Something New

Mike and I decided to get married. There was no proposal. No grand gesture that involved an orchestra, or an airplane.  No scavenger hunt, no youtube, no flash mob. It was just the two of us, having a conversation on a Sunday afternoon. Probably over coffee and bacon, or folding our laundry. To be honest, I really can’t remember.

I recently explained this to a woman I was waiting on the other day. And she asked me “So, what changed? What changed from last year, at this time, to now?” It was a good question.

I’ve been wanting to have kids for several years. We haven’t tried, but it’s something I’ve wanted. They say, ‘you’ll never be ready,’ to those who try to wait until they are. Waiting until we’re financially stable, is slowly being overshadowed by our age. I’m 33, Mike is 36.

I’m not saying we’re old, but being that I’m in my thirties, my ovaries are no ‘spring chickens’. And, I might be a little crazy, but they’ve actually started doing a tap dance routine when a baby is within a ten-foot radius. It’s like I can literally feel their high kicks and their jazz hands. I picture it being similar to the movie Space Balls when the alien crawls out of the man’s stomach wearing a top hat, with a cane in hand singing, “Hello my baby.” Same song. Same dance.

As this was happening to me for some time, I approached Mike last July and said we needed to start having kids soon. He agreed. I then asked him, “If we were going to have kids, would you rather be married?” (Being that we’ve been together for eight years or so, I already knew this answer, but I felt it necessary to ask for dramatic flare.) He said “yes.” I was preparing myself for this conversation because as everything in a relationship is a compromise, I knew the subject of marriage was going to remain on the table; often buried by my blog, our autonomy, or the idea that we didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broke. But all the while, it still remained, and I knew Mike wanted it there.

Mike used to propose to me all the time. It was usually after he, or we, had several drinks. Sometimes it would be just us and sometimes it was in front of our friends. I always said ‘yes’, but he knew it wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t about the committment, I was already committed. What I wanted, was what we had; just us simply being together– no papers, no false expectations, no pressure.

I watched a show once on t.v, where a couple explained their process on whether or not the wife should take her husband’s last name. She said, she didn’t necessarily want to, but her not wanting to was only at a 7 or 8. However, his wanting her to was at a 10. He wanted it more than she didn’t want it. So, she took his name. It was a compromise she was willing to make.

So, when I asked him, I knew what was coming; the question of, ‘who wants it more?’

I want kids. I want Mike to be the father of them and I’d like us to stick around for a while longer. Mike wants those same things, but he also wants to be married.

Will signing a marriage license solidify our wants? Who knows. For some people, I think it does. And for others, it doesn’t.

Is marriage going to enhance my life? I don’t know, but I do know our relationship has and hopefully will continue to as long as we let it.

I started this blog as an extension of research I’ve done over the years to write a book about our culture and marriage. I’m still always researching, writing and talking with others about the subject. And while, I’m hoping I can make the blog a priority again, in the meantime, I’ll be planning my wedding.

20 Ways Married Women Betray Our Single Girlfriends

I found this article on Huffington Post.  I know I’m guilty of at least three of them…

I got to chatting online with a friend this week, a single, child-free woman in her mid-thirties who I think — and you would too, if you met her — is extraordinary. She’s wicked smart, super attractive and she is dedicating her career to helping make the world a better place. She’s a total catch.

But here’s the catch: She’s single. And worried, or at least feeling a gentle yet persistent tug, as if she’s missing out on something because of her relationship status. My conversation with her affirmed something I’ve known for a while, which many of us married ladies will probably never willingly admit: We are betraying our single female friends in a really big way.

“Oh no, not me!” you declare. You love your single friends. You value the diversity they bring to your life. Who cares if they’re married? Not you. You are a loving, empathic, supportive and non-judgmental woman who wants your friends to find happiness and fulfillment in life and that’s it. If marriage is not in the cards for them, well, who the heck cares?

