Monthly Archives: October 2011

what a wife wants

I hear my guy throw “I’m a bachelor” often in response to the way he takes care of himself — e.g. lots of take-out food, cigars, etc. I wouldn’t say there’s any issue with these behaviors, but the “I’m a bachelor” default could become a worrisome habit if we were to enter a more serious stage of our relationship. I often find myself wanting to coach or prep him for what a wife wants, whether that woman is me or some another lucky lady. But it’s hard to balance my commitment to not making a project of him with keeping up habits of excellent communication. I’d rather see what he has to offer than try to train him to be something I want…a husband who…

Plans for an abundant future, both financially and physically:

  • Takes care of home and property.
  • Saves for retirement.
  • Eats right, exercises, has healthy habits.
  • Releases what is no longer needed.

Pitches in around the house:

  • Can prepare a healthy meal for the family.
  • Can make a bed, do laundry, fold clothes, etc.
  • Can clean or, in lieu of cleaning, votes for hiring a housekeeper.

Keeps his own friends and interests:

  • We all need time alone and other healthy relationships.

Has good habits / manners:

  • Puts the toilet seat down.
  • Picks up after himself.
  • Keeps his stuff organized.

Is loving:

  • Prioritizes to make time to stay connected.
  • Plans the occasional surprise.
  • Learns my love language(s).

Knows:

  • That where there are children involved, your time is not your own, and you must simply surrender to the present needs of the family.
  • How to fix a thing or two around the house, and when to call in the experts, instead.

live and in person

As I may have mentioned, it’s not always easy to find time to date between working full-time and parenting nearly full-time… I’ve been lucky to have three free weekends in a row. Frankly, after a run like that, it’s almost more difficult to go back to the usual schedule of rarely seeing one another.

Thanks to a networking event and sitter situation, I was able to connect with my guy for a short time earlier this evening.

“You smell nice,” I told him as we hugged in the street.

“I am nice,” he replied.

Yep. ‘Nuff said.


validate me

I had a little chat with my guy this weekend about my flirting habit and need for validation. I don’t think I am crossing any boundaries or acting inappropriately based on current stage of our relationship, but something I said clearly made my guy think twice.

I’m flirtatious and playful, and I’m that way with both girlfriends and guy friends… That’s not likely to change, and it’s not something I’d want to change about myself. Still, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that amusing email exchange with Chi-guy — particularly not at the moment I brought it up. But it was funny! And I’m transparent like that. I don’t think anything of it — i.e. this sort of back-and-forth communication is not leading to any sort of activity. (As my readers know, Chi-guy didn’t make any moves when given the chance.) So it was no big deal to me.

My guy is more Southern, more traditional, more proper. His boundaries are clearly in a different place than mine and, frankly, that gives me great comfort. Still, I am capable of exclusivity — and I don’t think a harmless flirtation, via email no less, should bring my character into question.

But then, while at work today, I noticed my need for validation… In fact, I thought about shooting a note to the guy (formerly in the next cubicle) who used to give me attention. I realized, “Wow, I do have a heightened need for validation and attention right now.” So I got another cup of tea and went back to work.

Perhaps this need for validation is a result of where I am in my life – divorced, dating again, working hard to restore my feelings of attractiveness and self-confidence. Perhaps it’s a recent habit. Or perhaps I’ve been like this for years.

So I’m glad we had that chat. Because, while I have much firmer boundaries than I’ve had in the past and my sense of what’s appropriate is more in line with the cultural norms of surrounding adults, it’s good for me to be reminded to mind my behaviors. Not everyone is so generous in their perceptions of flirty women.

Still, this discussion about flirting with other men and my need for validation brings up a question:  Am I really ready for exclusivity? Can I allow this to progress naturally and, should things become more serious, reign in a flirtatiousness that seems so natural to me?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:  I like to flirt because it makes others feel as good as it makes me feel. When I’m at my best, I charm and put anyone at ease — a good skill to have. So I’ll be a flirt, more consciously, in its higher form…and I’ll learn to validate myself when I need that.


a different tune

It’s interesting how completely different the messages I’m getting from my current beau are from the ones I received from my ex.

I hear:  “You’re a really good communicator” and “You’ve got to tell me what you want, Lady!”

This sort of feedback is so completely refreshing after a few years of tension, silence and walking on eggshells! So…is it me who’s different? Or is it that these men are so completely different? Or is it that we create each other in relationships?


spiritual soul mates

I'm a bonehead

Just because...I'm a bonehead

I’ve often heard tell that the spiritual definition of one’s soul mate is the person who will illuminate (i.e. bring to the surface) the stuff one needs to work on most urgently.

