This Was The Most Popular Picture From The Royal Wedding


There have been thousands of pictures from this weekend’s Royal wedding, from Meghan Markle’s wedding dress to Prince George and Princess Charlotte looking adorable – but one picture in particular was so unique that it completely went viral.

Yep, we’re referring to that aerial shot of Harry and Meghan in their carriage begin the procession around Windsor, and we’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve spotted it on social media.

It was popular for many reasons: it provided an intimate portrait of the newlyweds, and as they hold hands it looks like they are shaping a heart.

Plus, it gives a different view of that stunning Givenchy wedding dress, with delicate off-the-shoulder neckline.

The snap was taken by Yui Mok, a staff photographer for Press Association, and he took to Twitter to reveal how he got that winning shot – and before you ask, it wasn’t a drone.

‘I was positioned on the roof of George IV Gateway of Windsor Castle, and they passed directly beneath me during their carriage procession,’ he said.

‘I had less than a one-second window to take that particular shot – whilst having to focus through a metal grill I was standing over – so was happy to get anything really!’

Hands down the standout shot from the Royal wedding, and that’s saying something.


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Are You Close Friends—or Are You Having an Emotional Affair? Here’s How to Tell


It’s an age-old debate: Can men and women really just be best friends—or are they bound to fall for one another eventually? The answer changes depending on who you ask. And complicating the question even more is the fact that a romantic relationship needn't be physical to be real. Hence the increasingly popular term “emotional affair.”

So what is an emotional affair exactly? According to Kenneth Rosenberg, PhD, author of the new book Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat ($26,, an emotional affair occurs between two people who share a mutual attraction and a deep, loving relationship that does not involve sex.

If that definition feels uncomfortably familiar, read on for four red flags that a friendship has crossed the line.

RELATED: This Couples Therapist Says Infidelity Can Make Some Marriages Stronger

You're being secretive

The telltale sign of an emotional affair? “There’s no way in hell you’d tell your primary partner about the relationship,” says Rosenberg. That doesn’t necessarily mean your S.O. doesn’t know you’re close with this other person; they just might not realize the extent of the friendship. “We all keep secrets from our partners and we might even have relationships that we might not tell them much about, but if it’s a relationship where you know there’s some sexual tension and you keep it from your partner, that’s a sign you’re in troubled waters,” says Rosenberg. That brings us to our next point.

RELATED: Could You Be Guilty of 'Micro-Cheating'? A Relationship Expert Explains What the Buzzy Term Means

The tension is palpable

“In an emotional affair, sex is not on the table but is generally under the table,” writes Rosenberg in his book. Translation: You aren’t hooking up, but a desire to is felt on both sides. And it's more than just a fleeting attraction. “Sexual tension is par for the course in flirtation,” says Rosenberg. “But this type [of tension] is more intense.”

You may find yourself fantasizing about your emotional fling while you’re having sex with your primary partner, or thinking to yourself, "If only we could have sex without being unfaithful…." The main point is that you feel enough intimacy or sexual chemistry to get it on with this other person—and you wish you could.

RELATED: The 4 Most Common Problems Sex Therapists See—and How to Solve Each

You complain about your partner

That's a risky move, says Rosenberg: “[You're] implicitly saying to your emotional affair partner, ‘You’re so much better than my partner, it’s so easy to talk to you, I feel like I can tell you anything,’” says Rosenberg. When you rag on your main squeeze to this other person, you’re “casting your own partner in a very negative light, and idolizing your emotional affair partner,” he explains.

Your new bond undermines your old bond

“What you often have in the beginning of an emotional affair is similar to what you have in any physical affair or normal relationship,” says Rosenberg. “Everything is positive, there's free-flowing, unconditional love and acceptance.” That can feel like a huge relief, especially if you're simultaneously dealing with any of the issues or resentments that commonly arise in long-term relationships.

While it's great to feel super-positive about a close friendship, that new thrill—if it's kept secret and accompanied by sexual attraction—can undermine your romantic relationship, warns Rosenberg. Things can get even more precarious when your emotional affair partner starts learning things about you that your romantic partner doesn't know.

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How to stop an emotional affair

Before you beat yourself up, know this: “Affairs—physical, emotional, and virtual—happen, and the desire for an affair is just part of the human experience,” says Rosenberg. “The desire for another is pretty common, especially when you get into the ups and downs of a relationship with your romantic partner.”

That said, “you want to nip [an emotional affair] in the bud, because it’s only going to grow if you don’t," Rosenberg warns.

The first step is to become aware that it’s even happening. (After all, it’s easy to convince yourself you aren’t doing anything wrong when there’s no sex involved.) Once you own it, talk about it. Let your emotional affair partner know that the relationship needs to cool off, and reach out to friends for support. "The more you bring this relationship into the open so it’s not secretive, the better.”

Talking to a mental health professional may be helpful too, says Rosenberg: “A therapist can say, 'I understand how you can love person X and want to have sex with person Y, but this is a bad idea and it isn’t consistent with your values or what you want in life." Reality check received.


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Forget Ghosting—This Is What Happened When a Guy ‘Caspered’ Me


I’ve had quite a few ghost encounters as a millennial navigating the dating scene in New York City. There was the one presidential hopeful (that should have been the first warning sign, I know) who semi-joked about finding his First Lady—then poof, he disappeared. Or the vacation fling who vanished faster than my tan. But by far the most infuriating one was my oh-so-friendly ghost.

“Caspering” is the latest buzzy dating term that my coworkers started talking about during a meeting last week. It's been defined as a friendly type of ghosting. The person no longer asks you out or suggests any kind of future plans, but whenever you text them, they'll dutifully and kindly respond, like nothing's amiss.

RELATED: Are You Close Friends—or Having an Emotional Affair? Here's How to Tell

Last fall, I met my Casper at a mutual friend’s party. We bonded over our neighboring hometowns and talked for over two hours. I gave him my number. It's a meet-cute! I thought to myself, floored by the fact that no swiping or awkward one-liner texts were involved.

We had our first date and ended up talking, flirting, and yes, kissing, at a bar until 3 a.m. On our second date, he was already planning our third.

“What’s your least favorite sport to watch?” he asked in his once-charming, now cringe-worthy wryness.

“Planning a third date already?” I quipped, almost surprised by my own confidence. “That’s pretty presumptuous.”

One hockey game, a few dinners, and several casual hangouts later, we were seeing each other on a regular basis. The holidays were coming up and we had the terrifying exclusivity conversation and made plans to get together while we were on vacation. Back home in California, he met my two best friends and subtly mentioned he told his parents about me.

RELATED: 6 SIgns It's Time to Go to Couples Therapy

The night of New Year’s Eve, we FaceTimed from a few hundred miles away as the ball dropped. (Yes, it was horrifically corny.) And New Year’s Day, he picked me up from the airport and we grabbed pizza. For non-New Yorkers reading this, going to LaGuardia for someone other than yourself is big. He joked that it was the nicest thing he’s ever done.

We had been texting every day and things seemed to be cruising. I distinctly remember thinking, Wow, this one’s actually going to stick around. He didn’t want to label anything, but our mutual friend claimed he was “smitten.” All the while, my Casper kept teasing that he would eventually ghost me, getting a kick out of my incessant eye rolls. (I should note that while writing this summary, I see all of the red flags flying more clearly than before.)

When we had been dating for about eight weeks, our friends asked us (separately) if we felt okay committing to a double date in two weeks. We both laughed at how we’d probably break up by then.

The double date happened and ended with him inviting me to his friend’s beach house. It was four months away, so I felt pretty secure about where things were headed. (At the very least, to the Jersey Shore for Memorial Day weekend.)

And that was the last time I saw him.

RELATED: 9 Things You Should Know About Moving in With Your Significant Other

What makes him the most friendly ghost of all is how that was not the last time I talked to him. We texted during his “insanely busy” next two weeks and while I noticed that I was initiating conversations more than usual, he always responded—always. Even stranger, my phone would ping with a reply within seconds. He avoided making plans but was always there for a reply (and continued “orbiting,” viewing all of my Instagram and Snapchat stories).

I didn’t let Casper get away, though. After two weeks of "I’m busy" and "I’ll let you know," I called him and we hashed it out. He gave me the classic, "It's not the right time right now" line. When I told him that the way he handled things was the worst way to break things off, he replied with something like, "It's not that I'm not interested. If something happens in the future, great…" Cue my eye roll.

That being said, I learned a few things from the experience. Caspering seems to be the version of ghosting that makes the guy feel better about himself—his way of saying Hey, look at me! I'm not an asshole! But when a Casper refuses to be cut and dry, sometimes you just have to do your own ghostbusting.


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Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Didn’t Kiss After Saying 'I Do' at Their Royal Wedding



Most weddings are sealed with a kiss in front of family and friends inside the venue. But there’s a reason Prince Harry and Meghan Markle saved their first smooch as a married couple for their chapel exit.

That’s because it’s not tradition for royal couple’s to kiss in church during their wedding ceremony.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex kept with that tradition on Saturday, locking lips outside St. George’s Chapel after saying “I do” at Windsor Castle. In doing so, they followed in the footsteps of Prince William and Kate Middleton and even the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

“Some view the church as a holy place so they won’t kiss in the church out of respect, but many vicars throughout the church of England will ask the couple if they want to kiss,” Myka Meier, Beaumont Etiquette founder and expert in all things proper, tells PEOPLE.

At their 2011 wedding, William and Kate shared two kisses from the Buckingham Palace balcony after marrying at Westminster Abbey. Nearly 40 years earlier, Charles and Diana did the same on their wedding day.

