Love, lust, and longevity

by Grace aka costofcollege

Sunday is Valentine’s Day.  Here are some random thoughts on love.

Why is marriage so hard over the long term?

One of the main reasons is what science calls it “habituation.” Which is a fancy way of saying we get bored.

Early on, when a couple can finish each other’s sentences it’s romantic. But over time “predictable” is a huge negative.

Chris Rock puts it this way:

You stop talking . . . because at some point you’ve heard everything that person has said . . .

Read the article to see if you agree with these 3 Things That Keep Love Alive.

  1. Learn from arranged marriages.
  2. Focus on the good.
  3. Do more exciting things.

More food for thought:

Do you and your spouse lead parallel lives?

This question implies that a couple does “a lot of separate activities but still live under the same roof”.  Here’s a section from one comment in the discussion.

..I’m a firm believer that it can be healthy to develop one’s own interests outside the marriage – as long as it’s not hurting the marriage. Most of the time, if it’s beneficial to an individual, that person will bring the benefits and satisfaction back to the marriage. Just my theory.
I know people who did everything together – and are now split up. But I also know people who did most things separately and split up, too. I think it’s all about balance….

What about sex?

What Keeps Couples Happy Long Term
A large, new study on sexual satisfaction finds happy long-term couples share certain habits

I thought this was a pretty good way to describe the early stages of romance, at least from a woman’s perspective.  What do you think?

…  by “romance,” I know they mean the traditional version, the one that depends on living inside a giant, suspenseful question mark. This version of romance is all about that thrilling moment when you think that someone may have just materialized who will make every single thing in the world feel delicious and amazing and right forever and ever. It springs forth from big questions, like “Can I really have what I’ve been looking for? Will I really feel loved and desired and truly adored at last? Can I finally be seen as the answer to someone else’s dream, the heroine with the glimmering eyes and sultry smile?” And this version of romance peaks at the exact moment when you think, Holy Christ, I really am going to melt right into this other person (who is a relative stranger)! It really IS physically intoxicating and perfect! And it seems like we feel the exact same way about each other! Traditional romance is heady and exciting precisely because — and not in spite of the fact that — there are still lingering questions at the edges of the frame: “Will I be enough for this person? Will she stop wanting me someday? Is he as amazing as he seems/feels/tastes?”

What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage

Do you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?


139 thoughts on “Love, lust, and longevity

  1. I come from the land of arranged marriages or in the modern day partners are suggested by family/friends with people having the right to say no. I think in some arranged marriages partners do find that despite their best efforts, they are incompatible. These couples would be better off divorced. However, they stick it out and are quite unhappy. That said – I enjoy celebrations and will not go on about how this is a holiday to sell chocolate, flowers and cards…

  2. I loved that last article.

    “Traditional romance is heady and exciting precisely because — and not in spite of the fact that — there are still lingering questions at the edges of the frame”

    This. This is what I had to figure out — that the excitement of the fairy tale is the will-he/won’t he, which is precisely the opposite of what makes for a real, long-term relationship. There is no better feeling than being loved *because* of who you are, not in spite of it. Which also means loving your partner for who they are, not who you’d like them to be if you ruled the world. The whole trope of “my soulmate will magically know exactly what I’m thinking” is not just a crock, it’s a destructive expectation. Ask for what you want, say what you think, and trust your partner enough to still love you even when they don’t agree.

  3. We are actually going out this year, which we usually don’t, because it’s such a horrid day. But our favorite wine shop is doing a wine-and-chocolate tasting, and then we’ll wander over to a nearby place run by the same folks for some tapas, assuming there’s room in the bar. Low-key and easy.

  4. I loved that last article too. Marriage over time encompasses a lot of, “How long can this last? How long do we get to be this lucky?” While it was nowhere near as graphic, I had a long recovery after a car accident, and love is a DH who picked it all up, helped me shower and wash my hair, etc. The spark and the fun are still there, and those matter too.

    Our celebrations at this stage include small gifts for the kids, and love as a family. We’re likely to make some sort of nice dinner at home and treat it as a “date night at home.” I can’t deal with the actual crowds going out for Valentine’s Day, but a good excuse to celebrate is appreciated.

  5. When I started doing email reviews for internal investigations I was stunned by the amount of infidelity. Probably over ten percent of the people we looked at had some evidence of an affair – on their work email! And we were usually looking at a defined time period, like two to three years.

  6. Off topic – Sky, I spotted you and your kids in the future at the grocery store yesterday – late elementary – North Face wearing so well behaved :-).

  7. That last article cracked me up and reminded me of a comment DH made the other day. We’ve been married for 9.5 years and I’m 34 weeks pregnant with our 4th. I was laying on my side at the foot of our bed (where I could sort of keep an eye on the kids) when he came in and said, “My mom told me I need to tell you how beautiful you are right now, but you look like a beached whale.”

    I laughed at the time and every time I think of it. It’s one of those funny-cause-its-true things and made me feel a lot better than the sweet/romantic comment would have.

  8. By the luck of my custody arrangement, DD is my Valentine this year. I am letting her have a friend sleep over on Saturday night so that her parents can celebrate their anniversary and V-day. We will also be watching Harry Potter movie #6 tonight to celebrate her finishing the book, and maybe I’ll make her favorite dinner on Sunday. I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day anyway – romantic expectations are always too high and rarely met.

  9. I think the hardest thing about marriage is dealing with the loss of the “excitement” that you have in a new relationship. Sometimes I’ll feel a sense of that when I’m around a coworker or friend who I have a crush on, and I certainly would never act on it, but it makes me want to figure out how to get that feeling back with my spouse.

  10. TLC – that sounds like something my DH would say. And I love him for it.

    DH and I don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day. In fact, this year no cards because I’m tired of spending $4-$5 on a card that gets tossed in trash a day later.That being said, I love how excited my kids are for the day. It is fun watching them get involved in choosing the perfect valentine for each classmate, their excitement for their parties, etc. Not to mention they get a little present from their daddy on Valentine’s. It definitely has turned into a kids holiday. We’ll be skiing as a family on sunday. Dinner will probably be pizza.

  11. You guys are giving me the inspiration to make Saturday a “kids’ valentine” day — DH is out of town overnight, so it’s a great opportunity to make them my valentine and make them feel special.

