The Inevitable Mistake.

They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake.  ~Alexander Pope, The Wife of Bath, 1713

War of the Roses

Boston Family Therapist, Terrence Real, says “There comes a moment in all relationships when you lie in bed, roll over, look at the person next to you think it’s all a dreadful mistake.” He claims this can happen anywhere from a few months to a few years in. Real says when the initial attraction we once had for our partners has fizzled, it is actually the first day of our marriage. “It’s not a sign that you’ve chosen the wrong partner. It is the signal to grow as an individual.”

I met Mike when I was living in Breckenridge, Colorado. I was only twenty-four-years-old. Every time I return to Breckenridge, I get this feeling of excitement and vulnerability. My mind instantly takes me back and I’m taken over with emotions–a roller coaster of butterflies, angst and fear. It’s as though I were watching a movie that I loved, and hadn’t seen in a while.

The strangest thing is, while I’m still with Mike, I’ll never get to experience him in that way again. It’s all part of the beginning of a relationship: the high, the lust, the sex, the feeling of being the most important and the most insecure person at the same time.

When we meet someone we really like, the intense infatuation is sparked by our brain releasing the chemicals adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. According to WebMD, The brain can release these love-related chemicals and hormones within one-fifth of a second of first sight.

Adrenaline is why my heart would pound so fast when I’d see it was Mike’s number calling. Or, why all of a sudden I felt like I could go for a six mile run just from making plans to meet up. Adrenaline is the worst if you ask me, it’s clearly obvious when my heart is pounding: my voice cracks, I start to pit out, and I have this lost, scared look on my face.

Dopamine is the reason why I was able to fill Mike in on every detail of my life ’til the sun came up then, without any sleep whatsoever, skip off to work with a permanent smile.  Sleeping next to each other these days, doesn’t have the same effect as it used to. (Now, we actually sleep. And the creepy smile has been replaced with a normal, more subtle one.) The reaction to dopamine on our brain is similar to a reaction to cocaine. I was literally high on love.

And finally, the decreased levels of serotonin explains why I couldn’t get him out of my mind. My brain was fixated and I had no control in the matter. An interesting fact: these levels actually match the same amount of levels in those diagnosed with OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

According to Christine Meinecke, a clinical psychologist, it’s the building up of the other person that has an overwhelming effect. “It makes partners overestimate their similarities and idealize each other.” Eventually, the facade wears off and we are left with unexpected incompatibilities. This is when we wonder if we’ve chosen the wrong person. Before, we were so focused on what was “perfect” between us, and now we are focused on what isn’t.

The good news is this stage fades too. It takes work, but self-reflection and inner happiness are just a few ways to get through it faster.

While we’ve definitely had our shining moments. I haven’t had the full fledged “I think I chose the wrong person” experience yet, however, I’m not going to rule it out. I imagine it’s more likely to come when we have kids. (That’s when we will want to kill each other, exhausted and up to our ears in shit.)

If you want to read more: Psychology Today’s article, Are You With the Right Mate, by Rebecca Webber.

And Oops My Bosoms Come Flying Out

Women show more cleavage in a recession than during times of plenty. Researchers found when resources are scarce, overall competition between individuals increases and women tend to show off their ‘ladies’ more than they usually would. —Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, Florence Williams.

A Little Off the Top

(Continued…) an article from knot.com, 7 Relationship Mistakes Even the Smartest Couples Make, provides us with the seven most common blunders we make once we are married or become settled in our relationships.

Mistake #4: Letting Yourself Go

A study finds that women are more apt to pile on excess pounds after marriage, while men add the weight after a divorce.                  —USATODAY.com

The fluctuating weight of women is an ongoing lifelong battle that will always be a part of our lives. It’s a fact that the body fat percentage in women is always higher than in men. It’s part of evolution. We have hips, we have bellies, we have boobs–not all in that order. All most likely to carry a larger percent of fat so we can provide a nice comfortable home for our babies. Sometimes the home is a studio apartment, sometimes it’s a mansion.

