Rules of Engagement (Part 3)

It is a quarter past nine on this balmy evening in SoCal and I am putting fingers to keyboard to begin segment three of my relationship series Rules of Engagement.  Prior to starting this, I jotted down a handful of topics I wished to write about.  The topics came easily to me and all of them are vital to my own relationship with Hugo.  This topic in particular is something that Hugo and I talk about on a regular basis as we strive to continuously improve our own relationship.  And the second part of the topic is sometimes discussed at our dinner table, after we both come home from work with stories about obnoxious coworkers.  And so, part 3 is about speaking kindly to one another and of one another.

All couples talk every day, all day long, bicker now and then, and seriously argue on the occasional basis (hopefully no more than that).   Since you interact with your spouse nonstop (realistically, more than anyone else in the world), it is reasonable that over time you begin speaking to them not only in the most relaxed manner but also sometimes not in the most ideal way.  You might snap at them a little faster than you would with a friend or coworker. You also might use harsh or hurtful words when you argue with them.  In the heat of the moment, sometimes all bets are off.  However, none of the mean things we say, in the midst of an argument, do we mean.

We all get increasingly comfortable in routine environments in life.  The way I look at it is this:  treat and speak to your spouse as if the person you are speaking to is the most important person in your world.  Don’t take them for granted.  Remember how much you love them and if a stranger spoke unkindly to them, it would bother you.  Sometimes a good reminder about treating each other kindly is a good thing because it never hurts to try a little harder to be good to one another.

So that is the first part.  The second part moves from your relationship to the outside world.  Since your spouse or significant other is such a huge part of your life, it is inevitable that they come up in conversation with others very frequently.  I love my husband very much and I am proud of who he is as a good human being, my partner in life and a hard-working professional.  Because of this, I like talking about him.  A lot.  I brag about him and compare all other men I meet against him, because he is my standard for what a real man should be – honest, loving and real.

As you would imagine, based on how I write about Hugo, I speak very highly of him to everyone I know that will listen.  The same can’t be said of what I hear being said about other people’s spouses.  It is sad and shocking to hear how so many other people in the world speak about their loved ones.  It’s almost as if certain individuals think that it makes them look “cool” to make fun of, berate, or belittle their husbands or wives during conversation with other people.  I think that behavior is not only a testament to their relationship but also speaks loudly of their character.  The importance of speaking kindly of your spouse can’t just be measured by a bystander but think of the impact those sweet, or hurtful, words have on your husband or wife.

From personal experience, it warms my heart every time I am told about the nice things Hugo has to say about me.  It has happened many times and it never gets old.  To feel loved is an amazing feeling and we should all hope to make those close to us feel loved every day.

Rules of Engagement (Part 2)

As I embark on segment two of this series (which I didn’t even intend to write as a series but I realized I was going to write a book otherwise), I found it difficult to settle on what topic to discuss next.  None of my relationship-essential topics are being presented in any particular order because I truly value all of them as being just as vital as the next.  This topic, however, seems especially relevant today.  This is because I have been fairly helpless since last Friday, which my steady readership knows was the date of my fifth knee surgery.  In my time of need, my husband has been there, helping and attending to me in every way possible.  Caring for someone is the ultimate expression of love and that is why part two is about selflessness.

Hugo and I demonstrate selflessness pretty damn well and that is something I am proud of.  Someone from the outside might wrongly interpret this behavior as “waiting on” your husband or wife, by bringing them something to eat or drink so they don’t have to get up from the couch, or “spoiling” your significant other by surprising them with a small gift that you know they will enjoy.  This incorrect interpretation is applied when you choose to view these acts in a negative light.  Instead, if you choose to view this expression of love in a positive manner, then you understand they are selfless acts.  It makes me incredibly happy to care for the ones I love, including my husband and parents.  In fact, I find more joy in buying gifts for and doting on my loved ones than I do for myself.

Whether it is waking up early to pack lunch for someone you love, or spending hours constructing eight pieces of assembly-needed patio furniture (both of those examples are anchored in truth), acts of love towards others is a habit worth having.  Being selfless has invaluable benefits to a relationship and to the world at large.  Just imagine the implications to humanity if everyone put others ahead of themselves.  What a beautiful world it would be.



Rules of Engagement (Part 1)

I want to start this off by saying that I am by no means a marriage expert, certified therapist or relationship guru.  I am, however, someone who has actively engaged in a healthy union for almost half of my life.  As a side note, it is pretty cool to realize that you have almost spent half of your life committed to someone else.  I admire the commitment of long-lasting relationships and marvel at the decades of love our family members have shown to us: my parents have been married for over forty years, his parents have been married for nearly 40 as well, and his grandparents, one of whom recently passed away (we love and miss you Bob) were married for over seventy years.  You read that correctly, 70 years!  That, in and of itself, deserves an award.  Long-term love is a fading element of modern day living and it is truly a shame.