    @Anon — ITA. I think everyone goes through those phases. When I start feeling like that, I make a point to come up with something different for us to do, preferably as a couple, or even just as a family — something that gets us moving, or laughing, or that is just flat-out weird. Or, when creativity fails, going out on date night, splitting a bottle of wine, and talking about all of the fun countries we want to visit when we retire. :-) DH has much less tolerance for boredom/sameness than I do, so I do have to consciously think about not allowing the ruts to go on for too long.

  12. DH and I had been DINKS for so long and we had a really good time. The arrival of kid however has really tested our relationship among other things! I don’t know how people with multiple kids do it!

    We will go as a family to a nice restaurant which is still kid friendly and bake a cake at home!

  13. I don’t like going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day because the restaurants have over-priced “special” menus and are super crowded. But I think I’ll make an effort to make sure DH and I go out for a nice dinner the following weekend. Lately we’re so wrung out by the week that we just want to collapse on the weekend.

    DD is 16 and has a boyfriend (they’ve been dating only for about a month) so I think they may do something – it’s pretty cute.

    Many, many years ago when DH and I first started dating, I was so excited to finally have a date for Valentine’s Day. Then the Northridge earthquake hit (in January) – and DH’s engineering office was sending people down to CA to help with the structural inspections. DH’s week in Northridge fell over Valentine’s Day – which meant that although I finally had a boyfriend, I still didn’t have a date for Valentine’s Day. Which of course was nothing compared to the devastation that people suffered in the earthquake – but after having gotten excited to finally have a date, it was a little disappointing.

  14. We were never big Valentines Day people and the holiday kind of died out with DS2 – his birthday is Feb 15, and since every one of his birthdays seems special, we end up celebrating then. We also often take a family trip since Presidents Day usually falls in there. This year we will be freezing our behinds off in Baltimore

  15. No special plans…DS3 has no school next week so DW is taking him on some college visits and they’re leaving Sunday afternoon. By way of VD dinner, I’d like to grill something nice for dinner tomorrow but the temp is forecast to be about 0 (f) and I may wimp out on that. Sunday morning she and I will probably exchange a bit of candy and a card, celebrate the day, then make a nice breakfast/brunch for the 3 of us.

    Sometimes I agree with the article that said we live in parallel lives. I think that happens to couples every so often, especially if any kids are old enough to be essentially self-sufficient, so there are times when days can go by without having to really solve stuff together / work as a team. Everyone knows their roles, schedules for stuff, there’s more time at home and we’re not frantic about getting this kid there, making sure that kid gets to bed on time, oh! shit! today’s trash day and I don’t have time this morning to get it all down to the curb because ________. Sure we still talk…what do you want/need when I go grocery shopping? Hey, can you stop and get cash from the atm on the way home? The perennial…can you just pick up something we’ll all like for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking? I guess it’s good that we can be on autopilot a bit; but it’ll be boring quickly if it becomes an all the time thing.

    I, like anon, have been thinking about ways to keep that from becoming the status quo in the not too distant future.

  16. DH and I have done day dates where we quietly take most of the day off, have lunch, have checked into a nice hotel…like having an affair, it was….quite exciting. For us, we need to get away from home and work….

  17. Day dates can be the best, Louise! Like LfB, when I find that we’re in a rut, or I find that I’m way too interested in conversation outside of my marriage in a way that feels healthy, I aim to turn it back into the marriage. Set a date, plan an outing, find a funny movie to watch over a bottle of wine. Inevitably it’s when we are running in parallel like roommates and not really connecting that we get snippy with one another or just plain bored. It can take a conscious effort to remember that this is a normal cycle, and it usually means we just need more fun together and less of the ever–growing list of responsibilities.

  18. I think valentine’s day is stupid. And I have since I was a kid. You want to tell me you love me? Try one of the other 364.25 days of the year. I’m a grouch. DH is lucky in that respect.

    That last article hit the nail on the head. DH and I will be married 10 years in April (together for 17). We’ve known each other half our lives. Surprises aren’t huge – they are pieces of candy we pick up while out, hugs out of no where, and the best words ever “I’ll go deal with him, you go back to sleep” when referring to either our ancient dog getting up for the 4th time that night to go to the bathroom or the screaming baby down the hall, or both.

    Louise – I like your style… I think I can convince DH of that plan…

  19. I love your idea! We have taken day off and done lunch etc, but never checked into a hotel! Sounds exciting! It’s on my list now!

  20. I wish we were more relational and romantic, but after spending the first three years of marriage unsuccessfully fighting that battle, I’ve given up. The children phase of marriage is largely what I hoped. Usually, I just get a card for Mr WCE (we save each other’s cards) but this year, I got him a rose at Legoland and plan to make an accompanying card that says, “Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team.”

    This year is hectic for us, with a new baby, too many random days off school, and long trips to Europe on a constantly changing schedule. On the bright side, neither of us has terminal cancer, and I know our schedule will not always be this tough. I often think about my paternal grandparents, who had a baby 10 months after marriage and had kids at home for the next 27 years, then spent 38 years living their lives as a couple. Marriage is about the life you build- and then hopefully remember- together. I’ve never thought about the high of a new relationship, probably because Mr WCE was my first serious relationship.

  21. My husband and I frequently take days off of work to have day long dates; we have checked into a hotel, seen a movie, shopped, ate, drank, etc.-whatever we feel like. It is great because the kids are at their usual places (no babysitter issues, scheduling changes, etc.), and we come home refreshed, rejuvenated and reminded what brought us together in the first place. It really is something we look forward to, and we try to do so every couple of months.

  22. Our lives are probably more parallel than what might work for other couples, but I think it suits us fine.

    We have a bar/restaurant about a block away that is our go-to place to have little celebrations, so we may go have a drink there on Sunday. Plus chocolate/flowers/cards are usually nice to have. If I’m feeling ambitious I may make this Hot Fudge Cake. I bought some vanilla ice cream today.

  23. We are eagerly awaiting the kids’ school trip to DC next month – five days alone for us. The last time we had that much kid-free time together was about 7 years ago when we went to Mexico for 5 days.

  24. So am I a horrible parent that I’m quite OK with leaving Baby Rhode and getting away for a night/day/weekend? We went to the White Mountains in August and had a blast. And I just asked DH if we could get away again this spring/summer.