RELATED VIDEO: Harry and Meghan Exchange Vows

The crowd went wild Saturday as the new husband and wife locked lips just before their carriage procession through the town. Meghan and Harry’s moment marked the first time the couple has kissed in public since he sweetly planted a kiss on Meghan’s cheek during the Invictus Games closing ceremony last September.

After greeting the crowd on the stairs, the couple embarked on their first horse-drawn journey through the streets of Windsor. The rest of the bridal party will head to the castle from the church for the luncheon reception in the State Rooms.


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Do You Need to Get Relationship Closure With an Ex?


Breaking up is hard, but the period of time following a split can be especially brutal. Early on, you might find it difficult to cope with the pain. You might flip-flop between angry resolve ("eff it, I can do better") and a numbing sadness ("I’ll never love anyone like that again"). And if you're like a lot of newly single people, you may start to believe that getting answers from your ex will help you get over the breakup and feel better.

RELATED: 3 Things You're Doing Online That Can Hurt Your Relationship

“I just need closure,” are the all too familiar words that flash through your mind. The end of a relationship can leave a dog pile of emotional baggage, as well as blunt questions about why things fell apart the way they did. No matter what part you played in ending it, you might still have the urge to tie up the relationship in a neat bow—in other words, get closure—before moving on to someone new.

A friend recently confessed to me that more than a year after breaking up, she met with her ex so she could get closure before she relocated across the country. That made me wonder if we really need come face-to-face with our exes. Is it crucial to have a conversation with a past partner in order to feel good about ourselves and move forward? Is it healthy to seek relationship closure at all?

We reached out to therapists for their take, and the answer was a wholehearted yes. Here's what they told us, and how to get the kind of closure that allows you to truly move forward.

Why closure is crucial

The main benefit of getting closure is that it helps you work out powerful or conflicting feelings that might be putting your life in stall. Terri Orbuch, PhD, a professor at Oakland University in Michigan and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great, tells Health that it’s important to let go of any strong emotions connected to your past relationship, negative or positive.

“If you don't let go or get closure, you're probably dragging these memories around with you every day, and from relationship to relationship,” she says. Orbuch is the author of a study on closure, which found that singles who were able to say "I don't feel much of anything for an ex" were way more likely to find a new love and a long-term relationship than the singles who were still grappling with feelings of love or hate.

RELATED: Could You Be Guilty of 'Micro-Cheating'? A Relationship Expert Explains What the Buzzy Term Means

Rachel Needle, PsyD, a psychologist in West Palm Beach, Florida and co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes, is also onboard with getting closure—but proposes that it doesn’t have to come from your ex. Needle tells Health that many people won't get the answers they are looking for or will not hear them in a way that is helpful from their former partner.

"While it would be wonderful to have an insightful ex who can also effectively communicate what went wrong and why, we can also take responsibility for understanding our role in the relationship ending, and thus provide some closure for ourselves," says Needle.

How to get it so you can move forward

If you do decide to meet with your ex to get closure, New York-based sex therapist Sari Cooper, founder and director of the Center for Love and Sex, recommends using the “speaker-listener” technique. “If the couple can remain calm, listen, and reflect on their partner’s viewpoint, it could offer them peaceful closure,” she tells Health. This technique lets both partners “express their feelings, and feel witnessed and heard even if they don’t necessarily agree with one another,” says Cooper. 

A word of caution: When you listen to your ex, be prepared to hear things that may not exactly make you feel good—like that your ex found someone new, or they blame you for the breakup. Your ex's thoughts on the relationship might also be wildly different from how you think things went down. Don't let what they say leave you feeling hurt or bewildered. Take it as proof that you two were never a solid match and had such different viewpoints, things could never have worked out.

RELATED: 30 Signs You're in a Toxic Relationship

And if your ex doesn't want to talk? Get closure without them. Orbuch suggests looking at the relationship objectively and finding an outside perspective. “You may have to ask friends or family because they know what it was really like,” she advises. Getting their take and seeing the relationship for what it was can help you understand that it was not right for either party—and you're better off without them.


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3 Things You're Doing Online That Can Hurt Your Relationship


Social media has changed the way we navigate relationships—the one you're in now and those in the past. That's not necessarily a good thing. “Not only do you have the ability to interact with your exes, but you can also look up your partner’s ex and find pictures or videos of them when they were dating,” says Kevin Gilliland, PsyD, a Dallas-based psychologist and executive director of the counseling service Innovation360. 

Yet there’s so much gray area surrounding acceptable online activity. Is reaching out to a past love on email considered emotional cheating? Is replying to a text that they sent crossing the line? What about reading DMs that pop up on your partner's phone when they're not looking—who can resist that?

RELATED: What is Micro-Cheating? A Relationship Expert Explains What the Buzzy Term Means

“If we asked a dozen couples to define emotional cheating, we’d probably get a dozen different answers,” says Gilliland. “Couples have to define the term together, whatever that means to them.” That said, there are some social media moves that are definite no-nos thanks to their potential to mess up your current relationship. Below, Gilliland outlines three online moves that should be off limits.

Regularly checking an ex’s profile

It sounds harmless enough; you're just curious about what they're doing these days, right? Don't do it. Visiting an ex's Facebook or Instagram profile on the regular often has bigger implications. “You need to think about the real reason you’re still seeking them out,” says Gilliland. “It might be sadness or a wondering what if. Either way, reminiscing about past relationships is risky.”

It’s easy to romanticize what you once had if you’re facing challenges with your current partner, and by scrolling your ex's social pages, you might forget that every relationship endures normal ups and downs. “Relationships are nonstop problem solving,” Gilliland tells Health. “We tend to forget that and idealize other relationships, whether it’s our past ones or comparing ourselves to other couples online, and it’s one of the worst things we can do.”

A better move: Unfriend, unfollow, or block accounts you find yourself wondering about. They might be keeping you from fully committing to your current love.

RELATED: Is Cheating More Likely During Pregnancy?

Messaging someone else about your current relationship

Experts agree that disclosing private info about your relationship to someone online, particularly an ex or a friend or coworker you have sexual chemistry with, is risky business. After all, if you haven’t shared the same info with your partner, why are you sharing it with this person?

To determine whether your personal messages violate your partner's privacy, think about how they would react if they saw them. If you shudder at the thought, your conscience is trying to tell you something. “That’s where it starts to feel like you’re not being loyal to your person, and most partners really wouldn’t be okay with that,” notes Gilliland. 

Though it's fine to share with another person that you two are having issues or working through problems, make sure you vent to a friend you can trust, not an ex or someone who might have ulterior motives. Even if they don't, your SO will think they do and potentially feel distrustful and angry.

RELATED: This Couples Therapist Says Infidelity Can Make Some Marriages Stronger

Snooping through a partner's social accounts

We know, it's hard to resist. But coming across a flirty text or cryptic email is bound to leave you feeling hurt, particularly if you’re already on edge about your partner’s activity online. “My principle is, if you’re going to snoop, you’ve got to be committed to talking about what you find, because we don’t keep that kind of information inside,” says Gilliland.

Also, consider why you’re logging into your SO’s accounts or reading messages that pop up on his screen. “Is it because you’re anxious or fearful about this relationship? Do you not feel worthy or like your partner isn’t committed? If that’s the case, there are so many better ways to address this; snooping behind their back is not going to help resolve anything.”

RELATED: What Your Social Media Posts Can Say About Your Relationship

If you’re skeptical about a partner’s social media usage, have a discussion about it first. Explain what’s bothering you, whether it’s that you struggle with trust or feel like they’ve been acting strange whenever they use their phone around you. 

Secretly scrolling through an SO’s texts might be an option only if you have solid reasons to believe that they are straying and lying to you about it. But beware; your snooping can backfire. “By and large, people don’t like secrets,” says Gilliland. “The linchpin of intimate relationships is trust, and when you do something that impacts trust, people don’t like it.”


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Science Assures It's Fine to Have Fewer Friends in Your 30s


Social networks tend to follow predictable cycles throughout a person’s life, expanding in the 20s and shrinking in the 30s and beyond, a notion borne out by social-science research and popular trend pieces alike. Now, a new study takes this idea and fast-forwards several decades into the future, giving a hint about the long-term impact of this friendly ebb and flow.

According to the study, led by Cheryl L. Carmichael of Brooklyn College and published recently in the journal Psychology and Aging, your middle-age happiness can be predicted by two things: the quantity of friends in your 20s, and the quality of friendships in your 30s. In a way, your 50-year-old self stands to benefit both from the endless rounds of flip cup with college pals and the long talks with close friends a decade later.

The researchers used a data set involving more than 200 University of Rochester students, who in the 1970s and 1980s had been asked to keep daily diaries tracking their social interactions for two weeks, once when they were about 20 years old and again when they were about 30. Each time, they were to note both how many people they interacted with each day and to rate the intimacy and pleasantness of the interaction. Then in 2007 and 2008, when they were about 50, a little more than 100 of those former students took a series of tests to measure their psychological health, including their levels of loneliness, depression, and overall well-being. As it turned out, having a higher number of interactions in the 20s predicted greater well-being in the 50s; in the 30s, however, the quality of the social connections mattered more.

The study isn’t a perfect one. For one, Carmichael acknowledges that this is a limited slice — mostly white, relatively well-educated, and well-off — from which to draw these conclusions. And there’s also the fact that adulthood is pretty different in 2015 than it was in the 1980s, when these study participants were in their early 30s; it’s more common now for young adults to delay marriage and family, for instance. “Our reference to age 20 as early adulthood may, nowadays, be more aptly described as very early adulthood, whereas by age 30, people often feel they have fully entered adulthood,” Carmichael writes. “The developmental changes that we ascribe to 30-year-olds may have taken place by age 30 for many in this late baby-boom cohort, but may unfold at a later age (e.g. closer to age 40) for other generations.” Also, imagine if this study were to be replicated today, with the inclusion of social media. How many “social interactions” have you had in the last two hours, let alone the last two weeks?

