A successful marriage in ten moves. True or False?

Here are my ten most important moves for a successful marriage. I have had some fun collecting thoughts and confessions from friends throughout the years and surprisingly, some of the false you will find down here once used to be my biggest truths…

Number one: you can’t change your partner, so stop trying. TRUE

It is probably thanks to your differences that you ended up together, only with time (and kids maybe?) you will naturally develop a very dark desire to change who your partner truly is. It usually starts with a series of blaming exercises like “why can’t you be more like me?”. This thing here is called Utopia and in order not to fall in the trap, you need to stay away from the temptation to focus on the differences.

Try to keep your eyes on the positives: if you keep reminding yourself the things that made you fall in love with your partner, you will be fine, even at challenging times.

Number two: just be yourself. FALSE

Hey hubbies and wifies out there! It is absolutely NOT because you can’t change who you are that you should just chill and not make any effort whatsoever to make your other half happy. Being yourself is not enough. Everyone knows that concessions and compromise are the keys to a long, healthy and successful marriage. Therefore, you can continue to be yourself, yes, as long as you also start making efforts to become an even better version of yourself.

Number three: love is all you need. FALSE

Unfortunately, love is not enough, no. We’d be taking another wild journey into the magic world of Utopia if we’d tell ourselves otherwise. Sometimes you need compassion, understanding, a good chat, a break, a funny night out. And sometimes, your friends (who have a life too in case you hadn’t noticed) cannot give you that. I think we can all agree that it’s fair to expect all of the above from your partner too.

Number four: happy self, happy couple. TRUE

For years, I have been lying to myself thinking I could only be happy in my relationship. Worse, I was so deeply convinced about my interpretation of happiness that I used to blame my husband who’s always been very real about putting his self happiness first.

It’s okay if your husband has a hobby (as long as that hobby is not a 20-year-old SHE), and you should have one too! If you want a successful marriage you should focus on nurturing your inner self and maintain a certain individual space, hobbies and friends, without necessarily sharing everything. As long as both of you are aligned on this one, you are safe and you will see that you can be even happier when you are together.

Number five: don’t say it, just prove it. FALSE

Honestly you guys! You think that just because you stick around that’s going to be enough? OK, that’s kind of THE thing to do, I give you that. But what about saying it out loud too?

For some people here, the spoken part is as important as the lived one. Do not underestimate the importance of the words you say (or do not say), and this applies to both the good things as well as the bad. Try for instance not to go to bed angry with your other half (which – I agree – can be a hell of a challenge when your hubby is already asleep ten straight seconds after he has touched the pillow). But you’ve got to try! And if there is anything you really wish to discuss, note it down and bring it up the next morning. Do not keep things in for too long, or they will start to beat you up from the in inside.

Number six: never forget you are a team. TRUE

In the good and the bad times, know what team you are on and play for that team, and that team only. Strategy can be discussed, argued and changed, but when you play out of home you can’t play solo! This is even more powerful when you have kids. Those little humans can smell fear from kilometers, so stay united team parents!

And you, husbands out there: when you get home after we’ve been having the kids all afternoon (and by all afternoon I mean two very long hours between after-school and dinner time, which feel way longer than the whole Star Wars saga), do not criticize our educational choices the moment you get back home, cause you were not there!

Number seven: share the pain, share the gain. TRUE

Apparently, the ideal job is made by 70% of tasks representing your talents. Therefore, at home, if you are more talented for taking care of the kids cause you have patience – and your other half can barely handle two series of “and why is that mommy? why??” before feeling like burning the whole place down -, then you handle the kids. But each has to find a talent and lead with it (everyone has a talent, do not dare to say you don’t!).

Number eight: no secret garden. FALSE

I cannot believe there are still couples out there that think it’s good not to have any secrets. Come on, let’s be serious for a second here. Do you truly believe your loved one tells you EVERYTHING? I think that keeping small secrets from each other (and I cannot stress enough on the “small” here) is totally fine and helps keeping that little bit of mystery spark alive. It is fine not to share everything, with the exception of the important things of course.

