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Relationships (107 posts)
So reads a love letter written by Nicholas Sparks. Oh wait, no, I mean...Richard Nixon.
Six of Nixon's love letters to his wife, Pat (whom he playfully called his "Irish Gypsy") will be revealed Friday at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, and the missives reveal that "Tricky Dick" was also, well, a totally gushy, mushy, romantic. As supervisory museum curator, Olivia Anastasiadis, told the AP, "These letters are fabulous. It's a totally different person from the Watergate tapes that people know. President Nixon started out as an idealistic young man ready to conquer the world and with Pat Ryan he knew he could do it. There's a lot of hope, there's a lot of tenderness and it's very poetic." You have to read these letters to believe them. It's a little bit like seeing photos of your parents as a young couple—there's that same jolting sense that, oh man, everyone was young once, and everyone's love story is, to them, the ultimate love story.
Learn more from the original AP story. (Via NPR.)
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Veronika Decides To Die By Paulo Coelho. I love Coelho because he asks important questions, like "What would I do today if I knew I'd be hit by a bus tomorrow?" This novel, the Brazilian author's 15th book, is about a woman who tries to kill herself, only to end up in a mental hospital where a doctor tells her she has just a few days to live. But then she falls in love with a fellow patient, and together they choose life. "Veronika gave me chills because it shows the power of the mind," Akerman says.
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Here's a better idea than vegging out side-by-side: Invite another couple over (you must know some other pair who suffered from a case of reservation-making amnesia). While it may sound counter-intuitive to spend the holiday of love with two other people, science says that a double-date can spice up your love life. A study by psychologists at Wayne State University found that when couples engaged in intense, personal discussions with other couples in a controlled laboratory setting, they left feeling not only closer to their new friends, but to their own romantic partners. The couples also reported learning new things about their partners, and described feelings of novelty (and we've all heard how the spark of newness can reignite a slow-burn relationship). The key here will be to keep the TV turned off--and the wine flowing--so you can focus on good, stimulating, thought-provoking conversation. (Just remember to make time after your friends leave to spend some, um, silent time together, as well.)
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I came across this sweet story after talking to a single friend who was lamenting how hard it was to find a good man. Maybe she's silly to be looking for love in predictable places like bars and online dating services. Maybe the key is not to be looking for love at all. Aspiring opera singer Sonya Baker certainly wasn't looking for anything but the way in to Manhattan when she met the love of her life.
According to this New York Post story, Baker was frequently making the drive into New York City for singing auditions when she "noticed a friendly toll collector at Exit 19 in Kingston with striking hazel eyes who was 'desperately cute.'" The tollbooth operator noticed her, too, and for several months they shared instants of friendly small talk. Read the whole article for the heart-melting story of how they managed to see each other more often, and the evolution of their flirtation into a full-scale romance. And know that now they are married, and living what sounds to be a bucolic existence in Kentucky. As Baker told the Post, “It shows you that as long as you are open, you can find people in all sorts of places."
Now if that doesn't warm your heart, I don't know what will.
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Every Monday, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This week, we're fascinated by the year-long marital experiment described in:
No Cheating, No Dying: I Had A Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make It Better
By Elizabeth Weil
Maybe you've looked at the couple next door and thought, "Wow, those people seem to have such a great, loving marriage. Does that mean they never fight? Or does it mean that they fight all the time, horribly, in secret?" Maybe you've looked at your own relationship and thought, "Gee. I"m happy, but I'm not over-the-moon. Does that mean I have a good marriage or a good marriage that's about to crumble if I don't pay attention?"
The underlying idea is: How do you know when a relationship is as solid as it can be, not just as solid as you have time or the emotional stamina for? Writer Elizabeth Weil addresses this head on, creating her own social experiment by shepherding herself and her husband to psychotherapists, sex therapists, and marriage counselors in order to unearth the dicier, undiscussed subjects in their seemingly contented life. The engaging story that results is about two people who love and respect each other, but who have a lot differences when it comes to religion (she's Jewish, he's Christian), dependence, friends outside the marriage, and some past events that haven't been fully dealt with. At times, the reader may long for more detailed revelations (for example: about Weil's teenage battle with anorexia and her relationship with her mother, which are mentioned but only in passing). At other times, however, such as while discussing an emotionally wrenching pregnancy that ended up in termination, Weil and her husband have you spellbound—and desperate for them to work things through. Although dealing with heavy subject matter, Weil has a voice that charms, full of wit, intelligence and compassion—qualities that no doubt come to great assistance in marriage as well as writing a thought-provoking book.
