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Posts Tagged ‘wife’

How to snag a husband — really?

In aging, behavior, education, life, love, women on March 14, 2014 at 12:24 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Our rings

Our rings

If there’s one obsession I will never really fathom, it’s rushing young women posthaste to the altar.

Let alone a long line of people — parents/friends/relatives/room-mates/newspaper columnists — shoving them there.

Can we say “heteronormativity?”

Sure we can!

The latest slugest over how to find a decent husband is “Marry Smart”, written by a female Princeton graduate, advising women to get married while they’re still in college, surrounded by — she insists — their best choices; i.e. smart, driven, likely affluent men, (or women.)

Nor, she asserts, will women ever again be as attractive. Even better, kids, get plastic surgery to fix all those jiggly/weird bits while you’re still (yes, really) in high school.

Here’s feminist blog Jezebel’s take on it:

Marry Smart, the retrograde pile of garbage that the ‘Princeton Mom’ has sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard and called a book, drops today. That means Susan Patton is currently making the media rounds, questioning the notion of date rape and insisting that she is “not a provocative person.”

…all copies of Marry Smart will be banned from our separatist compound, and our turkey baster parties are just lovely.

And from Salon:

just exaggerated parroting of dominant and destructive cultural norms, she has styled herself as a cartoon mouthpiece for these ideas.

For a different perspective, here’s part of the favorable review from the socially conservative Wall Street Journal:

Since men, even young college men, distinguish between the women they want to have casual sex with and the women they want to marry and have children with, Ms. Patton devotes much of her book to telling readers how to fall into the second category. Avoid the campus hookup scene—it’s a waste of precious time. Don’t binge-drink—you will do stupid things. Realistically assess your looks and act accordingly: If you are only a “six,” that handsome “ten” knows he can do better than you and is probably out of your league. Lose excess weight. Act like a lady. Don’t swear like a fishwife. Learn to cook. Don’t be a whiny, moody, spoiled, entitled princess (“hothouse tomato” is Ms. Patton’s term). Cultivate a generous spirit and a readiness to forgive. Don’t chase after “bad boys,” especially if they display traits such as drug abuse and physical violence. Don’t be a gold-digger (“earn your own fortune”).

So bizarre!

– Not every woman wants to marry, ever

– Not every woman wants to have children

– Many women are too busy learning, studying and planning their lives to put a ring on it after four years on campus

– Who’s to say your “best choice” is a fellow student?

I’d love to see a similarly finger-wagging book aimed at men, but I’m not holding my breath.

I had a great time at university, double-majoring in English and boys. It was a lot of fun, certainly for a young woman who had been viciously bullied for 2.5 years of high school, and doubted any man would find her attractive. Many did. That was a pleasant surprise, and I took advantage of it.

One of my beaux, whom I dated in my freshman year after meeting him the very first week of school, was a lovely man five years my senior, a fellow journalist. A decent and well-raised man, he made marital noises, but I was having none of it.

We later married others — both of whom left us when we were living in foreign countries where we’d followed them — and we have since re-married, each very happily, again.

I loved him dearly and we remain friends, decades later. But I knew, even at 20, this was not the man for me.

Yes, some people are delighted to marry very young, and it all works out.

It struck me as terrifyingly claustrophobic, even as I had several proposals from handsome, smart, hardworking men when I was in my 20s. I just didn’t want to get married that young, and married only when I was 35, to a handsome, smart, Ivy-educated, hardworking physician I had already known for five years.

A doct-uh!

Who walked out barely two years later and promptly re-married a co-worker.

Ooops.

It took me a long time to find a man who is an excellent husband.

Would Susan Patton have told me to marry him? Hell, no!

My husband, Jose. photo: Caitlin Kelly

My husband, Jose. photo: Caitlin Kelly

We come from different countries, races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds. He attended state school on scholarship funds through his father’s church.

He’s a gem. But it took the loupe of mid-life appreciation to see that.

We may not have a clue who’s our best match in our 20s, 30s or even our 40s.

How about you?

What advice — whatever your age — would you offer to a young woman hoping to find a good life partner?