Ok, I believe you. And despite the fact that I believe you, I still think many of us, myself included, are betraying (or being less than forthright with) our single gal pals. To prove my point, I now present the top 20 ways married women suck when it comes to our single girlfriends:

1. We ask you if you’ve met “someone special” too often.

2. We tell our hubbies way too much about your relationship troubles.

3. We use your breakups to feel relief that no matter how bad our marriage gets, at least we’re not dating anymore.

4. We don’t share with you that some of our loneliest life moments have taken place during marriage.

5. We think you’re better in bed than we are.

6. We’re jealous of your freedom.

7. We secretly think you’d be more flexible if you had a partner.

8. We envy that you don’t have to compromise all the time.

9. We wish we had time, like you do, to do whatever the heck we want.

10. We tell you awful things about our partners and then expect you to forget them once we’ve moved on.

11. We worry about you being alone. And lonely.

12. We put pressure on you to get married and have kids.

13. We’re embarrassed that you see how we launder our husbands’ underwear, give up our careers and take on other traditional gender roles.

14. We expect you to understand and immediately forgive us when we don’t call, email or text you back.

15. We sometimes make you feel, intentionally or not, that your life is not complete until you find a spouse and have a family.

16. We think you’re too picky.

17. We don’t tell you that you should be exactly who you are when you meet someone, because he will see every good and bad thing about you eventually, so you might as well get it out now.

18. We don’t tell you we notice that you keep making the same mistakes with the people you date.

19. We give you relationship advice even though we have no idea what we’re talking about and haven’t had sex with our husbands in months.

20. We don’t tell you that getting hitched will not solve your problems or make you feel better about yourself.

If you’re like me, you figured out pretty quickly that marriage is not a magic bullet. It does not take away your problems or improve your self-esteem. If you’re like me, you know that attempting to blend your bumps and bruises with another person’s is a lifelong project that requires infinite amounts of care, patience and forgiveness. So, why do we subtly pressure our friends to join us? And why do we encourage them to buy into the notion that we are not complete as women until we find a life partner and have kids?

To all the single gals in my life, I apologize for asking you too often if you’ve met someone special or for telling hubby about your relationship woes. I’m sorry I haven’t shared with you that I think the guys you date have serious intimacy issues and will probably never give you what you want. I hope you will always tell me about your latest adventure in some far-off land, the awesome gig you just landed or a new, sexy move that I can try out with my honey. Our marital status might be different, but I can promise you this: We’re far more alike than you’ll ever know.

Metyrapone: Eternal Sunshine

I’ve never been divorced. I’m not married, so that rules out the divorce part. My cousin got a divorce a year after she was married. She was 27. She said, “I wouldn’t wish divorce on my worst enemy.”

I know being married after a year with no children doesn’t really seem to compare to the marriages that end after 20, 30 or 40 years; but, her comment still struck me. It came from such a raw place. Like when you know, only those who’ve been through it can understand.

Even though I’ve never been divorced, I’ve had a few serious boyfriends in my past. My first real relationship started when I was a senior in High School and ended after my freshman year of college. I was 19. My breakup at 19-years-old was the closest thing I knew to my world ending.

When I think about my first boyfriend, I’m reminded of everything great about young love: watching movies together, talking on the phone into the middle of the night, making out until the wee hours of the morning . . . .

And then, I remember, the crazy:

Ever so gracefully, those warm and fuzzy memories come to a crash and burn ending with a fit throwing, heart-rending, sobbing marathon of pain.

And it was all over something I don’t even remember anymore.

The crazy is pain at its ugliest; the result of that same love gone awry. What Darth Vader referred to as the “Dark Side“. We’ve all been there. Some of us spend a weekend, or a mini vacation, others, a hiatus. When it came time to dapple with the dark side, I didn’t just stick my big toe in it, no, I dove right in, headfirst and swam around.

It involved a lot of screaming, a lot of crying and a broken heart. With each slobber filled, runny-nosed gasp of air I took between sobs was the conviction that everything that once felt comfortable to me: what I knew as my safe, happy little world, no longer existed. (Somebody had to be held responsible for this heartache, and at 19, it certainly wasn’t going to be me.)

I always hoped, if I ever ran into my ex, that he would remember the good stuff and that the crazy wasn’t as bad as I imagined. There is, however, something about being that exposed and feeling that vulnerable. Going through so much pain with someone you loved; it was the ‘raw’ I felt in my cousin’s comment.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to get a divorce, but what I do know is that pain seems to be the common denominator in all of them.

Which brings me to the ultimate question: If you could take the pain away, would you?

Oscar Wilde once said, “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” Unless, that is, you are living in the 21st Century.

