Everything You Need to Know About Cordcutting

BY: DEREK REIMHERR

I’ve had a hate/hate relationship with cable companies for a while. Who hasn't? You get locked into contracts, have random price hikes, and often your apartment/home only has one provider option.

Because of this, I've been working on cutting the cord for a while. In fact, since high school, I’ve only had a full TV lineup for one year. Instead, I’ve had Hulu and Netflix since 2009 and 2010 (uninterrupted, mind you). I got Prime Video when it debuted with an Amazon Prime subscription. So when Maggie and I moved to Atlanta, I was chomping at the bit to take it a step further: no cable contract. Luckily for us, our new apartment complex is wired for Comcast, AT&T, AND Google Fiber.

There are several things you need to know before we get started:

  • You NEED a good internet connection to reliably use streaming for everything. I would say around 100 MB/s is a solid speed. The streaming companies say 30 MB/s but I don’t think that’s good enough.
  • Depending on the promos for cable companies, cutting the cord entirely may not be cheaper. For example, Comcast often offers basic channels and HBO with 75 MB/s internet at a cheaper rate than just getting the internet.
  • If you live with someone (roommates, significant other), don't start making changes before chatting. They may not care - Maggie didn't - but be safe and ask.
  • If you’re doing any kind of streaming, you need a streaming device. This could be a Roku, Chromecast, gaming console, or Smart TV. Before you pick your path, know the platform compatibilities of the streaming service.

So, why do people even care about cord cutting, especially if it might not be cheaper? The biggest reason is the flexibility - streaming services don't have contracts. Comcast often has 3-year agreements and DirecTV is usually 2 years. Don't even get me started on Charter or Time Warner.

Assuming that cordcutting involves some type of television access (whether live or on-demand), there are 3 distinct ways to get TV:

Antenna

Yes, these still exist. And yes, they can get you a good number of channels. Plus, they’re not ugly anymore; take a look at this Vansky transparent antenna. Essentially, you set up one of these bad boys, plug it into your TV, and BOOM, free HDTV. The issues are they usually only pick up channels broadcasting within 50 miles or so and you’re stuck with live TV ads. This Lifehacker article has some more info if you’re interested. 

On-demand streaming TV

These are the options most people are familiar with. Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime are the primary ones. You pay anywhere between $8 (the monthly cost of an annual Amazon Prime membership) to $20 (HBO Now) for access. Set up an account and turn on your app and you’re rolling. Some are better than others, but keep in mind that you can always stop and start service based around the release of your must-see shows (like Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black).

Live TV streaming services

These services are the primary focus of this article today. Most people trying to cut the cord are looking for ways to get live TV without a cable subscription. In the past 2 years, several options have popped up like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue.


All that said, there are several areas of concern when cordcutting that many people don’t think about or consider.

Okay, but how am I going to watch sports?
Many people don’t care about live sports. For someone like me who’s an Atlanta Falcons fan and a diehard University of Georgia Bulldogs fan, sports channels are required. These people are looking to have live TV at least in the fall and winter. This was the biggest motivator for me to cut the cord - I wasn’t going to pay $200 (or more) a month for Comcast’s internet + TV sports package. If you’re interested in sports, look closely at a streaming service’s channel lineup before making the jump.

But what about ads?
This can be tricky. Even though I’m in marketing, I can’t stand TV ads, so being able to fast forward (or avoid them altogether) was important. Some plans from the big on-demand services let you avoid ads, but any live TV options and first-party streaming apps (like CW or AMC) cram them down your throat. Luckily, several of the live TV streaming services have DVR with commercial-skipping features.

I heard Google Fiber was coming and it’s gonna be awesome!
Don’t get your hopes up. I was thrilled when I learned our new apartment was pre-wired for Google Fiber. I got on the wait list immediately knowing it would be 2-3 months until we saw a technician. That’s okay, I can wait for such a good deal. Unfortunately, at the 3-month mark, Google still didn’t have an ETA on my technician. I dug around and found that Google has more or less given up on their Fiber network rollout. They were hit with lawsuits from AT&T and Comcast for appropriating existing cable infrastructure and then realized they were unprepared to do the work themselves.

I’ve read rumors they’re working on some new wireless TV technology, but I would wager that’s at least 3 years out. If you’re in a city like Atlanta, Nashville, or Louisville waiting on Google Fiber, don’t hold your breath.


Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to meet the biggest Live TV contenders. For more in-depth overviews comparing specific channel breakdowns, check out the below articles. Keep in mind that channel lineup will differ slightly based on where you live.

Hulu Live TV

Source: Hulu 

Source: Hulu 

  • Cost: $40
  • Channel lineup: Put in your Zip Code to find out
  • Sports: All ESPN and Fox channels, NBC Sports, and CBS Sports
  • DVR: 50 hours, 200 hours with Enhanced subscription.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: Yes
  • Devices: Apple and Android mobile, Xbox One, 4th Gen Apple TV, and Chromecast
  • Value prop: Includes normal Hulu subscription. Pay $5 more for no-commercials plan with on-demand shows.