Let’s say you should behave as you do in the workplace: take your liberties, pretend like you were in a very important meeting while you were actually on social all afternoon, but never sell your employer’s secrets to the competition.  

Number nine: don’t judge, be judged. TRUE

If you want a solid, successful marriage, you must have a sounding board throughout the journey. A fine selection of bad ass judges, who can review and criticize your couple inside out and without any filter, decency nor restraint whatsoever. Just like you were on The Voice. The secret here is to choose them right (so ensure you pick a devil’s advocate too, those can be of help every now and then).

Number ten: know your list and not his/hers. TRUE

Everyone has a list, even those who say they don’t. I’d say that up to five years into marriage, your partner will probably tell you there is only you on his/her list. However, with time you will get used to the fact that his list will be more and more crowded. And I think that’s fine, cause you have your list too, right? The golden rule for a long-lasting, successful marriage here is to only allow people like Jessica Alba and Leonardo DiCaprio. It is forbidden to fantasize on your partner’s best friends. And now, if you do not have a list (liar!), please go start one up.

Love yourself, hate mid-season

So, now that the kids are finally back to school, mommy can take her blog back up. Yay! This is also that time of the year when I usually start to miss my kids, while continuing to nurture a deep hate for mid-season. This year however, I am also trying something new: the “love yourself” routine.

No socks with sandals

Really guys, why do you put sandals on socks? I mean, I am a Birkenstock addict myself, but come on, those were not made to be worn with socks.

It is no secret I’ve always hated mid-season. You never know how to dress, you wake up in the morning and it’s freezing cold, then you end up sweating like a pig in the afternoon. Plus, it gets even worse when you are also in charge of dressing up 2 little humans, who are not yet able to tell you if they are cold or not, and who inevitably get sick after 2 days in.

Anyways. Enough about the awfulness of mid-season and its looks. The revelation here is I have started to love myself.

Born again

Something happened to me this summer and it took me a couple of months to start accepting it. Then, it took me another two months to heal. To be completely honest, this is still a work-in-progress. But for how cheesy this might sound, it is true that this horrible thing gave me the chance to meet new great people and re-start from scratch.

It’s almost as if the universe had decided to give me a second chance. A chance to reboot my life by fixing what was broken. Cause turns out, I realized that a lot of things were actually broken. However, I was just going with the flow, ignoring them.

When I think about it, I had never taken the time before to simply stop for a second and acknowledge myself. You know, just looking at myself in the mirror and asking: “how are you doing today”?

Think about it

Do you ever ask yourself how you are doing? I bet the answer is no. And the reason is this is not what we’ve been taught.

Growing up, we’ve learned to ask others how they feel and with time we have lost the connection with ourselves. I’ve had a burn out, which literally means that my brain and body have burnt out (well not physically, with flames and stuff, but you get it). I wasn’t able to function anymore, one day all of a sudden I switched my laptop on and tears started to fall down. And I just could not stop them.

After three solid hours of crying and feeling crap, I went to see the doctor and he told me: young lady, this is your body telling you “enough, I can’t take this shit anymore!”. You’d better listen to it.

Keeping in touch with yourself is vital. How can you love yourself if you do not even listen to what your body has to tell?

I am glad I was given the chance to learn this before it was too late. I have started to take 10 minutes every day, to just sit down and listen to my body. I ask myself “how are you feeling today?”. And I take note of every single feeling, positive or negative.

The trick here is to NEVER read anything you’ve written. The past is in the past and that’s where you have to leave it. I have to admit that at the beginning I was very skeptical, but the more I do this the better I feel!

That’s not it

I am also starting another very powerful exercise to re-boost my self-esteem and nurture the love for myself. Closing every day with a small celebration of any little win – like cooking an entire meal without Philadelphia cream cheese as the main ingredient for instance. Or being brave enough to tell the supermarket cashier wrong when the change he gives back is not right. My therapist is going to be super proud of me.

Stay tuned to see how this works out for me and for how long I manage to stick to this “new life, new me” commitment. Bets accepted!


