anniversary

Thank you for the laugh lines

This summer, on June 30, Massimo and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. It feels like a big one. And I can’t believe it’s already been five years, but I can’t believe it’s only been five years.

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Married for 30-ish minutes.

We have lived in different places, transitioned to multiple jobs and I graduated law school. We have a baby, for goodness sake! We have a whole new person in our lives because of our years together.

I am different. He is different. I was very, very thin when I got married. Not unhealthy, I was just twenty-three and I was thin. I was younger. I didn’t have these lines around my eyes and mouth. I didn’t have acne scars from my pregnancy hormones, nor did I have this extra fat and stretch marks, let alone the five-inch scar above my womb from giving birth.

I am different. He is different. He is thinner and more fit now than when we married. And his hair is shorter. And he has some gray hairs peeking out. He looks older. He was twenty-one when we got married, so he should look older. He is more confident, more refined. He knows more about who he is and doesn’t worry so much. He has bags under his eyes from getting up every night to get Theodore back to sleep. Even his wardrobe has changed from when we got married.

Every time he points out another sign of his aging, another gray hair or something, he says it like it a bad thing. And for a moment – just a moment – I am sad, too. Not because he will become less handsome or lovely, but because I know our time is short. People say they don’t want to marry young, but I look back and I am disappointed I had to wait until I was twenty-three! I know that was the right timing for us, and God’s plan needed us to do more individual work before we got together, but I couldn’t wait to have all the time I could with this man. I love our team. I love our family, and knowing we are aging reminds me it will not last forever. We have a short time together. And that makes me sad.

But then, after the moment, I am met with pride and honor. Pride I get to watch this man grow older. Honor to stand by his side and count his gray hairs. The fine lines on my face are from all the smiles and laughter he brings out of me. The stretch marks and scar on my stomach are from the child we brought forth together. The weight changes and wardrobe adjustments are from the many season we have endured together.

The truth is, I want to watch all his hairs go gray. I want to watch him wear out his jeans, and buy new shoes. I want to have photos of us every year, each year with slightly more wrinkles and slightly more mature eyes. No one is entitled to grow old with his or her spouse. No one has a right to die before their children. No one has the unalienable opportunity to outlive her mortgage and reach retirement age. Every single day is an undeserved blessing. Every wrinkle and scar that comes with it are the keepsakes, the tick mark on the wall to count how long we have been given this gift.

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Thank you, my Lord. Thank you for the perfect, vacation-like days when we have napped in the sunshine or soaked in the rest and peace. Thank you for the days of hard work, when we went to bed exhausted and dirty, proud of a long day of productivity. Thank you for the every morning, when we wake up thrilled at the sight of each other.

Thank you for the days we couldn’t wait to be over, when we anticipated some relief around the corner. Thank you for the battles. Thank you for the scars. Thank you for the fights. Thank you for our flaws. Thank you for the fire. Thank you for the days I wish I could take away, to ease our pain. Oh, how I wish I could make them go away. But thank you any way.

And most of all, thank you for the laugh lines.

– D. E. Barbi Bee

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2 Years

Announcing Mr. and Mrs. Barbi - June 30, 2013.

Announcing Mr. and Mrs. Barbi – June 30, 2013.

Two years ago, today, we got married. 

At this point, we have been married longer than we were dating. I think it’s finally starting to sink in that this is for real, and its so much better than I could have dreamt; even my wild imagination could not have created something like what we have. As I’ve said, this isn’t a fairy tale; real life is so much better. And with you, it really, truly is. The only problem is that it’s going by too fast.

A recap of the last year. We didn’t move anywhere, we only started one new job between the two of us, and God provided work for you long before you even needed it. We drove to North Carolina, Ohio, and Maine, each time getting to witness another wedding. You finished your guitar and we have starting taking tangible steps towards your future in lutherie. The biggest change of this year was my graduation from law school, and we saw that coming years in advance. It was a more settled year, for sure, but that is exactly what we needed.

Mr. and Mrs. Barbi for nearly one year.

Mr. and Mrs. Barbi for nearly one year.

I won’t say the first year was harder than the second, or more fun, or scarier, or more stressful – it was just different. The first year is all the firsts – first home, first Christmas, first time doing this or that; but by the second year, you no longer have to create ways of doing things, you get to repeat or modify. People no longer stare at you as “newlyweds,” nor do they ask (well, mostly) invasive, sometimes embarrassing questions about “married life.” We started to find our grove, we know each other better, and aren’t as afraid that we’ll make stupid mistakes because we’ve already made plenty and realized they are not the end of the world.

While the groove has been found, the spark has by no means been lost. I can’t say what life will be like in five, ten, or forty years, but I can tell you that I still have no idea what people mean by the “honeymoon” phase. For a while, I imagined that at some point into our marriage – one month, six months, one year? – I would wake up and suddenly realize how hard this was, suddenly no longer find marriage cute or exciting or fun, but find it a burden and a challenge that might not be worth fighting for. That, I thought, must be when I know the honeymoon phase ends.

