When you go out for a birthday or anniversary, do you tell the establishment?
Last Friday was our anniversary and we decided to go to 1789. Situated in a Federal period house in Georgetown, the restaurant has been one of the premiere dining experiences in Washington DC the entire 20 years I’ve lived in the area. I’ve always wanted to go.
When you make a reservation with Open Table, you can put in a comment. So we noted we were celebrating our anniversary. The restaurant was spectacular about the occasion. When we walked in the door, the host and hostess welcomed us with a “Happy Anniversary!” then personalized menus wished us the same. When they brought our desserts, we had candles with little edible “Happy Anniversary” signs. They gave us a menu signed by Chef Giusti as a gift along with a card of well wishes. I was so pleasantly surprised with all the details.
After all the servers left, the couple next to us said it was their anniversary too. They were celebrating their 4th. The restaurant didn’t know.
We had acknowledged each other a couple of times but we were both engrossed in our own conversations. I wished they had been experiencing all the special little touches too. Our evening was magical and theirs was fine but could have been better.
Have you missed opportunities to share and make an experience better?
During a job interview a candidate seemed distant and distracted. We were uncertain but continued the process. After a follow up call, the candidate admitted she had been on the way to a funeral for a woman who had been like a mother to her, but wanted to keep her job interview. If she had shared this information at the time, the situation would have been better for everyone.
Whether or not to share the full-story of a situation can be a tough decision. Sometimes, as with our anniversary, we were in such high spirits about the occasion, it was difficult to keep it to ourselves. But even in a difficult situations, it’s worth taking a chance to trust and share.
One day my friend asked me how I could be married to my husband. After ten years in a support group for our children, we have shared many intimate details of our daily lives. Her unease didn’t stem from abuse or any other serious concern, but rather the fact that my husband and I belong to different political parties.
Since no one had ever blatantly asked me this question, my answer wasn’t very savvy. I stumbled through an explanation on how we had never had a disagreement about money and went to church together each Sunday. Many facets of our marriage were far more important than his voting habits. I chalked this whole episode up to living in the Washington, DC area where I once “interviewed” to live in a group house and didn’t make it because of my political party.
When my husband and I met at Gettysburg College we were both politically active. He volunteered. I protested. Many people still don’t believe we wound up marrying each other. We agree on the outcome desired for most issues but not on the systems for solving these challenges. Our training and philosophies don’t match, but our hearts do.
When I first started dating my husband, a friend from high school insisted that I break up with him. We would always get together for presidential debates and scream at the television. A presidential policy decision had directly ruined her senior year in high school. How could I sleep with the enemy? After meeting him for the first time she called to tell me that she was sorry. He was a kind, nice person, not some faceless opponent to despise, and she approved.
Back during the election, my alma mater distributed a news story about two friends and roommates. As president of the College Republicans, one organized an appearance by Cindy McCain while the other, who is president of the College Democrats, arranged a visit by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. The fact that they lived together and held such strong, opposing views was news worthy. Although hopeful, this is a sad commentary. The friendship was so unusual that it drew media attention.
Last year my husband completed a one-year work detail at the White House. Our family took full advantage of the Easter Egg Roll, Staff Holiday Tour, Marine One Landings, and Oval Office Self-Guided Tours. Even though all of the friends we invited to join us for these events had opposing political views, they appreciated that the Office of the President was not the same thing as the actual President in office. The fanfare of the White House continues no matter who lives there. Our democracy depends on this respect.
President Obama brings an unprecedented level of involvement from many people new to activism and politics. The President’s support is strong and emotional though not complete. Anxiety is running high about the deepening worldwide financial crisis. In order to get through this terrible era, we are going to need to treat each other as friends. We’re going to need to work together beyond our differences.
It can be done. These times really don’t give us a choice.
For Christmas, I thought my husband was going to get me a wireless booster. Invisible forces often knock my internet connection to Kingdom Come, requiring a complete re-boot of the whole system with a run up the stairs. Since the husband told me about the relay, each time I ran up the stairs, I counted the days until Christmas.
He didn’t give me one.
After Christmas we were standing around Best Buy and I mentioned that I thought he was going to give me an internet booster. He told me he was, but he was afraid because of the “Beware of the Doghouse” video.
One of my girlfriends had emailed me the link. I laughed. When my husband was wandering around the kitchen, I hit play on my laptop. He laughed much harder than me. Now I haven’t gotten what I wanted for Christmas.
