Being the youngest in a large family has its advantages: My siblings provided plenty of grandchildren already, so there’s no pressure on me to make more. (Christmas presents are expensive, y’all.) My family has also known since I was 19 — when I fainted while watching my older sister have a sonogram because it grossed me out so much — that I’m not sure this childbirth thing is for me. So, even after being married for 10 months now, no one in my family has broached the subject of bringing a Bogdanovs-Wakeman into the world.
That being said, minding-one’s-own-beeswax doesn’t hold true with outsiders — as I found out this weekend when a trip to the laundromat turned into more than I’d bargained for. Keep reading »
Growing up, my parents were able to provide a stable middle-class upbringing for me, my three sisters and my brother. I can understand now how fortunate we were not to worry about hunger, housing, or medical bills. Although my Mom made a point to show us how privileged we were — I’m from Fairfield County, Connecticut, where the “wealth gap” between rich and poor is top in the nation — I lived securely inside a wealthy suburban bubble in the booming ’90s. As I graduated from high school, went to college and began my working life, I still managed to have financial security, even when the economy tanked in 2008. Some friends, recent college graduates like myself, lost their jobs or just plain could not get hired. But me, I still got to stay inside a safe little bubble.
Then I did something that probably didn’t make sense to some people, especially those from the background that I come from: I married someone who was unemployed. Keep reading »
My boyfriend Max and I don’t live together, but since it takes about two minutes to walk from my place to his, I sometimes feel like we do. When I first started thinking about moving to his neighborhood, the idea had been to move in with him (we’ve been together two years), but when an apartment nearby became available at a freakishly good deal for the area, it was too awesome to pass up. He’s lived in the same apartment for years, and I’ve grown to see it as a home away from home, so that’s where we spend most of our time, but now I also have a cozy little place to call my own as well. In the past, when our houses were a long subway ride apart, we’d spend longer stretches of time at one another’s place to avoid the commute, so these days, we actually tend to see each other less than before. Our little in-between setup gives us a lot of opportunity to see what kinds of hurdles we might come up against if we did share the same address. These past few months, we’ve learned more than ever about our own habits and about how to compromise to create a happier environment. Keep reading »
My husband and I met and got married all within five months. Kale had been visiting from Australia on a year-long tourist visa when we fell in love. Marrying not only kept us together, but launched us into a lifetime side-by-side. It didn’t really feel like a choice or a decision; it was obvious to both of us what we were going to do. And that means that I put just about zero forethought into what our marriage would “mean” for me as a woman or for us as a couple.
I’d thought about marriage long before I got married, sure. As a little girl I played house, pretending to be married to my teddy bear (his name is Gregory and I still have him). I had a serious relationship in my 20s with a man — Ex-Mr. Jessica — who I’d thought I would marry and have children with. While dating Ex-Mr. J, most of my thinking had been around the work/career balance and justifying to myself how I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, if possible, for a time. However, I hadn’t put too much thought into how the day-to-day drudgery of marriage would go. It seemed so far off. Keep reading »
After being in a relationship for 10 years, Nick and I have gotten pretty damn good at dealing with relationship-related issues. We are still learning, of course, and probably always will be, but when it comes to the challenges that arise from sharing a life with someone, we’ve got a solid handle on it. Balancing two people’s needs, addressing conflict in a respectful way, compromising, communicating clearly, owning your own moods, and giving and receiving love freely are all things we’ve become really good at.
And I use the phrase “become really good at” on purpose. These weren’t skills we brought into the relationship as two separate people, these are things we learned from being in a relationship. I’m so grateful to my relationship (and to Nick!) for providing a loving, supportive context in which I could learn these things. I’ve been able to apply them to my friendships, my family relationships, my work, and my writing. The skills you learn in a relationship aren’t only applicable to your relationship — they’re truly valuable in many different areas of your life.
