Thursday, November 30, 2006

12 men weigh in on 'mushy talk'

Last week, I asked my husband if he and his guy friends ever discuss sex, romance or any of the, you know, mushy stuff when they’re together on a boy’s-only outing. He emphatically replied: “Are you kidding me? No way.”

His response got me thinking. Do men talk about relationships amongst themselves when girls are not around? Surely not all conversations consist of just sports, politics and revealing Britney Spears photos, do they?

To help answer this question, I set out on a quest to ask 12 men their opinions. I asked each the same questions via e-mail, instant message or in person: Do you and your guy friends talk about romance and sex? If so, where do you usually discuss such topics?

Here are their responses, which are edited for brevity:

Guy No. 1 (Age 29; married 3 years): “Well, first of all, I only discuss it with really good friends, never just to anyone who will listen, if that makes sense. For instance, on the night before my wedding, I sat around with a few of my boys and I just talked about how wonderful she was … very basic and general stuff … you know, comparing her to the other girls who came before her and why those girls didn't do it for me. But I'm not a typical guy because a lot of my guy friends would never open up like that.”

Guy No. 2 (Age 38; separated): “Guys talk about sex anywhere and always. I discuss it with my closest friends whenever there's something worthy of being discussed. I can recall having such conversations with five different friends in the last few months.”

Guy No. 3 (Age 36; married 16 years): “I personally don’t chat with other guys about details. I have a close friend and we will talk about it in very generic terms. I guess that it is just a macho thing. I feel much more comfortable talking to other women about that kind of stuff.”

Guy No. 4 (Age 57; divorced): “Guys I know hardly discuss their personal lives and I don't discuss mine with anyone but my family. I went through a divorce four years ago and virtually no one I work with had any clue. I'm right now dealing with the break-up of a three-year relationship and I haven't mentioned it to anyone other than my family. It's just not something guys do, or at least not something I do."

Guy No. 5 (Age 38; single): “I talk to my friends about sex but not much about romance. Usually we talk about any funny things related to those topics. FYI - I am divorced, so when I was married I never really talked about sex out of respect for my wife and our marriage, so I guess being single is different.”

Guy No. 6 (Age 35; married 11 years): “Yeah, sometimes we do, and it depends on which guy you’re with as to what you'll talk about.”

Guy No. 7 (Age 33; single): “I usually don't discuss that kind of stuff unless my friends broach the topic. Most of my friends are married with children or at least in stable relationships. Additionally, their marriages are good and I can't exactly reciprocate as I haven't been active on the dating scene. No point in bumming my friends out. They know I'm a loner.”

Guy No. 8 (Age: 30; married 4 years): “The answer is no. Guys simply don’t talk to other guys about romance and sex. Well, that is with two exceptions. Exception # 1 is when guys are younger and in college. Guys will sit around in the dorm and talk about sex. Like who they were going to hook up with that night or the night before and talk about how good or bad she was. Exception # 2 is when guys are older and out of college. You are still sitting around getting drunk with the same guys, but now you are married and older. So instead you just get drunk and tell old college stories and tell your buddies how much you love them as you slur your words after about eight beers. That’s about as mushy as guys get.”

Guy No. 9 (Age 40, single): “When I was younger (college), a good friend of mine and I used to always drink on weekends and grouse about women, etc. He gave pretty good advice; I usually did most of the complaining. These days, most of my friends are married, and we don't talk a whole lot about those things. I do most of my talking about women to women.”

Guy No. 10 (Age 34, single): “I'm pretty open with several friends, guys and girls, about all my past sexual relations, though lately I haven't had anyone I actually felt I could relate to guy-wise in talking about romance, so I've only talked to girls, usually exes, about that.”

Guy No. 11 (Age 31, married 1 year): “No, we just don’t talk about it. We talk about more non-serious stuff, like when a wife is pregnant, we talk about how big her breasts have gotten, so see – nothing real important.”