If you haven’t seen the video advertisement, some poor schmuck gave his wife a vacuum cleaner. Even though it was a “dual-bag” vacuum cleaner, she condemned him to fold laundry for all eternity down in the doghouse with other men who had made such mistakes with presents.
Since it ridiculed the women who would do this to their husbands, I thought it was funny. I never thought of myself as one of “those” women. The last thing I want is for my husband to waste money on jewelry when there are useful and fun-filled gifts for the picking. (For the record, he gave me something I adored but would never actually purchase, so he’s good.)
Over the weekend, one of my sister-in-laws said that her husband had laughed much harder than her when they watched the doghouse video. Since our husbands seemed to be laughing because they identified with the situation from personal experience, we were both slightly annoyed. We didn’t like being lumped in with these women, but men identify with the video because they feel like they never know the right thing to do.
I count on my husband to make my life better each day. He’s my “Can Do Pig”, a reference from a children’s book which I have always considered a compliment even though it doesn’t sound like one. At the births of our sons, he gave me the diamonds and pearls, so I’m not against sentimental jewelry. But what has become apparent in the last few days is that I depend on him to come up with the big solutions and erase all the problems in my life.
To me, that’s a much greater gift. I hope men figure out the right thing to do.
Update: Our nephew spent a day trying to install a wireless booster then returned it. Maybe the Doghouse saved us some trouble afterall!
Yesterday I realized a friend lied to me a year ago. Back then I didn’t know that her marriage was dysfunctional. I believed her. I believed this lie for a full year even after learning how she lies to everyone to survive her narcissistic husband and cover up the terrible distress of her family. She left me in the lurch that day because I had been depending on her. It was a bit of a disaster.
Up until this point I have been understanding, but I became angry. The anger spread to a couple of other friends who had lied to me in the last few months.
In one case the husband and wife told me two completely different stories. One was elaborate with many details and the other was a simple denial of the situation. I’d always believed the long-winded story but my ten-year-old son declared that the story is probably the lie. After spending a night thinking about it, he may be right. I now realize that the friend was trying to tell me something else with that story. Who knows? I just know one of them lied.
The other case was a simple lie, an excuse. I found out because someone I know was excitedly telling me about an event. The details did not fit with what my friend had told me. I must have had disbelief on my face so this person continued to add details to confirm the date, time, and people. Truthfully, I didn’t want to know. During the conversation, I just wanted to believe that my friend had not lied. When pounded with the facts, I couldn’t deny it. Although there could be reasons, it was still a lie to me.
In all three cases the lie involved the friends’ spouses. Can I ever believe anything someone tells me regarding their spouse? Seriously, I’m in doubt.
As a Philosophy major I had to read a book about lying. One of the basic premises of survival is that people will lie to protect self and kin. Remembering this tenet does not help me gain faith in my friends, but rather confirms a sad reality.
Currently I am rereading Rockville Pike by Susan Coll. In this story the main character, Jane Kramer, starts lying to everyone. Her marriage is in dire straits and she finds herself covering for it with more and more lies. She contemplates the person she has become.
In all of the cases where my friends have lied to me, I believe there are problems with the marriages. Some hide it much better than others. My husband doesn’t agree, so maybe I’m just trying to find a way to at least trust some friends. If I can deem a marriage strong with good communication, maybe I can trust those friends. I’m grasping at straws.
We all want our lives to appear perfect. The public image of a happy family that interacts with the community and is willing to meet people and be friendly is paramount to a little white lie.
Now that my guard is up, I’m fearful that I will scrutinize everything that people say to me. Since you really can’t function this way in life, I will have to believe people. However, I doubt I will invest any emotional energy into what people say to me. The only thing to do is go forward in good faith, but protect yourself.
This week I have decided that there is one and only one criteria when picking a spouse, the quality of the sex. Society deems it acceptable to go outside the marriage for every other facet of matrimony but not sex, so you had better make sure it is good.
The public really frowns on affairs and prostitution which is very evident in the media frenzy concerning former Gov. Spitzer this week. He apparently admits to both. You just can’t, can’t, can’t go outside the marriage for sex. Think about it, for everything else it is perfectly fine.
If your spouse doesn’t like to talk, you can talk to a friend. Why stop at one friend? Find a bunch. We all have cell phones. I always wonder who everyone is talking to when they almost run me off the road. It can’t always be a spouse. You can also depend on family members like siblings, mothers, fathers, or aunts. Talking with a trustworthy individual about all sorts of personal subjects is completely acceptable. You can have a best friend in your corner to support you in everything that you do. Society will not blink an eye at the relationship.
