Monday, March 26, 2012

Relationships: Arguing

I wanted to talk about something that I normally only talk about with close friends who are in relationships. Arguing. I usually reserve this for partnered-up friends because at least that way I know that they have fights (well, at least I assume they have fights), and thus, will not judge me.

Mr. Pin Cushion and I don't fight very often. But when we do, it makes up for lost time. We are BAD at fighting. As in, it is very hard for us to get over our fights. One argument turns into another and we usually tire ourselves out and give in without ever actually coming to a true solution (which also might have to do with the fact that after fighting for days, we can't even remember what we started fighting about).

Also, we yell (as I mentioned in the Relationship Behaviors post). Most people who know me in 'real life' say that they are surprised to learn that I yell. But in the heat of the arguing, I usually am so angry that I can't contain it, or express my emotions with a quiet or calm voice. I might have a rage problem. My face gets hot, my chest gets tight. Scary. Also, I swear. Which I do NOT do any other time.

Do you and your partner fight "well", or do you fight "bad"? Do you yell or swear? What are your secrets to having good, productive fight? I would REALLY love to know. Books? Counseling?

Relationship Types

(From etsy store Fifi du Vie)

Would you describe your relationship as 'sustainable'?

Presumably since you are either planning a wedding or are married, you'd say YES. I would answer the same. But a quiz in the NY Times about sustainable marriages (based on true research, no less) abruptly told me that in fact, no, the Pin Cushions do not currently have a sustainable relationship.

The interesting NY Times article from 2010 states, "research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship." In other words, does your partner increase your chance of trying new things, learning new skills and being adventurers?

When I think about that question, I would say that no, Mr. Pin Cushion and I are not galavanting around doing new things every weekend, learning karate and Thai cooking. But I do think that grocery shopping and going to the laundromat are way more fun when I'm with Mr. PC.

I was struck with the sentiment of a statement in the book American Wife that I read a while back:

What greater happiness is there than the privilege of being bored together?

This is more in line with the Pin Cushion relationship. Not that we are always bored together, but when I am bored, I'm happy to be bored with him. To feel comfortable enough to just stare into space with each other, or spend hours reading side by side, or doing whatever is part of your daily life and being thrilled with it, to me, that demonstrates a sustainable relationship.

Take the quiz to find out your 'sustainability' here, or answer the questions below.
Instructions: On a scale of 1 (not very much) to 7 (very much), how would you answer each question?

1. How much does being with your partner result in having new experiences?
2. When you are with your partner, do you feel a greater awareness of things because of him or her?
3. How much does your partner increase your ability to accomplish new things?
4. How much does your partner help to expand your sense of the kind of person you are?
5. How much do you see your partner as a way to expand your own capabilities?
6. How much do your partner's strengths as a person (skills, abilities, etc) compensate for some of your own weaknesses as a person?
7. How much do you believe that you have a larger perspective on things because of your partner?
8. How much has being with your partner resulted in your learning new things?
9. How much has knowing your partner made you a better person?
10. How much does your partner increase your knowledge?

The scores can be explained in the quiz link, but in short, if you are below 45, you have a low connection. 45 to 60 is moderately exciting. And above 60 is highly expansive.

Mr. Pin Cushion's answers gave our relationship a 45 - that means we are barely moderately exciting (His answers: 6 2 5 4 2 6 5 3 7 5 = 45). My answers ranked us with a 43, meaning we have a low connection!! (My answers: 4 3 6 4 2 5 2 4 7 6 = 43).

Well that's just embarrassing!

What was your score? Would you say that your relationship is based on being "adventurers"? Or are you comfortable and happy in your daily routine with your partner?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Relationships: In Movies

I'm a member of the Facebook group, "Everything I know about relationships I learned from romantic comedies." And sadly, that statement is probably more true than I would like to admit. And it actually caused some problems early on in the Pin Cushion relationship. Expectations were not always fair, or based on reality.

But can you blame me? (yes, you can.) Relationships in most movies, not just romantic comedies, hardly ever resemble relationships in real life. For example, take the last 3 movies I've seen: *Please Note: Spoiler Alert*
1) Drive. Ryan Gosling will do anything to keep his love, Carey Mulligan, safe. Including killing people and smashing a man's skull in with his foot. That is extreme love.
2) No Strings Attached. A movie about people having casual sex that amazingly turns into true love.
3) The Princess Bride. Buttercup is cruel to farm boy, Westley, but he loves her regardless. Also, their love endures years of separation. And he comes back from the dead for her.

