Love in the age of living for ever: could your marriage last 80 years?

14 days ago

Getting married used to mean a promise of 40 years, if you were lucky increased life expectancy means it could be much longer. Will your relationship go the distance?

My boyfriend looks terrible for his age. His skin feels as fragile and wrinkled as used clingfilm; age spots pepper his face and arms. What hair he still has is faded to grey, and the laughter we have shared over the years has etched itself in the lines around his eyes. Mind you, I dont look too hot, either. We have both been transformed by a makeup artist who, with latex and face paint, has fast-forwarded us from partners of four years into husband and wife of 60 years. It is a very odd experience; I feel a flash of nostalgia for 30-year-old me, and immediately feel the urge to wear a bikini. Its like an injection of Nora Ephron: Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and dont take it off until youre 34.

These pictures are the result of an experiment. I wanted to explore a question that pricks the minds of many couples at our life stage. We are both 30; a year and a half ago we bought a flat together; we have started to think about marriage. Perhaps the phrase started to think is disingenuous; the truth is, Shaun grew so bored with my talking about it that he banned me from mentioning it until after Euro 2016.

And so we find ourselves on the brink of a lifelong commitment, poised to make the same promise made by our parents, our grandparents and our great-grandparents, stretching back as far as our family trees will go, into countries I have never visited, from Yemen to Poland. But if and when we make that same promise, it will mean something very different. Because when our ancestors swore to love each other unto death, that meant 40 years together, if they were lucky. For us, thanks to improvements in healthcare and life expectancy (currently 79 for men and 83 for women in England and Wales, and set to rise), it could be more like 60 years. This is a radical shift, and one that forces us to question our assumptions about commitment and love. What does the age of longevity mean not just for individual marriages, but for the institution of marriage itself? What does it mean to say, Till death do us part in 2016?

As our life expectancy has improved (more than one-third of babies born today could live to 100), so have our expectations: we want a marriage to be great, not just good enough, all the way to the end. Dr Helen Fisher has been researching this issue for 40 years, and recently published an updated edition of her book Anatomy Of Love: A Natural History Of Mating, Marriage And Why We Stray. The focus of modern marriage is not stability, its love, she says. A century ago, a woman wouldnt have ended a marriage that was satisfactory, but a recent survey showed that one-third of people would leave a satisfactory marriage if they werent in love with their partner. Today, we want it all, and well walk away if we dont have it.

And so to the rise of the grey divorce. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show divorce is falling in all age groups in the UK except for the over-50s, among whom it has risen by nearly 11% in a decade. Nearly 60,400 people in this demographic divorced in England and Wales in 2013, while the overall number of divorces fell to a 40-year low. The same trend has also been observed in the US, where in 2014 those aged 50 and over were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990; the increase was even higher for those over 64.

I have always assumed that the grey part of marriage was the best bit. I watch with loving envy as my parents enter their fifth decade together, finally allowed to relax and enjoy themselves after all the child-rearing and careering and work-life balancing. But, for many, decades of marriage can simply bring boredom that feeling of, Is this all there is? Of meh.

Roger Jenkins, 68, ended his 33-year marriage at the age of 65. For me, as for a lot of people, crunch time in a relationship comes when you retire, he says. Suddenly the person you saw for a couple of hours each night, mostly spent in front of the telly, you are now seeing 24/7. And all the problems, which you saw for only a few hours a week, you now see 24/7, too. My wife had a great social life, and when I finally retired and wanted a holiday, she said, No, I have my own life. I dont want to go around with you all the time.

After trying marriage counselling and discussing the situation with his children, both in their 30s, Roger filed for divorce. It was not an easy decision he had to overcome the stigma he had absorbed as a boy: People of my generation grew up at a time when divorce was virtually unknown and viewed as terribly sinful. That burrows into your psyche at a fairly early age. But a lot of people my age are fit and reasonably affluent, because theyve had the benefit of a property boom, and its now easier to get divorced than it used to be so why should I spend the rest of my life in misery?

Relate counsellor Barbara Bloomfield agrees: Women and men are feeling so much younger than they did in previous generations, and they fervently believe they have 30 more years after retirement. Some think, why stick with the same old same old if you might be able to find someone better?

Older couples have always had to deal with an onslaught of potentially stressful factors: boredom, yes, but also hormonal changes that can lead to mismatched sex drives, children leaving home, retirement. Bloomfield explains: There are quite a few mothers and fathers who cant get used to being a couple after children have left home and they have stopped working, when theyre under each others feet all day. Either the marriage crumbles or they find a new way to be together. But people are refusing to accept these changes as inevitable even at 80, because five, 10 years is too long if you are unhappy.

Divorce lawyer Kerry Russell says she has seen many couples like Roger and his ex-wife. The main trend I have seen is couples divorcing due to the realisation that there is more in life. They sometimes describe their marriage as tedious, and many feel trapped in a routine. They often care very much for their spouse, but the differences between them seem more apparent. They see divorce as a way to gain some independence and live life to the full.

Moya
Will you still love me tomorrow? Moya and Shaun reimagined. Photograph: David Yeo for the Guardian

Roger met his new partner through work two years ago. Were blissfully happy, he says. Sixty is the new 50 were not old gits, we love life, we travel. Im deeply in love with my partner and looking forward to spending the rest of my life with her.

After speaking to Roger, I find myself questioning my naive, unmarried assumptions about what constitutes a failed marriage. Can you really consider two children, 30 years together, an amicable end and a second happy relationship a failure?

For Fisher, the rising divorce rates among the over-50s represent one part of a sea change. She says, I think the concept of till death do us part is going by the way. What were going to see is serial monogamy, a series of pair bonds. Much of marriage as we know it we owe to the agrarian revolution, she argues: On the farm, you had to marry the right girl, from the right kin connection, from the right social standing, and hopefully from the farm next door. And you really had to stay married for life because you couldnt leave the farm.

She thinks well have more civil unions, and that it will become easier to marry and easier to divorce. Does this mean well drop that line, till death do us part? No, were very schmaltzy people. And theres something called cultural lag: our marriage habits may change much more rapidly than our marriage belief systems. So even though a great many people dont really know if it will be forever, theyll use the term, and have it in their heads, along with a whole lot of hopes and dreams.

Jessica Graham sees this as a positive development. She married her ex-husband at 22 and divorced at 52, 10 years ago. They got engaged a few months after meeting, and this, she suggests, is another reason for the spike in divorce among the over-50s. A speedy engagement is more unusual now: this wasnt true of her generation of grey divorcees back when they were lustrous newlyweds.

Jessica is a fiercely intelligent, witty, compassionate woman, a proud northerner with a sense of humour. She cant recall any happy times from her marriage. So why did she wait 30 years? Her answer she wanted to protect her daughters is another explanation for the increase in later-life divorce, and reminds me of the punchline of a dark joke: a 96-year-old is asked by his divorce lawyer, why did you wait so long? He replies, We wanted to wait until the children had died.

Jessica tells me, You feel bound to it, so you carry on, grit your teeth and stay married, despite it being very, very unhappy. My daughters grew up in a mild war zone; I look back and wish they hadnt had to experience it. She had planned to delay divorce until her daughters went to university, but they intervened earlier.

When I ask if she wants to meet someone else, Jessica is adamant in her refusal. I am happy being single, and financially secure. I like being able to do pretty well what I want, when I want. I can commute to London, go to the theatre, to concerts. Although she felt lonely to start with, she says, I felt lonelier in my marriage than I do now. What is the hardest thing about her situation? I dont find anything hard right now. Im OK. And yet: I wouldnt say Im yabadabadoo happy, and I dont think I ever will be. She thinks this is because that kind of happiness comes from sharing a life with someone.

As plan Bs go, there are far worse, says relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam. I would argue that the best option is a happy partnership, but the next best option is happy singledom. Ive known many friends and clients who are much happier now that theyre not in their relationship. Of course, there are single people who are unhappy without a companion, but from what Ive seen, the unhappiest option is an unhappy marriage, because you dont just have yourself to cope with.

