How Do You Manifest Change in Your Marriage?


When the going gets tough...

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

Torso and legs of couple holding hands

Whenever I’m asked to give marriage advice to engaged friends, I always start with this: marriage is long. There are going to be times when things are very good. And times when things are very hard. But you have a lifetime to figure it out. So don’t rush the process.

I always feel a little like the grim reaper when I give this advice. (Sometimes marriage sucks, but have a nice life together!) But what I really mean is this: you have time for change to take root. Which, when I’m in the middle of one of those OMG WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS LIFE seasons of my marriage, is a comfort to hear.

But knowing that you’ll get to a better place is only half the equation. The other half is how the hell do you get there?

A few years ago, Michael and I were going through a rough patch in our marriage (you may recall me writing about parts of it here and here). At the time, I didn’t have a single specific complaint about our relationship (hahaha because I had lots of them). I wanted us to be kinder with each other, more connected with each other, more considerate in our partnership. I wanted to feel like partners. I wanted to fight less. I also wanted to feel more appreciated. And I wanted flowers on my birthday. The good kind. But I had no idea how to manifest any of those changes in my relationship. So I picked fights. I cried a lot. I banged my head against the wall (metaphorically).

And you know what? I got nowhere. Because for us, those things don’t actually work all that well. So with the help of a good therapist, we started making changes the slow, patient way. And to my surprise and delight, it worked. Three years later, I feel like I’m in a completely different marriage (and spoiler alert: I get flowers not only on my birthday, but sometimes I even get them just because). But the process of getting here didn’t feel at all intuitive to me when we started. Asking for change in a relationship is hard and uncomfortable, especially when what you’re really asking is for your partner to be different. So here’s what worked for us:

Therapy is helpful, go to there: Michael and I went to couples therapy because everyone told me couples therapy is great. But truthfully, I didn’t know objectively why therapy might help. So here’s my best explanation: independent third parties can see things you can’t. So if you’re in one of those cycles where you find yourself repeating your complaints over and over again, expecting a different result than the last time, a mediator can help fix the broken record. Just be prepared to hear hard truths about yourself as well as your partner. I went into couples therapy feeling very self-righteous and was disappointed to find out that I, too, have faults. The nerve. But here’s the thing: facing hard truths about myself made my marriage better. In fact, it turns out that those hard truths were all things that weren’t serving me. So fixing them in my marriage also fixed the rest of my relationships too. (Oh, and if you’re not in a position to do therapy right now, I recommend listening to podcast by friend of APW and business coach Jay Pryor. While it’s not a third party, his podcast and book both contain therapy-like exercises that can help you identify patterns of behavior that aren’t serving you or your relationship.)

Ask for what you want, and be specific: So, about the flowers. I didn’t just start getting them because Michael woke up one day and realized it would make me happy if I had dying foliage on my countertop every holiday. Instead, I said to him, “I want to get flowers on my birthday.” So he got them. And then because I’m petty, the next time I got even more specific. I said, “I would really love flowers from Farmgirl Flowers for Valentine’s Day.” So he got them. Because what I learned in couples counseling wasn’t just about asking for what you want. It was about asking in a way that doesn’t render you powerless or make you a victim. Not helpful? Things like: “You know, you never get me flowers for my birthday” or waiting until after the fact to say, “I was secretly hoping you’d get me flowers, and now I’m upset you didn’t.” Instead, I ask for things unemotionally and like I assume the answer is yes. For example: “Hey Michael, I’d really like it if you got me flowers for my birthday. Cool?” (Pro tip: I make sure to ask for confirmation so I know he’s listening.) Or, “Michael, I want to go out for our anniversary this year, and I want you to pick the restaurant so it’s not on my plate. It would make me really happy if we could do that.”

Give it time to take root (or fake it tilL you make it): Listen, I won’t pretend it’s easy making changes in your marriage. Sometimes you want to strangle your partner with their shoelaces. Which is why you might have to fake it till you make it. When Michael and I were working on our “be nicer to each other” campaign a few years ago, I had to put aside my desire to say something snarky or sarcastic when he said or did things that bothered me. Instead, I did a small song and dance for every small gesture that showed he was trying. And I made a point of showing that I was trying too. And over time, it stopped feeling fake and became part of our relationship language. But spoiler alert: there’s no room for pride or ego in this game. If you want things to be different, you might have to make the first move (and possibly the second one too).

In September, Michael and I will celebrate nine years of marriage together. Our relationship is very different from the one we had when we said our vows. And for that I am very glad. Because it wasn’t an accident. And it won’t be an accident if it’s different nine years from now. Or, I hope it won’t be.

P.S. I just finished reading this book. It’s wicked gendered and markets itself as being for new parents. BUT. I thought the advice was particularly applicable to new marriages and learning how to fight productively.

But I want to know from you. Have you manifested change in your marriage? How do you get what you need out of your partnership? Does it get easier the longer you’ve been together? (Or harder?)

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Eenie

    I checked in with my husband this weekend about our budget. We have almost double the income as last year, so it’s less important to pinch our pennies and use YNAB right now. He said “I find value in using this budget process because I know it helps you feel less anxious about money. It’s not that annoying to do it for that reason, and it’s a good habit to keep for when times aren’t as good financially.”

    This was such a change from 1.5 years ago when I agreed to move halfway across the country with no job only if he agreed to budget with me for a trial six month period. He’s gotten so good at entering transactions, and it feels like a small act of love every time his credit card reconciles perfectly.

    • Angela’s Back

      My husband and I are about to start dipping our toes into the joint finances thing and it’s freaking me out because I’m the breadwinner and I’m scared to death of relinquishing control over the budget… which is ridiculous because my husband has never been a crazy spender or reckless with money or anything like that. But that doesn’t make it any easier!! I did successfully divest myself from beign the exclusive dinner maker after not wanting to give that up for similar controlly reasons, so hopefully I can just take a deep breath and relax and work this out with Mr. Angela.

      • Amy March

        It’s not ridiculous to be scared to give up control of your money, it’s a good and sensible fear! Yes, absolutely you’ll work through it and get there but you’re not at all ridiculous to find it challenging.

      • Sarah E

        Also a controlly person here. When I come up against these things, whether they’re financial or chore-related or any other decision, I find it helpful to say my thought process out loud, even if it’s not a response-required type of thing. That way instead of my partner just watching my face contort until I say something dumb, he knows “Thinking about this makes me anxious because x and I’m really concerned about y happening, even though I know you’re a smart, helpful person who wouldn’t do y and that objectively x is unimportant, but it still worries me so.. . .yes, let’s review these accounts” or whatever.

      • emilyg25

        I didn’t give up control, I just absorbed another portfolio, haha.

      • Alissa

        Pooling 98% of our resources into joint checking and savings accounts, but keeping small “fun money” personal accounts (we each get the same amount of “allowance” deposited into our fun money accounts every 2 weeks, regardless of who earns more money) has been FABULOUS. Once we got to the point where we had sorted out agreed-upon rules about what was an approved “joint expense” vs. what was a “personal expense,” it eliminated SO many fights and concerns. If there’s a purchase that he really really wants and I just don’t think I can get behind? He can pay for it from his personal account. It’s made it much easier to get on the same page and not need to always “control” his expenditures while still keeping all the benefits of a team approach to our family spending.

        • Not Sarah

          How long would you say it took you to hash out what was an approved joint expense? I feel like we are still working on that after seven months which is getting a bit exhausting!

          • Alissa

            Solidarity to you through the process! When we first merged finances , we were both broke grad students so it simplified the process because we simply didn’t have as many choices about how we were spending our money. But what helped our hashing out process was agreeing to certain principles, rather than approaching each line item separately. Do we both benefit from a particular purchase? (I.e., Groceries, rent, meals out together, utilities, trips together) then that’s joint. Gym memberships, haircuts, clothes, hobbies: personal. Work-related expenses are often from joint, but we talk those over first. I should also say that our personal allowances are low- $200 per person per month, so they are really designed just to be for personal splurges. I don’t know if that helps you in your own process- everyone had a different system that’s right for them! But wishing you a speedy path to establishing consensus so you can sit back and enjoy a system that works. Building a new system with a partner is tough work, but hopefully you’ll feel stronger and closer on the other side!

          • Not Sarah

            We’ve been asking the question more so of “Is this a need or is it something that we both benefit from?” For example, shampoo and food are needs, so it shouldn’t come out of personal spending, even if we get varying benefits out of the food and shampoo purchases. I think it might be a year or so before we fully get through this process as different types of expenses pop up at different times of the year!

    • Not Sarah

      We haven’t fully combined our finances, but our joint household budget has been one of the best things we’ve done together and also in some ways, one of the hardest. It is so rewarding though to have this partner at the finances though after so many years managing them on my own :)

      • Jan

        Agreed! We mostly merged finances back in December and, even though I still kinda grit my teeth because sharing finances makes me anxious, it’s been amazing to do away with the feelings I was having about how inequitably we were splitting up shared expenses.

        • Not Sarah

          Oh gosh this! I feel like getting married made splitting things feel way more equitable or at least it changed the definition of equitable.

          • Jane

            Even just being engaged did a lot of it for me. My FH makes more money than me so he has paid for waaay more than half of the flights back and forth to see each other and other expenses related to distance and me moving to his state. Pre-engagement I don’t know if I would have been comfortable with that. Before I was much more our payments should be equal; now they’re more equitable.