Dress to impress…yourself

I tend to dress for myself and not to give a damn about what others think. I truly believe it is important to impress yourself before thinking about impressing others. Letting your mood influence your wardrobe instead of fashion magazines.

Except hubby, but only when it’s date night and we are booking a babysitter and a restaurant – which doesn’t happen very often, so it would be a pity to throw all that money away: need to work on a look that he would approve and like, to ensure the night won’t go wasted (if you see what I mean…).

Who do you usually dress for?

I think it’s a good thing to dress for yourself without worrying too much about what others will think. What I personally enjoy the most in that, is the freedom to dress up following your mood. It is proof of the love you carry for yourself. When you dress to impress yourself you immediately gain confidence and self-esteem. You feel much more powerful and it shows on the outside.

I’m sure the girls out there will understand. Sometimes, you just feel like staying in your PJ’s, so given that is not really an option when you have to go to work, you will just do the strict minimum effort and wear jeans and a jumper with a little touch of make up and some stylish shoes and you are done. Enough. But some other days, when you feel more confident and like you want to spend time to prep up, you will choose your clothes more carefully and maybe go for a dress or a skirt with a nice shirt. And full make up on.

Dress to feel good

I’d be interested to know whether this is just a girl thing, or boys have the same?? Everyone should be free to dress to feel good and impress yourself at first. The better you feel in your clothes and looks, the more you can be of help to others, think about that.


To be or not to be – there?

A friend of mine just lost someone important in their life. I’m not religious, I barely knew the person and I’m allergic to sadness. Do I really have to go to their funeral?

#askingforafriend

No, you don’t. But not for the 3 lame justifications you wrote.

First of all, funerals are not about you (they rarely are, except for once, usually): they are about the person who passed. So whether you think the deceased will go to heaven or hell –or whether you even believe there is such thing as an afterlife– your cosmology, today, is irrelevant.

Then – funerals are for those who are left behind. A coping mechanism, a chance to say goodbye, a final tribute. It’s your friend who lost someone they knew – and this moment is important for them.

Finally, funerals don’t have to be about sadness – they are about memories, love and moving on.

As this loss wasn’t personal nor close to you, consider yourself lucky and feel free to set the tone of your contribution: your job is to be there for your friend and protect them from interference as they recover.

So don’t go, if you don’t want to, but make sure you have a plan to show that you care. And don’t forget that sometimes there isn’t much to say or do – but it’s enough to just show up.

Would you choose your partner everyday?

Let’s imagine for a second that you can choose a partner from a menu. Like you do at the restaurant really. Is your choice going to fall on the same dish everyday? Would you choose your partner everyday, again and again, even if you could really pick someone else instead?

Everyday pizza

My blog’s co-editor and friend A. has this theory, that someone would hardly choose to eat pizza everyday, when there’s full of other tasteful options on the menu.

He started hearing stories from friends, who have been in a serious relationship for many years (say 10+, mostly married). However, lately they felt the need to look for something else. Outside of their couple. This something else is mostly defined as sex, and I think we can fairly say that there’s no surprise in here. Keep in mind thought, that I still stand with those who are shocked about this being even just a remote possibility.

As you might have read on a previous post, I can barely share my food with my kids, imagine how I would react if my beloved husband was found having thoughts about looking for sex outside of our marriage!

Yes, but…

What has literally hit me like a bus is that, most of the times, their partners are aware and totally fine with that. And when they are not aware, it is justified as “yes but my first, serious and engaged relationship remains the most important and profound.

Basically, these people reckon that they find themselves attracted by other persons with whom they can just share moments. That’s it. They claim that they are not considering to split up from their partners.

As you can imagine, my first reaction to this story has been WTF! Followed by injuries in Italian and a heartfelt “this is crazy and f****** unacceptable!”. With time though, I am starting to think that my good friend A. might actually have a point.

Do women and men love in a different way?

It’s Karma, bitch!

