First of all, let’s talk about how long it took me to come up with a title for what will be this recurring little segment. Brainstorming was less than seamless, and went a little something like this:
Em’s Ideas Featuring Alliteration:
Relationship Ramblings (not terrible, not great either)
Couple Chronicles (What is this, a newspaper?)
Duo Dilemmas (…soap opera…)
Twosome Trials (um, what?)
Manfriend’s Contributions: (“I like the rhyming idea, myself…”)
Musings & Fusings (uhhh…)
Joyce’s Choices (Sure, I’ll just change my name. No one will notice.)
And then, one morning last week, after half a latte and a breakfast burrito… it came to me.
One of the most powerful realizations I’ve had about relationships in the last few years is that the way a relationship evolves has much less to do with the things that happen to us, and much more to do with the choices we make. Pretty awesome and empowering, no? Those choices – the ones that shape my relationship and determine its direction – are the ones I want to dive into and share with you… and there’s so much to talk about. I’m overflowing with ideas! So… let’s begin, shall we?
If I had to describe my Manfriend in one word, it would be… drumroll… independent.
That quality, while sometimes frustrating and challenging to wrap my head around, is one of my favorite things about him, and it manifests itself in a thousand different ways within our relationship. One example in particular is that he likes to travel. A lot. And I don’t mean weekends in New York… we’re talkin three weeks in Eastern Europe. Or six weeks in Southeast Asia. Or two weeks in South America. You know, just because.
If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that I can’t change him, just as he can’t change me. Loving him means embracing his independence and giving him the space to be him, since trying to change each other just opens the door for resentment. That means not whining or trying to “not let him” travel. It means encouraging it.
His most recent adventure was when he spent nearly two weeks in and around the UK to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin this year. It used to be a really hard thing for me to embrace his need to explore, and to not interpret his excitement to leave as an excitement to leave me. But I’ve learned to understand and appreciate how this aspect of him is so central to who he is, and it actually does a lot of good for our relationship. Stay with me.
Do I miss him when he’s off trekking the globe? Of course I do!! And in those first few days, it’s especially sad. But having said that, the physical distance gives us the space to miss each other. To strengthen our relationships with ourselves, to deepen our own understandings of who we are as individuals. To focus on the things that are important to us, outside of our relationship. To hug and kiss and… cuddle… that much more when he comes home.
Plus, for me in particular, the aloneness that distance provides allows me to stop worrying about him or about us, and instead to focus on taking care of me – a task I find especially challenging – and that benefits both me and my relationship! Because let’s face it – happy, secure people make the best partners.
For similar reasons, we have also decided to take a break from living together for the next year, and to spend that time living (very) near but not with each other. It’s a tough thing to explain to our friends and family that this is far from a “setback” in our relationship, especially since we’re living together now. Instead, we are each in a place where we recognize that giving ourselves some space to grow individually will make us stronger, happier, and more loving companions for each other.
While it’s not super easy to explain to people, this is a decision I’m really proud of. It’s the kind of choice that actively shapes our relationship, and reminds me that we are the ones who decide what kind of relationship we are in. We’ve chosen to think outside the box, and make a choice that tends to our needs as individuals first, which I believe will make us healthier, happier people, and better, more loving partners.
Have you dealt with distance in your relationship? Or, what kinds of outside-the-box decisions have you and your partner made for the sake of your relationship? I’m dying to hear!
I’m the kind of girl who really appreciates the role of a good routine.
My weekends have been a little frazzled lately. Some days I’m too ambitious and end up overbooking myself, and wishing I had a weekend to recover from my weekend. Other days, I find (arguably too much) comfort in lounging the morning away in bed, making some lists, pinning some recipes I dream of trying, and catching up on quality (terrible) television.
Don’t get me wrong, both are totally appropriate ways to spend the weekend. Having said that, even if I’m going to spend the day living like a couch potato (which, again, I’m rarely sorry about), there’s something really fulfilling about setting the tone for a loungetastic day early on, and with a sense of intention.
Today, I reminded myself of just how much I love a good lazy Sunday routine. Not only does it start my day off with a sense of purpose and serenity, but it also tends to propel me into whatever I’ve decided I need to accomplish that day. It’s a lovely little gift I need to remember to give myself more often.
Clouds and drizzle set the stage for an especially cozy morning today – I owe you one, Mother Nature. To capitalize on these ideal cozy conditions, below are just some of the things that made my morning thoroughly soothing and satisfying:
Starting from the upper left and moving clockwise, in the picture above…
1. Coffee. Need I say more? This morning’s latte was accompanied by a perfectly soft, warm blueberry scone. Om nom nom.
2. Oh, how I love me some fresh flowers. The ones pictured were actually a gift from parents when I got promoted at work about a year ago – they’re far cheerier than the wilting ones I have on my kitchen table at the moment. I’ll be replacing those this week, since there are few things that brighten up a room more than a vase of fresh flowers.