An article from Cosmopolitan, How to Keep Off Post-Wedding Pudge, found that it’s common for women to gain weight in the first five years of marriage. One study claims new wives gain an average of 21 pounds in the first year. (Awesome! It’s freshman year of college all over again.)

I did some research to find the most common reasons for weight gain among newlyweds.

1. How the bride goes about losing weight before her wedding, may in fact, be the reason for more weight gain after.

With all of the diet options, brides are often choosing the quickest ways to lose the pounds. The result to the unhealthy quick fix is an inevitable weight gain. Nutritionist, Natalie Rosenstock, suggests hitting the gym as a way to lose the weight before the wedding, making exercise a habit and keeping the weight off longer.

2. Newlyweds tend to spend more time with their partners after marriage than before when they were busy planning their weddings, getting in shape and working.

Psychologist, Michelle Gannon, says, “Balancing ‘we’ time with ‘me’ time is a challenge for most newlyweds, especially women, who tend to prioritize their relationships over themselves. They are often likely to sacrifice exercise for hanging out with their spouse.”

3. Women try to keep up with their spouse’s eating habits.

It is a known thing, men just eat a lot, often without it showing up on their hips first thing the next morning. An article from fitnessmagazine.com, Happily Ever Fatter, How to Avoid Post Wedding Gain, says, “The average active man needs up to 3,000 calories a day, compared with an active woman’s 2,200, and his metabolism is 10 to 15 percent faster, which means he can put away bigger portions and not gain an ounce.”

So, what can we do about it? First, we can start by watching our portions. One article suggests dishing yourself first and ordering before your spouse in a restaurant. (That way you don’t hear that he’s getting the Mucho Nachos to go along with his rack of ribs and mash potatoes and think, Hmm, I was going to get a salad, but that sounds good, “We’ll have two.”)  And secondly, make time to go for a walk or morning run, hit the gym or get a personal trainer. The knot.com even suggests getting fit together.

However, if you are like me, who trains for a triathlon while your boyfriend does nothing, and then one day decides to “join you for a run,” only to kick your ass so badly you feel like punching him in the face when you finally finish, then “getting fit together” might not be your answer.

This is how I pictured our run together was going to be. (Except we were on a sidewalk, and we had clothes on.) But, that’s the only difference.

Bringing Sexy Back

(Continued…) an article from knot.com, 7 Relationship Mistakes Even the Smartest Couples Make, provides us with the seven most common blunders we make once we are married or become settled in our relationships.

Mistake # 3: Not Having Enough Sex

The knot.com says 60% of newlyweds surveyed were already in a sex rut. However, the more research I did the more I found it to be practically inevitable and it’s not as bad as you think it is.  According to sexual health expert, Dr. Laura Berman, newlyweds may feel that their sex lives have slowed down, but they are still having more sex than single people and the sex is more varied. (Something to keep in mind when you start daydreaming of greener pastures. Were you really having that much sex when you were single?  Was it really that great? Really?)

The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University compiled statistics from 5,865 people. “An average of 61 percent of singles claimed they hadn’t had sex within the past year, compared with 18 percent of married people.”

So, not all is lost. This could be a good opportunity to challenge yourself…think outside the box. (Still considering the ‘box’ of course.) Two things we are not supposed to do: think that we are the only ones going through it and compare ourselves to other couples.

I remember when my friend, Cara, was just starting a relationship. She and her boyfriend couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. I told her to enjoy it because it’s almost impossible to keep things going at that rate. She didn’t believe me, “I think it’s just how we are.” All I could do was smile and quietly nod as though I knew something she didn’t — like she was my little girl and she was going to have to go through puberty, but she didn’t think it would happen to her. It’s just a natural progression. Now, Cara and I joke about our sex lives and reminisce about “the way we were” — the days we put romance novels to shame.

Of everything I’ve read, talking about it seems to be the most common thread of advice.

