The coffee shop rocks some stellar music this morning. 1901 by Phoenix blasts through the speakers as I sit in the back corner watching the locals swing through and converse around the shop. The Sit and Stay Café houses a bookshelf where patrons can exchange reading material. There are piles of old books and ironic literature. “Tears of the Giraffe” stands out as I turn to the lady next to me and she calls out, “Excuse me?” She asks me if I know which coffee is the best? I look up from The Orange County Register and lean slightly forward to suggest the one on the far right. After she fills her mug, she swings back to her seat and we begin to engage in conversation. She is a delightful older woman with a southern accent and bright blue eyes. She tells me that she is from Texas and visiting her daughter and son-in-law here in sunny California. She talks about seeing her grandchildren and how excited she is to spend time with them. I smile back, ask questions, and express admiration for the exchange that took place. I get back to my breakfast sandwich and black coffee as I sift through the newspaper. I watch as two young girls take a photo and discuss uploading it to Instagram. This leads me to immediately think of hashtags, which leads me to think of texting. Then, I am reminded of a time when passing notes was cool. In school when you wanted to elicit the attention of a friend or chat, you had to pass a note. I recall intricate folding and the rush of passing it so the teacher wouldn’t see. A thrill in its own right.
A friend and I reminisced about dial-up the other day. She recalled her parents having to get two phone lines because you could not use the internet and be on the phone at the same time. There was a time when we still had to be patient. The lady in the coffee shop was in her 60s, nearly 30 years older than me and these girls were probably around 15, so about half the age gap. I feel slightly removed from social engagement via app. What happen to conversing in the coffee shop or asking a stranger a question or engaging in a conversation? I will tell you what happen. #facebook #instagram #snapchap #socialmedia. All of this seems to be causing something more than just a lack of communication. It causes a lack of thrill, a lack of adrenaline, and a lack of excitement. We are tagging photos and selfies everywhere we go. We want to project happiness without truly understanding what it takes to grasp it. There is no grace for messes. We are gaining more control and causing more anxiety in a world where letting go and learning how to handle change are very important. We online date as a result of the downfall of present and personal communication. We become neurotic. We become impatient. The lyrics of 1901 still play. “Watch them build up a material tower. Think it’s not going to stay anyway. Think it’s overrated.” The dynamics of human relationships have not changed much in those 45 years from the teens I see to the older woman I speak with, but so much has changed in our means of communication.
I am proposing that ten years ago, we knew how to balance lack of control in life and bounce back from change. Are we creating a generation so in control that the slightest change will cause fear? We used to have to wait for a boy or girl to write back or tell the friend if they liked us back; rejection built character. Now we swipe to the left and the fear of rejection is gone. Lack of fear or other human emotions causes us to gain more control. The more control we think we have, the less we actually do. Anxieties and fears have to be dealt with. In order to be dealt with, they have to be created.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is that day. It’s the day that people exchange gifts, cards, flowers, candies, and cute and cuddly teddy bears. Today is the day that third grade boy buys his first Valentine’s Day gift for his sweetheart. He mulls over the aisles at the local Target looking for the perfect way to tell his first crush that he thinks she is special. It is the day that he gets butterflies in his stomach, hoping that he makes the right decision. It is the day that she waits for his call and lights up when she hears his voice on the other end.
It is also a day of cynics. It is a day where the jaded remind us that we are crazy and they are single. It is the day that eyes roll and people scoff. But why? I understand if you are displeased with the commercialization of the Holiday, but the same can be said for many Holidays today. So why so much hate for VD? I mean, it’s a day to celebrate Love. The cynical and jaded make the single assumption that not having a romantic interest on this Day of Hearts makes it a painful reminder that we are single. But what does being single have to do with it? This day is about Love. That love is also shared amongst family members and friends. We share in love with our children and remind them that they are special. When I was little my father used to get my sisters and I all chocolates. Maybe my outlook on this adorable day is a direct product of the idea that it was about family and not romance. Love has everything to do with it.
The history of Valentine’s Day has to do with a Christian Martyr that got into trouble for marrying couples. That background is probably responsible for making Valentine’s Day associated with love and romance. In a time when lovers couldn’t marry, they were fighting the ability to do so. Appears we are always fighting against something. So you cynical singles fight the good fight, only 16 more hours left to go. As for the rest of us, smile, cuddle, and tell them you love them.
To prenup or not to prenup? That is the question. In the local coffee shop, I watch today as an older man discusses this topic with a group of friends. His sober face suggests that this topic is one of emotional passion. The man states that he would not sign a prenup and he “would rather have her take him for a ride.” From what I gather, he believes that if you really love someone, you should not have to sign an agreement of how things will be divided up if you separate. I have heard this reaction from many people; the prenuptial gives us a way out of the marriage. Doors also give us a way out, but we don’t go building houses without them.
