Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Wedded Bliss"

I don't know how he would've felt about Husband-Freedom, being a married man and all (twice, if I'm not mistaken), but I couldn't let the passing of famed comedian and social critic George Carlin this week go unnoticed in this space. See obituary here

I can't claim any detailed knowledge of his substantial body of work, but, like most Americans, I am familiar with his observations about the internally contradictory and/or inaccurate phrases that pepper our culture, like "military intelligence" and "jumbo shrimp." I'd like to think that he would be pleased to add "wedded bliss" to that list. Rest in peace, George!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It Takes a Village to Buy a House

One of the hallmarks of advanced Husband-Freedom is home-ownership. Fiscally, owning your own home can be the foundation for financial security and stability, but getting a downpayment and closing costs together usually takes time and effort. Socially, home ownership says "I've arrived!" but emotionally and psychologically, it can be scary, even downright terrifying.

This is where friends and family come in, at whatever stage in the process you might find yourself. It can take real courage to ask for the help and support that you need, whatever that help and support might be -- but just think of the housewarming party you can have once it's all done! You can cash in on all the weddings you've been to over the years and register for all of the gifts you've given but never received in return: mixers, monogrammed towels, sheets, place settings, flatware, etc.

Also, don't hold back if you know someone who is Husband-Free has started to move toward home ownership -- offer your help, ask about the process, and reinforce that what they are doing is so terrific in every way that you can -- no one will be offended! And not many people can do it alone.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sometimes, You Get What You Pay For

Excerpted from Marriage Ain't Prozac by Susan Jane Gilman in "Single State of the Union -- Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness" edited by Diane Mapes:

Thanks to our culture, many of us view marriage through a mindset of scarcity. We're told that if we don't "hurry up" and "find" a husband, all the "good ones" will be "taken." So our search for a partner becomes like hunting for a Prada blouse during a one-day sale at Neiman-Marcus. We race to the store, tear through the racks like maniacs, looking for something that "fits," and hope that we'll beat the other shoppers to the best bargain before closing time. The fact that we have to choose one outfit to wear every single day for the rest of our lives just makes us even more insane.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Halving It All

I think it's commonly assumed among women-who-want-to-wed that getting married means half as much housework, or at least, a lot less than you have to do on your own. There was a women's movement, after all, and most couples nowadays are dual income, so sharing the housework is part of modern marriage, right?

Wrong. Check out this NY Times article published this past Sunday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Singles' Table

On Saturday night I went to wedding reception as the guest of one my Husband-Free gal pals (skipped the ceremony -- too far away from the reception for public transportation) and had a lot of fun, especially by being the only girl-girl couple at the singles' table -- heck, we were the only same-sex pair at the whole reception -- and by leaving our nature of our relationship (friends since graduate school) wholly unspecified, in a sea of heterosexually normative behavior reinforcement.

Despite having a really pleasant evening -- drinking, dancing, good food, nice people -- I was nevertheless struck by the incredible sameness of it all. Maybe it is just this sort of uniformity and tradition that is attractive to prospective spouses -- you get to join and participate in something larger than yourself that connects you to generations of married couples, etc. -- and in these rapidly changing times, there is something sort of comforting about the few traditions that have survived. But I still couldn't help but wonder, if each and every couples' love is so special, so unique, why filter it through such a uniform process?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Momma Told Me

I had a lovely, Husband-Free evening with one of my favorite Husband-Free gal pals, and in the midst of drinking and snacking, she shared with me a funny anecdote -- when she was getting married, right before the wedding, she asked her mother, "Mom, aren't we going to have The Talk?" to which her mother wisely replied, "Honey, I don't think there isn't anything you don't know already," but my friend persisted. "C'mon, mom, isn't there something you want to tell me? This is going to be my wedding night, after all." And her mother replied, "Well, let me tell you, there are going to be times when he comes to bed and you just don't feel like it. When this happens, whatever you do, DON'T MOVE. Even if he snuggles up next to you and puts his arm around you, you have to act like he's not even there. If you even twitch, then all bets are off." I LOVE THAT ADVICE. What an honest answer!!! If we could all be so honest...

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Broken American Male the title of a new psych/self-help/relationship book by Rabbi and radio star Shmuley Boteach, the thesis of which seems to be something along the lines of "men are emotionally shut down at work and in life, so this is why they are shut down in relationships," etc. (I'll be checking this out of the library ASAP.) The unfortunate sub-title of is the good rabbi's book, however, is "How to Fix Him." Why doesn't he fix himself? Why are women responsible for men's brokenness? Don't we have enough work to do -- AND we have to fix the men at the same time? I'd be happy if someone would just fix my windows...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm Your Handyman

One of the very few times I have wished I had a man in the house is when I encounter a task better suited to Mr. Fix-It than myself, usually involving home repairs or improvements. This past winter, for example, I discovered that my front windows were drafty, and that my efforts to remedy the situation were fruitless. So, I did what any reasonable, fiscally-responsible gal would do -- I called a guy (in this case, my guy) to come over and help. A brief word about the B.F. -- what a gem! Smart, funny, patient, kind, supportive, trustworthy, and utterly incapable of fixing my windows.