Hulu Live TV is pushing to be the best option out there. The main issue? The number of platforms are super limited. You can’t use it with Fire Stick, Smart TVs, Roku, or Sony/Nintendo gaming consoles. Heck, it isn’t even on desktop yet. Additionally, if you watch a bunch of shows, the DVR is rather restrictive without an upgrade. There are also reports that the interface isn’t user friendly. However, it’s still in Beta. When it goes live on Roku or PlayStation, I’ll seriously look into it.

Sling TV

Source: CNET

Source: CNET

  • Cost: $20-$40
  • Channel lineup: Depends on package - more info
  • Sports: ESPN + Fox and NBC regional channels with Sling Blue or combined package
  • DVR: Yes, if you’re a beta customer and only available on Roku, Android, and Amazon devices.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: No
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS mobile devices, Xbox One (but not 360), Amazon devices, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, and some Smart TVs
  • Value prop: The cheapest option at $20 a month.

Sling TV’s biggest advantage was its “first” status. I used Sling Blue ($25) last fall during football season, but I found the stream to be extremely buggy. The video would frequently freeze with the audio continuing to play. I usually had to back out of the app and reopen it once every 30 minutes on average. To its credit, it has some of the most available devices. So if you’re looking for a cheap Live TV option, this could be it.

DirecTV Now

Source: TheVerge

Source: TheVerge

  • Cost: $35-$70
  • Channel lineup: Depends on package -more info
  • Sports: Most channels in basic $35 package
  • DVR: No
  • Skip recorded content commercials: No
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS, Amazon devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, and some Smart TVs
  • Value prop: Easy transition from cable and no data usage if using AT&T for your phone provider.

To be fair, I have no experience with DirecTV. Personally, I find that these packages have the most bloat. Plus, the upper limit is quite expensive. While there isn’t any DVR option, many channels have a “3 day catchup” feature which is nice, but still doesn’t compare to the perks of a true DVR.

YouTube TV

Source: TechSpot

Source: TechSpot

  • Cost: $35
  • Channel lineup: One package - more info. No HBO integration.
  • Sports: Most channels included, but no NFL Network.
  • DVR: Yes, recorded videos expire after 9 months with unlimited storage.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: No
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS, and Chromecast
  • Value prop: Free Chromecast after you pay for your first month and the most DVR storage.
  • CAVEAT: Only available in certain cities - more info

YouTube TV is the newest addition to the bunch and is still rolling out. Many expect it’ll have the best adoption rate due to the massive existing audience YouTube has. Plus, in addition to live TV, you’ll get access to YouTube Red original programming (not that there’s anything great there yet). However, HBO and YouTube aren’t playing nice. That’s not a huge deal, but it means you’ll have to get a separate HBO subscription to watch Silicon Valley or Veep.

Playstation Vue

Source: Destructoid

Source: Destructoid

  • Cost: $40-$75
  • Channel lineup: Depends on package - more info
  • Sports: Most channels in basic $40 package. Everything included in the $45 package
  • DVR: Yes, tag shows as “My Shows” and every future occurrence will be recorded. Recorded videos expire in 28 days.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: Yes
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS, Amazon devices, Apple TV, PS4, Roku, Chromecast, and some Smart TVs
  • Value prop: Has the most compatible devices and a great DVR system.

Recently, PS Vue increased its price making it the most expensive option. However, keep in mind you have a built-in DVR which I found is the absolute best version out of all the streaming services. The main issue this service has is the PlayStation tag - it confuses consumers. As you can see, it actually has the most available devices with the only exceptions being other video game consoles (Xbox and Wii/Switch). Additionally, PS Vue provides the most access to NFL games. Only Sling TV can compare, unless you have someone’s NFL pass for streaming in an internet browser.


So who’s the winner? For me, it was PlayStation Vue. The biggest factor is that it has the best DVR. Yes, YouTube TV has more storage, but you can’t skip commercials on recorded shows which is (in my opinion) the ENTIRE POINT of DVR. Hulu TV could be the move for us in the future, but I’m not going to buy any additional streaming devices (Chromecast, in this case).

With all of this being said, what does an actual cordcutting mix look like? I’ll give you our breakdown and explain some of our choices:

  • Internet: AT&T Gigabit Fiber - $80/month
  • Streaming services:
    • Netflix Ultra - $12/month
    • Hulu Ad Free - $12/month
  • TV service: PlayStation Vue Ultra - $65/month
  • Total: $170

Now, if $170 sounds like a lot, it is. But keep in mind a couple things. For starters, I’m getting the faster internet available to a residential property. You could easily save $30 a month by getting 100 MB/s internet. Secondly, I plan to cancel both of our Netflix and Hulu subscriptions once we finish original programming shows like Handmaid’s Tale, House of Cards, and Sherlock. I can always start them back up later when a new season drops. Finally, I’m paying for the most expensive Vue plan because of HBO. When we’ve finished Silicon Valley and the newest season of Game of Thrones, I’ll drop down to the $45 package. In theory, you could be paying $100 for decent internet and a Live TV streaming service with sports and DVR.

