Archive of ‘Romantic Topics’ category

The Awesomeness Factor

My husband recently introduced me to the Freakonomics podcast, specifically the episode “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” He’s been reading the book entitled Freakonomics (and finding it fascinating) and has been listening to the podcast for a while. The reason this particular episode caught his attention to the point where he had to share it is the relationship advice that it contained. I decided to listen to the whole episode just to experience what my husband listens to each week (and it’s great to have something in common to talk about over dinner), and I found this episode very interesting as well. There are a tons of interesting facts throughout the episode, and besides the prohibition-style banning of pinball machines in New York until 1976, the factor determining why relationships are successful was the most interesting. I encourage you to listen to this podcast or read the transcript, and if you only want to listen to the part in which I am writing about, it begins around 28 minutes into the episode.

Melissa Schneider, a dating and relationship counselor, explained the “awesomeness factor” or “positive illusions.” Research was composed in 2010 to 37,000 dating couples in different countries, and the researchers were looking for what factor kept couples happy with one another and within the relationship and what made some couples break up. The factor that most determined happiness and contentment within a relationship wasn’t “commitment, or love, or trust.” It was something called the “awesomeness factor.” Here’s what this factor is: “the criteria was basically that you think your partner is great, you think your relationship is kind of better than all your friends’ relationships, but you wouldn’t tell them that. And you feel like your partner is close to like your quirky sense of ideal for you. And it didn’t just matter in dating. It actually also mattered in marriage. One study that looked at newlyweds and kind of evaluated this factor found that three years later satisfaction had dropped for everybody, except, one group. Guess who it was? The people who had a high awesomeness factor the day they walked down the aisle.” You believe your partner is awesome, you believe your relationship is better than most around you, and, therefore, your relationship is successful.

Does this mean that these people’s views of their partners are misleading or illusions? Schneider explains that it’s a “yes and no” answer. You believe your partner is more awesome than he/she actually is, but interestingly enough, if you believe this for an extended period of time your partner actually does become more awesome. Like if someone believes you are better than you actually are, you may strive to become that better person. Your partner may make you “want to be a better man,” to quote Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets.

So what does this mean for my relationship and your relationship? Are commitment, love, and trust just not that important? I believe those factors are still very important. How can you believe someone is awesome if you don’t have commitment from him/her, love and are loved by him/her, and can trust him/her? It is also important, according to this study, to also think your partner hangs the moon. Yes, it’s important to understand his/her flaws and faults because honesty with one’s self and how we perceive the world is important. However as Henri De Montherlant said, “We like someone because. We love someone although.” We decide to love someone even though we see their faults. We see beyond those and can still believe that person is pretty awesome.

After listening to this podcast, I reflected on my own relationship. Is the “awesomeness factor” why Hans and I work? Absolutely. It may sound bad, but we judge other relationships based on our own. We’re solid, we work, and when this is the case, it’s easy to see where other relationships are not as strong. Are we correct in the assumption that our relationship is superior? Probably not, but it is important that we believe it. We also see each other as more awesome than we probably are. However, I’ve seen us both grow into better, more confidant people than when we first met. That woman from my Facebook feed five years ago doesn’t even exist anymore. I don’t recognize her, and I believe this is a good thing. I’ve seen my husband grow into the man he is today, and I believe he is such an amazing human being that I’ve decided to make a baby with him. Are we the awesome people we believe each other to be? Again, probably not, but as long as we’re an awesome person in each other’s eyes, I will remain content with this wonderful man I’ve married.

16a7_archer_awesomeness awesomeness-achieved

Growing Love and Learning Through Love

Reflecting on the Year We’ve Had:

I recently celebrated my fourth anniversary with my husband. It has been a crazy summer for us both. A few weeks after the miscarriage, we traveled to Arkansas to visit my father and his family. I found out my stepfather’s gallbladder surgery was moved up, so not even a full 24 hours after getting back home in Georgia, I left for the Savannah area to be with my family for that. While there, I found out my grandfather in Omaha had passed. I drove back up to the Atlanta area to quickly wash my clothes and pack. Not even a full 24 hours after arriving home, my brother and I left for Omaha. My husband was unable to go to Savannah or Omaha due to starting a new job on the day I left for Savannah, so we hadn’t really seen each other for about two weeks and hadn’t had actual alone time (except for driving to and from Arkansas) for three weeks. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions these past three months. These may have created some issues for others, but for us, these tribulations have brought us closer together.