3. Ira. Ohhhh Ira. If you have not yet discovered This American Life, today is the day to change that. It’s an amazing radio show-turned-free-podcast hosted by the amazing Ira Glass, and their About page does a far better job of explaining it than I could. They also provide a staff favorites page, if you’re a new listener who doesn’t know where to start. Some of my personal favorites include Testosterone, Blackjack, and Allure of the Mean Friend.
4. That little snuggle bear’s name is Penny Lane – she’s a maltese, about a year and a half old, and has waaay too much personality for that tiny little body of hers. Snuggling with her is the BEST.
There’s one more important aspect to this routine that’s worth mentioning: I know myself well enough to know that most of what makes this whole process so therapeutic is being alone. This is a lovely segueway into what will hopefully be my next post, one that I’ve been working on for a few days now.
Are you a believer in the importance of a routine? What constitutes your perfect Sunday morning?
Show of hands: who made New Year’s Resolutions back in January? …now who is still following through on said resolutions? (Beuller? Beuller?)
Resolutions are daunting, and the weight of a year is heavy. It’s always exciting at first to identify the changes we want to make, and it all feels so promising at first. But the excitement lasts, oh, about a week if you’re anything like me, before that excitement turns into pressure… which turns into failure… which turns into guilt… which turns into giving up entirely.
But there’s something tangible and immediate about today. I can do ‘today’ … ‘today’ doesn’t scare me. ‘Today’ is conquerable.
I’m not ashamed to admit that part of this may have stemmed from watching The Biggest Loser this season. (There, I said it.) But look at those people! They’ve taken their life into their own hands, and one day at a time, they’ve decided to fight the lifelong battle to reclaim their health and their lives, to make choices that nourish their bodies and promote their happiness. It may be reality tv, but it’s also inspiring.
Today is a bit-sized piece, and 5 is a manageable number. Therefore, I’ve compiled 5 easy ways that I can take control and make today healthier – no matter what I ate yesterday or an hour ago, no matter how lazy my morning was, these are 5 things I can do, now:
- This amazing video explains how 30 minutes of exercise makes a big difference. I could try to summarize or recap the highlights, but really, you should just watch it. It’s awesome.
- I make much better decisions about food when I plan my meals for the week, for a few reasons. Not only am I forced to go grocery shopping and start eating fresh foods from my fridge instead of making bad takeout choices, but it also increases my awareness of what I’m putting in my body. Plus, bonus – I really, really enjoy cooking!
- Perhaps the easiest step I can take is to decide today when I’m going to exercise tomorrow, and stick it on the calendar. My life revolved around my ballet classes for 15 years, so at a young age I grew accustomed to knowing exactly when I had class, and I planned around it. Adding an appointment to exercise on my calendar puts me back in that mindset of blocking out a time slot, and holding myself accountable.
- I know myself well enough to know that shooting for 3 hours at the gym is, well, a joke. But what I can do instead is maximize my down time. Use that commercial break to squeeze in some crunches. Do some squats in the kitchen while I heat up dinner. Work on those calf raises while I brush my teeth. So many possibilities – just have to be creative!
- In the wise words of Real Simple, there’s always a chance to inconvenience myself. I can park further away, opt for the stairs over the elevator, carry my heavy groceries to the car instead of pushing them in a cart. The little things add up.
What daily habits to you use to better your health? Do any of these work for you
One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.
I somehow doubt Mr. Howard had ‘kicking-your-soy-latte-addiction’ in mind with this quote… but hear me out.
My imminent (exciting!) move closer to the city – and the increased cost of living that comes with it – is forcing me to put on my big girl panties, and take a hard look at my budget and spending habits. But more than that, I need to cut back wherever necessary.
Tragically, my daily Starbucks has to be the first thing to go.
I’m not sure when I became a daily Starbucks customer, but I know it’ll be damn near impossible to wean myself off my daily doses of warm soy deliciousness. If you’ve met me, you know that kicking my morning caffeine habit altogether would put my coworkers in imminent danger, so now it’s just a matter of finding a more wallet-friendly alternative.
What’s that, you say? Make my own lattes?
Indeed I must. I’ll soon be investing in some quality vanilla soy milk (suggestions welcome!), a decent espresso maker, and perhaps the most exciting, an awesome travel mug that makes me feel even more fabulous than I felt carrying my daily Grande Starbucks cup. (I hate admitting that I feel cooler when I’m carrying one… but let’s be serious, I really do.)
Below are some of my favorite contenders:
Have you had to make tough budgeting choices in the past? What expenses have you cut, and what indulgences were worth keeping?