The Way We Were

When I was younger I thought so highly of myself. I thought I was the smartest fucking person in the world. I had perfect breasts and a fabulous ass. I thought I was going to be President of the World.


Well, I still think well of myself. I know I’m smart, but I don’t know everything. Okay, I know that I know very little. I still have great breasts and a decent ass. I think, maybe, I could be on city council.

As I get older, I realize that I have become a sexy Verbal Kint. I get up to start walking. My joints are stiff. I try to put one foot in front of the other. My foot turns in and a slight limp can be detected.

Toda Hodida.*

After a few steps, I begin to get my groove back. I start to switch my hips from side to side. I begin to glide. My bad-ass Kaiser Soze emerges.

Bam. Bam.

Some dangerous curves right there.

The thing is, I don’t feel that I should be getting older. I still look in the mirror and see the girl I have always seen. The girl I love. And I wonder if my husband can still see that girl too.

I worry that it may be getting harder for him to see me as I was. I worry that he will only see me as I am becoming. An older woman. I wonder if he worries about whether I see him as an aging man.

The bad news is that a successful marriage means that you will be with one person as you deteriorate and wither; in other words, age. But, the good news is that as you grow older, you may find different things that make the relationship sexier and richer. Earthier even.

But the one thing that can never change is you and your partner’s willingness to communicate. Because as long as you are both in agreement to how your relationship will be defined. You can maintain your love. By doing that you can continue to be the way you were.

*For the non-Spanish speaker, “toda hodida” is equivalent to “all fucked up.”

Rethinking Relationships

For this month’s Amada’s Guide to Men essay, I wanted to consider the way we think about relationships.

Prior to embarking upon my journey as an aspiring author, I have been working as an attorney in the areas of family and immigration law. Family law has given me insight in the ways in which relationships go astray. And, it has made me reconsider the standard relationship advice and beliefs.

Relationships are 50/50

There is a common notion that relationships are 50/50. First, this isn’t event true. Romantic relationships require each party to give 110% every moment of every day. Sure, you can give less but if you have too many days where it seems like you are giving less than your best, you will eventually see problems percolating in your relationship. Conversely, if your partner has too many days where they gives less than their best, eventually you feel resentment.

Second, the problem with this convention is that it requires each of you to constantly be assessing to determine whether you are getting a “Return On your Investment” (ROI) in the relationship. While it is important to ensure that you get as much out of your relationship as you put in, the reality is that you cannot keep tabs on it ALL the time. And, thinking of relationships as 50-50, in my opinion opens you up to constantly be looking at that ROI.

Finally, this convention creates the belief that each person is responsible for 50% of the obligations of the home and family. That’s also not true. You are each responsible 100% for everything in your life. Consider this. Almost any contract you sign jointly with another person contains a provision that requires each party to be “Jointly and Severally” liable. That means you are each 100% responsible irrespective of whether the other person pays their share. That perfectly sums up relationships. If your spouse is sick and he is the one that feeds and bathes the children, then you have to pick up the slack. If your spouse does not work in a capacity outside of the home (s)he is likely to be primarily responsible for overseeing all home responsibilities. And so on.

Your partner will complete you

I don’t mean to be insensitive here but… What’s wrong with you? What is missing from you that you require another person to feel complete?

This is one of the most concerning conventions that I hear. The problem with this one is that it puts all of the pressure on the other person. It requires them to do the work. Not only that, if there is something missing in your life and you expect the other person to fill that up, you may end up resenting them for trying to do just that.

Consider this scenario. You are a bit of a couch potato. You wish to be more athletic and adventurous. You find yourself an athletic adventurous partner. The first few months are fabulous. You have gone rock climbing, cycling, and kayaking. Things are great. A few months down the road your favorite series is coming out and you want to spend the whole weekend binge watching the previous seasons. No. Your more athletic half says. We should do some cycling this weekend. You feel frustrated. Why?

What at first felt like a rounding out of your personality, quickly becomes a competition for use of your time. Once the newness wears off you may be left feeling that you are only doing the things that the other person wants you to do.

You have an all or nothing mentality

One of the worst ways in which we approach relationships is with an all or nothing mentality. The person who doesn’t believe in divorce. The person who wants to cut their losses the first sign of problems. The person who refuses to make changes after their spouse has voiced concerns. These types of conventions cannot align with marriage because marriage is a bit of a paradox.

