Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Odd Couples

One of my boyfriend's colleagues once made a comment about how we are a, "weird couple." When this was reported to me I was aghast. A, "weird couple?" Us? In what way? If I remember correctly he was basing this evaluation on the fact that my boyfriend eats meat while I'm a vegetarian, and I've been known to indulge in a little herbal refreshment, while he abstains. Once it was explained that way, it was a little less offensive, but still, those words stuck with me.

Now I find myself mentally identifying aspects of our relationship that make us, "weird," or, "normal." This is all admittedly very silly because, who sets the standards of normalcy for couples, anyway? I can think of some pairings that are way odder than we are and it's usually they who stand the test of time. Like, you know, that guy and his wife...or...that couple from the show. OK, so maybe I can't think of any weirder couples. Speidi, maybe. (They're positively made for each other. They'll probably go over a cliff together one day. And they seem deliriously happy, unless that's just the angel dust talking.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Five Year Plan

I will admit, in a moment of unabashed girly-ness, that I have a five year plan for my relationship. Of course it's utterly personal. It isn't even something I've shared in any official way with my boyfriend, so I hope he isn't frightened to read this (Hi babe! Hey...wait. Come back! Why are you running?) I mean, we've certainly talked about, "the future," in a theoretical, we'll-cross-that-bridge-when-we-come-to-it kinda way but we've never sat down and decided together where we'll be in five years. So if I come back and edit this post, it's because one point or another has been reevaluated (after I go home and talk to him about this.) Anyway, here it is.

In Five Years, I Anticipate:

  • Us owning our own home. We currently rent but as we get more and more invested in our living space and our relationship, it only makes sense that soon we'll think about buying. It's a good investment and it's something that we'll have to tackle together.
  • Hearing the pitter patter of little feet. Those feet will be furry and padded, if I have anything to say about it. I've been feeling a little dog-crazy these days. Want.
  • Opening a joint savings account. I'm not a big advocate for combining finances, in general, but I think it's a great idea to have one joint savings account. You can both toss $20 per pay period in there and, after a bit, take a nice vacation. Which leads us to my last point.
  • Taking a major vacation. We go here and there on short trips, but have never gone all out. Last week we were watching a program featuring the Italian countryside and I expressed the desire to go someday. My boyfriend's response was, "Oh, we're going. Soon."
I hope so :)

Taking One for the Team

Every evening I get down on my knees and thank the good Lord and Baby Jesus that my boyfriend isn't into sports. OK, so that isn't entirely true. He digs soccer and anything that is included in the X Games, being an ex-x-gamer, himself. (At one point he even moved to Utah for better snowboarding.) But when it comes to Monday night football, or Yankees vs. Mets, he couldn't care less. And that is just one of the many, many things I love about him.

Call me closed-minded, but I've just never done well dating sports fans. No matter how many times a guy has tried to explain to me what a first down is, it never sinks in. The next time I watch a football game I'll inevitably wonder, "What the heck is going on here?"

Sports fans also have a tendency to get fanatical, which is incredibly unattractive to me. If you have to wear the same boxers every Sunday a game is on so your team won't break their winning, "streak," then there is something wrong with you. Sorry. There just is.

In my early twenties, a guy I was dating took me to task for saying I would never enjoy football. He said that it was selfish to close oneself off from something one's SO enjoys. Maybe so. He even suggested that it was a girl's duty to feign interest in her boyfriend's hobbies; that she should take one for the team by suffering through endless, mind-numbing hours just to make him happy. That she should devote time and energy to learning about the ins and outs of the game so she could intelligently discuss it. I'd just like to point out that years later that guy is long gone and my dislike for football remains.

What does that tell you?


This post isn't going to be about Twitter (although, honestly, isn't it the best thing ever? I defy you to name another social networking site that allows you to interact directly with so many washed-up celebrities. Hi, Kirstie!!!)