    • Amandalikeshummus

      “It’s not that annoying to do it for that reason.” I love this perk of partnership. So many things I hate, like doing dishes, sweeping, putting things away rather than leaving them everywhere, are actually pleasant when I do it for my partner. Honestly, some weeks, I think we just do each other’s dishes rather than our own.

      We were discussing this phenomenon the other day after his brother told him brother’s gf was mad that he told her to do her dishes after a long day of work. His mantra is, “I do not do other people’s dishes, no matter what” and that’s a bit strong even in a roommate situation; but when your roommate is your gf, it’s just not a good way to lay the groundwork for a relationship.

      • Colleen

        That mantra.. wow. Not a good way to lay the groundwork for a relationship, indeed! If I were brother’s gf, I’d be thinking “What else won’t you do, “no matter what?”

        Like, are kids in his future, even remotely or distantly? Because I’m pretty sure there are a lot of dishes that aren’t yours once you have kids. Is his expectation that his spouse will just DO ALL THE DISHES for forever? What about laundry? What about changing the empty toilet paper roll? And what about the emotional labor? If you won’t do the physical stuff, ever, I’d have serious concerns about your willingness to do the emotional stuff.

        Relationships are partnerships. Partners have to do things for each other; sometimes even really annoying things like washing dishes you didn’t get dirty! An offhanded comment might seem like a little thing, but the attitude conveyed in a “no matter what” statement like that, especially when delivered at the end of hard day, would make me take a serious step back.

        • Amandalikeshummus

          Yeah, the whole thing is concerning. I was always the being-single-is-fine person; so I don’t really understand people who settle for someone who won’t put anything into the relationship. Brother probably shouldn’t be in a relationship until he can check his selfishness. What is even the point if you have “no matter what lines.”

          • Amy March

            Right? Like, all I want is someone to take turns making the tea with. If you’re not down for helping your partner why bother?

        • lamarsh

          I just got 7 stitches after cutting my finger with a knife and have been banned from doing dishes for the next 10 days. So I can’t imagine if my husband was just like, nope, can’t do the dishes for both of us.

      • Eenie

        My husband is out of town this week. I struggle feeding myself when he’s gone. I promised him I would eat three square meals a day. It’s amazing how many things I’d do for my partner but not do for myself. He is the same way, so it balances out in the end. Except when we have to travel separately…

        • Amandalikeshummus

          It’s great for the small stuff, like not living in an apartment full of cardboard because you never take it out. But also the big stuff, like paying off student loans, rather than keeping the attitude that you’ll be poor forever so who cares. At least that’s how my life has been.

        • Jane

          If I’m home alone for days at a time, my FH checks to make sure I’m not just eating popcorn for dinner every night. I mean, he’s the one that got me a whirly pop, so. . . What did he expect?
          But I also have to make sure he doesn’t just eat crackers and cheese. I think if either of us went on a no-carb diet we would starve to death.

          • Hannah

            Oh ummm, are we not supposed to eat popcorn for dinner every night, (hides bowl behind sofa pillow)?

          • Jane

            It’s the only thing I have in common with Olivia Pope.

          • Eenie

            He immediately said wine & popcorn or crackers & cheese did not count as a square meal lol.

          • Jane

            That popcorn/wine combo is the closest I get to being Olivia Pope.

    • Mary Jo TC

      We tried the version of YNAB where you enter every transaction, and husband could not get it together, even though I have the same feelings you do about knowing where the money is. So we switched to the automatic downloads version, and husband still only checks it when I bug him about it. I wish he had the same generous, unselfish attitude your husband does about this work. Reading the sweet thing your guy said makes me feel kind of wistful, tbh. You got one of the good ones.

      • Eenie

        Don’t I know it! I spent a year unemployed which really made it a necessity. I’m unsure if the habit would stick if we weren’t in the cash strapped state for so long. We got married and then were bleeding cash left and right and the reports feature showed us that we clearly needed to make drastic changes. It was an awful and stressful year, but I’m really happy that we kept most of the habits.

        • Jane

          Ah! Hoping this doesn’t become my life – the part about the bleeding money, the budgeting sounds great! – I’m going to be employed for at least a little while after the wedding and it’s so scary for me. We both know we will have to start budgeting but we have done distance for so long that we reaaaaly haven’t shared our daily expenses or anything.

          • Eenie

            It’s hard!! The hardest part was not even the money part, it was being unemployed and constantly worrying about this lack of money that was basically my fault. It was a joint decision for me to quit, but it’s so hard to not feel like a complete failure. It put a lot of pressure on my husband cause he was the sole earner, and we discovered he does not like that feeling at all, so I won’t ever do a stay at home gig for that reason alone. I don’t think it has to be that way for everyone. Going over current expenses vs predicted future income is a wonderful place to start so you’re not having to change a lot at once.

          • Jane

            Congrats to you and your husband for dealing with all of that and figuring out what works for the two of you!
            Future me is going to have to monitor my guilt very carefully. I don’t feel guilty yet – moving and being unemployed for awhile is something I’m doing for us. My current job ends in August but, if I weren’t moving to where my FH lives, it would probably have been easier for me to find my next job. And I’ve done my best with the long-distance job search. But I’ll have to keep reminding myself of that if it takes a long time.

            In the meantime – our income is going to be perfectly fine for our needs. We just can’t save much. It’s much more mental/emotional than like, we actually don’t have the money. And we both recognize that, which is good.

    • Lisa

      My husband said almost exactly the same thing about YNAB! He doesn’t enter the transactions because it’s important to him but because he knows it helps me to feel more secure in our financial situation. That made my heart so happy.

  • Since Maddie included a podcast recommendation, I have to throw in my own: Everyone needs to check out the Marriage is Funny podcast. I LOVE it. I started listening well before I got married (so it’s not even just for married people). It’s just a hilarious and awesome couple working through their challenges and talking things out—everything from laundry/dish duty to chronic illness and separation. I highly recommend it to APW peeps. http://www.meetthepeppers.com

  • Ashlah

    Can anyone speak to their experience of how insurance handled marriage counseling? I think it’d be really good for us, but it’s so confusing! Internet suggests that one of us would be the primary patient, and that it generally has to be “medically necessary,” assuming insurance covers it at all. But…what does that mean in this context? Have any of you had luck billing insurance for marriage counseling? I know some workplaces cover a certain number of sessions outright, but neither of ours has a program like that.

    • Not Sarah

      Have you called your insurance company to ask questions about this? I’m sure they would be the best resource :)

      • Ashlah

        No… :)

        • Eenie

          Are you on the same insurance? I would call both if they are different. You can also leverage the employee assistance program if you have that as a benefit.

          • Ashlah

            We’re not, which I guess was part of what I was wondering about. How do you determine whose insurance gets used? Whoever has better coverage? Or whoever has a “diagnosable” issue that makes it “medically necessary?” I actually talked to my therapist a bit about it today, so we’ll figure it out :) I just thought it’d be nice to hear from people who already had! We do not have an EAP, unfortunately.

          • Eenie

            I think you use whoever is cheaper! Does your therapists office have a billing person? They may be able to help you figure out how much it would cost on either insurance. Otherwise, you call up both insurance companies and ask about marital counselling and how it would be covered. Your therapist might be able to bill it as something different though to save you money. I’ve never done this but that’s my experience based off of other insurance questions. I’ve had some very long and lovely talks with my insurance companies over the years on coverage. They staff the call centers to serve you!

    • Emily

      The counseling office we used was really helpful in figuring out the insurance. In our case, I was the primary patient (because I made the original appointment) so I had to get a referral from my PCP and then they billed us just like regular outpatient mental health coverage. My PCP’s office is super easy to work with, so ymmv on that.

    • Anonanonanon

      We went to a primarily marriage and family therapist who was very helpful at navigating this question. It was billed to my partner, because I was already using my therapy coverage for my own anxiety treatment. The therapist coded it as “Adjustment Disorder” for partner and it went through insurance coverage just like single-person therapy would. I think Adjustment Disorder converts to another diagnosis after a certain time length, but coverage is the same.

      I can’t recommend going to a therapist enough, and I also heartily recommend someone whose main practice is couples’ therapy. I found the difference in skills and training to be really useful compared to a primarily single-patient therapist.

      • Ashlah

        Thank you!

  • Violet

    “I, too, have faults. The nerve.”
    Haha, oh, Maddie, you are so damn relatable. This weekend I was thinking about one of my faults, as I came to the realization that while I want my partner to do more of the boring mundane things, I don’t actually want to help him with the more big picture stuff in return. That’s, ah… not fair of me. The nerve. Oy. Off to go look at that book…

    • Jenny

      Ooofph. Yes. That bit resonated with me too.

  • NolaJael

    One of the game-changers in our relationship was identifying situations that could have built-in assumptions, which we nicknamed “the pizza question.” It goes like this: If your partner asks you, “Want to order pizza tonight?” that might be really open ended (no idea what to have for dinner and asking for brainstorming help) or it might be a narrower idea (that they are craving pizza, nothing else will do). As a couple, we’ve learned to identify these situations and ask better questions about what is actually desired.

    • Violet

      Genius. Our trap was him asking, “Do you still want pizza tonight?” and me assuming that meant he didn’t want it anymore since we first discussed and decided a few days before. He would say, no, he was just making sure that was still the plan, while I kept searching for the hidden meaning of what he wanted *instead* of pizza.
      Anyway, pizza is always the answer.