    As much as our lives revolve around DS, DH and I still need to have a marriage after he (and his hypothetical siblings) fly the coop.

    It’s the lack of attachment I feel that makes me scared that I’m not *enough* of a parent. I guess the snot stains on my clothes, going to work with spit up on my pants, and the excess baggage under my eyes aren’t enough?

  25. Rhode-perfectly normal to feel OK with leaving baby! in fact I think parents SHOULD do so to keep themselves sane/re-connect. I referenced the day dates, because my mom provides our fulltime daycare for 40 hours a week (ages 1,2,8), and asking her to do so for vacations or long weekends would be tough (she would do it, but I would feel guilty). If I had someone willing to watch the kids for small getaways, I definitely would do it more, and I am looking forward to the days when they will be easier to manage so me and DH can plan some trips. We have a whole list ready to get to, once we have the time.

  26. DW and I have only had a few days alone since DS was born; they’ve always been days when we we both had days off work when the kids still had their normal daytime activity (sitter/preschool/school). Once, before DD was born, while DS was at the sitter, we spent the day at the water park.

    DW really likes doing things as a family, especially travel, so with DS’ leaving the nest looming, we’ve been doing a lot more than in the past. We took ski trips the last two winters, largely driven by her, and she’s already planned a trip leaving the day after school ends. She’s also talking about taking a second trip in August, and has a suddenly heightened interest in DS’ college search, regularly asking him if he wants to visit any colleges this summer.

    I think we are in for a big adjustment as the kids leave, on top of which I may retire shortly after DD graduates from HS, depending on my job situation and whether I will need to work to help pay DD’s tuition.

  27. “DS3 has no school next week so DW is taking him on some college visits and they’re leaving Sunday afternoon”

    And of course we will be eagerly awaiting a report of those visits.

  28. Rhode, I remember visiting my brother not long after he’d had his first (I was still single). It went something like this (I stopped by early in the afternoon):

    SIL: Hi Finn. Nice to see you. Do you have any plans for this afternoon and tonight?

    Me: Hi. No, no plans.

    SIL: Can you watch [our daughter] for a little while? [Brother] and I need to run some errands.

    Me (slowly): OK, but I’ve never cared for a baby before…

    SIL: Thanks. Diapers are next to the playpen, there’s milk in the fridge. Help yourself to anything in the fridge. (to brother) OK, Finn will watch daughter, let’s go. (to me) Bye, thanks for watching daughter!

    And they were out the door. I didn’t even have a chance to chat with my brother before they were gone, and I had no clue how care for an infant.

    I think SIL really, really needed a break. She is an only child, her mom was in poor health so her dad was worn out caring for her, and my brother didn’t have parents or sibs nearby.

    Moral of the story: don’t feel bad, it’s normal to need a break from caring for a young kid.

  29. On the topic of college visits – a coworker has a daughter that will be heading off to directional state u in the Fall. Last fall I heard all about the college visits the daughter took. Some, if not most, seemed to be an all day visit/tour with the parent in tow. Fast forward to today, daughter is accepted, and will now be doing an all day orientation program next week (on a school day) that parents also attend. This orientation is specifically for those in her declared major. Is this parent involvement that the college is encouraging the norm? It seems so not worthwhile, especially the one next week. Why would the parent need to be involved in the specifics of a major? Am I just naive about this? I’m many years away from my kids going to college, so it really isn’t on my radar. Just curious. And, back in my day, I didn’t even do an official college visit. Just applied, was accepted, and then went to a 2 day orientation in July (without parents), before showing up for college in Sept.

  30. Finn, I’ve never been that bad. Close, but not that bad.

    Nyx, my mom is also our full time daycare. I always feel guilty asking for more, but she offers! WTH?? So then I feel guilty, like she’s offering because she knows I’ll crack, and that she really hates watching our kid… and it’s a rabbit hole of wacky and deranged thoughts. We also only have the one right now, and for the most part, he’s an easy kid. She offered when we went to the White Mountains.

    I think I may convince DH we need a Jersey shore weekend in early June… we can drop DS off with his folks on Friday and pick him up on Sunday. We get our time away, and my mom gets a break.

    I think because I’m an only from a dysfunctional family (real, not sarcastic), and DH is 4 out of 5, our views of marriage are skewed. Mine was – we are together for the kid and tax breaks. His was – we are married because we’re Catholic. That is all. So, keeping our marriage together has been interesting – we don’t have good role models.

    I figure if we are friends at the end of this, even if it’s not romantic love ala the movies, we’ll be OK. And I think I’d be OK with parallel lives – is being roommates that horrible? But we’ve always led parallel lives of a sort – we’ve always worked a lot, so our “us” time has always been small. There was a whole year where we were ships passing in the night due to my grad school schedule and his work schedule.

  31. Lauren, we met DS’ college counselor last week. Among other things, she told us that a lot of kids from DS’ school go to college sight unseen; IIRC, it was something like a third.

    Of course, sight unseen these days is a lot different than in our days, and they usually take virtual tours and use Google Earth, Street view, etc.

    Seniors taking time from school for college is usually later in the year, after getting acceptance letters, then visiting colleges to which they are accepted to help choose.

  32. Lemon,
    Orientation at college is pretty much a family affair at many colleges these days, maybe as a result of demand from parents. Our kids’ colleges had sessions for parents (including topics like are you a helicopter parent?) but parents were prohibited from attending advising and most of the sessions for the students. DH went. I didn’t go because I knew DH would hang back and let DS navigate everything, whereas I might be tempted to be all up in his business. It worked out for us.

  33. Finn – I can see how in your region most kids go to college sight unseen. The expense for college visits could get out of hand very quickly.

    I can barely keep up with the emails I get from teaches/school/school district for my 1st grader. The idea of being so involved in going to college seems exhausting. Perhaps by the time 12th grade rolls around I’ll be a helicopter parent and will be on the college visit to purchase the condo I’ll move into so I can bethisclose. :)

  34. Lemon: It depends on the college. If I had visited before, I would not stay for orientation. If it was my first time on campus, I might want to take a tour to see where all my money was going.