And remember, the biggest reason to cut the cord is this: it’s totally flexible. Aside from my internet plan, I can drop any of these services at any time or change my subscription. THAT’S why we cut the cord.

So, do you have any questions before you take the leap? I’m happy to help out. Drop us a comment below, send us an email or shoot us a message on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

What I've Learned about the 6 Different Types of Workplaces

By Derek Reimherr

If you missed the series intro, go back and take a look. I lay out my motivation for this series and why I even feel qualified to write about this topic.

A quick recap: I’m 26 years old and I’ve had 30 managers, 22 different jobs and worked in 15 different industries. And I’ve learned a lot about work from all those different experiences. With that background, let’s talk about work environments.

I think companies/offices generally fall into these 6 categories:

  • Hourly Mentality
  • The Traditional Office
  • GET SH!T DONE
  • Growing Pains
  • The Contractor’s Dream
  • Progressive Workplace

Generally speaking, I’m focusing on the feel of the office and the way people approach work. My goal is not to pass judgment but offer commentary. If you feel I’ve missed niches or subcategories, please let me know! Let’s dive in.

Hourly Mentality

Everyone has worked in this type of job before. These are typically hourly workplaces. Zooming out, there are several more defining characteristics of these workplaces:

  • Focused on the short-term, very little emphasis on higher-level strategy.
  • You’ll hear the “Not my job” sentiment or something along those lines. “Someone else will take care of that.”
  • Often stuck in reactive panic mode dealing with “fires” as they pop up.

In this work environment, people show up, do their 8 hours (or shift), and go home. Employees don’t care about the company at large - they want a paycheck. They're great when you’re looking for a part-time job, internship, or starting out. This isn’t the place you want to build a career.

The Traditional Office or "Out of Touch"

Ah, the office of our parents and grandparents. It’s famous business professional attire, lack of benefits and/or perks, and very few, if any, casual days. These offices are typically technology regressive or resistant to change. 

Maybe everything is printed or you’re still using Office 2003. Perhaps no one has heard of Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive. You're probably not seeing many perks unless it’s a big company. #CorporateLife

Workplaces like this struggle with hiring younger demographics. Candidates and new employees question a lot about these workplaces.

Why can’t we wear jeans?
Why there are only 8 PTO days per year?
Where’s the sense of team camaraderie?

As such, you’re likely to see “lifers” in these offices - people who have been there for many years. And because of that, you’ll often hear the sentiment, “Well, we’ve always done it this way. Why change now?”

GET SH!T DONE

You might be laughing at me for the all caps, but I promise it has a purpose. These offices transcend categorization by demographics, perks, or vibe. These teams focus on the end product, customer, or sales. A better descriptor is intense. It could be a result of unorganized project managers, unrealistic deadlines, or an unhealthy internal competition. Or everyone is hyper-focused on delivering good work and not much else.

Consider this: a startup with a beer cart, ping pong table, standing desks, and unlimited PTO seems cool. But if you only talk about work with your co-workers or if you’re often working on the weekend, you might be in a GSD office. This might be ideal if you don’t much care for your workplace relationships and want to do great work. Beyond that, many people may experience burnout here.

Growing Pains

I imagine these as larger or more established companies with culture problems. The company is seeing a changing of the guard: Baby Boomers are retiring and millennials/Gen Xers make up most teams. Senior leadership looked at themselves and said, “We need to change.”

So management shook things up. New perks, revised management styles, and flexible work options were created. All good things. Sure, some employees are pushing back, feeling “left behind” or disgruntled. But, if you can stick it out, this could be a great place to work. In the meantime, there will be a lot of tension in the air.

The Contractor’s Dream

Nowadays, many teams operate in autonomous work groups or as individual contributors. These companies are may use contractors or part-timers as a sizable part of the team. Or they could be a flexible work-from-home or even entirely remote company. Or both.

Here, you can work multiple jobs or have side hustles. Less corporate hierarchy means you’re not dealing with layers of management. Say goodbye to micromanaging. You can come in, knock out your work, and move on. Some will feel disconnected working here, but others will love the freedom.

Progressive Workplace

(Full disclosure: This is the kind of place I work at now.)

The majority of the Gen X and Millennials are looking for this kind of job. This workplace values corporate responsibility, transparency, work/life balance, among other these. Co-workers openly discuss traditionally taboo topics: race issues, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation (LGBTQIA+), and political views. These companies create employee engagement programs with team building, happy hours, and retreats. And yes, they’re usually agencies, startups, and tech companies.