Guy No. 12 (Age 29, single): “Yeah, I talk to them. I have a weird one, though, because the guy that I talk to the most about it is gay. I don't talk too many specifics about the mushy stuff. We chat in the car on the way to/from places. I think the fact that we can't look at each other when we're in the car (because one’s driving) helps.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Previous sexual partners: Hot topic or a non-issue?

Alisha: I had a conversation with some girlfriends last week that struck me as a topic most new couples, or heck, even folks who have been married 50 years, might consider as an important conversation piece: previous sexual partners.
Deirdre: And what was the consensus among your girlfriends?
Alisha: One, who has been married for five years, says she has no idea how many people her husband had slept with, and she doesn't want to know. The other, who is single, said she often will ask a guy once they get to the serious stage, but the "number" doesn't bother her.
Deirdre: Your friend who doesn't want to know -- did she say why?
Alisha: She said she feared if it were some huge number, say, over 100 women, that she would just flip out, but now that she's married to him, it doesn't matter.
Deirdre: Well, I think it's a fair and valid question to ask "how many sexual partners have you had?" if you're considering becoming intimate with someone. I also think it's fair to ask when was the last time they'd been tested for STDs and HIV. (And they should be able to ask you as well.)
Alisha: Oh, definitely. Honesty is of utmost importance when it comes to this topic. I know for myself, if I had met someone and he had told me he had been with 400 women, that would be a definite dealbreaker. In my mind, that shows a lack of respect for intimacy.
Deirdre: No lie. If my man told me he'd slept with enough women to rival Ron Jeremy, I'd run screaming. But I think what we're saying is different from your other friend -- the one who says the number doesn't matter. I find that hard to believe.
Alisha: It's my belief some folks see your past as just that - your past. So, I can see where she wouldn't care about how big or how small the "number" is.
Deirdre: I have a friend who's in a great relationship with a man who's had way more partners than her. In fact, they recently married. The past really is the past with them. And I would like to think that if I fell in love with a man who'd had many more partners than myself that I could be OK with it. After all, he didn't know me when he was gettin' around with all the other chickies.
Alisha: I guess most of us follow the saying, "to each his own," but to me, there's definitely one too many. Take Gene Simmons for example, he's been with what, more than 4,000 women? No way I could ever willingly want to become 4,001. Where is the appreciation for what it means to make love to someone? Four thousand women - that's not love, that's a libido gone crazy.
Deirdre: He's just nasty anyway. But I think he's lying. I would think most people, if they were gonna lie, they'd lie in the other direction -- as in knock a few people off the total.
Alisha: I have a feeling Gene isn't fudging one bit on his "total." Though, yeah, I agree most would likely round down instead of up. When my husband and I first broached this topic as a dating couple, I think we were timid to talk about it because we were afraid of the other's reaction. But, it all came out good in the end.
Deirdre: Heh. Did you round down or up?
Alisha: I'm pretty sure I told the truth because we both agreed not to get upset or jealous about what we had done in the past. It's all about communication.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Suggestions on handling arguments

The holidays are upon us, which could mean hours spent in a cramped car with an imaginary line drawn between brother and sister in the back seat, back-stabbing feuds between in-laws or heated discussions about how you will pay off your credit card bills before Thanksgiving 2007 rolls around.

Face it; arguments are going to happen during this time of family togetherness and high stress. So what’s the best way for couples to argue without hurting feelings or causing permanent damage to relationships?

Lisa Terrell, a certified sex therapist, marital counselor and owner of Lydia's Loom Counseling in Charlotte, has some suggestions on how a couple should tackle an argument.

