[Lizzy] So it’s been more than 5 months since the engagement. The emotional roller-coaster of this journey so far is best encapsulated in this letter from Colin:
What has been different in our lives so far:
1. The things you talk about change drastically overnight
[Colin] Okay not exactly overnight since we had a one-week euphoria hiatus in Taiwan before we snapped back in to reality.
In the week after we got engaged, one of our friends texted us: “Welcome to the Marriage Transition Club.” And indeed life does make a sharp turn once your mutual decision making moves from deciding: which cafe to have dinner at; to what kind of bed (latex? memory foam? hard? soft? medium?) you want to buy.
[Colin] Our nights and weekends used to be filled with activities such as movies, cafe-hopping and good meals. Now it’s filled with furniture hunting, meetings with interior designers and window shopping for tiles.
There have been more things to quarrel about than ever before (more decisions to make = more differing opinions). And our priorities have shifted greatly in this short span of time.
For a while after our engagement, we even wondered, WHAT did we even talk about before our conversations started revolving around the house, things to put in the house, and what we wanted to have at our wedding? Overnight, our lives took a deep dive into previously unchartered waters filled with new acronyms and bad Singaporean English terms that amuse me.
DIY buyer: What sellers’ housing agents refer to you as, if you are a buyer who doesn’t have an agent. Used as such: “So you DIY buyer?” Or, “Are you buying for yourself?”
Make good: THIS apparently is used as a legit verb in the local construction scene to refer to patching back areas in your house after they’ve hacked away certain parts (e.g. walls, cornices). Used as such: “So ah, this is the price to make good the floor after you hack the wall.” Whut.
2. Apps, websites and advertisements whose existence you previously did not know or care about suddenly become very important and interesting
Many sleepless nights, lunch hours and toilet breaks were spent poring over every available and suitable HDB resale unit on PropertyGuru and 99.co. We became experts at identifying layouts just by looking at block facades. We knew almost every common type of floor plan and floor size of 3 and 4-room flats in the estates we were interested in. RenoTalk became the bible on all renovation and interior tips.
[Colin] It almost became an “occupational hazard” when we went to new housing estates that we had never been to before and were guessing their floor plans. Plus noticing how every single new BTO in Singapore looks the same. Other notable apps and websites include: Qanvast and Houzz for renovation insights and interior designs, and checking Rakuten for discounted prices of electrical appliances.
When we did our rounds of visiting during Christmas and CNY, we noticed things in our relatives’ houses that we’d never bothered to take a second look at our entire lives, even though we’d been visiting those houses for years. Things like: what kind of taps did they install, what kind of lights and ceiling fans they had………. Were we headed down the aunty/uncle route… ALREADY?
Our horrors were confirmed when the pages of the newspaper that, hitherto, we had ignored from the beginning of time, suddenly started catching our eye. THESE sort of ads, to be specific:
(Images via SingPromos)
For years we never understood the phenomena that was our parents and household item sales. UNTIL NOW. When you’re faced with having to purchase your own washing machine, fridge, stove, oven, bedsheets, pots, pans and whatnot, you get this sudden revelation of why your parents were always scouring the newspapers for such events and dragging you to some John Little or Robinsons Expo fair to lug rice cookers and new bolsters home. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.
3. We eat a lot more hawker food than we used to
SAVE MONEY. EAT ALL THE CAI PNG (economical rice). Why are mattresses so expensive ($3-5k for a decent one from one of the bigger brands)? Why are bed frames at least half the price of a mattress? It’s not like we don’t do $20/pax dinners anymore, but we certainly do it a lot less, as we add the sums of having a wedding and purchasing/doing up a house in the same year.
4. We squabble a lot more… but also love and understand a lot better
The biggest pre-engagement quarrels we had were over how we spent our time/what to eat and… hm, I can’t actually remember. You’ll have to ask Colin because for some reason he’s the one who actually remembers these things better than me.
[Colin] Well, we quarrelled at times when I said that I would spend time with her but I last minute cancelled it because of company event, or when I have my insecurities and she is unhappy about it.
Post-engagement, squabbles range from our preference for how the home should look, why do I need such a big vanity table, how much money should we spend, etc. Does not help that we are both designers of slightly different taste and are both very opinionated on such matters.
Our discussions revealed more of our respective, innate character traits: I’m a pragmatist, Colin is an optimist. This translates to me being all “If we don’t have the money then don’t keep coming up with all these expensive ideas for how we can do the house.” But Colin is usually “This is a cool idea / this is a cool idea too / what do you think about this cool idea???” This usually doesn’t go down well with Little Miss Just-Be-Realistic. I’m the one who usually wants to err on the side of safety while my explorer/dreamer fiancé dreams the dreams I dare not even dream for myself.
[Colin] I usually like to leave things to God’s grace while Lizzy is an over-planner. She plans for every contingency. And we also realised that we are high-C about different things. I’m high-C about cleanliness and neatness, she’s high-C about the space for cosmetics and quality of the things and furniture we are buying.
But hey, as a Pastor once told me, embrace the differences! You and your spouse are made differently for a reason. If you marry someone who thinks exactly like you, there would be no growth and no one to offer a view that would widen your perspective.
Me being the hot-headed one usually gets more testy, moody or annoyed first. And I am blessed that every time it happens, Colin would be the first to ask, “How are we doing?” It is very easy to get absorbed by the operations of planning for a wedding and a house, but it is merely the beginning of a marriage and a home. You don’t finish a wedding and complete a house. You build a marriage and you make a home. So don’t neglect each other in the process. Take time to go out on real dates that don’t involve talking about the wedding or the house. Be more aware of nurturing your relationship and enjoying the journey together, instead of just being absorbed with all the never ending list of Things That Need To Be Done (reminding myself here too!).
5. Our personal free time has become Harvey Norman/Furniture Expo time
Some sacrifices are made. I don’t have time to draw type. Colin doesn’t have time to watch The Walking Dead, cycle, play his city simulation game or spend time with his sister. Sometimes we woefully pass remarks about it. But we often remind each other that this is for a season. There will be a season for household sale hunts. There will be time to be a family. And there will be time, in the future, for drawing type. But in the meantime, it is more needful for us to enjoy the present and not live in our own imaginations of what the future should look like. What we have is the present! The future will come anyway but we will never have the present moment again. So we try to enjoy each season and embrace them as they come.
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So! We’ll be writing more posts on the journey and helpful tips we’ve received or learned on various stages of this wedding/house-hunting/renovating and furnishing adventure. Mainly because we’ve learned so much from the wealth of literature found on other blogs and forum posts online, and wanted to add to this knowledge base for others on the same adventure as us. Till next time~