Over the past fourteen years with my Hugo, we have learned (not always the easy way) the best rules to govern our love by.  Some of them appear rather simple and most of them are easier said than done.  Sometimes the most straightforward of concepts are truly the most suitable.  For instance, the suggestion to “Be kind to one another” is such an easy concept but such an under-valued one at that.  None of these rules came easily, immediately or without constant work and reassessment.  In fact, a relationship is a living, breathing organism so these rules should consciously and mindfully be applied all of the time.  And as I write this, I also realize these points are not only applicable to romantic relationships.  I try to respect and love all of my relationships in life in the same manner.

I have organized a short list of vital relationship components that I have dubbed Rules of Engagement.  The first rule is to communicate, even if it hurts.  This can be a very difficult thing to do and sometimes an even more difficult thing to receive. It can sting, it can hurt our heart, it can anger us.  But in the end, I think all human beings would rather hear the truth, as raw and aggressive as it may be, than some bullshit, softer lie.  Or, even worse sometimes, not hearing anything at all.  The absence of words creates a disconnect that can be even more brutal than any words at all.  I am honest with all of my relationships and I value the truth from those close to me.

As I reflect on our past together, the moment that sticks in my mind is from a couple of years ago when I had gained about twenty pounds as a result of several knee injuries.  My lifestyle and activity level had changed, due to inactivity and mild depression from being hurt, and in turn, my body changed.  And as anyone who has gained weight knows, the depression that initially fueled the weight gain and disregard for our own bodies only multiples as we continue not caring about ourselves.  The cycle continues and nobody wins.

When I found myself in this place, I could sense that Hugo was less and less interested in me physically.  He didn’t say anything right away but I could feel it.  He wasn’t being as outwardly romantic as he always is and I immediately felt as if he didn’t find me pretty anymore.  I know that you, as the reader, only know what I tell you but if you know one thing about Hugo, know this: he is the most kind and loving man that I know (and probably you know).  Hugo’s love for me, and my love for him, runs much deeper than surface level. However, physical attraction does exist and should exist in this world.  And when I asked him if something was wrong, I already knew the answer.  I wasn’t taking care of myself and I wasn’t loving myself, evidence by my disregard for my own body.  If I wasn’t loving myself, how could I expect someone else to love me?  Again, he did love me and he does love me but at that moment, he wasn’t wildly attracted to me.  And after we talked about it and got to the bottom of it, he was less attracted to me because I was not loving myself.

It wasn’t easy to share that.  We are very private people, if you can believe that, and I don’t like airing our personal business.  But I also believe that by being transparent, not only can we become better people and partners for each other, but there is also the possibility that my story can help someone else.

On that day, Hugo and I got another notch closer as a couple.  It hurt a little when we talked about it but it mostly hurt because I knew the truth.  The truth was that I wasn’t taking care of myself and I wasn’t loving myself.  Being kind to your own body exudes a level of confidence and self-love that the world can see and feel.  I appreciate and love my husband for being honest with me and talking to me.  From that day on, we made a pact to always be transparent about our feelings, even if it isn’t pretty sometimes.  Even if it might be tough for the other person to receive.  Because in the end, what is better…saying something and having the delivery be tough or not saying anything, letting the issue marinate and grow, without an issue ever being addressed or resolved?

And I almost forgot…not only did we grow closer, learn even more about the importance of communicating and deepen our love for each other, but I also learned a little bit more about loving myself.


I do not want for with you

Want for more

Want for others.


You surround my existence

Rather, you define my existence

by truly being

my everything.


Every part of love that I could ever need

Every part of a perfect day

that has us in it, together.


My love

My husband is my favorite person on this planet.  I think your spouse has to be your favorite being, otherwise, what’s the point?  I see so many relationships, whether it is coworkers, celebrities, or other observed couples, who are imbalanced, unhappy or just not right for each other.  The gauge that I have always applied to our relationship, and other relationships that I see and judge, is the following:  if you could live without the person, then maybe you should.  I could never live without my husband.  My life would not be complete and to be honest, it wouldn’t be the life that I want to live because he defines a huge part of me.  Case in point:  We have been together for over half of our lives, we have grown from kids to adults as best friends and partners, and we have united into one solid unit.  So, with all of that said, being without him would be like being without my complete self.