That’s not to say this hasn’t been a tough year. Shortly after our third anniversary, I found out I had plantar fasciitis, and that ordeal began which led to my surgery in January. My foot is still not back to normal, and I’m in physical therapy for it twice a week. This is nothing compared to the miscarriage on June 24th, but it’s still a constant bother. I can no longer exercise as intensely as I was a year ago, I have trouble walking for long distances and pay for it later, and to be honest, I can turn into a bear when I’m not feeling well. My husband has always supported me, both figuratively and literally, throughout this trial, and without him, recovery would have been nearly impossible.

With all of this, one would think this was the most difficult year of marriage. It wasn’t. We grew closer together perhaps because of these tribulations. We found that instead of pulling apart, we cleaved to each other. We grew a new kind of love for one another, the kind of love full of patience and compassion when one is sick. I realize everything this year could have been a lot worse. Plantar fasciitis isn’t that big of a deal. A miscarriage happens to one in three pregnancies. I am grateful we were not faced with more difficult medical issues. And although I know it could have been a lot worse medically, I am also aware that it could have been a lot worse emotionally had I not had Hans through everything. He was there when I needed to cry or bitch or mourn. He was there to make me laugh when I was feeling like the crust on the bottom of the barrel. He was my rock that kept the household going when I couldn’t leave the bed. He is patient, kind, and loving. He is the perfect man for me, and I hope I can be as good a wife to him as he is a husband to me.

My Struggle as a Wife:

I still struggle as a wife, though. I’ve had a few failed relationships and some even abusive relationships. It took a while for me to see my worth as a person and as a woman. My feminism I touted in my teenage years had been wiped out by some very nasty men, and to be honest, I allowed this to happen in most cases. I didn’t stand up for myself because I failed to see my own importance. I didn’t allow this to go on for long, though. I turned my back on relationships for two years and focused on getting myself right. When I was working on myself, becoming the person that I wanted to be and that I would want to date (because how can we find a good person if we are not a good person first), I found Hans. He was the type of man to turn me back to relationships. He was, and still is, quiet and compassionate. He doesn’t raise his voice in anger, and he has patience in most everything. In short, he was the opposite of me and just what I needed. In turn, I showed him what it meant to have a voice in the important things, to love the nerdy side of himself when others in the past had not, and to make time for himself. We balanced each other out and still continue to do that today.

However, I did struggle with what it meant to be a feminist while still wanting to be a good wife. It helps that Hans is a big believer in women’s rights and finds most of what I find appalling upsetting as well. He dislikes the lack of strong women in video games, he hates the sexualization of women in advertising, and he abhors laws limiting the rights of women specifically. With all this, though, I found myself struggling with what it meant to be a good wife. Add to that the Christian layer I had been taught that a wife is a “help-mate” to her husband. The husband comes first and foremost and makes the decisions. Perhaps that’s how some marriages work. For me, though, I could not take second chair. I was now a strong, independent woman, and getting married could not tame these characteristics. We were either going to be equal partners or nothing at all. And surprisingly, this was fine with Hans. Why then did I struggle with it so much? Every meal I made or load of laundry I did, I had to ask myself if I was doing this just because it was a wife’s duty. I shouldn’t have been so worried because Hans helped with the housework and even made meals as well, but I had trouble reconciling the two roles of feminist and wife.