    • Lisa

      This is something I’m working at in our marriage. I tend to phrase my needs as an open-ended question and then get frustrated when something doesn’t work out how I want. After breaking down sobbing from hunger on the streets of Paris following an hour and a half of “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to split a croissant while we decide what we want for lunch?” (translation: “I am so #(*%& hungry and am about to go nuclear unless I eat”), I realized that this isn’t a particularly effective strategy and that I need to be my own advocate and articulate what I want instead expecting my husband to pick up on subtle cues.

      • NolaJael

        I feel you. My husband skips lunch as often as not. Road trips and “house project days” were hellish. Now when I ask about lunch, it’s almost always, “I’m going to stop and make/buy X, would you like some as well?” because that is the version that gets me fed.

        • I can’t comprehend these people that can just skip lunch and be fine. I’m married to one of them and while we know that I need to eat lunch always, sometimes things with his family can be difficult because they are also fine-avoiding-lunch people (and his grandparents are straight-out-no-lunch-eaters!).

          • Heather

            My in-laws don’t eat breakfast. This baffles me beyond belief (also the hanger!), so now I just bring power-bars when we go to visit. They’re compact and I can have something in my body that keeps me from feeling desperate and I can eat one in our room without drawing attention to myself. I highly recommend them for time with meal-avoiding family.

          • AP

            My in-laws have an erratic eating schedule and never have “real” food in the house, just lots of junk food and candy. When I know we’re going over there for an extended period of time, I pack a lunch! My husband does too now. At first I thought they would think I was rude, but I realized quickly that a.) they might, but they don’t say anything, and b.) I don’t really care what they think about it. I’m a human that needs to eat every few hours. I also bring a vegetarian dish anytime they host a family dinner, because sometimes they remember I’m vegetarian and sometimes they don’t. This is all very weird to me because in my family of origin, if you invite people over (even family), you feed them! Food they can eat! But I’m used to it now and just make accommodations for myself. Oh well.

          • My family offers visitors food every hour or so, if we are just hanging out at home!

            The only real trouble I’ve had with my in-laws were when I ran out of the granola bars (I brought the same amount for a 6 week trip with friends and didn’t run out then!) on our less-than-a-week Ireland trip where we go into every town after grocery stores closed and left before they opened, so I wasn’t able to replenish my store of food to bring with me.

          • Yes, I travel with large amounts of granola bars at all times.

      • Arie

        At some point I realized that most of our fights occur when we’re a.) hungry b.) stuck in traffic c.) i’m PMSing or d.) some combination of a-c. I can’t control 2/3 of those very well, so I am on top of the hunger, all the time. Now if one of us gets snappy unexpectedly our first question is, “are you hungry?” instead of snapping back. :) :)

      • penguin

        Yep, this. In our relationship this gets translated as “I am not a mind reader, and neither is my partner”. We’ve both gotten MUCH better about articulating needs and wants.

      • Violet

        Haha, ours was him going on and on about this restaurant in Paris we’d been to a few years back, and as we’re walking, saying, “I wonder if it’s here. Oh no, maybe down this street.” I thought he was just looking to see if he could find it. Imagine his shock when I didn’t want to then, you know, eat there once we found it. Me: “We’ve already eaten here. It was fine. Why aren’t we trying someplace new?” Him: “Obviously I wanted to eat here; why else would I go to the trouble to re-find it?!” It was a mess.

      • ART

        Dude, getting pregnant has been a game-changer in my eating habits in relation to my husband’s. I eat many more types of things than he does, but eating together is A Thing for me, so I’ve spent a long time feeling like I’m accommodating his eating habits/schedule to the detriment of my own (and hangry episodes happened more often than I like to admit). Now, I’m like “I’m eating X right now, I might be hungry again at X time if that works for your schedule to make/get something together, but if it doesn’t, I’m sure there’s something in the freezer.” Whereas before I would have done a lot more to prioritize eating together/making sure he eats something halfway decent. I’ve had to give up some of my attachment to eating together all the time, but I’ve also given up a ton of emotional labor (that’s maybe only valuable to me?) about what HE eats and when. Also when I have to do groceries alone, he better give me his list because I’m not spending my energy wandering the aisles thinking about what he’ll agree to eat. (Food is probably one of the biggest sticking points in our relationship, in a way that may sound absurd to some of you, I know. We are 1000% more likely to fight about food than money.)

        • BSM

          Lots of this rang true.

          My husband and I both eat basically everything, but meal planning and cooking have always been 99% my chore (I prefer it that way). But being without a kitchen and having pregnancy do all kinds of weirdness to my appetite and preferences, it’s been basically every person for themselves at our house for the past 3 months (me: green smoothies, avocado toast, Cheerios, bananas; husband: TJ’s Bambino-sized pizzas).

          I’m looking forward to getting back into the kitchen because I really miss cooking, but it was a nice break and a good lesson that we will all live if I don’t feel like legit grocery shopping for a week here and there.

          • ART

            I actually tried a pilot project last year, somewhat unintentionally…for some reason I had just HAD IT with meal planning, grocery shopping, fridge and freezer inventorying, etc. and I just said OK, I’m not cooking for one month. If you want to cook, cool, or we can go out, but for one month I do not care what I/we eat and I will happily eat Bowl Noodle multiple times per week. I wasn’t mad at him and this wasn’t punishment or anything, I was just abdicating that responsibility for a month and deciding to be OK with the consequences. I don’t remember if it really lasted a month, but it’s basically what I’ve done since I was about 5 weeks pregnant and decided that I hate food and would prefer to eat all my calories in pill form if someone could please invent that already!

            Real-time update – husband just texted me from the road with a plan for getting us dinner tonight. IT’S WORKING! :)

          • AP

            This has been exactly my experience through the first trimester, too. Due to fatigue, I’m not doing the regular grocery shopping anymore, and because of my weird appetite, I’m doing a lot more snacking and a lot less cooking. Some nights my husband cooks for both of us, some nights we both fend for ourselves. It’s been interesting seeing what happens when I just let all the responsibility for feeding us go…turns out we still get fed and everyone is fine!

        • Amy March

          Doesn’t sound absurd at all. Food is such a persistent issue, in that you keep on needing to eat.

        • Violet

          Doesn’t sound absurd to me at all. Now that we’re once again living in a place where we need to cook (i.e., we can’t cheat by just living off fast casual), I came up with a weekly trade off plan. We each get a week during which cooking for Sun-Thurs is our responsibility, and the other person eats whatever it is. (This translates to: his preferences be damned. I eat everything.) We’re only about a month in, but it’s totally working. It’s a huge relief not to have to hunt for recipes that are easy for me to make and ALSO include all his preferences. Now it’s just, is what it is. He wants something so bad, he can make it the next week when it’s his turn. Oh yeah, and Fresh Direct, so we can try new recipes without wandering the grocery store looking for ingredients they may or may not have while getting frustrated.

          • NolaJael

            We traded off weeks of shopping+cooking for about a year when it made sense for both our schedules. It was perfect! No asking someone to get the weird groceries you want for your cooking, you can make the meals as quick or complex as you are willing to do. And then next week, you get everything made for you!

    • Leah

      We have some language we use in these ‘pizza’ situations, which honestly is one of the most useful things we do for our marriage, and super easy. All questions of preference we have to articulate as ‘slight preference’ or ‘strong preference’. If hubs says ‘do you want pizza?’ i might say ‘hmmm not really but that’s a weak preference, how about you?’ and if he’s like ‘i have a strong preference for pizza’ then we get pizza. It turns out there’s a huge emotional and practical difference between weak and strong preferences in both trivial and important parts of life. It’s common that we have conflicting weak preferences, or weak vs strong, but honestly pretty rare that we have conflicting strong preferences. When we do, that’s when we realize we need to talk things out.

      • Lisa

        This is such a good idea!

      • Lizzie

        Yes yes agreed! We say whether we’re “driving” something or not – like, do you want this thing enough that you’d get in the driver’s seat, pull up directions, and get us there (metaphorically/emotionally for us bc we don’t have a car)? Or would you get in the passenger’s side but only cause you’re getting a ride?

        SO helpful and, as you say, you can actually figure out a ton of things that way. Neither of us are driving pizza for din, a trip to the museum, working on a house project this afternoon? F it then, moving on!

  • Mrrpaderp

    I have such mixed feelings about the “ask for what you need” advice. On the one hand, sure, your partner isn’t psychic, if you have a need they’re not meeting then you have to clearly articulate it. On the other, you are not solely responsible for stage managing your relationship/shared life. See, e.g., the “but you didn’t ask!” cartoon. The cartoon is about chores but the basic premise applies to lots of things. If you find yourself continually asking your partner to meet pretty basic standards then maybe it’s not you, there’s a compatibility issue.

    This advice also raises my heckles a little bit because I feel like it’s disproportionately lobbed at women with male partners; like men are these clueless creatures that can’t be expected to fathom the emotional complexity that is woman. It’s YOUR fault, women, for men not realizing that flowers and candy is A Thing on Valentine’s Day, or saying “I love you” is important, or maybe they should be equally responsible for running the household, or any number of things that men claim (feign?) ignorance about. You, an individual, regardless of gender, are primarily responsible for figuring out how to be a kind, considerate, generous partner. Your SO should provide an assisting role, not a leading one.