Still, if this is the pattern your social life has taken, the researchers do explore some interesting potential reasons why. There’s the obvious, for one — the fact that for many people, the 30s are the years of marriage, kids or career (or all three at once!), leaving less time for keeping up with tons of friends.

But there’s also this: In early adulthood, you’re still figuring yourself out, trying on different selves and ways of being; it makes sense that you’d want a larger circle of friends, with personalities you can borrow from time to time. “However, as individuals approach their 30s, social information-seeking motives wane,” Carmichael and her co-authors write. “Identity exploration goals diminish with the transition into better-defined and more enduring social roles.” You start to have a better idea of who you are in your 30s, meaning that you aren’t so reliant on people in your social circle to give you ideas of who you could be. In other words: If you’re concerned because you have fewer friends than you did in college or in the years shortly after, relax. You’ll be fine.

More from Science of Us:

A New Study Explains Why You and Your 7th-Grade Best Friend Drifted Apart

Why Lonely People Stay Lonely

One Simple Way To Reduce Social Anxiety

Why You Should Go to the Movies (and Do Other Stuff) Alone

Inside the Brains of Happily Married Couples

Mindfulness Is Great, But Spacing Out Is Good for You, Too
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Arizona Woman Accused of Stalking and Sending 'Soul Mate' 65,000 Texts After 1 Date


An Arizona woman has been accused of stalking a man she went on one date with last year by breaking into his home and sending him 65,000 text messages, according to multiple reports.

Jacqueline Claire Ades, 31, was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly stalking and threatening a man she met on a dating website, according to a Paradise Valley police news release obtained by PEOPLE.

ABC15 reported that Ades has allegedly been obsessed with the man since last summer, sending him 65,000 texts after one date. In a jailhouse interview Thursday, she told reporters: “I felt like I met my soul mate and everything was just the way it was. I thought we would do what everybody else did, but that’s not what happened.”

Text messages allegedly sent by Ades include, “Don’t ever try to leave me…I’ll kill you…I don’t wanna be a murderer!” and “Oh, what I would do w/your blood…I’d wanna bathe in it,” according to AZFamily.

When asked by reporters Thursday why she sent the victim thousands of texts, Ades said, “Because it made me find out all my information…Loving him selflessly brought me his information. Because everybody just wants to take. But if you just give and you don’t stop giving, you will all of a sudden receive a lot.”

Ades came to Arizona on a road trip from Florida, she told reporters.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter. 

Paradise Valley police first became aware of the alleged harassment in July, when the victim reported that Ades had been continually texting him, the police news release states.

When police responded to a call by the victim alleging Ades was stalking him, they found her parked outside the victim’s home. She was not arrested, and soon after, police say she began sending the man threatening text messages, according to the news release.

In December, the victim called police again to report that Ades had allegedly returned to his residence, but upon arrival, officers could not locate Ades, the news release states.

On April 8, Paradise Valley police received a call from the victim saying he was traveling outside the country but allegedly saw Ades on surveillance cameras inside his home.

Upon arrival, officers allegedly found Ades inside the man’s home taking a bath. She was taken into custody and charged with trespassing. Ades was released and given a court date. She then allegedly began sending the victim text messages saying she was going to harm him, the news release states.

On May 4, Ades allegedly went to the man’s business and claimed to be his wife. Scottsdale police responded to the scene and escorted her off the premise. When Paradise Valley police heard of the incident, they arrested Ades, according to the news release.

When asked by reporters Thursday if she was crazy, the 31-year-old said, “No, I am the person that discovered love.”

She is charged with threatening and intimidating, stalking, harassment and failure to appear after she failed to show up to her court date for the original trespassing case, the news release states.

Ades is being held without bond and does not yet have an attorney, the Washington Post reports. She is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.


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Mom's So-True Post About 5 Stages of Love in a Marriage Just Might Save Your Relationship


I have been married for 10 years. We've had good times, and very, very bad times. Most recently, we lost a pregnancy, and I have wondered how we will ever get through it, together. In one piece. Because I'm a mess.

Luckily, my husband is so loving and accepting of everything I am feeling in the aftermath of our loss. And I can see how during a dark time, love and light can shine through even more, if you let it.

My experience is the reason I fully connected with a recent post by mom-of-three Harmony Hobbs about the five stages of love in a marriage. In the now-viral Facebook post, Hobbs, who blogs on the page Modern Mommy Madness, starts by sharing a photo of herself and her husband Robbie early in their relationship.

"I read something recently that said there are 5 stages of love," she writes. "First there is the exciting, falling in love stage; that's when this photo was taken. I'd never met a man like him and we couldn't get enough of each other."

She goes on to write, "The second stage is becoming a couple and building a real life together, which we've been doing for the past 12 years. It's a lot of work. SO MUCH WORK. At one point, I was fairly certain I was going to die of sleep deprivation. I had thoughts of smothering Robbie in his sleep. We loved each other, but … you know. We also hated each other sometimes."

Um, raises hand at how relatable that sentiment is!

"Which leads me to stage 3: DISILLUSIONMENT," Hobbs continues. "Most people get stuck here, because disillusionment really freaking sucks. We see each other for what we really are, and it's hard to remember why we fell in love. Everything is a struggle, and life has worn us out to the point that any kind of work beyond immediate survival feels like an overwhelming task. Date night?! BITCH, PLEASE."

She says of stage 3, "It's a dark time." She also told in an email about couples who find themselves here, "My advice is to look at YOURSELF and see how you can change or improve your own behavior. For the longest time I thought my difficulties were because I was surrounded by difficult people. WRONG! The real problem was me and my attitude, as well as the fact that I am high-functioning alcoholic. Getting into recovery was the best thing I've done."

The mom of kids ages 8, 5, and 4 continues in her post, "If you hang in there, stage 4 is about creating real, lasting partnership. It's finding the kind of true love and acceptance that comes with breaking down to your worst in front of another person, and HE DOESN'T RUN AWAY SCREAMING. Instead of rejecting the ugly parts of me, Robbie is helping me put myself back together again. He trusts that the new me will be even better than the old one, and that helps me to believe it, too."

Stage 5, she concludes, is about "using the power of two to change the world. We aren't there yet, but I look forward to it. I am so, so grateful that we picked each other."

She also tells us about the current status of her marriage, "Right this moment I feel gratitude towards my husband for his patience with me as I continue to work on my recovery from alcohol and prescription medication."

We applaud her honesty and feel grateful she shared this important post. I know it helped me as I navigate the most challenging days of my life I've ever faced, days that have truly put my marriage to the test. But we are determined to get through it, and enjoy brighter times ahead, even if we don't exactly change the world.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger/mom. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.

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6 Signs It's Time to Go to Couples Therapy


Every relationship has an ebb and flow to it: moments of giddy excitement and closeness to treasure, and then periods when you feel distant or frustrated with each other. When the rough patches hit, it's tempting to wait them out and assume they’ll pass without making a long-term dent in your relationship.

Therapists, though, advise against that strategy. “The best time to seek out couples counseling may be when you’re feeling happy in your relationship,” says Gail Saltz, MD, psychiatrist and the author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius. Wait too long to seek help after challenges crop up, and bad habits might cement in place, along with resentment and anger. “That’s a very toxic place that’s difficult to undo,” says Dr. Saltz.

RELATED: How the 'Once-a-Week Rule' Can Make a New Relationship Stronger

“It’s easier to work with couples who decide to intervene before the damage is really great,” agrees Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a NYC-based couples and family therapist. With a therapist's help, you can break negative cycles, discover what's causing conflicts and distance, and restore a connection that may feel frayed. “Perhaps most importantly, it helps [couples] identify and remember the strengths of the relationship,” says Ross.

How can you know if your problems amount to a few rough weeks or months—or are big enough to break you up? All relationships are unique, but experts say it generally boils down to certain issues. Here are six signs you might want to consider couples counseling.

You're not feeling much love

Extravagant date nights, weddings, and splashy grand gestures are lovely. But tight couples know that small intimacies are relationship superglue. Hugs, eye contact, listening to your partner’s stories, and tiny acts of kindness help couples feel connected, and connected couples express their love by continuing to do these things, says Ross.

But when your internal perception of your partner changes, often these intimate moves are the first to go. So consider if your thoughts about your significant other are positive overall—or a laundry list of irritants. There’s a halo effect around our loved ones, says Dr. Saltz, that lets what’s wonderful about your partner shine brighter than their faults. When that halo dims, you're less likely to invest in those little gestures…and spats and bickering might take their place. Therapy can help you want to do them again.

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Relationship Might Not Last, According to Experts

Sex has become so-so at best

If one person in a relationship is sexually unhappy, it's a problem for the couple. Dissatisfaction with sex is one of the most common reasons couples seek out therapy, says Ross. Most often, mismatched libidos play a role: The person who wants more sex feels rejected by their partner, who in turn can feel pressured.

Problems around physical intimacy can feel embarrassing, frustrating, or frightening to couples. “They avoid talking about it because the conversations go nowhere, but they recognize that it’s eroding their relationship,” Ross says. If a formerly satisfying sex life has turned into a source of tension, therapy can help you navigate the difficult, awkward conversation and discover solutions that work for both partners.