  35. Lemon, I went to a college orientation with my daughter because they had specific parent sessions. Once I got there and saw what they were I didn’t feel like I needed them and she didn’t feel like she needed me to be there, so I ditched by around 10 AM. When I was trying to go back to the hotel one of the workers stopped me, thinking I was trying to sneak off and stalk my child. I kept laughing while trying to convince her I was really leaving. Apparently, that’s not done.

  36. Should we have a post on Monday, President’s Day?

    I thought we would, but now I’m wondering if most people will not be around.

  37. Lemon,
    Part of the reason that colleges provide orientation programs for parents is to keep them away from the students’ orientation sessions. Our university actually makes that quite explicit. And with regard to parental involvement in curriculum decisions, this is an expensive school, and parents intend to get their money’s worth. DH’s department offers an event for families during orientation weekend that I sometimes attend, and I’ve been part of a number of conversations with very intense parents who want to be sure that their kids will get a job when they graduate.

  38. All very interesting. I can see how parents would want to see where their money is going.

    Back on topic, isn’t it par for the course to live parallel lives when you are deep in the trenches of childrearing?

  39. Rhode — re. your “is being roommates that horrible” question: My feeling is, if a way of life works for one’s spouse and oneself, then it’s fine. My feeling (both with respect to this issue and with others) is that well, maybe something wouldn’t work for 97% of the people out there, but if you’re one of the 3% for whom it does work, then you’re good!

  40. DH and I are lucky…every time we spend time together alone we want to spend more time together alone! We are also lucky to both work from home 1-2 days/week so we can get alone time and usually go out to lunch together. We have been away from the kids for days only a few times, plenty of dinner dates but we only started doing more overnights when I was no longer nursing, so we only got one of those in between #1 and #2 and then #2 and #3. We are going to a wedding in April sans kids, and I can’t wait to SLEEP LATE all weekend!

    DH only did the Valentine gift thing for the first few years – he is not a gift person at all. So now we just try to have more alone time and if I want flowers or chocolate I buy them for myself. :)

  41. Lemon,
    my two kids’ colleges had orientation for parents. probably for the reason Scarlett says.

    I find it so interesting/funny/sad. Really. Or maybe I’m just the stereotypical dad of boys and because I went to 3 colleges (my real undergrad where I have a degree from, my junior year abroad university in a foreign language, and my grad school) sight unseen pre-internet I figure “How hard can this be?” to find food, bookstore, student health office, gym, classrooms, library, sign up for intramurals or other clubs, bursar, an atm, whatever after (the kid) goes thru orientation. Let’em grow up. That’s the objective, right?

    DW did the drop-offs for their freshman years and went to the parent orientations. She was glad for them but she’s also the mom and she’s waaaay more helicopter than I am.

  42. “Back on topic, isn’t it par for the course to live parallel lives when you are deep in the trenches of childrearing?”

    Hmm… Perhaps one reason DW and I are usually tired and sleep-deprived is that we dual thread a lot of things.

  43. I hope DH does the drop offs for college. That’s one thing I’m happy to delegate.

    I am more helicopter than DH, but we balance each other out.

  44. I never want to go back to that sort of early romantic love where I had a physical ache in my chest from longing and that fear that my exposed heart was going to be fed to a wood chipper.. I feel in love with my first husband when I was 17 and I’m too old for that stuff. I fell for DH at 50 and we had a lot of teenaged aspects to our early dating even at that age, but I didn’t decide to marry him until there was that moment when I woke up and realized that I was “home” with him, really for the first time in my life. My mom and first husband never could stop letting me know that I didn’t quite measure up.

    I bought this card for him for our anniversary, which is not long after Valentine’s Day.

    I am busy making the duck noodle soup for our fancy meal later tonight. Unfortunately, I chose the authentic Thai recipe and just burned my lips on the chili vinegar dipping sauce (which is now down the drain).

  45. What’s your favorite romantic movie? Mine is either To Have and Have Not or Philadelphia Story, despite the fact that the latter is so right-wing it makes Mussolini look like Bernie Sanders. But Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant! Sigh.

  46. My daughter would send the fully armed battalion valentine if she had someone in mind, but afaik the only thing on her mind this weekend is the district Science Fair.

  47. To Have and Have Not is one of my faves as well, but I always found it hot rather than romantic. Lauren Bacall was 19.

    The broth, duck meat and noodles were fantastic, but the composed dish did not come together to my satisfaction. DH loved it, however, and now I have a container of tasty broth in the freezer in place of the duck. Finn – it is not complicated, but I started with an uncooked duck, not a roasted duck from the Chinese market, so I did the basic broth yesterday, and I also make my own noodles. I have the time and it gives me pleasure to do so.

  48. I travelled thousands of miles to come to grad school in my early twenties. I was met at the airport by the friend of a friend who found me at baggage claim. I stayed at his place for the night. Next morning, we went to a department store and I bought things like comforter, sheets, pillow and shower caddy. Later in the day, I was dropped off with two suitcases at my almost empty dorm as students we yet to move in. As I sat on the bed that night, I felt very lonely and for the first time it dawned on me as to how far I was from home.

  49. Favorite romantic movie, A Walk in the Clouds, despite not liking Keanu Reeved as an actor. And the scenery is beautiful.

  50. Thanks HM. I was not familiar with the expression. And thanks again, Louise, for the suggestion.

  51. Romantic movies – I love IQ, Sleepless in Seattle, and Sliding Doors. But I can’t stand hearing about Meg Ryan and Gwenth Paltrow outside of their movies. They are very annoying celebs.

  52. @Rhode – wanting to have a weekend away once in awhile makes you absolutely normal! :)

    We try to have alone time regularly – we do a lot of lunch dates since we work near each other. That is great – we have so much more energy at noon than we do at 9pm after DS is asleep, so we have some great talks then.

    I loved the last article too. I mean, my life is pretty charmed (good health, nothing but first world problems and all that jazz), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a grind a lot of times to just get through your normal work/school day. I’m not expecting romance all the time – I’d rather have someone who will alternate emptying the dishwasher with me without whining about it and who will listen to my work rants and bad jokes. (And I will do the same in return.) Not to mention when Game of Thrones level gore hits the house by way of a stomach bug or something. Haha. There’s a lot to be said in a marriage about being good roommates along with the other stuff. Compatibility is important.