    • Violet

      I see what you mean. In our relationship, the dynamic is a little different than you’d stereotypically hear about: I generally know what I want and never have trouble asking for it. So I get it. My husband is less clear on what he’d like, or even if he does know, he sometimes falls prey to that thinking trap that it means less if he has to ask me for it. And then he’s less satisfied, but I’m not exactly sure what I can do about it. Anyway, both people definitely have to put int he effort to meet each other halfway. I don’t think I get a free pass just because he can’t articulate, but neither is it my job to solve his discontent for him.

    • Lisa

      I see what you’re getting at here, and there is a point where question asking should not be a thing (basic running of a household or relationship). However, different people want different things. Not every woman wants candy and flowers for Valentine’s Day; it’s up to each individual within a couple to articulate his or her basic needs, but then it’s upon the partner to take the individual’s word and remember it going forward.

      My husband has no way to know that I don’t actually like surprise gifts that much and would like to be part of the process if he’s choosing something expensive unless I tell him that or ask to be included. Maddie’s husband had no idea that she wanted him to buy flowers for special occasions until she told him. Our partners aren’t mind readers.

      • penguin

        Agreed on the distinction. If I had to ask my fiancé to do laundry every time it needs doing (laundry is his chore), that would bother me and be Not OK. But having to ask/tell him that I like flowers sometimes makes sense to me. I’m not a mind reader either – he had to tell me that he’s fine not getting a present for his birthday but he does want to have dinner with just us.

        • Ilora

          How did you know that I cried about that exact laundry situation yesterday!?

    • I think this is good to be cognizant of, and I especially agree that this is usually targeted torward women — Absurdly IMO because I know PLENTY of men who struggle with asking for what they want. I think if you are having to continuously ask your partner to meet the basic standards that you’d expect of, say, a roommate with practical things and a good friend with emotional things that is a fundamental problem that may signal your partner isn’t ready for a serious relationship.

      But I still think “clearly express your wants and needs” is far and away some of the best relationship advice. There are so many non-basic things that people are calibrated really differently on. There are so many needs that can change. And I think especially in long-term partnerships it’s easy to assume that you know the rule-book and fall into bad communication habits and resentment cycles.

    • Jan

      I 100% agree with you here, but I would perhaps tack on an addendum that states: I don’t believe that I should have to ask my partner to do basic, life-management things or contribute to our romantic life in a way that is meaningful for me, AND sometimes I still have to, and that’s not a game-ender.

      My partner is one of those people who just is not a default helper. He contributes to the things he thinks about regularly (gardening, vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher) but absolutely blanks on the things that he just doesn’t notice or care about (like cleaning the bathroom or folding laundry). This used to make me furious. It has taken me YEARS to realize that I shouldn’t silently hope that he’ll suddenly become someone who cares about having folded t-shirts, and that if I want him to contribute in those specific areas (and BOY, DO I), I maybe just need to tell him so. I used to just fester in my anger and get so. damn. angry, and eventually I’d blow up and be so mad that it became an epic fight. Then not too long ago I just started calmly telling him whenever I felt he needed to do more, and turns out he’s super happy to do it! He just didn’t realize it needed doing.

      • RNLindsay

        Exactly. I’ve spent so much time wallowing in my anger over my partner not doing specific chores, or not buying me flowers on my birthday and hoping he would just figure it out on his own! I finally realized I had to suck it up and start asking him to do these things. I can either spend my time being resentful and angry, or ask for what I want/what needs to be done and live a much happier life!

        • Jan

          I definitely still struggle with the basic idea that I’m going to probably have to ask for things I need more than I feel I should have to, but our house is a much more peaceful one now that I’ve caught on to this concept. And he’s actually been much more helpful generally around the house! I did not grow up with a mother who was particularly kind or chill about most things, least of all unhelpful people, so my model was totally screwed from “go”. I’m calling this a big step forward!

          • RNLindsay

            My MIL is not the best role model, and is very shrill and naggy to my FIL constantly, especially when he doesn’t read her mind and just do things! It never stops. When I hear myself sounding like her, I have to take a step back. They may have been married for 40+ years but I don’t want my marriage to sound like that in my 70s! Taking the steps to set the groundwork now will hopefully ward off that behavior.

          • Jan

            Absolutely! Neither my mom nor my partner’s are very nice to their spouses, and one of my main life goals is to just generally not be like that. It’s been a super interesting ride, both of us learning how to communicate like a normal person and not like our weird parents. There are a lot of pleases and thank-yous in our house.

    • AmandaBee

      I hear you on the asking, stating what you need is definitely part of the work and the onus often (though not always) falls on women to make that communication happen. On the other hand, people think different things are important, and part of being in a partnership is making sure your partner knows what’s important to you.

      For us, there’s a line between asking/communicating and having to *continually ask* for something. Communicating a need helps us stay on the same page about what makes the other person happy. But if one of us has to continually ask, it means we have a problem to address.

  • K. is skittish about disqus

    So with a two week old baby currently sleeping on my chest, this post couldn’t be more timely. I feel like we’re in the process of throwing everything about our marriage that has worked for us–our routines, our modes, our desires, our “little things”–up into the air and we’re watching as everything hangs above in suspended animation, waiting for the inevitable fall.

    Not that things have been bad! Quite the contrary. Our baby is ridiculously sweet and easy thus far, and we have the proverbial Village helping us every step along the way (even letting us both get a fairly decent amount of sleep, minus nursing breaks – I know, I hate us too). We’ve even already had a date night of a whole two hours drinking half glasses of wine and kissing each others’ face.

    But holy shit, are things already DIFFERENT. It resonates down to our core just how fundamentally things are shifting and will shift over the next, oh you know, LIFETIME. It’s amazing, but it’s also much more terrifying than I anticipated.

    I definitely don’t have anything figured out yet or even anything remotely resembling a plan on how to rearrange our marriage when all the pieces inevitably fall (again, not necessarily in a bad way but in transitional “we have a KID now” way) and we need to rebuild. I hope it will be as smooth of a transition as it seems like it will be. And I hope the strength of our partnership will carry us even if it’s rougher. But this piece helps with some actionable ideas too, and I gotta thank APW for that!

    • NolaJael

      I think the difference between building an initial relationship as a couple and renegotiating after life changes is that now you are secure enough together to be intentional. I think many relationships start off with bad habits and assumptions that were formed when the couple was still getting to know each other and in some ways walking on eggshells around each other. But once you know that every disagreement or discussion isn’t potentially fatal to the relationship, there’s more open ground to discuss possibilities in.

    • emilyg25

      The newborn stage made us such better partners and more gracious and generous toward each other. It defined our marriage. I think what helped was trying to let go of what we did before or expectations and just clinging to our commitment to love and support one another. And talking frankly and often.

    • Julia

      I’ve got an 17-month-old and looking back on newborn days, I’m in awe of how DIFFERENT it was in our marriage right away. With you on this! Even when it is good, there are still so many moments where you’re like… hanging onto each other for dear life as you hope to keep a tiny person alive :)

    • sage

      Wow… Kids are still years off for me, but I want to bookmark this comment and refer back to it when the time comes. That sounds terrifying for sure, and also like exactly what’s supposed to happen when you add a child to what was previously just a couple. Wishing all the best for you during the transition!

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        Thank you! It’s mostly little things right now that I wouldn’t have thought about prior to actually having her here. Like, we used to love snuggling on the couch and watching our shows together before going to bed at 11, where we’d then cuddle all night with our dogs.

        But now? We’re on separate baby duty shifts starting at 8pm, only 2 hours after he gets home from work. It’s the only way we each get adequate-ish sleep, especially since I still need to wake up every 2-3 hours to breastfeed. So we’ve totally switched out our usual snuggles with each other for individual baby snuggles (and occasional screams). And that alone has been a harder adjustment than we realized. We miss each other already. I mean, I’m writing this super late response with a cluster feeding, fussy baby nuzzling furiously into my chest across the room from my sleeping husband and all I want is to crawl into bed with him. But she obviously needs our undivided attention way, way more and that’s what matters.

        But this (minor) example isn’t a forever issue either! It’s newborn centric. But it’s made me realize that ALL stages will have something that will fundamentally change how we relate to one another and to our daughter as well. It’s a trip! But it really is amazing and the greatest privilege of our lives thus far at the same time. :)

    • Sarah

      It can be relatively smooth transition. Ours was. Having a baby definitely changed our lives – our routine, our priorities – but our marriage remained strong. It changed our marriage to a degree – we don’t spend nearly as much time just the two of us (more like NO time) and it’s harder not to snap at each other for stupid stuff because we are always exhausted and juggling things. It’s hard to remember that your partner is working as hard as you are most of the time, so you gotta give the benefit of the doubt and not keep score. We feel clueless all the time but we feel equally clueless so it amplifies that feeling of being in it together. We couldn’t do this without each other and we wouldn’t want to. We love the shit out of each other and our child – it shows in the CONSTANT work we put into keeping her alive and keeping the household running – and we also still just really like each other.

  • Mary Jo TC

    I’m working on this stuff too, and it’s slowly getting better. 2016 was a horrible year for us, because of new house, new baby, night classes, and politics. We had some nasty fights that I’m still reeling from. He says I need to get over it already and forgive him, I say it’s still unresolved and that’s why I keep bringing it up. But on a daily basis, things are improving. We got on the same page with our budget and made a new chore chart and wrote our wills. We’ve gone to therapy, but only 2 visits as a couple, several more just for me and one just for him.

    I love what Maddie says here, but I still struggle with asking for what I want because figuring out what I want is emotional labor to me, and sometimes what I want is to feel surprised, and if I ask for it that can’t happen. I feel like I’m doing more emotional labor in the relationship in general, and it just seems like one more thing I’m doing to maintain the relationship because he can’t handle it, or doesn’t want to invest the time and emotional effort in handling it, or doesn’t have the skills to handle it.