You're not communicating well

Ideally, couples would start therapy when talking to each other grows challenging, negative, or one-sided, says Dr. Saltz. “I wish people would come in more with communication issues," she explains. “In actuality, not many people do that." And yet communication is often at the root of couples' conflicts—often, one person just doesn’t feel heard, says Ross, who notes that this frequently occurs because one person tries to problem-solve instead of listen.

RELATED: 5 Tips on Staying Close in a Long-Distance Relationship—From a Woman Whose Boyfriend Lives 7,000 Miles Away

Ross explains some of the rules therapists share with couples: Avoid “you” statements, and speak from the “I” instead; stay away from the words “always” and “never”; don’t generalize. Try applying these guidelines on your own, but know that smooth communication is not easy, and sometimes, a neutral party can help. “Couples therapy helps people feel heard and express empathy. It provides tools for communicating and asking for what you need,” says Ross.

One partner had a physical or emotional affair

Texting daily with a coworker, chatting up that cute barista, or getting alerts for every post your ex makes on social media may seem like harmless behaviors. But it can be easy for these small flirtations to transform into inappropriate emotional intimacy—or become physical. And affairs, says Ross, are one of the big reasons patients seek out counseling. It’s not just cheating that put a strain on a relationship, she says. Those emotional betrayals—closeness with someone outside of your relationship, and an over-investment in their day-to-day life—can also be a red flag of a relationship problem.

You bicker endlessly

Does every conversation turn into a conflict? Many couples wait until the fighting escalates before seeking out therapy, says Ross. But you don’t need to wait until a blowout happens to seek out help. “Many couples I see have essentially strong relationships but they get caught in a volatility cycle that leaves them depleted and distraught,” says Ross. Think of the sniping and bickering as a symptom (like a hacking cough that won’t go away) and seek out help before it escalates into, for example, walking pneumonia. 

RELATED: Do This for a Better Relationship (and Less Stress!)

One partner is thinking of breaking up

When relationships aren't functioning smoothly, breaking up becomes compelling—even if you've been together for years. You may even visualize the steps involved in calling it quits, from finding a new place to live to working out custody arrangements. Or it may be your partner who feels ready to move on. “There are couples who come to therapy because they want to split up and they want to do it in the best way possible,” says Ross.

Couples therapy at this point is a last ditch effort to salvage the relationship, says Dr. Saltz. “Certainly couples therapy can be used to have a healthier split or divorce,” she says. But it can also be used to prevent one. So if you’re in a situation where your partner wants to split, and you do not, consider counseling. “Just showing up for couples therapy is brave and risky and the act of turning towards the relationship and committing to couples therapy is in and of itself an intervention,” Ross points out.


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11 Sex Tips That Are Better Than 'Female Viagra'


As the buzz continues over the FDA's approval of a libido drug for women (aka "female viagra"), let us not forget this old-school truth: Plenty of proven pleasure-inducing sex tactics do not involve a prescription (or even any money). Consider these bedroom go-tos from Health.


Start the foreplay while you're at work

Sending a partner a sexy text message can give you a good head start on arousal, says sex educator Yvonne Fulbright, PhD.

Get your "om" on

To boost desire, arousal, and your orgasm, take up yoga—that's what happened to women who did 22 poses several times a week for three months, according to one study. Seems like the flexibility strengthens pelvic and ab muscles, which can max out your ability to climax. Check out these four yoga moves for better sex from Health's contributing fitness editor Kristin McGee.

Eat sexy foods

You know avocados are good for your body, but turns out they're also beneficial for your libido. They're full of unsaturated fat and low in the saturated kind, so they're great for your heart and arteries. In turn, that helps keep blood flowing to the right places.

RELATED: 7 Foods for Better Sex

Try a change of scenery

The novelty of a new setting increases excitement, says Joel Block, PhD, a psychologist and relationship expert. Hello, shower. Hello, kitchen island.

Hold back

The longer the trip, the better the arrival: If you feel yourself getting close to orgasm, slow down and delay the pleasure, recommends sex educator Dorian Solot, author of I Love Female Orgasm: An Extraordinary Orgasm Guide ($13, Keep repeating that and the payoff will be even more amazing.

Make like you're in a movie scene

Nobody's recommending that you fake it, but exaggerating moves can get you into a sexy mindset and perk up your pleasure, per clinical sexologist Eric Marlowe Garrison, an instructor of masculinity studies at the College of William and Mary. By all means, breathe heavily and arch your back and make some noise.

RELATED: Low Libido? 11 Drugs That Affect Your Sex Drive

Do something thrilling (outside of bed)

Thrill-seeking activities such as watching a scary Netflix movie or going rock climbing can stimulate dopamine in the brain, and get your body revved for sex.

Get in breath sync

Devotees of tantric sex—which is all about focused breathing—have found that when partners breathe in tandem, it can create a bigger buildup to orgasm and max out pleasure.

Exercise those muscles down below

Kegels can transform feeble orgasms into fabulous ones, Solot says. How they help: Kegels strengthen the pubococcygeus muscles, which contract during orgasm. If they're stronger, you could have a more intense climax. How to do Kegels: Do 10 quick contractions, then another 10 and hold for 5 to 10 seconds each. Aim for two to three sets a day.

RELATED: 8 Ways Sex Affects Your Brain

Deal with stress

Work stress can have a downer impact on your libido, research has found. To avoid getting distracted by deadlines (or, worse, your evil boss), find ways to minimize stress before the day is done. Steal a move from the French, who know a thing or two about joie de vivre, and have a relaxing petit aperitif when you're home from your commute—a small glass of wine with a small snack, like nuts or pita chips with hummus and olives.

Try not to get too focused on the big O

While climaxing during intercourse gets all the glory, research suggests that the excitement felt during foreplay can be just as pleasurable, so don't worry that you're missing out and just enjoy.

RELATED: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex



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How to Spot 'Love Bombing,' a Sneaky Form of Emotional Abuse


When a couple first starts dating, it’s normal for each partner to want to make a good impression with plenty of compliments, romantic gestures, and sweet gifts for their new significant other. And when that affection is mutual, it can be a perfectly healthy sign of a blossoming relationship.

But sometimes that behavior isn’t entirely mutual. Sometimes, one partner pours on the attention thicker than the other—and thicker than what seems “normal” when they’ve only known each other for a short period of time.

RELATED: 10 Signs You Might Be a Narcissist

Maybe you’ve been there: A guy you’ve recently started seeing begins splurging on expensive jewelry and planning romantic weekends away, or dropping the “L” word and openly fantasizing about what you’ll name your kids, long before you’re comfortable having those conversations.

And yes, these behaviors may just mean that your new man falls hard and fast, or that he’s truly that into you. But they can also be signs of emotional manipulation, say relationship experts—and they may even be signals that the relationship could turn abusive. Here’s what you should know about “love bombing” and the people who do it.

What is love bombing?

The idea behind love bombing isn’t new, and in fact, the term isn’t either: It was reportedly used in the 1970s by Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the cult-like Unification Church of the United States, to describe the over-the-top happiness and love his followers displayed toward others. According to Psychology Today, love bombing has also been used by pimps and gang leaders to encourage loyalty and obedience.

RELATED: 'Her Highest Praises Were Mocking Insults'—What It's Like Growing Up With a Narcissist for a Parent

In recent years, though, psychologists have begun applying the term to troubling behaviors sometimes seen in romantic relationships. And thanks to today’s world of online dating and constant connectedness, it’s easier than ever for love bombers to strike, and to hit hard.

Geraldine Piorkowski, PhD, author of Too Close for Comfort: Exploring the Risks of Intimacy, describes this type of love bombing as “a seductive tactic—consisting of excessive affection, attention, flattery, gifts, and praise—designed to ingratiate oneself and create positive feelings in the other person.”

Excessive is the key word in that definition. Love bombing differs from normal relationship behavior in that it feels unrelenting and unwarranted—or, depending on how taken in the receiving partner is by the attention, too good to be true.

“As in wars, love bombing is a bombardment or storming of the gates, designed to break down resistance—that is, the protective walls we all erect to shield ourselves from harm,” says Piorkowski. “The victim in love bombing is usually vulnerable at the time, and readily influenced by the inordinate attention.”

RELATED: 7 Important Lessons You Can Learn From a Breakup

Why do people love bomb?

Piorkowski says there are two main types of love bombers. “First, there’s the kind of person who’s really very desperate for a relationship,” she says. “They’re needy, depressed, and they’re looking for someone to fill up their emptiness.”

These types of love bombers aren’t necessarily harmless; they often form unhealthy attachments to their romantic interests, and can even turn into stalkers. But their feelings toward their partner, while misguided, tend to be somewhat genuine.

The other type of love bomber is more sinister. “These are the narcissist sociopath types, who deliberately engage in a strategy to control someone,” she says. “It’s almost a conscious ploy to gain favor and power with a partner, regardless of how they truly feel about them.”

Dating this type of person almost never ends well. Love bombers often become angry or act hurt when their partner doesn’t fully return their affection and attention—or questions or contradicts them. Eventually, they may lose interest in their partner as quickly as they fell in “love” in the first place. Even worse, they could become controlling, verbally abusive, or even violent.

RELATED: How to Cope When Your Friends Are Getting Married and Having Babies, and You Feel Left Behind

How can you spot a love bomber?

Often, the most obvious sign of love bombing is how a partner’s behavior makes you feel. “Intimacy comes with a lot of risks, like being embarrassed or rejected, so it’s human nature to proceed cautiously in a new relationship,” says Piorkowski. “When someone goes very quickly, you have to ask yourself: Why are they doing this?”

