Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Things I've Learned Since I Got Married #8 - Fridge Art

Many of the marriage books I've read suggest that leaving little love notes for one's spouse to find is a good tactic to keep the other person thinking about you when they discover the little composition you've created. ASoG is particularly adept at leaving cards or notes in my weekday tallis bag carrier-thingy - and she gets me every time. I get ready to start putting on my tallis in the morning and to my surprise, I find another lovely little note. The tallis bag carrier-thingy is stored on a shelf where I don't pay much attention to it after Shacharis, so she picks some random time of the day and slips them in.

While I like the idea of hiding notes around, we've discovered an even better method of conveying such messages of affection.

One of the most useful, not to mention fun, purchases that ASoG made when we were moving into our apartment was a magnetized dry-erase board for our refrigerator door. We could write down things like upcoming appointments, semachos we were going to attend, errands/chores that needed to be taken care of, and shopping lists - which would all be very visible and thus easier to remember and harder to forget.

However, the best "use" of the dry-erase board by far has nothing to do with run-of-the-mill, day-to-day stuff like the things I just listed. Rather, the dry erase board becomes a vehicle to compose little love notes, poems, display quotes, or the best of all (in my opinion) drawing funny or wacky doodles designed to make the other spouse laugh.

It's really perfect, especially if one spouse wakes up and departs before the other, which gives him/her a chance to scribble/draw something that their spouse is bound to notice when stopping by the kitchen for breakfast. I can't count the times that both ASoG and I have given each other words of encouragement, a laugh, or just something cute to make us think about the other on our little dry-erase board.

Here's an example (drawn by yours truly):

Amazing, isn't it?

To all the engaged, soon-to-be-engaged, married, and soon-to-be-married folks out there, do yourselves a favor and add a magnetic dry-erase board to your shopping list for your new apartment/home. Your spouse will love you for it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guy > Girl = Happy Marriage?

I recently found an interesting article on the Daily Mail (a British newspaper) website which is titled Marriage 'more satisfying when wife is THINNER than husband'.

In short, a study conducted that followed the calculated body mass index (BMI) of both the husband and wife of 169 couples under the age of 35 over the course of 4 years determined that as long as the husband was larger than his wife, both at the start and throughout the study, he maintained a higher level of happiness.

Conversely, a heavier husband did not impact the level of happiness of the wife. However, a wife who had a lower BMI than her husband was in fact "significantly happier" than a wife whose BMI matched or exceeded her husband's.

Aside from the obvious conclusion, that younger men view physical attractiveness with greater significance than younger women, the lead female researcher, doctoral candidate Andrea Melzer remarked, "
The great take-home message from our study is that women of any size can be happy in their relationships with the right partner. It's relative weight that matters, not absolute weight. It's not that they have to be small."

This could explain the number of couples I know, or have seen on Only Simchas where the guy is quite a bit larger than his fiancee/wife. I do wonder though, if the results or further testing could show to what degree a woman, from the average male's perspective, "should" have less BMI than he does? While the study proclaims that married women shouldn't feel the need to be pressured to fit into size 0 jeans to please their husband, how does this reflect on the shidduch world when reality is so distorted and unreasonable sizes are demanded just to make the cut for a potential date?

Is it possible that such research could demonstrate that a guy legitimately only needs a girl who has less BMI than him, within a healthy range that would account for his personal preference (not every man likes supermodel thin or more zaftig women)? Perhaps this could somehow be explored to put a spotlight on how bad things have gotten with expectations of women's sizes and put our dating culture back on a more realistic, functional track?


Monday, July 18, 2011

Things I've Learned Since I've Gotten Married #7: Icky Removal

This point seems to be blatantly obvious for most men and women, but I figured it's worthwhile to add my own insights to the mix of (mis)information out there.

As most people seem to know, women are not quite fond of creepy crawly things, slimy/squishy things, and scampering/slithering scaled things, among other creatures out there that aren't in the same category of cuteness as a puppy or kitten. This means whenever an insect, arachnid, rodent, reptile or whatever shows up uninvited, it's generally the husband's job to capture/kill and dispose of the unwanted guest. This also comes up whenever multi-legged critters turn up deceased around the apartment and their remains must be removed without delay - especially if they are found in very public or high traffic areas.

I am not such a fan of killing animals for no real reason, and am more likely to pursue a catch-and-release-outside option should it be available, especially for things that don't have an exoskeleton. While I have indeed killed a few spiders/roaches, I've also caught and released a gecko or two (true story, and no, they aren't native in these parts).

The policy of having the husband deal with gross things also applies to cleaning/throwing away items that have become rather noxious, dirty, or slimy. Generally, this isn't much of a problem, and I find it much easier to deal with than living animals.

Sometimes, though, even my tolerance for dealing with such things can be tested.

Case in point, ASoG was cleaning the tub of our new apartment and discovered that the water wasn't draining well. Of course, this probably meant that there was something clogged beneath the little drain stopper. As a rule, I'm the one who always removes any sort of hair clot, even if we know we caused the issue (and women are notorious for shedding, which is the topic of another post entirely). However, this time was a little different.