Pretty unrealistic portrayals of love, right? But occasionally, a movie comes around that feels so real.

The Story of Us

Such an amazing movie. When I watched this with my dad, he cried. And later, when I watched it with Mr. Pin Cushion, after we'd been together for a while, we both cried. It's hard to watch because the movie does such an amazing job of showing the difficulties of relationships.

500 Days of Summer

Ugh. The sequences in this movie that show expectations versus reality are brilliant. Brilliant because I have had the same thoughts go through my head a thousand times. You hope and expect a situation to go a certain way, and reality never quite matches that expectation.

The Break-Up

Though this movie is definitely an extreme, it shows how hard and difficult and ridiculous relationship fighting can be. When watching this, I so clearly identified with Jennifer Aniston's character and could not see how anyone could side with Vince Vaughn. And though Mr. PC thought that Mr. Vaughn was 'kind of an a-hole' he also was completely disgusted by how Ms. Aniston acts throughout the movie as well.

I think the division in this movie comes down to one interaction between the two main characters, when Brooke is angry that Gary didn't wash the dishes after a dinner party--
Brooke: I don't want you to wash the dishes, I want you to want to do the dishes!
Gary: Why would I want to wash the dishes?
Right there. I understand Brooke completely. And Mr. PC understands Gary completely. Genius.

What relationship movies are your favorite? Which do you connect with the most?
I'd love to add your recommendations to my Netflix queue.
(Also, have you seen The Break-Up? Who did you side with in the movie?)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Relationship Behaviors Round 2

Back by popular demand (and, let's be honest, my own curiosity), here's more relationship behavior questions. (To find out how the hive behaves in the shower, bathroom and bed, see the first post.)

[From Larry Busacca/Getty Images; Mike Coppola/Getty Images; Michael Buckner/Getty images via Eonline]

1. If someone were to hack into your phone right now, could naked photos of yourself be found and posted on the internet?
A) Yes, thank goodness I'm not a celebrity.
B) No way!
C) Well, maybe not right now. But if it were hacked at another time, that's another story . . .

2. When you and your partner fight, is there yelling involved? (Question courtesy of Sugar Bee Janie-Janie)
A) No, neither of us yell (in which case, I ask you-how do you manage that?? Seriously, please tell me in the comments)
B) Yes, we both usually end up injuring our vocal cords
C) I'm a yeller but my partner is not
D) My partner's a yeller but I am not

[From; bowls and mugs]

3. Do you call each other by their name or a nickname/term of endearment? (Question posed by Melissa)
A) We use our real names almost exclusively
B) A little of both, depending on the circumstance
C) We almost always call each other by a nickname

3B) If you answered B or C above (i.e., you use nicknames), are any of the nicknames the same ones you used in a prior relationship?

3C) Please share your nicknames in the comments, if you're not embarrassed!

4) Before drifting off to sleep, do you and your partner snuggle?
A) Always; we're the snuggliest couple on the block
B) We snuggle for a bit and then roll our separate ways when it's actually time to go to sleep.
C) Hardly at all

I'll share my answers with the hope that everyone feels comfortable joining me!
1) B. Pretty much (could be C, but it would be if someone hacked into my phone for like 5 minutes, and only at like 2 specific times, ever). I'm just wondering if I'm totally out of the loop, as it seems that every celebrity that has their phone hacked has naked photos of themselves.

2) B. We are yellers. Sadly.

3) C, we use nicknames almost always. So much so that it sounds weird when Mr. Pin Cushion uses my real name.
3B) We were essentially relationship virgins before dating, so this question is moot.
3C) Our names aren't too original. We nearly always call each other "babe" (makes me feel like the Kristin Wiig-Jason Sudeikis A-hole characters on SNL). I also call him "chump" and "my love" but always go back to "babe".

4) C. Once again, sadly. I think the answers here might be correlated with i) length of living together or ii) length of relationship. We've been together a LONG time and used to always snuggle. And now, we either go to bed at different times, or I pass out while reading. But also, it's just not as comfortable to snuggle. Maybe we're just getting old, but my neck hurts and Mr. PC says it hurts his shoulder.