Besides the constant affection and grandiose gestures, there are other things to watch out for, as well. “One-sided conversations are an important sign,” says Piorkowski. “Love bombers often talk a lot about themselves, and your own needs and wishes don’t matter much.” One exception? They’ll likely pay you lots of compliments—but even those can start to feel insincere and inappropriate.

Pay attention to how your partner treats other people, as well. “The bullies of the world are bullies not just in romantic partnerships, but they tend to be bullies with others in their lives, too,” Piorkowski says.

Unfortunately, says Maggie Parker, a doctoral student at Binghamton University who studies intimate partner violence, it’s not always easy to tell if love bombing will progress to something worse. “The intention with love bombing, or any first phase of violence, is to make it so the person you’re doing it to isn’t aware that you’re doing it,” she says. “Abusers want to catch their victims off guard and pull them in.”

RELATED: Can You Really Be in Love With Two People at Once? Experts Weigh In

Intimate partner violence tends to start gradually, says Parker, and love bombing can be a part of that. “The first stage is getting to know the person and making them feel comfortable: being a smooth talker, showering them with gifts, having them rely on you,” she says.

But that can soon phase into manipulative tactics. “They begin cutting down your self-esteem, making you feel worthless, socially isolating you by criticizing your friends and family,” she says. “If they’re showering you with this much attention, they’re probably not spending much time on themselves—and not allowing you to spend much time on yourself, either.”

Can a love bomber be saved?

Love bombing isn’t always a sign of emotional abuse or deliberate manipulation, says Piorkowski; sometimes, it’s truly a matter of crossed signals and a little too much enthusiasm. But the only way to find out, she says, is to have a serious conversation about what’s bothering you.

“You need to sit down together and say, ‘This is going too fast for me; I want to slow down’—and then see how they react,” she says. “Do they acknowledge your feelings and pay attention to them, or are they like a good salesperson who keeps talking you out of whatever objections you have to buying something?”

RELATED: 30 Signs You're in a Toxic Relationship

Parker says that victims of love bombing often realize something’s not quite right after their partner gets angry for the first time. “If you can have open communication and get to the root of why he or she reacted that way, you may be able to work things out and move past it,” she says. “But if you’re unable to have that conversation calmly, it may be time to end the relationship.”

If you’re worried that your situation could become dangerous, tell a friend or coworker about your concerns. “These types of things can turn violent very quickly, so having someone who knows what’s going on—and who you can stay with, if needed—can be very helpful,” says Parker. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can offer support and references to resources. And of course, if it’s an emergency, call 911.

On the other hand, what if you really are feeling head-over-heels with a new partner, and you’re truly loving the attention? Enjoy it, says Piorkowski, but enjoy it cautiously.

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“Some people do fall in love quickly, and those feelings in and of themselves are not bad,” she says. “But you have to check those feelings against the reality of who this person really is.” In other words, make sure you’re both really into each other—not just the idea of love.


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Loving Husband's Detailed Morning Routine for Wife with Dementia Will Make You Cry


Mary Jane Gacono has struggled with dementia for nearly a decade — and her loving husband, Carl, has been at her side every step of the way.

Carl has been eager to have his wife remain at their Annville, Pennsylvania, home for as long as possible, taking charge of most of her care. But one recent morning, Carl, 88, had a doctor’s appointment and had to enlist the help of the couple’s daughter, Becky, to help care for Mary Jane while he was away.

While she stepped into her dad’s shoes, Becky got a special look at Carl’s super specific (and sweet) morning routine for his wife of nearly 68 years.

“I went over in the morning to help her get ready because he was heading out,” Becky, 55, tells PEOPLE. “That’s his morning routine: getting her to the bathroom, helping her shower, getting her dressed, getting her breakfast and then just being with her throughout the day.”

Becky first shared the sweet story with Love What Matters, writing that Carl spent time going over Mary Jane’s morning routine so she was sure to get it just right. A very important step, Carl said, is putting on Mary Jane’s jewelry: “Don’t forget the bracelet with the heart goes on the left with her watch. The other two bracelets go on the right,” Becky wrote in the post.

“People with dementia … when things are out of order, it tends to make things a little bit harder. So [Carl] tends to keep to a routine that she is used to,” Becky tells PEOPLE.

“She likes to have her jewelry on. Her necklaces and her bracelet and her watch, then on her other arm are her other bracelets. She brushes her hair and then after they’re done with all of that, they head out to eat breakfast together at the table.”

Becky says that throughout her parents’ marriage, Mary Jane has always been supportive of Carl and has been his “biggest cheerleader.”

“She dedicated her life to loving him and supporting him in all his dreams and being successful. I do think he feels that now it’s his turn,” she says. “He never regrets a day that he has with her, I believed that wholeheartedly. But I do believe he’s tired, exhausted and doing the best he can.”

Caretakers help during the weekdays and, along with Becky, some of the couple’s other children also come to help care for Mary Jane — as Becky says it’s clear that her father is “tired” and “exhausted.”

“My dad really struggles some days being exhausted and watching his wife who he dearly loves slip away. But he’s doing the best he can. It’s unconditional love without a doubt. And I think the epitome of unconditional love. He has just been amazing through all this, they’ve always been madly in love with each other.”

The family chronicles Carl and Mary Jane’s story on a Facebook page called “Our Journey Through Our Mom’s Dementia.”


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Anna Faris Blames Herself for Creating the Perfect Relationship with Chris Pratt on Social Media When That Wasn't the Whole Truth


When Anna Faris and Chris Pratt were married, they were one of a few Hollywood couples to receive the distinction of “goals.” At one time, half the internet was dedicated to listicles showering the couple with praise — so when they announced their separation, we really felt love was dead.

Now with her relationship in her rear-view mirror, Faris has a lot of complicated emotions about how the public viewed her relationship and what it was like being branded #RelationshipGoals.

“Chris and I did talk about…we got, like on the Twitter feed, ‘Love is dead’ and ‘Relationship goal.’ We obviously cultivated something and it was rewarding for a while. It was like ‘People seem to think we got all this shit all right.’ I had a little bit of a childish feeling of ‘Oh come on, fucking grow up’ — a little anger,” she told Dax Shepard on his podcast, Armchair Expert.

However, in the end, she took responsibility for how we all viewed the Pratt-Faris marriage.

"But that’s not fair either because I cultivated it," she admits. "We intentionally cultivated the idea of like ‘Look at this beautiful family’ and there were so many moments that were like that but like anything on social media, you don’t post ‘Where the f**k is the toilet paper?’ or whatever…I think it’s a very hard forum to be genuine, and I think it does a disservice to people to not be.”

Now, Faris is reportedly dating cinematographer Michael Barrett and everything seems peachy with her now-ex-husband.

“We had an unbelievable marriage and we have a great friendship now, we love our son to death… I’m really proud of that,” she said in the interview.

It’s healthy to hear that even ~celebrities~ succumb to the pressure of living a happy, perfect, filtered Instagram life. We’re tempted to call Faris and Pratt #ExGoals, but let’s just say that these two are living their lives the best damn way they know how.


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4 Reasons You Don't Get Along With Your Partner’s Family, And What to Do About It


“My boyfriend’s mom doesn’t understand that just because I’m the same age as her kids, I am not her kid,” says Vanessa, a Miami-based yoga instructor. “She has very strong opinions, and unfortunately she cannot keep them to herself. She has no problem making comments about my finances, my struggles with mental health, or what I’m eating. She’ll make fun of me if I turn down a drink, saying I’m obsessed with being thin, when really it’s because alcohol messes with my antidepressants! I find it so intrusive and out of line.”

Vanessa isn’t the only one with a less-than-perfect relationship with her significant other’s family. Julie, a physical therapist in California, has run into cultural differences with her fiancé's relatives. "On the one hand, they are very caring and generous people. On the other hand, they come from a very different, very traditional religious background, so their worldviews, perspectives, and opinions differ from mine," she says. "Because I see them infrequently, I haven’t made it a priority to speak up. I normally retreat and act polite, and don’t express myself like I would if I were with friends or my own family, which probably prevents us from being truly close."

RELATED: 6 Little Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship, According to an Expert

According to Megan Fleming, PhD, a New York City-based relationship therapist, it’s common to have a challenging relationship with your partner's extended family. “We all have an ideal of what we imagine it should be like to grow our family and we hope that our in-laws will offer support and have our back,” she says. “But for many reasons, that doesn’t always happen.”

Because no one wants to go through life dreading holidays and get-togethers, we asked Fleming to give us advice on the best ways to handle fraught relationships with your partner’s parents (or siblings or cousins or grandparents). Read on for the most common problems people face, plus how to handle each one.

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Relationship Might Not Last

The problem: They’re intrusive

Some family members just don’t respect boundaries. “They may think they can drop by your place unannounced or expect that you two are going to spend your vacation time with them,” says Fleming. “They might even be trying to be generous, but it can feel like an expectation rather than a friendly invitation.”

The solution: First, be sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to the amount of time you will spend with each other's kin. This can help you tackle issues as a united front—rather than you setting and enforcing rules, and then coming off as the bad guy.

When you address the issue, start from a place of appreciation, says Fleming. Tell them that you enjoy their company but that you two would be much better hosts if they scheduled visits or at least called first before coming over. As for joint vacations, Fleming recommends saying, "It means a lot that you want to spend time with us and we really do look forward to seeing you. We also get very limited vacation time and it’s important for our relationship (or family, if you have kids) to get that one-on-one time."