  53. @COC – I bet it would be fine to keep this post going for Monday or to have an open thread. Lots of people off school/work. Save the meaty topic for another time

  54. “but the composed dish did not come together to my satisfaction”

    Meme – I would have liked to be there to taste it. My family often tries new dishes. We do sort of a review to see what worked and what didn’t. Most often the cook is hardest on themselves but everyone else likes the dish. My Mom, made a Moroccan Lamb Tagine – it was excellent and a great dish for the winter. Since you don’t mind making more involved dishes, I am posting it. I think you get tagine spice mix at WF which saves measuring out individual spices.

  55. You know, I got dropped off at college and Mom, Dad, and Sis drove away, and I found my way around and got registered and so on. But I was also as depressed and scared as I’ve ever been in my life. So I’m not going to say it’s all bad to have parents there for awhile.

    My stepson, on the other hand, was completely done with all of us at age 18 and kicked all of us to the curb as soon as his clothes were moved up to the dorm room.

  56. If I had a trusted family member willing to watch my kids for a long weekend away, I would be scheduling them as often as said family member offered. Nothing wrong with that!

    We are going out for Valentine’s Day. We usually do. I like to go out and it is a good reason to make reservations.

  57. We are enjoying some free time this weekend because DD is attending a bday party that is a sleepover. We went to dinner and a movie. It still feels like a treat because we can leave her alone during the day for an hour or so, but we need a babysitter if we want to go to a movie at night.

    We have the sleepaway camp “honeymoon” every summer, and I can not believe this is going to be her 4th summer at camp. Last summer doesn’t count since it was during the construction and it was easily the worst four months of our marriage as every evening was a discussion about the problems from the day.

    We don’t exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day. Just some cards, but I did buy movie sized boxes of favorite candy for DD and DH. I think we will be hiding in our home since it is supposed to be so cold. We are home for this week’s February break, and that seemed like such a smart financial decision when we made that plan on a 70 degree Christmas day thinking that this winter isn’t so bad.

  58. Speaking of doing things separately, my travel company just sent me a note about their new Iceland trip – da bomb – a full tour of the island excluding Reykjavik for the experienced traveler. A bit too much for DH, even though he won’t admit it, but not the unique icy adventure that was Greenland. I broached the subject gently of my going solo and it was clear that he would be hurt to an unacceptable extent and my experience with depressives is that in that case things will go badly while you’re away. He is even balking at my flying to NoCal solo for a weekend later this year to see DS in a play, when I know that all the cross country travel would be a strain on him and anyway, I just want to go by myself. I’ll prevail on that one and the time away is short. We have full individual lives at home with separate activities, but when we travel together (we plan on two-three trips a year) it is special and renewing for us as a couple.

  59. We are in the stages of planning a trip to Napa for our 20th anniversary. I am not the most romantic person, but I am looking forward to this trip.

  60. We’ve apparently done enough travel over the last couple of years to get on the list for some high-end travel catalogs, like the Nat Geo expeditions one and some outfit that takes you around the world by private jet with expert guides. They are very expensive, and sound very nice. So that has us daydreaming about ‘someday when kids are through college.’ I can see that the Nat Geo version of trips we’ve done on our own costs about three times as much per person per day, but I suppose the premium is more worth it to have them arrange everything for your travel through Southeast Asia or somewhere versus in the U.S.

    Speaking of travel, it occurred to me reading this discussion that the bonding as a family you get from doing special excursions together (from the day out somewhere at home to the multi-week trip) somewhat replaces the couple bonding you get from such things pre-kid. The couple bonding is still in there, but as just one part of the whole-family dynamic. I’m talking about when kids are old enough that your whole schedule doesn’t have to revolve around making sure that child A gets his nap on time and child B gets to the potty regularly — traveling with small children doesn’t do much for bonding other than in the sense that you feel like you’ve been through the wars together.

  61. HM, my colleagues asked about our family trip to CA and I described my role as “supplies and logistics” and Mr WCE’s as “navigation”.

  62. ” traveling with small children doesn’t do much for bonding other than in the sense that you feel like you’ve been through the wars together”

    Haha! So true. We are at the point now where family trips are genuinely fun family bonding experiences most of the time. Less logistics, more options, etc. Last summer was our first urban sightseeing family trip to a non-kid destination & it was a great success. At 7, he was old enough to stay up late when needed, could go to some events/shows, could go to decent restaurants, had fun seeing some museums/sights and tolerated others well enough for us to enjoy. We should think about a longer trip (e.g., Europe) in th next few years I think.

    Our last such trip when he was 2 was a disaster. We were bitter about spending afternoons & evenings sitting in a hotel while he slept, but the day we pushed it – he had multiple epic meltdowns & we couldn’t really sightsee anyway. We got the suite so at least we weren’t sitting in the dark texting each other (which we had to do when traveling for a family wedding when he was a toddler). I don’t miss those kind of trips.

  63. It will be interesting to see if Obama waits to see if Hilary’s promise/bribe of nominating him to the Supreme Court keeps Obama from nominating anyone who could get through the senate.

  64. There isn’t any recent precedent for leaving the seat vacant for a full year. Early in 1988, the last year of Reagan’s term, Kennedy was confirmed by a Democratic Senate, although he was nominated before Christmas. The talking heads will spend a lot of hot air analyzing the political strategy around the confirmation or blocked confirmation, but it is not clear whether any of that will affect the voters other than confirming their already formed views.

  65. I hope to go in a manner similar to Scalia– full intellectual function right to the end, and not burdening his kids with LTC issues. Well, a day or two to say goodbyes and make sure the family knows the passwords to my accounts.

  66. Saw this on Twitter:

    Stick with me: Obama nominates himself. Congress leaps at chance to remove O. Biden becomes POTUS, runs as incumbent. HRC gets steak knives.

    Meme, I’m not criticizing your situation at all but your comment made me think of when the attached-at-the-hip couple insinuated that because another couple sometimes vacation apart it indicates they don’t love each other as much. (This same person has also basically said that the amount of Christmas decorating a family does correlates to how important Christmas is to them.)

  67. CoC – It is so tough when people make comments like that. I can recall on TOS the passionate assertions that separate bank accounts were a red flag for lack of trust and eventual divorce. Everybody has a different marital deal, and as long as there is not abuse whose business is it. However, on Fridays I now play bridge with a recent widow (49 years married) on the day she used to play with her husband. (He actually died at a Thursday bridge game at another club with one of his guy partners.) That is not somebody to whom I would whine about not being able to travel alone, at least not for another year.