When I speak to Lucy Taylor, 59, she seems politely, quietly, yabadabadoo happy. After her divorce, she swore she would never marry again. She was traumatised by the breakdown of her marriage. Her then husband called her his soul mate, and she believed him. Then he came home from work one evening and said he had fallen in love with somebody else, and wanted to be with her. The door opened, the grenade rolled in, then the door was closed.

Her husband was a corporate high flyer, and Lucy worked part-time in IT while their son was young, before returning to full-time work as a facilities manager. She was 46 when they divorced. It was shocking, devastating. When you meet somebody that you really care for, they give you a piece of their soul. And when they leave, they take that part back. You feel as if youve been amputated from their life.

In some ways, I despise myself because it took me so long to get over him years and years. It was a scary, lonely time. When you have loved deeply, its very difficult to trust people. Thats why I said I would never marry again. Because to intertwine your heartstrings and your finances with somebody elses, well, the prospect of being hurt or abandoned again is in the background of your mind all the time.

She met Joe at a dance class a couple of years after the divorce. Their first date was a lunch that lasted 12 hours, but she wanted to take things very, very slowly. Over a number of years, and with the blessing of her daughter, Joe moved in one sock at a time. They married two years ago, when Lucy was 57.

She still believes in marriage, and that you have to give it everything, even if it may fail. Joe and I didnt have a pre-nup that was my choice, against my solicitors advice. I felt its not a great way to start a marriage, if youre immediately saying I dont trust you. When we made our vows, I absolutely thought, I want to be with this man, I will always be good to him and I wont betray him. I loved hard and I lost, and Im loving hard again. And, hopefully, thats the way it will end, and we will die in each others arms. Thats what I would like.

The happy marriage is so ingrained in us as the only acceptable happy ending, from Shakespeare to When Harry Met Sally, that many of us (myself included) must subconsciously absorb the idea that any other ending is a failure. When I was younger, I never thought I would get married. Its just a piece of paper, I would say. I wanted my partner to wake up every morning and choose to stay with me because he wanted to, not because of some promise he had made decades earlier. But as the years have passed, and Ive cried at the weddings of so many friends, and watched my parents grow old, Ive come to feel differently. I see the value that these pieces of paper have in our lives passports, birth certificates, job contracts; these documents mark out the minutiae and the momentous in our lives, and marriage is both of those. I want our names to be written next to each other in that register, for them to be buried deep in the council archives, gathering dust. But perhaps I need to be more open-minded.

Emily White, 72, cast a light on the assumptions I never knew I had about finding happiness in old age: it doesnt have to mean going to bed with your husband every night. She was a widow when she met her second husband, but 11 years into that marriage, she realised he had transformed into a Jekyll and Hyde character. She divorced him four years ago and, she says, Im much happier now. Ive got a new partner, hes 77, and I get ruined rotten he takes me out for dinner every Saturday night. I keep getting told by my daughter that I have a better social life than she does. Im in the University of the Third Age, Im in a history group. I go to keep fit and do all sorts of daft things. When youre over 70, you can decide for yourself what you do. My partner and I each have our own houses, and we have a great time. I get a phone call every night, but we dont get under each others skin.

Its never too late to find an expression of love that works for you, and that may well not involve marriage. Sue Andrews, partner at the law firm BP Collins, has 35 years experience in family law and has represented many older clients, ranging in age up to their 90s: It was lovely to be told by an elderly client that I had enabled them to enjoy the rest of the time they had left, she says.

But there is also a darker side, especially at a time when loneliness among the elderly is such a compelling issue. Ruth Langford, community manager at Wikivorce, a social network for people in the UK going through divorce, says this year she has spoken to more people divorcing in their 70s and 80s than ever before. Its quite sad. These are people who have been married for 60 years, who should be enjoying their remaining years in peace and comfort, instead of entering into a legal situation that is fraught with emotional distress and expense. Langford says divorce for older people can be even more painful than it is for younger couples: It can often be a very lonely experience, losing long-term friends and causing family members to fall out. Often the disputes are over things of sentimental rather than real value, such as photograph albums of their children and grandchildren.

All the people I spoke to told me they married for life, all of them got divorced, and not one of them felt he or she was to blame. This is an alarming thing to hear when you are thinking about getting married yourself. No matter how fiercely you believe in your relationship, no matter how much you love your partner, you cannot see into the future, especially 80 years ahead; you cannot know for certain if boredom, unhappiness or personality changes will mean you are parted not by death but before. You have to take a punt. But I am comforted by Susan Quilliam, who tells me, In some ways, longer life expectancy is a threat; in others, its a huge opportunity, because unless youre very unlucky or closed and unreflective, your later life relationships can be better. They can be worse because of the Pandoras box of baggage you bring with you. But they can also be informed by the wisdom you bring.

Most of my interviewees felt no regrets about marrying their partners; they saw the value in the happy times they had spent together, the children they had raised. Jessica Graham felt she had failed because she had broken her vows, but she thinks a younger generation wont feel that: Younger people have the confidence to hold their hands up and say, it isnt a failure, it just hasnt worked.

After speaking to so many people about why their marriage ended, I feel less afraid of commitment. The desire to get married remains a gut instinct. I think Fisher gets closest to explaining why: I have studied the brain circuitry for romantic love and marriage, and these brain systems arent going to die. They evolved more than 4m years ago, and theyll be with us, if our species survives on the planet, for another 4m. The drive to fall in love and form a pair bond, rear your children as a team and make it a socially sanctioned relationship through marriage is not going to go away.

So what did I see at that photoshoot, when Shaun came out of makeup? My voice caught in my throat, in a rush of emotion I hadnt expected. I saw the man I love, but a future version of him, softer around the edges. He looked kind and wise and handsome, and, if I squinted a little (OK, a lot), a bit like George Clooney. I thought, I want to grow old with you. A week later, Shaun bought me a bunch of flowers. Inside the flowers was a photograph of us, and a postcard. On the postcard he had written a funny little poem, including the lines, Since you make me, and I hope I make you, just as happy as Larry, how about we marry? I felt terrified and overwhelmingly happy. Perhaps it was my age spots that made him forget about Euro 2016; well never know. All we can do, like the generations before us, is take our chance.

Some names have been changed.

How to stay together, for ever: relationship therapist Andrew G Marshalls advice

Learn how to argue
We have this idea that we will find a soul partner who will agree with us on everything. This is a myth and often makes people feel that they are not allowed to disagree with their partner, which can be disastrous. The important phrase is, I can ask, you can say no, and we can negotiate. Argue about one thing at a time. Dont attack your partners personality, and dont bottle everything up, because one day it will all come pouring out. People sometimes have affairs because they havent had their needs met. But remember that you must articulate what those needs are.

Embrace change
Accept that, even after 35 years of marriage, your partner might change in ways you never expected. I think couples should go out every 10 years and have a first date again to meet the new person theyre married to. Ask your partner, What are your hopes and dreams? They may not be what you expect. Dont let this make you anxious. Be open to finding out that your partner isnt exactly as you had imagined.

Have separate interests
Spending periods of time apart studying or travelling or having different hobbies can bring energy back into the relationship. Its important to have joint endeavours, but make time to be apart, too. If you stop your partner doing what they want, it makes your relationship vulnerable.

Make each other a priority
What often happens is that after retirement, or when children leave home, a couple realise that they have been on separate train tracks for years. It was just hidden by the business of life. Family time and couple time are two totally different things. You might think that your partner will understand if you ignore them for 25 years and focus on your children. But if you feel bottom of the pecking order, it can get to you.

Flirt
We often tell people what we dont like, but were bad at communicating the positives. Flirting with each other is fabulous. It shows you care. You need to learn how to touch each other, too. Make sure it doesnt only happen when initiating sex. Make time to hug and kiss and stroke each other. It keeps you feeling connected.

Appreciate the magic
When talking about newlyweds, people often say, Its all downhill from here. I disagree. Yes, falling in love is beautiful, but after more than 35 years together it can be just as magical as when you first met. At first its about the promise of a life together. Later on, its about the reality of the life you have made together. What could be more romantic than that?

