When some people first get married they settle in an area where they are surrounded with pre-existing friendships or there may even be family members nearby. Others get married and move somewhere new, plunging into work or grad school, beginning to form new friendships, and slowly building a new support system around them. Neither of these scenarios have exactly been the case for Michael and me.
|So blessed and eager to begin our lives as husband and wife. Brian Powell Photography.|
I've mentioned before that Michael works as an engineering consultant, which often translates into: we are here temporarily. Even if the project he is working on is scheduled to end on a given date, timelines and budgets are constantly evolving and we must always be ready to search for a new project and pack our things at any moment (or be prepared to stay longer than we initially anticipated, as has been the case here in Ann Arbor). Our hope is that future projects will better communicate their plans for consultants in advance, but as it is right now we are never comfortable scheduling anything in our lives more than 2 weeks in advance. Getting back to what I was saying earlier about friendships and support systems, you can probably begin to see at this point how my husband's work begins to impact this aspect of our lives.
Amazingly enough, within the past 6 months or so two of Michael's friends from college (one being the Best Man from our wedding) landed full-time jobs at the very same company Michael has been doing his consulting work for. Not to mention, my husband attended college in Toledo, Ohio (45 minutes away from Ann Arbor) and still has friends - and his sister, who just graduated from medical school - there. To have so many of his friends and his sister nearby has certainly been a blessing, although the facts remain that 1) we are all busy people and don't see each other as often as you'd imagine and 2) even though I love spending time with several of these people they aren't really my friends so much as they are my husband's.
In the nearly 9 months since we've been married and I joined Michael here in Michigan I've relied heavily on phone calls, texts, and Skype to stay in touch with my family and closest high school and college friends in order to remain socially connected in some manner. I've worked on getting involved in our parish - substitute teaching, seeking out the unofficial "newlyweds" group, getting connected to the "Moms" group, and have yet to find anyone I can call to meet up during the day with me. We love fitness and have a gym membership, but this has yielded no friendship prospects either. I know there are people here that I can easily forge friendships with but for some reason I have yet to find them. So many factors have contributed to this, but especially my husband's job - which is such a crucial step in his career path that we are both on board and willing to make sacrifices for it (and as I've mentioned before, there are also several blessings we are given because of his line of work - so I in no way want to paint the picture that I am unhappy with his career. I'm very proud of him!).
|This is a photo I snapped of a painted window downtown - the biggest little city in the middle!|
When we first got married we anticipated being in Ann Arbor for only a few months...but God had other plans. Neither of us tried extremely hard to meet people those first few months since we thought we'd soon be moving on to a new project and new location. As it became apparent that we'd be staying longer we tried a little harder. Every time we get close to finding social networks something happens to change it all, which leaves me in this odd place of being a (normally) very social person without anyone to socialize in person with. My husband and I have discussed this several times (and Lord knows I've prayed about it) and we recognize that it isn't healthy. Although at the same time, we've cherished all the quality time we've had alone together as newlyweds and as we prepare for a baby to enter our world and forever change our family dynamic. We recognize that our vocation is to one another and our growing family, but we also recognize the importance of friendships and that they are crucial to individual and marital bliss.
I've never mentioned it on here, but this has been one of the greatest struggles I've encountered in the past (almost) 9 months. My husband and I are very outgoing people and he manages to get a decent social fix through work and the guy friends he now has in the area. I, on the other hand, haven't been doing any full-time work because we anticipated having to move...and then I became pregnant which gave me zero motivation to get out of the apartment much those first few months as I battled fatigue. Since then I've sought out various avenues of getting involved and while we've met some great people, I still haven't found anyone to spend time with. Another component in this has been the pregnancy - because it has placed me in this odd limbo where I'm not yet a stay-at-home-mom (or SAHM, for you mom bloggers out there) but I'm mostly available during the day (like SAHMs) when other not-yet-SAHMs are in class or at work. This makes me look forward to the birth of our son even more - because I cannot wait to finally fit into a social demographic that will make it easier for me to find some friends, regardless of whether or not we stay here longer or move somewhere new (for the record, I recently got hooked up with our church's moms group, so I fully plan to meet these women soon). From what I can tell, there are so many mom groups out there to help keep SAHMs sane!
Since I'm being so honest, I might as well share that last week I had a total 31-weeks-pregnant emotional meltdown as I cried to Michael about not having local friends even though I've tried so hard. I've had a few of these meltdowns lamenting my lack of friends over the past several months (although this one was probably the worst), but each time this happens I usually encounter something else to carry me through and give me a renewed sense of hope.
This week that renewed hope and strength came as a result of one friend's tragedy...which just goes to show that God truly works in mysterious ways....
In part 2 I'll share with you how God has brought me to such a place of comfort and peace in my own struggles while one friend has been given a very heavy cross to carry.
"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread."
-Blessed Mother Teresa