I'm pumped to see the poll results and read everyone's comments.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Relationship Behaviors

I'm always curious about other people's relationships. And not just the big stuff, like do you fight or not (I want to know that too though), but the details. I think that's why I like watching certain reality TV shows (cough cough . . . Kardashians)-to try to get a glimpse into the nitty gritty, albeit silly, aspects of how other people behave in relationships.

I would be tickled if you would indulge me in your own relationships. Let's get a peek into how the hive behaves in their relationships.

When eating dinner at home with your partner, do you:
A) Eat at your dining table most of the time
B) Eat on your couch in front of your television most of time
C) Split your dinners between couch and table
D) Other ie eat while sitting on the floor or enjoy dinner while standing up at the kitchen counter

When going to the restroom at home, do you:
A) Always close the bathroom door
B) Sometimes close the bathroom door
C) I always close the door, but my partner has no boundaries and will come in anyway
D) Other. Please divulge in the comments!

{From Design Sponge: Kelly Teasley and Nina Gotlieb's bathrooms}

How often do you shower with your partner?
A) Nearly 100% of the time
B) When we're both home and awake
C) Rarely
D) Never

Do you sleep on the same side of the bed every night, even when on vacation? (I think "yes" is going to win by a landslide, but I'm curious).
A) Yes
B) No
(On a side note, I found a lot of talk online about men sleeping on the side of the bed next to the door. Has anyone found this pattern in their life?)

Since I am asking for you to divulge information about your relationship behaviors (albeit anonymously), I'll share my answers with you.
1) Answer B. Mr. Pin Cushion and I eat more of our dinners in front of the television than I wish to admit. Our dining table is usually covered with either piles of papers that I don't know how to organize or craft projects or other goodies (and by goodies, I mean piles of junk I just dragged from my car after work and have yet to put away).
2) Answer A. I don't know if it's the way we were raised, or what, but we always always keep the bathroom door shut. And the odd thing is, I'm a nurse and have seen just about every bathroom behavior imaginable.
3) Answer B. Whenever one of us is getting in the shower, we always ask if the other is going to join us. It's fun. Plus, how else are you going to wash that unreachable middle part of your back?
4) Answer B. I always sleep on the right, and he always sleeps on the left. And in regards to who sleeps next to the door, in our case, I do. (I guess it's up to me to fight off any zombies or burglars who come into our bedroom.)

What other questions do you have about how people behave in relationships? I'd love to do another post if there are more burning questions!

Pin Cushion Catch Up: First Year of Marriage

The first year of marriage went by faster than I would have thought possible. Before I knew it, our 'newlywed' status was a thing of the past.

We packed as many trips and milestones into that first year as we could. Which is a good thing, since now that we're an old married couple (that's what you become after your 1st anniversary, right?), we plan to sit on our tushes and be lazy.

In the spirit of being lazy, may I share a recap with you of our last year while I sit on my couch in my pajameralls? If you answered yes, then proceed. If you answered no, then proceed to the next blogger who might be writing while not looking like a schlub.

In November 2010, we traveled to southern Japan. We ate new things (octopus tentacle balls), saw new things (a giant turtle walking around a temple wearing a diaper) and had a deer eat Mr. Pin Cushion's paperwork.


Oh, and we got our zen on.

In the spring of 2011, we were lucky enough to visit a friend in the Peace Corps stationed in Morocco.

The Pin Cushions rocked the Casbah in our Fezes (top right photo), as well as ate delicious, authentic food. And then promptly got food poisoning (vomiting together can really strengthen a relationship).

This summer, we (very nearly) conquered Mount Shasta with my dad. Which included sleeping in the snow, waking up at 1 am to start hiking in the dark, and looking like cone heads while wearing our climbing helmets.

And Mr. Pin Cushion conquered graduate school and we somehow both lived to tell the tale. He's officially Dr. Pin Cushion, Ph.D.

We'd been together a decade before we got married, but our first year of marriage still had a lot to teach us. During our adventures globe trotting as well as our time being domestic at home, we learned 1) that talking is important, 2) that in order for the kitchen to be clean, someone needs to clean it, 3) that we don't like all the same TVs shows, 4) that we get stressed out by very different things.

But in addition to these things, we also learned that 1) when we talk, the other person will listen, 2) cleaning the kitchen isn't SO bad [alternately: we also found that we don't mind a dirty kitchen], 3) we have friends to watch TV shows with, 4) we can be there for each other when the other Pin Cushion is stressed out.

It's been a great first year! Bring on the lazy - matching sweaters - growing old together years!