As I watched him struggle and wrestle with these uncontrollable squares of glass on one of the coldest nights of the year, while the freezing air poured into my house, I was reminded of a conversation I'd recently had with another modern, well-educated fella -- the conclusion of which was this: men don't know how to fix things anymore. My dad, his dad, your dad, can probably repair anything from a hair dryer to a spaceship. They paint walls, they change oil, they mow lawns, they install major appliances. Today's men? Not so much, unless the item in need of TLC is related to audio, video or internet.

My point? Whether you have a husband or not, you are going to have to hire a handyman. Check out this cute site: Husband-for-Hire. And try to find one in your geographic area -- your married friends can probably recommend one...

Monday, June 09, 2008

In Sickness and In Health

Thinking about voting for McCain? Think again:

McCain likes to illustrate his moral fibre by referring to his five years as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. And to demonstrate his commitment to family values, the 71-year-old former US Navy pilot pays warm tribute to his beautiful blonde wife, Cindy, with whom he has four children.

But there is another Mrs McCain who casts a ghostly shadow over the Senator’s presidential campaign. She is seldom seen and rarely written about, despite being mother to McCain’s three eldest children.

She was the woman McCain dreamed of during his long incarceration and torture in Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and the woman who faithfully stayed at home looking after the children and waiting anxiously for news.

But when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of publicity and a handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been disfigured in a terrible car crash three years earlier. Her car had skidded on icy roads into a telegraph pole on Christmas Eve, 1969. Her pelvis and one arm were shattered by the impact and she suffered massive internal injuries.

For nearly 30 years, Carol has maintained a dignified silence about the accident, McCain and their divorce. But last week at the bungalow where she now lives at Virginia Beach, a faded seaside resort 200 miles south of Washington, she told The Mail on Sunday how McCain divorced her in 1980 and married Cindy, 18 years his junior and the heir to an Arizona brewing fortune, just one month later.

Maybe he thinks he is Wife-Free. Click here to read the story.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Size DOES Matter

...and sometimes bigger is better, and longer can be better, too! Especially when the extra-large, extra-long thing in question is that extended-episode-being-marketed-as-a-movie called -- yes, I'm still on this -- Sex and the City! Yet ANOTHER review has got it all wrong, although at least this time the critic is a man, so maybe he gets a waiver of some sort...YES, SATC is exactly like a super-sized episode -- and that's a GOOD THING, Mr. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker magazine, not a bad thing! And why in heaven's name would be it be anything else, if what the fans want is more of the same? (If it ain't broke, don't fix it!) Does Michael Patrick King fancy himself the new Quentin Tarentino? And did he submit his masterpiece to Sundance and Cannes??? I DON"T THINK SO!!! Film critics, I beg of you, open your over-educated, overly-serious minds to the possibility that this film, as an extension of a (wildly popular and utterly unique)television series, cannot and should not be measured by the same yardstick as arty, effete foreign films, let alone the same standards by which we judge classic literature (WHO THINKS COMPARING SATC TO ANNA KARENINA MAKES ANY SENSE WHATSOEVER? RAISE YOUR HAND!!!....I didn't think so...)

Lastly, and on a Husband-Free note, do not, I repeat, DO NOT criticize these characters as being "obsessed with a ring" and "defining themselves...purely by their ability to snare and keep a man" -- first of all, because this only describes Charlotte, and secondly, because OUR CULTURE IS OBSESSED WITH THIS AND DEFINES WOMEN THUSLY. It is not the fault of Michael Patrick King and the products of his imagination/observation that this is true. Nor is it his fault that -- at least there was some truth in this review -- you [men] are not worth it. Try harder next time, Mr. Lane. Harder can be better, too.

Click here to read Mr. Lane's review

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I Don't Have a Horse in That Race

In honor of the final triple-crown race today, I invite you to click the following link: Marriage Race Horse.

This should take you to an audio file on a site called Odeo. Just press play and enjoy!

Friday, June 06, 2008

"The Wife" the title of a novel by Meg Wolizter -- one of my Husband-Free gal pals loaned it to me, and I have been enjoying it immensely. I am struck, however, by the inherent stupidity and pointlessness of this statement about the author from the back cover: "She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons." Who cares? It may as well tell us that she has a mortgage instead of a lease, makes her calls from a landline instead of a cell phone, and goes to a doctor who is out-of-network for her insurance plan -- really, who cares? And the irony of this, on the jacket of a book that calls into question much of what is traditionally valued about marriage. Regardless, I love this passage:

[My husband] once told me he felt a little sorry for women, who only got husbands. Hubands tried to help by giving answers, being logical, stubbornly applying force as though it were a glue gun. Or else they didn't try to help at all, for they were somewhere else entirely, out walking in the world by themselves. But wives, oh wives, when they weren't being bitter or melancholy or counting the beads on their abacus of disappointment, they could take care of you with delicate and effortless ease.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Only Part I Didn't Like Was the End