So is he right or wrong? Now, I am not in the business of marriage legalities, in fact, as a professor of mine once put it, I am an MFT – Marriage Friendly Therapist. I work together with couples to help them happily stay together. However, that means a lot of surrendering to our faults and giving in to someone else’s needs, i.e. our partner. Most of the time when couples are ready to divorce there has been years of unheard words, unmet expectations, and lack of overall happiness. (Check out this article: When Women Divorce Long Before The Divorce by Quentin Hafner.)
In my life I have had three different views on prenuptials:
The first (early 20’s): That if you truly love someone, you don’t need to sign an “out”contract.
The second (late 20’s): After getting out of a bad business deal with a co-owned restaurant; not having any concrete contracts signed, I felt that you always need a contract no matter what. I got along with my business partner so I always thought a split would be amicable. It is true that in the mist of a fight the claws come out. Marriage is the contract and the prenup is there to protect that asset.
The last (early 30’s): Premarital therapy. By-yearly check-ups with the therapist. I would sign a reverse prenuptial (see below). In the long run I want a partner that is as happy and silly as I am; we will be adults when it comes to decisions, for better or worse.
Obviously, to make a prenup or not to make one, is up to the discretion of the couple. Consider this when thinking about the issues:
1. There is a lot of legal advice on the internet about signing prenuptials. What about other experts on relationships and how they discuss navigating this part of a marriage?
2. Discussion of a prenup needs to be gently entered into. It needs to be a conversation of understanding and compassion. Most prenuptials are entered into for protection of the property or assets that one comes into the marriage with. If you are marrying someone who believes they are owed something you had prior to meeting them, I think a prenuptial is the last of your worries.
3. If you are not willing to share certain things or benefits you accumulated while in the marriage, whatever that looks like, you should not get married. You are a selfish person. Truly selfish people will be unhappy in a marriage. When you force a kid to share and he doesn’t want to, he will likely throw a tantrum after handing over the toy. Marry the man or woman who finds joy in sharing with others. It will make a world of difference in all aspects of the marriage.
4. Over the course of the years of marriage you both make equal sacrifices and you should decide what that is going to look like prior to getting married. You may be the sole source of retirement and insurance, but your partner might bring in more money each year. Or your partner might stay at home to with three kids until school age and take care of house work. At the end of the day it isn’t all about money and assets. We have to take into consideration the acts of service and the sacrifices.
5. If your prenup has to include things like the religion that your children will be raised, well then, stop right there. You aren’t putting exacts in the prenup because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter anyways. If your partner becomes Buddhist in ten years and wants to share some of that wisdom with the children, you don’t pull out the prenup and say – Right here, look this is what we agreed. People change and you should marry someone who is open to change and that is willing to meet you where you are and go places you feel a need to explore. You should marry someone who you have similar values with, but nothing in life guarantees that down that road that is going to look the same.
After Much Research on The Topic: Try These
The Reverse Prenuptial
Going back to the analogy of the door. It gives us a way out, but it also keeps us in. It is a fire escape and a barrier to keep unwanted guests out. It serves two purposes. What if our prenuptials started doing the same? Say that one partner comes into the marriage with a boat, the other does not. The prenuptial reads that if divorced in the course of the first 15 years, the boat will be sold and the sale split. However, after 15 years, the asset is given to the rightful owner in full.
Yes, therapy. You are going to be making an appointment with a lawyer to get out of the marriage. The lawyer doesn’t have an understanding of what makes marriages and relationships work. He has a law degree and an objective for divorce. Seek a therapist out to discuss why you are thinking about divorce; gain help from someone who has experience in the area of relationships, not law. Trust people who work within their scope. Your lawyer has little interest in your overall well-being.
Overall the conversation of the prenuptial should be one of grace and compassion. Be comfortable and open to the opinion of your partner.
As a relationship blogger I’ve come to realize the masses of material around me. I sit in a coffee shop that I frequent to get a bite to eat before work and most of what I overhear from the wait staff has to do with relationships. One was a blossoming romance that included a child from a previous marriage, and yet another was about who would take the kids for the weekend. I had an unfortunate heavy heart that most of the chatter included breakdowns and break-ups. It included devastation and divorce. I wondered how we could all get back to a place where relationships and partnerships provided us with the sense of support and strength they were meant for. Where we grew together and genuinely appreciated one another, even if we get pissed off from time to time.