Andrew G Marshall is author of I Love You But Im Not In Love With You: Seven Steps To Saving Your Relationship.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

I Wish I Had Meant To You What You Meant To Me

26 days ago

I know I’m only twenty-one. I know we only met this year. I know you live incredibly far from me. But man, was I falling for you.

I was falling for you like I havent with anyone else before. And that means something. Especially when I consider myself the furthest thing from a romantic. We didnt have that long together, but if life could have continued in the same manner, I know I would have been a happy girl. For the first time I could see someone with me in the future. That someone was you.

I still think about you a lot. Clearly.

My mind will wander, eyes focusing on a place to stare, and I’m transported back to my favorite memories with you. Like the time we went to see during finals, or sat for hours talking and drinking bubble tea or when you ate dinner twice at my house, or I jumped on your back at the quarry. There were so many good ones in such a short period of time. Did this happen because we knew time was limited or because we actually, truly connected?I know my answer.

I also know I’m a little crazy. Heck I feel a little crazy saying all of this. So go ahead and call me that when I ask: Why didn’t we give us a fighting chance?

I can’t seem to figure out what’s more painful: having tried and eventually failed, or never having been worth the shot.

I know regardless of whether you tell me you’ve moved on or remain single, it will still be sore for me. I’ll always just be the girl you spent your last months of college with, nothing more. The girl who still has a stupid crush on you. The girl who keeps wondering ? The girl who remains hopeful even though she shouldnt. The girl you message here and there. The girl youll let know when you find her replacement

That one hurt.

Granted, I did bring it upon myself when I asked to know if you found someone new. I guess I just wanted the answer to be different. Silly, silly girl.

I must not have made a strong enough impression on you, left a deep enough mark, or been the only one capable of making your heart content.

I know I like you more than you like me. I know this because Ive said it to you before and you don’t contradict me. I tell you I will be the one to get hurt. You don’t argue with that either. I was the one to speak first about serious things. I was the only one to bring them up actually. I was the one to give you my feelings, all exposed. I was the fearless one. I was the one who wanted more.But I know Ill never get more from you.

I wish you would have wanted to stay with me despite the odds against us. I wish I had fought for us. I wish I had meant enough to you. I know you meant more than enough to me. But no matter what I know to be true it doesn’t change where we are now. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m replaceable to you. It doesn’t change the fact that everything I hope you’re going to say to me you never do. It doesn’t change the fact that I think I may have loved you.

Yeah, love.

All this I know.

Read more:

Read This If Everyone Has A Boyfriend But You

28 days ago

When everyone has a boyfriend but you, you feel lonely. And not the kind of loneliness that you get from living alone, or choosing to stay in on a Friday, or going to a coffee shop for some quiet reading. Its the loneliness that feels like a contagious disease. Like if someone were to step near you, they would get infected with the toxic air that’s coming off your open wound. But its invisible air from an invisible wound. Because when everyone has a boyfriend but you, you feel hidden. They see your freedom, while meanwhile you see a cage. Forced into isolation so no one else catches your plague.

When everyone else has a boyfriend, you’re forced to focus on yourself most days and nights. And the focus can lead to scrutiny. And the scrutiny can lead to plain over-exaggeration of your faults and weaknesses. But no matter how many times you tell yourself it isn’t true, all that matters is that it feels true. You’re the one that got left behind. You’re the one that ended up alone. It’s easy to draw scientific conclusions from your failed experiments. You were not enough. You were the one who had to take time to learn and grow. You were the one that had things to figure out alone. Therefore you were the root of the problem. No wonder everyone left.

When everyone has a boyfriend but you, you wonder how it’s possible for two people to consciously engage in dating/courtship/love/marriage. You wonder how two people can objectively look at their lives and say, Yes, I’d like to make space for you. You see the chance of someone making space for you like a hopeless ideal. Something that simply wont happen. You wonder if you’ll ever be able to even meet someone you can settle for. You hope someone will settle for you the way the others didn’t. They couldn’t even settle for you.

When everyone has a boyfriend but you, you spend countless nights reliving all the memories from when you weren’t this alone. You think, I’ll be happy once someone loves me again. You know thats not true, but it feels that way. And isnt that all that matters? How it feels?

When everyone has a boyfriend but you, you dont run to your phone the second a yoga class is done to see if he finally returned your text. You dont stare at the screen on Saturday nights, wondering if he will actually text you when he gets home from the night out you weren’t invited to. You dont think twice about that photo you want to share. You dont plan your nights based on when he is free. You dont have to make conditional plans with your friends. I think Im free Thursday, let me check and get back to you.

AKA Let me see if my boyfriend is free, because if I dont make time for us, he certainly wont.

When everyone has a boyfriend but you, you dont have to worry about the implications of still splitting the holidays. You dont have to deal with the questions from friends about who is spending Thanksgiving where. You get to spend Thanksgiving with your family, and you dont have to feel guilty or ashamed or compromised.

When everyone has a boyfriend but you, you struggle to fall asleep. But when you do fall asleep, you stay soundly asleep. Because you are where you are supposed to be. Doing what you want to be doing. You always get to do what you want, whenever you want to do it.

When everyone has a boyfriend but you, you breathe a little easier. When everyone has a boyfriend but you, the sad reality is, you probably cry less. Because nothing is quite as painful as being completely alone while you hold hands with a hollow ghost. Nothing is as painful as fighting and struggling for real love, while love stares you in the face and lets you drown. Nothing is as painful as screaming silently, while you force yourself to numb how you are feeling, in hopes that it will make him stay.

When everyone else has a boyfriend but you, you learn to cherish the moments of sadness. Because youre making space for something else. Someone else. Someone that will do more than stand next to you. They will BE next to you. They will hold a space for you. Because not everyone that stands next to you will fully be there. And all the nights of loneliness will teach you what it feels like to just be. To just be here. To be here now. To be you. To stop numbing. To stop filling your space with someone that just numbs you. Because nothing is as painful as the moment you realize youve been dimming yourself – when you know you are capable of so much light.

Read more:

16 People On The Biggest Mistake You Can Construct When Preferring Your Forever Person

1 month ago

1 .

Thinking they can change that person into someone else or in some other significant way.

2 .

Listening to your SO when they said ” I’m not really like this, I’m just really emphasized right now due to grad school, moving, etc .”. Turns out they really were that anxious, neurotic, emphasized, depressed, and negative even in the best of circumstances.

3 .

Staying with someone they’re not happy with because they’re too afraid to be alone.

4 .

I asked this question of my therapist who also does marriage counseling.

She said that the most common pitfall she sees is people falling for” opposites attract .” She said, in the beginning, people marry someone different from them because they see it as a positive. In her experience, those unions will last for a while and then eventually the couple can’t stand each other because of those same differences. So, she told me some fluctuation is plainly good but the most successful weddings she’s seen are the ones where the people were as similar as possible.

Anyway, I’ve never been married, but that was her take on it after 20 years working in the field.

5 .

Some people marry the “best” partner they can get- on paper, the best seeming, smartest, most talented, etc- rather than the most compatible. Rookie mistake, but a common one.

6 .

Marrying a profession: a lawyer, physician, pilot, Enterpreneur etc instead of the person.

7 .

Kids. Agree on the damn kids.

If she wants children and you don’t( or vice versa ), opportunities are it’s going to come up afterwards and bite you really hard in the ass, maybe even aiming the relationship. Get that shit straightened out early on.

8 .

Having a single” bargain breaker” and assuming anyone who passes that test is good enough. I married a woman solely because she didn’t want children and I didn’t think I’d find another one. We didn’t even make it 4 years.

9 .

Waiting for love and refusing to let love happen

Ill explain, most people i am familiar with are waiting to meet person and be slapped in the face by this sense of love and walking on clouds

This is a mistake, too often this leads to someone who you realize is awful after the new wears off

That isn’t love, you aren’t thinking with your heart, you are thinking with your hormones

Instead, fond someone you like, who treats you how you would want to be treated, who is worthy of being in a relationship, and work on that friendship to see if love will grow, i’m not saying to date them, bang them and marry them, i’m saying spend time with them, see if you are compatible and run from there

Everyone has this closed mindset of” this is my type and i will merely date this type” but if your form is toxic or isn’t working, maybe try dating outside the box

10 .