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As Carr describes his revelatory dinner party, "No one tweeted, no one texted, everyone talked. I’ve noticed more and more that when I go to gatherings, people are walking around in their own customized world defined by what is on their smartphone, not by who is sitting next to them at dinner. The serendipity of the offline world has been increasingly replaced by the nice, orderly online world where people only follow whom they want to and opt in to conversations that seem interesting."
We're busy, and as adults with spouses, partners, coworkers, and children to deal with, many of us forget to make time for our good, old-fashioned friendships. And yet we've read again and again that maintaining friendships are good for us in numerable ways. They may even help us live longer. Plus, Carr's is one of the most pleasant calls to action I've ever read: we should all remember to make time for our friends. Not FaceTime, but IRL time. Sharing nutrition, and the kind of rambling stories that don't make for good tweets. Breaking bread. Actual, real, delicious, beautiful (and here's a challenge: don't take an Instagram of it) bread.
How social media can sustain relationships.
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We've all had email mishaps. Who hasn't forwarded a screed on annoying coworkers to those same annoying coworkers? (Uh, right?) And to the other Amy Shearn out there, your tiny new relative is really cute, but her daddy seems to have to wrong email address for you. But I've never heard a story of misdirected email as heartwarming as this one, brought to you by the always-wonderful Story Corps:
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Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* From Isaac Newton to Pablo Picasso to Frank Capra, peek inside the pocket notebooks of 20 famous men. (The Art of Manliness)
* Will Ferrell introduces the players before last night's Bull-Hornets game, and hilarity ensues. (Game On!)
* The Nextness gathered some inspiring lessons for creatives from British artist David Hockney, including this gem: "I think I'm greedy, but I'm not greedy for money—I think that can be a burden—I'm greedy for an exciting life." (The Nextness)
Klinenberg writes, "The mere thought of living alone once sparked anxiety, dread and visions of loneliness. But those images are dated. Now the most privileged people on earth use their resources to separate from one another, to buy privacy and personal space." After studying the numbers, Klinenberg suggests that living alone has become desirable for adults of all ages. After all, "living alone comports with modern values. It promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization — all prized aspects of contemporary life."
And that's not all. People who live alone actually spend more time being social, seeing their friends, and attending cultural events than married people. Even families who live together tend to spend their time in separate rooms, ensconced in separate media experiences. In other words, lonely and alone often have nothing to do with one another.
Read the entire piece for Klinenberg's interesting revelations on what the increasing numbers of middle-aged and older people living alone means for all of us.
Staying married but living apart.
What not to say to a single woman.
Libraries from Copenhagen to Kyoto (Orlando, Florida is next) have sponsored Human Library projects. Usually taking place on one weekend day, the program features people -- yes, people -- that patrons can check out for a half-hour of conversation. According to this great essay by Paul Gallant, a recent event at the Toronto Public Library offered a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, a teenager with Cerebral Palsy, a former sex-worker, a police officer, a cancer survivor, and more. Toronto Public Library's manager of corporate communications, Anne Marie Aikins, said, "With the Human Library, it's a one-on-one experience and that kind of storytelling, from person to person, does harken back to centuries and centuries ago when a story was the only way to learn. It's an old technology." (This essay includes a report of one writer's experience "checking out" a human from the library to chat with.)
I wish every library in the world had this, every weekend. In daily life, there's often so little opportunity to encounter people very different from ourselves, and when we do, we're often too shy or polite or whatever it is to ask the questions we really want to ask. While I love the idea of this program, both in what it does for people and for the institution of libraries, it occurs to me that each of us can recreate a Human Library of our own. Go ahead...talk to a human today.
Visit the Human Library's website for information on upcoming programs.
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