Divorce

Divorce is a hot topic. From conscious uncouplings to trial separations, celebrity divorces dominate headlines. As a happily married late 20-something, I’m fascinated by how love, marriage and the dissolution of marriage have evolved over time.

I caught wind of HBO’s new series Divorce because of one of its Executive Producers, Sharon Horgan. Her work on Pulling and Catastrophe perfectly reflect my sense of humor. She’s tackled love and marriage, so perhaps divorce was the natural next step. It also didn’t hurt that Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) was billed as the show’s star.

I found time on a Sunday to watch the early premiere of the series on HBO Go, and was really pleased. SJP broke free from her mold as Carrie Bradshaw, introducing viewers to an equally complicated lead named Frances.

The show is charming and rugged — kind of like 90s grunge — set cozily in the swanky suburb of Hastings-on-Hudson. The first episode established a lot of foundation while confronting major issues. Viewers were also treated to a darkly comedic side of Molly Shannon, whose character is both wildly dysfunctional and likable at first glance. She’s the friend whose safety and sanity you fear for, all while fiercely protecting her.

I’m excited to see how each character evolves. Thomas Haden Church and Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement add just the right amount of complementary quirk to the rest of the ensemble. 

While SJP’s celebrity friends helped raise awareness for the show’s early premiere — her interview with Eva Chen was a favorite of mine — I also happened upon an unrelated installment from The Guardian called “The Moment Our Marriage Was Over” that really struck a chord with me. Couples shared sincerely touching essays about the vulnerable moments when they knew their marriages were over.

We focus so much on the romantic part of love and marriage, but there’s a functional component — almost like how leadership factors into management — that doesn’t get the same level of limelight, perhaps because it’s the most painfully relatable element.

I love my husband dearly, but the highs and lows captured even in the first episode of Divorce will surely resonate with every couple, and inspire at least a little bit of sympathy and quite a few laughs.

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Love, Marriage and Politics

Working in public relations, especially on the digital end of the spectrum, I’m no stranger to keeping my politics private. Most people who know my husband and me, know that we have wildly opposing political views, and wonder how in the world we make our marriage work.

Early on in our relationship, I dedicated lots of time to polishing Adam’s rough edges. Don’t get me wrong; he’s brilliant. Really and truly. But he’s strong-willed. Deciding to get married on the heels of an election year, I never thought I’d have so many, “Shit Republicans Say” reactions to his political commentary.

Love is funny, though. I’ve kept him up until the wee hours of the morning following debates to extend my soapbox, and he’s engaged me, exhausting his talking points in hopes of tuckering me out. He’s not often successful.

We make it work for two reasons. The first, and perhaps most important is that at the foundation of our marriage is a mutual respect. We respect each other’s opinions, because they’re not sound bites. Second, and still important, is that our political positioning, though inherently opposite, overlaps and aligns on issues that have the potential to directly impact us as a unit.

I sometimes wonder if our marriage is actually stronger because our views differ. Either way, it certainly keeps conversations interesting.

Coupling in the Kitchen

Big city living comes with many little conveniences – many of which are just a click or tap away. After years of sending out laundry and ordering groceries via delivery – I’m a loyal Instacart user – I’m actually convinced that there’s nothing that can fully alleviate the typical moans and groans of living in New York.

I don’t even really live in the city proper. Just outside of Manhattan, Adam and I have nestled comfortably into the Queens County neighborhood of Astoria.

I’ve tested the boundaries of my budget over the years as I’ve developed adult independence. I’ve reasoned away from the lack of logic behind thrice weekly orders from Seamless, and especially since partnering up with Adam, I’ve rekindled my love for cooking.

No matter where I’ve lived, my kitchen has always served as the heart of the apartment. And so when Adam and I moved in together, our kitchen became the place where we were able to find time to chat and unwind. The bedroom is for sleeping, the living room is for binge watching Netflix (smart TV=best purchase EVER) and the kitchen – well, the kitchen is for congregating.

We recently subscribed to Blue Apron and Plated, and it’s really been our way of doing something together – sometimes in a “lord, give me the strength” kind of way – and learning how to communicate through challenges – chopping fennel is harder than it looks!

When I married Adam, I promised him that we’d do adventurous things, but that we’d also define adventure together. I like to think that our culinary adventures keep us on our toes throughout the week, priming us for the real adventure that is simply living – read: surviving – life in New York

brie grilled cheese

We’re Not Best Friends

Relationships are weird. We’re fed so many different fairytale scenarios about courting and falling in love from movies and TV shows, that when our respective stars don’t quite align as such, we begin to question everything about our bond with our beloved.