Marriage requires us to be strong within our own selves AND be willing to give in to group thinking. As an example, you cannot decide that you wish to buy a motorcycle with the money you and your partner have been saving for your first born’s tuition. It does not matter that the kid is only two years old and you just know you will be able to make up the money you take out.

But, it is important that you not lose yourself in the process. If you have been contemplating a motorcycle, talk to your partner. Discuss creating a special savings account devoted to the money you would need for such a purchase. In the meantime, take riding lessons from a friend or check online for local lessons.

Reframing the way you think about what it means to be in a relationship will increase your satisfaction in life. And, can prove a useful way to improve the quality of your current relationships, romantic or otherwise.

What are some relationship ideas that need to be reframed?

Show me the love

“It ain’t the money or the diamond rings, honey I ain’t impressed with your material things” *

I spend a lot of time thinking about love. You see, in my spare time, I am writing a fictional romance set in my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas. In the last nine months, I have spent time writing, thinking, and researching ideas for this story. In that time, I have made several observations. The clearest of these observations? Many people believe that romance and love are demonstrated through showy displays of affection or gifts of material possession.

Americans we are a materialistic society. We marvel in the latest gadgets and newest toys. We liken success with an ever increasing ability to purchase. Thus, it makes sense that when it comes to romance we would do the same. We want a romantic partner to surprise and delight us with the best of everything.

So when we see these displays of attention they impact the way one considers even our own relationships. Right? As we scroll through people’s flashy proposals or other type of attention getting display of affection, a small part of us wonders why our other half doesn’t do the same for us. And that’s when the harm really happens. Little by little we begin to compare ours with another’s. And, when we do not have those same things happening for us, we decide there is something missing in the relationship in which we are involved.

That’s the worst thing that we can do. Comparison is the thief of joy. All of a sudden your spouse picking up dinner from a drive thru isn’t as special as that fabulous weekend getaway that your BFF got from her honey and posted photos about last week.

The worst part of this type of comparison is that it causes one to become completely self absorbed.

“Why doesn’t my honey do this for me?” We complain.

But here’s another question we should be asking, why don’t you do the thing you want for your honey? Why not make your person feel as special as you want to feel? More importantly, why does a display of affection require any type of material possession? Why does true love equal a weekend getaway or a shiny new bauble? I don’t know that it does.

I feel this type of pressure most around my birthday. People know that my husband is a person who is generous with his time and money. But, I normally encourage him to avoid extravagant displays of affection.

After all, how much someone spends on you is not a direct correlation to how much they care for you.

Does it matter to you how much your partner spends on you?

*Lyric taken from Paula Abdul’s ‘It’s just the way that you love me.”