Not to offend, but it’s my personal opinion that no one is in the mood to work really hard for anything anymore. When I sit and read about dating and relationships it appears apparent why we have shifted into a culture of divorce rather than long unions. Article after article on what you are doing wrong with your new relationship and tips or “how-tos” on anything from keeping him guessing to 12 ways to have a happy marriage. But is it really that simple? And if it were that simple why are we in an epic fail? We learn Why Men Love Bitches or how to Get Married This Year, 365 Days to I Do or how to Get the Guy, but we forget that this mainstream culture of self-help and fast fixes just sheds light on the problem. These are just outlines to a very long syllabus. Relationships take work, dedication, and lots of commitment through the years.
I am not suggesting that every divorce should be stopped. There are several reasons divorce takes place and the hurt and pain can not be overcome. Sadness or unhappiness can sometimes be a reason to split. However, all I am suggesting is that when you take the vow to commit to someone for the rest of your life, that you remember just how much work, patience, perseverance, work, humor, work, respect, and did I mention- work, that it is going to take. Get angry with me, get really angry with me and explain yourself to death about why your divorce was reasonable. Many times over I am going to disagree with you. You get to choose who you marry. That’s right, it’s a choice. You get to choose who you will be able to run the business of marriage with for the rest of your life.
The percentage of divorce gets higher with the number of divorces you have. So you have a 40-50 percent chance of getting divorced the first time and a 70 percent chance of divorcing again. The common denominator of that statistic is you.
I first heard of conscious uncoupling when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow announced their split, as I am sure, most of us did. Thank goodness the Wall Street Journal took the time to write an article on what was meant by conscious uncoupling. According to the article the term could, “be new language that could frame the end of a marriage or relationship in my positive light.” I was happy to hear that definition because basically what we are saying is that we are going to put a pretty frame on a shitty picture. Break-ups and divorces suck. Make no mistake about it that they leave people jaded and discouraged. Society has become a mecca of pretty frames on all sorts of false pictures (Facebook facades). Now we sit in a society that is ready to approach the hurtful parts of life by being consciously fanciful and politically incorrect. Distorting the truth doesn’t make it any easier. Conscious uncoupling is a sham.
Isn’t dating suppose to be a way for us to test the efficacy of marriage? But if we are a break-up culture, is the desired effect to separate or to sustain the marriage? And we are a break up culture. A culture that wants more, faster and easier. What it took for our grandparents and parents to sustain a marriage, we are just not interested in putting in that kind of effort. A recent article in Shape magazine discussed that treating your relationship like your job could have positive effects on the happiness and teamwork in your relationship. The article simply suggests that if we put in as much effort for our relationships as we do in our jobs, we would be in a better position with a better attitude. I mean when was the last time you neglected your job or just walked in late? You make an attentive effort to be on time, to dress accordingly, to follow the employee handbook. Maybe you can establish a relationship handbook and overcome the complacency and inflexibility you seem to have in regards to your relationship. Sorry Gwen, but remarking on your divorce as conscious uncoupling is bullshit. Talk is cheap. Cheesy wording is even cheaper.
We all remember the year that Britney Spears made the video Hit Me Baby One More Time. We remember because she went from being an innocent singer to a provocative pop princess. She emerged from her young years on The Mickey Mouse Club. It shook our view of young women singers. We remember her because she showed … her midriff and society went crazy for it. Whether it was backlash from angry parents or cheers from supportive fans, there was reaction. And I don’t blame her. It put her on the map. She was popular with the younger crowd and encompassed a genre of fun and fearless; much like Madonna transformed tunes in the 80’s with her breast cones and seductive song and dance.
As Britney grew up she needed to obtain a new crowd’s popularity to keep herself on the map, she had to up the ante. I thought she did it considerably well. Now less is always more, but the marketing was strategic to shift from innocent to dangerous. And you know what, it worked.
Welcome 2014, and Miss Miley Cyrus. Now it’s not her problem that to get the same societal attention that Britney did she had to keep with the times. Midriffs were a thing of the past and in came twerking. She was aging out of Hannah Montana so her choices became leaving stardom and collecting from the Hannah monument or to continue a career. In a society that is saturating itself with bigger, better, stronger, faster…. we are eating ourselves.
Even in the days when Britney and Christina Aguilera were pop queens their lyrics still brought in sexual expression subtly and power to women’s voices in creative ways. Christina was a Genie in a Bottle and you had to rub her the right way. Take it the way you like, but wanting one last chance (hit me baby) and genies in bottles discretely sang messages. Lyrics about popping molly and Lady Gaga‘s Do What You Want with my body scream messages that make me wonder: have we lost (pardon me) our fucking minds. We are spoiling America. We are doing a very specific job of spoiling the women in America. Justin Timberlake emerged from the same early TV show as Britney and Christina. His popularity began in the boy band NSync and still continues today, but when was the last time he had to show his midriff let alone twerk to get our attention? Let me answer that for you, never.