For many workers, it’s too much. Not everyone wants to discuss their personal life at work. Many people don’t want to work in an open or remote office. Some don’t want to be friends with their co-workers. That’s okay and there will always be other options. But for a lot of people, this is the dream.

--

To be fair, most offices operate on a spectrum, overlapping several different categories. But I think workplaces generally lean in one direction over the others.

Here's a story to illustrate why this is important. A little over a year ago, I was working at a Global Fortune 10 company. The pay and benefits were great. The advancement opportunity was there. But the environment was in the "Growing Pains" stage at best and the "Out of Touch" at worst. Managers were technologically challenged - I was often asked to convert Word docs to PDF and print for my boss. The office wasted so many resources (human capital, paper, time, etc). Every day, I came home from work unhappy and complaining. It drove Maggie CRAZY. Even though I had to take a pay cut, I knew I had to get out of there for the sake of my personal and marital health.

It’s vital for all of us to take a step back and identify the environment we’re in. If we like it, why? If we hate it, why? Your satisfaction and fulfillment at work bleeds over into the rest of your life. Consider this: if you're unhappy from 9-5, do you spend more on the weekends to balance out? Or does your significant other regularly bemoan your poor attitude? Understanding where you currently are can help shape where you want to go or whether you should stay put.

Do you think I’m wrong? Did I totally miss the mark? Let me know. Next up, we’re talking about management and leadership.

Lessons I've Learned from 30 managers and 22 jobs

BY: DEREK REIMHERR

I started a new job in Atlanta recently (and so did Maggie) which seems like a good time to look backward. How far have I come? It's a doozy. I’m 26 years old and I’ve had 30 managers, 22 different jobs and worked in 15 different industries. Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down:

  • 10 part-time, minimum wage-type jobs
    • Soccer referee
    • Intramural sports referee (think flag football, soccer, ultimate frisbee)
    • Department store cashier
    • Clothing store associate
    • Camp counselor
    • University dining hall worker (I made awesome grilled sandwiches)
    • Pizza delivery driver
    • Restaurant/bar server
    • Caregiver/babysitter
    • University academic tutor
    • 2 apprenticeship/development-type jobs
    • Non-profit Lighting Production Assistant
    • Non-profit Communications and Social Media Associate
  • 7 internship or similar positions
    • Event venue Marketing Intern
    • Real estate brokerage Marketing Intern
    • Newspaper Marketing Coordinator
    • Mobile app Sales and Marketing Coordinator
    • University psychology Research Assistant
    • Food and beverage corporation Field Sales Intern
    • Auto parts company Marketing Intern
  • 4 salaried positions
    • Corporate Analyst
    • Corporate Regional Marketing Associate
    • Marketing agency Social Media Specialist
    • Marketing agency Senior Social Media Analyst (omitted in total because new job)

I count the number of industries I’ve worked in or with at around 14. You might combine a couple of these, but the number is still in the double digits. A few examples: retail, non-profit, food and beverage, real estate, automotive, and agency/firm (or professional services, I guess). 

I’ve had more jobs than most people will have in their whole life. Since I was 16, I've only been unemployed for 6 months in total: two different semesters in college. At times, it was out of need. But oftentimes, I just wanted some extra spending money. I was fortunate enough to have parents who provided a lot of financial support but didn’t spoil me. They always encouraged me to work to earn the things I really wanted.

Because of this, you could argue I’ve got a pretty decent perspective on “work” that other people my age don’t have. Heck, I'd go out on a limb and say I have a perspective that many people will never have.

Furthermore, I’ve had managers from all walks of life: women and men, executive and contractor, millennial and baby boomer, corporate and small business, salaried and hourly, parents and non-parents, married and single, minority and white.

Disclaimer: in all my time, I’ve never had a direct report. I’m only 26 after all - doesn’t seem too unusual. Sure, I’ve led projects, onboarded and trained new employees, taught seminars/sessions, and coordinated teams. But it’s never been up to me whether someone stayed on the payroll.

Here’s the point: I’m going to write a multi-part series on work. I’ll talk about where I’ve seen culture motivate (and demoralize), how managers and leaders can empower (or discourage), and which employees succeed (or fail, myself included).

The goal is to provide you principles you can apply in your own vocation. There should be something here for you whether you’re:

  • Part-time, full-time, or salaried
  • A young professional or seasoned worker
  • An individual contributor
  • A new manager or a long-time manager
  • A senior leader or executive (Going out on a limb with this one. Maybe you’ll learn how to better lead new hires, manage up with your boss, or celebrate your team even if it’s just a birthday.)

This is important. We spend more time at work and with at co-workers than our loved ones. So examining our relationship with our jobs is beyond crucial. When I loved my job, I checked out at the office door. When I didn’t? It couldn’t help but bleed over into my relationship with Maggie. This discussion should provide a framework for you to evaluate your own situation.

