Can taking a vacation save your marriage?

By Caitlin Kelly

Americans have a great expression — one I never knew growing up in Canada — the “hail Mary pass”, the final-few-seconds of a football game when someone makes the game-winning pass.

I love all the things it encapsulates, and that so-American notion that you can always, somehow, even at the very last desperate minute, save the day from ignominy and disaster.

As if!

Marriage
Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

Here’s a funny/sad New York Times story about couples heading off on vacations in the hope they’ll save their relationships or marriages:

The humorist Dan Greenburg insisted on taking his wife, Nora Ephron, on an African photo safari in 1972, even though she said they would probably split. When they returned home, she asked for a divorce.

“But I took you to Africa!” he said.

Yes, she said, it was a wonderful time. But she still wanted a divorce.

Harriet Lerner, a psychologist and author of “Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up,” said she has noticed an increase in patients taking such “save-cations” in the last few years. She links the rise of these trips to belt-tightening in the wake of the Great Recession.

“A divorce can be much worse economically than going away for a few days together,” said Dr. Lerner, who is based in Lawrence, Kan.

This piece really hit a nerve for me, having had two of these, both ending in tears and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

Mine.

In January of 1994, my then-husband and I flew to Thailand for a three-week vacation. It was, still one of the best experiences of my life — spectacular scenery, kind people, delicious food, even a terrifying/exciting mo-ped trip to the Cambodian border. R and I always traveled well together and were able to enjoy ourselves anywhere.

But he was clearly heading for the exit — barely two years into our marriage.

English: Mae Hong Son, a capital of the Mae Ho...
English: Mae Hong Son, a capital of the Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand Русский: Город Мэхонгсон, административный центр одноимённой провинции (Таиланд) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As our plane took off from Mae Hong Son, a town so small and rural that a woman stood beside the runway on her bicycle, I started sobbing as if — it was — my heart would break.

“I’ll never be here again,” I snuffled.

What I really knew, deep in my heart, was — not with you.

My first post-divorce boyfriend, a hottie, (with the same first name as the husand, hmmmmm), was everything my marriage had been missing and, on the re-bound, I fell deeply in love.

Mistake! He was deeply ambivalent about anything permanent, and his Jewish parents weren’t thrilled he was dating someone named Kelly.

He dumped me, then came back. We had a glorious summer, and then a romantic, lovely weekend in Martha’s Vineyard in September. Then he dumped me again.

WTF?!

Gentlemen — ladies — do.not.ever.do.this!

If you really pretty much already know you’re only going to break someones’s heart into tiny little shards, do not mislead them first with some misguided notion you’re letting them down easy by taking them to a gorgeous spot that only encourages fantasies of a shared future.

Have you ever tried this tactic?

How did it turn out?

Happily Married? Time For Bigger Trousers

A picture taken, of A Green Salad.
Yummmmmm.....Image via Wikipedia

Not surprisingly, people who have found a partner and settled into a happy marriage or life with them, tend to gain weight, reports Abby Ellin — (author of a book on teens and weight loss) — in The New York Times:

Call them happy pounds, love chub or the marriage 15. No matter what, gaining weight during marriage is about as common as holding your breath under water.

A 2008 study in the Journal of Economics and Human Biology examined data from 12,000 men and women ages 18 to mid-40s. Compared with when they were single, the body mass index (or B.M.I., a height-to-weight ratio) of married men increased by 1.5 percent above and beyond what they would normally gain as they aged, and that of women shot up 2 percent.

“Marriage brings along with it social obligations: you eat out more, entertain more frequently, cook meals more frequently, and there’s also an element of being too busy to exercise,” said Laura Argys, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver and an author of the study. What’s more, for better and worse, married couples tend to share behaviors and activities, like snuggling on the couch with a vat of popcorn rather than hopping on the treadmill.

There are also incentives that could explain why the B.M.I. of couples who lived together without making it legal increased by only about 1 percent. If you’re married, the thinking goes, you’re somewhat settled. You don’t have to prove yourself; your spouse will ostensibly love you, all of you, muffin top notwithstanding.

The skinniest I’ve been since moving to the U.S., partnered, living in places that demand driving everywhere and  assaulted by American-style huge portions, was the week my husband bailed and I didn’t eat for a week.

Fifteen pounds — gone! Hot new boyfriend showed up three weeks later.

I’ve been with the sweetie a decade and we are both fighting this weight(y) issue. We love to cook, love great food, love eating out, know how much we make one another happy with a terrific meal shared in a restaurant or cooked well at home.

Other than the obvious, there aren’t a gazillion quick, easy ways to show your love; your hubby can tuck a brownie into his briefcase (or green salad, yes) but which — when homemade — most signals your love?

Breaking the calories = love link is a challenging one. No longer does the sweetie (sigh) bring home muffins. No longer do I bake. But, no matter how beautifully prepared it is, I just can’t get all misty-eyed over yet another bowl of leafy greens with a tbsp. of oil and vinegar dressing.

How do you handle the issue at your house? Have you gained (or lost?) weight when happily partnered?


You're Driving Me Nuts! How Couples Co-Exist In Cars

AC
Who gets the driver's seat? Image by Hugo90 via Flickr

Anyone who’s spent time in a vehicle with a loved one knows the drill — the gasp, the shriek, the moan, the whine. These are not engine sounds. These are the sounds of your sweetie driving you mad.

Funny story in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Beverly Floyd will never forget the worst argument she ever had with her husband—a fight that saw the couple screaming at each other and hurling insults of “crazy” and “psycho.”

A spat about finances? The kids? Work? Nope. It was about which one of them should gas up the car.

The fireworks started when the couple pulled into a service station while on a return leg of a road trip. Already silently fuming that he hadn’t offered to do his share of the driving, Ms. Floyd was astounded when her then-boyfriend didn’t lift a finger to pump the gas. So she did it herself and paid for it. As she got back into the car, he handed her a $20 bill.

Bad idea. She threw it at him. He tossed it back at her. She ripped it up. He shredded the cash she kept in the ashtray. She ripped up the money in his wallet. All told, they destroyed about $200 in a matter of minutes. (They spent their evening trying to match serial numbers and tape the shredded pieces of money together.)

Then she married him?

The sweetie and I leave this weekend for a road trip to Vermont and Quebec, about six hours of driving each way. That’s nothing, for us, as we’ve made the drive to Toronto — about 10+ hours — several times and once drove from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada late at night in a rush to get to my sick mother. We’re actually pretty good in the car, an old Subaru Forester, as it’s one of our few chances to catch up with one another uninterrupted by phone or computer. He commutes to the city every day so he gets to do (happily) most of the driving because he misses it. When we cross into Canada he jokes with the border guards that he’s returning a national treasure. They’re OK with it.

He does tend to second-guess me sometimes, which irritates the hell out of me. My most egregious slip? Flipping the bird at a driver ahead of us while on a very long bridge. I’ve never seen him so angry, and it’s since verboten. (I still do it, just beneath the dashboard.)

What does your partner do that drives you nuts? Or vice versa?