Friday, August 31, 2007

You get mad. Where do you go?

Well, me and my lady had our first big fight/So I drove around 'till I saw the neon lights/Of a corner bar, it just seemed right, so I pulled up… -- "The Good Stuff" by Kenny Chesney

You can always find some life lessons buried in country music, in-between momma, trains, trucks, prisons or gettin’ drunk (thanks, David Allan Coe).

One such example is Kenny Chesney’s "The Good Stuff." The opening lyrics talk about a husband who gets into a fight with his wife for the first time. He then escapes to a bar where the bartender reminds him of all the hidden jewels a marriage provides.

Let’s face it: Even the strongest relationships endure arguments. Some are minuscule, many are pointless and a few kick off days of silence and separation.

So, how do you handle the aftermath of a big argument?

Every couple seems to confront them differently. Are you the one who spends the night on the couch? Do you follow the old adage "never go to bed angry," and you resolve all issues before falling asleep? Are you apt to write down your issues and then share them with your partner? Maybe you both drop the squabble and pick it up days later so you can discuss differences with level heads?

My husband is the type who needs to leave the room for some time to cool off and then we can continue our discussion. I’m the type who, when really frustrated, will get in the car and drive for 20 minutes with the windows down just to gather my thoughts.

No matter how you handle big fights -- because there definitely is no right or wrong answer here -- the key is to dig deep and remember all "The Good Stuff."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why we want the taken ones

I met up with friends at a sports bar Saturday afternoon. I noticed in the room next door a group of men sat gathered 'round a table. Had to be at least a dozen. Curious, I snagged a cute waiter and asked him what was going on. Turns out the group was engrossed in a fantasy football draft. Spreadsheets and stuff spread all over the place.

Every now and then the group would take a break and some of the men would wander into our part of the bar. One guy in particular caught my eye. He was tall and fit, with salt-and-pepper hair, slightly craggy good looks and an easy grace about him. After he'd strolled by a couple times I decided to talk to him, invite him to join me and my friends for a chat. I was working up the nerve as he passed again, and that's when I saw it -- the glint of gold on his left hand.

Married. Damn.

You know what I said in my last entry about not getting involved with married men? I stand by it ... but that doesn't mean I wasn't cracking jokes with my friends, wondering aloud if that lovely man was happily married, and pondering slipping him my number in case he and his wife had problems. Oh, yes, we singles say things like that. Some are like me -- we talk a big game with friends, but would never actually follow through. But watch out, smugly marrieds, because some of us do follow through.

You know what makes married people so attractive? Their security. They already have a mate, so they're not stressin' over dates or "does she really like me?" or "why isn't he calling me?" or any of that stuff most single-and-mingling folks do. There's a self-confidence that comes with being off the market, knowing you've got somebody at home, or someone beside you. Think about it -- how many times have you heard people say once they're in a relationship, that's when they start getting hit on left and right? Or that just when they stopped caring, that's when Mr. or Ms. Right came along? I think there's something to be said for the "air of desperation"; people really can sense it. But just as desperation is a big turn-off, confidence and self-possession are a big turn-on.

You don't have to be married to cultivate such attributes; I think you just have to know what you want, be comfortable with yourself and be OK with being single. Because the second you decide you HAVE to have someone, you're desperate, and we can smell it all over you.

Ah, but when you do cultivate those qualities, people will start checking out your left ring finger for that tell-tale glint of a wedding band. Imagine how excited they'll be when they find it bare!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Best (or worst) breakup excuses

It’s time for some Thursday levity.

What’s the best (or worst in most cases) breakup excuse you’ve received?

There’s always the: “It’s not you, it’s me” speech, or the “I love you so much I just think it’s best we’re not together” sad song. And let’s not leave out a classic: “We’re better off as friends.”

Hopefully, after you get over your infuriation or possible disappointment, you can sit back and laugh at the absurdity of some of the excuses you’ve heard before.

A friend of mine had to do just that recently -- “laugh or I’ll go insane” is how he put it. He said a girl recently broke up with him because she had too many distractions going on in her life. Her excuse for wanting to end the courtship: “I just want to lay low.”

Oh dear! What does “laying low” truly mean, and do folks honestly think that's gonna fly as a reason to end a relationship?

And for the sake of full disclosure, the worst excuse I heard was from a guy I dated for a month or so in college. He told me: “I’m way too poor for you, so I just don’t think this is going to work out.” Too poor. Yeah buddy. Next!

So, let’s have it: Give us your lamest breakup excuse!

Monday, August 20, 2007

You're single. He's married. What do you do?

I've put off writing this entry for awhile now. But I'm sitting here ... it's late ... I have my wine. I'm in the mood to talk about it.