This morning I watched three squirrels, "interacting," all over a tree in my backyard. They scooted and spiraled up and down, taunting each other and pretending to try to get away. Every few minutes they'd stop for a bit before getting back to their game. It was adorable in a primal kind of way, and it stirred up all sorts of Spring-type feelings in me.

Doesn't the change in seasons just make you feel fundamentally good? Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, the sun comes back. The first really nice day of the year makes me want to strip down to my skivvies and run around outside, preferably with the boyfriend in tow. You feel driven to reconnect with yourself in a physical way, and it's undeniable that Spring will make you amorous. Just like the squirrels.

What about the warming weather inspires you?

Thursday, April 15, 2010


...N-n-n-nooooo dress code. To the 10% of people who get that: you're awesome. The rest of you face the WATER CANNONS.

Right off the bat I'm going to make an inflammatory statement. I truly believe that having (some) secrets is a good thing in a relationship. No, really, I do. No. Really. I'm not talking about keeping mean-spirited secrets, or ones that may threaten your longevity as a couple but rather little, inconsequential things you omit, just for the sake of keeping the peace.

Both of you obviously have a history before one another and hopefully, when you got together you shared the ups and downs, the successes and failures of past loves. Your SO's romantic history is a road map of what brought him to you and ignoring it is like saying, "I'm happy to be American, and all...but who cares about the Civil War?" That's just silly.

BUT - and this is a big but -

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Laundry List

One of the very few things that I refuse to do for my boyfriend is...his laundry. For some reason, laundry just seems like something that should be personal and off-limits, unless you're a wife or mother. Being neither, I'll abstain, thank you.

It isn't like the idea of handling his used knickers turns me off. It doesn't exactly turn me on, but I don't have any opposition to it on sanitary grounds. We spend a significant portion of our lives within a foot of each other so there's no reason to be squeamish. If some particularly intrepid microscopic invader wants to make the trek from him to me (or vice versa) it will find a way to do so, regardless of any safeguards put in place to deter it. So my laundry aversion isn't a matter of germophobia. And it has nothing to do with not wanting to spoil him; heck, I'll go to the mall, pick out and purchase some underpants. If a seam comes loose I'll stitch it up, and if I happen to find them on the bathroom floor I'll happily scoop them up and toss them onto the dirty pile, but if you ask me to pour detergent on them and punch a few buttons, you will be heartily rebuffed.

I guess the bottom line is that I don't know why I won't do this one chore, but I won't. It's like the last holdout on the way to being a maid rather than a girlfriend and lord knows I am not a maid. I'll wear the outfit if he asks nicely (or brusquely, really,) but it won't be for doing laundry.

Is there anything you wouldn't do for your guy? What motivates that?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Soundness of Silence

It's certainly been drummed into our brains that verbal communication is essential to a healthy relationship, and it is. You can't get what you don't ask for, and you can't solve conflict without hashing it out so, yes, verbal communication is important. I think though, that non-verbal communication is just as important.

Silence is a restorative thing on many levels. It's relaxing and allows to be inside your own head, for one, but it also forces you to read your partner's non-verbal cues. Frankly, I need silence to better appreciate the lack thereof. For some, a moment of quiet is uncomfortable and they feel the need to fill it with nervous talk but I encourage people to fight against that, especially when you're with your partner.

One of the grievances we hear regarding long term relationships is that the couple has, "run out of things to talk about." I have three ways to solve this problem:
  1. Stop being boring. (I'm only half-kidding on this. If you never stop learning and experiencing, you'll always have something to talk about.)
  2. Speak with restraint. Sure, it's tempting to want to tell him all of your funny stories at once, and explain your entire family dynamic before your first Christmas together, but please don't. All it takes is a few, "Yeah, you already told me that,"s to make you feel exhausted.
  3. Embrace a few moments of silence during the day.
I suppose the fourth suggestion could be to, "stop complaining about the fact that you know your partner inside and out. That's a good thing. Duh."

Thursday, April 8, 2010


If I think about it hard enough, there are all sorts of things I miss about being single: coming home to a completely dark and empty house, knowing that if the bills don't get paid it's on me and no one else, being the mistress of my own domain.

