How You Talk To Your Partner Matters

Halfway through the meal, Richard stopped. “I was writing down everything you said,” Richard confessed. “It was a homework assignment for school.” My first reaction was to PANIC.

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And How Are You Crazy?

Helen Fisher says that couples want to know everything about a potential life partner before they tie the knot. But when I first met my husband, I didn’t care if a closet door was left open. People change. And maybe that’s the point.

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Should Your 20-Somethings Live at Home?

'I can't move in with my parents. They moved in with my grandparents.My two 20-something year-old children moved back home this year after living on their own for a while. I liked the idea of them moving back in— even as I watched band equipment pile up and block the front door. It was like a second chance, a chance to know my children as adults, and to parent them as adults too, which is a whole different story than parenting them as children.

And quite frankly, I missed them.

When adult children return home, after living independently, some things remain unchanged like the fact that their Harry Potter collection still rests on their bedroom shelves, but they no longer need me to cut fresh fruit for their breakfast lest they miss a healthy start to their day.

It’s common now for 20-somethings to live at home. They are what are known as the Boomerang Generation and close to 40% of millennials live with their parents.

There has been some worry over this: Are these adult children unable or unwilling to live on their own?

Parents, including myself, have an uneasy feeling. Are we enabling unhealthy or, at the very least, unsettling behavior?

Shouldn’t they be paying their own bills, doing their own laundry, cooking their own meals?

At first, when my adult children moved back home, I wondered if I was making a mistake, overindulging them. They are 16 months apart and when they were small, I used to sit them side-by-side, like twins, under a breakfast tray in my bed, and serve them cheese and croissants and orange juice while they watched television.

I was giving them breakfast in bed before they were three. Of course they’d want to come home. Who wouldn’t?

I wondered if allowing them to come back was wrong—a setback, a crutch.

After all, when I was a 20-something, I already had a husband, 2 children and a house. But things are not the same as they were when I was a 20-something and lately I’ve been thinking about this cultural shift in a different way, mostly because my 20-somethings seem to be doing just fine.

It’s important we consider what’s changed.

For one, people are living longer.

Women are not pressured to marry and start a family as early as they once were. (I know a woman who had twins at 47!)

And economically, this generation can’t compete.

It is arrogant, and I believe a bit naïve, for any generation to look at the one after it and judge, or to think we did it better.

My generation can look at 20-somethings and criticize their “delayed” development or we can scrutinize what’s happening in our culture from a different point of view, a positive one.

Historically, in this country, 18 year-olds went off to college, and many of them never returned home. Sometimes that was due to job opportunities in far-off cities but often people deliberately moved across the country to get as far away from their parents and family strife as possible.

Consequently, we have seen epic numbers of depressed people, lonely and isolated.

But the 20-somethings I know have been parented with more emotional attunement. And, in my opinion, that’s not a bad thing.

In fact, it seems that psychologists are beginning to understand the importance of Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, and its ramifications at all stages of development.

Bowlby’s ideas are being considered not only in how young children attach (and separate) but in marriage as well.

Dr. Sue Johnson, the author of Hold Me Tight, says that we are emotionally attached to and dependent on our partners in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection.

I’m suggesting that 20-somethings need that support and comfort as well.

There was a time when multigenerational living was the norm. But then things shifted as people needed to work outside the home: going off and becoming independent became a necessity, and then a goal.

So while healthy separation and becoming independent may be important skills to master, is it possible that we drive that agenda unnaturally, or at least prematurely, by expecting two year-olds to spend all day at school and 18 year-olds to live on their own?

There’s been a backlash and not just in families.

Today schools and work environments are responding as people cluster at communal tables and shared workspaces.

We are social beings and we need one another.

When our emotional connections are disrupted, at any age, it can be unsettling. Traditionally, as children moved away from home, parents had to deal with the sadness associated with empty nest syndrome.

So maybe it’s not necessary to push our chicks out of the nest so soon.

It is true that your 20-something may leave his or her shoes on the kitchen floor but then you may find your freezer stocked with your favorite organic vegan cookies.

Your razor may go missing but then your 20-something comes home and wants to talk, hang out, just as you were feeling lonely.

Why not let them stick around awhile?

My 20-somethings are beginning to spread their wings.

And when they feel ready, I know they will fly.

From The Core- One Year Anniversary!

BLOG-ONE YEAR AND COUNTINGIt’s been a year! My first From The Core post appeared July 28, 2014.

I was scared and unsure:

Would people like what I wrote and how I wrote it?

 Was I ready for the world of social media?

 What if I made a grammatical mistake?

Well, I did make errors. Some I was able to fix, others I wasn’t.

And remarkably, I survived.

Reader comments kept me going.

Some of you responded directly on the blog site, some on Facebook, some on Instagram, some by private text message and many in person: at the grocery store, at parties and on the street.