Scientists have discovered a drug that has been able to erase unpleasant memories tied to traumatic affairs. Metyrapone reduces the brain’s ability to retrieve negative emotions associated with painful memories. The drug affects the amount of cortisol that is released in your brain. Cortisol is a stress hormone often associated with tragic events in our lives.

source: Psych Central

source: Psych Central

Scientists found that if the hormone is decreased during the time of the recollection, the feelings attached to the memory are minimized.

Researchers see this breakthrough as a way of helping victims of post-traumatic stress disorder: PTSD. This would refer to people who have suffered from witnessing or being victims of a traumatic event.

While Metyrapone seems like an excellent way to help those suffering from PTSD, at the same time, the effects of the drug have obvious moral ramifications.

What if everyone had access to a drug that took the pain away? One that was not called heroin, oxycotin or Jack Daniels? Those drugs are known more for numbing the pain, than for removing it altogether. . . (so, I’ve “heard” anyway.)

Could we really be trusted with such a drug? If I had to choose among my most traumatic events in my life up until now, my breakup with my boyfriend at 19 wouldn’t be on the table, however, if I were my 19-year-old self, it absolutely would.

My cousin ended up remarrying. Today she is still happily married with four kids. I can’t help but wonder if her first marriage had anything to do with her second? If somehow all of the suffering was worth it?

Which brings me to my next question:

How much of the pain that we experience is beneficial to our lives?

What if we were given the chance to make that choice ourselves?

When you’re going through a painful experience, you will do everything in your power to make that pain go away. Yet, somehow after the gut-wrenching feelings finally subside there seems to be a calm. And we move on, in spite of every self-doubt we had that we could ever do it. It’s the method to the madness. I believe that the pain from my past has led me to the man that I’m with today.

As for my crazy, those times have become minor splinters of embarrassment: the ‘wrong way’ signs on my map of memories. And perhaps, those splinters are just enough to hold me from crossing as far over into the dark side, leaving me with a few less detours.

 

Tuesdays With Morrie

 

 An Excerpt from Tuesdays With Morrie
By Mitch Albom

 

“Still,” Morrie said, “there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike.

“And the biggest one of those values, Mitch?”

Yes?

“Your belief in the importance of your marriage.”

He sniffed, then closed his eyes for a moment.

“Personally,” he sighed, his eyes still closed, “I think marriage is a very important thing to do, and you’re missing a lot if you don’t try it.”

He ended the subject by quoting a poem he believed in like a prayer:                    “Love each other or perish.”

 

 

 

Tuesdays With Morrie

 

 

A French Connection

In 1999, France legalized civil unions called  pacte civil de solidarité, known as Pacs. The Pacs is essentially a contract drawn up by a couple and registered by a county clerk. The couple is granted some, but not all, of the joint tax benefits and financial privileges of marriage. At the same time, they do not have the same inheritance rights or adoption rights as a married couple does. However, the individuals are no longer considered “single”. They file their taxes accordingly, the women are addressed as Madame, (the title equivalent to Mrs.) and their paper work reflects them as pacsé.

To dissolve the union, the couple has to write a letter to their court. “If they want to break up, however, they don’t need expensive lawyers or lengthy divorce proceedings. All they have to do is state their desire to call things off in an official letter to their locally competent legal court.”

While the union was originally created to legally acknowledge same-sex couples, heterosexual couples wanted in. Apparently, in an effort to grant rights to the homosexual community, France was ironically fulfilling a need in the heterosexual one: to be acknowledged as a couple and granted financial privileges without the hefty legal costs of divorce. According to bonjourparis.com, in 2009, ten years after the Pacs was established, a majority of the couples entering it were heterosexual. “94 percent of the newly Pacséd couples were of different sexes just as they would be in a classical marriage.”

When the Pacs dissolves it doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is terminated, in some cases the couple decides to marry. (The statistic for those couples vary because it only applied to heterosexuals.) “Sociologists studying the institution interpret this as a strong sign that, in today’s modern society, a young French couple wants to use the PACS not to avoid a long-term commitment but to give it a trial period to be sure it will last, particularly if the long-term goal is to have children and found a family.”

What I find to be the most interesting out of all of this is, when the civil union was originally put into place it was for the benefit of same-sex couples, yet it has become a vehicle for opposite-sex couples–even though it grants them only a portion of the rights that marriage does. So, even given the opportunity to have “marital rights”, heterosexual couples were still choosing to have a limited version.