Thing is, I hardly ever think about the stuff that I miss because it's all so far outweighed by the wonderful aspects of being one half of a couple. You have an automatic date for any night of the week, don't have to face anything alone if you don't want to, and, well, regular sex sells itself. There's always someone willing to get up on the ladder and fix things (guess who...) and guys are just so much better at certain things. Like getting up on ladders. And fixing things. I on the other hand would allow a bum light bulb to remain in its socket, sad and useless, for, say, all of eternity. If it was just me, living alone, a fuse could blow in the basement and I'd shrug my shoulders, grab a candle and get on with my life.

So, for me, the pros of being attached outnumber the cons and the pros of living together are almost innumerable. I'm certainly not going to go so far as to say, "Oh, I never lived when I was single. I was just a lost soul, drifting aimlessly." No. But it was kind of dark back then, and cold, and I was spending way too much money on candles.

That's a Deal Breaker, Ladies

Deal breakers are like, well, opinions. Everybody has one. Or two.

I think it's important to share this information with your significant other pretty early on, just to be fair. Ostensibly, in a new relationship, you want to give each other the best possible shot at success and knowing the other's deal breakers at least lets you know what might send you to Jail without passing Go.

I really only have one, and that is: cheating. (I want to put that in bold italics but that would give the word more power, and, wow, it is powerful enough on its own. It already has creepy organ music and thundercracks accompanying it in my head.) Cheating is like six kinds of offensive. There's the lying, of course, but worse than a web of lies is the realization that your partner doesn't want to share something with you. And worse than that is the realization that your partner doesn't want to sleep with you.

My main goal in life, as you might imagine, is to stay alive. When your significant other cheats, your health is directly threatened. Of course there's the very real, frightening possibility of contracting an STD but I'd worry more about my health being threatened by winding up on death row after murdering someone. See, nobody wants that.

One of the many things that my boyfriend and I have worked really hard on is unflinching - and sometimes brutal - honesty, and our secrets from one another are few and far between. (The secrets we do have are necessary and important to us. That's a topic for another day.) Someday he may sit me down and tell me something I don't want to hear, but I wouldn't have it any other way. He knows that he can tell me just about whatever's on his mind, and that we'll face it together. Unless, of course, what's on his mind is, "I cheated on you." In that case, would someone please gather up some bail money and get my lawyer on the phone.

My deal breaker is probably pretty common. I'm interested to hear what transgressions are on your list. conclusion. I wish this book actually existed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


In a perfect world, your significant other should be that person you think is niftiest of all; the one guy or girl you've come across who is as close to perfection as anyone's going to get. The missing piece to the puzzle that is you.

OK, so how many of us are living in a perfect world? That's what I thought.

In reality we do the best with what we get in life; if you're very lucky you will find someone whose quirks complement yours and who doesn't mind your shortcomings. (Lord knows I have quite a few, and some of them are pretty off-putting, if I do say so myself.) If you're super-duper-mega lucky, that person will also be someone you find attractive and who finds you attractive in return. Be lucky enough to get to this point and you may as well forget about buying that fistful of lottery tickets, because you've already hit the jackpot.

It's so easy, in life and in relationships, to focus on what's lacking rather than what's there. She never rinses her dishes. He refuses to clip his nails in the bathroom. Make a list of all of the things your SO does that annoy you or gross you out. Go ahead, write everything down, and don't hold back. Once you've finished the list, write this title on the top of the paper, "List of Things I Happily Accept Because Any List Made About Me Would Be About Eighty Times Longer."

People aren't puzzle pieces. You can't use force to jam someone into an empty space in your make-up. The edges never align perfectly and, gosh, it just takes so much effort that would be better spent on loving each other, incomplete and imperfect as you both are.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cuckoo Clock

It is endlessly fascinating to me how a bunch of girls who all started out at Point A (aka Mrs. S's kindergarten class) could now be leading such incredibly divergent lives, winding up at points B through Z without any predictable pattern. More specifically, it's endlessly fascinating (and equally terrifying) to me that most of the girls I grew up with are already married with children. Some of them are even already divorced from their first husband and on to another. That, to me, is truly mind-boggling, especially since this year marks only ten years out of high school.