Her thoughts: “It’s OK to take a break from a subject, but the rule is that if you take the break, then ‘Tag! You’re it’ for bringing it back up again. Issues that are ignored don’t just go away, because they will be back. A long-term study by couples and marriage researcher, John Gottman, showed that ‘stonewalling’ (pretending that you didn’t hear, ignoring a topic, and not answering questions) was the number one indicator that a relationship would eventually fail. This makes sense. Conflicts can easily turn unspoken, but usually don’t resolve unless they are discussed and worked through. By the way, most conflicts can be solved by agreeing to have a win-win solution. If you keep at a problem until both parties win, you will have resolved the issue. There is no win-lose in an intimate relationship. If your partner loses, so do you.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This is for the ladies!

First things first: I saw "Casino Royale" -- which stars Daniel Craig, one of my husbands -- over the weekend, and girls, trust me on this one: Go.

Now to the topic at hand:

I often delete the forwarded forwards my friends and family send, but the following must've caught me at the right moment, because I felt the need to share. While it's aimed at black women, I think it's really universal (besides, plenty of non-black chicks get hair weaves, too!) So ladies -- all ladies -- this for you.

To all my girls - single, married, or otherwise: 24 things a sista should never apologize for

1. Never apologize for pursuing what makes you happy. Even if you need to quit your job, transfer schools, or move across country, always do what you really want.
2. Never apologize for using proper English. Keeping it real doesn't mean you have to speak Ebonics.
3. Never apologize for giving your best in a relationship that just didn't work out.
4. Never apologize for being successful. Only haters want to keep you at their level.
5. Never apologize for crying. Wear waterproof mascara and express yourself.
6. Never apologize for 10 pounds you need to lose. People who truly care about you will accept you as you are.
7. Never apologize for being frugal. Just because you save your money instead of blowing it on the latest fashion emergency doesn't mean you're cheap.
8. Don't apologize for being a single mom. Babies are a blessing.
9. Never apologize for treating yourself to something special. Sometimes you have to show yourself some appreciation.
10. Never apologize for leaving an abusive relationship. Your safety should always be a priority.
11. Never apologize for keeping the ring even if you did not get married.
12. Never apologize for setting high standards in a relationship. You know what you can tolerate and what simply gets on your nerves.
13. Never apologize for saying NO.
14. Never apologize for wearing a weave or braids. You bought it, so it's yours.
15. Never apologize to your new friends about old friends. There's a reason she's been your girl from day one.
16. Never apologize for ordering dessert or more than one dessert.
17. Never apologize for dating outside your race. Just because you found Mr. Right across the color line doesn't mean you don't love your brothas.
18. Never apologize for demanding respect. You are to always be treated as a queen.
19. Never apologize for not knowing how to cook. Even if you can't burn like Grandma, you know how to order good take out.
20. Never apologize for your taste in clothes. It's your style.
21. Never apologize for changing your mind; it is your prerogative.
22. Never apologize for making a decision from your heart, even if others don't agree. You have to live with the consequences, not them.
23. Never apologize for making more money than your man. You work hard and you deserve to get paid.
24. Never apologize for being you!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Our pets – a relationship that never ends

On Friday, my family dog, a 13-year-old pug named Elizabeth, died.

When my Dad gave me the news, I couldn't talk to him on the phone because the tears fell hard, like 80-year-old trees that thunder to the ground in an unforgiving tornado. I cried all the way to work, thinking maybe more tears would convince God to bring Elizabeth back to our family as the vivacious puppy she once was.

When I got to work, barely able to see through my puffy eyelids, a co-worker gave me a big hug when he heard my sad news. He told me about his own experience with having to put down one of his dogs, and how that pain is something he'll never forget. Then he reminded me that our pets love us unconditionally, and it's a feeling we can't find anywhere else. Pets love us despite our faults, our lack of patience and our mistakes. They understand when something is wrong, and they don't break our trust.

After listening to my co-worker empathize with my grief, I sat down at my desk and smiled to myself because I had realized a valuable lesson. The relationship between a pet and its owner is strikingly similar to the relationship between two humans. When we seek out a life partner, we strive for the same intangibles our pets offer us: unconditional love, trust and commitment.

