How Marriage Changes People Forever – From BBC

I read an article this week and I immediately went, “OMG! That was me!” Now yes, I was never married, but my in my last relationship, I felt my usual level of extroversion plummet. And that sucked. Because I liked meeting people where ever I happened to be in the city. I’d talk to people on the train, or in bars, and when I was in a relationship, it was really hard to do that. First, because my ex hated talking to strangers, especially on the street, or you know, helping them with directions, and it’s weird to talk to strangers in bars when you’re with someone – even if you’re only talking to them in the hopes of meeting interesting people platonically.

The article also says that people who get married are better at self-control and forgiveness. Well, that’s good because if you’re legally tying yourself to someone for eternity, you better learn how to forgive because they are imperfect, and you better learn some self-control so you don’t have sex with anyone else (if you are monogamous, that is).

The follow excerpt is also particularly rage-inducing for me, personally:

The pattern is backed up, at least among women, by an earlier and much smaller US study published in 2000, in which the researchers tested the personalities of just over 2,000 middle-aged participants twice over of a period of between six and nine years.

In that time, 20 of the women married while 29 of them divorced. Relative to those who tied the knot, the divorcees showed increased extroversion and openness, as if freed from the shackles of wedlock. Newly married men, by contrast, showed benefits compared with their divorced peers, scoring higher on conscientiousness and lower in neuroticism.

Now these are small studies, but they basically say: men are better off being married, while women are better off not being attached. Where’s the happy medium?

I think this stems from the fact that marriage makes a man seem desirable, while marriage for a woman validates her as a person because someone (finally!) “chose her.” As outdated as a theory like that may sound, I think it’s still pretty relevant. Have you heard someone ask, “What’s wrong with her that she’s (insert age) and still single?!” People rarely ever say that about men. They’re just “focused on their careers.”

Is this 100% true for everyone who gets married? NO. I’m saying that I related to these hypotheses and studies, and their conclusions. 

I once thought that I would like to get married. Then I thought, “Meh, I’d just like an engagement ring because: shiny” and no reason to get married. Now I’m at a place where I’m all, “Nah, I’d rather not walk around with thousands of dollars on my finger that someone could want to steal, or worse, I could lose, and I don’t need to legally bind myself to someone either, thanks.”

I’ve written before about how it irks me when people get engaged and say, “I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you!” like an engagement and a piece of paper guarantees that. I’ve seen enough divorces occur to know that it doesn’t. Would I like to “settle down” (another phrase that irks me) someday? Maybe? I don’t know. This could be a bad reaction from my last relationship, or it could just be a realization that I’m not made for marriage, and that doesn’t make me any better or worse than anyone who is. I love the idea of living with someone and having separate bedrooms. Which is totally catching on but it’s still confusing people who are all on board with the “normal” way relationships “should” be.

Of course, I also love the idea of a relationship with someone and not living with them at all. I own my place (#blessed) so the idea of renting this place out to rent some other place with a possible future significant other is unappealing. My place is also too small for two people to live in. I won’t live here forever, but right now: I’m not leaving it.

I think, regarding losing your extroversion in a relationship or marriage, I also should acknowledge that you need to find a person to lifts you up, not suffocates you. I was definitely suffocated. The light inside of me was burned out and for that, I am grateful AF to be #single again.

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File Under: Phrases That Should Never Be Used

I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together.

Someone wrote this recently alongside a picture of themselves with their fiance because they had just gotten engaged (very happy for them, seriously!). My first thought was, “What was stopping you before the expensive piece of jewelry?

Seriously, am I wrong? Weren’t you (not just this person specifically but anyone who says that ever) planning on doing that anyways before he (or she!) started saving and you both decided it was a good idea to have the government involved in your relationship?

A much older (like, 70 years old) and wiser (she should really write a book) cousin is incredibly against marriage (it’s not a good idea to invite the government in bed with your relationship, she says). She’s been married twice, so she has experience with it. She had a child with her second husband at a very late age (luckily, she’s always been in incredible health) in an attempt to make him happy, because he seemed to really want a child (though she did not, but she didn’t mind) and she thought it would help make him happy. She told me recently, “If someone is unhappy, having a child is not going to make them any less unhappy.”

Point taken. 

The one perk of marriage she could think of was hospital visitation rights. That’s valid. Those are important. But the rest of it? Use lawyers to say what belongs to whom; have a joint bank account for bills, but keep your accounts separate. Get a Power of Attorney or something for your partner to have legal rights to sign things over for you. 

I mean, to each their own, duh. If you want to get married, awesome! If not, that’s fine, too. But can you do it without saying you “can’t wait to spend the rest of your life” with said-partner? Because it’s redundant and makes zero sense. 