If that’s the case, I could likely be described as my beau‘s soul mate. I seem to be a catalyst for all sorts of things he needs to work on, which might help explain the photo. It seems I am regularly busting his ass about something — in a gentle and loving way, of course!

One has to wonder, with all that soul mate juice going on — all the passion and intensity and feelings of closeness and emotional resonance — is there really room to find something long-term and sustainable and true? I think the answer lies in taking time and communicating. We’re both pretty responsive when the other calls us on our “stuff,” and we’re both pretty accountable for cleaning it up. But will there come a point when this willingness runs out?

I suppose there’s no way of really knowing whether this might become something enduring, or whether I’m preparing him for someone else (in which case she damned well better be grateful!)…so, rather than get ahead of myself or dwell on the unknowns, I’ve decided to enjoy it for what it is right now.


handling hiccups

There are three things I adore about the guy I’m seeing:

  • He’s constantly affectionate and loving. He’s usually touching me or telling me how wonderful I am or both at the same time.
  • He’s remarkably adult. He brings up and wants to talk about everything, from difficult topics to trivia. He doesn’t shy away from controversial conversations.
  • We laugh together a lot!

Yet we are not immune to relationship hiccups. As two people get to know one another, there are always going to be moments when feelings are hurt or boundaries challenged.

We had our first such issue several days ago:  I cried; he cried. Later he apologized via voicemail (I didn’t answer his calls) and text.

I texted back:  “I hope you know a good florist.”

Sure enough, I arrived home to fresh flowers within 48 hours.

A few days later, we’d talked it over, snuggled a bit, made up and were ready to laugh about things. I teased, “It all goes downhill from here, you know. A couple of years down the road, it’s ‘I hope you know a good jeweler.'”

“Damn! And then a few years after that, I suppose it’s ‘I hope you know a good Audi dealer,'” he played along.

“I like the way you think!” I said. And we giggled together.

There will undoubtedly be more difficult discussions and challenging times ahead, but the way we handled this hiccup gives me hope that we can navigate even the bigger ones.


I’m clean

Not long ago, I wrote about getting tested for STDs.

I met with a nurse at my clinic, asked a few questions about the screening, undressed from the waist down and draped myself in paper. Here’s what I learned:

  • I would be screened for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea using a cervical culture, and for Syphilis and HIV via blood draw.
  • I would not be screened for HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus, or HSV, the Herpes virus. A blood test to screen for antibodies would not be particularly helpful, since many people have been exposed to these viruses and might have the antibodies indicating a healthy immune response. Unless I’d had an abnormal Pap test or was experiencing symptoms (I was not — and have not ever), it would be difficult to tell if I actually had either disease.
  • My beau, who’d had a bout with HPV awhile back, was not likely to be infectious. According to the CDC, “In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years.” The nurse confirmed that we likely did not need to worry.

I was reassured after the chat with the nurse, and eager to share what I’d learned with my guy. I’d have to wait five to ten business days for results.

Last week, I received the all clear from my clinic. And I’ll leave what happened next to your imagination!


somebody’s watching me

“I always feel like somebody’s watching me, and I have no privacy.” — Rockwell

I couldn’t resist bringing up the 80s synth pop in light of having learned that my beau has found my blog. This nugget was made self-evident as we were having our exclusivity conversation. He said things like:

It was too great a coincidence that he would mirror back to me my own language, yet I didn’t put it together fully until I’d arrived home. I texted him, “When did you start reading my blog?” and went to bed.

I knew it was inevitable that he’d stumble on it or be curious enough to seek it out, and I was willing to share after we’d gotten to know each other a bit better…

He seemed almost apologetic for having stumbled upon it — and quickly swore that he wasn’t creepy or anything. He told me that he respects me more for having a deeper understanding of what I’ve been through and an intimate window into what probably amounts to excessive introspection. And he even handled my last post fluidly. He understands that I’m writing about me and not about him.

I suppose the lesson in this, if there is one, is that I’m worthy of being appreciated for being myself, even when I let it all hang out, and regardless of what relationship drivel du jour I publish here.

p.s. Hi, Sweetie!


does water seek its own level?

A few weeks ago…

One of the common relationship aphorisms that sticks in my mind is “water seeks its own level.” The counselor my ex and I went to years ago, in fact, said this to us. And, for reasons I shall soon share, it has come to mind again…

I’ve been seeing the gentleman once accused of aggravated assault (sounds kind of badass, doesn’t it?!). Very early in our getting to know each other, he confessed to me just about everything you can imagine a person unloading:  a troubled childhood, severed ties with family, medical history and more. He still sees a therapist to work through the whole arrest ordeal. As I wrote earlier, he doesn’t look so good on paper.