I remember when I told Adam he wasn’t my best friend. He was devastated. He replied with some textbook line about how couples are supposed to be best friends. I think my retort was less based in rhetoric, and more in hysterical laughter.

My best friend’s name is Emily. I’ve known her since she was born, and she was the maid of honor in our wedding. She’s the only person on the planet who I can unconditionally confide in, and who I know will always tell me the truth, regardless of whether it will hurt.

Adam is my partner. I used to find it odd when friends or colleagues would refer to their significant other in this way, but I’ve since changed my mind. I’m all about the partnership. (Ironically, the concept of partnership in the vein of collaboration is a key mantra at the company I work for and love).

To be partners in life is to accept, together, anything that you encounter — to explore and to navigate the world together, and most importantly, to build a life together on equal footing.

When I think about my partnership with Adam, I reflect on the vows we wrote jointly, and exchanged on our wedding day:

  1. Do you promise to be a loving friend and partner in marriage?
  2. Do you promise to treat each other with kindness, respect and appreciation?
  3. Do you promise to make laughter an integral part of your family?
  4. Do you promise to listen and learn from each other, support each other, and accept each other’s support?
  5. Do you promise to bear together whatever trouble and sorrow life may lay upon you both, and share together whatever good and joyful things life may bring you?

Partnership and togetherness were at the heart of each question. Adam’s not my best friend. He’s my partner. He’s the person I never want to say goodbye to – only good morning and good night.

The 5 Worst Things About Getting Married

A lot has happened since the last time I published a post – most notably, I got married two weeks ago. I have no regrets about the amazing man I married, our beyond incredible and supportive families, and the future we will build together. That said – and you don’t have to be planning a wedding to know this as a truth – planning a wedding can be a painful process. Things will go wrong, feelings will be hurt, and you’ll be struggling to stay focused on the end result, the ultimate ROI: you’ll soon be marrying your soulmate.

While I compiled a list of 5 things that I found to be the antithesis of wedding-planning bliss, I’m sure there are many more that could qualify.

1. More Money, More Problems: Weddings are expensive. Even if your parents are paying for some, most or all of your wedding, hidden expenses will sneak through. We came to a very fair agreement with our parents about expectations for our contribution, but budgets quickly crept up when Adam picked out an invitation that I fell in love with. I loved everything about it; it was so elegant and modern, and elegance and modernity come at a steep price. At the end of the day, I reasoned that if I wanted something, and I felt strongly about it, I should be the one to pay for it. That to me, and to Adam, was the ultimate test for necessity.

2. We Are Family: When people say that weddings bring out the worst in people, they’re not always talking about the immediate family. I think it’s the residual family who can often be pinpointed as the culprit for bad behavior. My advice to brides on this is to omit any people who won’t be able to focus on supporting you and your partner. I’m especially close with my parents and siblings – my immediate family – and my mother’s family. That said, there are deep-rooted feuds in my father’s family that have turned into immature grudges across parties, and have since trickled down to my generation. If I could go back again, I would have made a stronger argument with my parents that the room should only be filled with people who genuinely want to be there, not out of perceived protocol, but out of love and support. Thankfully, we had so many relatives and friends (who are basically family at this point) make the trek to Michigan – all the way from England, to Florida, New York, California, Indiana, Washington, Illinois, DC and beyond.

3. We Make Plans, And G-d Laughs: During our ceremony, the ketubah fell off of its easel, the lights were switched on by accident, the photo booth was unbearably warm, and our “first dance” song (In My Life by The Beatles) wouldn’t play for the DJ (he rigged it so that it would play from my phone through a microphone). There are mistakes you just can’t plan for, and it’s important to accept it, with no expectations beforehand. The only thing you can really realistically plan for is that you are getting married. My rabbi was so sweet; he could sense my type-A personality from my initial e-mail to him about his availability. He made sure to caution me about keeping focused on the love that we’re celebrating, and not the to-do lists and planning. I think he may have underestimated how a career in PR prepares you for poise in the face of even the most ultimate screw-ups and disasters.

4. You Can’t Always Get Your Way: I know that I’m neurotic, and that it’s in my nature to be controlling. But, as much as one’s eventual marriage is a partnership, so, too, is the planning process. I wasn’t one of those women who had her entire wedding planned before meeting the groom. In fact, navigating this with someone by my side was exactly what I needed for each of the minuscule details to be digestible and actionable. I chose so many of the elements, that I really was thrilled when Adam showed remote interest in things like the food, music, and invitations. I decided to forfeit control (with 5 vetoes), so that he could feel like his personal touch was also part of our big day.