I have never really doubted about karma. Life has taught me many times already that karma is very real and it’s a bitch. So I usually think twice before hurting someone and I think you should too…

Something happened last week that I need to share because I really can’t get it. I kind of need some help to digest it. I was driving the kids to school and I was waiting to get through a street, wanting to turn left basically. For once, I was very diligently waiting my turn – I even let a couple of cars pass before me. So you know, I was being very kind and nice compared to my car standards. Italian blood – yeah baby – these things almost never happen.

Then a complete ass comes from my left and decides he will just turn in and go. Completely and deliberately ignoring my priority on purpose. Once again, I remained very calm (the kids were in the car and I always try to keep my cool when they are around. You know, the lead-by-example kind of thing, right?). And this complete jerk not only throws himself in the queue, but also throws a middle finger at me.

Yes, just like that, right there in my face, with no apparent reason whatsoever. For all the times I deserved a good middle finger, this was truly not one of those! Is it Lady Karma, who’s been secretly watching me all of this time, and decided to pay me back when I was expecting it the least?! Could be. Or the guy was just a true ass, which is plausible too.

What’s the lesson here?

Well, I think we all knew that karma is a bitch, that’s not new. But I feel like this totally tells a much deeper story. We are so constantly busy keeping up with our lives that we tend to forget who we are. We keep on ignoring that, after all, we are all just humans, who are due to die at some point, some sooner some later (lucky bastards), but inevitably all on the same journey. And – drums – guess what: my success does not necessarily mean you are losing out on something! Still, this is what we do, we throw middle fingers at each other without any reason.

I always say that roundabouts and the way people engage in them are perfect metaphors of life, and the way we don’t give a shit about each other. And clearly this does not just happen at work. It happens in the street, at the supermarket, when queuing to board a plane (oh man, that happens a lot, especially in Italy). We are not grateful for what we have, but we seem to be very clear on what we do not have, and just focus on it.

And this is why I hate social media

Or at least the way we use them. What’s the point in showing off my life, posting pictures of my big car, my beautiful partner, my big diamond ring – we are not helping day dreaming, we are growing hate and negative feelings. And I am not a big fan of using social media to sell stuff either. This space should be used to share experiences, to grow by learning from each other, to nurture hope and kindness…

So this message is for the guy who threw his middle finger at me the other day. I am not God so I will not judge, I can only forgive, but I will definitely not forget. May Karma get back at you in the kindest way possible, and hopefully trigger at least some thinking about all of this.


Second chances

It’s easy to say you think second chances are great when you are the one asking for it. But what happens when you are asked for second chances?

Some time ago, someone I used to be friend with in the real life sent me a friend request on Facebook. My first thought has obviously been: screw that b****! and I have ignored the request. Given the person we are talking about had screwed me once already, I was not ready to allow any second chances to be screwed again.

As time goes by though, and Facebook kindly keeps on reminding me that a friend request awaits in my inbox, I am starting to have second thoughts.

Should I give her a second chance?

First of all: thank you, Facebook algorithm! I could have very well done without you bringing me second thoughts about second chances and my impulsive decision based on things that have happened many years ago. And second: why is she asking me to be Facebook friends? Has she truly changed (like I am being told by a shared connection) or is she just trying to spy on me and check my life out?

(hey, I see what you’re thinking, I don’t do that ok? Let’s be clear, we have Instagram for that).

But again, if you are not giving second chances to the ones who have hurt you, how can you know whether they were really willing to repair the bad they had done?

Let’s start from the beginning

This person has been very important to me in a very challenging time (when I had just moved to a new city, out of my country, alone and away from boyfriend, family and friends). She basically took me in, introduced me to her friends and made me feel home.

I am not saying we were besties. It has never been about sharing deep thoughts and talking about changing the world. Let’s say it was more about two girls in their twenties, mutually looking for a partner in crime to go out and have fun, that’s it. And I must admit we did have a lot of fun.

After a while though, she started to have some challenges, so I naturally returned the favor giving her a place to stay. I was living alone in a quite large apartment so why not. Unfortunately, that’s exactly when things got complicated between us.

