Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What's in a (married) name?

I’m not afraid to get this in print; my husband is well aware and I’m pretty sure my in-laws know, too.

My married name -- I’m just not a big fan of it.

No, I’m not a hardcore feminist, and no, I’m not usually disrespectful of historical English customs.

It's just that I spent 25 years getting used to my maiden name, Puckett, and then all of a sudden, I have to sign checks, use a different monogram and answer to Hord. Talk about an identity crisis.

Oh, and I don’t like the asymmetry of my first name being longer than my last. I know -- it’s a weird reason, but hey, we’re talking about my name here.

Married women and some radical-thinking husbands nowadays have tough choices to make. There are so many options: keep your birth name, take your married name, hyphenate the two family names, make your maiden name your middle name … the list goes on.

I’ve listened to friends struggle with the decision. Everyone seems to have their reasons – some cite professional motivations for keeping the maiden name, others say their partners would refuse to marry if the married name wasn't embraced once the honeymoon’s over.

My husband falls into the latter. He wanted me to be honored to have his name; I am, and I was OK with the decision because I believe our marriage is about compromise.

Puckett will always be a part of me. He knows that and I know that. And, honestly, Hord is slowly (slothlike, I tell ya) growing on me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A friendship rediscovered

Over the past few weeks I've been getting to know someone who used to be very important to me: My best friend from high school.

It began on a whim. I was on the phone with a friend who has kind of served as the historian of our group (he got a master's in library science, along with a law degree -- yes, he's very handy). He's kept up with the marriages, kids, surgeries and job changes of our loose gang of band nerds. I asked if he'd come across information about my best friend, and he said he had. He even had a phone number for her, and he e-mailed it to me the next day.

When I saw the number I picked up the phone and dialed. I didn't even think about what I would say. She answered on the third or fourth ring.

Instead of a hello, I heard an exclaimed "Deirdre?" in a voice I remembered well. She always sounded as if she was on the verge of a giggle, and it was wonderful to hear that hadn't changed.

"Yeah, hi!" I responded as soon as I got over the shock. Caller ID, I reminded myself. We chatted for a few minutes, and it was as if a long weekend had passed, not almost 20 years.

We've been catching up on each other's lives via e-mail. In her first note to me she attached some photos she'd found in a high school yearbook. There was a school portrait we'd taken together, both of us wearing overalls and red-and-white striped T-shirts. There was a photo of us in a chorus line of friends doing a Rockettes-style kick -- well, all except for me, the brown string bean in the middle with huge glasses and an unmistakable expression: "No. I will NOT kick." Meanwhile, she was on the end, grinning huge and captured mid-kick -- the short white girl with the mop of unruly black hair that earned her the nickname "Frizz." While we were alike in many ways, physically, we were different as could be.

My friend wrote that she married the guy she brought to meet me during freshman year, before the distance of attending different colleges drew us apart. She and her husband run an animal rescue operation. She still lives in Alabama and sometimes sees people we went to high school with. She's still got that tart sense of humor that revealed itself as she mentioned former friends who still live with parents, and those who married for status, or money or both. She says she's happy, and that makes me very happy.

My friend talks about us getting together. The mutual pal who gave me her phone number has been saying the same thing. Next year is our (gulp!) 20-year high school class reunion, which would be a perfect time to gather the old gang. Or maybe I'll just drive down to my friend's corner of Alabama and spend time with her and her husband, play with their rescued animals and see if this feeling of suspended time lasts.

Either way, I'm glad I made that phone call.

Friday, November 16, 2007

He 'forgot' he's married

I recently answered a question from a reader and she e-mailed me with an update. A lot of women will be able to relate to her latest dilemma.

I decided to take your advice and get over Mr. New York. I met a guy that was handsome and seemingly available. He calls often (several times a day since we met). He recently opened a bar and invites me to hang out with him while he is working. I really like him and spent time with him as recently as yesterday. His phone kept ringing and he told me that he had something to take care of. Well, around 1 a.m. I received a text from his number and it read, “Just wondering do you know that man that you are so ready to see is my lying husband or r u the type that doesn’t care.” I was shocked and didn’t respond.

Why the hell is my luck sooooooo bad when it comes to men? Am I a loser magnet? And also, how could I not know that he was married? Why are men such inconsiderate pigs?

Women who have asked yourselves,
"why the hell is my luck sooooooo bad when it comes to men?" raise your hands.

See? You're not as alone as you might think!

You've got to change your way of looking at the situation. You are NOT a loser magnet. You are a man magnet. You're attractive and vivacious and you have that something that makes men want to know you better. The law of averages means there'll be some losers mixed in with the keepers. Just weed 'em out and keep going.

As for this dude, the reason you didn't know he was married was because he didn't tell you. (I think all married people should be required to wear a ring.)
Some people have no scruples when it comes to using others, whether it be for sex, or to get ahead at work, or just because they get off on being manipulative. What he did was low-down, and it was not your fault. Let me repeat: IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. You took him at his word, and his actions -- the phone calls, the invitations to hang out -- led you to believe he was available. Just be glad you didn't get more involved and move on.