Hiding your true faith from them until after the honeymoon phase. Be upfront from the word go, and if they bolt, it just wasn’t meant to be.

11 .

Settling for looks at the expense of a great personality, morals, or whatever traits people have.

Looks don’t last forever.

12 .

Marrying for love and love alone.

People are always horrified when I say this, but marriage is a business arrangement in a lot of ways. You’re giving someone half your stuff; better induce damn sure that you can trust them with it.

Like 90% of life isn’t fun. It’s about coordinating chores, dealing with finances, caring for children and running. Being is awesome, but it won’t pay the bills. You’ve got to be able to communicate effectively, to trust one another and to work together towards a common goal. It’s more like the relationship between business partners than the relationship between lovers. I’ve loved people to pieces and ended up breaking things off because the bearing stuff wasn’t quite right.

If you can only have fun on dates, don’t get married. If you are able to have fun running grocery shopping or doing laundry, you’ve got a good shot.

13 .

Settling for someone they don’t love entirely because they don’t think they’ll be able to find anyone better.

14 .

Ignoring possible addiction issues.

15 .

I have girlfriends, and honestly myself included, that have been through such god nasties relationships that they settle for someone as long as they’re “nice enough”.

My sister is currently the victim of this, she went through a slew of dating asshats and is now with her bf who is nice, but honestly the polar opposite of her in so many routes. I find her compromising a lot of what she previously wanted out of life merely because she” knows he’ll never cheat on me and is nice “. WTF. That’s a bare minimum requirement for dating person, is them not being an asshole , not their selling point. Know your worth dames and gentleman.

16 .

Never choose someone just based on income or appears alone. My mom has been looking for a super handsome rich guy for over 15 years and they are all assholes.

Just pick someone who induces you happy and will be there for you when you need it. Person you want to expend all your time with. Money doesn’t matter and looks fade. Its the heart that matters.

Read more:

Why work is much easier than love | Alain de Botton

1 month, 3 days ago

If youre breathing a sigh of relief that its Monday and you can get a break from your relationship, youre not alone

As a culture we are highly attuned to what is beautiful and moving about love; we know its high points and celebrate its ecstasies in films and songs. By comparison, work is the dull, tedious bit the thing we have to do to pay the bills. And yet whats striking is how often work, despite its lack of glamour, in fact turns out to be the easier, more enjoyable and ultimately more humane part of life. There are a number of reasons for this.

1 You have to be professional

Couple
At home everyone feels a duty to be an utterly frank, uncensored correspondent of their every inner mood and qualms. Photograph: Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images

Work demands that all who walk through the office door must behave professionally. What behaving professionally essentially means is that when you are in situations where deep inside youre tempted to explode, insult, curse and weep, you actually have to handle yourself with stoic calm and reserve.

At work, you cant really be yourself and nor can others around you which could sound a little fake and therefore inauthentic. But this lack of honesty may in fact be an extremely welcome development compared to a home life where everyone feels a duty to be an utterly frank, uncensored correspondent of their every inner mood and qualms.

2 You get trained

The assumption of most jobs is that people who begin them dont have the first clue about whats going on. Youre not expected to know the machinery or the protocol by intuition alone. Therefore youre sent on training programmes and given extensive manuals to read. It might be two years before youre supposed to understand very much at all.

There is no such luxury for lovers, who are meant to get one another by immediate instinct and take this speedy comprehension to be a proof of the sincerity of their love. Sometimes lovers will even say they knew they were meant to be together because they could communicate without needing to speak. But outside the early days of romance, such aspirations are a pure catastrophe, which can lead lovers to a bias against ever explaining themselves and their desires with appropriate patience and thoroughness.

Fatefully for our chances of happiness, in the romantic ideology, love is understood to be an enthusiasm, rather than what it really is: a skill that needs to be learned.

3 Feedback is more sensitive

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Reviews are steeped in a culture of tact. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex Features

Everyone hates reviews at work, but what deeply kind phenomena they actually are compared with what goes on at home. Reviews are steeped in a culture of tact. One rather tough remark has to be wrapped in at least seven compliments. Work culture knows that people dont improve and cant take new ideas on board if they are feeling threatened and humiliated.

Home life finds us able to be far less competent teachers. Were so panicked and frightened by the thought that the other person cant do what we want them to (even if we havent actually ever explained it), we take to trying to teach them by slamming doors and calling them idiots or worse. Sadly, no one has ever learned very much under conditions of hysteria.

Furthermore, were likely to feel that being taught anything by a lover contravenes the rules of love: we think we need to be loved just for being who we are. Though we are all very flawed, we imagine that love has nothing to do with education, and that the lover who tries to point something out to us is therefore always just being nasty. Rather than doing what all people in a relationship should actually do, which is to do their utmost to improve those they care for through their love.

4 You depend on a job less

We rely on work of course, but wed survive, somehow, if it came to an end. Thats not the feeling we often get around love, especially when there are a couple of kids and a mortgage in common.

And the more we depend on someone, the more alarmed we get by any disappointment at their hands. We arent nastier around love per se; were just a whole lot more dependent which can end up looking like the same thing.

5. Work is just easier

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No wonder were often really quite happy when its finally Monday morning again. Photograph: Alamy

Running a nuclear power station or landing large jets is hardly simple but still very much easier than trying to be happy around another human being in a sexual relationship over many decades. There is simply nothing harder in this world, so complicated are we, so high are our expectations and so very poor is our romantic culture at helping us to raise the quality of our levels of patience, our insights, our feedback sessions and our training manuals.

No wonder were often really quite happy when its finally Monday morning again and we can leave the house and do something properly simple with our lives once more.

Alain de Botton launches his new novel The Course of Love at The School of Life on Wednesday 4 May. Tickets are 30 from theschooloflife.com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

6 Bedroom Mindsets That Make Men Go Wild

1 month, 3 days ago

A great sex life and being the woman of his dreams – starts well before you enter the bedroom.

The mindsets you bring to sex determine not just how much your man enjoys sex with you, but more importantly how he feels about sex with you.

The better he feels about his bedroom capabilities, the more hes going to see himself as gods gift – and will want to keep coming back to prove it.

Most women dont realize how much their attitudes to sex can make or break their partner and their relationship. So for his sake, and yours, here are 6 bedroom mindsets men love to find in a woman.

I wont pressure my man

If you were struggling to climax or get turned on, and a man kept telling you to hurry up, do you think it would help?

Men care about pleasing you – a lot. When they feel like they cant, theyre already freaking out in their own heads.

When youre with a guy whos struggling to get it up or finish, piling on the pressure will NOT do you any good. In fact, it will have the opposite effect.

Just like you, men need to be relaxed to enjoy themselves. If you help him get comfortable and show him you dont mind, youre a much better chance of getting things going again.

Ill never say never

Does he have a fantasy that you could never imagine yourself doing?

Despite how against it you might feel, you may want to be careful with the language you use, steering clear of the word never.

When a man offers up some sort of sexual fantasy (from a dress up to anal to involving someone else), the use of the word never puts him in a quandary.

By telling him never, you are essentially saying to him You will have to be with another woman if you ever want to experience that.

Is that something you want to be emphatically communicating?

I know what youre thinking. But Mark, I would never have a threesome. Why is it wrong to say so?.

Whats important to understand is, men often bring up fantasies not because they actually want to do them, but because they are testing to see whether – if they did – they couldnt with you. They are testing to see how trapped they are if they are literally choosing to never experience those fantasies by staying with you.

Its male instinct to want to break out of traps, so why verbally put him in one every time he brings up a fantasy?

When you give an answer with softer language, I wouldnt totally rule it out, but wed have to have a lot of talking and it would be quite a way off in the future, he doesnt feel like hes choosing to lose out on that fantasy forever by staying with you. Its virtually a no, but without all the trappings that come with saying no outright.

The amusing part is, he usually then forgets about the whole idea.

If hes really serious, hell persist, and you can cross that bridge as a couple if you come to it. Counseling and good communication can happen if hes really passionate about making a fantasy youre uncomfortable with a reality.