In 2010 there were 196,000 heterosexual couples who chose to enter a Pacs to 252,000 couples who chose to marry.  Why? Is it to lessen the severity of divorce? Is it to avoid commitment? to play house? If it’s as trivial as the last two then would there be such a high outcome? Perhaps it has become a marriage lite: a way of side-stepping the marital pressures of society, while still maintaining a committed relationship.

As of Tuesday, April 23, France legalized gay marriage. I’m curious to learn, now that gay marriage is legal, what will become of the Pacs? Will France do away with it or will it now be a buffer for both heterosexual and homosexual marriages?

Our society is evolving, with gay marriage on the rise, civil unions will become a thing of the past. Will this one-time anomaly of the pacte civil de solidarité ever be repeated? Even if couples are somehow benefiting from it? How or why they are benefiting we may not know right now, but, its popularity among straight couples could shed light on a better future for marriage.

You Are Cordially Invited

In Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert shared how important having a wedding ceremony was to both her friends and family—particularly to Mimi, her niece. Mimi had a difficult time being told that she now had a new uncle without experiencing it for herself. She needed to witness this new “uncle’s” right of passage from a friend of her Aunt Elizabeth’s to an actual family member.

While weddings will always be significant to the couple they’re often even more operative for the community. The ceremony is what allows the community to process and accept the other person as the newest member of the family.

We’ve all felt it at some point or another, when we go to a wedding and we suddenly feel connected to this greater good that is happening before us. You find yourself not just happy for the bride and groom, but really rooting for them. When before, you barely even knew the soon-to-be spouse; now, you’ve chatted it up with grandma, cried during his dad’s toast and made out with the best man. Somewhere between the sober applause at the church and the slurring of “bye, bye Miss American Pie” while swaying arm in arm with every friend and family member at the wedding; you gave them your blessing.

Historically, the relationship between marriage and community has been equally beneficial. In Committed, Gilbert writes about a conversation she had with a woman named Ting. Ting was from Luang Probang, a city in Laos. She said marriages in her village last forever and divorce was very rare. Gilbert asked what happens then when a couple is struggling. Ting explained that the community pulls together to help the marriage. “Neighbors will toss out ideas and solutions, or even offer relief—such as taking in young children for a week or two while the couple works out their troubles without distractions.”

Perhaps I don’t need my family sitting around throwing out possible solutions to my relationship problems. I can only imagine how well that would go. However, if ever there were a time when it was okay to admit when you were having trouble in your marriage, today would be the antithesis. Most of the time when you hear a marriage is on the rocks, it’s because the couple is getting a divorce. Why do we let our family and friends witness our love on our wedding day, if we hide from them our pain?

Somewhere along the way, community lost its purpose. I think there seems to be a social stigma where talking about our relationship problems has been labled as “airing your dirty laundry”. Are we airing our dirty laundry when we seek emotional support from the closest people in our life? Isn’t that why we choose the friends we have to be a part of our inner circle, or why we have a wedding party?

Today, however, it seems we are less inclined to include our friends and family in our marriage, as we are to include them in our wedding. We continue to have weddings where we invite our loved ones to partake in this traditional ritual, all the while keeping them at bay when the real journey begins; forgetting the tradition of our community, the support of our family and the love of our friends. Even after all the rooting, the dancing and the tears. Even after we get their blessing.

It seems we have created a “reality” within our communities where only happiness is allowed to exist and struggle has been replaced with shame. How can marriage survive today if we only see each other’s marriages as bliss?

Buddha says, “life, by its nature, is difficult, flawed, and imperfect.” Perhaps we would have a lower divorce rate if it were okay to say, “we’re in a tough spot right now” without feeling like we have exposed our marriage to be judged by our friends or even worse that we might look less than perfect.

…and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is…And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing.
Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community

Resolutions Resolved

someecards

New Year’s Resolutions:

At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults made them. At the start of the 21st century, it grew to about 40%. Today, about 45% of us still do.

How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them. ~ Benjamin Franklin

According to Statistic Brain, only 8% of us actually succeed in following through with the resolutions we make. While a whopping 75% start out strong the first week, the will eventually tapers and we are left with our usual smoke inhaling, beer guzzling, procrastinating selves. Apparently, we have the courage to own our faults Mr. Franklin, we just can’t seem to fix them.