5. If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Don’t Say It At All: From the moment you get engaged, outside opinions will start to percolate. I sometimes think that all brides and grooms should go through media training to learn how to weather the naysayers and over-opinionated. Even now, two weeks post-marriage, my mother comments on how she doesn’t like the way I’ve chosen to stack my bands with my engagement ring. And, as I tell her without polish, I don’t really care.

You will almost definitely experience some sort of struggle in the wedding planning process, and it may not even creep up until the big day. It’s important to remember that while you could certainly sit here and whittle away a list of hundreds of crappy things/opinions/people/all of the above that you encountered along the way, none of that negativity is going to help usher you down the aisle. Turn off the noise around you, and focus on the fact that at some point soon, you’ll be saying “I do.”

 

Engagement Gifts

When we announced our engagement, we received so many thoughtful gifts. Most were picture frames, a few were books. But today, I received my absolute favorite gift of all. I know I shouldn’t pick favorites, but in this case, I’m ignoring the etiquette and naming names.

The other day, I asked my friend Janet to do a reading at my wedding. I love her, and our friendship really has grown stronger and stronger as the years have gone by. She suggested a Pablo Neruda poem, and I felt like she was reading my mind. I never bookmark things anymore; most of what I wish to revisit, I simply pin on Pinterest. That said, my Chrome bookmarks have been full of Neruda poems for years.

Some of his work is a bit too graphic, but I found a poem in the book she sent me this week called “Your Laughter” and it hit me instantly that this is what Janet must absolutely read at my wedding.

The thoughtfulness of this gift, which came with an adorable “I Love You to the Moon and Back” wooden chalkboard-style sign, really made my day.

Family Ties

I come from a family of relative dysfunction. I speak to less than a handful of my paternal relatives, and I have both grandparents, so that’s two right there. That said, I don’t like to treat family like a four-letter word. In my book, to love is to love unconditionally.

I’m close with my immediate family, and most of my maternal relatives. We had it easy. Much like my mother’s family and their days in Detroit’s shtetl-like Jewish neighborhoods of yesteryear, we grew up within one square-mile of each other. Each house had its respective open-door, open-fridge policy; cousins were more like siblings.

We had our drama, we had our arguments, but as my mother (and grandmother before her) liked to declare “you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family.” Her other favorite was “blood is thicker than water.”

I hold those sayings close, especially as I plan my impending wedding. It was natural to me, for example, to choose Michigan as the setting. My roots are there, and with three grandparents over age 80 and great aunts and uncles who played such a strong role in my upbringing, it would be so selfish to consider getting married anywhere else.

On top of which, it’s important for me to have my family as part of the bridal party. We tormented each other as kids. I share stories with friends about how my siblings (I’m looking at you, Dr. Kirsch!) would hold my arms back and scream, “free hits on Alex!” But, I love them. My sister and brother-in-law are gracing our family with a true simcha this February as they bring a baby boy into this world. My sister Anne and her fiancé Michael are starting their lives together in Miami. My brother (the doctor!) and his lovely girlfriend (also a doctor!) prove that love can flourish no matter the distance.

Our relationship as kids was fuzzy; we were so close in age that fights were inevitable. But, no matter how much we hurt one another with words or actions, my mother — learning a lesson from my father and his brothers — made sure we always spoke, and that we always made up and moved on.

My mother is my hero. She takes care of her father (my beloved Zaydie Sam), and my father — someone who suffers from a long list of conditions including diabetes and Parkinson’s. She is a giver, and a caretaker, and while I don’t always want to hear what she has to say — sometimes it’s because of how she says it — I love her most of all. She has spent almost no time caring what people think of her, and instead, has devoted herself to our family. To ensuring that we’re all in the loop on family ties, that we’re all happy and healthy, and that we have what we need – literally and figuratively – in life.

When my parents cut me off financially at age 21, I was preparing to move to New York. My father, who comes from a family where protocol and money are king, was determined to share that he thought I was meant for law school, and in publishing I’d end up penniless. My mother, on the other hand, didn’t share her predictions on my future. Instead, she said, “You’re meant for New York.”

She was right.

I’ve been here for nearly four years, have achieved great success in my still-short career, and am getting married in just over a year.

None of that matters though. Life is too short. Family has taught me in all part of life that you’re never too old to ask for help, or for forgiveness, and you’ll never be too old to say “I love you.” Three words, eight letters, endless good feelings.