About that text message from his wife -- why did she have to turn this into a "Cheaters" episode? It pisses me off when wives attack the Other Woman when they should be aiming that rage at their husbands. It's her man she has a problem with, not you! The fact she was on his phone lets us know he's done this before. Just send her a silent "thank you" and hope she drops the jerk.

You've gone through the wringer lately, so I suggest you take a dating break. That doesn't mean camping out on the couch and eating Ben & Jerry's while watching DVR'd episodes of "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila." Go to all the holiday parties looking fabulous. Flirt as much as you like, but don't stress about getting the digits of the hotties you meet. From now until the end of the year, just enjoy your friends and enjoy meeting new people and enjoy being you. There'll be plenty of time next year to play the dating game.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is your husband or wife gone all the time?

After reading some various dating and relationship community forums, I came across one topic we haven't discussed in We Can Relate: Spouses who are gone all the time.

Maybe he travels on business Monday through Friday, or she's a big-time executive who puts in 100 hours at the office or maybe he's in the Navy and is on a ship for a six-month stretch.

Either way, it has to be difficult to feel like you're in a true partnership and to handle a household when your spouse just isn't around. I think it's important to learn from others -- the lessons gained as well as the mistakes made.

So, let's hear how you handle your significant other being gone. Does it get any easier after years of dealing with the absence? Do you blame their job as a reason for your divorce? Have you had to make life-changing decisions to repair the relationship because he or she is never at home?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is he your 'type?'

Deirdre: I was at a party recently and was immediately drawn to one of the guests. He was funny, smart and sexy as hell. I'm looking for something serious, and he made it clear he's playing the field. So why couldn't I stay away from him?
Alisha: It's obvious. His "type" screams fun, spontaneity and danger. Did anything come of the encounter?
Deirdre: No, because I circulated like crazy until he left the party. Otherwise, I might've cornered him on the patio and done something I regretted (sort of). And that's what I mean -- I don't want a fling. I want a relationship! He was totally unsuitable for the latter.
Alisha: Typecasting can be unfair and hard to judge. What if that "player" at the party really isn't a player at all? I think it needs to be said not everyone totally fits into one "type," either. You have to get to know the person beyond the surface level.
Deirdre: Agreed, but if you are attracted to a certain "type" and you get to know them and you keep getting your heart broken, you know you're going after the wrong type.
Alisha: It's funny how we sometimes seek out the "types" that aren't really our "type." For example, I spent majority of my college days going to the beefcake dance clubs (ahem, BAR Charlotte) because I was attracted to the hot, Ken-doll types, but, I knew I'd never marry that type.
Deirdre: So what did you change when you were ready for something more ... concrete? Or did you change nothing and your man just sorta happened?
Alisha: You have to come to the realization if you're ever going to be satisfied, you need to seek out your type and stop chasing after the ones who just aren't.
Deirdre: What do you mean, "seek out your type"? You immersed yourself in Ken dolls! What did you do different?
Alisha: You have to be honest with yourself in what you want. I enjoyed looking at the Chippendale carbon copies, but that's all I wanted to do - look at them. I never really wanted to date or be in a long-term relationship with one.
Ah, I see what you mean. But my problem is, I keep meeting guys who have qualities I desire -- smarts, great sense of humor, confidence, consideration for others, and did I mention sexy? -- but they seem to be missing the commitment chip. So I guess the question would be, if you like a certain type, and it's not the marrying type, how do you turn your brain (and parts below the neck) in the other direction? Why do we keep trying to make people who are obviously not suited for long-term commitment into ... long-term commitments?
Alisha: Well, that and why do we desire those who are not our "type" if we know what our type is in the first place?
Deirdre: Yeah! Why? Why, Alisha? Oh, married one?
Alisha: Got me!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tribute to the families of the military

Let's not forget about Veteran's Day.

Now, let's also make sure we honor those who are the significant others of the men and women who are overseas serving our country. I cannot imagine my husband being gone for months on end, but every day there are thousands of wives who are feeding their kids in an empty house and thousands of husbands who spend countless holidays alone.

Sadly, it's easy to forget about those special loved ones left behind. Their personal battle is much different than their counterparts wearing combat gear, but it doesn't make the battle any easier.

Let's remember to honor the significant others of our servicemen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A reader's dating dilemma

A reader writes:

I had been dating a guy from New York -- I met him in Charlotte and he has visited several times since we met a couple of months ago. On his last visit a couple of weeks ago, he brought a friend with him and asked me if I could “hook” his friend up with one of my friends. I did this, but the two friends did not get along. The friend that I invited was rude, very demanding (so was his friend) and neither I nor my date enjoyed the weekend. After he left he began to criticize the relationship between my friend and myself, telling me that I let her run over me and that she did not have the right to act the way she did. I told him that I was just trying to keep the situation calm because her and his friend already didn’t get along. He acted like it was all my fault and we haven’t really been the same since.