The secret of a lasting marriage is…

In aging, behavior, domestic life, family, life, love, men, women on August 15, 2013 at 12:43 am
Husband Crèche

Husband Crèche (Photo credit: dullhunk)

By Caitlin Kelly

Forgiveness.

My second wedding anniversary, to my second husband, arrives soon — September 17 – here’s a link to a description of that lovely day, with photos.

We’d been together for 11 years already when we finally tied the knot, in a small wooden 100+ year old church on an island in the harbor of my hometown, Toronto.

I loved him, but just couldn’t imagine taking vows with someone so different from me: Buddhist/Christian; American/Canadian; 30 years at the same employer/self-employed; Hispanic/Anglo; passive/aggressive; meticulous/spontaneous.

For many years, we fought, bitterly — two stubborn mid-life journo’s, both long-divorced with no kids. Two people who arrived in New York from cities far away, both determined to make our mark in the most sharp-elbowed city in the world.

It’s not easy to switch at day’s end from being someone able to beat ferocious competitors all day long to being sweet and pliable at home.

We do have tempers, and we were both well-bullied as teenagers.

It left us wary, hair-trigger, thin-skinned.

This blog post at Salon, written by an American woman who admitted she hit her husband, provoked many comments:

My husband and I weren’t even married yet when I first hit him. Afterward, I tried to rationalize what happened. I told myself I hadn’t hurt him. How could my scrawny 5’4” self actually hurt his strapping 6’2” frame, right? I swore it wouldn’t happen. But it did anyway.

My anger became my biggest secret. Whenever I commiserated with my sister or best friend  about our husbands, I would agree that, yes, men are maddening. But I would always leave out the the part about me hitting or slapping mine. I wasn’t lying exactly. Besides, I’d tell myself, it hardly ever happens.

But I knew it was wrong. Being a child who hits inanimate objects is one thing, but being a grown woman who directs her rages into her husband’s face is something else entirely. Each time it happened, I’d apologize profusely. Each time, my husband would forgive me, and I’d vow it would never happen again. But it always did.

Why is forgiveness top of mind right now?

It might be living in New York — where two prominent local politicians both betrayed their wives and got caught, yet both are running for office again.

It might be reaching mid-life, when some once-egregious and unforgivable sins begin to lose some of their power.

It might be the basic realization that none of us is perfect. We will, inevitably, hurt and disappoint and dismay and embarrass the people who adore us, and vice versa. Without the salve of forgiveness, no wound can heal.

It might watching a couple we introduced at our dinner table now divorce.

rings

Our wedding rings.

Yet Jose and I still spat. It’s not nice.

The other day, after a rough week, we went for lunch in a friend’s garden, and the universe decided to teach us both a lesson.

Within minutes — for the first time since our childhoods — we were both stung by wasps, I on the ring finger of my left hand (where a wedding ring usually goes) and he above his right eye, the one he uses to focus when taking photos.

We were in fucking agony!

But all we could do was fuss and coo, fetching ice and aspirin and trying to soothe one another.

It took a wasp’s venom.

But I’m paying attention, dammit.

What has saved your marriage?

Ten Ways To Stay (Happily!) Married

In behavior, domestic life, family, life, love, men, women on October 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Kapu bride and groom

Image via Wikipedia

Like I’m an expert — having been married (for the second time) an entire month. But I did live with Jose for 11 years before we married, long outlasting many official marriages along the way.

Here’s a smart blog post with tips from a few American couples who’ve been married a long time.

Argue when necessary. I don’t believe marriages whose motto is: “We never fight.” Hmmm. So, you never, ever, ever have a difference of opinion on anything? If so, cool. If not, and someone is perpetually squelching their feelings for fear of conflict, look out. Jose and I are passionate, stubborn perfectionists. It’s gonna happen.

Apologize — and really mean it. Not the “I’m sorry you feel hurt” which is BS, an insult and so not an apology! Forgive quickly, and mean it. Grudges are poison.

Flowers are a very good idea, any time. Women who adore them cannot get enough of them. Find out your spouse’s absolute favorites — buy big and often. Every time she looks at them, she sees your love.

Never stop saying “please” and “thank you.” About three years ago, we went out for dinner with an older woman who had never met us, and who had no idea how long we’d been a couple. Watching our behavior, (still respectful, even a bit formal), she guessed a few months. The late Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue, in her fab 1997 autobiography DV, said she always stood up a little straighter when her husband walked into the room. I like that.