    As a dyed in the wool liberal, I am frequently astonished when totebaggers share the political facebook/twitter/news feed items that come across the screens of those of a more rightward persuasion. We really do live in a country in which there are two or more very different mirrors in which events and national figures are viewed – all of them likely funhouse mirrors, but most of the time we consider the one we favor to be a true reflection.

  68. Meme,

    Why are you astonished that some totebaggers lean conservative?

    I just chased my handle. Last week’s posting made me uncomfortable about how identifiable I made myself.

  69. Rocky, you referred to my kids horrifying school situation and I made the dancing on the grave comment

  70. Cordelia – I think meme’s comment is saying that she is sometimes taken aback in those situations by the realization of just how isolated we can get from the other side, politically.

    I’m a bit surprised that so many are saying that the Senate shouldn’t even consider an Obama nominee for the next 11 months. Not just “Consider it, of course, but we’ll definitely make sure that whoever it is will not be legislating from the bench, or a threat to religious liberty; we want someone who represents the views of all Americans…”

    It’s “Nope. We’ll wait this one out. Don’t bother in an election year.”

    I wonder if the reaction and maneuvering would be different if it had been Ginsburg.

  71. RMS

    We were in a similar financial and emotional place as the couple profiled ten years ago. We watched friends and neighbors quit. We talked about quitting, but couldn’t get anyone to lease the ranch. Her article rings true, but I am wary of the solution I fear she is obliquely suggesting.

  72. Milo,

    I too was surprised at the talk of not nominating a Supreme Court justice. I have no respect for Obama and think he is a terrible president, but he is the president and appoint Supreme Court justices is his responsibility.

    I understand meme’s point about the funhouse mirrors. The ag community seems to have finally woken to the reality that we need to communicate with the other 98 percent of the country. As part of my own blindness is the lack of realization about how isolated the differing factions are from each other.

  73. couldn’t actually tell what solution she was suggesting.

    That the public should be willing to pay more for responsibly raised food. How to get them to do that is another question.

  74. Rhett, I interpreted her conclusion to be that we need to increase farm subsidies:

    One thing remains for sure: if, as a society, we don’t prioritize the health, wellbeing, and financial solvency of our farmers, we will lose them by the droves—along with all of their precious resources, talent, and skill—and the kinds of food only a farmer who loves his work can provide.

    This is another of those individual filters we all have. I take her call for “as a society” to mean government intervention.

  75. Meme, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with separate vacations at all. Sometimes people – even married couples – have different interests, and if you’re going to spend the money and time to take a big trip, you don’t want it to be a series of compromises.

  76. Cordelia – Milo explained what I was trying to say. One of the reason I love this site is that I get to converse daily with people I would never meet otherwise but would enjoy knowing – people from other regions, political views, ages, backgrounds. I actively avoid political communications/spam from anyone, including members of my like minded community. The level of personalized disgust/hatred/suspicion that is exhibited toward specific individuals in politics and often toward their supporters by those who are on one of the various opposing sides is always a surprise to me.

    Scalia was willing to legislate from the bench when it suited him. I am not a constitutional scholar, but I was taught that the Bill of Rights was intended to limit government power and among other things grant freedom of speech, religion, and assembly to natural persons. The extension to artificial corporate persons in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby doesn’t sound like strict constructionism to me.

  77. DD and CoC – I wish I could take a physically active vacation by myself. I have no views that say it shows a lack of love and it would certainly be within my rights to push for it. But it is clearly not a realistic option given my DH’s overall situation, and the fact that his local son is not willing to be responsible to check in on him frequently while I am away.

  78. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with separate vacations at all. Sometimes people – even married couples – have different interests, ”

    Completely agree. I like (love) going to baseball games…doesn’t really matter which teams are involved (e.g –a bit inside baseball, so skip for most–went to an Arizona vs Cincinnati game a couple of years ago when we were in Cinci. (1) I wanted to see the Cincy Ballpark having never been (2) I wanted the chance to see Aroldis Chapman pitch in person. Check and check. I did not care who won). DW will go if her team is involved. So the boys and I went. Everyone had a great time. Sometimes I have taken just one kid and gone to Toronto for a whole weekend series. DW goes away with her book club. No issues.

    And I think Obama needs to nominate and the senate dutifully execute, with all deliberate speed, their role in the confirmation process. In some regard, I want Obama making the choice rather than Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Rubio, Cruz. Kasich would be ok, but I don’t think he’ll be around much longer.

  79. “ I think meme’s comment is saying that she is sometimes taken aback in those situations by the realization of just how isolated we can get from the other side, politically.”

    Did the Tweet I posted illustrate how isolated one side is from the other? I don’t see how, but its meaning may have gone over my head. (Not the first time this has happened!). I took it to be a funny/sarcastic remark in the context of information I’ve seen discussed and seemingly known by individuals of different political persuasions — rumors of Obama’s yearning to be a Supreme Court justice, his supposed ego and focus on his legacy, Biden’s lingering wish to be president, HRC’s campaign problems, etc. The opinions on these issues may differ partly based on political leanings, of course.

  80. RMS, I took her suggestion to be some form of govt intervention into ag markets. However, artificially increasing profits to farmers, tends to imply either a direct subsidy to farmers, in that case, how do you decide who gets the subsidy? Does everyone get to be a farmer? How do you decide who is one? Or somehow increasing the prices farmers receive, which implies some form of supply control. Increasing prices tends to hurt poor people.

    I have only ever been able to come up with one reason for ag subsidies:
    The government uses us as a foreign policy tool, e.g. Soviet grain embargo. If our livelihood are subject to the whims of foreign policy, then it is reasonable to provide some form of support.

    If the author was cling for a reduction in regulations and the associated costs, I could support that, but I didn’t see that all.

  81. Cofc

    I thought the tweet was funny, sarcastic and dead on. I am also a conservative. Meme, could you explain what took you aback about that tweet?

    Regarding separate vacations. I don’t want to, but I don’t really have any passions. There are times on family vacations that I will bow out of an activity because of my physical limitations, but I would hate if the rest of the crew had to miss something just because I couldn’t do it.