We ask so little of our pets, yet they give us so much in return – much like every relationship should be in our lives.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth, with as much love as you gave your family.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bah humbug,!

Several days ago, Observer Style Editor Crystal Dempsey walked briskly over to my desk, announced "I wash my hands of it!" as she dumped a shirt-sized gift box in front of me, then just as briskly walked away, leaving me to examine the "present" she'd left.

It was from online dating service In the box: a Santa hat with the words " The #1 site for love" emblazoned on the brim; a woman's snug-fitting T-shirt with the words "I'm the gift that keeps on giving!" spread across the bust; and a little jewelry box with a card inside. The whole package was to promote that card: It lets you give your single friends a three-month membership to

I left the gift box open and perched on the corner of my desk for a few days, because the reactions of passing co-workers were so interesting.

Many people were drawn by the fuzzy Santa hat. Men would finger the hat and murmur something about here comes the Christmas season earlier and earlier, blah blah blah, and snort once they saw the Match promo. Women would pick up the hat and exclaim, "Oh, how cute!" until they saw the promo, whereupon they would drop it, disappointed. I would then hold up the baby blue T so that folks could read the come-hither message. Men would read it aloud with a gleam in their eyes and smirk; women announced the message in disgust, rolled their eyes and muttered a variety of nasty comments that pretty much equaled one big "Ew."

All in all, though, no one thought this was a good idea for a gift, unless someone specifically asked for it. And if you didn't toss Nerf softball-sized hints that this was what you wanted in your Christmas stocking, what would you think upon opening it?

"What? Are you trying to tell me you think I can't get someone on my own?"

"What? You're so convinced I'm a horrible dater you feel you have to intervene?"

"What? You're so desperate for grandchildren that you're taking matters into your own hands ... MOM?!"

I'm thinking there's a good chance this gift would not go over well. Use the jewelry box for a tasteful, yet affordable, piece of jewelry instead.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Who wears the pants in your family?

There’s a fine line between perception and reality, and it’s often blurred beyond recognition. We tend to look at couples, and we might see a married man who handles all of the financial responsibilities, disciplines the kids and appears to be the dominating figure in the household. His wife, on the other hand, gives off the semblance of a demure, submissive and coy partner within the confines of the marriage.

That’s the perception. The reality is the wife might wear the metaphorical pants because she’s the decision-maker, the person the kids run to when they’re in trouble and the rock that keeps the marriage together.

The other day, my sister made a joke: “Oh, yeah, Alisha definitely wears the pants in her relationship.” My immediate retort: “For your information, I don’t think I do. I have one leg in and my husband has one leg in.”

My husband, sitting in the same room, laughed and jokingly said, “No honey, all of our legs are in your pants!”

Once he made that comment, I questioned him (calmly, of course) on why he thinks that, and how could I be the dominating partner in our relationship when we both consider each other’s feelings when making any and all decisions? His answer: “Well, your salary is higher, and you pay all the bills.” But when I asked my husband if I am controlling emotionally, he said “no way.”

So his idea of wearing the pants is equivalent to fiscal responsibility, not someone who is a controlling, dominant individual.

Our definition of what it means to “wear the pants” differs from person to person and relationship to relationship. It truly is perception versus reality.

What do you think? Are you offended if your spouse says you wear the pants, and you don’t think you do? Does it really matter if you have one dominant person in the relationship? What’s your definition of wearing the pants?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dating younger men

Hey, everybody! I hope you had a great weekend.

I had a fun, sports-packed Saturday night. A girlfriend and I went to the Charlotte Checkers game at the Arena, then walked over to Madison's Bar and Lounge on Fifth Street to watch the Calvin Brock-Wladimir Klitschko title bout. We got there early enough to watch our college teams play on the TVs at The Attic Bar next door, and much yelling and high-fiving and doing the happy dance ensued.

