Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Married for Three Years Today.

The early days,

Three years ago today, my wife and I got married (If you're reading this and thinking: "I thought his anniversary was several days ago," you are probably reading it on Facebook which picks up my blog several days after it is posted). We'd started dating three years before that. We got together just as I was finishing graduate school. She was still in undergrad, and our relationship was long distance as I hopped around various short-term teaching gigs.

First we dated long-distance while she was in Ohio and I was in Virginia. Then we dated long distance while she was in Ohio and I was in Kansas. Then we dated long distance while she was in Ohio and I was in Missouri. Then there was a confluence of factors that made me think I should get married. First of all, we'd been dating three years, and if a man doesn't want to get married to a girl he's been dating for three years, they should probably break it off. Second, she was graduating from college. Since she'd already be moving, why not just move in with me? Finally, I saw the teaching gig I had in Missouri as tenure track. I was happy there and got along with people.

So, on 06/07/08 we got married. One could say it was a simple affair, but the complexity was more than I could handle well. My wife's belongings were put into a pickup and a trailer and we carted them across the plains to Missouri. Things weren't perfect for her there. It was a very little town and she had a terrible time finding appropriate employment. We struggled, like most new couples do. We fought terribly about money. Our budget was so limited and our needs were so great. Until we discovered Financial Peace University, I think we were headed to a one-year marriage.

The bigger struggles

Then in February of 2009, having been married only 8 months, I got news that made our struggles worse. My contract for teaching was not to be renewed. I was shocked, upset and angry. To this day I do not know why, really. There were lots of things going on: the economy was falling and the schools endowment with it. The dean and I didn't see eye to eye on some issues, but I was being submissive. I'd heard rumors that there were rumors about me engaging in illicit drug use (which were false). I really don't know what all went into it.

I began actively applying for other jobs. I went on interviews all over the country and had, I thought, some really good prospects when the semester ended. Still, I didn't have anything yet, so, my wife and I decided to move in with my parents until I found a permanent position. We packed up our stuff and moved almost another thousand miles to western Nebraska. I was sure this would be at most a couple months. It was over a year.

We took jobs doing whatever we could. None of them paid well. Most were thankless. We got a little apartment because it really doesn't work for one's wife and one's mother to live in the same house. We put our student loans into forbearance (we thought) and did whatever we could to make ends meet. In some ways, it was awful. In other ways it was nice. I got to really reconnect with my family. Our last anniversary was spent, however, living in fear that we would have to live like this another year.

Coming to the southwest

It wasn't until much later, I think it was July, when I finally got a call from my current employer offering me a "temporary, one year position." Packing up and moving another thousand miles to southern New Mexico for a temporary job would not generally sound like a good plan. It was better than staying and working at no real job, however. So, we took it.

Someday I may write a blog about miracles. When I do, I will almost definitely include stories about that trip.

We moved down here and I recently finished my "one year" of teaching. It has been good. My wife has gotten a job with Americorp, doing community work. The job pays about as poorly as those we worked in Nebraska, and also only lasts one year. The good thing about it, however, is that it really got us integrated into the community. The university and city have a great culture, and we like it. Of course, we were concerned that we might have to move again. The job was offered as "temporary."

That is not the case, however. Through hard work on my part and the part of many of my colleagues here, I have been moved up into a tenure track position. That means I'm staying.

The struggles go on

The struggles are not over. My wife's job ends soon, and we really need to find a way to get her full-time professional work. That is difficult because this is such a depressed region. What she makes now is not much, but we need it. The student loans we thought were in economic hardship forbearance were dropped from that status without our knowledge. They were put, instead, into default. Getting that fixed costs a lot and is going to cost a lot for some time. We still struggle each and every day.

You know what I've been thinking, however? I'd struggle no matter what. I've struggled my whole life. I've worked hard and built only to have everything knocked down time and time again. Here's the thing, though. I used to always do it alone. Now I struggle with my wife at my side and that makes it so much better.

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