I can’t help but wonder, though, if all the work I’ve done on issues relating to my relationship has been at the expense of work I could have been doing on myself. Keep reading »
Here’s a situation most people in long-term relationships have experienced at one time or another:
You really want to do something. Say, a challenging hike that ends at an idyllic waterfall. And you really want your partner to do it with you, because you love spending time with them, don’t want to do it alone, and, hello, idyllic waterfalls are fucking romantic.
But your partner doesn’t want to do it. Their reason could be anything: they’re busy, they’re tired, they hate hiking, they have a phobia of romantic waterfalls — the fact is, they don’t want to do it, and they’re not budging.
I’ve been on both sides of this equation many times. It’s never easy, and whenever nagging enters into the equation (guilty!), it creates a perfect storm for conflict — not to mention resentment on both sides. Finding a balance between quality couple time and independence can be tough, but in this case, I’ve found that there is nothing more empowering and ultimately better for your relationship than learning to do your own thing. Keep reading »
Yesterday evening, Nick and I were trying to hang up some pictures on a blank wall in the living room, and things were getting tense.
“I think that blue frame should go about a quarter inch to the right.”
“I think it’s fine where it is.”
“But the bottom edge lines up too perfectly with that black frame, and it’s giving me an eye tic.”
“Why don’t we move the pink frame down to where the silver frame was?”
“Over my dead body.” Keep reading »
Over the weekend, a friend of mine was telling me that she was headed out to run some errands recently when her husband chimed in, “Hey, I think I’ll come with you.” Normally very open to any help she can get while grocery shopping, my friend was shocked when instead of replying, “Sure!”, she found herself giving her husband a long list of logical reasons why he should stay home. “And then it hit me,” she said, “I was really looking forward to being by myself that day — listening to my music in the car, zoning out at the store, taking my time. I just didn’t know how to say, ‘I really want to be alone right now’ so I made up all these excuses instead.”
As weird as it might sound, I knew exactly how she felt. When you’re in a serious relationship, spending time together and getting enough quality alone time is a constant balancing act. It can be tough to ask for alone time when you need it, but sometimes it’s even tougher to figure out when you need alone time, period. Here are a few signs that you might need to schedule a solo day, ASAP… Keep reading »
Being in a long-term relationship is all about sharing. You share your time, your living space, your most intimate secrets, your friends, your life. When you strike a nice balance in the sharing department, it feels easy and natural. When you share too much, your relationship can veer into codependent territory. When you share too little, your connection might feel cold and distant. The stakes are higher now, but basically, your preschool teacher knew what was up when she forced you to let Billy play with the toy truck in the sandbox: sharing is caring. Obviously every couple needs to figure out their own ideal sharing arrangement, but there are definitely some guidelines that apply to most everyone. With that in mind, here are a few things you should share with your partner, and a few things to keep for yourself. Keep reading »
We live in a culture that values coupledom and biological families over anything else. This is especially true for women, who are seen as more relationship-oriented than men. We hold romantic relationships up as the ultimate end goal, the prize, the be-all and end-all. We tend to believe this regardless of whether a particular pairing is healthy or toxic, discounting the possibility that someone might actually be contented and fulfilled while single.
Being single and being in a relationship both have their pros and cons. I was chatting about this recently with a friend who recently lost her mom. She’s single and she said she felt particularly lonely grieving her mom’s death by herself. She wasn’t completely alone, of course; her friends and family were there for her. But she said she had wished she had a partner to lean on during the worst of her grief.
I just listened quietly when I heard this. I wanted to speak up, but I wasn’t sure it was the right time to say what I wanted to say. Personally, I believe that the good things in life — support, respect, happiness, joy — depend a lot more on having close friends and family, not the absence or presence of a partner. A partner is just one person; friends and family are a whole community.
My relationship is without a doubt the most supportive one I’ve ever had. I don’t keep anything from him, because I’m not afraid anything will scare him away. I feel loved and safe with him. But he’s just one person. He’s just human. I’m still a person who is vulnerable and imperfect. And a relationship is not bubble wrap. Keep reading »