Two years later and I still haven’t woken up to think any of those things. (To more seasoned wedded readers, my use of the word “still” will sound laughable, but bear with me because it is the longest I’ve ever been married.) In fact, due to outside challenges that have resulted in us leaning on each other for support, wisdom, and comfort, we are certainly closer than ever. I still love him. He still makes me happy. I still find marriage to be the best, most gloriously mysterious relationship I’ve ever been a part of. I’m still 100% in this, and Massimo seems pretty into it, too. Call it a honeymoon phase, call it newlywed bliss, call it whatever you want – I’m calling it my life.

Married for just shy of two years. Where has the time gone?

Married for just shy of two years. Where has the time gone?

The importance of our marriage has become even more stark since being surprised this year by the end or apparent end of some other marriages. In my life, I’ve never been up close and personal with divorce or separation, apart from my job, that is. But in legal work, the lawyer usually doesn’t see the death of the marriage, we see the people that once knew it coming by to claim its belongings. It’s a gruesome business and I don’t much care for it. This year, I was caught off guard by several marriages in my personal circle going on life support, and it was scary.

Will that ever be us? Could that happen to us? We had this conversation many times this year, and the conclusion has always been the same: no, it won’t. I don’t want to sound naive, but here’s all I know: for us, getting married was like building a house, a big house that needed to stand against serious storms and hold for many, many years. Our house needed good blueprints and to be made of really good materials. I know that we have good plans in our marriage, because we put the work in, consulted the experts, and worked out the details with the maker of marriage. As far as the materials, I know that for all his sinfulness, Massimo is made from the best stuff on earth, and he says that I’m the good stuff, too. We’re far from perfect, but I think our house has at least a fighting chance. Two years in, and I know that now better than ever.

Every so often I listen to the song we used for our first dance, and it’s words get more and more applicable the more I get to know you and get to know our marriage.

Happy anniversary, my signore. I can’t wait for all the rest. Thank you for picking me to be your partner and love; I know God put us together because only the Perfect Creator could have designed something like this.

-debarbibee

Why I Changed My Name When I Got Married

Drew, Ellen, Me, and my husband, Massimo at Hermit Island, Maine - June 6, 2015.

Drew, Ellen, Me, and my husband, Massimo at Hermit Island, Maine – June 6, 2015.

Wedding season is officially in full force. Having recently returned from my cousin Drew’s beach-side nuptials in woody Maine this past weekend, I have got weddings on the brain. Ever since getting married almost two years ago, attending weddings always bring up all the memories and feelings surrounding my own wedding day.

Of all the decisions one has to make when getting married (and there are a lot!), one that is often overlooked is whether or not the bride will change her name – and if so, to what? This deeply personal choice (it is your name, after all)  most of us don’t learn about until after the wedding. Back when we were first talking about getting married, Massimo and I made the choice together that I would take his name, and here I am to share what factors went into that decision, for anyone curious about some things one may consider when going from Miss to Mrs.

1. I changed my name because I had a choice.

Although we still have a ways to go, here in the US, and in my particular family, we women have the choice of changing our names or not. Some people don’t like women changing their name upon marriage because of the history of the tradition – that when you got married, you were no longer a legal individual, but the property of your husband. Personally, I felt it important to reclaim the tradition, and exercise my freedom to consider the change or not for myself and for my new family of two. I had the choice – and that alone made it worth considering.

2. I changed my name because it was representative of our new, united family.

This is a common reason to change your name: so that everyone will have the same name. It’s a practical reason, but also has its symbolic implications. Having the same name helps symbolize my new role as a wife, and instantly associates me with my husband, and, should we have them someday, our children. In some ways, I feel sorry for Massimo and men in general that they don’t get the same symbolic “re-birth” (for lack of a better term), but I suppose it’s up to the husbands to figure out their own way to represent our covenant – tradition has given me one already and I happen to like it.

3. I changed my name because it mattered to my fiance.

Even though it was I who would be living with a new name, as an engaged couple, it was important for me to respect the opinions and feelings of my soon-to-be husband in such big a decision as a name change. If I was neutral on the idea, and didn’t care either way, but Massimo felt very strongly and always pictured me having his last name, then I would do it. In reality, I was mostly already planning on changing my name before we discussed it, but knowing how much it mattered to him helped me dive in all the way.

I had the choice – and that alone made it worth considering.

4. I changed my name because there were other Devenneys to carry on the family name.

I come from a family with a lot of girls, but we do have two boys that can carry on the family name. Some women want to keep their name (either as a surname or middle name) to preserve it if they have no brothers to do so. I was fortunate enough to not have that pressure on me, and little did I know that nearly a year after getting married, we would add a sister-in-law to the family who happily took on the Devenney name through my brother.