We’re going to talk about the main factors that I’ve found influence work satisfaction the most: work environments, managers and leaders, compensation, and your personal performance. 

I’m really excited for this series. Stayed tuned for the next post all about work environments.

Self-Care Isn't Selfish: 11 Ways to Take Care of You

By Maggie Reimherr

I recently came home from work one day to find Derek in a different state than his usual, vibrant self. He was quiet and withdrawn. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he was just tired. I continued to prod. Turns out, he’d had a minor allergic reaction to an apple and had taken a couple of Benadryl. He was a walking zombie, but it was medically induced. NBD. But it got me thinking. The quiet withdrawal? That must be what it’s like to live with me sometimes.

He’s a happy go lucky kind of guy. I’m a weight of the world on my shoulders kind of gal. That’s just how we roll. I tend to get in emotional ruts. However, seeing what it was like to be on the other side of me made me get serious about taking care of myself. When I’m intentional about self-care, I’m easier to be around.

Here are 11 ways I recommend to relax, unwind, and take care of yourself:

1. Wake up early to enjoy a cup of coffee and read a devotional.

Here’s the truth: when I’m spiritually healthy, I’m emotionally healthy. My best time with Jesus is spent during quiet mornings before Derek wakes up. I make my yuppy French press coffee, curl up on the sofa, and open the She Reads Truth app. I’ll read through the scripture and devotional for the day, jotting a few notes in my journal as I go. Then I pray. Starting my day with God gets my mind right for what lies ahead. The tough commute, tedious work, or stressful project is easier when I’m rooted in God’s truth.

When my routine’s interrupted, I tend to let this fall by the wayside. We spent a lot of time traveling in November and December, and it took me awhile to get back to a normal schedule. Luckily, I’m back in the swing of things with my 6:30 am alarm set.

PJs here // Journal here

PJs here // Journal here

2. Take a long bubble bath.

Baths are the best. Unfortunately, our bathtub situation in the apartment is not. The tub is tiny. The water doesn’t get hot enough for a good bath, and every ounce of this semi-hot water gets used up to fill up the tub once - refills don’t work. I’m looking forward to getting out of this apartment so I can enjoy my baths again. Derek even gave me a bath tray for Christmas that holds a glass of wine and a book. I’m ready to put it to good use.

3. Buy flowers for yourself.

This is a new one for me. I used to be terrible about not changing the flower water and just letting them die. No more! I’ll see what flowers are on sale at the grocery store when I’m doing my regular shopping for the week and buy myself a bouquet. It’s so nice to have something bright and cheery in the apartment.

4. Journal.

I have a blog, so you know I’m a writer. I’ve been a journaler on and off my whole life. As a kid, I had diaries. As a teen, I had notebooks of angsty poems and songs I’d written. As a college kid, I treated Tumblr as my journal (very cringe-worthy). During the second half of my junior year of college, I stepped away from blasting my problems on the internet. Since then, I’ve filled up probably 10 journals with thoughts, prayers, notes, and whatever’s on my mind. The other day, I cracked open my journal and made a list of everything that was making me anxious. Then I reflected on it and prayed about it. I’m a big-purse gal, so I carry my journal with me everywhere.

5. Put on a really cute outfit, do your hair and makeup, get your nails done, etc.

The saying holds true: when you look good, you feel good. My friend Emma justifies her regular manicures by categorizing them in her self-care budget - pretty nails make her happy. You can set aside $20 every few weeks to do this - it’s worth it if it makes you feel good.

6. Get productive.

During my worst boughts with sadness, I kinda act like a sloth. I shirk cooking and cleaning and real activities and lie on the couch bingeing Netflix. This blog has been a huge source of productivity and creative output for me, and it’s really helping me combat ruts. Find your productive activity. Volunteering, exercising, cooking a new meal? Whatever it is, get up and go for it.

7. Make the bed.

TBH, I just feel better about life when the bed is made.

8. Plan something fun.

I was in a M-A-J-O-R rut over the summer, and it resulted in my booking a vacation to Mexico 9 months in advance. I’m a little dramatic and kind of an extremist. You don’t have to be like this. It can be as simple as planning a weekend outing to your favorite restaurant or brewery, and it gives you something exciting to look forward to.

9. Talk it out.

I’m really grateful to be married to a guy who’s no stranger to feelings and gets the need to process things externally. Whenever I’m feeling really bad, I vent/talk about it with Derek. Here’s a disclaimer though: I put a warning label on the subject before I start to vent. I label a topic as serious or no big deal, and we talk from there. If I don’t tell him that something’s NBD, he treats everything as a major issue and starts to grow weary of carrying the weight of my burdens. I never want to dump my problems on him, so the warning label works well for us.