Your spouse comes first. It took a long time for Jose to understand that work is key to his happiness and our income, but he must put it aside to connect with me, certainly at day and week’s end. I’m a driven, ambitious and passionate person, and all for someone who loves their work, but not at the expense of their marriage. I’ve had to stop obsessing about my own issues, especially my mother, who lives very far away, whose life is forever full of demanding and emotionally draining complications.

Laugh long, loud and as often as possible. My Dad has stayed with us a few times in our one-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the sofa. He says he was struck by how much Jose and I laugh in bed together. We do laugh a lot. Life in your 40s and beyond gets crazy stressful as friends and parents sicken and die. Laughter heals.

Never abandon seduction. I don’t mean sex, per se, but effort. I really appreciate it when Jose puts on a coat and tie, whether for church or a party or a meal out. I, too, make a point of shedding my sloppy at-home clothes, which I live in because I work alone at home all day. Perfume, cologne, a fresh shave, a pedicure. Having a wonderful meal prepared for you, offered at a lovely table. Jose brings me coffee in bed each morning,  It all helps.

Cultivate close friendships with people who share your spiritual values. I stay far away from whiners and emotional vampires, especially from those clinging to abusive mates or contemplating, or having, an affair. Every marriage needs all the strengthening it can get, and none of the weakening. Surround yourself with healthy role models.

Vacations! Every relationship needs some fresh air and new perspectives, on the world and on each other. Jose and I had a doozy of a fight at 6:00 a.m. in Paris after I chose the wrong bus to get us into the city. But when we arrived at Notre Dame just in time for the sunrise, he quickly forgave me. We’ve also taken separate vacations and thrived. One of my favorite memories was when I was in Tunis, in June 2003, and he was in San Francisco, and we spoke by phone across that impossible distance, my coins clanging through the pay phone like hailstones.

When we can afford it, we come here, (five times so far!) to this idyllic Canadian resort, and look forward to more shared memories there. I love having “our place”, where they know us well and remember our previous visits over the past 10 years.

Totally separate interests. Yes. Jose is passionate about Buddhism and golf. Not I. I love antiques, design, museums, dance. We both need to recharge our batteries, make space and time alone to enjoy ourselves, share our loves with friends and strangers — so we can come home with fresh material. Every marriage needs new material!

Here’s a new book that offers some of the same ideas, and others…

What keeps your marriage thriving?

What Exactly Is A Wife?

In behavior, culture, domestic life, family, life, love, women, work on September 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm
Bride before ceremony

Image by PeterJBellis via Flickr

I’m a new noun!

The word husband is also a verb, which I really like — to till, or cultivate. A good marriage is a living thing that demands attention and care.

Wonder why there’s no equivalent verb for being a wife…

Becoming someone’s wife means a lot of things. You might cover parts of your body with henna or scars. You might have to show everyone the blood-stained sheet after your wedding night to prove you had been a virgin beforehand. You might move into your in-laws’ home and become their virtual slave.

For a feminist and someone who had been divorced for 17 years, it’s an odd feeling to be a wife again. It feels good! I realized it was a piece of myself I was holding in abeyance.  I’ve finally heaved a sigh of relief to have closed a door that remained open; we’d been engaged for eight years.

Three older women friends from church, congratulating us both, said they all knew it was me — and it was — who had been the reluctant one, not Jose, which most people (sexists!) assumed it must be. My first marriage, which lasted barely two years after five together beforehand, did mean leaving behind my career, family and friends in Canada to start again, at 30, in New York in a recession. It was terribly hard and lonely.

When I joined Jose at the altar two days ago, I was meeting an old, dear friend of eleven years, a man whose character I know and trust, a fellow journalist — not the glittering but controlling doctor I married the first time. This time, I already had a career in the U.S., my own identity certain, my accomplishments sufficient to capture that most valuable of real estate, a New York Times wedding announcement.

I also wanted to arrive at the altar feeling terrific about myself, after a rough few years. And this year has been a wonderful ride: “Malled” published, its sitcom script awaiting CBS’ approval for a pilot, offers of chances to consult, new magazine clients. I finally felt like the old me again. Now I could become a full(er) partner.