There are ways to overcome these problems, but they take a level of honesty that some people might find embarrassing.  However, it is much better to be open than to lose your happiness.newlywedforums.com

Communication is the key to bedroom bliss throughout your marriage.- Dr. Ruth

Sometimes I like to be completely candid and bring it up as though I were talking about the weather during say, breakfast, or a phone call where it would otherwise have no place.

“Hey babe. So, we don’t need any onions right?

Because we still have…the one… yeah, okay.

Well, I’m on my way. Also, did you maybe want to be naked when I got there?

Okay, sounds good. See you in a bit.”

Or maybe just in passing:

“What were you thinking about eating for dinner tonight…

I was thinking maybe (enter name you give your privates)”

I’ll spare you my blunt and awkward reply. I don’t know all of you well enough yet, and I want you to still like me.

The next most common advice I’ve read to bettering your sex life is to prioritize it. Schedule it. Write reminders on sticky notes. Put it on your Google calendars. Just make it happen.

Sex is something you have to make time for and the sooner you get in the habit of it, the more you’ll start wanting it.-The knot.com

My favorite, however, is from Dr. Laura Burman who suggests kissing for at least 10 seconds everyday. Sounds cheesy, I know, but I promise it works.

Mistake #2- Not Enough Bloodies and Mimosas.

(Continued…) an article from knot.com, 7 Relationship Mistakes Even the Smartest Couples Make, provides us with the seven most common blunders we make once we are married or become settled in our relationships.

Mistake #2: Alienating Your Friends: 

We all know which of us or our friends are guilty of this. Growing up, my mom always drilled in me how important my girlfriends were. So, I was always trying to avoid this mistake. It takes work and it’s not always what you want to be doing. Especially, when you are in the beginning of a new relationship. Now, there is a certain amount of leeway for the “honeymoon phase” but then, yous best be gettin’ your butt back in gear!

In her book, MWF Seeking BFF, Rachel Bertsche says, “Friends can have effects on depression, self-efficacy, self-esteem coping and morale, or a sense of personal control.” I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a “sense of personal control” but the rest of this sounds good.

When you meet a guy, everybody gets it, you are in love–sometimes in the most annoying way. You should start sending thank you notes to your friends after you read this for even putting up with your sappy-ass self during this time anyway.

Dear (enter name)

Thanks for listening to me and putting up with my stories about how amazing _____ is and the funniest thing he said, and the cutest text he sent and the way he looked at me that one time, and then those times I said them again to just reiterate my point of how great he is. And sorry, for all those times I was supposed to be listening when I was really still just listening to myself…in my head, as the picture of him and I ripping each others clothes off was running on a loop over and over again like the Menu Page of a DVD. So weird that while your sex life has been in a lull lately, mine has suddenly become so amazing that I can’t stop talking about it! Don’t worry, you’ll be fine! Love you, me.

P.S. Thanks for making my immune system stronger and my blood pressure lower. You basically contribute to saving my life on a daily basis.

“The power of girlfriends is beginning to yield its secrets to science. For women, friendship not only rules, it protects. It buffers the hardships of life’s transitions, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity and promotes healing. It might help explain why women, on average, have lower rates of heart disease and longer life expectancies than men.”- Science Confirms that Women Reap Health Benefits from Friendships.

What’s just as important as our health? Our personalities. According to Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Break-Up with Your Best Friend. Our girlfriends shape us as people. “Our female friends provide virtual mirrors that allow us to see who we are and whom we want to become.”

The sooner we catch on the the importance of other strong, supportive women in our lives, the better our relationships with ourselves and our men or partners will be. So start making those plans for Sunday Brunch and get back on the Bloody Mary and Bottomless Mimosas’ bandwagon.

 

Before You Spin Avoid These Seven Mistakes.

GETTING MARRIED: When you reach this space, stop- even if you have moves left. Take a LIFE Tile and add 1 people peg to your car. Then spin and move again.