Madison's had a great crowd for the boxing match, a nice age mix and healthy ratio of singles vs. couples. It was hilarious: everyone around me was just like me -- occasional bout watchers who could quote lines from all the "Rocky" movies. We were there to watch because Calvin Brock is a Charlottean. However, I did manage to find a guy who patiently explained to me why the fight ended in the seventh round. ("But he can still stand up," I protested. "Why are they calling it a knock out?")

But the main reason I'm writing about my evening is because my friend (she told me to call her Stella, 'cause "I'm gettin' my groove back"), who's my age, and I wound up giving our phone numbers to younger men.

The reason I gave my guy (age 28) the digits was because he was cute, clever, tall and smelled good .... and because he never deserted his wingman, who was jobless and bored since I had no friend to distract. (By this point Stella was good-naturedly arguing about football with the hottie who eventually got her number.) I enjoyed talking to him. I wouldn't mind hanging out with him again. That's what dating is all about, right? You meet someone and you think you might like them, and they think they might like you, so you agree to spend more time together. Now, this guy may or may not call. (I think most singles can testify about what a crapshoot the phone number exchange can be, especially when it's in a bar.) I enjoyed the time I spent with him nonetheless.

Still, Stella and I have discussed this, the dating of younger men. We both feel a little oogy about it, but can't quite put our fingers on why. Maybe part of it is the negative image of the cougar (from "A 35+ year old female who is on the 'hunt' for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar in San Francisco (or other cities) waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path."), and we don't want to be seen as that, because we're not. We both actually prefer dating men our age, but this particular night these younger guys kept us laughing and entertained. But then you have to wonder what that guy is looking for -- after all, there were plenty Size 2, cleavage-baring 22-year-olds, tossing their hair and flouncing around. Why weren't they going for them?

Maybe Stella and I should just drop the whole age thing. On Friday, one of my co-workers celebrated her 50th birthday. Sassy and proud, she strolled around the office in a "50 is the new 30" T-shirt. When I e-mailed to wish her a happy day and tell her she doesn't look a day over 35, she responded, "and generally, I feel about as I did at 35. Hope that lasts." Amen, sister.

Readers, weigh in on this. Ladies: Do you like to date younger men? Fellas: Do you like to date older women? Guys and gals: Does age factor in to who you choose to date?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Got any dating deal breakers?

It's Just Lunch -- an organization that organizes first date lunches or drinks after work -- recently polled almost 3,000 singles to find out their opinions on dating, love and smoking (in honor of the upcoming Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16). In the survey, 61 percent said they would not go on a first date with someone they knew smoked.

Alisha: And do you blame them? Smoking is nasty, and the worst part about dating a smoker is the foul taste you get in your mouth after kissing them. Kissing an ashtray is not my idea of a turn-on.
Deirdre: No lie. Their clothes tend to smell like a saloon, and there's that lovely smoker's hack. Not sexy. So we can agree that smoking is a sure deal breaker when it comes to dating -- we're talking do not pass go, forget the cell number, lose the e-mail address. Got any others?
Alisha: Oh yeah. Who doesn't? There's a fine line between being too picky and just downright ruling a characteristic out. Definite deal breaker: A guy who cannot hold a conversation. You don't have to be a walking wikipedia, however, you can't chat about your job every night.
Deirdre: Agreed. Years ago I finally got a date with a hot guy I had been lusting over for months. We went to a movie and out to dinner afterward ... and he couldn't string two coherent thoughts together. A dim bulb. He also had no sense of humor, which is another deal breaker for me.
Alisha: Amen. How about, since you're single - are men with kids a deal breaker?
Deirdre: I'm OK with one or two children, not the Brady bunch. But even if it's just one kid, if it's a property-destroying, foul-mouthed, unmannered little heathen, forget it.
Deirdre: And I hope I don't come across as superficial here, but if a guy and I don't see eye-to-eye (literally), that's a deal breaker. I'm 6 feet tall, and I've had my share of men not much above boob level.
Alisha: I hear ya, coming from the 5-foot-9 girl here. And, when I was single - I always used to find men who were not into sports. Yes, Margaret, there are men out there who do not watch SportsCenter 24-7. If a guy can't tell me which local team was in the 1977 Final Four, then, adios, buster.
Deirdre: Bigots are unacceptable. And while he doesn't have to be rich, dude does have to have a job. I support myself, and I expect whoever I'm with to take care of his business as well.
Alisha: Sexual incompatibility. 'Nuff said.
Deirdre: Heck, yeah! And iffy hygiene. Ever since I heard Matthew McConaughey hasn't used deodorant in five years, I can't look at him without wrinkling my nose.
Alisha: Well, before we get too nitpicky about every little thing, down to the long hair on one's big toe, let's ask readers: What are your deal breakers?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mitch Albom comes to Charlotte