Unless of course this is an arranged marriage. Then I totally get it. 

My Night with Alabama

Is Alabamans the name for people from Alabama? I’d imagine so. Let me know if I’m wrong. 

I’d gone with J last Saturday night to a bar in the Flatiron so he could see one of his good friends from his first job in DC for the first time in years and somehow I ended up hanging out at a table that was more than half full of Alabamans. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d say! 

His friend’s fiancee is from Alabama (she was super sweet!) and she met up with four friends from high school/college who were vacationing in the city or lived here. Two of them were not yet 30 and vacationing in the big city for their 5 year wedding anniversary. A different way of life, indeed. 

Politics never came up, and probably for the best. But Fucking A, I have never in my life felt so pressured to be engaged and/or married. When we were asked how long we’d been together and we said our 1-year anniversary was the prior week, the couple celebrating their 5-year anniversary looked at each other and said, “oh, we were engaged after a year!” And then they started discussing engagement rings and how I have to take him shopping for one so he doesn’t get me a bad ring. I smiled and nodded and then changed the topic because I’m in no rush to get married. I don’t see it as a necessary step in a relationship or in life. 

They were super nice people and I had fun, despite my being incredibly exhausted. But man, am I glad I don’t live in Alabama and that I wasn’t married right out of college. Talk about boring. Where’s the room for life experiences if you’re already playing house when you’re 22? 

One thing is for sure: they’ll be fun to drink with at the wedding! 

Different strokes, man….

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Why having children is bad for your marriage

Life affirming indeed. I think women probably still say it (the pain and suffering) was “worth it” because it’s what they’ve been conditioned (brainwashed?) to think. I think women are only recently coming to terms with the fact that they don’t, in fact, need to breed and that’s OK (it’s also okay if you want to have kids, but for the right reasons, please).

I’d love for mothers to ask themselves what they would’ve done with those nine months of torture being pregnant and the following 18 years if they’d chose not to procreate?

Couples realizing they have nothing in common after their kids leave the nest is a huge problem, methinks. I’ve watched couples have kids and never again have hobbies of their own. Sad.com.

Will the media please stop reinforcing this untrue fantasy that people, and women in particular, are incomplete if they don’t have children? Please, please, please.

Travel, have dinner parties, spend time with your friends, go take a cooking class, get a PhD… there are a plethora of other options besides having kids.

Why having children is bad for your marriage

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Do We Judge Married Women Who Keep Their Last Names?

This video was super interesting, and really surprising, to be quite honest. I hadn’t expected that we’d progressed enough as a society to have as equally high opinions of women who choose not to take their husband’s last names. It turns out the opinions of women who keep their own last name are higher. They’re regarded as more independent, they are assumed to make more money and be more intelligent. 

Of course this isn’t always the case, as a couple of my girlfriends have taken their husband’s last names and they’re not stupid by any means. Though it’s oftentimes to replace their own hard-to-spell last names so they’re more than happy to get rid of it. Perhaps they’re just more traditional, which is neither good nor bad.

I do believe the custom is highly outdated though, dating back to when women were considered property of their husbands being the reason they took their husband’s last name. They pretty much had no choice.

I think that since women, and people in general, are getting married later and later in life, it makes sense that fewer women are changing their last names. Marrying later in life means you probably already have your career established and probably have made a name for yourself in said-field. If you’re going to be perceived as smarter and more independent, you’re probably not going to want to change that perception, especially by male colleagues if you give up your last name easily (as sexist and shitty-sounding as that is, it’s still true).

I never planned on changing my last name if I ever married someone. I’m not traditional and I don’t ever want to be “Mr. and Mrs. (Insert Husband’s Name).” Just because we signed a piece of paper doesn’t mean I don’t get my name on mail anymore. 

That’s also a lot of paperwork and that sounds like a huge pain in the ass. When I sent this to my dude and he said, “Oh wow, that’s interesting. But I wouldn’t expect you to take my last name anyways.” Phew. Glad we got that out of the way. I’m glad it wasn’t a deal breaker for him (just to be clear, we have seriously discussed getting married exactly zero times). 

I told him I expected him to take my last name anyways 😉

Do We Judge Married Women Who Keep Their Last Names?

Just couldn’t.

I’d been temping as a bookkeeper at an event planning agency for the last (almost) two months in midtown and on Friday, that time came to an end. I was placed here by a staffing agency and the company was sold me as a marketing agency but it very much isn’t. I realized that when I sat down to review budgets my first week and saw that every other event was a wedding. And not just a wedding, a $1 million+ wedding.

