiles from the centerpieces in the new bathroom in the addition we’re putting on the house.

We intended to use the Moebius strip sculpture we made at the wedding as a garden ornament, but we haven’t gotten around to that yet. Check back with us in another three years!

How do you keep your romance alive?
We snuggle on the couch and watch TV together. It may sound pretty elemental, boring, or even mind-numbing, but it means a lot to me.

csj_717_w600_h900In the house I grew up, we had more TVs than family members. You could always watch exactly what you wanted to when you wanted to without consulting or joining anyone else. In fact, sometimes people watched the same thing on different TV sets in different rooms. Joe and I have only one TV. It encourages us to spend time together and forces us to compromise. It’s one (easy) way that we take an interest in what interests the other person. It often sparks conversation and leads to a deeper understanding of the other person.

For instance, I could not get into one of his favorites, Ancient Aliens. After a few episodes, I asked, “How can you watch this!? It’s awful! They keep using the same evidence to support contradictory theories!” To which he replied, “That’s what I love about it! It’s such nonsense and they’re so passionate about it! It’s hilarious!” Now I watch it with him as if it were on Comedy Central instead of History, and I understand his sense of humor a little better. Conversely, it tickles me that he watches Project Runway with me (which is the only show I make any sort of effort to catch).

From early in our relationship, Joe has helped me with sewing projects (by which I mean he hands me pins), and this feels like an extension of that. It makes me feel like he cares about me and appreciates my talents.

What advice do you have for newlyweds?
Everyone always advises, “Communicate!” But what does that mean!? We talk all the time. For me, what I’ve found works best is to figure out what I really need or want and communicate that.

I have learned that, for example, upon completing a creative project, instead of saying, “Ta da! What do you think?” I get a better to response to either:

  • “Ta da! I’m pretty much finished, but I need your criticism to make it better!”
  • “Ta da! I’m finished! Let’s celebrate! Tell me what you like best about it!”
  • Sometimes, I’m more specific: “Ta da! I’ve really worked hard on this, and I need you tell me it’s great and ignore the dent in the corner.”
  • And when my spouse’s response still leaves me feeling a little wanting, then I say, “Ok, I need to you to say, ‘Sarah, this is great. I know you worked hard and it really shows. I love it and I love you.'” So Joe says, “Sarah, it’s great. I know you worked hard and it really shows. I love it and I love you.”

Even when he’s really just repeating exactly what I told him to say, it works. Even when he sounds fairly awkward repeating it, it works. There is something very powerful about hearing your partner tell you exactly what you need to hear. I feel better. I feel like he understands me. And this is just one example. It works really well for every situation I’ve tried.

We know you love these posts — so do we. So let’s keep ’em going. Let us know which couples you’d like us to follow up with.

Comments on Sarah & Joseph: From welding wedding to renovating and communicating

  1. I’m so with you on the “Ta da!” part. My husband can’t tell the difference between a dirty room and one I spent two hours cleaning, so I’ll tell him to come in and say “Ooooh, look at how much better it looks! You really put a lot of work into this.” And I feel good. It is nice having them tell you what you need to hear.

  2. Hehe, my family has it’s own version of the “Ta-da!” In my family we say “let me show you my mouse.” (The idea being that no one actually wants to see a literal mouse, even if it’s your beloved mouse who’s the cutest in the world.) So when my husband calls me over to look at his new computer code and says “look at my mouse!” I coo over it and tell him he’s brilliant even though I have no idea why it’s impressive. And when my mother says “I have a mouse to show you” and sends me a document I tell her how awesome her ideas and phrasing are instead of the misplaced comma.

  3. haha, my boyfriend in high school’s mom did the “Ta da!” thing, but she called it “ohh ahh”, like the ohh’s and ahh’s from a fireworks show…? so she would finish something crafty, and bring it to the family and say “ok, its done, now please Ohh Ahh over it”. it was funny to me, but i definitely now get the value in it.

    • My parents do the “ooh ahh” thing, too! Mom put the lights on the Christmas tree, “oooh, ahhh!” Dad canned another jar of pickles, “ooh, ahhh!” The value of this compulsory complimenting never really occurred to me as I was growing up, either. But after reading this post, it’s like “duh, of course!”

  4. My SO and I do the “TV Show Sharing” allot. For example, he has me hooked on Swamp People and I have him giggling with me on Adventure Time. These are shows that neither of us would have even looked at if it weren’t for the other person. I never really had thought of that as a way of keeping communication, and minds, open. Thanks! This was absolutely a charm of an article to read! 🙂

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