If your spouse won’t support your career path, then find a mentor, depend on a coworker, or get a counselor. Recently I even read an article on “work spouses”. People actually admit that they are very close to someone of the opposite sex at work, confide in them, go out with them, watch each other’s backs, discuss everyone else at the office, and basically share everything. I’d never been in one of these, but I think about Jim and Pam on “The Office”. All said and done, this type of relationship seems to be accepted by people.
How about if your spouse is a terrible cook? What about if you both hate to cook? If you are really rich, you can hire one. There’s always the possibility of takeout every night or going out to eat. Fast food restaurants or prepared meals from the supermarket are also extremely easy options. You needn’t marry someone who can cook.
Same goes for cleaning. You can always hire a cleaning service. Both spouses can be pigs.
You may not agree on financial matters but there really is only so much money, so you are forced to work these problems out.
If you belong to different political parties or religions, it’s alright to go your separate ways and follow your heart. Want to play a sport that your spouse hates? Go right ahead and join a team. You can watch sports with your friends too and yell your head off. If you love books, join a book club. Thank goodness for ipods if you like completely different types of music and you can always go to a concert with a fellow fan.
Society really doesn’t care.
You do have to agree on whether to have children or not but there are countless instances of infertility or accidents that change people’s plans. This one is not entirely up to the couple but there should be agreement, or at least nieces and nephews you can borrow if need be.
Thinking about having kids, brings me back to sex. You can’t go elsewhere for this one, so it sure better be knock your socks off as in “I never imagined it could be this excellent in my wildest dreams.” It’s the one and only thing you must exclusively get from your spouse so no other criteria matters when getting married.
Believe me, I never thought I would say this because it sounds so shallow and purely physical. Since sex really is the most absolutely awesome thing you can do, why wouldn’t you make it your number one priority for your entire married life when you know you can’t get it anywhere else?
I cannot recall my mother ever calling me by my name. She calls me “Daughter” in a very New York accent, “Dawtah”. She even writes “Dear Daughter” on all my cards. Lately, I’ve been wondering about it. She comes from a large family so I know it is not the way she was raised.
When I was five I was standing in my grandmother’s kitchen when she and my mother said that I should learn to write my real name because I was going to school. “My real name?”, I asked, “What’s my real name?” Well, I went ballistic when they told me I had a different name than what they had been calling me. “HOW CAN YOU NOT TELL A PERSON THEIR OWN NAME.” I didn’t know my own name. The rug was pulled right out from under me.
Well, my dad wanted my official name to be formal for when I was a big businesswoman so the birth certificate read “Cynthia” but I was “Cindy”. On the first day of kindergarten the teacher asked me what I wanted to be called. I looked up at my parents who turned to look down at me with obvious trepidation, and I said, “Cynthia, my name is Cynthia.” I was always Cynthia throughout school and in most of my workplaces.
In high school a fellow student found out that my family called me Cindy and he couldn’t believe it. Why would they call you that? You are the least likely Cindy I know. My seriousness and hard work to get a scholarship really showed. Everyone must have thought I was no nonsense hanging out with all the honor students.
My name problems only deepened as my wedding date grew near. I was a few months short of 30 and had real estate and stocks in my name. I didn’t want to change my name. Truthfully though, I could not imagine having a different last name. My soon-to-be-husband was devasted. It was as if I was rejecting everything he stood for and after a few weeks I compromised. As long as I didn’t have to legally use a hyphen, I would add his name on the end. As this didn’t seem to appease him, I agreed to go by Cindy and his last name when we had kids.
So now no one knows my real name and I pause for a split second everytime someone calls me. Takes me a bit of time to realize they mean me. When I see it written by someone else, I think “Oh yeah, her.” After ten years of not working, the name actually represents a certain frustration with not getting on with my life.
It didn’t help when about a month ago, my husband made the comment that I had not taken his name. I wanted to defy him to name one person who actually knew my real name, but in a very uncharacteristic way, I kept my mouth shut. I’m beginning to really feel like I don’t even want a name. The whole idea just irritates me and means absolutely nothing, which is probably why I started to use my initials.
I spoke with two friends and they said the same thing. They didn’t want to change their names. They felt no affinity to their husbands’ names and lately they had been thinking about their real names. Perhaps when the kids are older and you want to get on with your life, you want your real name back. It reminds you of what you once thought you could be.