  82. ” In some regard, I want Obama making the choice rather than Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Rubio, Cruz. Kasich would be ok, but I don’t think he’ll be around much longer.”

    +1. I am conservative, but I’ve admired Obama and many of his decisions as president.

  83. DH loves to ski and I don’t like the cold, so I am happy to bow out and let him go skiing alone or with friends. I am happy, and he is happy. I love our vacations as a family, though.

  84. Cordelia, for what it’s worth, my reading on that tweet wasn’t that it was somehow offensive, just that it was a hugely implausible scenario.

  85. Isn’t american agricultural industry one of the most subsidized industries? Apparently the subsidized farms are not growing more food other than corn, soy, wheat etc, and have created an unnatural surplus of those crops in the world. These practices and the strong Ag lobby has taken away livelihood from farmers in other countries who cannot compete in sheer volume, nor recieve such generous subsidies. The USA through its soft power in turn enforces sanctions against countries who don’t purchase this excess agricultural product from us to the detriment of their own farmers! So yeah, American farmers are not really playing on a level field here.

    So I have no sympathy for the whining! Those of us who prefer to eat real organic food already pay more for our purchases.

  86. RMS, your article reminded me why I never wanted to be a small farmer. Only large farms are economically viable, due to capital requirements and regulatory/compliance costs. Planting, weeding and harvesting need to be automated unless people are willing to pay a “living wage” (that accounts for the seasonality of the work and medical expenses) to those who do that work.

    They money quote is this, in my opinion: “One thing remains for sure: if, as a society, we don’t prioritize the health, wellbeing, and financial solvency of our farmers, we will lose them by the droves—along with all of their precious resources, talent, and skill—and the kinds of food only a farmer who loves his work can provide.”

    The reason only 1% of the population is involved in agriculture is because most of us would rather enjoy the fruits of automation than weed and harvest, or pay a living wage to those who do. Food from a farmer that loves his work tastes surprisingly like food planted, weeded and harvested mechanically. Given my previous comments on “Why would I peel and cut carrots to put into soup when I can get largely the same thing by dumping in carrot coins?”, no one is surprised by my affinity for automation in agriculture.

  87. They money quote is this, in my opinion: “One thing remains for sure: if, as a society, we don’t prioritize the health, wellbeing, and financial solvency of our farmers, we will lose them by the droves—along with all of their precious resources, talent, and skill—and the kinds of food only a farmer who loves his work can provide.”

    It could be that we simply have too many farmers producing too much food, which keeps prices too low for many of the farms to make money.

  88. Sometimes food from a farmer who loves his work is mechanically planted, tended and harvested.

  89. I would bet that the solar industry is more heavily subsidized than ag.

    Unnatural surplus, hell yes and thank G*d. Natural conditions involve periodic famine.

    GATT, NAFTA, and various other trade agreements encourage free trade and reduction of tariffs, which generally benefits consumers. Producers can suffer from freer trade. There is no level playing field. Japan and the EU use their regulatory structure to keep out GMO products and other products their consumers might prefer, so does China.

    Organic, E. coli, potato, potahto

    Organic costs more because it costs more to produce.


    Cordelia, I don’t know what you are talking about! But I am talking about one of the hot issues in G20 and the WTO enforcement of trade rules internationally. What I am saying is that how the outsized subsidies received by American farmers is driving farmers around the world loose their livelihoods and often lives. Framing the result as “yay! see, we all get to eat more food” is disingenuous.

  91. I am still on my quixotic chicken quest. The super market air chilled chicken was a fail, so we went to WF for their store brand air chilled chicken and also picked up some sort of French air chilled chicken. They don’t seem to carry and water cleaned chicken. We bought a few locally grown sweet potatoes, and big beets and parsnips but other than that I find our regular grocery store (now owned by Kroger) has a lot of the unusual products previously found only at WF. I still have to go to a Publix, there isn’t one near us but they have opened several stores in our area. We don’t have the famous Wegmans.

  92. What is your favorite chcolate ? I see so many niche brands of dark chocolate but I haven’t liked any. I did like the Lindt bars which became available in grocery stores a few years ago. In the meanwhile a local chocolate place opened not far from home. Now I pay a lot more but love their chocolate. Yep, another one of my taste tests.

  93. What is your favorite chocolate ?

    See’s! Best balance between taste and price.

  94. ] His father was a professor of mathematics at the University of Kansas, and his mother taught at the Kansas City Art Institute and later worked at the University of Kansas computer science department.

    He is the totebag candidate!

  95. Louise…yeah you can’t drive regularly to Cary where Wegmans has announced they’re opening a store.

  96. @Rhett –
    “Srinivasan graduated from Lawrence High School in Lawrence, where he played basketball, sharing the court with future NBA star Danny Manning.[8]”
    This is makes him not so totebaggy or maybe an effort to correct his then lack of social skills :-).

    @Fred – I want to whine and complain that we as a city get no respect as far as store openings are concerned…we waited an eternity just to get a WF and H&M here.

  97. “ my reading on that tweet wasn’t that it was somehow offensive, just that it was a hugely implausible scenario.”

    This implausibility is key to its humor IMO, specifically because of our current topsy-turvy presidential race.

    Here’s another tweet I ran across, this from a NYT editorial writer.

    Historians will one day pronounce the GOP’s treatment of Obama as what it is: An example of blatant, unadulterated racism.

    I believe it’s logical and proper for Obama to proceed with nominating a replacement, but I don’t know if we should be shocked by the reactions of his loyal opposition. After all, Obama is the First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee.

    The Scalia death adds another element of implausibly to the current strange political landscape, bringing to mind the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction” and making me wonder if even our own gifted totebag writers could have penned such a story. A key, larger than life SCJ unexpectedly dies in a remote west Texas desert location. He expires with a pillow over his head, no autopsy, and declared dead over the phone by a county judge named Cinderela.  The list of potential who-done-its could be pulled from those who would benefit the most from pending court cases that may now go in the opposite direction.

  98. “After all, Obama is the First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee.”

    Similarly, his vote as a senator against raising the debt ceiling came back to haunt him, and kept his rhetoric in check when the tables were turned.

  99. If Srinivasan makes it to the Supreme Court it will be the bane of Indian American kids ;-). Their parents are sure to tell them – if you can’t be President, look you can be a Supreme Court judge ! He He !