And that's all I'm going to say for now, until my self-imposed, fellow-movie-goer-sensitive, moratorium on discussing details of Sex and the City is over -- I think it needs to go another week -- BUT, instead what I would like to do right away -- in fact, I wish I had done it sooner -- is trash the NY Times totally unfair, inaccurate and mean-spirited review. Yes, Mahnola (Dargis, the hater/reviewer), these 4 gals still look Uh. May. ZZZZing. (Extra Z's for extra zing!)(KIM! You b*tch! What is your secret?????) They have lives that none of us have, and that not one of the 8 million plus real New Yorkers have -- and that few of us would actually want -- but it's called ENTERTAINMENT! It's not about life lessons or role modeling -- anyone old enough to be admitted to an "R" rated movie should have figured out better sources than HBO for wisdom and guidance by now! And if you think the jokes "fell flatter than Carrie's six pack"-- well, I don't know what funeral parlor you saw the film in, Mahnola, but in the theater where I thoroughly enjoyed (almost) every minute of their celluloid finale, each witticism, sight gag and pratfall was met with unrestrained peals of female laughter, with just enough recovery time in between. Run, in your four-inch heels, don't walk, to take in this cinematic summer gem. It sparkles as brightly as Carrie's crystal-encrusted cell-phone. And while you're at it, cancel your subscription to the NY Times.

Click here to read the review

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Husband-Free Dudes

No, a Husband-Free dude is not a gay guy who doesn't want to get hitched -- it's any man, gay or straight, single or not, who can clearly see that marriage is just a contract, and one that neither proves the value of a relationship nor improves its functioning. Why not "Wife-Free" for men who aren't thrilled by the idea of marriage? It just doesn't pack the same punch, I guess; it doesn't seem fresh or new to suggest that men don't really want wives. To the contrary, it seems self-evident.

But I just have to give a big Husband-Free HURRAY! to my friend Jeff, a Husband-Free dude if there ever was one, who suggested taking the title of this blog one step further -- his suggestion was actually "If You Think You Need a Husband, You Need Your Head Examined" which is way funnier than what's up there, but I didn't want to scare off any potential converts.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus!

...except in June, we call it "Sex and the City" -- FINALLY!

I will not ruin the plot for those of you not hardy or determined enough to brave the opening weekend, but be warned, the film was so chock-full of Husband-Free moments, sentiments, statements, etc., I cannot predict how long I can hold back!

But in the meantime, enjoy the below excerpts from the Washington Post, online:

But if romance -- finding it, losing it, getting it back -- is "Sex and the City's" major preoccupation, the movie also honors women who prefer independence to compulsive couple-dom...It's about women in their 40s who might have been raised on happily-ever-afters but who have long since stopped believing in fairy tales...These are, after all, women who were once told that their chances of getting married were worse than getting killed by a terrorist. They survived that punitive prediction, and 9/11, too...The "Sex and the City" women endure their share of heartbreak, but they embrace their mistakes as emblems of a life well-lived. If one or two of them know how to marry a millionaire, they've also been around even the best block enough to know the importance of financial independence. Most important, the operative question is no longer the passive "What will become of me?" but its dynamic corollary: Who am I choosing to become?"

Click here to view article

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover

Sorry for the radio silence this past week -- I was in my hometown visiting my folks, and mom's computer is so old and slow, I just didn't have the patience (Aquarians, such as myself, are notoriously impatient).

Anyway, I'm back and bursting with news -- hardly know where to start, so I'll just start here. While home, I had the unusual experience of having lunch with one of my high school classmates (hi, Laura!) whom I have not seen since graduation, 25 years ago! It turns out that her work life has consisted primarily of employment in the matchmaking field! For seven years she taught an adult ed course called "How to Meet Your Perfect Spouse" and then went on to work for a matchmaking agency. So, when I told her that I moonlight as the Anti-Matchmaker, promoting Husband-Freedom, I didn't expect the level of interest and enthusiasm with which she responded. Basically, she observed that many of the people she met who were seeking a spouse were looking for another person to complete them, while it was their own independent incompleteness that stood in the way of partnering up (did I get that right, Laura?). Anyway, there was a definite meeting of the minds, which I thought was very exciting -- even a matchmaker can support being Husband-Free!!!

While sitting in the airport waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for my flight to board, I listened to some podcasts on my iPod, including one from a group of chatty Southern gal pals calling themselves "The Divas" I was taken in by their title while selecting my podcasts, thinking they might be Husband-Free-ish, and a nice addition to the resources and references on this blog -- wow, was I wrong! In one of the selections, they explored the importance of BEING SUBMISSIVE (!!!) to their husbands' decisions -- in fairness to them, they did express "having issues" with this submissiveness, and stressed that they did get their own point of view across before they submitted -- and who knows? Maybe they are handsomely rewarded (jewelry, vacations, remodeled kitchens, central air conditioning) for their submissiveness and it is a trade-off that makes sense to them. BUT -- to my mind, this description of married life is arguing from the negative in favor of being (what else?)Husband-Free!