Before you spin, an article from knot.com, 7 Relationship Mistakes Even the Smartest Couples Make, provides us with the seven most common blunders we make once we are married or become settled in our relationships.

Mistake #1: Not Dealing With Debt

According to knot.com, money is the #1 thing most couples fight about. This makes perfect sense. Everybody handles their money differently. When I was getting marriage advice for my sister’s wedding, my much older, happily married cousins told me, “Talk about money. Talk about it while you have it so you don’t fight about it when you don’t.”

My friend, Sara, confesses she had a hard time with this when she first got married. The fact that she couldn’t go on shopping sprees and spend money however she wanted, took some getting used to. After getting married, she learned she had greater responsibilities with her money. “When you get married, you realize it’s not just about you anymore.” She and her husband began following a budget in order to build savings for things like their future kids, a bigger house or a business her husband hopes to one day start.

MONEY: Choose one player to be the banker. This player is in charge of all money paid to and from the bank. The banker separates the money into piles by denomination, then gives each player $10,000.

The knot.com has a budgeter where you put in both of your income and then expenses. They create both a monthly budget and an annual budget for you to follow.

An article from about.com, Marriage and Money-Planning Your Financial Life Together, says the first financial decision to make is whether you are going to keep separate or combined bank accounts, or have both separate and combined accounts. Author, Jeremy Vohwinkle, suggests having a joint account for family expenses and personal accounts for individual expenses. This way you are able to keep track of both types of spending. Also, I think it maintains a sense of autonomy in the marriage. As well, Vohwinkle suggests following a budget: How To Create a Budget.

INSURANCE POLICIES & BANK LOANS:  Separate the Automobile Insurance Policies, Homeowner’s Insurance Policies and Bank Loans. Place each pile near the game board.

The article further discusses a retirement plan and planning for the unexpected, which includes a life insurance policy. I know it seems strange to put money away every month for basically someone else to enjoy when you die, but there are plans that allow you to pull from these accounts. I have one myself. It’s good to know I’m covered when I die and nobody will need to front the very expensive bill of my funeral (being that it will be a huge party with people coming from all over the world: Oprah, Ryan Gosling, Hillary and Bill- yes, the Clintons, William and Kate, Kristin Wiig and the cast of SNL, along with all of the alumni. Eddie Vedder and Mick Jagger will probably want to sing…so, it’s gonna be pricey).

Gosling, crying the graceful cry.

(Mistakes 2-7 to follow)

Another Rush…

Chi Omega Sorority Class of 1908.  Sororities have evolved since then.

Together, Mike and I have been to fifteen weddings.  Now that Mike is 35-years-old, his single friends are dwindling. Everyone suspected he would be the first to get married. Among several circles of friends, we would be the last.

With each wedding comes more and more people asking when it is going to be our turn. Trying to match their excitement, my response is, “we’ll see” with a forced smile and a shoulder shrug. It’s inevitably awkward.  If I try and explain that I’m not sure I’m ready or that I just don’t know if the institution is for me, it’s not received well. Especially, in a wedding ceremony setting. I don’t want to sound negative, but it seems it’s the easiest category for married people to put me in.

Being at a wedding with the majority of the people married, feels like an upper class recruiting event. Maybe it’s the country club feel of the ceremony, but it seems as though it’s just a ploy to get the next couple to join.

It reminds me of when I was a freshman in college and all the girls were deciding whether or not to join a sorority. One of them approached me in the most friendly manner asking what I thought about rushing. I mistakenly responded honestly because I thought she sincerely wanted to know. As I confided in my new friend, her face began to change. I wanted to retract, but it was too late, I said the wrong answer.

It went something like this…

“So, how do you feel about rushing a sorority? Have you given it any thought yet? I really like your shirt!” Says girl who seems like she wants to be my friend. “Well, kind of. I mean, I don’t have any friends. But there are all these rules to follow and I just moved out of my parents to finally not have any rules. And I don’t want to exclude anyone because they aren’t in my sorority. Ya know? I don’t want to be categorized.” Potential friend is starring at me with a confused look. “Oh, okay.” Potential friend drops any interest in me and walks away. (I continue to wear same shirt every day to attract new “potential friend”. I’m wearing it now.)