I know: people are free to spend their money as they see fit. Fine. But I can’t wrap my mind around how some people spend more on a single day than most people make in a year (or ten years). Some were on far-away private islands. Some used private jets to get there. Others purchased iPads for all of their 200 guests. Yeah, it was those kinds of weddings. The “My Super Sweet 16″ of weddings.

Maybe I couldn’t stomach it because I’d love a courthouse wedding, with chicken wings and beer at a bar alongside friends and family afterwards, while wearing a cream dress that somewhat resembles a nightgown. Who knows.

I also learned that I’m not really good with hospitality. You know: pandering to the 1% of the population who think they’re special because of their upbringing or what the number in their bank account reads. This is partially why I’ve always liked bookkeeping/finance/accounting.
You get to be on the back end of the company and you don’t have to
bullshit with clients all day. My inability to be hospitable is important because I also did the bookkeeping for the child company of the larger company which sells mixers for margaritas and bloody mary’s, among other things. When I said I was sending out emails to stores who were delinquent in their payments (I’m talking about 3+ months), the other girl who works on the company immediately sought me out after the first one went out and asked me to, maybe, be a little softer. My initial reaction: Um, what? Why? They’re 3+ months overdue on a $70 bill. They need to get their shit together and pay us.

So: hospitality isn’t for me and I’m glad I learned that.

I digress.

Around the holidays, I’d sent out a few resumes because I was afraid they a) weren’t going to hire me full time (that was the plan) and I’d be jobless, or b) they would hire me full time and I’d have to do bookkeeping for the 1%’s ridiculously extravagant events for the rest of my life (#dramatic).

Believe me, I see the paradox there, too. I want a job, but I don’t want that job.

I was also bored as fuck, after only two months. Don’t get me wrong, the people I was working with were lovely and my boss was fantastic. It just wasn’t the right place. Luckily, an opportunity to work at a start-up that really excited me came up last week and I couldn’t say no, so I didn’t. This opportunity came along just after I’d convinced myself that the current role would be fine for now. I’d gotten over the initial disappoint of being at a place that plans million-dollar weddings. The flattering thing was that when I told my boss, she asked if she could make a counter offer. I politely-as-possible declined though. 

Anywho: I’ll be doing HR and operations (what I wanted to segue my career back into anyhow) with a dozen or so awesome, passionate people (including a good friend of mine).

I’m excited and I’m leaving the old job in great shape, better than it was in when I came along. I guess that’s all they can ask for. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to continue to refine my bookkeeping and people-managing skills at this company, though and not be broke during the holidays. That was cool too.

On/Up.

More reasons not to have kids.

Last Tuesday night, I met two of my closest friends from my last job down at our usual watering hole: Von (on Bleecker). It’s simple, has happy hour, and doesn’t get crowded until later in the evening. I adore these guys so much and I miss seeing their faces every day and going down to the Calexico cart with them for lunch and waiting on ridiculous lines for burritos. Anyways, I digress.

One friend, we’ll call him D, regaled us with how he’s getting fucked over in court currently. He broke up recently with his girlfriend, with whom he had a child (he’s adorable), and now she’s taken him to court for every last dollar he has. She’s currently unemployed, told the judge she’s applying for food stamps and is going to work part-time. For some reason this sounded OK to the judge and he’s awarded her $4000 per month in child support payments. 

Let that number sink in. 

FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS. I feel so bad for him. His girlfriend is a psychopath. And what kind of judge says OK when a parent is like “food stamps and part-time employment it is!” Their son goes to daycare, it’s not like she has to watch him 24/7. 

Then our other friend, we’ll call him G, cautioned us against marriage (partially, sort of in jest, because usually marriage is super simple to get out of unless you own real estate together) with the story about G’s friend who was just out of medical school with lots of loans. He’d never worked a day as a doctor, and when his wife divorced him, the judge based the settlement that he owed her on his “earning potential,” and he was now to pay her $1 million. He has medical school debt and he has to pay his ex-wife $1 million.

I think the laws need to graduate a bit from 1950 and get with the times. Women usually have full-time jobs and don’t need to be coddled in court.

That said: still not having kids. And being very careful with whom I marry (if I marry) and making sure there’s a pre-nup involved.

If I Ever…

… use the term “date night,” you all have permission to punch me in the neck. 

Because you know what this means? It means that you stay home with your significant other a majority of the time now (which, btw, is totally fine) and you feel the need to broadcast your trip to Applebees or Chili’s* to your 500 bff’s on the interwebs that you’re actually leaving the house.