I was propositioned by a married man. We'd been on friendly terms and I knew there was a mutual admiration society going on. But you know how you think you know what's going on, and you think you're in control of a situation and then you suddenly realize not only are you NOT in control, but you've gotten in over your head? That's what happened to me. One minute we're joking, the next minute he's dead serious. He told me, in no uncertain terms, what he wanted to happen between us. Whatever you're imagining? That's probably what he asked me to do.

And I almost said yes.

Stay cool; nothing happened. But single people, can I get a witness? How many times have you started chatting with someone at a bar, in line at the grocery store, at a football game, anywhere -- and you're thinking, "wow, this is a really cool person and I think there could be something here" and then you glance down and see the wedding band? Or they casually say "yeah, my wife and I went there for vacation," or "my husband read that book and said it's awesome"? And you get that gut punch of disappointment, or you feel like a big ol' fool for not catching on sooner? Sucks, doesn't it?

Or you find yourself in a situation like mine (and it's happened before, but I still didn't see it coming) where you're friendly with a married person you find attractive, but you know they're off limits ... and then, whoops, apparently they're not? What do you do?

Me, I back the hell away. I don't share men. I'm no home-wrecker and I'm no time-filler for someone who's bored, or wants something "different." And to be honest, I believe in karma. How can I expect a man who'll be faithful to me if I'm willing to mess with some other woman's man? Then there's the mother of all reasons not to get involved with a married person: if they'll cheat to be with you, what makes you think they won't cheat on you to be with someone else?

But my overarching reason to stay away: if you want a lasting relationship of your own, why waste time with someone who isn't available in every sense of the word?

Oh, I know why. Being single can be lonely. It can seem hopeless and endless. Sometimes you think you can't bear another night alone in your bed. Or another day without a phone call or e-mail from someone saying they think you're the bee's knees. But more than likely, if a married person is filling those roles, they're doing it for themselves, not you. It's easy to romanticize, but bottom line, you're being used. (Heh. Makes me think of that Bill Withers song, "Use Me": I wanna spread the news that if it feels this good getting used/Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up. You're no help, Bill.)

Look, I'm not here to judge. If you're living an R. Kelly song, hiding in a closet when someone's spouse comes home, well, that's your business. Duck, run fast and don't forget your underwear. But to the single people out there like me who want love and monogamy and domesticity and all that stuff, I say: hang in there and keep your eye on the prize. Tell married and sexy to go home to their better half. You deserve more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Check this out: True Wife Confessions

Deirdre: A friend of mine turned me on to a Web site: True Wife Confessions (warning: graphic content). She's married and visits the site to see what other women are saying about their relationships. It's an intense site. Now that you've seen it, what do you think?
Alisha: W.O.W. Just spending 10 minutes reading through some of those confessions has evoked all kinds of feelings: shock, empathy, sadness, relief and ... I could keep going.
Deirdre: I know. That's how I felt as well.
Alisha: I wonder how many of them are sincere confessions?
Deirdre: That was my big question. I think there's an unspoken agreement between bloggers and readers that the blogger is being truthful. I don't lie or embellish on our blog and you don't either. But we're journalists. It goes against our nature to lie (and there are more of us than there are Jayson Blairs in our profession). Many people on the blogsphere might not be so conscientious.
Alisha: Some of the entries seem to be a very accurate depiction of how much a relationship can be a roller coaster of good and bad times.
Deirdre: Yeah, but most of the comments aren't suitable for non-adults -- there's talk of unsatisfying sex lives, child custody issues, adultery, abortions, people falling out of love -- or for everyday conversation, either. So what I appreciate about the site is that it gives women a place to vent their pain, anger, shame when they may not feel comfortable sharing such information with family members, a therapist or a minister.
Alisha: On the flip side, the success of the site seems to be a sad commentary that some women don't feel they can communicate their deepest and darkest feelings with their partner. I'd love to know how many men read the site, and how many of those are the husbands, boyfriends and friends of these women who post "anonymous" confessions.
Deirdre: Me too! But chicks would have to tell their men to go look. Dudes doing Google searches for "wife" and "confessions" are probably looking for something in see-through lingerie and stripper heels, not sentences like "Right after we got married, I wanted to divorce you."
Alisha: True, but I'm thinking that men are much smarter than we give them credit for. Thanks for the introduction to the site. I suggest you bookmark it, gals!

Monday, August 13, 2007

A letter of closure

You once had a relationship that was meaningful, one where you invested years of passion, energy and commitment, and then for whatever reason (insert yours here), that relationship ended abruptly. It was over so quickly you never got the chance to say your piece, or even so much as a simple goodbye.

Now, years later you find yourself wishing you had the opportunity to end things once and for all. You don’t want to rekindle anything – you just want to add a sense of termination. Here’s a solution: Write a letter of closure.