10. Figure out what’s at the heart of your sadness and deal with it.

If you’re regularly crying about your job, maybe it’s time to find a new job. If you feel like a relationship isn’t going right, it’s probably time to have an honest conversation about it. If you’re feeling lonely, jump on Bumble BFF or Hey! Vina and start swiping your way to friendship. Or check out a Meetup in your area. Or go to church and join a Bible study. Once you figure out what the issue is, you can begin the process of coming out of your rut.

11. See a therapist or doctor if it’s more serious than a rut.

We’ve mentioned therapy before. I’ve done it, Derek’s done it, and we believe in it. If there’s a serious issue going on, the ways I listed above might just be a band-aid for your problems. And if you’re clinically depressed, self-care should include talking to your doctor and finding a medication that’s right for you to treat it.

So now we want to hear from you: how do you take care of yourself when you’re in a rut? Leave us a note in the comments or on social. I’d love to add more self-care tips to my routine!

On Saying "Bad Things" About Your Spouse

By Maggie Reimherr

When we were gearing up to get married, I read a lot of well-meaning marriage advice that sounded something like, “Don’t say anything bad about your spouse. Only talk with your spouse about issues.” The idea is that sharing marital conflict with anyone but your spouse can create tension in the relationship when “word gets out.”

After 10 months of marriage, I’ll come out and say it: this rule doesn’t really work for me and Derek.

Derek is an external processor, so sometimes he needs to hash things out with a friend. I really love my community and feel the need to be genuine about what's going on with me. Anytime Derek and I talk things out with our circles, we walk away grateful for the outside perspective.

Your community is meant to be there for you. Not letting them in kinda defeats the purpose of friendship, don’t you think? And when we bottle things up, it doesn’t protect us - the secretiveness can breed shame.

And where does shame thrive? You guessed it - in the darkness. Bringing issues out into the open with your people there to support you is what begins about reconciliation that may need to happen.

Sure, sometimes sharing problems can create relational baggage. But instead of swearing off even mentioning each other's bad habits, some different advice has been more helpful for Derek and me.

(Disclaimer: no marriage advice is a one size fits all approach. What works for us might not work for you. We're here to share our experiences, not tell you how to live your life.)

 

1. Don’t talk negatively about your spouse to the wrong people.

Who are the wrong people? Sorry to say, but talking to parents and family complicates things. At the end of the day, they’ll always be loyal to you first. Loyalty = biased. Moreover, sharing relational struggles or issues with family could put strain on those family and in-law dynamics. There are already growing pains when a new person joins an existing family. Don't complicate it further. You've gotta be your spouse's champion with your family. Oh, and you know that one friend who always shares the group’s gossip with you? They’re probably not going to be the steel trap you need them to be when being vulnerable about your marriage. Finally, RUN, RUN FAR AWAY from opening up to that guy or gal who has an “innocent crush” on you. Come on, people.

Who are good candidates for your trust? People with some wisdom. Wise friends have a gift with words and have a knack for saying the right thing at the right time. They don’t help you clap back at your spouse. These friends dive in with you asking thoughtful questions and provide (as best as possible) objective advice. Look elsewhere for blind loyalty because you might be getting called on your BS by one of these friends.

Derek and I are really fortunate to have an incredible group of married friends. I feel comfortable turning to the women and Derek feels the same with the guys, either for actionable help or just venting a little. This group is committed to fighting for each other’s marriages.

It’s totally okay if you don’t have a larger community like this. Don’t let that stop you! Go talk to a therapist. Heck, even if you do have a good community, consider talking to a therapist. Derek and I have both seen them at times in our lives. Therapists are awesome, y’all. It’s their job to be a mirror and help you see things from an unbiased angle. Also, they’re legally obligated to keep your secrets. So that one thing that may not be safe or feels really uncomfortable to chat with friends about? Ding ding ding, a therapist might be the right option for you.

 

2. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say directly to your spouse.

My extrovert husband has modeled a healthy way to live this out. Sometimes when he knows he may be too riled up on a subject, he’ll flesh things out with a friend first. He’ll dig through to the heart of an issue so he doesn’t say anything (intentionally or unintentionally) hurtful to me. His group of guy friends like to play hardball with each other. If he’s upset about something silly, his friends will say, “Knock it off." Then we’ll laugh about it later. If the issue is more serious, his friends help him walk through what he’s feeling so he can approach me level-headed. Then we can have a conversation that’s not fueled by anger or resentment but instead by rationality.
 


I get it, I’ve only been married for 10 months, but here’s what I know: we’re not supposed to live life as islands, even little married islands. We need people. Cultivate an inner circle, and let them into the good, bad, and ugly. You’ll be glad you did, I promise.

How I Stumbled Into a Job I Love (And How You Can Too)

Today we've got a guest post from our friend Tyler Berry. He's a UX Designer and lives in Atlanta with his wife Aimee. Oh, and NBD, but he was the best man at our wedding. Enjoy!