The most common reason found for our inability to keep a resolution is the lifestyle change it requires. In his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg explains that our brain clings to old routines helping us conserve our decision making neurons for work and problem solving. By the time a habit has been practiced enough, both the habit and reward become automatic. These routines require no willpower, they exist out of the sheer lack of effort it takes for our brains to perform them, such as brushing our teeth. The trick is to replace the bad habit with a better one. If we continue to reinforce the reward, we have a chance at accomplishing the goal– still maintaining a routine, just with different habits.

When I was young my New Year’s Resolutions used to be things like: wake up at 6:30 every morning and jog 3 miles. In most cases, resolutions are at least acted upon for a period of time. The ‘get back in shapers’ join a gym, the ‘smokers’ purchase nicotine gum. I don’t recall even setting my alarm for that following morning, nor do I remember ever running three miles up until then. I think I was thirteen, and they didn’t get any better as I got older: learn a new language, play an instrument, take up tap dancing…

With a history of creating resolutions that only self-disciplined, professionals can attain, I decided to apply my new knowledge of goal setting to the new year. I also narrowed my list down to things I can do for myself and things I can do for my relationship. Being that this blog is not called, ‘Kari Laskowski and her self discovery to her inner beauty’, which I think would allude to more ‘self pleasure’ spam and less followers, I will save you the read a book once a month or wake up thankful everyday jargon and cut right to the important stuff.

My Relationship Resolutions for 2013:

1. Call my grandma once a week.

I’m hoping to accomplish this by calling on Sundays. I will substitute the habit of lying on my couch with my computer for the habit of lying on my couch with my phone. Also, I will remind myself that she is getting older and my reward will be how proud I will feel that our relationship has strengthened when the time comes that she will no longer be with us. Of course, the reward will also be the relationship itself.

2. Have more sex.

I plan to accomplish this by:

  • Buying a sex book: whenever I go to a white elephant and there is a sex book, it’s always a hit. Just recently I went to a Christmas Party and we were supposed to bring an inexpensive or “naughty” gift.  A book about cunnilingus got all of the attention. It stole the comedy, not only with the couples at the party, but also among strangers at the bar afterwards. I realized it’s okay as long as everyone knows it’s funny or that it’s just a gift, however, we would be too embarrassed to purchase something like that for ourselves.
  • Renting a porn: I did all this research for my blog, There Ain’t No Shame or Blame in That Game, but I haven’t yet followed the advice of trying one out. The point of the blog is that the porn industry has catered to women more now than it ever has and that studies have shown sexual images can enhance women’s sex lives.
  • Seeing a sex therapist: I recently made friends with a sex therapist at a party. She had so much incite on couples and their sex lives. Her clients are mostly couples 50 years and older. However, there are therapists for newlyweds and for couples of all ages who help you learn how to avoid getting into a rut and how to continue on a good path. Sex: never, sometimes, often.

The rewards will be obvious, but in case anyone needs the statistics: a couple that plays together, stays together.

3. Fight better.

I have the same reactions to the same things that make me tick. These nuances are always going to bother me, but if I change my reaction I might see a change in the result as well. And if not, what do I have to lose? Most of the time our anger is only feeding the negative energy that spawned it in the first place. I met a woman once who told me when she and her husband call each other names, they have a rule that they always have to say the word “sexy” in front of it. “You are being a real sexy prick right now!” If I  take up name calling I’ll only do it because of this rule.

4.Compliment my partner more.

With our culture’s emphasis on beauty, compliments in terms of appearance often fall more on women. Maybe it’s because we spend more time thinking about what we are going to wear and getting ready. However, I’ve noticed when I tell Mike he looks good in something, it’s always well received. And if you think about it, men are secretly thinking about what to wear too, they’re just better at making decisions about it. Why should us women get all the credit, when men are able to look good and do it in half the time? In her book, Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, Sheryl P. Kurland teaches us that complimenting our partner is a good way to make a conscious effort to build the relationship up, instead of our normal tendencies of breaking it down.

So there you have them. They each require my attention, but not too much. A lifestyle change? Not a big one, just a tweak here and there.

With all the stats on resolutions there still is one yet to be mentioned: People who make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t make resolutions.

