Back when I was the Sex &
Relationships editor at a women’s magazine, I would often have to consult
experts—psychoanalysts, therapists, PhDs, marriage coaches, sociologists—to get
their weigh-in on one couples’ issue or another. I would secretly roll my eyes
whenever they predictably offered up this tired tip: When you don’t see eye
to eye, sit down with your guy, a pen and some paper and write it down. My
frustration with this advice was that it was unrealistic. There’s a standoff in
your relationship? Break out the legal pad! That’s not how couples
communicate. We talk it through, with words coming out of our mouths. We
don’t need some jotted down notes to help us bring our feelings into finer
But recently, I had to step down from my
high horse. My husband and I had an argument. Truth be told, it was more like
one of those
deals. Even more honest, it was my fault. I had gotten tangled up in my list of
Gotta-Dos and I let generosity and tenderness slip away from an evening that
had all the elements of being just lovely. It was not just any evening, by the
way. It was December 18, our First Date-iversary.
The next day, feeling horrible about how
it all ended, I turned to our paper. It’s a set of papers, actually, held
together in a slim, white binder. It’s our wedding. My husband’s aunt, the wise
and kind woman who married us over five years ago, printed out our entire
ceremony and bound it together for us. There are no pictures, just words.
Meaningful ones. It was a sweet gesture, this book of love, but it was also an
invaluable gift to our marriage. When I’m struggling to find the language I
need to move through a falling-out, I bring out that binder. I re-read our
vows, those promises we made to one another, each brimming with aspiration,
inspiration and love. And I find my way to an apology, to an understanding,
with my heart repositioned and my kindness levels restored.
Who knew there could be such power in words…written down on
is an author, journalist and also the mother of perhaps the most delightful
little boy on this spinning globe. Read her blog at msmarymack.com.
By Joe Wack
My wife and I
have been together for nearly eighteen years. Our relationship has grown
stronger over that time and our level of intimacy has deepened. We share so
much. And yet we’ve always made sure that certain things maintained some sense
That’s now going
out the window. Thanks, potty training.
We have not been
wildly successful thus far at potty training our son. We’ve got friends whose
offspring were trained at eight months (this may be a slight exaggeration) and
our son is now three and is still not regularly taking advantage of indoor
reached a point now where our resolve has firmed and we are pulling out all the
stops to make continence a reality in our household. We’re keeping the Gold
Star Chart in the bathroom. We’re having Pantsless Afternoons regularly. And
we’re making an effort to be open with our son about our own use of the
This is not easy
for us. We have each, I believe, taken the view of our bathroom as the Fortress
of Solitude. We are meant to be alone in there and that’s how we’ve always
been. But we’re now trying to show our son how normal and wonderful potty use
is. Part of that effort involves leaving the door open sometimes, so he can
come by and hang out. This means that we have been boldly going where we’ve
never gone before.
our efforts are successful soon, so we can go back to hiding these functions
from each other completely.
currently teaches science to elementary school children in the Bronx. He writes for New York Family‘s Parenting In
Progress blog, and lives in Harlem with his wife and three-year-old son.
To Amy/From Fate
By Amy Wilson
A little more than seventeen years ago, I got on a bus at Port Authority to
head back to my hometown for Christmas.
There was a guy about my age sitting across the aisle from me. Jeans, baseball
hat, cute. (He did not
belong on that bus.) He and I stole glances at
each other until the second-to-last stop, when we were practically the only
people left aboard, our newspapers and crosswords long finished.
“Are you going to Scranton?”
“But you’re not from Scranton.”
We knew a lot of the same people, we had been in the same room dozens of times,
but somehow our paths had never crossed until that moment. When you go all the
way to New
York City to meet a guy who grew up two miles away from you, you have to
think that fate has handed you a great present.
And the more time that has gone by, the more unlikely our meeting that day
seems. If we were on that bus today, we’d never meet at all; we’d be
tip-tapping on our tiny keyboards, totally Preoccupied and Busy and Important,
missing what was right next to us. I count my lucky stars that I got on that
bus without anything to keep me from being in the moment—not even a mid-90s
Walkman (probably out of batteries).
These days, I can barely survive an elevator ride past the sixth floor without
a furtive check of my iPhone—and while that makes me feel more connected to the
world around me, it’s probably doing just the opposite. I have to remind myself
to put away the screen, and live. Who knows what I might be missing?
I knew the
importance of Valentine’s Day even back in first grade. I was asked to decorate
a shoebox with construction paper and stickers and bring it into school to put
on my desk so my classmates could deposit cards. As the week progressed, I
would excitedly glance inside to see the accumulation. Oh the joy!
On February 14th right after lunch, Ms. McShirley encouraged us to open our
boxes. There were no homemade cards back in 1971 but pre-cut greetings with
animated figures on the front. I would tear the envelopes and delicately peel
out the precious goods. I got several standard Valentines featuring Spiderman,
Charlie Brown and Wonder Woman. But amidst the crowd was something different: a
card with a little white kitty cat. This was Michael Bleustein’s card to me—and
it was special. He even signed the back with “Love, Michael.” I slept with that
card underneath my pillow every night for a month.
When you are
young, you just want to grow up so you can fall in love and spend Valentine’s
Day with the person who makes you feel passionate about life. Hearts, cards,
candy, teddy bears, candlelight and romantic dinners are constant reminders
letting you know how your love life is progressing. But when you are divorced,
raising children, working and “dating on occasion,” Valentine’s Day can make
you feel like you are failing in the Love Department. I know, because I have
But love does not come wrapped in a Valentine or a heart-shaped box filled with
chocolates that are sometimes leftover from last year’s shipment.
Love is your
child’s smile. Love is the people you work with who tell you how lucky they are
to be a part of a company you have created. And love is friends who might not
spend February 14th with you, but want to spend other days talking and laughing
about everything under the sun.
Day approaches, I am more grateful at the age of 45, than any other year. I
will go to work wearing a bright red turtleneck with heart earrings, and I will
bring some fresh chocolates to share with everyone. I will go out to lunch with
friends, maybe get a massage after work and come home and curl up on the couch
and watch a good TV show with my son, and be thankful for what I have. It may
not be what I dreamed of when I was in first grade, but it’s pretty darn close.