He and I met when he was 15 and I was 16, after I left my preppity-prep boarding school in New England.  The night before I was slated to move in for my Junior year, I remember walking downstairs to proudly exclaim to my mother that I was not going back!  This exclamation was immediately replied to with, “Ok, we will call the school in the morning and see what they say.”  Yet another outstanding example of what a wonderful mom she was and is.  I assume a lot of other parents would’ve been upset, worried, or just plain mad that I was putting a hitch in everyone’s giddy-up.  My mom, on the other hand, always wanted what was best for me and what made me happy. She didn’t skip a beat and by the following day, another young lady from the prep school waiting list had taken my place and I was off the hook, no strings attached and no tuition withheld.  Woohoo! To public school that Fall I went…

And that’s where I met my husband (let’s call him Hugo).  His name really isn’t Hugo but one of my co-workers called him that on accident recently and it has since stuck as a sweet alter-ego.  And for confidentiality purposes, and respect purposes, Hugo he shall be.  Hugo and I became friends through friends and I immediately had a crush on him.  He was shy and kind and cute in that high school boy kind of way.  We hooked up a few times but nothing truly developed prior to my leaving for college, since I graduated a year ahead of him.  Once I was 300 miles away at school, he came to visit a few times and we always kept in touch.  At the root of it, we were friends and there was a closeness that developed that we obviously still have to this day.  After the two of us attended a little bit of college, without any true focus or idea of what we really wanted to do in life, I distinctly remember asking Hugo if he wanted to move cross-country with me.  The goal: to move somewhere warm, to discover something new, and to see where life took us as we embarked on our 20s.

Well, the rest is history.  On July 31st, 2004, we packed up his old Saab hatchback, with our bags, our bodies and my female Rottweiler Marley (RIP, first Rottie in our lives and she was wonderful).  We drove (actually, he drove) for five days straight, as we survived on McDonald’s and motels, in an effort to quickly make the trek and not waste any time.  In hindsight now, and of course with quite a bit more bank account funding, I really wish we had taken more time to explore this amazing country.  It just wasn’t possible at the time but I would love to go back and take that trip with Hugo one more time 🙂

We got to the left coast, moved into the studio apartment that my mom and I had found the month prior, and our lives began…together.  From that August on, Hugo and I have not been apart.  Our close friendship just naturally morphed into a dating relationship.  We spent every day together and did everything together, by choice, not necessity.  He was mine and I was his.  And the best part is that that still rings true.

We both established ourselves professionally, moved out of our apartments and bought our first townhouse together.  Sitting on the couch as we celebrated “our” Christmas on December 28th, 2008 (because of work we had to sometimes do our holidays slightly offset), we exchanged presents and hugged each other.  After the presents were done, Hugo looked at me, said a few sweet words, and proposed.  A few months later, I became his wife.

I guess I share all of this because I am so proud and thankful for this wonderful man in my life.  Over the past eighteen years of knowing each other, 14 years of friendship, and nine years as a married couple, every day has not been perfect.  But mostly every day has.  And the days that weren’t, we worked hard at correcting them and finding our way.  We recently had a conversation on our couch about how our relationship has evolved into an even better, smoother running beast than it ever has been.  We have worked hard at being the best versions of ourselves for each other and correcting issues that stood in the way of us being happy.

And as I type this, with my post-op knee elevated on the couch, my loving husband is making us mushroom risotto in the kitchen.  Life really is good.

The beginning

I have always been a writer in one sense of the word or another.  From an early age, I enjoyed writing and this initially took the form of my first published works, published by yours truly as a one women writer and publishing house known as Hero Magazine.  At the age of roughly 10, I began interviewing family members, writing articles, collecting advertisements to generate revenue and putting ink to paper on a monthly basis.  Hero Magazine was shipped nationally (and sometimes internationally to a young friend who traveled abroad) and I thoroughly enjoyed pouring my heart into it.  I am sorry to say that Hero Magazine is no longer in publication 😦

I progressed to AP English with an overweight, too-small-stretch-pants-wearing , middle-aged English teacher in high school.  I loved it but not her.  Let’s move on.

Flash forward to my current profession (which shall remain anonymous for now), where I have always ended up being the one who will write an article, an excerpt, a news submission of sorts whenever anyone needs something documented.  I enjoy it so I will always volunteer.  But with all of that said, something was missing.  Work isn’t satisfying me in a creative way and I needed an outlet.  So here we are.

I brainstormed for days on a title and a format, if I should or shouldn’t do it.  But I kept coming back to wanting to do it.  And by do it, I mean, start writing again.  I began tirelessly drafting a long list of hot topics to write about; things I am passionate about, angry about, inspired by and in love with.  I have so much to share and I just hope that someone out there wants to listen.  If nothing else, I will be sitting here, early mornings and late nights, venting about all of the things that make me tick.  For a quick run-down, I have an incredible marriage with my soulmate (hold the cheese, I know how that sounds, but it’s real haters).  I have a great relationship with my parents, who are happily married after forty years together.  I survive on organic produce and supporting sustainable farming practices, I bite my nails (although I know I shouldn’t), and I am not a huge fan of social media.  I could go on forever but I guess this is a fair start.

Join me as I navigate through life, air my grievances, reflect on lessons learned, and celebrate all of the joy that exists around us.  My only hope is by sharing my past and present, I will contribute to your future.