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 »