(You’d be surprised how many people are hesitant to comment through social media. I was happy to learn, I wasn’t the only inhibited one.)

Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week as I woke to other bloggers liking my post and tracking how many people had read.

I heard from people I hadn’t talked to in 20 years, from people all over the country and yes, even an old boyfriend.

My work was read in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Spain, France, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and more.

A special thanks goes to my friends and family who let me write about them, their outrageous stories and vulnerable moments.

All year, friends teased that they had to watch what they said in front of me for fear they’d end up in a post.

I heard everything from, “Shhh, she’s going to write about you” to “It’s good Corie’s not here.” (Yes, people repeat these things to me.)

Looking for material or attempting to drum up good conversation, this blog has been the impetus for many a dinner table debate.

Over the course of this year, I wrote about topics that mattered to me.

Equal rights- Gay Marriage

Empathy- Still Alice

Marriage- Why Are So Many Marriage Essays Going Viral?

Parenting- Parenting Gone Well

Friendship- Friendship Matters

Sex- Masters of Sex

Education- Doodle Power

Addiction- Monkey See, Monkey Do

Writing- Writing: It Could Come Back to Bite You.

The Environment- Earth Day 2015.

I wrote about topics that peturbed me slightly- Pouting Face Emoji

And things that annoyed me greatly- A Tip for My Uber Driver.

I wrote about what I found comical- Braces: The New Chastity Belt and Are You A Control Freak Parent?

And things I feared- Fear: The Good The Bad and The Ugly.

Writing about these topics made me focus on them, and in writing Gone Girl No More, I faced my apprehension, put myself out there, and finally got headshots!

Daring greatly (I'm a Brene Brown lover) I'm posting them here.

Help me choose the new From The Core photograph so I can get rid of the blurry one on my About Page.

HEADSHOT #1

HEADSHOT #1

HEADSHOT #2

HEADSHOT #3

 

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the night my husband asked me to marry him so this is kind of a double anniversary for me.

And it’s appropriate that my blog about relationships and my marriage share an anniversary because as long as I’m married to my husband, I’ll always have plenty to write about!

Wink Emoji

P.S. Thanks for reading!! And don’t forget to pick a headshot favorite!!

Traveling With Friends

BLOG-CAVESWe play the Newlywed Game even though we are the opposite.We are four couples– all married close to three decades.

We travel Italy on a boat. Close quarters.

From the moment we step onboard, until the moment we get off eight days later, we are together—morning, noon and night.

We take turns, three years in a row, getting the Master Bedroom. This year was my turn.

For a week straight, we don’t wear shoes. Boat rules.

We dance on deck to Marvin Gaye. We laugh at shrewd one-liners.

Everything we eat is delicious: arugula, pasta pomodoro, figs. All different than in the United States.

One bright morning, Italian men in row boats paddle us inside the Blue Grotto singing, “Volare oh ohhhh, Cantaree, oh oh ohhh.” The light through the cave, glorious. We swim– the sea electric blue.

We know each other: The Control Freak, The Picky Eater, The Electronic Genius, The Bloody Mary Lover.

We share everything. We negotiate and compromise. For this week, we are married to each other.

Late one night, we journey from Ponza to Sardinia, a 16 hour, overnight, expedition.

We sit at the bow and stare at the stars looking for: Orion’s Belt, The Milky Way, The Big Dipper.

I am uneasy because we are alone in the middle of the sea, no land in sight. I think about Columbus, the bravery. No electricity, no radar, no knowledge of what lay ahead.

The night wind blows, the sea waves break against the boat.

Around us, darkness—the only light from the stars above— and the Shabbat candles, four sets, burning bright in the main cabin.

Let's Talk About Sex

BLOG-Let's Talk About ItI was never one to talk about my sex life. I thought discussing sex was distasteful. Where did I get that notion?

According to the New York Times article, Let’s Talk About Your Sex, I’m not alone. Even couples therapists don’t talk about sex.

Or at least, they didn’t until recently. And shockingly, couples therapists aren’t required to have any training in sex.

But there are provocative voices emerging in the field of couples therapy and the questions these therapists are asking and the ideas they are probing are gaining my attention.

A few months back, in a blog post titled, Your Brain and Love, I recommended Stan Tatkin’s book, Wired for Love. The premise of the book is that if you understand your partner's brain and attachment style, you can defuse conflict and build a secure relationship.

I am now reading Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson. She is the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy and believes we are emotionally attached to and dependent on our partners in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection.

Both books emphasize safety, loyalty and attachment as the foundations for intimacy.

But the New York Times article also mentions therapist, Ester Perel, who I wrote about in a blog post called, Desire and Marriage: A Pardox? She believes that the current conversation around intimacy and sex are limiting, that while an affair can be an act of betrayal it can also be about expansion and growth.