My question is, at what point do you take responsibility for someone else’s actions? How can he blame me for what she did? I have been single for a long time and I really like this guy, but I don’t know if it is worth it if he is already starting to play mind games with me. What do you think?

I think ... the two of you are done. And I think you know it as well.

Now, it could be that this dude is tired of springing for airfare and is looking for an excuse to end it with you. But let's assume that he isn't, OK?

Here's the thing: When people are starting to build a relationship -- when it's going from "this person is fun to hang out with" to "should I clean out a drawer and let them leave a toothbrush?" -- they take harder looks at each other. They start to think about how this person will fit into their life.

You ask how the dude you're dating can blame you for your friend's actions (and we'll get back to her in a minute). It's called "guilt by association," sister. It shouldn't be that way, but there it is. But keep in mind that it works both ways -- you said his friend was rude as well. If your dude expects you to take responsibility for your pal, he should take some responsibility for his. Putting it all on you is a manipulative thing to do, and I'm so glad you recognize that.

As for your friend: What a crappy wingwoman she turned out to be! Never use her again, because she doesn't know how to behave. There are so many ways she could have handled the situation gracefully and she (and his friend too, for that matter) chose to act immaturely. While the dude you've been dating had no right to comment on your relationship with her, you have every right to examine your friendship, and decide if you are getting what you need out of it.

But let's get to what I think is the crux of this situation: "
I have been single for a long time and I really like this guy." I believe many women are willing to overlook problems in relationships because A) they convince themselves they're overreacting, or that they're the problem, B) the guy is hot, or rich, or good in bed, etc., and they don't want to give him up, or C) they'd rather have a man than be alone. Women are often so worried about doing what they can do to make the man like/want them that they aren't thinking about if they even like/want the man in question.

Bottom line: He dissed your friend. He dissed you for having her as a friend. He's thinking you might not be such a good fit in his life. So why try to force him into yours?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's OK to feel lonely

Lonely, definition by Merriam-Webster
1 a: being without company : lone b: cut off from others : solitary
2: not frequented by human beings : desolate
3: sad from being alone : lonesome
4: producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation

“One” by Harry Nilsson
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one

"No one would choose a friendless existence on condition of having all the other things in the world." – Aristotle

Loneliness is a feeling we’ve all encountered, and if you haven’t, well, you’re just plain lying to others and most importantly, yourself.

There’s a misconception that only single people can be lonely. You don’t have a date this Friday, you don’t have someone to call when you’ve had a bad day, you’re without a partner to throw the football to in the backyard, you go alone to the emergency room at 3 a.m. and you curl up in bed at night next to your dog.

But just because you have a significant other in your life who will do all of the aforementioned things, does not mean you cannot feel alone at times. You’re human. Admitting you’re lonely does not mean you’ve got problems in your marriage or that divorce is imminent. And it can be a fleeting experience or one that you carry for many years.

Obviously, there are varying levels. It’s hard to compare the feeling of being at home for the night while your spouse is out of town to the feeling one might get when your spouse believes you should handle the daughter’s punishment differently.

It all comes down to communicating to your spouse your feelings and then how you proceed to handle the issue together as well as inwardly.

Bottom line: It’s natural to feel lonely every now and then, no matter if you’re single or married.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Obviously, age isn't just a number

The Observer had a story a few days ago about how Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue has fibbed about her age for more than two decades, reportedly because it was important to her first husband.

Beverly Perdue was older than Gary Perdue, alright. But we're not talking about years here. The difference was in months. Perdue was born Jan. 14, 1947, but she has often listed the date as Jan. 14, 1948. The change allowed Gary Perdue, born Oct. 6, 1947, to appear older.

"At the time, in the early '70s, that issue was important to her husband and to the marriage. That's why she did that," said Perdue spokesman David Kochman.

This situation illustrates three points:

1. We've come a long way, baby. I spent a hour on the sofa yesterday watching a special on the 25 hottest celebrity "cougar" matches. Of course, the beauteous Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, with their age difference of 15 years, was the No. 1 couple. Today, a lie about an age difference of eight-and-a half months just seems silly.

2. Speaking of silly -- man, we do silly things for love! If seen through the eyes of love, perhaps such a request would seem romantic, and not as a salve for an insecure man's pride.

3. A "little" lie can come back to bite you on the booty years later. So why bother?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

She says I'm 'sweet' -- now what?

Here's a dilemma, from a male reader, that has got to rear its ugly head with almost every single guy out there:

If a woman I'm interested in is telling me I'm "sweet" and considers me an "absolute sweetheart" when we talk, does that mean ...

a) Thanks for being nice but I'm destined to be just a friend
b) She is giving me a "green light" to ask her out
c) Get lost, loser

This is a tough one for me to answer because I think guys who are really sweet are total keepers, but I do know women who will turn down a guy in just this manner, "He's so sweet, but he is such a slob and we'd never work out."

Your thoughts?