    • Arie

      I know what you mean by feeling like you’re doing all the emotional labor by asking in specifics. We get around it by asking in generalities. “I’d like for you to show appreciation by thanking me when I do something helpful for you.” Then, a month later if he thanks me for something, I still feel like I asked and he met me partway by remembering.

      • Mary Jo TC

        Ugh, a month later? He met you like 10% of the way.
        Isn’t it specific enough to say, “I want you to make me feel appreciated” ? I don’t even know what he could do to make me feel appreciated, the deficit seems so huge, but I know I want to see him try, and I don’t think I’ll be satisfied with any effort on his part that I have to ‘stage-direct,’ as someone put it elsewhere in the comments.

        • AmandaBee

          “Isn’t it specific enough to say, “I want you to make me feel appreciated” ?”

          For us, there’s a big difference in what makes each of feel appreciated. So I can say that in the context of my relationship, that would definitely not be specific enough.

          • Arie

            My husband is big on “romance in the mundane.” Like, he thinks the most romantic thing I do for him is make lunch. Outside-the-norm romantic gestures are totally lost on him; cards, letters, surprise date nights, gifts — just not really what makes his lil heart sing. The last time I said to him, “I want you to do more romantic things,” he took my car for an oil change and car wash as a surprise. So yes, if I want flowers, I really need to actually say that I want flowers.

          • Jan

            lol My partner is the same, and I am too in many ways, but while I do find it super romantic that he plugs my iPhone in for me when I fall asleep on the couch and turns down the sheets, I ALSO want flowers.

          • AmandaBee

            LOL to the romantic car wash. I’m actually a big “acts of kindness” person so if my husband got me an oil change and a car wash, I’d feel super romanced. But, like, I also want him to take me out to a nice dinner every now and again.

            Meanwhile, my husband is a big “everyday quality time” person so his idea of showing love is just, like, hanging out on the couch together in the evening and chatting, or watching shows together. I’m admittedly not great at intentionally-unproductive quality time, but now that I know it’s important to him I try to make space for more of it.

          • Arie

            Oh, I did feel romanced! I haaaate the car wash, so as a gesture it felt very intentional and gave me the warm-n-fuzzies. But yeah, sometimes I want dinner plans, too!

          • AtHomeInWA

            The day I knew I had something special was the day my guy broke into my house (with his spare key) and did my dishes (…a month of dishes…) and left cookies and a card. Is it flowers? No. Is it THE BEST GIFT EVER?!?!?!! Pretty much.

          • Cbrown

            I’m totally like your husband. Taking something off my plate is the most romantic gesture.

          • It sounds like he has the “service” love language! (I know it gets mentioned here regularly, but your example seems like the perfect example!)

          • LadyJanee

            This is exactly my husband. He thinks putting my laundry away is romantic (and I really appreciate it, but I don’t feel romanced per se). But the other day I had a rough day at work and came home and he’d lit candles, brought me flowers, and set up my yoga mat because he knew I would want some time to centre myself. It was so sweet and I could see he was so proud of himself for thinking of it all :)

        • Jan

          I find I have to be super straightforward with my partner about why I need something from him, not just what I need. If I say, “I want you to invest more time in planning dates” or “I want you to plan a date for Saturday” because I’m tired of being the only one who does that stuff, he miiiiight do it one time. Instead I’ll say, “I feel like I’m putting in the vast majority of emotional labor into our romantic life, and I really need you to think more consistently about planning dates, or bringing home flowers every once in a while. That would help me not feel things are so one-sided. I don’t want to have to plan all this myself or ask you every time I need you to contribute; these are some examples of things that make me feel loved, and I need you to just start doing them more often.” This seems to result in him attempting to make a more permanent change, rather than a one-off date night that it feels I essentially orchestrated.

          ETA: This is coming from someone who also finds a lot of love and joy from surprises and/or not having to do all the work. Gift giving and acts of service are key love languages for me.

          • Mary Jo TC

            When I give long, involved explanations of why I want/need something, or why something bothers me, he perceives it as an attack, or it makes him uncomfortable to think he messed up, and he shuts down. Like I mentioned, we’re in therapy.

            What if I said, “I want to feel like you’re contributing equally to maintaining our emotional connection, so I want you to come up with something that you think might make me feel appreciated. It doesn’t matter what it is or even whether I like it, but I want you to be the one to come up with it all on your own, and the fact that you put that work into it will be the thing that matters.” And repeat that until he comes up with something I actually do like. Probably he’d get overwhelmed and shut down. But what I want is that creativity and mental/emotional effort on his part. Him putting in that effort is what would make me feel appreciated. His not putting in that kind of effort for years is why I feel this way.

            What about, “I want you to write me a love letter.” or “I want you to say three positive sentences in a row about me, to me.”

          • Jan

            Yeah, that’s hard! I’m sorry. If it were me, I’d think about what my end goal really is. Is it just to get him to do some thinking and put a little creativity in? Or is it that you want your partner to plan an activity/do a thing that you’ll truly enjoy? Or both? There is no right or wrong answer (I’m both!) but I think knowing your answer is key in how you approach your husband about it. Because really, it actually might matter whether you like what he plans for you on that first try, and it would be awfully unfair to say it doesn’t matter when it does. I say this as someone who often downplays what I really want out of a desire to not seem controlling/naggy/needy, but in the end I just make it harder for everyone.

            I like the “script” you came up with, and you know your husband best! If he is prone to feeling overwhelmed or attacked, perhaps be sure to practice the time-tested “I statement”. For example: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that make me feel loved, and one of the things that makes me feel most loved is when you take the reigns on planning something fun for us to do, or even just send me a sweet text message or email out of the blue. I think it would really make he happy to have more of that.” Rather than “You do/don’t do X, and I need Y from you”. If that makes sense?

          • Mary Jo TC

            Yeah, if I’m honest it does matter if I like it–he’s done a couple things that fell flat in the past but that I can’t fault him for creativity or effort. But I know that I should give him credit for trying, and don’t say that i didn’t like it, but it doesn’t get him as many points as it would if I liked it. But I don’t think it’s fair to ask him to be creative and come up with something on his own if I’m going to be judgmental about what he does.
            The end goal is the feeling I want to have, which is being appreciated. I want to feel like he appreciates me so much he just can’t contain the feeling and has to express it spontaneously somehow–which is why asking him to do something to show appreciation feels counterproductive to me. The fact that I have to ask proves that he doesn’t appreciate me. (And the fact that I’m talking this way proves that I need the therapy I’m doing, and that I’m exactly the intended audience for this essay.)
            I messages are harder than you’d think they’d be. And even being super careful with them, sometimes someone who’s super defensive is able to translate them into an attack as soon as he hears them.

          • BSM

            I think it can be extra difficult to address recurring issues like this. You feel extra naggy, and he feels extra defensive. It definitely sounds like the right situation to have a third party involved in, so it’s good that you guys are in counseling.

            Sending you good vibes.

          • Jan

            Agreed with this! Striking the balance between being pretty clear what you want/need, communicating clearly and fairly with your partner about that, not hitting a nerve with them, AND also not coddling them sounds like a tough string of things to navigate.

          • Jan

            “I want to feel like he appreciates me so much he just can’t contain the feeling and has to express it spontaneously somehow–which is why asking him to do something to show appreciation feels counterproductive to me. The fact that I have to ask proves that he doesn’t appreciate me.”

            Yeah, there’s a BIG difference between appreciating someone, and showing someone that you appreciate them in a way they recognize. It sounds to me (an admitted internet stranger) that you’re just having trouble reconciling those two things. Which, it sounds like you already see you’re doing, and I’m so glad you’re in therapy because that’s some hard stuff to wade through!

          • Guest

            Although I agree with you in general, I don’t think it is completely unfair to ask him to be creative if you’re going to judge the outcome. You’ve been together s while, right? So he should be able to come up with something that–even if it fails–you can see that the had been paying attention. For instance, he gets you some coffee that is supposed to be awesome. You don’t like coffee at all. His effort gets a fail. But if you do like coffee, and this particular coffee just turns it to be really disappointing, he still gets points.

          • AP

            This makes me wonder- *does* he appreciate you? Is it one of those situations where you can say “I know he appreciates me and my contribution to our lives, I just wish he’d show it differently” or do you truly not know whether or not he appreciates you? I think those are dramatically different questions.

            I say this because I’ve struggled in my marriage to feel *seen.* My husband has a big personality and is used to being the busiest and smartest guy in the room. Everyone loves him. Sometimes people give him credit for things I actually did, like planning our wedding, or designing our kitchen. At times I can feel like his sidekick. And sometimes I need him to fucking say, out loud, to me, that I am a successful, smart, competent woman that has her shit together and keeps our household running, and I make his life better by being in it. I ask him for that sometimes. He’s not the type to say that kind of stuff on his own. But at the end of the day deep down, I do know that he appreciates me, even if he doesn’t always say it the way I need to hear it. He thanks me for doing day to day chores, and I know he knows there are projects and goals we’ve achieved together that he wouldn’t have been able to do alone.