Now, don’t be a sexy stick in the mud. Get out there and give it a try.

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Elvis Rocks Around the Clock: 12/12/12

elvis rocks around the clock

Today, people from all over the world; England, Australia, Sweden, Canada, Brazil even Luxemburg and the Netherlands are flocking to Las Vegas to be able to say, they got married  on 12/12/12. According to an article from the New York Times, 80 of the town’s chapels are preparing for an expected high volume of weddings. The Marriage License Bureau is going from five to nine windows and has staff working overtime. Chapels and venues have so far booked up to 15 times the usual amount for a Wednesday.

Thus far, the record breaking triple digit wedding day has been 07/07/07. For the four days leading up to it, Vegas issued 4,333 licenses, followed by 10/10/10, with 3,090 and 11/11/11, with 3,342. For an average month the total is around 7,500.

The next triple date to occur is in 89 years: 01/01/2101.

Normally, my advice to people when they head to vegas is, “play the odds.” However, this seems irrelevant, so instead I’ll go with an oldie but goodie,        “may the force be with you.”

 

A Love Story

This is an interview posted on Huffington Post.com about a couple who met and married 20 years ago, The Marriage that Will Make you Believe in Love. Hilda Chacón, 49, and her husband, Pedro Morán-Palma, 48, sat down with StoryCorps in 2010 to discuss how they met.

Hilda Chacón: So tell me, Calvito, what did you think when you first met me almost 20 years ago?

Pedro Morán-Palma: I saw there was a beautiful lady sitting in this party. At first I thought that you were with somebody. Then I saw that it was my roommate who was bothering you, and I tried to rescue you.

Hilda: I was wearing a short skirt, and he insisted that I go up the stairs so he would see me from behind, and I got so mad that I was ready to beat him up. But you came to my rescue and pulled him away. I remember you apologized for him being so rude and drunk, and I just started saying, Ugh! Men! And you said, “Not all men are like that.” “Yes, they are!”

We sat there at the top of the stairs, and we started talking like no one else was there. I told you I was visiting from Costa Rica, that I was divorced, that I had a kid that I really loved. And then I started talking about men, saying, “I don’t know why people get married, you know? You marry a guy and you have to put up with so much crap!” How come I didn’t scare you?

Pedro: You were fascinating. I was mesmerized, I think is the right word. You were the most intelligent, creative woman I’d ever seen in my life.

Hilda: It’s funny, because when I met you I was totally sure that love did not exist. But there you were, with this exquisite sensibility and sensitivity. You came over with this calm attitude, very gentle, very sweet, and I felt like you could sense what I had gone through. Still, I thought to myself, this man is bald! I had always said I could never, never be with a bald guy. And there you were, becoming the most handsome man on earth. You have a little less hair than then, but I still think you’re the most handsome man alive.

Pedro: It’s hard for people to believe that we only dated for 10 days.

Hilda: We cried profusely at the Phoenix airport when we said good-bye. I just thought, This man is great, but he’s here. My life is in Costa Rica: My baby [Nadia] is there, my friends are there, my family is there, my life is there. So it’s too bad.

A week later you called, and you said that you had gotten a ticket to Costa Rica, and that you were coming.

Pedro: My friends were saying that I was crazy. At some point I thought, Maybe this is too much. But suddenly I said to myself, This is my opportunity. Because it’s something that my whole body was telling me: You’ve got to do this! This is the most wonderful thing that’s going to happen in your life — you cannot let this go! So that’s when I decided to visit you in Costa Rica.

I always remember your eyes when you were waiting for me in the airport. The sun was shining in your eyes, and Nadia was hiding behind you. She was trying to see who the guy was.

Hilda: We went to Bahia Gigante, and the three of us sat there looking at the sea and the sunshine. You started telling me these weird things, like how grad students didn’t earn much in the U.S., but they could live well. And you told me about the school system. “Hmm, that’s good.” I didn’t know where this conversation was heading.

All of a sudden you said, “Well, I don’t make much money, but if you want, we could get married, and I think the three of us could live with some dignity until I finish school.” And I just thought to myself, This man is either totally crazy or has the biggest cojones on earth, because after all that I said about marriage, here he is asking me to marry him? I was shocked, and honestly, I had never thought about marrying again. But I just thought, If I let him go I will never forgive myself, because I’ve never felt this connection with anyone before in my life. And I said, “Yes.”