Reset The Romance

The world demands your attention. Life divides you into two. Your professional life. Your personal life. Your time then gets sliced into paper-thin pieces as obligations mount. These demands on your time make focusing on your romantic relationship tough.
You get to the point were everything seems more important than the romance. As you place less priority on your relationship, your partner often does the same. This is where the danger begins. The quote “complacency kills” is not just for empire building. It is also one that applies in marriage. If you feel that the complacency is killing the romance in your relationship, now is the time to change it.
Are you ready to get out of the relationship rut? If so, hit the reset button and change it up quick. Here are three ideas that you can use over the next month to help you reset the romance and your mindset.
“Do Good” is a motto that has been a constant in my adult life. It is my sorority’s motto and a phrase through which I examine the world. It has been a part of my life for twenty years. Yet, I had never thought about applying it in my romantic relationship until recently. When I did, I saw a shift in my spouse’s response.
First, I spend a few minutes each week thinking, “how can I do good in my spouse’s life?” I start by learning what my spouse’s schedule for the week. I try to find times when he could benefit from support. Once I identify a few ways that I can make his life easier, lovelier, or more fun during the week, I make a list. I try to incorporate one or two of those ideas throughout the week.
Next, I encourage our son to think of ways that he can do good for his father. I remind him to show respect in the way he speaks to his father. I ask him to oversee chores his father does not enjoy like managing our trash and recycling efforts. (Note, my stepson is 15 years of age.) Every chance that I can, I remind my son that we must look out for his father as his father looks out for us.
Finally, I look for spur of the moment opportunities that I can show small acts of kindness. An example of this is getting my spouse a glass of water if I hear him coughing. Another is cooking his favorite foods and meals during the week. I love to cook, the question is will I have time to cook? If I do, I try to consider his palate, mostly because he is pickier than I am. But, he appreciates that I try. PS- If cooking is not your forte, no big, find what works for you. These are not fancy actions but they are actions that my husband notices.
You know them; the five traditional senses. Sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. If you are trying to reset the romance in your relationship, consider the five senses. Consider the following thoughts or questions:
Sight helps you take in the greatest amount of information in at a time. For that reason, it is the most important in this analysis. It is important to create positive sight cues for your spouse. It is okay to start with basic questions. Will my spouse find me appealing to the eye? Do I look attractive? These are relevant questions. But, go beyond the simple am I pretty? (of course you are.) Dig further. Consider asking yourself tougher questions. Will my spouse be happy to see me? Do I look happy to see him? Does my face reflect the way in which I want him to look at me. In other words, am I smiling, frowning, upset? If yes, would I want the same facial expression mirrored back to me?
Hearing is a powerful tool. It helps us absorb the world around us. And, it is a fun tool that you can use to your advantage in a relationship. I use hearing in several ways.
First, consider the words that you use. Words have incredible power. Words become an amazing tool. I use alliterative phrases. This means I like words that have the same sounds. For example, I refer to my partner by calling him my “sweet spouse, handsome husband, or beautiful babe.” 
Finally, I use the power of volume. When I want a good thought to remain in my husband’s head throughout the day, I talk soft into his ear. It can be something sweet. It can be something naughty. Whatever it is, I want that idea floating in and out of his head throughout the day. And, I seldom use the “HIGH” volume as I have found that to be most ineffective for my spouse. But, when I do he knows I am not messing around.
Taste is a particularly hard sense to contemplate when considering your relationship. After all, I could suggest making him a good meal every once in a while. But since I mentioned that earlier, reiterating it sounds all sexist and gross. No.
When I contemplated taste, the truth is that only sexual scenarios where hitting my head. Yes, I am talking about oral sex. Specifically, I thought of how different cunnilingus feels when you are hair-free. If you have never done it, consider a full on Brazilian wax job. It will definitely change the experience for your spouse. And for you. 
This is not about to get all silly and remind you to shower. I have heard some stay at home moms complain that they do not have time to even shower. I have no position on that because I have never been a stay at home parent. But, in general, I do not think that I should have to tell grown ass people to bathe. 
What I am envisioning is different. I believe that smells can bring about comfort and even nostalgia. So, consider aromatherapy in the home. Provide your spouse with the ability to differentiate between work and home. Run an aromatherapy machine in your bedroom to set a more relaxing ambiance. Make sure that it smells nothing like his place of employment. You want to use scents to create different moods.
Another option is to stick to a signature scent for yourself. In doing this, you train him to associate a scent with you. Thereafter, whenever your spouse encounters the scent they think of you.
Touch is important to human experiences. As babies, touch and the need for it, is the first sense to develop. Without touch, we atrophy. The warmth of someone’s touch can make all the difference in the world. For that reason, touch your spouse often. But, this is not about the need to have more sex (which you should.) No, this is about simple touch. The touch that says, I am here for you.
I use touch in several ways. First, I use touch to help assure my partner. An example of this type of touch is the way in which I caress the back of his neck when he is driving. Why do I do this? Well, I have done it since we were dating. But, I have noticed that it helps my spouse control the road rage when he is driving. Another example of a good touch is that intended to relax or calm your partner. This can include a small shoulder massage before bed or scratching his back. Figure out what type of touch your spouse responds to then use it liberally.
Women believe that it is our job to take care of everyone before we take care of ourselves. But, this is the wrong approach. Like the instructions given at the beginning of a flight, to help others, you must help yourself first.
I began to work out with a trainer a few months ago. I started weightlifting; free weights, not machines. The exercise proved very helpful for my emotional well being. It reduces my anxiety and depression. It even helped me sleep better. Plus, I have begun to develop muscle and have noticed some weight loss. This makes me feel sexy and confident.
You know what else has happened, I have changed some of the ways in which I interact with my spouse. I am more willing to let go of the small stuff because I am too worn out to care. I am more comfortable in my own skin. This means that like when we first started dating, he can touch me anywhere- stomach included. And I am not going to push his hand away or tell him how gross my stomach looks. PS- ladies, never tell your husband something about you is gross. He doesn’t think that until you implant that shit in his head.
But, it is not the workout that has changed the way I interact with my sweet spouse. It is the change in me. Now, that I have carved out some time to take care of me, I am not worked up about every little thing. And, that is the best thing that I could do to reset the romance.
Thinking about resetting the romance in your relationship? If so, what steps are you going to take? If you have found success in resetting the romance, share your story in the comments below.