            So I wonder- if you do believe that he appreciates you, how do you know? Is there anything he does that shows his appreciation? If so, what can be done to bridge the gap between how he expresses it and how you perceive it? Is it not happening at all, or is it happening and you just can’t see it? If you don’t honestly know if he appreciates you, that feels like a different conversation, because…maybe he truly doesn’t? I know that’s how I’d be feeling if I were in your shoes, and that’s a shitty place to be. It sounds like y’all are making some progress with therapy, so that’s positive! Sending good thoughts, this stuff isn’t easy…

          • Mary Jo TC

            Yeah, it very well could be that he doesn’t appreciate me, and some of the mean, opposite-of-appreciative things he said in fights last year have not been forgotten precisely because of that. I think it’s entirely possible that this is not an issue of him not expressing appreciation, or needing to learn to express appreciation in the right way, but simply him not feeling appreciation, there being nothing there to express. And is that because of entitlement on his part, or maybe lack of love?
            On the other hand, maybe that is just the devil-on-my-shoulder voice talking. Definitely a topic for therapy.

          • AP

            Ouch. This is the hard stuff, for sure. Internet hugs <3

          • Oh, entitlement is super hard in relationships (or rather, it’s hard on the person in relationship with someone who is entitled)… I think it’s great you are working on these tough issues with a therapist alone and with your partner. For some reason your comment made me think of George Simon’s book Character Disturbance. I’ve only read part of it, and I really hope that it’s not something you need and you aren’t dealing with those kind of extreme issues related to entitlement, but just in case you are, I thought I’d mention it. (It took me a while to decide to order it, even after hearing about it a lot because of the cover. It really did not make me want to buy it. However, I finally bought it and just covered the image with a post-it.) Sending good thoughts your way…

          • AmandaBee

            This is tough! Therapy is so helpful for just this kind of thing, because hearing it from someone neutral is often less threatening than hearing it from someone you love.

            We had/have a similar dynamic, and some things that help for us (noting that this is super individual) are reassuring him that I still love/respect/value him when I give feedback/requests so he feels less attacked, definitely using I-statements, and being sure to ask him how I can make him feel appreciated too, since it’s a two-way street and all that.

            Also, it helped to ask him what he was trying to do to make me feel appreciated. It turns out that he actually was doing some things to make me feel appreciated that I just didn’t notice, and I was able to appreciate those once I knew.

          • My partner really struggles with making choices for other people – hell, he really struggles making them for himself. If I said to him “It doesn’t matter what it is or even whether I like it” he’d be paralysed, even though he knows I genuinely mean it, because on an emotional level he’s hearing “I’m making a vague request to test your mindreading powers and if you get it wrong it shows our relationship is doomed”. Heck, yesterday it took six texts, a lot of reassurance and nearly missing a train to persuade him to pick out something for my dinner, and he still gave me two choices and took what I didn’t eat.

            Trying to force him to make decisions on my behalf isn’t manifesting change, it’s punishing him for who he is. I absolutely own up that I’ve done it, but the net result is (a) I still end up making the decision, usually long after it should have been made and (b) I feel guilty as my better sense seeps back in and I realise why I’ve been forcing the issue (usually because I’m grumpy about something else – like not getting to the station when I wanted to – and I’m taking it out on him).

            I think it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the compromises you’re willing to make. On some level, he’s right, you are asking him to make a fundamental change to who he is, and with a method that’s much more stick than carrot. At the same time, you’re telling him that something you do out of love for him is stressful and exhausting. Has you talked about how he feels about you planning the dates? Does that make him feel appreciated and loved? On some level, he may be resisting planning them because he thinks he’ll receive less appreciation and love as a result (it’s not a zero sum game, but by god that’s a hard message to accept sometimes!).

            I think the love letter idea is really good. Being specific about the medium but not the message gives him the comfort of knowing he’s doing what you want and you the surprise of what he actually gives you. There are more ways you can play with that, like asking him to surprise you with flowers at some point in the next week, or requesting compliments but to send them to you as texts at random points during the working day to buoy you up.

            Depending on the nature of your relationship (if you’re competitive, or prone to comparing each other, don’t do this!) I’d also suggest doing these things reciprocally, so he’s receiving as well as giving. That way it feels less like he’s paying penance for messing up and more like a romantic game you’re both involved in. You could work out a list of things together – a love letter, flowers, a date, a romantic home cooked dinner, a small gift in a specific colour/from a specific store/relating to a specific word/at a specific price – and set a time frame in which both of you have to surprise the other with each thing. At the end of the time frame, you can talk about how doing to emotional labour of surprising each other felt, what was rewarding and what wasn’t, and if there are actions from it you want to make part of your routine.

        • Arie

          Ha, no, my bad for not explaining clearly. Right after I tell him that, he starts thanking me, but it feels a bit contrived and I feel like I did more of the labor. A month later when he does it without any further prompting, it feels good. There’s a distinction for me there. I think for me it’s also knowing that it goes both ways – he’s asking me for things, and he isn’t getting them 100% of the time.

        • Amy March

          I don’t think it is specific at all even a little bit to say “I want you to make me feel appreciated” when you have no idea what he could do to make that happen! That’s no specificity. You may just feel like you can’t be specific but I think you have to acknowledge that you are making a vague and general request.

          • Mary Jo TC

            That’s fair. I do acknowledge it’s a vague request. Thanks for your feedback

        • RNLindsay

          Unfortunately, I think this is very unspecific. There’s a reason so many people buy into the Love Languages – people express appreciation and feel appreciated in different ways! In another comment you write that you want him to just feel so overwhelmed with appreciation that he has to express it somehow. Perhaps thats not how he shows appreciation though. Is he generally not an overly emotional guy? My husband is not, and would never be like “Wow! You did all this laundry? That’s amazing! Let me make you dinner”. He generally does not show emotion this way so I can’t expect it to happen just because I want it to. It needs to be a learned behavior – either through gentle coaching or maybe therapy. He needs to be taught the ways in which you feel appreciated and how they may differ from his own ways. It’s definitely not the most romantic thing at first, and does take away the element of surprise, but if it becomes a learned behavior it will grow into something resembling romance/surprise. Similar to someone’s comment up above about how their partner finally realizes using YNAB is important to their spouse. I’m sure the initial conversations were not romantic, maybe even fights. But some of those uncomfortable conversations have to happen first if you want behavior to evolve

          • Mary Jo TC

            Yeah, he’s generally not a demonstrative guy, so it feels to him like I’m asking him to change his personality, while I see it as him learning skills to express his feelings and help me feel appreciated. It’s a big change, and a big undertaking to teach him this behavior–and I kind of feel like I’m the wrong person to be the one to teach it to him. Good thing we’re in therapy.

  • Mallory2

    My husband and I have been together about 10 years and in couples therapy for about 8 months now. We thought we were going in to figure out concrete things about kids, jobs and potentially moving. Turns out (hah!) what’s really been stirring underneath it all is complex issues about anxiety, power dynamics, trust and emotional support. It’s hard and painful at times, but so, so helpful to have someone else prompt and guide us, point out our similarities and difference, explore where these beliefs come from and then how to address them within our relationship.

  • emilyg25

    THIS: “But spoiler alert: there’s no room for pride or ego in this game.”

    This is mostly how we stay good together. Something happened last week that made me angry at my husband and I really, really wanted to just stay good and mad at him. My husband calmly explained himself. And then … I calmly explained myself. And I took responsibility and fixed the situation, because it was actually a super easy fix. I could have just stood on principle or whatever, but that shit is corrosive to a marriage. Kindness and generosity of spirit always. Or at least as often as we can manage with a toddler running around. The small child years are not for the faint of heart, omg.

    • Julia

      I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have snapped at each other mid-toddler-meltdown only to be like, “omg, I’m so sorry, I’m just so tired and he won’t stop throwing the magnets.” lol! small child years are NOT for the faint of heart – yes!

    • BSM

      “I could have just stood on principle or whatever, but that shit is corrosive to a marriage. Kindness and generosity of spirit always.”

      This x 100000.

      It’s fairly frequent battle I have with myself because I love being “right” and have a hard time feeling like things are resolved unless my husband fullyyy understands my perspective (which usually translates into admitting I’m right). But doing shit this way is not good for us, which makes the whole “winning” thing a lot less gratifying. I’m slowly learning to just accept his sincere apology for when he screws up and try to move on.

      • Violet

        Ugh, I’m so the same way. The ratio of him apologizing to me apologizing is widely skewed in favor of me being “right” and him being the better/more gracious partner. I’m working on it though!

        • BSM

          It’s so hard! A couple things I’ve found that help:

          -It doesn’t feel that great to be “right” when I have to basically force my husband to utter the words. Empty victory for sure.
          -I hate fighting, and I have the power to end our fight and allow us to go back to enjoying each other if I just accept his apology and reallocate my energy towards getting over it.

          These strategies are not for when we are having a legitimate disagreement that we need to work through, but rather for when I’m (it’s mostly me) letting an argument drag on because I want to “win.”

          • Eenie

            You need to find a husband who is willingly able to admit you’re right! ;) Kidding of course!

            This is me, to a T. My family put such a high importance on being right. It’s such a hard thing to over come!

          • Sarah

            I 100% agree with this…not that I’m any good at letting go…

        • AP

          “The ratio of him apologizing to me apologizing is widely skewed in favor of me being “right” and him being the better/more gracious partner.”