So where did this all come from? I rented the movie Don Jon last evening. I got more than I bargained for but I don’t offend easily. So my intrigue had me watch it. I believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s intention when he created the film was to explore sex and porn addiction. 40 days and 40 nights explored the same kind of addiction (although it did it subtly). He created a story line that breaks the main characters porn/sex addiction by reminding him that overindulgence is bad and pornography is not real sex anymore. The character had a better connection with porn then he did having sex with his girlfriend. Step in Julianne Moore‘s character who is an older woman with a sense of humor stemmed from a sad situation. (The movie was all over the place but that is besides the point.) She sets the tone for the change. Which brings up my next point: The problem with pornography. The same thing that happen when shifting from midriff to twerking took place in the porn industry. Missionary sex began with mixing it up with a new position or two. It was scandalous for the mail man to come over to a single woman’s house, enter the house, then enter the woman. Then …. literally all hell breaks loose. In comes the threesome. Because when did having sex with one person at a time not sexually satisfy us? I will tell you why. We live in a fantasy world of expectations that literally don’t exist and they are brought to you by: the media. But we all buy into them because we are an overindulged, unsatisfied, spoiled society. Woman may feel the need to submit to the ridiculous standards.
In a society that is saturating itself with bigger, better, stronger, faster…. we are eating ourselves. I just hope it saturates itself at some point. How are we going to teach our children to be conscious in a society that is so unconscious?
One day at the gym I overheard a man and woman chatting with one another. The woman was talking about her upcoming celebration for 23 years of marriage and he was discussing that his 40 year marriage anniversary had just passed. I remain in awe about how these couples manage to give support and love throughout the years. I also can’t help but wonder how couples today will connect and survive in today’s technology driven society.
The digital age brought around a huge evolution for business and educational styles. Our daily lives have changed significantly due to search engines and social sites. But have our dating lives and our self-development increased at the same pace? Smart phones have become a great technological advance to cellphones. Have humans evolved in their dating styles or are we still T9 dating?
The release of smart phones and social dating sites has left us no more savvy consumers in the dating world than we are in the public arena. If you are hoping to get out of bad dating patterns, hiding online won’t help. Give a girl who dates jerks 5 guys and she is likely to pick the 1 jerk out of the bunch. Give her 100 guys and she is still likely to pick the jerk. The real question is if your mental aptitude for dating has enough ram to keep up with the current technology. Maybe it is time to upgrade ourselves before we go fishing, get on ok cupid, download the tinder app or pay for sites like match and e-harmony.
The first smart phone came out in 1993. In the last ten years smart phones are the new norm. But what has happen to our dating lives? What are the advances to our human development that are making dating better today then it was ten years ago? In a world where you have 1,009 Facebook friends and 876 Instagram followers, the only human evolution has happened to our egos. That doesn’t equate with making us more responsible dating partners. Bigger egos may make approaching another person easier as we become more aggressive, but it isn’t helping us develop compassion for being thoughtful in romantic relationships.
Society might be on the cusp of social explosion. I can not tell you how many photos I have seen where guys have their pants unbuttoned and I can almost see their junk. This isn’t what I signed on for. This type of dating has allowed the douches to get even douchier (as if it was possible). I find myself erasing more messages than actually connecting on a real human level. What is socially appropriate publically weeds out that kind of behavior and nonsense. But online, anything goes.
You are what you are online and offline. Whatever attitude, defenses, lifestyles, or energy that you have as a person, you will have on a computer. It is important to develop yourself with other people in mind. Sorry, Selfies, it’s not all about you.
As I approach 30, I can’t help but feel more and more happiness. I am so excited about getting older that when people ask me how old I am, I keep telling them, “I am going to be 30.” (I even realized the other day that I find a way to work in the age conversation just so I can tell people).
So, I thought I would share some of my recent thoughts on this time in my life. Your 20’s are for being clumsy. I call it the 20’s learning curve. But cheers to my cohorts who are leaving that learning curve for what our parents, teachers, relatives, and elders always wanted to train us for…… Life.
What You Just Can’t Know Until Your 30’s:
you should …love then adore
moderate don’t binge
don’t get fixated on the newest fad (feng shui zumba hot (I mean super hot) backwards upside-down yoga)
fall for someone then enjoy security
fight but stay
date then marry
gossip but only in compliments
stop complaining and love: your body, your mind, your spirit, and yourself
listen then talk: no seriously, just listen for a long number of minutes, think, then talk
learn then live
hurt but don’t blame
when the grass looks greener on the other side, just stop looking at the other side
enjoy freedom, but not until you establish discipline
lose and let go