RELATED: 3 Common Issues Couples Face Around the Holidays—and How to Handle Each

The problem: They have no filter

“My boyfriend’s mom treats me like I’m part of the family—and not in a good way,” explains Vanessa. "Their family thinks that mean-spirited teasing is funny, but it just hurts my feelings. When I express that it upsets me, she laughs it off. It’s discouraging that she can’t restrain herself from making snide remarks when she knows it upsets me. If she wants to run the family that way, that’s her call. But when I visit I am a guest, and I deserve to be respected as one.”

The solution: “If you don’t see them that often and their comments rub you the wrong way but don't cross the line and become offensive, it might be easier to let it go and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel,” suggests Fleming.

But if a comment or conversation feels downright egregious, consider proactively addressing it by getting your SO involved. “In this context, you really want your partner to go to bat for you because they’ve got the leverage with their family,” says Fleming. “So maybe they privately say to their family, ‘When you treat my partner this way, it really makes me feel like you’re not respecting my choices.’”

RELATED: 4 Things You Should Never Do After a Breakup (and 1 You Always Should)

The problem: They’re hyper-critical

So you think you’re doing the right thing by inviting your in-laws over for dinner—and then all they do is criticize the way you keep the house and let your kids watch TV before bed.

The solution: Gently give them a little perspective by saying something like, “I know it may not be the way you do it, but we work full time, are trying to look after the kids, and don’t really have the money for a housekeeper." Says Fleming: “Sometimes it just helps to give them a sense of what your days look like and have them realize that you are picking your battles and prioritizing." 

RELATED: 4 Topics You Should Always Bring Up in a New Relationship

The problem: You have nothing in common

Let's face it: You're not always going to find common ground with your partner's extended family. You might even feel so different from them, you think you'd never have crossed paths if you weren’t bound by the one person you all love.

That’s exactly how Rachel, an Ohio-based lawyer, feels. “I get along great with my boyfriend’s mother, but I feel like I need to come up with conversation starters before I spend time with his father,” she says. “Though he’s perfectly nice, we share none of the same interests (his: sports, mine: definitely not sports), which makes chatting one on one feel like pulling teeth. I hate to say it, but I secretly hope my boyfriend won’t need to go the bathroom whenever we go out to dinner with his dad!”

The solution: Establish a ritual or activity you can all do together, like cooking a special meal, attending a play, or going bowling, says Fleming. “Find something everyone can enjoy that has a sense of structure, so you’re not just sitting at the dinner table trying to figure out what to say.” That way when your BF heads to the restroom, you can turn your attention to the recipe or scoreboard at hand.


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9 Times Celebrities Got Candid About Divorce


Divorce is more than physically separating yourself from the person you thought you would share your entire life with. The aftermath of splitting up with a partner can have lasting psychological effects, even if in the long run, the breakup was the right step.

RELATED: 5 Easy Love Hacks That Make Any Marriage Better

Every divorcing couple grapples with sadness, anxiety, worry, and stress—and that includes celebrities as well. While we're used to seeing stars looking flawless in red carpet paparazzi shots and social media images, divorce is a topic many A-listers understandably don't like to talk about. These nine celebrities, however, did let their guards down and got candid about the pain of a broken marriage.

Anna Faris

“We intentionally cultivated this idea of like, ‘Look at this beautiful family.’ There were so many moments that were like that but of course just like anything on social media, you don’t post like, ‘Where the fuck is the toilet paper?!’ or whatever,” Faris told Dax Shepard on his podcast Armchair Expert in March, after her split from Chris Pratt.

Later in the show, she told Shepherd, "I need to figure out what the purpose [of marriage] is. Is it safety for your children? Is it convention? Is it so other people respect your relationship more? For me, I’m just not quite sure where it fits, especially when it feels so easy to get married, and then there’s like the untangling in terms of the state getting involved.”

Drew Barrymore

“I definitely personally was in a very dark and fearful place," Barrymore said in a March interview on TODAY. She talked about her divorce from Will Kopelman in starker terms on Chelsea Handler’s Chelsea show in 2016. "You break up with somebody, and you’re just like, ‘Yeah, that didn’t work.’ And you get divorced and you’re like, ‘I’m the biggest failure. This is the biggest failure.’ It's so shameful and hard to actually go through that, even privately."

Jennifer Garner

“I cannot be driven by the optics of this,” she told Vanity Fair in 2016, of her separation from Ben Affleck. “I cannot let anger or hurt be my engine. I need to move with the big picture always on my mind, and the kids first and foremost.”

Mary J. Blige

"The breaking point was when I kept asking over and over and over again for respect and to be respected," Blige said in an interview with ABC in 2016 concerning her divorce from Kendu Isaacs. "And it just seemed like I was beating a dead horse and it seemed like I was talking to a wall. I just wasn't getting it back so if I can't get respect in the relationship, then I have to move on and save myself.”

Miranda Kerr

“When Orlando [Bloom] and I separated [in 2013], I actually fell into a really bad depression,” she told Elle Canada in 2016. “I never understood the depth of that feeling or the reality of that because I was naturally a very happy person.” 

Jennifer Lopez

In a 2016 interview with PEOPLE’s Jess Cagle, she said her divorce from Marc Anthony was “the biggest disappointment of my life so far … I felt like at that time I had lost my way a little bit, of who I was in trying to make the marriage [work].”

Amy Poehler

"Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air,” she wrote of her split from husband Will Arnett in her 2014 book Yes Please. “The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”

Reese Witherspoon

“There are things in my life that are hard to reconcile, like divorce,” she said in a 2008 Parade interview, of her breakup with Ryan Philippe. “Sometimes it is very difficult to make sense of how it could possibly happen. Laying blame is so easy. I don’t have time for hate or negativity in my life. There’s no room for it. When you make wrong choices, you have to take responsibility for them: ‘What part of this do I own?'”

Nicole Kidman

“There were times following [the divorce] when I thought, ‘Wow, this is the loneliest, loneliest existence,’” Kidman told WHO magazine in 2012. “But with Tom [Cruise], it was a fantastic decade. I wish all of the people that have been involved in my life well, because it’s very important to me to be in a place of forgiveness and love.”


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Ellen DeGeneres’s On-Air Mistake Prompted Jenna Dewan to Talk About Ex Channing Tatum


Ellen DeGeneres welcomed the star-studded World of Dance team on Wednesday’s episode of her show, chatting with judges Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough, Ne-Yo, and host Jenna Dewan ahead of the show’s season 2 premiere.

But DeGeneres, a longtime friend of Dewan and her ex-husband Channing Tatum, accidentally introduced her guest with her pre-split name: Jenna Dewan Tatum. Though she quickly corrected her mistake, the talk show host later apologized to Dewan, taking a moment to praise the graceful manner of her and Tatum’s public separation.

“I’m so sorry—I introduced you … it’s just such a habit,” Ellen began. “I just have to say, the way you and Channing are handling everything is beautiful—and for your daughter … the statements have been great. And I apologize. I’ve just known both of you for so long and I’m so used to saying … ”

Dewan, accepting a comforting embrace from Lopez, smiled and addressed the gaffe. “I know,” she told Ellen. “Thank you. Honestly, thank you and everybody for all the love and support. It’s truly so amazing.”

RELATED: Channing Tatum Liked a Lingerie Instagram of Jenna Dewan After She Removed “Tatum” from Her Name

“It’s all love!” she shouted, as the audience erupted in cheers.

Jenna and Channing announced their separation on April 2 with a shared statement posted on social media.

The former couple wed in 2009 after meeting on the set of 2006 dance flick Step Up. They welcomed daughter Everly Tatum in 2013.


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9 Things No One Tells You About Moving In With Your Significant Other


Moving in with your boo should be an exciting adventure, but it can sometimes prove to be a little, um, challenging. Whether you're accustomed to living in a house with roommates, or decide to ditch your studio apartment for a one bedroom with your honey, you could encounter a laundry list of unexpected hurdles that you and your SO have to overcome as a team. From small changes (like how to hang the TP roll) to bigger conversations (think discussing budgets), many couples find compromise to be the most crucial tool in taking the plunge. We asked nine women to share some frustrating and hilarious things they didn't anticipate when moving in with their partners.

Go in with an open mind

“I didn’t realize how closely held and firmly I believed that there is a 'right' way to put a toilet paper roll on the dispenser. For the record, it’s when the end hangs over the top. Which leads me to… there’s no 'right way' to do anything. Just because it’s different from how you do it or have done it in the past, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I wasn’t as open-minded to his way of doing things because I was so used to doing things my way when I lived on my own. We talked about it, and he helped me understand that it’s OK not to do things a specific way every single time, and it’s OK to veer off course." –Laine

Don’t be scared to talk budgets

“Whether it’s rent, groceries, or dinner dates, we are always making sure, now that we live together, we are splitting things fairly. Splitting the bills isn’t a problem for us, but with this responsibility I also picked up on a lot of his spending habits. Let’s just say I love to save for my future when, meanwhile, he likes to spend. Key to making it work? Constant communication! We joke about it now, but there are still plenty of times I’ll say, Did you really need this?”  –Kelsey

Pencil in date nights

“It’s pretty easy to eventually slip into a more roommate-like relationship if you’re not careful. You end up arguing over dishes or whose turn it is to feed the cats or clean the room, and then you watch TV together all the time. We had to work hard to make sure we still act romantically with each other even though we see each other’s gross side more often than not. We try and have date nights and cook together and do things we enjoy together so that we don’t slip into that rut!” –Sabrina

Make up before bed

"Going to bed angry REALLY sucks when you live with your person. You don't have your own home to escape to anymore, so if you're pissed when you go to bed, you're going to wake up next to the person you were pissed at. As uncomfortable as it is to address issues in the moment, you’ve got to do it before you do not truly know them until you live together, otherwise you're going to keep looking at that person and literally running into them in the bathroom or kitchen until you figure it out.” –Elana