It seems to be a similar situation when people ask me, “Are you two next?” It’s a simple question. They have good intentions, perhaps just to have a conversation, but I’ve realized not joining in on the romance or the ideology of marriage seems to make people uncomfortable. So, instead, I have to pretend I’m just as excited about it as they are in order not to offend them by once again, giving the wrong answer. Because, the thing is, it’s not just a question with a “yes” or “no” response, it’s a loaded question that has a whole belief system, a way of life, behind it and by not choosing that same way is not choosing them. When really it has nothing to do with them, I actually think they’re lovely. I was just answering the question.

Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution. ~Mae West

Public Affairs

In an article, from Marie Claire’s September issue, An Affair to Forget:Can I forgive my husband for his infidelity?, author Catherine Barnes writes about her husband’s affair after an 18 year marriage. Barnes’ husband, Paul, decided he wanted to quit his job to work for the Foreign Service. The family was relocated to Bangkok where Paul was able to pursue his career. Before her move, Barnes read several warnings about marital affairs in Thailand. Apparently, it was common for Western men, including married ones, to be heavily pursued. The couple and their two kids had been living there for two years before Barnes discovered her husband was having an affair with a Thai woman.
Barnes said she felt ashamed she had not created a better security net for herself, “Like so many other educated women who should know better; I never kept my own bank account or ensured our investments were in both our names.”

After the affair, Barnes sought help through counseling but the incident between the Thai woman and the Western husband was such a common one in Thailand, the counselor couldn’t provide much help. In the end, Barnes chose to stay with her husband and give her marriage another shot.

In Psychology Today, an article titled, From Promise to Promiscuity, says “70 percent of couples choose to rebuild the relationship after infidelity.”

I admire Barnes for writing her article. It can’t be easy to not only admit that your husband is having an affair, but also that you are willing to stay and work things out. I’m sure she’s going to receive much criticism from friends and family for making this choice. Evidently, other spouses are making this same decision–she just seems to be the only one talking about it.

I’m curious as to why Barnes felt “ashamed” for believing in her marriage enough to not have had a safety net? Perhaps, if we all had our own safety nets, no one would really allow themselves to be one hundred percent available. It kind of seems like an “I love you…but just in case…” Or, maybe it’s the opposite, that the “safety net” (though, never really guarding us from the inevitable heartache of divorce) would allow us to dive right in. After all, it’s the times when we are most prepared that we end up not needing to be.

A few tips for the Happy Couple

What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

~George Levinger

In Psychology Today’s July/August issue, an article called, Advance Warning, discusses why sometimes even couples who seem happy often still end up getting a divorce. Author, Mary Diduch, says UCLA researchers tracked couples for 10 years and found certain patterns that lead to divorce were present from the beginning. Negative characteristics such as: aggression, anger and contempt can sometimes outweigh the the positives: commitment, lack of stress or strengths in personality.

Diduch notes that in the beginning of a marriage, the good times are still outweighing the bad, until eventually, communication breaks down. Three main reason for this: aggression, repression and denial.

Aggression in seemly healthy couples may just boil down to the lack of controlling our tempers. (The article points to husbands, but I know many woman who can have tempers, so let’s be real and throw us gals into the aggression mix.)

Repression, which does probably have women in the front lines, is the conflict-avoidance game we all play. In fact, I think if repression were an Olympic Sport, women would be kicking some serious ass in it. I personally, could have earned many gold medals. I would have been the Michael Phelps of Conflict-Avoidance.