For the most part though, men dont actually want to live out these fantasies for real. They just like feeling safe in the fact that maybe, one day, you would be the woman with whom they could.

Im going to be really fin dirty

The more you enter the bedroom with an attitude that youre going to let it all out, the more your man is going to love the fact hes the only one who gets to see it.

Ive never met a man who complained about a sexual experience where a woman was too raw, primal or uninhibited. Yet Ive heard hundreds of complaints from men about women who they felt were inhibited, shy, and seemed afraid to let go.

A man knows deep down that if hes truly a man, hell be able to bring out the raw, sexual woman inside of you. He literally feels like a failure if he cant.

So go in with the attitude that once the clothes are off, so are all bets. Youre going to be as dirty as you want to be and hes going to unleash something other men arent privy to.

I love my body

You know those insecurities you have about your body?

Leave them at the bedroom door.

If youre in a mans room, especially for the first time, it means hes already played out this moment multiple times in his head. Hes touched himself to thoughts of you naked. Hes imagined taking off your clothes. Hes fantasized about having you every moment since the two of you walked in the door.

So once he starts taking off your clothes and unwrapping the goddess, dont ruin his fantasy for him.

Some women at this moment get nervous. Cover themselves. Dart under the covers. Turn the lights off. Its instinct. But its an instinct you want to put aside, because it causes all of the build-up and excitement in his head to turn to dust. He thinks to himself I guess this wont be as good as I thought.

He really wants to see you naked and does not care one bit about that thing youre insecure about with your body. Even if it is a big thing own it! The more you show you love your body and believe youre as sexy as he thinks you are, the more you reinforce his fantasies, subtly reminding him how lucky he is.

Even when Im not in the mood, I still find you sexy

This may shock you to hear, but men have egos.

And a good chunk of a mans ego revolves around sex.

Which means, if youre the only woman hes having sex with, you control most of that ego and therefore – how he feels about himself.

Why is this important?

Youre not going to be in the mood for sex all the time. But how you communicate this can either bolster, or chip away, at his precious male ego.

Every time you reject your man harshly every time you tell him Go away, Im not horny right now or Stop pestering me, Im not in the mood, you take a tiny chip out of that ego. Once or twice wont hurt him, but chips eventually become cracks and cracks lead to collapse. It sounds extreme but repeated damage over months and years will eventually destroy him as a man.

The better you communicate that you still find him sexy despite your rejection, I would LOVE for you to take me right now, but I really cant tonight, I have to sleep. Later this week I want you though!, the more you preserve that precious male ego. Even if hes not getting sex, he still walks away feeling like a man.

Ill show him what I like, not tell him what I dont

Remember, the male ego as it relates to sex is VERY delicate.

If he feels like he cant please you, he literally feels like less of a man.

Criticism (Stop, what are you doing?? Ow! Dont do it like that!!) wont go down well if youre after positive change. Give feedback to a man the same way you would give feedback to a scared puppy. Positive reinforcement, rather than verbal criticism. Physically show him what you enjoy I love it when you do it like this and give positive feedback when he gets it right. By showing him what you love, youll have him wanting to do it more rather than shying away.

Having the right mindsets towards your man and sex wont just result in better experiences for the two of you – It can literally be the difference between him fantasizing over the next time he gets to please you versus him feeling like he cant.

Be fearless and open with him and understand his ego, and in return youll have a loving, loyal partner who wants to fulfill your every fantasy.

Read more:

Here’s What Kind Of Girlfriend You Are, Based On Your Birth Order

1 month, 24 days ago

First Born

Girls who are the oldest in their family are the girlfriends who just want to take care of you. Their maternal instinct can never be tamed so they always want to make sure you’re in a good spot, have enough to eat, don’t need help with anything…pretty much anything that could fall under the caretaker role. They are the classic,” text me when you get home !” girlfriend the one is who always going to put you ahead of herself.

Oldest children do have a reputation for being controlling, and so the girl who is the oldest sibling is likely going to be on the more type A aim of the spectrum. Believe of it as less bossy, and more particular. Will there be arguments because the laundry wasn’t put away correctly? Perhaps. But thebenefit tobeing an oldest child is she’slearned how to negotiate. So arguments very quickly become “dialogues” or “discussions” and rarely spin out of control and become anactual fight.

Somewhere In The Middle

Middle children have grown up with people on either side of them who were also vying for attention, so dating a middle child entails she’s going to want a lot of reassurance. She has a tendency to lean a little towards the jealousy side not because she’s paranoid or thinks her S.O. is doing anything that would WARRANT jealousy. Her jealousy mostly stems from wanting to be the center of attention( for a change) and be someone’s number one.

Because of her inclination to attention seek, the middle child girlfriend is absolutely a people pleaser. She always wants to construct her partnerhappy to make sure what’s being said about her is actually positive and affirms her place as their favorite. She wants to be the person who arbitrarily comes to mind and attains whoever is thinking of her smile. That is a best occurrence scenario for a middle child.

Youngest

Babies are the family favorite, and theyre used to being treated as such. Often theyre various kinds of spoiled and used to beingwell A girl who is the youngest in their own families is likely going to be a pretty high-maintenance girlfriend. Youngest children have grown accustomed to a certain level of cushiness to their lifestyle and its not one that theyll very easily give up. Theyre the girlfriends who will ask you take out the junk because their nails are wet, or change the channel since they are dont want to get up.

But youll never have as much fun with a girlfriend as you will with a youngest child. That youthful energy never quite leaves them and theyll always be down for something fun and adventurous. A girlfriend who’s the youngest will bring out your inner child like no one else can.

Twin

You know that saying,” I’m with my best friend ,” that people say about their significant other? That will realistically never apply with a twin. Twins are best friends and have a bond that cannot be replicated or even understood by someone who is NOT a twin. So a girl who is a twin has to find a relationship that’s different with her partner, but equally as special. Sometimes she will unintentionallymake her S.O. feel like they’re in the shadow of something they have no way of competing with. So it’s definitely a challenge she has to master to not end up being a girlfriend who doesn’t devote enough love and attention to her partner.

But a girlfriend who is a twin is not just a challenge because she comes with a built in, never going anywhere bestie. She’s incredibly competitive, due to having to essentially compete with herself literally since birth. This makes her headstrong, stubborn, and a girl who never gives up. She’s a girlfriend who you’ll constantly have to chase and keep up with, or else you’ll get left behind.

Only Child

Only children are various kinds of weird little anomalies. They grow up more quickly than their peers, but also need a lot more alone time than most. It takes an only child a while before they find someone they genuinely want to settle down with, since they are do tend to be a little flaky while simultaneously defining actually high standards for themselves.

But once a girl who is an only child is committed to you, she’s FULLY perpetrated. She will be the most attentive, invested girlfriend you’ve ever had. Merely children are often a little OCD and get hyper-excited/ obsessed with things, and this will utterly translate into how much they show that they care about their significant other. Every now and then she’ll need alone time to recharge and be herself, but her’ person’ is perfectly on her intellect no matter where she is.

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‘We’re very close. We couldn’t not be’: the secret to a friendly divorce

1 month, 25 days ago

This month sees a spike in couples filing for divorce, many of them vowing to stay friends. But is it really possible or worth the pain?

A few weeks ago, a man came to stay at my house and he and I made so much noise at 1am that we feared we might wake the children. The next morning at breakfast, we had to explain ourselves and apologise.

The man was my ex-husband, and he was telling me an anecdote in the early hours that had us both in fits of laughter. We separated in January 2009, and divorced a year later. He has since remarried, and lives in another city, but often comes to visit our three teenage sons. We have spent several Christmases, Easters and birthdays together.

If liking and being nice to your former partner is the essence of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martins conscious uncoupling, it could be said that my ex-husband and I are living that dream. In the three years since they announced their much-ridiculed approach to family life and relations post-marriage, the idea of the friendly divorce has become increasingly mainstream. As Helena Bonham Carter said of Tim Burton, her former husband of 13 years, I think well have something very precious still. Actor Kate Beckinsale is so friendly with her ex Michael Sheen (the father of their daughter) that shes often seen hanging out with him and his girlfriend, Sarah Silverman.