How did this change? Over time and through a lot of reflection. I began to realize that I did a lot of the stereotypical duties of the wife because I had been doing them when I lived alone. They came naturally to me, and in a weird way, I enjoyed doing them. I enjoyed having the house clean, I enjoyed cooking dinner to have it appreciated, but most of all, I enjoyed making things easier for Hans. He doesn’t expect me to clean the house, to wash his clothes, or to make him meals. Perhaps this lack of expectation is what motivates me to do these things. I believe most of us are rebels at heart, so the very fact that Hans never tells me to do anything makes it easier for me to actually do things. The moment a man tells me to do something is the moment it will never get done. Hans doesn’t give me orders and doesn’t expect things. We work as a loving partnership. Because of this, I will continue to make his coffee for the morning, I will not feel less of a feminist for making him breakfast before he goes to work, and I will not feel guilty when I enjoy having a clean house for him as well as for me. Who knew it would take a man to teach me how to be a better woman? But what a man he is!

Others’ Blessings on Our Marriage:

As I mentioned, this has been a tough year, and our family and friends know it. They’ve seen us and listened to us as we went through rough times. They’ve watched us succeed in a marriage, being stronger together, even when the world was relentless. And we’ve been blessed by the people around us. We’ve been made stronger because of the support of those around us. Thank you to our family and friends for the support through the surgery, the miscarriage, and the death of my grandfather. Thank you for the wonderful gifts given to us from paying and planning our anniversary meal at Seed Kitchen & Bar in Marietta to gifts of love to help us celebrate our anniversary to listening to Hans or me when we needed a friend to talk to or shoulder to cry on to reading this blog and commenting on the blog itself, through Facebook, through text, or face to face. We appreciate each and every one of you and know that our lives are blessed even more by having people like you in them. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And to repeat a sentiment that I mentioned above, I hope I am as good a friend to you as you have been to me.

Vesuvius Kisses to a Georgia Girl

Two new poems! Just a heads up. The first poem is a bit racy, but I love it and, therefore, wanted to share it. If you’re not up for it, just skip the first poem and move on to the next. You have been warned. :)

Vesuvius Kisses
Your gaze a gentle caress –
A butterfly frisk –
Tempting me with more.
Your eyes meet mine –
A superman clairvoyant –
Hearing my thoughts and seeing past my clothes.
Your whisper in my ear –
A grazing sentiment –
Evoking hungry visions of my hair on your bare chest.
Your palm on my back –
An Aphrodite caress –
Creating a catalyst to my living heat.
Your singeing touch on my skin –
Vesuvius kisses –
Further igniting the smolder within.
Your fingers skimming my skin –
Impetuous dancers –
Soliciting titillating, red-desire images.
Your lips upon my skin –
Yellow, summer heat –
The kerosene fire so saccharine it’s close to pain.

Those lips have yearned to taste
My impassioned honeyed sweetness.
Those hands have desired to roam
Across this supple, fertile land.
Those fingers have ached to tease
Every part not yet touched.
That mind has wished many times
For lusty thoughts coming to fruition.

And we languish in the thought of one another –
Longing, craving, thirsting, aching –
For another chance to be together.

 

Georgia Girl
Unbidden memories burning bright yellow
Blinding my mind’s eye
And demanding attention.

A bloody, bright-red strawberry,
Complementing a pink bicycle with purple streamers,
On a little girl unable to avoid the ditch.

Picking defiant cotton from brittle stalks
To play with its pliant fluff
Skinny, tanned girl legs on red Georgia dirt.

Telling honeyed secrets and a quick, pink kiss
Surrounded by a honeysuckle haze
With the taste of flora in the mouth.

The feel of stretched, white cotton
Across two budding signs of womanhood
And the fruity scented kiss of shaving cream
Still clinging to newly hairless legs.

The taste of a first wine cooler on lips
As I try to ice skate
And boisterous laughs when we all lose against the slick white.

The taste of sticky peach schnapps
With the warm giggles it supplies
And strong, boy-man hands supporting my clumsy steps.

A touch in the dark, a cuddle in a dorm bed
Outkast playing in the background
A new experience from a first love.

Impassioned jealousy bright, white hot
When the line gets blurry
Too much passion between us to be logical.

A break-up, a bad decision of a new man, and the first brush with real abuse
Lies growing like kudzu in Georgia heat
Moving to a big city to outrun the mistake.

A roaring campfire sending out magenta heat
And cold, nylon chairs complete with beer bottles
Asking how close we can go without getting burned.