When we were brand-new Mr. and Mrs. - June 30, 2015 in Haddam, CT.

When we were brand-new Mr. and Mrs. – June 30, 2015 in Haddam, CT.

5. I changed my name because I got married young.

I always assumed that if I got married at all, it would be years and years into my career. For that reason, I worried about changing my name after already having a client base and law firm, and how it might affect my professional recognition.Would I change it legally, but keep my maiden name professionally? Would I let people call me by my husband’s name, but not legally change it at all?

These questions are especially significant in the field of law, where your name is not just what people call you, but often the name on the moniker on your building. All these questions subsided and I fortunately didn’t have to answer them when I married at the ripe young age of 23, when the most recognition I had for my last name was the fact that my first-year Torts professor could never, ever say it right.

6. I changed my name because it’s easier for me to change my name than anything else.

As I said, we wanted both of us to have the same last name, and we wanted to symbolize our new life as a married couple. Well then, “Why doesn’t he change his name, or you hyphenate the two of them?” While those options would give us the same result, “Devenney” is a lengthy name to hyphenate, and the fact is that our culture simply isn’t designed for men to easily change their names. When a woman changes her name, it is instantly understood, and we don’t have to answer a lot of questions about why we suddenly have a new name.

When I had to go through the process of changing my name (which took about a year to do thoroughly), all I had to say was, “I got married,” and that (along with appropriate documentation) was enough. I can’t imagine the confused looks and questions that Massimo would have had to endure had he tried to change his name. Everyone would probably assume he was trying to commit identity theft. Until security questions ask, “What is your mother or father’s unmarried name?” it will simply make more practical sense, if anyone in the couple is going to change it, for wives to do so.

Now, I do realize this is a circular argument, because if wives keep doing this then our culture will never change. But I also realize that me – being just one person – am not solely responsible for the 60% of Americans who think women should take their husband’s last name when they get married.

7. I changed my name because no matter what it says on my license, I will always be a Devenney.

At first, I worried that I would lose a part of me if I changed my name – I would no longer be instantly associated with the Devenney name and family. After considering this, I realized that my mother has been a Devenney for over 30 years, and is still easily identified with her parents and brothers, who carry her maiden name. I grew up in the same town as my grandparents and cousins – all of whom had different last names – and yet everyone still knew that we were related. I realized that no matter how long I am a Barbi, people will still know that I was a Devenney first.

8. I changed my name because I wanted to honor the support of my husband on my diploma and in my career. 

The name “Deborah Devenney” appeared on 23 years’ worth of essays, programs, awards, certificates, and diplomas. Every time it showed up, I was able to represent the Devenney name and let the world know that the Devenneys had all helped me get to wherever I was. I got married one year into law school, and although my parents, siblings, grandparents and so on were still extremely supportive and instrumental in allowing me to finish law school, it was Massimo who stepped up and took on the role of supportive spouse full-time.

When I realized that I would be getting married before graduating, I told Massimo that I wanted his name to show up on my diploma, so that everyone would know that it was he who helped me get there. When we each have our own businesses or careers or whatever, our shared name will let everyone know that I helped him, and he helped me. Having the same name is one way we chose to symbolize that mutual support, and share in each other’s successes.

“Devenney” is a lengthy name to try to hyphenate, and the fact is that our culture simply isn’t designed for men to easily change their names.

-debarbibee

First Anniversary Trip to New York City [in Pictures]

It’s been one year today. One year ago, he wore his suit, and I my dress, and we met at the chapel. I walked with my Dad down the aisle to him. His face – oh I’ll never forget it! We prayed, we listened, we vowed, and put on those shiny new rings. And there it began. It seems like it was both last week and decades ago, but I can truly remember every moment of that day if I try.

They say things about the first year: that it’s the hardest, that it’s the easiest. They talk about honeymoon phases and newlywed fights. I don’t know much about those things, but I do know that if this was the hardest, then I don’t know what on earth people complain about. And if it’s the easiest, then bring it on, world, because we’re in it for the long haul.

This year was absolutely amazing: challenging, rewarding, and so full of love and joy. To top off the year, we took the train into New York City and did some of our favorite things, with my favorite guy.

First up: some shopping, of course. Massimo spoils me. But it was on sale!

Next: the Central Park Zoo, complete with Rio 4-D!

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Then we had a flawless early dinner at Uva. I can’t stop thinking about that meal – this place was awesome. And started off with a three-cheese platter. You can’t go wrong when you start with cheese and figs.

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And finally, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We only saw about 10% of this monstrous museum, but we did get to see some 200 year-old Martin guitars and Van Gogh paintings. Not too shabby.

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And in the end, I took my first taxi ride back to the station and got a piece of cheesecake for the ride home. Thank you for a fabulous day in the city, love! Happy Anniversary, and I can’t wait for so many more!

-debarbibee