And yet there’s something about him… I know, you’re groaning. And you should be. The last thing I need is a project.

We were chatting the one night (just before he told me everything) and I recall teasing, “You don’t scare me at all! …but I’m pretty sure I scare the living hell out of you!”

Now I think it’s fair to say that I’m a little scared.

So I’m wondering if the roots of my attraction are reflected in shared experience:  I’ve written about how the failing of my most significant relationship shattered my self-esteem. What I’ve yet to share is a story that I guess it never dawned on me that I’d need to write about here. But now I do.

More than three years ago, I went through a crisis in my family — the very family I helped to create. I was emotionally traumatized. When I think about it, the image I see of myself during that time is me in bed, nearly catatonic and drooling, unable to get up, unclean and unable to go to work.

Memory is a liar. In fact, in the midst of the worst of it, I rose each day, showered, dressed and went to work. I obliquely mentioned to co-workers that I was going through a stressful time with a family crisis, my head was cloudy and I apologized for any areas in which my incapacity caused them to overcompensate during this couple of weeks. (I suppose it needn’t be said that this was a precursor to the split, another manifestation of the symptoms and issues of all that was wrong in my marriage.)

As I slowly “recovered,” I didn’t realize the entirety of the damage to my psyche. I may have believed that I was functioning at full capacity just weeks later, yet external feedback (processed and accepted more deeply after the fact) suggests otherwise. Thus, nearly six months later, I found myself being treated for depression. Within 48 hours of taking a serotonin enhancer, I was a completely different person — a person more like the self I knew.

Still, something in my brain seemed to have changed. My ability to concentrate or focus never really seemed to return to 100%. In other words, the emotional trauma had done sustained damage. For awhile, I thought it was the depression, allergies, hormones or any number of things that can cloud one’s thinking. I’ve since read up on it and, with no formal training or diagnosis, believe that I experienced some amount of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I worked with my usual tools to alleviate the symptoms — applied kinesiology (AK), yoga, meditation, organic diet,cognitive therapy, and Holosynch, a meditation soundtrack that puts the brain into a deeply relaxed state. I quit a stressful job. I’ve been selective about the energy in my environment (people, places and media).

Still, having done this work, I find myself drawn to someone still very much in the midst of healing himself.

So I wonder what this attraction says about me:

  • Do the things that resonate between us have to do with our pain? And, if so, haven’t I already been there? Haven’t I rebuilt my self-esteem? Haven’t I done the hard work?
  • Or is it because of his strength and maturity, having worked through so much, and that he strikes me as so adult…and so willing to embrace all of life head-on?

we were married to the same man

Over the past two years or more, I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “Sounds like we were married to the same man!” I found women at work, women at the salon, and friends I’ve known for years who all expressed the same sentiment.

I guess what it comes down to is that there are a finite number of reasons that relationships don’t work out. And, as it happens, I’ve found several women who share a story not entirely unlike mine. Several, it seemed, had some sort of midlife crisis and then…

In one particular example, a high-end builder with an exclusive clientele just decided he didn’t want to do that sort of thing anymore. After bumbling about for a few years, taking some classes and trying to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up, he ended up in retail. Because he was more mature than the high-schoolers reporting to him and had a bit of know-how, he was quickly promoted to supervisor. Cheers to the family dental plan…and a couple of hundred dollars a week in income! Sure, it was a contribution, but nothing like supporting a family with the income to which they’d become accustomed.

His wife was a trooper throughout this transition, but finally opened herself to the possibility that she didn’t have to be responsible for him financially or emotionally or otherwise. He had become another child to a woman weary of parenting.

Another woman’s husband spent much of his time lying about on the sofa watching the television when he was meant to be looking for a job. He racked up credit card debt and lied about money issues.

Here’s where the relationship rubber hits the road. We’re here to love and support one another in ways, as long as we agree to what those ways are. (Most, but not all of us, know what we’re getting into before we marry.) We’re not here to parent our spouses or support behaviors that don’t nurture us or our commitments. We’re not on this Earth for another lesson in co-dependence.

Long (years) after I’d asked my wasband to go back to work, he was still protesting that “we’d agreed that he would stay home with the children.” In truth, we’d “agreed” because he’d lost his job and it seemed like our best option at the time. Like a toddler on the verge of a decade-long tantrum, he’d dug in his heels and was not about to budge from his position. He changed his internal script to, “I gave up my career to be home with my children.” And he seemed to believe it!

Relationships must change and evolve. They require communication. Agreements made must often be renegotiated. And it takes two committed adults to embark on that sort of work.