And then theres the rise of the divorce selfie, taken outside the courtroom, showing smug ex-marrieds beaming away together in the spirit of a bright future ahead of them (with a caption such as We smile not because its over but because it happened). January traditionally sees a spike in calls to family lawyers from couples wishing to uncouple. The first question for many is: can you really have a happy split?

Divorce coach Carol Sullivan thinks so. She runs Divorce Negotiator, which operates throughout England and Wales. Unlike solicitors who represent the separate parties, Sullivan assists both husband and wife and, to stop the escalation, maintains transparency between them. She claims to save a typical couple 80% of the cost of going to a solicitor, and 50% of their time. So far, she has helped more than 1,000 couples, many of whom apologise to each other and go out for drinks despite their decree nisi.

People are doing divorce differently that is, better, Sullivan says. They are more aware that the only winners are the lawyers, and bitterness and vengeance dont get anybody anywhere.

Of course, most people would say theyd like to divorce well, at least in theory, usually for the sake of any children involved. But, in practice, anger and hurt usually muddy the waters.

I am insufferably smug about what my ex-husband and I have managed to pull off, but I wont pretend it was instant. The parting of the ways was painful beyond anything I had ever experienced, but we managed to sort out our financial affairs and living arrangements ourselves. A lawyer friend kindly did the essential paperwork for both of us. We never went to court, and our whole divorce cost 90. Eight years have since passed, and time has done its cliched but excellent bit in terms of healing. Rancour has been and gone, leaving all the things we liked about each other in the first place: enjoyment of each others company, great communication, affection and respect. Plus all the things we have together accumulated over the years, namely three great boys, an important shared history and the recognition that prolonged bitterness eats away at people and benefits nobody.

Its difficult, but this approach is becoming more common. I have a friend whose husband went off with another woman. After her shock and anger subsided, she had him to stay with his new girlfriend several times, and even took coffee up to them in the morning. (Talk about forgiveness.) It was nice for the kids to see I was accepting of her with him, she tells me. I liked him. I liked her. She says she didnt indulge in any power play, at least not consciously.

The prevailing view is that good relations benefit the children, if you have them. Phyllis Maguire-Harrington, 33, is a carer and nursery manager. She sees many families who arent amicable, which has only compounded her belief that friendly divorce is vital even when she found out, three years into their marriage, that her husband had been unfaithful.

It hurt massively, she says now, but our daughter is my world. Even though I ended the marriage there and then, and never once wavered, I always spoke to him and let him see her. My daughter deserves both parents.

There was no court case. The same lawyer represented them both. It was all their own terms; he just did the paperwork. Her ex-husband has exactly the same parental rights as she does.

The couple, both from Wokingham, met at a bowling alley in their early 20s. Kieran Harrington, 35, remembers that she started dancing and I thought, wow! He found her generous, with a lot of time for others. Phyllis says she is very energetic, while Kieran was very chilled and happy to go along with anything she threw at him. They married in 2008 and separated in 2011, when their daughter was a year old.

To be brutally honest, I cheated on her, Kieran says. Its one of those things I cant explain. It was nothing she ever did or didnt do. When she found out, she went ballistic. Id never seen her like that. I deserved it. I tried to get her back, but eventually knew it was hopeless.

It was complicated, Phyllis says, because in September 2007 he had a brain haemorrhage and that altered him. Kieran says that, although he doesnt remember being tempted before the brain haemorrhage, it is nonetheless too easy an excuse. Either way, he says, the two flings with colleagues were a huge mistake. Initially, he says, there was some nastiness from Phyllis, but then it went away.

For a long time I wanted him to be my Kieran, Phyllis says, but he had changed. After the brain haemorrhage, I became more like a carer. I knew he was no longer fully in control of himself, and a psychologist told us he was never going to change. I had a baby and couldnt live like that any more, the suspicious wife.

The divorce came through in December 2014 and Kieran, a prison custody officer, now lives with his father and sister. He and Phyllis still see each other most days, and go on holiday together. They took Erin, now five, to Disneyland Paris for new year and glamping in Cornwall. Neither has another partner.

I did for a while, Phyllis says, and he and Kieran accepted each other, but he wanted to get married and I didnt. I think Kieran put me off for life, she laughs.

These days, Kieran confides in Phyllis about dates and she gives him advice. He admits hed like to get back together with her, but knows thats never going to happen; he also knows that it could all have been very different had Phyllis not been so forgiving. I could have lost a lot more, he says. As it is, the friendship we have having a laugh, watching movies together, sharing a bottle of wine when the little one is asleep is the best I can hope for, given Id still like to be married to her. Ill be a little bit jealous when shes with someone else, but I messed up, so I havent a leg to stand on. Im grateful Ive got this much and know we will be friends for life.

Phyllis agrees: Were very close. We couldnt not be, after all weve been through. But the divorce was the right decision. Would I get back with him? Never. Hes not the man I fell in love with.

***

Specialist family lawyer Peter Martin has been practising at London firm OGR Stock Denton for 40 years, and has worked with thousands of couples. In his experience, roughly 25-30% of couples are able to be friends afterwards, and its not always to protect the children. In some ways, it is easier for couples without children to stay friends, Martin says. Once the finances are sorted out, they are able to get on with their lives. They can become friends again, because they no longer have any pressures on them.

On the other hand, Martin says, couples without children have less reason to stay in touch. Those with children have to continue to communicate, and they are more likely, because of that, to rebuild a friendship. A forced friendship, because of having children, often develops in time into the real thing. Its the sort of thing I see a lot Im thinking of the first dance of a divorced couple as parents at their childs wedding.

Barry Rutter, 69, an actor, is founder and artistic director of Northern Broadsides, a touring company. He credits his ex-wife, Carol, 65, a professor of Shakespeare and performance studies at the University of Warwick, with their excellent relationship after nearly 20 years of marriage and 20 years of divorce. She credits him with not forcing her and their girls out of their home. You can be vengeful and angry and selfish and do all that stuff, Carol says. All those ugly emotions you can keep up for years, but thats just destructive.

The couple met while Barry was on tour in America in 1976. She, with her Californian chutzpah, came backstage to congratulate me, he says.

He had the tight curls of a Raphael angel and a boxers nose, she says. He was bolshie, challenging: a Yorkshireman. Everything around him was different and new.

She moved to England a year later, and they soon married. Their shared passion meant they always had things to talk about. Briony was born in 1982; their son, Harry, two years later, but he died from cot death aged just 98 days. Barrys support in the aftermath made Carol feel an overwhelming sense that our marriage could survive; how amazing it was that he could love me that much.

When he set up his own company, Barry was working so hard, Carol says, I think he started kind of shifting. Rowan, their younger daughter, was four. Carol had a full-time job at the university and Barry came home wanting shiny faces. There was a gap. It was, Barry says, a build-up of events, which I took to be a diminution between us. And my own restlessness. The cliche: the grass is always greener. The official divorce says adultery, but it is never as simple as that. I didnt fall in love, but I was distracted.

Barry says it was raw. I remember we met in the garden shed and she asked what I wanted, and I said all of my freedom to roam, and yet the home and family. It was a stupid, macho, dumb attitude to have. It was my folly. You make choices, and choices can bite.

How did I come back from that? Carol says. I went to see a divorce person who said dont fight, its not worth it; work it out between you. I was able to keep the man separate from the actor and, little by little, the birth of our three children, the death of our son, those things you shared, count. They represent the real core values of you two as people, as against the accidents of making bad decisions.

Barry says it was entirely Carols leading that set them on the footing they are on today. Its got to be about the future: I remember her saying that. I myself didnt have it in me to come up with anything like that. Its a testament to her. Id hope she is my best friend. Shes kept the name [Rutter]. Ive always been rather pleased about that.

These days, their daughters are both married, and they still see each other at least once a month and speak often. Carol goes to watch her ex-husband perform. She says he is perhaps better at expressing his emotions on stage, but he always made her laugh off it, and always will.