  100. Interesting to note that Melina Trump would be first foreign born first lady since Louisa Adams.

  101. I want Obama to nominate (and keep nominating, if necessary). I’m paying him to work a full 4-yr term…why do we think things should shut down with ~11months left?

    It really doesn’t work that way in private industry. People work until they quit (my experience in totebaggy office jobs).

  102. I don’t want Obama choosing a replacement for Scalia, but surely the GOP establishment could have achieved the same purpose under the radar.
    Are there any grownups left in Congress? Who elected them anyhow?

  103. Scarlett,

    I think they shot themselves in the foot with the “absolutely not” rhetoric:

    Sri Srinivasan
    D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan is perhaps the most attractive potential Supreme Court nominee for Obama if the goal is to put pressure on McConnell to allow a Senate confirmation vote. Nominated by Obama in June 2012, Srinivasan was confirmed in May 2013 by a unanimous, 97-0 vote.
    Democrats believe that unambiguous verdict on Srinivasan could make it awkward for McConnell to block a vote on his nomination.
    A nomination of Srinivasan, 48, to the high court would make history: he was born in India and would be the first Indian-American Supreme Court justice.
    Srinivasan is widely viewed as a moderate. He clerked for Republican-appointed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In a speech last October, Srinivasan seemed to relish maintaining stability in the law.

  104. I wonder if the republican candidates did shoot themselves in the foot with their rhetoric. Over the weekend, I have been pondering which is worse:

    The idea that a sitting president shouldn’t nominate a Supreme Court justice in his second term; or
    The reality that Obama will likely nominate someone with as little respect for the Constitution as he has.

    Clearly, the candidates should have said that they will wait and see who he nominates….blah, blah, blah. How dumb are they to issue a blanket deniall?

  105. The reality that Obama will likely nominate someone with as little respect for the Constitution as he has.

    Wouldn’t he nominate a moderate who is likely to get confirmed?

  106. Rhett,
    Well, maybe not. If an Obama appointment is inevitable, then perhaps pulling out the “absolutely not” rhetoric was aimed at getting someone palatable like Srinivasan rather than another Ginsburg.

    But perhaps I am giving them too much credit.

  107. The reality that Obama will likely nominate someone with as little respect for the Constitution as he has.

    We already had that guy. His name was Scalia. He appointed Bush president.

  108. The reality that Obama will likely nominate someone with as little respect for the Constitution as he has.

    Oh please. They all pick and choose their times when to “respect the constitution” and when to twist it to fit their own needs, even Scalia.

    Here’s John Oliver showing Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy on the Strom Thurmond rule –

  109. perhaps pulling out the “absolutely not” rhetoric was aimed at getting someone palatable like Srinivasan

    When Sri was confirmed by the Senate the conventional wisdom was he’d be Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee. That they spoke first and thought later seems like the most likely explanation.

  110. Meme,
    Ginsburg is definitely a Lady, even though Gentlemen seem to be scarce. I had the privilege of working for both Scalia and Ginsburg when they were judges on the D.C. Circuit. She seemed in some respects to be the older sister he never had — impeccably behaved and pretending to be appalled but secretly enjoying his antics. When they were on the same panel, the oral arguments were rarely boring, even when the legal issues were.

    Scalia often attended Mass at our parish, and his son Paul was pastor their for a few years. I can’t imagine what it must be like for his family to be coping with his sudden death amidst all of this partisan rhetoric. One would think that everyone could have waited till his burial to start fighting over his spot.

    And then there are his law clerks. Right in the middle of the best job they will have in years (or ever), and it’s all over.

  111. @Dell – I was at Whole Foods yesterday, and I saw that the Organic air chilled chicken breasts (boneless/skinless) is $9.99/lb. But the non-organic was $6.99. I usually but the non-organic. So that’s probably the disconnect.

    I think it’s absolutely ludicrous that on the day Scalia died, McConnell was making blanket pronouncements. This is what his supporters want??? Obama has almost a year left. He absolutely should nominate someone & it should be handled in good faith. But I just can’t believe that stomping feet and declaring that there is no possible compromise is acceptable right off the bat. Ridiculous. Can’t we at least pretend to have a functioning legislature? Who keeps voting for these clowns??

  112. “We already had that guy. His name was Scalia. He appointed Bush president.”

    Seven Supreme Court justices agreed that the recount Gore requested was an Equal Protection violation.


    In 2001, a consortium of news organizations, assisted by professional statisticians (NORC), examined numerous hypothetical ways of recounting all the Florida ballots. The study was conducted over a period of 10 months. The consortium examined 175,010 ballots that vote-counting machines had rejected. In each alternative way of recounting the rejected ballots, the number of additional votes for Gore was smaller than the 537-vote lead that state election officials ultimately awarded Bush. Under the strategy that Al Gore pursued at the beginning of the Florida recount — filing suit to force hand recounts in four predominantly Democratic counties — Bush would have kept his lead, according to the ballot review conducted by the consortium. Likewise, if Florida's 67 counties had carried out the hand recount of disputed ballots ordered by the Florida Supreme Court on December 8, applying the standards that election officials said they would have used, Bush would have emerged the victor by 493 votes.

  113. “Obama has almost a year left. He absolutely should nominate someone & it should be handled in good faith. But I just can’t believe that stomping feet and declaring that there is no possible compromise is acceptable right off the bat. Ridiculous. Can’t we at least pretend to have a functioning legislature? Who keeps voting for these clowns??”

    I’m going to guess that Lauren and ATM voted for one of these clowns…

    “Yeah, republicans are dancing on a dug, unfilled grave so to speak!”

    oh, I wouldn’t get too giddy and self-righteous.

    This is from July, 2007, when Bush had 18 months remaining in his term:

    New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a powerful member of the Democratic leadership, said Friday the Senate should not confirm another U.S. Supreme Court nominee under President Bush “except in extraordinary circumstances.

  114. I won’t miss Scalia on the bench, but I never wished death for him. Retirement would have been a-ok. Certainly, Democrats are thrilled at the idea that Obama may be able to come up with his replacement. Republicans are searching for a way to score points and are hoping for a chance to elect their own candidate and have *that* person come up with his replacement. There’s enough tactless dancing to go on both sides of the aisle.

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