          Swap out “the better/more gracious partner” with “super conflict-avoidant” and you’ve got our dynamic. I’m not too sure how sustainable this is…

      • RNLindsay

        Solidarity! It’s so so hard

  • Julia

    Love this. I’ve been secretly harboring an inner eye roll every time we go on a date that I’ve planned. Which is every time. (Ha.) We talk about needing a date night, nothing happens, I plan it, we go and it’s great and I’m STILL kinda mad that I planned it! So I finally just started saying, “Hey, I really want you to take me to dinner, pick the place, and tell me when we’re in the car on the way there. And handle the babysitter details. That would make me really happy.” I manage a team at work already; I have no desire to do the same for date nights.

    • Kara

      Exactly. Every Friday we go out for dinner, and we do this dance around where to go. I finally started saying, “I’ve used up my brain capacity today, I don’t want X or Y, please choose something for us.”

    • NolaJael

      Yes. Historically, I’ve handled all our travel logistics. All. Every time. But this summer I said that I’d like my partner to rent the car and book the dog kennel for his brother’s wedding weekend. I still booked the plane tickets and the hotel, but it’s a start. ;)

    • BSM

      Yep! We had a good run of alternating planning dates (because I was planning all of them, like you), but got a little out of the habit with the craziness of the last year. We’re finally coming up for air a bit, and I asked my husband to pick a place for dinner this weekend and take me out. In return, I planned a breakfast date for us at the end of the month in between daycare tours 🙃

      I’m excited for us to get back to it!

  • AmandaBee

    Today is our 1-year marriage anniversary, and this post is hella timely. This whole year (plus the 5+ years we were dating before that) has been an exercise in learning to communicate what each of us wants or cares about, and then learning how to adjust our habits so that both of us get what we need, and then figuring out how to view these things as shared goals rather than a tit-for-tat tradeoff.

    I’ve noticed that much of the work we’ve done to improve our partnership has happened during or just after the REALLY rough parts of our relationship. When life is easy we tend to absorb minor hurts or annoyances, but things get rockier it forces us to deal with those things. Over the past year I was dealing with some extremely stressful work-related and emotional situations, and it really forced me to get real with my husband about what I needed from him (in terms of household help + emotional labor) instead of just pretending like I could deal with it all myself.

  • BSM

    One thing that’s been really helpful for us is understanding that we tackle problems and projects differently and that those differences aren’t bad, we just have to try to accommodate each other’s needs and preferences.

    I’m the kind of person who wants alllllll the information about everything as early on as possible so that I can establish a base level of knowledge about a topic and feel prepared for all kinds of things that might come up. My husband will sort of tackle things as they come up and doesn’t have the same need I do to have “the lay of the land” before jumping in.

    Neither of these approaches are wrong or bad, but when we come upon a new situation for the first time, it can be hard to feel like we’re working on problem-solving like a team when I’m maniacally researching and trying to discuss options with my husband while he says he doesn’t have enough info to weigh in and why are we even talking about this right now?

    Since wedding planning, we’ve gotten a lot better at adjusting our strategies so that each person is getting what they need. I give my husband notice that I’m working on X, and I’m going to want to discuss it with him this weekend/next month/on vacation, and he should let me know if he wants to take a look at the info I’ve found or if he wants to do his own research Then, he has some time to poke around the topic, think about his perspective on it, and have an informed discussion with me.

    We’ve also gotten more comfortable just letting the other person run with something. Baseboards and moulding for our house? I don’t care; you pick. I want to go with a local, compostable diaper service; he thinks that sounds great and needs no more info to go along with it.

    And, now that we’re married, it’s easier to troubleshoot issues in the moment because we just don’t take things as personally as we did earlier on in our relationship.

    • AmandaBee

      “One thing that’s been really helpful for us is understanding that we tackle problems and projects differently and that those differences aren’t bad, we just have to try to accommodate each other’s needs and preferences.”

      YAS. This hit super close to home. We realized at one point that while, yes, some of our household labor differences were gendered, many of them were also because we approach household tasks and other, larger challenges in really different ways. And that’s okay. And sometimes, with some effort, we can find ways of doing things that actually work for both of us.

      “We’ve also gotten more comfortable just letting the other person run with something.”

      And this is absolutely our next challenge. I long for the day when I can just, like, hang a picture on the wall without it being A Discussion.

      • BSM

        Lol, I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but in the last 9 months we’ve been sooooo busy (sold our house, lived in 2 temporary apartments, bought a new house, had medical issues, both got new jobs, became landlords, done a ton of major house projects, got pregnant, etc.) that we both (but mostly me) had no choice but to pass on having Discussions about everything. There was just too much!

      • Jan

        “I long for the day when I can just, like, hang a picture on the wall without it being A Discussion.”

        I equal parts love and hate that my partner wants all minor home projects to be a Team Thing. Love because he wants us both to be involved! How wonderful! Hate because his decoration ideas are fucking stupid and mine are great and CAN’T I JUST BE IN CHARGE OF ALL THE THINGS BUT ONLY THE THINGS I HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT?

        • AmandaBee

          ARE WE THE SAME PEOPLE?!

  • Arie

    Perhaps weirdly, it’s been helpful for us to take a moment when a disagreement comes up, and then say “are we getting divorced over this?” If the answer is no, then we know a few things right away : that we have to work through it, that we’re on the same team, and that we can take the time we need to deal with it. We have so many different needs and wants and goals, but the one thing we really need to keep at the center of our marriage is that feeling of being on the same team. Every effective coping mechanism we’ve come up with is centered around phrases and actions that create and maintain that feeling – and once we’ve put that mantle back into its place, it’s so much easier to stand under it and speak clearly and genuinely about our needs.

    • Jan

      This is actually a really cool and solid way of approaching things. Thanks!

    • Rebecca

      Yes, from pretty early on we took the approach of, “this thing you do is annoying/makes me sad/is horrible for me. Can you change it? (Person tries). If not, is it a deal breaker? If not, get over it.”
      This has worked with everything from his habit of making incredibly irritating snorting noises when his allergies kick in, to the way it sometimes takes him several times with a sensible suggestion to accept its validity (Though I still point out when something he has decided is something I suggested ages ago). I decided these weren’t deal breakers, and choose to manage them. And I’m sure he would have equivalents! It’s been over seven years, we’re married, and because I deliberately chose to accept these things they get easier all the time.

  • Pingback: How Do You Manifest Change in Your Marriage? | Wedding Adviser()

  • ART

    The past 17-ish weeks (my pregnancy) have been really tough in ways we have not dealt with before. So much is happening to me, and a lot of it affects him, and there’s so much to prepare for. I tend to be a worrier, and my husband keeps saying “it’ll be fiiiiine, it’ll all work out.” Internally that makes me scream because it sounds like “I don’t want to talk about this” or “you’re worrying for no reason,” but I decided to ask him if saying that made him feel more calm, or if he was saying it because he thought it would help me. I was pretty clear that it didn’t help me, and felt like a conversation ender, but was trying to be open to the possibility that it was actually for his benefit. That conversation was SO much more helpful to both of us than the “I’m worried about X/It’ll be fiiiine” conversations had been that I’m trying to figure out how to approach other things in similar ways, but I haven’t put my finger on it quite yet. But definitely talking about the way we talk to each other was really productive.

  • Liz

    Therapy for the win, for us. We have been together for 12 years and it took us several years of fighting to realize that we communicate very differently. Finding a therapist who could help us recognize that and learn strategies to manage that has been immensely helpful. I have really struggled with that feeling of “it’s not as good if I have to ask directly” but then I realized that’s literally the only way my husband communicates SO I better ask directly if I want to get what I want and need. And eventually it just felt super empowering and awesome and we both get to feel great about it because I ask and he gets to do it right and we’re both happy.

    Also, marriage is long and being flexible about expectations has been…inspiring. In the last two months, decided to open our marriage for me to have a relationship with a woman after recently coming out as bisexual. After 12 years of total monogamy with the expectation that that would continue, this was sort of out of left field. But we actually feel incredibly close because it has forced us to talk very openly, express our needs and our feelings, and relax into the long haul because we truly and deeply trust each other.

    This situation may not happen for everyone but I think the theory still applies… I was so touched when my husband said in therapy “we’ve been together a long time and we’re going to be together a long time and of course we are not going to be the exact same person that whole time.”

  • Kate

    I’m starting to get more and more scared of this as the relationship goes on and the wedding gets closer.

    FH tends to pout, sulk and stonewall. And he’s gotten worse the longer we’re together. I know a lot of it stems from deep insecurity, but the longer we’re together the worse it seems to get, which totally baffles me. The most recent incident, he went ape shit in the car on the way home from a friend’s house because I didn’t sit next to him at dinner He didn’t speak to me for almost two days afterwards.

    I’m at a loss for how to deal with this or manifest change because I feel like the reasons he’s upset are so insane to me that I can’t even fight back, so I just sit and get yelled at for not texting back in a timely manner or for mentioning a geographic area of the city I lived in with an ex (seriously, that was a day of sulking), or for texting my brother “too much.” My mind is just so different I resort to saying things like, “please tell me the rules so I stop hurting you” because it’s starting to feel like I upset him daily over something inane. His response is that I shouldn’t need rules.

    We went to one session of therapy and the therapist was essentially like, get over yourself, and he refuses to go back. To anyone.

    • Violet

      Hi Kate- I’m glad you spoke up. If your gut is telling you to be scared, I think you should listen to it. Things are getting worse, not better, and he is not interested in changing. That means things will probably continue or, even more likely, get worse from here.
      I think counseling with him might not be your best way forward at this point, considering he’s showing some controlling tendencies and being in therapy with someone who can get emotionally manipulative is not really recommended. Would you feel okay going to therapy on your own to figure out your next move? Do you have a trusted, nonjudgmental friend you can talk to about this?