Tara Saglio has been a couples and individual psychotherapist for two decades. She believes that most divorced couples have to experience a period of proper separation before they can actively be friends again. As a generalisation, I think it takes five years for people to settle post-divorce, she says. It helps if both parties have reached a point where they can feel equally content, instead of one being miserable and the other blissfully loved-up with a new partner or even of one being blissfully alone and the other in a less than ideal rebound relationship. The chance of friendship depends on the emotional maturity of both parties. In my experience, Saglio adds, it is usually the couples for whom the passion has dwindled or gone, and who dont feel so betrayed or rejected, who can be friends. Sexual rejection or broken trust can skewer things.

Facebook, Instagram and so on can make it harder for couples to move on. Of course, social media always presents a happy if not idealised picture of everyones lives, Saglio says. It is hard to separate fully while having ones nose rubbed in the exs new life. On the upside, technology can be a force for good, depending on how it is used. It makes continued contact quicker and easier. A text or email is more emotionally distant than a face-to-face or phone conversation. A bit of a barrier can be a good thing.

Resolution is an organisation of family law professionals that promotes nonconfrontational divorce settlements. Nigel Shepherd, its national chair, says that avoiding unnecessary argument demands a shift of perspective: By nonconfrontational, we mean focusing on what is required for the future, as opposed to getting stuck in what happened in the past. A Resolution survey found that 90% of cases settle without a judge.

Current divorce law doesnt exactly help people to remain friendly: unless former couples are prepared to wait for two years once they have separated, they have no option but to cite adultery, unreasonable behaviour or (admittedly rarely) desertion on the paperwork. Resolution believes that a couple should be allowed to divorce simply if they think the marriage has broken down, a so-called no-fault divorce, and are lobbying for change. The current process, which pushes the majority into blame, often against their will, can really put the spanner in the works, Shepherd says.

***

Businesswoman Sarah Bevan never lost sight of the fact that she wanted to retain her friendship with her husband, Tim, despite her deep sadness when their marriage came to an end. We were originally friends, and I wanted very strongly to maintain that for the greater good of our family, she says. We always had a lot of fun and we managed to retain that.

Sarah, who is now single and in her 40s, lives in south London, and is setting up her own company. Tim, 50, the MD of a packaging and design company, lives in Hove. The pair met at work in London and married in 1994. They have three teenage children. The friendship was overriding in the relationship, Tim says. Any other issues were put to one side. Thats what carried us. But then I started to do better in my career, which made me more confident and, when other possibilities presented themselves, I was weak enough to succumb.

It was 2004. He admitted he was having an affair (not his first); they finally parted in 2005 and divorced in 2011. Tim says he walked away with two pictures, a stereo and a pink tea towel.

There were no lawyers, and nothing on paper; money was divided according to their own agreement. The divorce cost 560. Rather than argue in court, he wanted Sarah and the children to have a home and security. He credits their friendship today to his ex-wifes openness and strength, and thinks they have both pulled off something pretty extraordinary. According to Tim, both realise they are not going to be jumping into bed with each other again, but hopes theyll be best friends for life.

Shes currently offering me advice on cholesterol, he laughs. Shes still got my back! It helped that neither of them slagged each other off to the children. The family has a group chat online most days and he visits them every Tuesday for a curry evening.

There were phases of extreme anger and massive hurt, Sarah says, but even though hes certainly a difficult character, I love him and we hug and say we love each other. He remains an important part of her life, all the more so because her parents died recently in tragic circumstances. As Tim says, that focused everyone on whats important.

Despite everything weve put each other through, Tim says, weve come out of it. We will be sitting in our deckchairs in 30 years time with our mint tea, looking at the children, and thinking, Weve done good.

How to divorce well

1. Slow down. Reactive decisions are usually bad ones; if you are feeling hurt, or have just discovered your partner with someone else, dont take any legal action until the red mist has gone.

2. Try to be rational. Going through a separation is highly emotional, but try to put that to one side and sit down with a neutral party with the aim of making sensible decisions. Remember that you loved the other person once.

3. Decide on your priorities. More often than not one of the biggest goals is to move on with your life with your dignity intact. The more amicable the divorce, the quicker it will be over, leaving you to get on with the next chapter of your life. It is also a lot cheaper.

4. Go to a good family lawyer. Find a family specialist committed to working out solutions as amicably as possible and in a way that will preserve your relationship with your spouse.

5. Expect a big change in your lifestyle. Your life is going to change dramatically; being shocked by this can often lead to resentment and breed conflict. Your partners life will be changing, too, and they will have the same problems adjusting as you are. Yes, really.

6. Dont do it the celebrity way. You dont have to fight dirty to get the best result in fact, judges will frown upon it when making their settlement.

7. Dont listen to your friends. Turn to them for emotional support but remember that every marriage is different and every divorce is different. Just because friends think it is a good idea, doesnt mean it is.

8. Be the bigger person. Even if your nearly ex is trying to play dirty, dont rise to the bait. It is easier said than done, but I often hear from people who, years later, regret that they allowed themselves to be brought down to that level.

9. Think about divorce before you get married. What will your situation be if things dont work out? Consider how your partner is likely to behave in those circumstances as well. Think about a prenuptial agreement realism does not have to be anti-romantic.

10. If you have children, be nice for their sake. It is only in the most exceptional circumstances that it is not in the childrens interests for their parents to remain friendly.

Peter Martin, family lawyer, OGR Stock Denton

Read more: www.theguardian.com

How to actually talk to a woman wearing headphones | Martha Mills

2 months, 9 days ago

Martha Mills: How to talk to a woman wearing headphones, without seeming like a terrifying harasser

An article has surfaced from the quagmire of bilge the hell is The Internet and it has caused , not without reason, a small tornado of outrage. Written as dating advice for The Modern Man( a misnomer if ever there were one ), it promises a solution to the hot n horny down-on-their-luck young bucks of the world who face the tedious obstacle of a woman wearing headphones, because how dare she. And no, it isnt a parody.

You can read it in its full entitled glory, or stick with me as I dissect each grubby, jaw-dropping hallucination of psychopathic awfulness. Its going to be quite a ride.

How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones

These days, many females walk around playing with a smartphone or tablet device and are often wearing headphones and listening to music at the same time.

Yet, that doesnt mean you cant talk to them.

Of course , not all women are open to being approached because not all women are single and looking.

However, if a woman wearing headphones is single and hoping to meet a boyfriend( or even a new devotee ), she will almost always be happy to take off her headphones to give you an opportunity to create a spark with her.

The author, one Dan Bacon, could have saved us all a lot of bother here by answering his How to with Dont. Sadly he seems to have missed some basic behavioural science here; you assure, the very reason I and many other women wear headphones isnt as a trivial obstacle to some throbbing hormone mountain , nor as a challenge for those blessed with an abundance of ego. Its a defense. A defence against the aural onslaught of modern lifeand especially the leering advances of said pulsating hormone mountains. In short, we wear them because we dont want to be talked to. Its basic physics actually – we fill our ear pits to stop you from get in.

But back to Dan 😛 TAGEND

What to Do to Get Her Attention

1. Stand in front of her( with 1 to 1.5 meters between you ).

2. Have a relaxed, easy-going smile.

3. Is she hasnt already looked up at you, simply get her attention with a wave of your hand. Wave your hand in her direct line of vision so she cant ignore it.

4. When she looks at you, smile and point to her headphones and say, Take off your headphones for a minute and pretend to be taking headphones off your head, so she fully understands.

If she doesnt understand( most women will ), simply gesture that you want to talk to her by briefly pointing backward and forward from you to her and say, I want to talk to you for a minute.

In most cases, you wont have to go to that extreme, but some daughters are shy and will be hesitant to take the headphones off right away because they are feeling a lot of nervousness and exhilaration about what is happening.

5. Then, do what we call Acknowledging the Awkwardness by rapidly mentioning something about the awkwardness of the moment( insure the conversation example below ), to demonstrate you understand that approaching a woman in this way isnt the most common of experiences for either party.

This helps set her at ease and know that you are a cool guy who she can relax and open up to.