A summer zombie fest with dear friends
Feeling his kindness as we clasp hands to pray
With heat rising to my face as we enjoy the meal.

A friend offering shoes to make our night “perfect”
A simple act of kindness to add to the story
And a clue to the ring within his pocket.

Sweat crawling down my back
Beneath a white, lace dress
Heat from a Georgia July and the vows to come.

A black and white puppy
Silently telling us she’s ours and we are hers
Bringing home this baby to round out our new family.

Love Is…

Love is…
Watching gaming documentaries because you know he loves it
Cleaning the house to help with pollen allergies
Carrying someone up the stairs when they can’t walk
Admiring even the extra pounds
Whispered “You’re so beautiful” in the middle of the night
Saying goodbye and hello with a kiss and embrace
Listening to someone talk ceaselessly about nothing at all
Flirty texts just for the hell of it
Saying something lusty simply for the look on his face
Silly sayings known only to each other
Confidence when both are off separately with friends
Confessing about his surprise party since he hates surprises
Hearing a song that ties you together
Knowing the subject of every love song because it’s always the same person
Being held as tears stain his shirt
Listening to incomprehensible rants
Finding the perfection in all the imperfections
Staying in pajamas all day
Holding back hair when a migraine messes with the stomach
Differing opinions that bring us closer together
The smell of French toast in the morning
Laughing at mistakes so they don’t seem so big
Patience during my road-rage driving
Jumping on the bed after I say what a bad bed-maker he is
Dancing like you have a wedgie you’re trying to get out
Buried pains unearthed and shared
Cuddling to watch a romantic comedy I picked
Laughing at South Park
Feeling like kids while watching Adventure Time
Singing the My Little Pony theme song with me
Pausing The Daily Show to give me time to rant
Exploring new places and trying different things
Sharing new things we’ve learned with each other
Reading the same book so we can discuss it
Drying the dishes as I wash
Cleaning the bathrooms since you know I hate it
Killing icky house centipedes without a moment’s delay
Marveling at the world around us
A touch to calm frazzled nerves
A look that conveys the world
Saying nothing but meaning everything

Love 2

A Belated Valentine’s Present

We just celebrated Valentine’s Day on Friday, and for some reason, Valentine’s always makes me pensive and introspective. I reminisce about the story of us, Hans and Crystal, but I also think about what brought me to this place. I brood about the broken roads I have traveled; I reflect on whether I truly have taken a road less traveled; and I contemplate whether I am a better person, reaching more towards the woman I want to be with every action, than where I initially started. The one prevalent thought through all of this is that I am the woman I am because of the people in my life, whether positive or negative, and people rather than experiences have shaped me into the woman I am now.

Out of all these people, I find myself most grateful to my husband. I may be one of the biggest feminists I know, but I also am able to recognize a great man, especially when he’s sleeping right beside me. As Melvin says to Carol in As Good as It Gets, “You make me want to be a better man.” Or in this case, “woman.” It is with Hans that I have finally begun to feel comfortable in my skin as a woman. I’m no longer constantly trying to prove that my worth is every bit as good as a man’s; Hans believes I am his equal (a first in my life). I no longer have to worry every day whether my hair is styled just right, my makeup as flawless as real life can get, and my clothes the right style, color, etc. for this specific season; these are superfluous excesses in Hans’s eyes that while they may enhance do not ultimately improve what God and nature have already provided me. He is just as proud to be my partner in public whether I’m perfectly coiffed or not. While I was learning my self-worth and my true beauty before he came along, there is something powerful about his affirmations. I strive to live up to what he sees in me and to be the one who is worthy of him, and I know my husband is doing the same due to my influence in his life.

We didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in an extravagant fashion. Instead, we got cards for one another, we enjoyed chocolate together, Hans cooked us ravioli, and we watched Up together. When your wife still can’t walk on her recovering foot, a night in sounds great rather than fighting the stairs to leave and dealing with the crutches throughout town. As minimalistic as our night sounds, it was really quite precious, but I didn’t give Hans his gift. This poem is dedicated to him.