Accept what you cannot change

"While accepting what I could and could not change about my partner was a big learning curve for me, I also learned what I could and could not change about myself. There were many ways I bettered myself in the relationship, and tidiness was one of them. It sounds silly, but making my bed every day was a new thing for me. Even though I was a tidier person than ever before, I still had a bad habit of leaving clothes around the bedroom, which was a recurring point of contention in our relationship. I eventually decided to accept this about myself, and told my SO that it was just part of the package; sometimes I am messy, and that's ok. The funny thing is, I am no longer with that partner and am now living on my own. Today, I never leave my apartment without making sure everything is tidy and in its correct place. Go figure." –Cheyenne

Use your words kindly

“We all have good and bad habits that often get magnified, encouraged, and supported when you live with someone. I love working out with my honey, and I believe we are both fitter because of this good habit we have encouraged. However, a nasty habit we've fallen into is talking to one another in a way that isn't loving, more akin to siblings bickering. I have no idea how to finish that thought as it's not finished personally, ha!” –Cate

Don’t forget to keep "me" time

"We don't need to approach every single aspect of our lives as a couple. The first few times I moved in with someone I had in my head that all of a sudden what had been my life would become OUR life. But I eventually realized that I was subscribing to society's ideas of what living together and couple-ship needed to be, and that the single life that I cherished didn't need to change just because I lived with someone.

Now, living with my forever person, we don't just 'hang out' in the evenings. If either of us wants time with the other, it gets scheduled as a date on our calendars and we are both sure that all of our separate life things get sorted before so that we can keep that precious 'us time' sacred. I didn't originally know that I could keep being me when I lived with someone else, but have been able to set up boundaries so that I can, and that has been the most important thing for my happiness and our couple happiness." –Meg

Be prepared to compromise

“No matter how well you think you know someone, or how much time you spend together, you do not truly know them until you live together. I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over three and a half years. We met at the office, lived near each other in New York City, traveled extensively together, and spent on average five to six days a week together before moving into our own place last September. We even spent a summer living together (really more like on top of each other) in my tiny 300-square-foot studio in Soho. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the guy, and while I knew enough to fill out a full-blown species classification report on him, the couple of things I didn’t know stunned me.

For instance, on move-in day, he decided that he needed to keep his queen mattress in our precious hall closet… just in case I moved or we broke up. I offered to throw mine out, because as far as I’m concerned if I move out or if we break up, the last thing I’m going to want to drag around is my bed. To me, this was a totally bananas abuse of sacred closet space and I started to have a panic attack thinking of all of the things we wouldn’t be able to store in there. Moments later, he announced that very same closet would also be an excellent place to keep the empty boxes that he once housed his electronics in… what kind of lunatic keeps empty boxes intact in a closet??? I nearly had a meltdown and had to go for a walk.

Now, I hate to admit that I see his point about the boxes; however, I will never understand the mattress. That said, he gave me the vast majority of the walk-in closet in our bedroom as consolation. So, as long as I don’t go into the hall closet, things are pretty good these days, and there could be far worse things to learn about your SO upon moving in together, which I’m grateful for." –Hannah*

Work to find a balance

"Having always either lived by myself or with a roommate since college, I had developed a 'what's yours is yours and what's mine is mine' attitude towards pretty much everything. Being on a budget and usually being on some diet or another, having control over my food was really important to me. I like knowing that if I left something in the fridge it would still be there for me when I wanted it later, and I like knowing the calories and the macros in my food!

Cut to moving in with my boyfriend in May of 2017. I am lucky that my guy loves to cook and really enjoys sharing food. Myself, not so much. As he continued his habits of buying groceries for the week and fully packing the fridge, I found it difficult to find room for 'my' things: yogurt cups, pre-made dinners, and any other quick/easy/low-fat item I could throw together in the morning. Not only that, but being a self proclaimed 'foodie' (actually, he hates the term, but you know what I mean), he snubbed my pre-packaged delights. Yes, homemade is better, but my things were easy, relatively inexpensive, and what I had always been used to doing. I was having major control issues because I couldn't count the calories in a serving size because he would make things in bulk. And while he would cook veggie and protein heavy foods that 'should' be good for you, they were lathered in sauces, oils, and seasoning that I would normally stay clear of. It was really stressing me out! I should also mention that the year prior, his amazing home cooking and our date night habits had contributed to my packing on the pounds, and I was afraid that if things kept going this way it would only get worse.

I had been afraid to hurt his feelings for a long time. I didn't want to seem ungrateful for letting me move in with him, and for sharing his space. I knew that he really enjoyed cooking for two and I didn’t want to take that away from him. I didn't want eating dinner together at home to continue being an issue. I knew that to make it work I would have to give up some of my control issue, and I would have to let him into my headspace a little more.

I challenged him to cut the fat and the sugar from some of his signature dishes to make them more 'Jules' friendly. It became kind of a fun challenge for him, reinventing his granola and making homemade pancakes and pasta with buckwheat flour. He's become an ambassador for all things fiber! I also asked him to take it easy on me when I would buy the occasional pre-packed lunch or can of soup. Getting everything out into the open was all it really took, along with the willingness to compromise. I accompany him to the grocery store trips more often now, and will even venture out on my own, when the fridge is running low. I was unapologetic about what I needed to do in order to make a positive change for myself and I am happy to report that I'm down over 25 pounds since last fall!" –Julia

*Names have been changed


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This Comedian Shares the Most Relatable (and Hilarious) Posts About Motherhood


Ali Wong is a standup comedian, actress, mom—and our new hero. Since giving birth to her second child at the end of last year, Wong has shared a series of Instagram posts, typically with the semi-ironic hashtag #TheJoyOfMotherhood.

Most recently, the American Housewife cast member posted an image of herself breastfeeding her newborn. “Breastfeeding is a blast” she captioned the photo, displaying a facial expression that made it perfectly clear it's anything but.

Previously, she posted similarly snarky messages about being a mother of two. “Giving my friend a tutorial on how to pump hands free,” she captioned an image of herself with a breast pump over her shirt.

We're also digging her all-too-real sentiment about venturing out with her kids . . . when she really just wanted to hang out on the couch and score some screen time. “Pretending it was worth it to get out of the house, but really we should’ve stayed home and watched Daniel Tiger #TheJoyOfMotherhood,” she wrote.

In February, Wong posted a video of her oldest daughter, Mari, bundled up in a puffer coat. “Mari, we have to keep walking…” she says in the clip, trying to take her daughter’s hand while also carrying her newborn. But Mari resists, prompting Wong to go on a hashtag rant: “#AllStarWeekend #2kids#IDidThis2Myself #TheJoyOfMotherhood.”

In another video from February, Wong pushes her two kids up a hill in a stroller. “This is the life I have chosen #IDidThis2Myself #JoyOfMotherhood#2Kids,” she shared.

And when her husband tried to give her some privacy while she breastfed, she asserted that she wanted to “#FreeTheNipple.”

“My husband insisted on covering me while I breastfed. I think he went a little overboard,” she captioned a photo of herself nursing with a blanket draped over her head.

By sharing the unfiltered “joys” of motherhood, Wong acknowledges that taking care of small kids has its ups and downs—and plenty of laughs. She summed it all up perfectly with the hashtag, “#BlessedButDone.” As her kids get older, we can't wait to see how she nails the insanity of raising tweens and teens. 


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Why I Wish People Would Stop Calling My Best Friend My ‘Work Husband’


This essay is excerpted from Can't Help Myself ($26,, a memoir by Meredith Goldstein, the advice columnist behind The Boston Globe's Love Letters.

I was getting a lot of questions about “work spouses.” I knew the label was supposed to be a cute and harmless way to characterize a specific kind of friendship—the natural, intense coupling than can happen at the office—but referring to a work friend, even a close one, as any kind of “spouse” seemed wrong and misleading.

I did understand why people wanted to come up with a new term for their close office relationships. Those friendships were often more intimate, complicated to describe, and, sometimes, tricky to navigate.

I knew this well—because I had Mark.

In many ways—which I was soon to discover—Mark was the most essential person in my life.

I can’t remember when Mark went from random coworker to the guy who knew the rhythms of my menstrual cycle, which celebrities I want to sleep with, and how my voice gets an octave higher after a second glass of Riesling.

The transition must have happened before I got my first iPhone, because he’s always been the first contact under Favorites. It goes Mark, Mom, Brette (my sister), and Jess (my best friend), in that order.

Mark became a special kind of companion because of our proximity to each other in the office. Unlike my regular friends, whom I probably saw a few hours a week if I was lucky, Mark was omnipresent almost immediately. He was everywhere in my life, all day—sometimes the first person I talked to in the morning and the last person I texted at night. Some weeks, Mark spent more quality time with me than with his wife, Michelle. They lived together, but during their hours at home, they were often asleep or focused on their two young kids.

I remember the first time I met Mark, in 2004. I was new to the arts department at the paper and followed some coworkers up to the cafeteria for coffee. Mark was the tall guy from Northampton, Massachusetts, with pale skin and graying spiky hair that stuck up in all directions. Despite being forty at the time, which seemed old to me then, he appeared to have the energy of a teenager. He bounded up stairs and down the office hallways like he was dancing. He made weird noises to punctuate his statements. He reminded me of a more corporate version of Mork from Ork.

After a few months, we started hanging out after work. It became normal for both of us to check in via text on weekends. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I would check my email and see Mark’s name, and then I’d have a dream that we were doing mundane things like going to the bank and grocery shopping. Even when I was alone, it seemed as though Mark was there—in the walls, in the air, whispering tasteless jokes and tapping his feet while listening to music at his desk.