The featured guest for this year’s Novello Festival of Reading finale was author and journalist Mitch Albom.

When I first discovered he was going to speak, I had to get tickets. One of my passions is sports journalism, and in some circles he’s considered to be a pantheon to the field, having covered sports for the Detroit Free Press since 1985.

Albom recently published his eighth novel, "For One More Day." I figured much of his presentation at ImaginOn in uptown Charlotte would likely center on his effort to follow the worldwide success of "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." Though he did open up with a "what you might not have known in the making of" story about "Tuesdays," he primarily focused on a central theme of … yep, you guessed it: Relationships.

I was surprised because I wasn't prepared to be lectured on the values of relationships. I thought (and had hoped) he would discuss his time covering the Detroit Tigers in the World Series or following the Detroit Red Wings to numerous Stanley Cup appearances. Nope. He wanted to talk about relationships, and how the various ones he's had in his life played prominent roles within his novels.

From his mother, to his uncle and his college professor, those lifelong bonds impacted Albom, and they formed the basis his most recent work, as well as his personal life, is built upon. Throughout his presentation, Albom read passages from “For One More Day,” and he told a childhood story about his mother creating a Halloween costume for him made out of dish rags and toilet paper.

I saw a side of Albom I had not anticipated: a vulnerable, down-to-Earth guy who admitted he didn't keep up with family and friends like he should.

I’m not an expert on relationships, nor is Albom, but when you break life down to its very essence, it becomes obvious that we all share in the trials and tribulations, the laughter and the tears, and the comings and goings of one of the most special things we can take part in – a relationship.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Britney and Kevin

So, it looks like Britney Spears is filling for divorce from Kevin Federline (for -- what else? -- irreconcilable differences). I have five things to say about this development.

1. It's about damn time!

2. At least she's doing this early enough so that she won't have to pay his sorry butt too much in spousal support.

3. Is that foxy "manny" still around to take care of her kids? If so, he'll make a great rebound man.

4. I knew she was just waiting until she got skinny again! She got her little hips back -- and with them came her self-confidence.

5. I actually look forward to rockin' her comeback single on my iPod.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Guess what? Some of us like being single

I read the comments on our blog entries not only because readers offer insightful commentary, but it's also a great gauge for what people are really thinking. And I've noticed more than a few comments that snipe at my "unmarried at 36" status. For instance, I recently wrote about people's different dating styles, and I concluded: "I think that if you find the dating style that works for you (and that might involve a few bad dates, but those always make great drinking stories later), eventually you'll find the best person for you as well."

Someone snarked (anonymously, of course): "And, as never having been married, how's that philosophy working out for ya?"

Uh, I'd say pretty well.

Marriage is not high on my to-do list. It never has been. In fact, I consider myself lucky because I'm not a woman whose deepest desire is to marry and have kids. Don't get me wrong; producing responsible, contributing members of society has to be the hardest and most rewarding job there is, and I admire anyone willing to do it. I'm just saying I have many friends who ache to be a wife and mother, and try as they might, they still haven't found the right man to do that with. I see their pain and frustration and I'm relieved I don't feel the same pressure.