What’s better than staying home with your significant other, cooking, drinking some wine, and watching a movie? Very little. But when you actually stop having sex for a long enough span of time to get dressed and go somewhere? This is not “date night.” This is just going out because you’d like to eat something specific or you’re too lazy to cook (again: nothing wrong with either one of those reasons).

Stop trying to prove to the internets that you’re still exciting. If you want to go out somewhere, go. No need to make a national holiday out of it. 

*Also: If Applebees or Chili’s ever become acceptable establishments to eat at with my significant other (and not ironically), this is also a cause for concern.

The Instant Bond

I had a coffee date on Saturday with a dude. I wasn’t very excited because he was a) an actor and b) a vegan. Now I’m a huge believer in “eat everything in healthy moderation,” but I know there are vegans out there and to each their own. So the fact that this guy being a vegan made me think twice about him was very silly.

But the actor thing? Ugh. I’ve dated actors before. I mean, I went to school for theatre (not acting myself, but management) so I was around them all the time. I dated a lot of them. I can’t exactly get on their schedule while having a 8:30am-whenever-ish PM job. This, while less silly, was another silly reason. 

So, we met up at Joe in Columbia’s atrium on 120th Street. I love that place, it’s awesome. So we grabbed a couple of drinks and sat outside in the courtyard. We talked really easily. It was a good time. When it got too chilly, we came back inside and took two chairs and sat in front of one of the windows of the atrium. 

We talked on and on and on about music and theatre, families and where we grew up, religion and politics. And then he quickly through in, “Do you want kids?” And I quickly replied, “Nope. You?” and he looked relieved and replied in agreement. Instant bond.

It’s really rare to find someone that you get along with who also doesn’t want children. And it’s not that I hate kids, it’s just that they’re a real timesuck, they’re expensive, and I don’t think I’m meant to have them (meaning I don’t have the right disposition to deal with them). I look forward to being the awesome, super-cool aunt to my friend’s kids, for sure. I will buy them a copy of the Rent cast recording when they turn 10 (which will be so un-edgy by then that it will be like listening to a nursery rhyme) and I’ll totally be there when they are 15 or 16 and want to go on the pill. But my own? Nah. 

Now, who knows, I could change my mind at 40, but for the foreseeable future, I’m definitely not into the idea. I’m also not willing to make a life-changing decision right now because there’s a chance I might want it when I’m 40. That’s just silly. And am I willing to compromise that for a great guy? Absolutely not. That happened once already – he was totally cute and definitely a catch, but he wanted “a bunch” of children. So, we’re friends. 

The vegan actor and I said we wanted to hang out again, so we’ll see. I have no expectations. But at least we got one very important question out of the way sooner rather than later. 

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It took me longer than usual to read Committed.  My aunt had sent me the book for my birthday (in April) and I was excited because, and yes I will admit it, I loved Eat, Pray, Love (and I’m excited for the movie). I was a bit saddened to find out that Gilbert had once again gotten married but once I delved deeper into her second memoir, I realized that her (and her now-husband, Felipe) were as equally saddened by the fact that they had to once again be married.  For some reason, that made me feel better.

Committed was more-or-less a study of marriage in western culture intertwined with her dealing with her personal struggles regarding marriage and all that happened while her and Felipe were traveling around Asia when they he wasn’t allowed back into the country.  They even asked the US Department of Immigration if Gilbert could hire him, to which the immigration official asked Felipe, “You would rather be employed by her than marry her?”

  • She discovered that people who married for (economic) necessity and less for love usually had a better chance of not getting divorce (depressing!).  
  • The younger you get married, the more likely it is you’ll get divorced (duh).  
  • Another fun fact: the church DISCOURAGED marriage when it was first introduced into society.  Having a private life with your significant other was grounds for subversive action against the church (why do you think priests aren’t allowed to marry?) as far as they were concerned.  Finally the church took action when they realized they couldn’t prevent marriage from happening, and well, we know what a fine job the church does with everything that they dabble in.  
  • In many parts of Scandinavia, marriage is passe (when is that mindset going to make its way here?) and unnecessary.
  • Pre-nuptial agreements are kind of necessary.  It’s hard to think about the separation of assets when you love someone so much, but just think about how much harder it is to discuss that kind of thing when/if you’ve grown to hate that person.

There were so many interesting facts in this book that I could go on for days.  None of it made me want to run to the alter, obviously.  Gilbert made peace with the fact that they just had to get married and then the US Government didn’t matter one bit.  They could shape their marriage however they wanted.  THe US Government could, for lack of better phrasing, go to hell.  

I’m excited to read her next book, which I’m hoping she’s already writing.  I think this is a must-read for anyone who is getting married or aspires to.  

(photo via)