Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Together time/Time together  

In the months leading up to my wedding, I worked at a dynamic, high-profile political consulting firm doing a tedious, low-paying, dead-end job. I desperately wanted to find work more suited to my skills that would also pay a salary more suited to supporting a family. I began looking for such a job, but halfheartedly looking since I would rather undergo a week-long oral surgery than subject myself to the fruitless labor and dashed hopes that always accompany my job hunts. I actually considered quitting my job, thinking that would force me to seek better employment in earnest. I had some money saved up, so it wouldn't have been entirely irresponsible. But I couldn't bring myself to give up my only source of income just as I was about to become a husband with bread-winning responsibilities.

Two weeks before my wedding, my boss called me to his office. He knew I had been looking for a job. I had his blessing. He knew that my job was below my abilities and that I had no desire to continue on in political consulting. He told me he wanted to restructure the way my division of the company worked, and that since I was the senior employee in that division and was looking to leave, he didn't want to do anything drastic until I was gone. So he offered me two months pay in one lump sum in exchange for my resignation. He pointed out that this arrangement would allow me to do my job searching full time and still stay afloat for a while and would also allow him to proceed with his plans for my division of the company. I discussed the decision with Soon-To-Be-Mrs. Happy, who at the time worked as a teacher's assistant at an elementary school drawing a paycheck even lower than mine. She agreed that I should take the money, leave the job, and look for another. So I did.

We married at the beginning of the summer of 1998. Our wedding took place on the first Saturday after Mrs. Happy's school adjourned for the summer. We spent a week on our honeymoon, then returned home to an apartment we had set up. I then began fervently looking for a job. The fervor wore off after a few days of fruitlessness. It took all summer, but I finally was hired by a computer company in Austin to write technical manuals.

I am sure that some people familiar with my situation at the time questioned the wisdom of voluntarily terminating my employment on the cusp of husbandhood. I questioned it myself more than once. But I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. Not having a job meant that, in a sense, I had a three-month honeymoon. I was not working, my wife was not working, and we were able to spend every day together getting to know each other as husband and wife. It was a stressful time, but I look back on those days with fondness. I miss them.

We now count ourselves lucky on the rare days that we're able to spend three or four hours together talking and laughing and immersing ourselves in each other's company. Now we have to make more of an effort to set time apart for each other. Sometimes that means letting other things go. Sometimes that means missing a favorite TV show or missing a day of blogging. But it's something we have to do if we're going to continue to be Mr. and Mrs. Happy.