Woolly, Michigan Socks
Cold after sitting on that park bench,
Talking for hours—Love, Family, God—
Reaching your apartment
For a reprieve from the cold.
You offered me socks,
Woolly, Michigan, handmade socks,
For my Georgia, flip-flop feet.

Cold again sitting on that same bench.
Grains of sand felt through
A flimsy, little, black dress.
You took my cold, Georgia-girl hand
In your warm, Michigan-man hand
And got down on your knee,
Offering me a sparkling jewel for
A special finger.
Yes.
I’ll always have woolly, Michigan socks
For my Georgia, flip-flop feet.

Six Tried-And-True Relationship Tips

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about what it takes to have a happy marriage, and while I agree with a lot of what I read, I think it boils down to just six simple things. My husband and I have only been married for a little over three and a half years so we in no way have all of this figured out. There are some big life moments waiting for us in the years to come, I’m sure, and as we’ve done so far, we’ll face them together. Marriage isn’t about “unconditional” love or about “falling” in love. Marriage is a very deliberate love. It is a love that you enter into with your eyes wide open and one that you choose to continue with every day. Because of this choice, the love in a marriage should grow stronger with each year and should be constantly evolving.

As with all advice, these might not all apply to every marriage or relationship. After you’re in a marriage/relationship for a while, you begin to realize what works best for you. These six things are what work best for us. They are the roots for our happy marriage. We have learned from past mistakes and are working toward a happier us.

1. Communicate. This one should be common sense and shouldn’t even need to be stated, but it’s so important that it deserves #1. Also, it’s sometimes the hardest one to do. As two different people from different backgrounds, it can be difficult to communicate with one another and understand what the other one needs. This takes time, effort, and, most importantly, patience. You have to both be willing to talk things through from the really big issues (like religion, politics, education, children) to even the small things (like who cooks and who does the dishes). You both also need to communicate about affection and intimacy with one another. Is PDA (public display of affection) a yea or a nay?  What’s the expectation of sex after marriage? And then after children? (A difficult yet important question especially once you’ve been married for a while.) Communicate openly, frequently, and authentically, and put away those electronic devices while you’re at it.

2. Don’t Expect to Change the One You Love. This goes back to a previous post I made about the importance of loving ALTHOUGH versus loving BECAUSE. If you’re entering a relationship thinking you really like this person and can see it working out if just this one thing would change about him/her, run. Get out while you can. People don’t change. And to be brutally honest, the feelings you’re experiencing for that person aren’t authentic if you’re still thinking you need certain things to change in that person. Real love accepts the person as he/she is. Period. No exceptions.

3. Trust. This isn’t something that has to be earned, but in a lot of cases, it is something that has to be learned. Learned by us. Your significant other should have your trust from the starting line. They don’t have to work for it; they don’t have to earn it. Trust should already be there because there should be no reason why it isn’t there. If one of your exes cheated on you in the past and you have a difficult time trusting now, that’s not on your significant other to heal that wound. It’s certainly something that should be discussed and should be out in the open, but making your new love pay for your old wounds isn’t fair and will cause problems down the line. Until the trust is broken by a REAL situation in your relationship with this new person, there is no reason to mistrust him/her.

4. Don’t Always Agree; Just Always Respect. You’re not always going to agree with your partner even on the big issues. It’s human nature. However, we must always remember to respect our partners. This respect will help tone down arguments and will translate into respect for the beliefs and opinions of our partners. I’ve found in some cases with my husband that we’ll get into a heated discussion, and the only thing left for me to say is that I respect that he has a different viewpoint than me and exit the room. We’ll revisit the topic later when we have time to collect our thoughts and get a hold of our emotions. When we forget the respect for one another, fights can get out of control, name-calling can start, nags can be born, and hearts can be trampled. There’s nothing wrong with not seeing eye to eye, but there’s a big problem when you can’t respect one another.