I remember everybody being terrified, because I was marrying a guy that I had met 10 days before and taking my daughter out of the country. I pretty much left everything behind to follow you.

I remember that the second day in Costa Rica, you and Nadia sat to watch a TV show. She started asking you all these questions, and little by little she started leaning on you. Then, I remember, she sat on your lap, and she put her hand over your shoulder. And I thought to myself, This is one of the nicest images I’ll ever save in my mind. The two of you were laughing about that TV show, so happy. And that’s how I picture the two of you today. You have this laughing relationship, so close and funny. Even if you stop loving me tomorrow, I could never pay you back for all the love and affection you have given my baby.

Pedro: When I met Nadia, I said, I’m going to present myself as I am and see if she likes me. And fortunately, things turned out well. I’m a really proud stepfather.

Hilda: People say, Everyday things kill love. I probably used to say that 25 years ago, before I met you. But the things that we do on a daily basis, simple things like going to get the fruit at the market or paying the bills, or just cleaning the house, they aren’t chores or responsibilities but fun things when we do them together.

I told you when I met you that I don’t like husbands. Boyfriends invite you to the movies or to dance and bring you flowers, but husbands just take you for granted, right?

Pedro: So says tradition.

Hilda: But you’re not a traditional husband. I have this strange sensation with you — part of me feels like we met yesterday, but there’s another part of me that feels like I’ve been with you forever.

Pedro: And it feels good to feel young with you, and at the same time to grow old with you. And it’s all those things together at the same moment.

Hilda: Love you, Papito.

Pedro: Yo también.

 

The Single Files

Singled Out

It seems like everywhere you look, people are getting married. Media is inundating us with rom-coms, commercials and television shows: Say Yes to the Dress (should that dress really be white?), Four Weddings (you don’t need to invite three strangers to judge your wedding, the mothers and other wives are already doing it), or good ‘ol  Bridezilla (your makeup is running).

In case you choose not to watch the shows on t.v, there’s always social media where we can see couples who post everything from the day they got engaged to the hairstyle the soon-to-be bride wants. (The Sock Bun Curls are a smash this year.) With Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook, you don’t even need to be invited to be able to see the wedding pics. And those who aren’t in relationships, whether they choose it or not, watch it all unfold from the front row.

Our culture puts so much emphasis on “coupledom” it overshadows those who are single, as though they just haven’t found their happiness yet. And the sad part is that some people will never get to know how liberating being single really is. It’s the only time they’ll get to experience the world however they wish; without compromise. I have friends who have never gone longer than a few months being alone.They are the most perplexed about my choosing not to be married. I do not judge them, nor do they judge me, we just have different views–or perhaps, different fears.

I learned to appreciate my independence when I was in college. I didn’t want to be single, but I didn’t have a choice. I was forced to be my own companion. (And I’m not talking about Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself either, get your mind out of the gutter.) I was lonely and I hated it. However, after a while, I learned to become comfortable with my own thoughts and I faced my fears of being alone.

The reason my relationship with Mike has lasted as long as it has is because we both enjoy our independence and we both allow each other to have it. If I had never been single during those years that I had, I would never have realized that I’m okay on my own which adds a little security and removes a certain dependence in my relationship.

“We don’t need stories of how to become couples. They are legion. We need stories about how to be single. We need them whether we are gay or straight. We need them whether we are single by choice, through separation, divorce, or bereavement or because this, for you, is how life has turned out.”- Jim Friel, Is It Really a Sin to be Single?

If you are single, you’ve got company…

All the single ladies.

According to the United States Census Bureau:

In year 2011, there were 102 Million unmarried people in the United States. ‘Unmarried people’ include those who were never married, widowed or divorced.

  • This group comprised 44.1% of all U.S residents 18 years or older.
  • 53% were women, 47% were men.
  • For every 100 unmarried women, there were 89 unmarried men.
  • 62% had never been married, 24% were divorced and 14% were widowed.
  • 55 Million households were maintained by unmarried men and women, 46% of households nation wide.
  • 33 Million people lived alone in 2011, 28% of all households. Up 17% from 1970.

…and my favorite fact:

Single- Origin Middle English : via Old French from Latin singulus, related to simplussimple.’

Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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