Dr. Nelson, the author of The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity, is also noted.

Both Ester Perel and Dr. Nelson believe that a marriage is not over after an affair. They are broadening the conversation, not speaking in absolutes, asking important questions. They are curious, studying.

In regards to an affair, Ester Perel speaks about being an investigator as opposed to a detective. A detective wants to know where and when and with who. An investigator wants to get to the meaning of the affair.

The New York Times article attempts to position Sue Johnson against Perel and Nelson and I’m wondering why we feel the need to turn their ideas into opposing ones, a battle of it’s either this or that.

Why can’t we look at their ideas as this and that?

All of the therapists mentioned above are adding to the conversation about what it means to partner with someone you love. They are changing the dialogue, challenging old rules and supporting new ways of being in relationship.  Some of their beliefs (like how an affair can draw a couple out of deadness or that your couple bubble comes first, even before your own children) can feel frightening or downright outrageous.

But they are talking, stretching our beliefs, and I admire that.

Not too long ago sex wasn’t taught in school. People feared that talking about sexuality would encourage kids to have sex prematurely. But some were having sex anyway so why not educate them, give them information that could prevent them from contracting a disease or getting pregnant.

Dr. Nelson trains therapists to ask a couple about sex in the first session. “If you’re not talking about sex, you’re perpetuating the idea that they shouldn’t be.”

So in an effort to move out of darkness and into possibility, I agree, Let’s talk about sex.

Gay Marriage

BLOG-Delcaration-760x760“Who’s happy?” one of my friends said over drinks this past weekend in regards to marriage. He wasn’t being facetious. He was really asking. Okay maybe he was being a bit tongue-in- cheek since he is actually happily married.

But as I looked around at my group of friends, I saw something I’d never really seen before:

A friend who was divorced and with her new husband. A friend who was there alone because she was in a fight with her spouse. A friend in the middle of a divorce. A friend who is widowed. And one married couple.

That same day the New York Times reported: 5-4 Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.

So of course, this historic news came up in conversation with my friends.

“It will be the new normal,” one of my friends said, a bit concerned or at least unsure. “It’s all the children of today will know.”

“That’s okay,” another friend responded. “Fifty years ago Blacks and whites didn’t share the same public restrooms and then that became the new normal.”

How was that reality even possible?

I guess it’s a good thing that situation feels antiquated and, more to the point, it is evidence that in time we'll look back and wonder how we could've denied marriage rights to any particular group.

I must admit I stared for a long while at the twelve photos of the same-sex couples on the cover of the newspaper, wanting to know their stories, imagining their lives— what it was like for them before this vote and what life would be like for them now.

I took a hard look at these people, happy for them, feeling celebratory that they’d accomplished this goal—to be together, openly and legally.

And now they had what we had.

Marriage.

And yet here we were a handful of mostly married people: all living our own individual lives, all making different choices, at different turning points.

What did we all have in common?

Choice.

Maybe the divorced friend would remarry, maybe not. Maybe the married couple would stay together, maybe not.

I recently read that the word gay has become so prevalent in meaning homosexual that people hesitate to use the term in its original sense to mean happy or joyful.

I’d like to use the word in its original meaning here.

If it’s what you choose—Gay Marriage for all.

Your Brain and Love

BLOG-BEATLES QUOTE 3What would it look like if you put your marriage (or love relationship) first? (Before work, before your friends, before yourself?)

What would it feel like if you could count on your spouse for security and safety?

(No matter what.)

What if your marriage/ partnership wasn’t about you?

What if it was about itself?

These are some of the questions presented in Stan Tatkin’s book, Wired for Love.

Tatkin, writes about “conscious partnership”, which is a commitment to the needs of the relationship rather than to the needs of the self.

He suggests couples create a Couple Bubble, a mutually constructed cocoon that holds a couple together and protects each partner. The Couple Bubble Agreement is, “We Come First”.

Tatkin discusses attachment theory, which focuses on the bonds between parent and child. Tatkin suggests that how individuals attach as children (securely attached, insecurely avoidant, ambivalently attached) has a direct correlation to how one will bond in a romantic long-term relationship. Those early experiences, where we get our sense of safety and security, are the blueprint for our relational wiring.

The bad news is that if your early experiences didn’t go well, your adult relationships might suffer.

The good news is that in this new paradigm for couplehood, which integrates recent brain research with ideas of attachment theory, you can rewire your brain; and realize a secure and healthy adult relationship.

Basically, it’s using science to make your love relationship work.

Wired for Love proposes ten guiding principles, which I found highly beneficial.

Ultimately your partnership has the potential to minimize each other’s stress and optimize each other’s health.

I wish I’d had this book early on in my relationship.

I might’ve done so many things differently.

But I have a bunch of weddings coming up and I can’t think of a better gift.