What do you expect from your first year of marriage? Do you think you'll still be learning about each other as newlyweds?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pin Cushion Catch Up: Honeymooning

Pin Cushions in Cancun!! Spring Break 2010!! Whooooo!!

When people asked where we went on our honeymoon, I'm always embarrassed to say Cancun. The word Cancun brings up images of girls going wild, heavy drinking and pool partying. But we had a relaxing, non-binge drinking time in Cancun.

We actually ate real food for sustenance (and not just straight vodka shots for our caloric intake [well, maybe a few blended drinks, but only after a hearty meal]).

I actually did have a mimosa every day with breakfast. But that doesn't constitute binge drinking, does it? Mimosas are way too classy for spring breaks . . .

Our daily breakfast.

We stayed at La Amada Hotel on Playa Mujeres. It was wonderful and delicious and luxurious.

The wonderful view from our hotel room.

Me and this outdoor bed became very close friends.

This photo leads me to a funny story. My mom always says that when something bad happens on a trip, that's what you will remember. And it's true. You don't tell people about the great time you had at the museum, or the great weather on your trip. You tell them about the hailstorm, or getting stranded or the other ridiculous things that happen while traveling.

So, back to the story of me and the hotel room deck. I spent a lot of time lounging out there, reading and napping. On the 3rd day of our honeymoon, a task took Mr. Pin Cushion outside for a few hours (the task being: getting our miniature rental car jump started by a cab because we [he] had left the headlights on and ran the battery down). Well, I happened to be outside on my favorite bed at the time. And Mr. Pin Cushion happened to lock the sliding glass door when he left the room.

I didn't realize I was locked out until that daily mimosa had made its way to my bladder. I tried to open the door to the room so that I could get inside and go pee. No luck. I laid back down. 5 minutes passed, 10 minutes, 30 minutes. 1 freakin' hour. I had to pee so badly. I started contemplating my options. I could jump off our second floor balcony and try to land safety, Angelina Jolie style. I could start yelling for help and hope someone would come open my hotel room door. Or I could squat over the drain in the deck floor and pee there. I seriously considered all three options. My new husband, by locking that darn door, made me contemplate peeing on the floor during our honeymoon!!

Thank goodness, Mr. Pin Cushion saved me from having to choose between breaking my legs or losing my dignity by coming back. I made sure to shove him out of the way as I ran to the bathroom. I am happy to report that my bladder did not burst on my honeymoon. But just barely.

While not locked on decks, we did other fun things. We visited Tulum, the Mayan Ruins just south of Playa del Carmen.

Sweaty honeymooners

We visited Isla Murejes, a small island right off the coast of Cancun, where we rented this baby:

I loved that scooter! When I don't have to make an 80 mile round trip commute, I am definitely buying myself something to scoot around on. Vroom Vroom!


Thinking back on your trips, do you remember the things that went smoothly, or the things that went awry?

(From hydroplaning for 10 seconds and almost running into a bus, to forgetting a camera and having to buy a crappy one at a Costco in Mexico, we have plenty of other things to remember from our honeymoon besides our bladder-busting, near porch-peeing incident.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pin Cushion Catch Up

Before I launch into recaps, I wanted to allow the newer members of the hive (bee-lings [much cuter than the actual term of larva]) to catch up on the Pin Cushion story (because nobody likes to come into a story halfway through it-what's going on?! Who are these weirdos?)

We met in high school. Which means we'd been together a decade when I started blogging.

The Pin Cushions went to college. Go Bears!
(Note the eyeball you can see in Oski's right eye hole-creeper!)

I moved to DC to go to nursing school.
Mr. PC visited me and proposed on the Lincoln Memorial.

I picked a dress (after trying on 1,256. Seriously.)
Wheee! Ruffles!

We made our Save the Dates.

We got a little wild, and then a little weird, with our engagement photos.
(Photo by Steep Street Photography)

I admitted that Mr. Pin Cushion wasn't my soul mate.
We picked our wedding colors.
(All sources found in my original post, link above)

We picked our perfect venue.
We made our wedding invitations.
(Photo by Steep Street Photography)

We DIY'd a Faux-to Booth.
We procrastinated. Then finally wrote our ceremony. And then our vows.

And then we done got married, which is what I'm back to tell you all about.

So there's the Cliff Note version of our relationship and engagement. Any questions? Have you done long distance for your relationship?