When you marry, or remarry at 54, that walk to the altar feels very different than it did for me at 35. If you have kids (we do not), they’re grown up and may have kids of their own. You’ve lost friends to premature death; we lost 12 in two horrible years. You’re facing your own health issues or those of aging parents.

My mother, glowing and thrilled in a yellow silk dress last time, is now in a nursing home with dementia and did not attend. My stepmother, with whom I always had a tough relationship, has been dead for four years. My Dad, healthy and strong at 82, looked fab in a bow-tie and double-breasted navy blazer, his new partner Mary, in a saffron yellow silk jacket — just back from Hong Kong and the marriage of her daughter.

Intimacy and constancy are, for me anyway, more precious than ever.

Canadian journalist Ann Kingston examined the world of wife-dom in her 2005 book.

Here’s a recent essay about the issue from the Canadian national newspaper, The Globe and Mail:

The marriage is happy, the husband fantastic. But the word “wife” remains itchy and ill fitting. When my husband’s work took us to a foreign country for a year, his colleagues tried to make sense of my presence. Neither employee nor local, I was an appendage, and experienced a shrinking each time I was branded as such. “Oh, you’re the wife,” the colleagues would say, followed by a smile of tolerance, even kindness, but never excitement. “Wife” eclipsed all of my other identities: Writer! Runner! Mother! Parking-ticket fighter! No further investigation was required: Wife was my beginning and end, alpha and omega.

What does being a wife mean to you?

How To Win My Heart

In behavior, blogging, domestic life, family, life, love, men, women on February 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm
Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...

Image via Wikipedia

And, so to Valentine’s Day…

Having loved and lost and loved again — now in the 11th year with my sweetie — here’s how he won my heart, and continues to.

I suspect many of these are on your wish list as well:

Be loyal. If someone disses me, especially in front of others, remind them, however gently, that their concerns are best addressed directly to me.

Be fair. If you know I’ve been doing all the housework and you’ve been doing none, man up and grab that toilet bowl brush!

Listen carefully. Do not blow me off with “I hear you.” Focus your undivided attention on me for at least 30 minutes every day and you will learn who I am and where I’m going and whether I still want you with me on that journey.

Make me laugh. I can handle a  ton o’ stress as long as I can laugh long and hard in the middle of it. A man who makes me laugh wins me every time.

Action, not words. As someone who uses words for a living, as a journalist and author, I am totally unimpressed by fair phrases and fancy promises. Heard ‘em all! I’m watching and waiting for you to put those words into action. Until you do, I tend to tune out.

Take good care of yourself. Dress with care and style, smell good, trim your hair and nails. Go to the gym or court or field and sweat off your stress and frustrations. Or meditate, or pray or go fishing to savor life and slow down into pleasure and come home again happy. Watch what you eat and remember that a trim, healthy man who respects himself enough to keep strong and flexible is attractive at any age.

Be fun. What do you do for pure fun? That does not involve some tech-toy or screen or sitting still? Think of fun, spontaneous things to do or places to go or a new meal to try. Delight me, please.

Have a spiritual life. You must be very clear that we all are much more than the sum of our possessions, good looks and/or fancy job title. What are you giving back to this world of value to others?

Astonish me. My sweetie scrubbed my mother’s soiled mattress after she had been trapped in bed for days before she was rescued with a brain tumor (She is fine.) Who does that? He did. Sold!

Don’t confuse charm or personality with character. It’s a very old-fashioned word, character, but it’s what lasts long after superficial charm or a cute smile or a cool job. After the age of 40, life starts getting much tougher for most of us, as our parents sicken and die, as friends die too young and we face our our work and health challenges. A man, or woman, with character will be steadfast through it all.

Be kind. To me, yourself, to others. Pat dogs and cats in passing (unless you’re allergic or phobic.) Hug babies and kids  — everyone! Kiss people when you see them. Hold their hands, literally or figuratively, when they are scared or lonely. Compassion is one of the sexiest qualities a man can have!

And, yes, of course — we need to bring these qualities as well!

What qualities in your sweetie won your heart?

What would?

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