I’ve been thinking of writing one for awhile now, and a recent trip to my hometown dredged up memories of a painful separation from an ex-boyfriend. He wanted to marry, and I just wasn’t ready. Our relationship ended in an argument and then – that was it. No final goodbyes, no kind words of appreciation for all the good times, no hugs – nothing. For months after our break-up, he avoided my calls, e-mails and my insistence we end what once was a blossoming relationship on a good note.

My letter of closure is not an indicator I’m unhappy with my marriage; in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just every so often I think about my past, and wish my ex-boyfriend could hear the words I never got to say to him, and that would be enough.

In selecting the tone for a final note, some letters might be filled with anger. Others could be wrought with regret. Some might be full of sorrow. A few will overflow with good fortune for a fulfilled life, and that is the tone I chose for my letter. So here goes,

Dear ... –
I wanted to let you know our relationship meant a lot to me – more than you’ll ever know. I hope you’ve found true love and have discovered happiness in its purest form. I know I’ve found it with my husband, and I owe some of that to you because you helped teach me how to love unconditionally. You were there for me during some of the roughest periods in my life, and I want you to realize I owe you a large debt of gratitude. I wish you nothing but the best.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Trust without a truth serum

I stumbled across this and since trust is an issue that often comes up in relationships, I decided to share it.

After 50, 'openness' shouldn't require a truth serum

By Dr. Joel Block via McClatchy-Tribune News Services

Some time ago, I was riffling through The New York Times Book Review and something caught my eye. It was a work of fiction, a fascinating account of openness between a man and a woman.

Here's the story: A married man of 30 years spots a woman, who is also married, at a party. He writes her a letter proposing an affair. It is not to be the usual affair in that they will never meet, nor have any contact outside of correspondence.

They will not even hear each other's voices, because as the man states in his letter, "even a voice is too real for the hallucination I want to have with you." Their written contact will also be quite out of the norm. The relationship he is suggesting is one that will be fully and uninhibitedly open.
His letter suggests that, "We could be like two people who inject themselves with truth serum and at long last have to tell it, the truth. I want to be able to say to myself, 'I bled truth with her,' yes, that's what I want. Be a knife for me, and I, I swear, will be a knife for you."

It occurs to me that it would be extraordinary if the man had proposed the "truth serum" approach to his wife. Now there's an idea that sounds both exciting and terrifying. I suspect that many of us have, somewhere in our psyche, the hunger to be fully known and accepted -- even those, especially those, that hold up their hand in protest.

The secret wish we have is to have one more chance to be like that small child who puts it all out there without self-consciousness; to have nothing significant to defend, no secrets to hide, no tension about "being found out." It would be wonderful to feel secure enough to be able shout, "This is who I am, and I can embrace all of me!"

This desire is probably a hidden reason behind going into therapy for many people. The obvious reason is to deal with a presenting problem. The less obvious reason is to be known, to oneself and to another.

Of course, seeing a psychologist is relatively safe. It is like the affair proposed above. The disclosures occur between two people (although in the case of psychotherapy, it is mostly one-way) whose lives do not intersect outside of a limited context.

To even the most casual observer of couples it is apparent that the kind of experience that occurs in the affair described above is not one that most married people have with each other -- not even close.

We've all heard of the man or woman who "spills their guts" to an anonymous stranger on a plane, or in some other situation where the contact is temporary and the listener is not part of our day-to-day life. And that is the point, after giving the other person a glimpse into your soul you don't have to see them or worry about some lasting judgment they have made.

In the fantasy account, the man is taking special precautions to make the experience as impersonal as possible while he shares the most personal aspects of himself.

Loving without reservation, letting another person -- someone who you have to face the next day and everyday -- view you emotionally naked takes a degree of faith, self-awareness and, perhaps more than anything, courage. It is the courage to believe in yourself enough to be revealing and to tolerate how naked and unsettled the intensity of the experience leaves us feeling.

It requires that you accept yourself, your humanness, including shortcomings; that with your imperfections you are still worthwhile. You have to take responsibility for your feelings and regard yourself enough to express them.

It is a refusal to tolerate your own self-deceptions and to face your deepest truths. Doing this with your love partner is like walking a razor's edge. It is not for the faint of heart and it doesn't make life easier or painless. It just makes life sweeter and the pain more meaningful.

Do you dare to look into yourself and without reservation share what you find with the person you sleep with regularly? Are you willing to face yourself and your lover each day? Like anything that is worthwhile, it is not without risks.

Nowhere is more gained or lost, more lessons learned or energy squandered than in love relationships. And nothing teaches us so much about others and ourselves as living authentically with another person.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Can friends-with-benefits work?

