Marriage and Planning

By Janey Womeldorf

A few years after we got married, my husband and I thought it would be fun to each write down what we thought our life would look like in ten years time. We decided to write down everything from where we’d be living, what our house would look like, how many children we would or wouldn’t have, what we’d be doing for work, our pets, friends, even what sort of vacations we’d take.

When you fall in love and get married, doves fly as you swoon and imagine all the joy-filled experiences you expect to share during the next ten, twenty, even fifty years of your marital bliss. Like all newlyweds, my husband and I shared candlelit evenings where we pictured our future. We talked about and planned our life together, so I already had a picture in my head about how it would go.

As I held my pen, staring at the yellow pad in front of me, I was that newlywed again; I had a plan and a picture. The problem with plans, however, is that sometimes life throws you a curve ball.

Take our honeymoon. My husband had never seen anyone faint so on our first night, in a quaint Italian trattoria in Venice, without any warning to either of us, my eyes roll back into my head and I drop to the floor like an overcooked piece of fettuccine. Within moments, an audience forms, Italian arms flail everywhere, and my panic-stricken and language-challenged (not to mention hungry and thirsty) husband stares down at his heap of a bride, petrified he had just become a widower.

We knew there might be some bumps along our yellow-brick road but we at least thought the gods would wait until we got back from the honeymoon to hit us with them.

My husband picked me up, I drank one of the million glasses of water that were being handed to me by concerned Italian hands, and confused, embarrassed and covered in dust, I walked gingerly back to the hotel supported by my new husband’s strong, loving arm. After a quick nap and a change of clothes, we did what everybody does on a holiday to Italy, we went out for pizza. And thank goodness. It was thin and slightly charred with a hint of that stone-oven baked earthy taste, delicately topped with some of the most flavorful ingredients we had ever tasted. We hadn’t cared that it was ten o’clock at night; we were ravenous, my husband was sorely in need of a drink, and we had a honeymoon to kick off.

Thankfully, the rest of the honeymoon proceeded without incident or fainting, and we returned home more in love than ever with souvenirs we knew we’d cherish forever.

I scribbled away; confident that ten years later, my version would be the closest. I knew there might be some bumps along the way, but foresaw nothing major. We were both heavily into our careers so I knew without question nothing would change except for promotions. My husband had always wanted a dog; I even gave it a name – Eddie. I described the yellow curtains that would hang in our bright, sunny kitchen in Florida where we would be living. We both loved to travel so I even listed the cities and countries we’d go on vacation. I knew of couples who took separate vacations but that would never be us; no all our vacations would be blissful, magical and together.

Then we put it away and forgot about it.

Years later, as I was sorting through some old files, I came across two faded scraps of paper covered with scribbles. Puzzlement gave way to excitement the moment I realized it was our ten-year, how-we-see-ourselves-living plans. I couldn’t wait to read them with my husband. That night over a glass of wine, we each read our version. Had we been on a different planet back then? It wasn’t even close.

We never got the promotions I wrote about because we both had different jobs. My husband was in the military at the time but as a result of a military troop reduction, he left early and was now working for a shipping company. The changes in his career, and the relocations it required affected my career, and I went back to school. We had moved three times, rented not owned, and lived in Tennessee not Florida. Our dog Eddie was still just a dream; we never had a house with a path but an apartment with a stairwell, our kitchen had blinds not curtains, and our honeymoon souvenirs had fetched two dollars at the last garage sale.

We also never took the vacations to the places I thought, instead developing a love for Mexico and snorkeling. We also learned that separate vacations are sometimes a welcome change. Gasp! Who knew he would adopt (and I would fully encourage) his annual game-with-the-boys weekend getaway; or that I would later spend two weeks without him in France on a 40th-year, I-need-to-challenge-myself vacation of self-discovery. Who knew that we’d be honest enough to realize we both win when I go earlier to my parents for a head start on chatting. Who knew we would spend Christmases apart through no fault of our own.

The reality is, a few things in marriage are hard to predict even the things one takes for granted including only taking vacations together. Admittedly it’s probably best to take the honeymoon together but after that, I have learned to say regarding vacations as in life, “Never say never.” Talking of which, my husband’s annual boy’s trip is coming up; I’m not sure whose looking forward to it more.

Therein lies the beauty of plans, marriage, even honeymoons. Whether we dream, plan, or write it down, life is full of twists and surprises. All a couple can do is hope for the best and hang on for the ride.

Then go out for pizza.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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2 Responses to “Marriage and Planning”

  1. Jody says:

    Before my husband and I were married, we had a long walk & talk through a neighborhood were my husband lived and did a lot of “perhapsing.” “Perhaps will have 2 children…” “Perhaps I’ll teach somewhere…” “Perhaps I’ll start my own business…” Your lovely essay reminds me of this moment and of all the ways we diverged from our original plans!

  2. Jody says:

    * I meant “where” not “were.” And I meant “we’ll” not “will.”

    I hate to see mistakes in my post (I teach writing! ah!)

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