I acknowledged to myself, as our relationship evolved, that I gave Mark a lot of time and energy—maybe the kind of energy that could be saved for a friend my age or maybe even a boyfriend—but I couldn’t stop myself from leaning into the bond. Our connection reminded me of the kind of close friendships I’d had time to make in college. Our interactions were platonic and fun and natural. We held no power over each other at work, and we just wanted to hang.

One of the first things I enjoyed about Mark was that he liked to do a dumb thing where he arbitrarily put the letter R into random words. He’d go to a Starbucks and order a “larte.” He liked to refer to Ben Affleck as “Ben Arfleck.” I don’t know why that amused me, but it did.

Another dumb thing he did—once all boundaries of decorum were gone, and our friendship had clearly transcended the walls of the office—was tell me which celebrities have big penises. He’d memorized a “celebrities with big penises” list he’d found online, so whenever I happened to mention a name from the list, like Huey Lewis, Mark would ask, with great excitement, his eyebrows high, “You know what they say about Huey Lewis?” and I would say, “Yes, Mark. Yes, I do.”

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"It's a work spouse thing, right?"

It’s complicated, because at some point, when you’re a straight, single woman in your thirties, it can become difficult to develop close platonic relationships with straight men, especially when they’re married. Most of my straight male friends were grandfathered in from high school and college. It was becoming difficult to go up to someone’s husband—even a coworker—and say, “Hey, let’s go to the movies or get drinks.” Sometimes people got weird about it.

But with Mark, it happened organically, and it would have been a bigger effort not to be close friends.

He was there when my body rejected the many apple martinis I consumed at Lucky’s Lounge on my thirtieth birthday, and I was probably the one childless adult guest at his daughter’s Harry Potter–themed tenth birthday party.

One time, Mark and I got stoned in an alley near Boston Common and then went to see the James Bond movie Skyfall. I consumed a super-sized box of Junior Mints while he got paranoid. During the scene where Javier Bardem takes out his teeth and reveals that his face is deformed from cyanide, Mark leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Promise you’ll never do that to me.”

I didn’t know what he meant, but he looked scared, so I vowed I wouldn’t.

Mark’s wife has always understood our relationship. Right off the bat, she was like, “Have fun with Meredith,” because I guess our intentions (or lack thereof) have always been clear.

Michelle, who also became my friend, told me, not long after I got close to Mark, that when you have kids, especially in the beginning, you often wind up befriending other parents whose children know your own. Those people are nice, she said, but some of them aren’t the companions you’d choose if it wasn’t about convenience. She acknowledged that on paper, I wasn’t the most obvious close friend for Mark, but in the same way we can’t help whom we love, we sometimes can’t help whom we like. If she was jealous of anyone, it was Mark. Making friends as a grown-up wasn’t usually an effortless process.

Not everyone was as open-minded as Michelle. Once Mark and I got close, I could tell that some coworkers assumed we were having sex. The people who asked about the nature of our relationship tended to be men around Mark’s age, which said more about their desires than anything else.

“So. . . is it like . . . siblings? Like brother and sister?” one boss asked.

“It’s a work spouse thing, right?” asked another.

“No,” I said, annoyed because I was sure that if Mark were a woman, no one would pay attention to us.

But even Mark’s son tried to put a name to it. He’d seen his parents with friends, but I was younger than those people and I didn’t have kids, which made me different. “Daddy, is Merevis your girlfriend?” Mark’s son asked before he was old enough to pronounce my name. Mark’s daughter, who’s four years older than her brother, had an answer before her father did.

“No,” she said, “Merevis is Daddy’s colleague. Mommy is daddy’s girlfriend.”

That was almost right.

It was my mom—who’d never questioned my friendship with Mark—who explained it best.

“He’s just our Mark,” she said, when I told her people were confused.

She added, with more thought, “You guys are also a little like Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock.”

“Except Mark and I are both Liz Lemon,” I said.

My mom agreed. 

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Finding the line

I know Mark probably skewed my perspective when it came to the many letters I received about workplace relationships. It was a big topic from the start—about thirty percent of all Love Letters entries in the first few years mentioned work in some way.

The easiest questions were about dating in the workplace and whether people should “dip the pen into the company ink.” I usually responded “go for it,” because even after losing my ex-boyfriend/colleague Patrick and having to see him in the Globe cafeteria, I still thought office romances were worth a shot. I told readers that as long as they were respecting the rules of the human resources department, they might as well dip their pens.

I also knew the Globe employed many married couples who met on the job. Those people all seemed content, probably because they’d married someone with similar priorities.

The harder workplace questions came from people who were concerned about their partners’ close friends at work, or their own blurry office relationships, assuming they were already coupled. One letter was sent by a woman who wrote in to ask about her husband’s new coworker, who liked to text him late at night, long after they were off the clock.

“My issue is that this woman (who is single) texts my husband, ‘Jason,’ during off-work hours. Their conversations revolve around personal things, not work-related topics. Nothing incredibly personal, but it’s still clear she’s reaching out just for an excuse to talk. I realize that when you work with someone closely you’ll develop a relationship and get to know them, but her texts are downright flirty.”

My instinct was to defend this other woman because maybe she and Jason were super-friends, like Mark and me. What did it mean to be flirty, after all? Inside jokes? Comments about sex? Mark and I texted jokes off-hours, and some of them were about sex (usually about me not having any, after Patrick). With all of the hours we spent at the office, Mark and I needed humor. We needed to talk about Huey Lewis’s penis.

Michelle understood. Or at least I hoped she did.

I told the letter writer she was focusing on the wrong problem. "It sounds like the real issue here is the amount of time your husband spends on his phone. Is Jason paying attention to these texts when he should be engaged in conversation with you?"

For the record, I knew that sometimes I was too defensive of these workplace friendships. I knew that Mark and I might be an exception to the rule and that many “work spouse” couplings did turn into affairs.

I tried to figure out the line for my readers. The big thing I noted, as I considered why Mark and I worked so well, was that he and I never used each other to escape our real lives. I liked Mark even more when I was exposed to his marriage and family. I loved how he talked to his kids and how excited he got whenever Michelle got a cool haircut.

I liked Mark because he liked his life.

He also joined my world, as opposed to being an alternative to it. Very early on, he met my friends and hung out with my family. He made jokes about giving me away at my wedding and said he wanted me to meet someone after Patrick so we could have double dates.

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Emergency contact

As much as I don’t remember when Mark became the first contact in my phone, I do remember when it became clear who he had become in my life—what it meant to have a Mark.

During a January weekend, a year after I’d started the advice column, I took the train from Boston to Maryland because my mom was having stomach issues and was ordered to get a colonoscopy. My mom had avoided colonoscopies—even though she was about ten years past the recommended age to get one—because the procedure scared her.

Once, years prior, she’d been on her way to the hospital to get the test when she abruptly turned the car around, all of a sudden rejecting the idea of someone snaking a tube up her rear end.

But because of her new symptoms, she couldn’t avoid the test any longer. She asked me to travel to Baltimore to take her to the appointment. Mark helped me keep up at work while I was gone.

I drove my mom to the doctor’s office and made her listen to my iPod, which I’d loaded with her favorite Sting songs to soothe her before the procedure. Her eyes were shut tight while she sat in that waiting room, her fingers clutching the tiny old Apple device.

“What if it’s something bad?” she whispered.

“It’s not,” I told her, trying to get her to focus on Ten Summoner’s Tales. “People have stomach issues all the time. It’s probably a polyp. A hemorrhoid. We all get the ’roids. Avoid the Roid!”

“Okay,” she said, not laughing.

The doctor—who happened to be the father of one of my old schoolmates—found me in the waiting room about a half hour after the procedure. He was holding a picture of my mother’s insides and his expression was grim.

“Meredith, we’ve finished the colonoscopy.”

He sat down next to me and pointed to the image, his finger on a pink area near another pink area that looked like construction insulation. “This right here—this large area—this is cancer,” he said. “It’s not confirmed, but, Meredith, I’ve been doing this a long time. This is colorectal cancer.”

Then he said about fifteen other things about how we needed to set up appointments for scans, and how my mom didn’t know the diagnosis yet because she was just waking up. He said I should call Brette and make a plan.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

I remember moving my legs, which felt like stilts, out into the hallway, and then calling Brette, only to get her voicemail. Voicemail over and over.

My next instinct was to call Jess, but I wasn’t ready for that. Telling her my mom had cancer would frighten her, and then we’d both be scared, and I didn’t know where we’d go from there.

For a split second I thought to call Patrick, but he wasn’t my person for this kind of thing anymore. He never really was, even when we were dating.

My real practical emergency contact was Mark. When you work closely with someone, they know your every move and what you need to accomplish each day. Mark was the only person who understood all of my hourly needs and obligations. That meant he was the best person to talk me through the next scary moments of my life. How would this work? Where were the best doctors? What if the cancer had spread? What if this was really bad?

For a minute or two, Mark and I were the only people in the world, besides the medical staff, who knew the diagnosis. I don’t remember what I told Mark or how he responded, but I do remember feeling stronger when I heard his voice.

It was clear that whatever happened next, he was with me. I squatted in the hospital hallway talking—not to someone who felt like a spouse, an officemate, or a friend, but to someone who was . . . Mark.

We were doing what we did best, devising a plan and tackling our to-do list, one task at a time.

From CAN'T HELP MYSELF: Lessons and Confessions From a Modern Advice Columnist by Meredith Goldstein. Copyright © 2018 by Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


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