Deirdre: A friend of mine has a perennial argument with a male friend of hers: Can a man and woman (both single) have sex and then still be just friends?
Alisha: Gosh, when I first started typing my response, I had: "Easy answer. Yes." After more thought, it's much more complicated. It all depends on the people involved.
Deirdre: So true. When she put the question to me, I immediately thought of a particular man in my past. He once asked point-blank if I could have sex with him and remain friends. I wanted him very badly, so I immediately said of course I could. But he knew me better than I knew myself. We didn't do it ... and I'm glad we didn't. I realized later that I really wanted more from him than friendship. I think plenty of people could find themselves in the same predicament.
Alisha: But what you did is something a lot of people don't take the time to do, and that's a self-assessment of intent. If a person wants a relationship eventually, then those feelings will slowly manifest and ruin any chance of a friendship.
Deirdre: Um, I didn't do a self-assessment until after he'd decided for the both of us that the sex wasn't going to happen. I was willing to risk the friendship. And I can testify that when you really want someone, you'll convince yourself that anything is possible. That everything can be the way it was -- when maybe it won't be.
Alisha: I do think there are "successful" cases of men and women who can maintain a friends-with-benefits relationship.
Deirdre: OK, here's the rub: I know people who have friends they get together with to have sex. But that's as far as the friendship goes. They don't call each other just to say hi, or have dinner, or go to movies -- you know, the non-sexual stuff that friends do. Is that friends-with-benefits, or just friendly benefits?
Alisha: It's still friends-with-benefits. Unless you're just devoid of caring about other's feelings, I'd think you'd have to enjoy hanging around the person in order to have sex with them beyond a one-night stand.
Deirdre: While I believe as you do -- that it IS possible to have a sexual relationship within a friendship -- I have a hard time not believing that sooner or later, one of the two will want more. Isn't that human nature?
Alisha: It might be common for that "bond" to develop into something more, but I still say if both parties are completely honest about their feelings and intentions, then it's realistically possible two single people can have sex and just be friends.
Alisha: Age and maturity play important factors in this argument. I don't see two 18-year-olds lasting as just friends-with-benefits for a long time, whereas I could see two divorced fortysomethings being content with this particular setup for quite sometime.
Deirdre: Hmm. If I'm in my 40s and still unmarried, I'll let you know.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Is marriage a social life killer?

Once the wedding rings are permanently on the fingers, I hear a lot of couples say their social lives take a dramatic turn for the worst. The all-night drinking benders with groups of strangers at a party, the last-minute beach trips taken with just $100 in the checking account, and the crashing at a friend’s house after watching old movies – are no more, buddy.

So, why is that? Is getting married truly the death knell for an active social life?

I couldn't decide if there's a yes or no answer, but rather I think it depends on the couple. Here are four reasons I’ve come up with that could help answer the question: Does marriage change your social life? (Hey, can you tell I vote as a Moderate/Independent? I love options and I often see both sides.)

1. Motivations: When I was single, I enjoyed going to BAR Charlotte and Have a Nice Day CafĂ© every week because those were places where my single girlfriends and I could check out single guys. Now, I’m not interested in the meat market-type venues because I have a husband. Your goals for socializing with friends change because you’re no longer focusing your get-togethers around cruising for potential mates.
2. Money, kids and stress: These categories are all but self-explanatory and in most cases, are dependent upon each other. Of course you’re not gonna spend every night out if you have children, and for most couples that have multiple kids, the lack of disposable funds can be a deciding factor on whether you spend Friday night out on the town with friends or at home with the family.
3. Similar interests: If you and your spouse are lucky to have many of the same interests, then I’m betting you don’t see a big decline in your social habits. For example, if you’re both avid boaters, then you’re more likely to have a circle of people who enjoy boating, thus you’re spending more time among friends. Also, because of your shared interests, such as attending a book club meeting together, your quality time increases.
4. Couple friends: When you get married, it’s not that you socialize less, it’s just you tend to find more couple friends. So your choice of events reflect that because you want to find activities where the four or six of you can enjoy a good time (i.e., concerts, playing cards or bowling). Plus, in your single days you might have been more of a hermit when it came to socializing, but now that you've met Mrs. I Know Everyone In Town, you're spending more time attending functions and getting to know more people.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Laugh of the day

Sometimes, those e-mail forwards we receive are actually worth forwarding. I just got this from a friend. Yes, it's a generalization, but this is the difference between women and men in a nutshell:



Tonight I thought he was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment. Conversation wasn't flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed but he kept quiet and absent. I asked him what was wrong; he said nothing. I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said it had nothing to do with me and not to worry. On the way home I told him that I loved him, he simply smiled and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior. I don't know why he didn't say "I love you too." When we got home I felt as if I had lost him, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there and watched TV. He seemed distant and absent. Finally, I decided to go to bed. About 10 minutes later he came to bed, and to my surprise he responded to my caress and we made love, but I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep - I cried. I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.


I shot the worst round of golf in my life today, but at least I got laid.