Granted, the drain clog had nothing to do with us, and was created by the previous occupants, which did add another level of icky-factor. In fact, I was already expected ASoG to ask me to assist her in this aspect of cleaning the tub. What I didn't expect to hear was this:

"AHHHH! Come quick! It's LOOKING at me!"

I honestly had no idea what I was going to find, but I ran to the rescue anyway and peered into the drain as ASoG hovered a safe distance away. I thought there might have been a lizard, maybe even a mouse, but instead I saw a bunch of eyes looking back at me. More in number and larger in size than any local creature that I'm aware of. It was also quite fuzzy/hairy. I could tell it wasn't a tarantula, but I was still a bit hesitant to stick my finger anywhere near it. I grabbed a vinyl glove from nearby and extracted this interesting thing:

Basically, it's a combination fuzz/hair clot along with a woman's hair scrunchy thing with beads that look like large eyeballs. I've dubbed it "The Drain Googly." ASoG wouldn't even look at it because of its high level icky-ness, and I can't really blame her. I quickly ran to the kitchen, took this picture for posterity (and this post), and dropped it into the garbage. This discovery makes me wonder if someone who used to live here is looking for her hair thingy.

Ah, the pleasures of being Pest Control in shining armor.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Y U Don't Connect #4: Being Unfairly Dismissive

As a dater, I tried to be one of those who was very dan lekaf zechus, both for myself and other singles when we were constantly berated with the belittling retort “well, the reason why you’re not married is because you’re too picky!” I thought that most guys and girls were simply being lectured by the older generation who were lamenting how much easier it was “back in the day” and that the modern generation is so super-saturated with choices in life that they apply this misdirected attitude toward finding a spouse. Granted, there definitely exist a certain subset of singles who are so full of themselves, usually portrayed as egotistical guys, who want nothing short of perfect and gorgeous, but I believed they were an incorrigible minority.

Speaking from my own dating experience, I can honestly say I tried to give every profile I received proper consideration. I’d read over what was written, make a few phone calls (or have a dating mentor help me with research), and come to a conclusion that whether the girl was worthwhile or not. On a few occasions, I did receive profiles that I declined shortly after reviewing them, because it was simply clear that we were hashkafically mismatched, or in some cases that included a picture I legitimately didn’t find her attractive whatsoever (and as have I mentioned before, to each his/her own in that area, as long as it’s reasonable).

During our time working as Connectors, ASoG and I have experienced what I would describe as a significantly high number of people, both men and women, who are unusually and unfairly dismissive of perfectly good suggestions for the most ridiculous reasons. Certain individuals who we’ve sent dozens of suggestions to have not yet accepted a single idea we’ve given them. It’s not as though we’re coming up with ideas that are a hashkafic mismatch, one person wants to make aliyah tomorrow while the other isn’t interest whatsoever, or that the other person’s appearance is utterly unlike anything they are attracted to. These individuals point out spelling and grammar errors, unclear sentences, or “general feelings” they get after reviewing a profile and simply reject the person outright instead of say, being reasonable and calling the references to find out more.

On the surface, these uber-picky people will tell us, either in their initial decline or when we press for more information when they send a blank response, the person we sent is actually very much what they are looking for. But, there is some seemingly minute detail, which is only apparent in the profile itself that they then use as the lynchpin to reject what otherwise seems like a great shidduch.

Understandably, this is quite frustrating for us, because ASoG and I really do read the profiles and try to match people up as best as we possibly can. Granted, nothing is ever perfect, although sometimes they seem as though they are almost perfect, but I would think that any shidduch that legitimately looks like it has potential should be investigated as much as possible before just throwing away a perfectly good opportunity.

I’m not really sure what the problem is with all these guys and gals. Do they think that there are so many people out there that they can simply turn down any suggestion that is less than a 99% match for their “list” of requirements? Why don’t they actually invest some time into checking out these prospective candidates? Granted, daters using YU Connects, and often daters in the YU World in general, are not required to perform the more extensive research protocols found in the more right wing/yeshivish dating circles. Doing so requires a lot of time and effort, and it can be very frustrating, so many rabbeim encourage a middle ground of some investigation before and more while dating (if things are going well).

At any rate, whatever means of researching suggestions a person may utilize, it seems ridiculous to me that all these people don’t want to put an ounce of effort into checking into prospective matches if everything isn’t picture perfect on paper. Why not ASK for the person’s reference numbers and inquire from the people who know him/her? Or, as a few saner people do, simply ask the connector to find out for you. It’s really very simple. We will email the person saying a potential match would like elaboration on point X in your profile, and we almost always receive a thoughtful reply. I think it behooves each and every member on YUConnects/Saw You at Sinai to treat each suggestion with the utmost seriousness, to the exclusion of the random, dart-board suggestions thrown at them from uncaring connectors.

To the readers who are involved in the more Modern Orthodox-type dating world, particularly those who use YU Connects or SYAS – do you actually make an attempt to check into profile sent to you? If you don’t, why not?