We tend to believe that whatever reality we're living in is the real reality. Yesterday I asked my grandmother how a distant cousin is faring after college and what she's been doing with her life. Her telling reply was, "Oh...she's off finding herself somewhere." I could only nod in approval. My reality for the past ten years has been, "finding myself," I suppose. I've never felt any sort of internal pressure to settle down; quite the contrary, my goal has been to have as much fun as is humanly possible before life forces me to settle down. There's this nagging feeling that's been in the pit of my stomach for a long time. It says: There's so much more to be done.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Scheduling Conflict

My boyfriend and I have almost completely opposite schedules. I work a 9-to-5 and he is in the restaurant industry, so his hours are always unpredictable and usually skewed much later than mine. I knew this when I met him, during the years that we were friends and later when we became romantically involved.

And, yet, it still bugs the crap out of me.

When I'm dragging myself out of bed in the morning, he's peacefully enjoying another few hours of sleep. When I'm dragging myself to bed at night, he's enjoying all the late night TV I love, but can no longer stay up for. It's so unfair. Of course, from his perspective, I'm the one who has it good, working standard hours and being able to live it up with just about everyone else during off-hours. When most of our friends are partying he's stuck at work. Also unfair.

One way we've dealt with the differing schedules is to designate one day out of the week as, "Our Day." It's usually Sunday. We make it a point to spend a whole day just enjoying each other's company, cooking, relaxing and getting reacquainted. It's absolutely essential, in my opinion, to reserve at least a little time for just the two of you, even if it's as simple as a quiet day at home.

Readers, how do you make time for your SO?

The Powder Room: Intro

"Where Girlfriends-in-Progress go to freshen up."

Who doesn't need a relationship refresher every once in a while? It's so easy to fall into the rut of a comfortable routine when you've been together for a long time, and we all know that, "comfortable," is the arch nemesis of, "passionate." So every Friday - just in time for the weekend - I'll share a product, bright idea, or time-tested trick; something to get you out of that rut (and those ratty old sweatpants.)

Today's Powder Room feature is...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

He's a Man, Man

My grandmother once said that she felt bad for modern men, because they really have it tough these days. I was young and I probably rolled my eyes and thought, "Yeah, right. Guys have it soooo bad, what with the sports and video games and beer and not having to bear children and all," but as I age I realize that (as usual) Grandma was right.

Think about how gender roles have shifted, even in just the last 30 years.
Women are in the workforce, empowered to do, "everything a man can do," and are spending less time at home. It's not just that women are now doing "men's" work, but also that men are now expected to do their share of the traditionally "women's" work, too. We expect them to do their own laundry and dishes (um, damn straight) and split the cooking and cleaning 50/50. Sometimes we even expect them to be stay-at-home dads. I think all of this is great; the redistribution of power between men and women was inevitable and we women should thank our lucky stars that we have opportunities that our grandmothers never had, and never dreamed of having.

BUT (and there's a big but, here) I think some gender roles aren't so bad at all. There's a reason why our male ancestors hunted and women took care of the house and kids, and these biological imperatives still exist within us and our DNA, no matter how much we fight against them by being, "modern," and, "evolved." These are things we should be embracing, lest we risk losing them. The difficult part is striking a balance between honoring our gifts as human women, and those that society has given us just because we are lucky enough to be born into a more equal world.

So how do we do that? The truth of the matter is that in relationships these days, men usually follow our lead. We have to be willing to give up that lead once in a while, to soften our approach and relinquish a little bit of that control we've claimed. I have a major problem with this: letting men be men. Just because we can take care of ourselves without help from anyone doesn't mean we always should. I'm working on, well, being a woman.