• Love Stories

    Inspired By This Month Of Romance, We Asked Four Local Writers To Reflect On Marriage, Parenting And What’s Love Got To Do With It

    By New York Family


    Makes Sense—On Paper
    By Nicole Blades

    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

    Nicole Blades
    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.

    The Family
    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
    of mystery.

    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

    But we’ve
    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.

    Here’s hoping
    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?”
    “Yes…are you?”
    He was.
    “But you’re not from Scranton.”
    He was.

    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?

    Amy Wilson is the author of When Did I Get Like This?. You can read
    her blog at whendidigetlikethis.com.

    By Audrey

    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
    been there.

    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.

    As Valentine’s
    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.

    Audrey Kaplan is the founder of Applause New York, a
    music and drama school offering classes for kids ages 1-18 years. For more
    info, visit applauseny.com.

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