It’s funny how you think you know someone…

…and then you start sharing a bit more than just a Saturday night out, and you realize you did not know that person AT ALL. I won’t go into details as it would take a whole book. Long story short, besides the very difficult cohabitation, she violated my trust. Worse. As soon as I had asked her to leave the place, she had gone telling a completely different story behind my back, obviously trying to paint me as the bad one of course.

It’s the first time I re-think about the whole thing – WOW this has turned apart really really fast. In a few months, we went from big friends to strangers.

When the time came for me to leave the city and travel back to my hometown (note: at the time I thought it would be for good – which clearly was not, as it turns out I am still here, exactly 10 years after that very night), I decided to invite her to my farewell party, in what I think was a very wise  attempt to bury the hatchet and move on. After all, she had done much for me and I thought it was stupid to lose someone just like that. Bear in mind I was convinced I would leave the country forever, so I guess I thought I did not want to leave any cold case behind me (even if selfishly, still, I think I did a nice gesture, didn’t I?)

Anyways, it does not matter because she did not even reply to my invite. Can you believe that? Better (or actually should I say worse), she asked someone to tell me that “the moment was too intense and psychologically charged for her to even consider coming to the party”.

Are you for real?

I remember feeling extremely sad. Very, very pissed off. And sad. A giant slap in my face, take that. Man it did hurt. How dare she? I mean, wasn’t I the one who had been hurt in the first place?

And yet there I was, making the first step to meet her halfway and try to pick up the pieces. But no, she couldn’t even make the effort to send a note, she was too emotionally busy for that. I know the details of what she was going through at that time and I allow myself to say that her excuse was giant bullshit. No one was dying, no one was sick, just a simple family thing with her dad, the kind of situation that more or less every family has.

Hang on a second: was I giving her a second chance at that time already?! Does that mean I am considering giving her a third chance then?

I am starting to think she does not deserve that. But I forgot to tell you that she is the one who introduced me to the love of my life. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be married to a wonderful guy today. Should this be enough, even for a third chance?

And you? What’s your view on second chances? Tell us your story and we will publish it on here! getintouch@thereallifeblog.com

Recklessness for a happy couple

Being married with kids takes a lot of work and it certainly means you must move away from recklessness. Which, in my experience, is something you do quite naturally and without much of an effort. However, it might not be the case for everyone. What if your other half misses that feeling of freedom that comes with not giving a fuck about danger or consequences? Should we consider inviting some recklessness back in our marriage, to keep our couple happy?

By now you guys know that hubby and I try to book time for ourselves every now and then. Just to have a proper meal without the routine screaming, rolling, running, falling, crying, spitting and burping soundtrack that usually accompanies them. It’s a brief moment of luxury that allows us to have an adult conversation. Or to simply finish a sentence without being interrupted, basically.

Happy couples

Last week, we went out for dinner and somehow the topic of the conversation started touching on relationships and couple goals. Particularly, on those couples, who’ve been together for many years (say 10 or more), and where one starts to see other people or to date other women or men. Just to experience something different – while still acknowledging that they maintain priority for their “main” relationship.

I was curious to hear what he thought about that. Personally, I am certainly against this kind of open relationship (come on let’s be serious, I can hardly share my food with people, what makes you think I would share my husband?!).

His take on this was twofold: first of all, he admitted his admiration for those who are capable of managing multiple love relationships, since – and I quote – “one is way too much work already”.

(Hang on a second, was this his way of telling me that I am annoying and too much to handle?!)

Then he added that, in his opinion, these people are moved by a quest for recklessness. Especially if they have not lived their single years to the fullest and have entered a serious relationship/marriage too soon.

Finally, he confessed that this “recklessness” is something he can see himself missing/wishing for at some point, too. Not because he hasn’t had enough fun hen he was younger (believe me, he has!). But more because when you are in an exclusive relationship like a marriage (with or without kids) you are expected to always be vigilant. To always be aware of and responsible for the consequences of your actions and words.