By Tyler Berry

18-year-old me should never have been left on his own. The hardest decisions I wanted to make were whether to skip leg day or not and which dining hall to go to for breakfast. When big decisions like choosing a major popped up, I tried to simplify the choice as much as possible.

(me in college)

For example: I based my choice of major on a simple set of criteria:

1. Did I know anyone else in the major?
2. Did I have to take advanced maths?

18-year-old me landed a cushy spot in UGA's School of Public and International Affairs and celebrated not having to take Calculus. #AchievementUnlocked

 

I got better at making big decisions over the next 2 years, and the summer before Junior year, I faced a big one. To set myself up for a good career, I needed an internship with a government agency.

52 internship applications later...Nothing.

Unfortunately, I was too far into college to even THINK about switching majors. I tried not to worry about it and spent senior year focused on things like planning a wedding. I took the first job offer I got after graduating and hopped into a cubicle as a 'lead generation specialist'.

I tried to make it work. I promise. But sitting on the phone 8 hours a day seemed like a fate worse than death.

So 3 weeks into the working world, I decided it was time for a career change.

A friend of mine was working as a copywriter at the time and he suggested I give it a shot. Since I thought myself a pretty good writer, I said OK and we hatched a devious plan.

Devious Plan: I'd sign on with his company as a freelance copywriter, set my own hours, and never see a cubicle again. I joined his company and thought I was good to go. Unfortunately, writing keyword-stuffed articles was almost as bad as #cubelife, so after 2 months I implemented Devious Plan 2.0.

(here we go again)

Devious Plan 2.0: Join my wife at her agency as a full-time copywriter and go from there. Fortunately, getting into #Agencylife put me in contact with people who actually knew what they were doing.

The User Experience Director was one of those people. She spotted that I had a mind for patterns and systems, and suggested that I pursue a career in User Experience. For the next 6 months, I traded in my evenings and weekends for a crash course in UX Design. The stress of those 6 months took 5 years off my life, but it was the crucible that proved I was finally in the right career.

My journey from clueless college student to semi-competent professional could have been a lot easier.

If I had to change careers again, here's how I'd go about it.

1. Get advice early and often.

Shockingly, your friends and mentors have opinions on what jobs would be a good fit for you. Make sure you ask them and listen to what they say. It might save you a lot of trouble later on. And not shockingly, make sure you talk to your significant other. Make sure they're on board and work out whatever complications or transitions may be in store. 

2. See what's out there

Coming out of college, I had no idea how many different jobs there were in the world. Do yourself a favor and hop on Glassdoor.com or Indeed.com and see what's around you. You might find something awesome you never thought of before.

3. Make some lists.

If you didn't catch it earlier, my Devious Plans usually amounted to 'OMG GET ME OUT OF HERE PLEASE'. If I could do it over, I would have taken a minute (or an hour or a day. You do you.) to make the following lists before bailing:

  • An honest account of what you enjoy doing, what you're good at, and what you wish you were good at.
  • A short list of things you never ever ever want to do (ever.)

Hang onto these lists. They're your cheat-sheet when you're job hunting.

4. Teach Yo'self.

The best part of the modern world is internet access. If you're missing some hard skills for that #dreamjob, get on YouTube, Lynda.com, Skillshare, or your local library and treat yo'self to some tutorials. You can learn almost anything you want to know for less than $200 if you know where to look. Develop those hard skills and then apply.

The biggest thing I learned?

Career changes are hard. You're going to feel like you're in over your head sometimes. Keep going and it will get better.

In Defense of New Year's Resolutions

By Collin Woodard

These days, New Year’s resolutions are more of a joke than anything else. Even if you’re one of those people who adopts a new diet for January or joins a gym, you probably don’t expect it to last. And even if you do manage to turn down an invite to the all-you-can-eat night at the Macaroni and Bread Castle, you’re going to do so with a half-hearted joke about how you’re on a juice cleanse that week.

Even professionals look down on the New Year’s resolution. Doctors and therapists will tell you to make small, incremental changes instead. And I get that. I really do. Ideally, you’d work throughout the year to improve your life here and there until it looks the way you want it. But, unfortunately, real life is far from ideal. And that’s where New Year’s resolutions come in.

For a lot of people, the holiday season completely upends their schedule. Between the end of November and the beginning of the year, you’re traveling all over the place, attending a string of endless parties, spending too much time with family, and eating dishes you’d never eat any time of year. The chaos can be exciting, but it also makes it difficult to maintain a set schedule.

Even if you avoid overdoing it, you likely find yourself holding on for January. If you can just make it to January, things will finally get back to normal. Once January comes, you’ll have control over your schedule again. So while there’s nothing magical about the calendar turning from 2016 to 2017, it does mark the end of a long holiday season. If you want to make a few changes in your life, what better time is there?

There are, however, some resolutions that are better than others. A vague and probably impossible goal only sets you up for failure. You’re not going to stick perfectly to Whole30 for a year. You just aren’t. And you’re not going to go the gym before work every single day for the rest of the year. You might make it a month. Tops.