      • Kate

        I had a therapist for a while, but for financial reasons I had to stop seeing her. I was seeing her for reasons unrelated to my relationship (medical phobias and alcohol abuse), but over time he started creeping into the conversation and she was essentially disgusted with him and categorized him as a “man baby” lol. I wasn’t sure how much I should trust her judgement though because she only knew me and heard everything from my side.

        My friends have all independently said they think he’s crazy, but the problem is the crazy is like, 10% of the time, and the rest of the time he’s lovely. I’m starting to feel insane like I’m some sociopath who constantly hurts his feelings without even realizing it.

        • Violet

          I am so sorry you felt like your therapist judged you/him/the relationship. Of course she only knows your side; that’s definitely one of the weird aspects of therapy. But we all only ever have one perspective, try as we might. And right now, your perspective is that something isn’t right here.
          The 10% might be a minority, but you said it’s pretty much a daily occurrence. And even if a couple has tough times 10% of the time, the nature of that 10% changes and evolves and does improve over time. 10% that is steadily getting more entrenched doesn’t sound like that.
          I have no idea if there’s technical emotional abuse happening here, but in cases of abuse, the abuser is not “bad” anywhere close to 100% of the time. It’s more like a cycle, where things are REALLY bad (like sulking for two days), then they’re sorry and things go back to normal for a longer stretch of time. Sometimes there’s even a weird post-outburst honeymoon period where things are really good. But the point is, just because it isn’t bad all the time does not mean you’re a crazy sociopath for hurting his feelings. More likely it means that he’s got insecurities he can’t get himself out of, and is taking it out on you rather than dealing with it.
          Side note, if you can find a way to watch Big Little Lies, Nicole Kidman’s character does a good job describing how the cycle occurs in her (physically) abusive relationship. It might be helpful to hear how she describes it, to see if anything sounds familiar to you.

          • Kate

            That cycle you described pretty much hit the nail on the head. When he’s over it, it’s like it never happened, and then I do something out of the blue and we’re back to sulking.

            I’ve been meaning to check that show out after all the Emmy noms, I definitely will now. Thank you.

          • Violet

            Sure. Hang in there, and check back in during Happy Hours if you want to follow up at all. I know I only have a snapshot, but regardless, I want the best for you, whatever that ends up being.

          • a single sarah

            Wanting to echo, Violet. 10% is a minority of the time, but still a frequent occurrence.

            Take care of yourself. My best encouragement is to see what change makes sense for you, and see about finding a new therapist to talk to when you want to manifest change in the relationship.

            Check in during Happy Hours if this community helps you. Hoping for the best for you!

          • You might also find it worth reading Oy Vey’s posts. She was in a similar cycle with her fiance, and she initially wrote to APW because he wanted to uninvite her parents from the wedding. You can then find her posts in subsequent Happy Hours, where she explores the possibility of change and ultimately realised it wasn’t going to happen in their relationship. She disappeared for a while after she moved out, but she popped back up last week to let everyone know how she’s going.

    • Kara E

      Ummm. Your fiance gave you the silent treatment for two days? And he yells at you for texting your brother?

      How fast can you get yourself into therapy hon? The behavior you’re describing here doesn’t sound healthy and raises so very many red flags to me.

    • Amy March

      Why are you marrying him? Go to therapy by yourself to figure out why you think this is okay. Because it isn’t, at all. He’s abusing you. It won’t get better.

      You are not the problem. You do not need to change yourself.

    • ART

      He’s right about one thing – you shouldn’t need rules…because whatever the “rules” appear to be in his case are stupid, and not normal in a healthy relationship. The examples you’ve provided strike me as very troubling, in particular the one about communicating with your own brother. His deep insecurity, if that’s what it is, does not excuse controlling and emotionally manipulating you. Sorry to be blunt, but this reminds me so much of an ex that was also lovely 90% of the time (or, so I thought).

    • Oddly enough, I just mentioned a book to someone else on this thread, but perhaps it might be helpful for you too? (I would not let your partner see this book though!) George Simon’s Character Disturbance. (Simon also mentions a theory I happen to agree with that the types of behaviors he covers are not caused by insecurity, as is usually taught in psychology classes, but rather by entitlement.)

      And I just want to say, it you feel more and more scared of your relationship, I think you should 100000% listen to your instinct. When our mind can’t process something, I truly believe our body tries to warn us as best as it can in situations like these.

      I have also heard very good feedback about the book The Gift of Fear. So good that I bought it, but I haven’t yet read it, so I can’t give a personal opinion. And with this one too, I would not let your partner see it either. I think reading these books are things you should do for yourself, to inform yourself and to yourself. If you live with your partner, perhaps you could send the books to a trusted friend’s house (or to your office) and then read them there at your friend’s house or on your lunch break. Make yourself a book cover, if you don’t want people to wonder why you are reading those books. Or maybe your library has them and you could read them there without checking them out?

      Please do not marry someone when you are scared of the relationship. It is not too late to change your mind, even if your invites have gone out or if the wedding is next week. Anyone who loves you will support you. I am thinking of you and wishing all the best for you.

    • kalsen

      I’m really glad you posted about this so that we can support you that his behaviour sounds very emotionally abusive. Sulking, getting angry over small things, and making you feel like you are hurting him are all very worrying forms of behaviour. The fact that the things he gets angry about are so inane is also very telling, because it makes me wonder if you feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells because you don’t know what will set him off? Is it possible that his saying you shouldn’t need ‘rules’ is because the lack of clarity allows him to shift the goalposts so that no matter what you do, you can’t ever be right?

      I know ‘abuse’ is a difficult word to hear applied to your own relationship, and I would totally understand if your reaction was to think that we were being over-dramatic or maybe you hadn’t been ‘fair’ to him in your description. I wonder whether talking to a domestic violence helpline, which is often free to call, might be a way of getting the perspective of an experienced professional who’s outside your relationship? They are very used to getting calls from people who are not sure about something in their relationship and need an outside opinion, and you won’t be pressured or judged by them – their job is to listen and help you explore your relationship and what your options might be. You might also find the book ‘Why does he do that?’ by Lundy Bancroft interesting, although I would strongly recommend that you don’t let your partner know you are reading this or making these calls.

      Please remember as well that your opinions and feelings matter. You mentioned somewhere not being sure if your therapist was biased from only hearing your side. Your side is important and true, what you feel about your relationship isn’t less real because they are your feelings. Take care ❤️

    • TrueGrit

      I can see why you’re scared. Your description raises ALL of my red flags. This sounds so much like the beginning stages of abusive, controlling, emotionally manipulative relationships that I’ve seen totally swallow friends and family members. Whether he’s fully conscious of it or not, he is engaging in abusive behavior. “Rules” for things like where to sit or texting your brother or mentioning exes in casual conversation ARE insane and controlling – these are all normal human activities you should feel free to conduct. His insecurity does not warrant treating you like this. And refusing to go to therapy with you is a deal-breaker. You deserve better. Even if he’s only like this 10% of the time, it will result in you walking on eggshells 100% of the time, and that is no way to live your life. Please continue seeing a therapist. Please talk to friends or family members you trust.

    • Kate

      I appreciate the feedback. I initially wrote because I’ve been trying desperately to change the way he and I fight or argue because I know it’s not healthy, but you guys have brought up really interesting points and flags that I wasn’t seeing. I’ll check in at Happy Hours and get some of the books and tools mentioned.

      This morning I found myself apologizing profusely to him for having a day full of meetings, because he likes to chat with me throughout the work day and when I don’t answer and he doesn’t know exactly why, he gets upset. It just came crashing down on me that THIS IS NOT NORMAL. But it’s all happened so slowly I haven’t noticed I guess.

      • Lisa

        I know you’ve been given a lot to think about by other commenters, but this newest story really resonated with me. It’s so common for abusers to force you to account for your every movement like this (he just loves you and wants to talk to you!) while making you feel like the unreasonable one when that legitimately can’t happen. Partners can be away from one another and don’t need to talk every three hours to have a valid relationship.

        My abuser used to do the same thing to me in high school. We had specific times we had to meet between classes, and if I couldn’t make it for some reason (a book discussion ran long, I needed to use the bathroom), he would get upset and accuse me of not caring about him. This wasn’t true; it actually was a way of making me accountable to him and integrating himself into every aspect of my life until I had nothing left that was mine. Once he was the entirety of my life, the center around which my days and nights revolved, it was harder to break away from him because I could no longer imagine what my existence could be without him there.

        It’s a really difficult thing to process and find a way back from. There’s a mental component that goes along with being in an abusive relationship that people who haven’t experienced it don’t understand. I had a close friend in college once say to me that she would never end up in an abusive situation because she expected people to treat her better, but it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s a slow, insidious creep that you don’t notice until you’re so thoroughly enmeshed that it feels impossible to break free.

        After you’ve done some sole searching, I hope you’re able to make whatever is the best decision for yourself. If you’re having doubts, it might be worth it to table the wedding planning until you feel more secure moving forward with this relationship.

      • ART

        Big hugs – all of this sucks. I’m sorry you’re dealing with it but it sounds like you ARE dealing with it, and that’s hard but good.

  • Ella

    Not sure if anyone is still reading these comments but I just read this and thought it related nicely: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/style/modern-love-to-stay-in-love-sign-on-the-dotted-line-36-questions.html?mcubz=2