The part I don't get is why so many folks assume that if I'm coming up on 40 and I'm not married, there's something wrong. But I'm actually in good company: According to the Census Bureau, there were 89.8 million unmarried and single adults in America last year. More and more of us are choosing to remain single for longer periods of our lives, or to remain single for all our lives. (And don't get it twisted; being single does not mean being alone.)

Here's the thing: I could be married tomorrow if I wanted to be. Anybody can be married. There's just that little thing called standards. Most people want to be with someone who meets their personal standard of intelligence, or beauty, or financial standing, or career status, etc. People want to be with someone who shares their goals in life, their belief system, their dreams for the future. Not just any ol' Joe or Josephine Schmo will do. Why commit yourself to any ol' Joe or Josephine just because you've reached a certain age and that's what people do? Life's too short, man.

So here's what I recommend: All of you who would criticize us happily unmarrieds should see to your own households, and don't worry about ours. We're doing better than fine, thanks.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

One year of marriage, a lifetime of lessons

October 2006 is a stark contrast to October 2005.

Now, I’m sitting in a Starbucks, staring out at the passing traffic and scribbling my thoughts about relationships. Jazz is playing on the loudspeaker and the barista is toasting a multigrain bagel for a customer. The scene is relaxing and patient.

Then, one year ago, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off because I was patching together last-minute plans for my wedding. I racked up 1,000 minutes on my cell phone by calling the florist, the country club, the family – basically, everyone and his or her brother. The scene was frenetic and anxious.

It’s amazing how things can change in such a short amount of time, and it’s good to sit back and reflect. Here are five things I’ve learned from one year of marriage, four years of living together and six years of sharing my life with one person.

1. Unless you’re blessed to have lots of money, finances inevitably will be a source of contention. My husband and I don’t argue that often, but when we do, you can almost always bet it’s about money.

2. It’s a good idea for him to have his friends, her to have her friends and then as a couple, to have couple friends.
You deserve friends who are going to care about you as an individual just as much as they would care about you as a couple.

3. It’s OK to admit to each other your shortcomings.
Some days you might not show your appreciation for her doing the chores, or some times he might have made a poor business decision about the house, but it’s important to let each other know that through it all, you still care and/or you’re truly sorry.

4. You marry your in-laws, too.
This will be a topic of a future blog, let me tell you, but in the meantime, I've learned just how much I've not only acquired a spouse, but gained a second family as well.

5. Bottom line – marriage is a lot of hard work.
For a marriage to be a success you have to keep things stimulated constantly in your home, your professional lives and both in and out of the bedroom. People said it wouldn't be easy, and they're not kidding.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Do opposites truly attract?

Who hasn't wondered, especially during the beginning stage of a relationship, if you're attracted to someone who is completely opposite from you?

You're a Democrat. He's a Republican. She's from Detroit. You're from Tuscaloosa, Ala. He loves being the life of the party. You enjoy low-key parties of two.

A study that appeared in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests the "opposite factor" isn't necessarily justified because we tend to be more attracted to mates who share common values, religion and beliefs instead of people who are completely different than us.

In other words, this study shows there isn't concrete evidence that supports the fact a country music fan tends to gravitate toward a metal head.

What this research does state is that a relationship's vitality and happiness is likely sustained because of personality similarities more so than commonalities such as values. That's not exactly what I was expecting to hear when looking for my answer on if opposites attract, but it makes a lot of sense. After you live with someone for any length of time, you come to realize it is about personalities meshing on how you handle financial obstacles or how you try to find common ground on something as simple as spring cleaning.

So next time you're out on a date, especially a first date, it might be a good idea to get to know the intricacies of his or her personality rather than concentrate on the fact he or she is a Baptist and you're a Catholic.