You also want to make sure you’re actually doing something effective. That means making actual changes to your diet, not hoping some nonsense cleanse can atone for 12 months of Taco Bell and Tito’s. Sorry, but if your liver can’t handle the toxins in your body, drinking nothing but juice for a few days won’t do much good, either. Go to the hospital. Now.

In the same vein, doing something healthy is only worthwhile if you stick to it. Giving up alcohol for a month only to go right back to drinking like normal only lowers your tolerance. And in 11 months, those four weeks you spent at the gym won’t be visible in the slightest.

If you can set reasonable, clear goals, however, go ahead. Make your New Year’s resolutions. The new year is the perfect time to make a few changes.

And if not now, when? When are you finally going to change what needs to be changed? It would be great if problems would problems would solve themselves, but they don’t. I’m never going to wake up with Ryan Reynolds’ body, and neither are you. Unless you already are Ryan Reynolds. That’s something you and I have (and even he has) to work for.

Don’t let the fact that you missed January 1st stop you, either. You can start anytime. Pick a goal, make a plan, choose a start date, and do it. It’s that simple. Sure, people may poke fun at your New Year’s resolution, but so what? If it’s the first step towards achieving goals that are important to you, their lame jokes are irrelevant.

Unless you join a multi-level marketing scheme. All gloves are off if you sign up for one of those. 

Acting Our Age (Sort Of)

By Maggie Reimherr

Derek and I are from the South. It seems like as much as fried chicken, sweet tea, SEC football, and going to church on Sunday are Southern traditions, so is getting married young.

I celebrated the first engagement of a friend during the first week of senior year of college. In my sorority, we had multiple “candle-lightings.” Sorority girls, y’all know what I’m talking about. But for everyone else, basically, you light a candle, pass it around the room, and a girl who just got engaged reveals her new relationship status. So you’ve got 21 year olds getting engaged, and it’s perfectly normal.

The first wave of engagements comes in the last year or two of college. The couples get married sometime during the summer or fall after graduation - or in some people’s case, they get married during college. Derek and I rode in on the second wave, getting engaged sometime in the first few years after college.

In the South, we fall squarely into what’s considered “appropriate marrying age.” In the North, not so much.

When we moved to Boston, we were bewildered by social practices of people our age. Wait, you’re 25, untethered, and seem to just drink cocktails and go to brunch a lot? Cool, but where my married couples at?

Okay, we go to brunch a lot, too.

Okay, we go to brunch a lot, too.

As it turns out, the mid-twenties and married people we’ve found are church people. That’s cool, because we’re church people, too. In general, there aren’t a lot of church people up here so far away from the Bible belt.

I think part of the reason people marry young in the South has a lot to do with the cultural pervasiveness of Christianity. Frankly, church-going Southerners are taught to save ourselves for marriage (...or at least give it the old college try, for goodness’ sake). So for guilt-free intercourse… put a ring on it.** Jokes aside, I'm definitely willing to wager that the church crowd is the trendsetting group on getting married young, and others follow suit. 

**I’m not trivializing waiting for marriage. We’re Christians. I don’t want to have a lengthy discussion about faith and sex, because people who are wiser than me have written and spoken all about it. Google it. Don’t @ me. 

But beyond that, I think there’s a little more to it. Southerners might be… more serious about relationships? More ready to grow up? I see these qualities in my married, Southern friends.

So here’s the thing about me and Derek living in the North: people look down on us for being young marrieds. We’re not offended because culturally, it’s different up here. And with most people our age being the single, bar-hopping, city explorer types, we’ve actually adjusted our outlook on life in our twenties.

We’ve seen Southern friends buy houses and start thinking about babies. Meeting people our age in Boston has made us realize that we are 100% not there yet. And that’s okay! We may be married, but at this point in our lives, at 24 and 25, we’re more inclined toward bottomless brunches, brewery hopping, and tropical vacations than we are toward home ownership and creating offspring. We want to spend our money on adventures. We’re on a 5-, 6-, maybe 7- year plan when it comes to all that other stuff.

We’re so proud of our Southern friends who are at a place in their lives where they can buy houses and have babies. We love hanging out at your pretty - and GIGANTIC compared to our 850 square foot apartment - homes. We will join you someday. We will also babysit when you procreate.

For now, we’re working on a happy medium between being wild twenty-somethings and responsible humans. We’re paying off our student loans and saving to buy another car. But we’re also crunching the budget numbers to figure out how we can #brunchsohard, take a couple of big vacations every year, and move to a cool apartment in a cool neighborhood. We’re acting our age in both the Southern way and the city way. That’s just how we like it.

Dancing through our twenties like... (Photo brought to you by Vic Bonvicini Photography and Yuengling)

Dancing through our twenties like... (Photo brought to you by Vic Bonvicini Photography and Yuengling)