“Vomit Day” is my husband’s pet name for February 14. When I met him, he was about as cynical as one could imagine when it came to traditional ideas of romance. We’re both divorced, and I understood where he was coming from. There are all sorts of reasons why our cultural visions of romance need to be updated. I like the imagery, though. Anyone who gags at all the hearts and flowers that appear in February might remember that this is the shortest month, and it’s much less of a burden than 55 days of Christmas. The materialistic focus of selling the Perfect Families romance is precisely the same as that of selling the Perfect Couples romance.
Anyway, I thought I would round up some book titles that were really helpful for me in rewriting my idea of love relationships. I would not hesitate to say that if I had not read all of these, I wouldn’t be remarried today. Some have to do with processing bad patterns in communication and dating, while others have to do with getting along with one’s spouse/roommate.
The Solution-Oriented Woman, by Pat Hudson
Red Flags! by Gary S. Aumiller
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum
He’s Just Not That Into You, by Greg Behrendt
It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken, by Greg Behrendt
Calling In “The One”, by Katherine Woodward Thomas
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
Why Talking is Not Enough, by Susan Page
I believe in going out and getting things for ourselves. I like heart-shaped jewelry, so I bought myself a heart-shaped necklace when I was single. I love it and I still wear it. I like flowers, so I used to buy myself a bouquet every couple of weeks and put it on my desk at work. In both cases, various people stopped to ask whether my boyfriend bought them for me. “No, I bought it for myself” never failed to stun these folks. If I want more hugs, I ask for more hugs. If I want validation after I tell a story, I explain that. “This is the part where you laugh.” Nobody but me is responsible for my happiness. Nobody can read my mind or guess my secret desires. I try to put my focus on 1. Being easy to please and 2. Giving what I wish to receive. (Compassion, a listening heart, allegiance, consideration, joyous surprises). I set the stage for the kind of relationship I want by demonstrating why that is mutually advantageous. We can only feel the love we feel. We can believe and trust that we are loved, but we can’t possibly feel the love that comes from others. The only way to feel more love is… to feel more love, generating it and turning up the intensity in our own hearts. In a perfect world, we’d feel that way about far more than one individual.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.