I dont know if these five steps are a common thing, but I have personally experienced this several times. At step 1 I know what you are doing and Im dismissing you, hoping the ground will open up and take one of us to the depths of somewhere Hellish, which would be more pleasant than such a situation is developing to be. By step 3 Im not feeling aroused and Im not feeling flattered as Dan later tells his readers I will be – Im feeling harassed. Straight up, dictionary definition harassed.

By step 4 Ive learnt that you cant understand a basic body language brush-off and are therefore a direct threat to my personal safety. My brain is in oppose or flight, checking for escape roads, its trying to figure out just how aggressively youre going to react to any further action I take to extract myself from a situation altogether not of my own making and it is praying they use a flattering photo of me on the news , not that one when my front-facing camera went off accidentally that time.

According to step 5, the fact you have bullied me into one of the most awkward and scary moments of my life builds you a cool guy. Mr Bacon clearly has difficulty spelling. It begins with a t, Dan.

Heres Dans interpretation of how the conversation goes once a human has use his infallible five-point Jedi mind trick to bludgeon a woman from her blissful state of aural security:

You :[ Smile in a friendly, confident manner] Hey I know its not normal for people to talk to someone with headphones in, but I was strolling along and saw you and thought wow, shes a cutie, I have to say hi. Im Dan, whats your name? Woman :[ Usually flattered by the compliment and impressed by your confidence to approach her like that] Jessica. You :[ Add in some humor] Coolnice to meet you Jessica. I dont normally talk to daughters with headphones, but your big green headphones were just calling out to me. Woman :[ Most likely laughing, smiling and enjoying the interaction ]. You :[ Let her know that you have something to do/ somewhere to go, so she understands that youre not going to stand there talking to her for 30 minutes] Anyway, so Im just out doing a bit of shopping at the moment. Im on my route to a store up the street. Hows your day going so far?

In his scenario, Jessica has just been waiting her whole life to be blessed with the attention of a complete stranger who misstep hunched shoulders, darting eyes and rictus for giggling and smiling.

Heres how it plays out in real life. Trust me, Ive been it, insured it and spoken to the survivors:

Him : I see you dont want to be talked to but I find you physically attractive and Im constructing that your problem.

Her : Please leave me alone.

Him : F *** YOU, YOU STUCK UP B ****, I DIDNT FANCY YOU ANYWAY.

With advice like this out there, its hardly any surprise, is it? These lonely men so desperately in search of conquests have been given permission, blessed with the entitlement to go forth and pluck their bounty employing but five humble steps. So imagine their horror and indignation when that which has been promised doesnt want to be plucked and tells them to sling their greasy hook.

Next Dan listings the five mistakes men attain when approaching a woman who is wearing headphones. Sadly not one of them is to sod right off.

Points 1, 4 and 5 are fairly inoffensive, generic dating guff( be confident, be engaging, be flirty ), but oh boy, just try and get your noggin round points 2 and 3.

2. Allowing her to dismis him

Headphones are a great barrier between a person and the rest of the world.

That being said, if a guy wants to get a womans attention he needs to show confidence by being determined to get her to stop listening to the music and chat to him to him.

If a guy has a weak vibe or presence about him, a woman usually wont give in to his request for her to remove the headphones.

Women love to test guys to see how confident they truly are and a favorite test of women is to ignore a guys attempts to converse with her and find what he will do next. Will he walk away in shame, or will he remain calm and continue talking to her in a confident, easy-going manner?

This is her style of gauging his interest in her and also a way of determining whether he is mentally and emotionally strong enough for a girl like her.

If a guy devotes up at the first sign of resistance, most women will be to turn by his mental and emotional weakness as a man.

3. Allowing her to take control of the interaction

No matter how confident or challenging a woman might behave, she still dreams of fulfilling a guy who is more confident than her. A woman doesnt want to be forced to control an interaction with a guy( i.e. call the shots, boss him around ), but she will if she has to.

Controlling an interaction with a woman is not about bossing her around, being arrogant or being too assertive. Instead, you simply need to assume the role of the man and let her be the woman. In other terms, build her feel girly around you because you think, behave and feel( your vibe) so masculine.

The advice here is basically No doesnt mean no, it entails keep going until you get what you want – the screaming will stop eventually. Because apparently thats what women want – and forms the basis for a million rape defence lawsuits. Trust me, when we tell you to go away we arent testing your measure as a human, were testing how quickly your legs can carry you in an offward direction.

Put Dans advice into any other scenario for the true jaw-drop factor: Shopkeepers may lock their doors at night, but if you want a pint of milk, only hammer on the door until they open up. Theyll be flattered.

I appreciate the world of mating is hard but please, for the love of humanity, learn this: because we are want, doesnt mean you can have. Women are not commodities to be hunted and won, and if you have no luck find someone to bump pink bits with, thats your problem , not our flaw for not adhering to the playbook regulations. Its a playbook we never signed up for and its only a game if both teams actually know theyre playing.

Nowhere in his advice does Dan tell his disappointed man-babies how to handle rejection with grace, because the advice is simply not to accept it. This attitude is why I and countless other women have been been chased down the street, followed home, physically constrained, spat at, verbally abused and generally made to feel like garbage, merely for trying to exist.

So when, I hear the whiny pissbabies ask, when am I allowed to approach hot single women? Simple.

If a woman has her headphones in, the answer is never – and before you bleat on about ooh, what if theres a fire ?, shell reek it, even through all your bulls ** t. If youre in a bar or party, her flirtatious smile may be the come-on youre go looking for, but be prepared to accept that you read it wrong, politely wish her a good evening and toddle back up out of her life without 20 minutes of awkward pawing, insisting she let you buy her a rohypnoltini. But how about this; take up a hobby, ask your friends if they know of someone looking to date or( brace yourself for a whopper of a revelation) if youre looking for a horde of single, eligible girls all looking for friendship-maybe-more in one convenient place, try a dating site.

Anyway, coming soon from Dan Bacon, How To Talk To A Woman Through A Fog Of Pepper Spray. Probably.

Martha Mills is on Twitter as @mittendamour

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Blind date:’ I thought he was joking when he said he’s a Cliff Richard fan’

2 months, 14 days ago

Did energy consultant Martin, 36, and copywriter Almaz, 28, hit it off?

Martin on Almaz

What were you hoping for?
Sparkling company, laughter and a relaxed evening.

First impressions?
Elegant, with a natural brightness and upbeat aura.

What did you talk about?
Music, dinner parties and cooking (Almaz likes to host big parties, while I prefer little gatherings), the role of the royal family, the cut-throat London dating scene.

Any awkward moments?
Not for me. Hopefully Almaz felt comfortable, too.

Good table manners?
Top notch.

Best thing about Almaz?
A lovely voice.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
Certainly. She is articulate, bright and funny.

Describe her in three words
Bright, elegant, engaging.

What do you think she made of you?
Id like to think she found me likable, talkative and entertaining. Im sure she noticed Im not so on trend.

Did you go on somewhere?
Part of our journey home.

And did you kiss?
Friendly continental kisses of greeting and parting only.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
Nothing: I had a very nice evening, though I dont think either of us felt a chemistry.

Marks out of 10?
10.

Would you meet again?
I dont think wed plan anything, but if I saw Almaz out and about, Id definitely go over and say hello.

Almaz on Martin

What were you hoping for?
Butterflies and sexual tension.

First impressions?
Not my usual type.

What did you talk about?
Crossrail and salsa dancing (him), geopolitics and music festivals (me).

Any awkward moments?
I thought he was joking when he said hes a Cliff Richard fan.

Good table manners?
He let me eat more than my fair share, which was delightful.

Best thing about Martin?
No questionable views.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
I think theyd eat him alive.

Describe him in three words
Mild-mannered, good-natured, conventional.

What do you think he made of you?
Not what he was expecting.

Did you go on somewhere?
It was a Sunday night, so no.

And did you kiss?
A goodbye peck on the cheek.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
Id have discreetly given the waiter my number, because we shared some intense looks.

Marks out of 10?
6.

Would you meet again?
Not intentionally.

Martin and Almaz ate at Goode & Wright, London W11.

Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

If youre looking to meet someone like-minded, visit soulmates.theguardian.com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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