I can hear the announcer now, “And now we have Kari Laskowski waking up to a house full of empty beer bottles, the Wii playing in the background and her boyfriend asleep on the couch. Did you see the look on her face? It’s pure ambivalence. What amazing strength she has. How is she going to handle it Bob?” Bob replies, “Well, we’ve seen it before, Sunday morning, her boyfriend and his friends up drinking having a good time and Kari waking from a sleepless night after several requests to “be quiet” or “turn in down” knowing she had to work in the morning. Oh, hang on, it looks like she’s making a move…it looks like she’s leaving…and she just slammed the door! Pretty good slam, but I think she will still remain a front runner. She has several hours of the “silent treatment” still coming. We’ve all seen how good she is at that. I think it will be enough to medal again this year!”

The last behavior is Denial. Here couples try to maintain a healthy looking relationship despite the reality that his avid t.v watching is driving her crazy or her nagging him is never ending. Instead of approaching the problem couples choose to admit that it’s not a problem worth addressing after all. Eventually, as minor as it may be the issue will chip away at the the relationship.

So basically, as happy as we may seem, if we don’t address the “minor” issues they can turn into “major” ones over night. If we learn to be aware of our aggression then approaching conflicts won’t be as draining. And we all know it’s repression that makes the conflict bigger than it needs to be.

I’ve found over the years, if you explain why “this” is annoying it’s more appreciated than the full on screaming monster than comes out when the filter is in overdrive (or when one of you is drunk).

Just a side note: when you decide to take on this tactic of “approaching the issue” just know it’s more than likely going to be reciprocated. So, bring neutral energy and be ready to accept responsibility for your part. And whatever you do: Don’t take it personally! As ugly as it can be, it comes from love and it can’t be as ugly as divorce.

Sometimes It Aint About You…

An article from huffingtonpost.com, What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Friends Spouse-To-Be, encourages you to first and foremost ask yourself why you don’t like him or her? Does it have to do with you or with your friend, or with the spouse? There are so many underlying reasons why we don’t like our friend’s partners that really have nothing to do with him. Women have such intimate friendships with each other, it’s easy to blame the boyfriend for taking her away. It takes a great amount of selflessness to not be jealous when our best friends, whose time was devoted to us, is now shared with someone else. Sometimes “shared” isn’t even the word. It’s more like “taken” by someone else.

I was living with one of my closest friends when I met Mike. It was really important for me that the two get along. Unfortunately, this was not the case, not at first. It actually took some time.  My friend admits it was tough for her to give her “bestie” up. You kind of have to mourn your old friendship. Luckily, they are now friends, and even enjoy each others time without me. (Enter sarcastic joke about how “you bet they do”.)

As far as what to do when you don’t like your friends’ spouse. Your friend more often than not, already knows it. Perhaps, she is refusing to admit it to herself because it’s a lot of weight to hold. My cousin was married for a year before she ended up getting a divorce. She says she wished someone would have said something to her before she decided to marry her ex-husband. This however, is a very slippery slope and may lead to you two no longer being friends. It’s like they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty. And it may have been her journey she needed to take.

It has been my experience to keep your mouth shut. Most of the time, when we first meet our friends’ significant others we are doing the “dirty” work they didn’t do yet. We are scrutinizing their every move and every word.

We are examining them from afar, when they get up to go to the bathroom, how they walk, how they smile, how they order. The poor guys are already in the dog house and it’s up to them to get themselves out, which can take a lot of work. Behind our smiles and our friendly banter we are leafing through every reason they’re single while figuring out the “real” reasons they want to be with our friends. All of a sudden in one meeting, we become private detectives with psychology degrees.

So, when we decide that we don’t like him, that it doesn’t matter how much work he does it won’t amount to him being worthy of our friend, well, both parties involved probably know. And sometimes the best thing to do is stay out of it.

The good news is, you aren’t the one marrying him. Also, as much as you know your friend, there are actually sides of her you don’t know. And this guy most likey appeals to those aspects. I know, it hurts the ego a bit to think you may not appeal to her whole being, it’s the truth. We bring wonderful things out in our best friends, but so do their spouses. We will never know what goes on behind closed doors, we can only hope for the best and be there when we are needed. Hopefully, the favor is returned.

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Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

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