Truth hurts

WOW. So I should be reconsidering inviting recklessness back into my marriage for a happy couple. For a second, I damned myself for asking the question. I wished one of our kids was there to spill their glass of water, half-choke on a gigantic piece of bread or simply slip off their high chair. But then, I started to understand what he meant. And it does make sense.

Can you imagine how good it would feel to live one wild night like in “The Hangover”? Just to re-center on yourself and feel young and free again? If what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I’d be happy to trade Valentine’s Day with a “Vegas Day”, where anything goes and recklessness has no consequences…


And you? What is your relationship with recklessness like? Tell us your story and we will publish it here! getintouch@thereallifeblog.com

Playing with fire

I am not really sure how to feel about playing with fire. Most importantly, about THE NEED of it. Is it a bad thing? Or a pretty normal and natural thing to feel? Do men feel the same?

I have been at a wedding recently and it was the very first time I was attending solo (i.e.: we could not bring the kids as the travel would have been a living hell for the whole family, so hubby sacrificed himself and decided to stay home with them. He is the best, I know).

Turns out, even though I had a wonderful time with some of my besties (imagine what it means for a working mom of two to have a whole weekend away from the country), and I am glad I could be part of such a lovely wedding where I met many nice people – I also found out that it is super sad to be part of such a joyful day when your other half is not with you.

The BOSS

The feeling of loneliness gets even worse when all around you are only happy couples (well, couples) and nice little kids who remind you of your beloved little monsters, and a bunch of sexy singles that you can’t do anything with cause even if you are alone, you really are NOT alone, sister!

I am sure the only part of the above that you have retained is the “bunch of sexy singles”. Good stuff guys, cause that’s the part I wanted to talk to you about.

I was not the only married mom who was attending solo and – guess what – I was also not the only one who had noticed the BOSS (aka: Bunch Of Sexy Singles). And apparently, we all somehow feel at some point the need of being desirable, the need of feeling flattered because the BOSS are checking you out, even if you perfectly know that’s as far as the interaction with them can go.

Do we really consider this playing with fire?

I am pretty sure this is super common and nothing to feel guilty about. Especially when you are a mom and you have just gone through a massive body change and it feels about right to know that “you still have it”. After all, we can all check out the menu even if we are not necessarily hungry, right? And let’s not be naive: we all do that anyways, not just moms and not just women. Even the most faithful of us (again, we are not talking about cheating here).

However, I reckon we are talking about that precise moment that may actually be just seconds before cheating, so I guess you understand the danger of the whole thing (imagine what could happen if you encounter the BOSS after you’ve gone pretty wild on the gin – see what I mean?). But then again – if it was not dangerous, would we enjoy it that much?

What’s super funny is that I am writing as if playing with fire was the most human and natural thing one can do, acknowledging without the smallest hint of guilt that I am the first to enjoy that. Still, I’m pretty sure I’d stab my husband in his most sensitive body parts if I’d catch him checking someone out…

And you? Have you ever played with fire? Tell us your story and we will publish it on here! getintouch@thereallifeblog.com

Office party pants

What if I got slightly tipsy at the office Christmas party, danced with a bit too much enthusiasm and maybe smooched a married colleague?

#askingforafriend

Letting your hair down at work once a year should be allowed and it should be widely agreed that what happens at a staff party remains at that staff party. This said, you should always try to keep this PG-13 (unless you work at a day-care centre, where the allowed rating should barely hit PG).

Downing a few (too many)? Definitely ok, as long as you don’t insult your boss. Dirty dancing? Moderately ok, but no stripping, please. Dangerously liaising with colleagues? That gets into tricky territory…

As this may – or may not – have happened in your case, it’s time to control the damage done. Who saw you? Will it get leaked? How likely is it to happen again? And did it mean something? These are all questions you have to ask yourself as you pick up your shoes (read: dignity) and make your way back to your office tomorrow.

So think about it carefully, ask a trusted colleague to do a 360°-review on your performance and consider your choices. Can we all be adults, pretend we didn’t see anything and move on? you blackmail those who know and threaten to reveal their sordid downfalls? Or is it time to update your CV and take the next step in your career?