5. Spend Time Together…And Apart. My husband and I try to carve out time together each weeknight and every weekend. (Keep in mind that we don’t have children yet, and I realize that this will be more difficult if we ever decide to go down that road. However, it’s still a necessity.) We try to at least eat dinner together during the weeknights before we go our separate ways. Each Friday night, we try to have a date night. If Friday is booked with friends, we move our date night around. We know it’s important for us to have time together, and during this time, we focus on each other. We ask each other genuine questions so we know what’s happening with each other. This is our time to have our authentic communication. However, it’s important to note that healthy relationships don’t spend all their time together. My husband likes to have game nights with his friends, and I enjoy going out with my friends. We have at least one, two, and sometimes three nights a week where we are apart from one another. And when we are in the house together, we are not spending every waking minute together. It’s also important to have individual time. Balance is the key.

6. Don’t Bring Others In. Humans are social creatures (for the most part). We like to get other people’s opinions. We like to let other people know what’s going on. However, bringing other people into your relationship issues is a big no-no. Do not broadcast your problems to all your family and friends. It is never a good thing for everyone in your life to know what’s happening behind your closed doors. For one, you can bet a lot of those people are continuing to talk about you and your partner after you’re gone. Secondly, this can create sides amongst your family and friends. They either pick your side or your partner’s side. This may sound like a good thing (especially when they’re all picking your side), but when whatever issue is resolved, those feelings that your family and friends harbored won’t just suddenly dissipate. They’ll still feel animosity toward you or your partner, causing prolonged issues. Lastly, people may start avoiding you because they don’t wish to talk about your relationship AGAIN. When you bring others in, it can get uncomfortable for the others, and these people may start avoiding you.

If you need someone’s opinion, have one—yes, ONE—person you talk to. Sometimes we all need a trusted friend to talk to, but just make sure this trusted friend is someone who won’t put your relationship issues on blast either (or else you’ll have the same issues as listed above). It also may be beneficial to seek couple’s counseling rather than relying on friends. The help of an unbiased specialized outsider can be very beneficial if the relationship is something that both you and your partner have agreed to fight for through counseling.

Because vs. Although

My husband and I attended a wedding last weekend, and this made me reflect on the nature of love. Oftentimes, people fall in love because of certain things. The person looks attractive; the person is an intellect; and/or the person has a desirable background. Because of these things, it is easy to fall in love. But will a love based solely on these things last? I posit that we should fall in love although rather than because. I am not saying that the many reasons because we fall in love are not important; these are of the utmost importance and are what attract us in the first place. I am saying, however, that the reason why we stay in love is although.

I think it is fairly simple to understand what it means to love someone because, but what does it mean to love someone although? In my own marriage, I believe my husband loves me although he sees all of my shortcomings. He loves me although I have baggage and has become the bellhop to help carry these bags. I am aware of my husband’s eccentricities and his baggage, as well, and I love him although I can see he is not a perfect person. In fact, his imperfections make him more endearing to me. We often say that we may not be perfect, but we are perfect for each other. (Feel free to retch if this is getting too saccharin for you. I’m just trying to illustrate from my own experience what it means to love someone although.) Stephanie Perkins wrote in Lola and the Boy Next Door, “’I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.” These imperfections are the although through which we grow our love and make our love last.

Although we had to go through a rough month, patch of months, or a rough year, we still love one another. Although we suffered a loss together, we still love one another. Although there was a loss of trust, we choose to continue to love one another. Although we do not see eye to eye on a huge issue, we choose to still love one another. And since we are loving each other although, our love grows more and more with each passing year in a way that those who love because do not experience. The love grows stronger, as well, like a basket weave as we see each other as we truly are rather than how we initially wanted that person to be.

My husband first caught my attention because. I first fell in love because. I wanted to marry him although. I continue to love him although.

Kiss
“Ugh, gross…”
Wrinkle my nose in the
Mirror.
Reflection
Too close for comfort.
Imperfections magnified.
A new crop of pimples
Brought on by hormones
Time of the month.
Another “ugh.”
He asks me,
“What’s wrong?”
Show him the pimples.
He starts to tickle
As I squeal and
I squirm.
He kisses the
Imperfection.

 “We like someone because. We love someone although.” –Henri De Montherlant