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52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge WK 2: Your Spouse

 

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I’m running behind on this challenge but I have to say, this is the week I’ve been looking forward to most – where I get to talk about my amazing Mr. D. And as it’s exactly seven years today since Mr. D popped the question after planning the most beautiful proposal,  I’d say that this post has come at the right time.

Courtesy of Tumisu @ pixabay.com

Courtesy of Tumisu @ pixabay.com

When I met Mr.  D almost ten years ago,  I really did think that that was going to be the first and last time I ever saw him,  despite my intention to stay in contact.  We lived on different continents and our lives moved in completely different directions so it seemed unlikely that we would ever meet up again.  I have never been so thankful to have been proved wrong!

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Being a die-hard romantic I wanted the old-fashioned eyes-meeting-across-a-crowded-room deal. I wanted popping champagne corks, symphonies, and fireworks. What I actually got was better than that: a sh**load of vodka, a hard rock band from Oklahoma, and nachos! People who hear about how met and got  together  think it’s like something out of a rom-com movie and I’m so glad that we have such a unique story to tell.

Courtesy of fradellafra @ pixabay.com

Courtesy of fradellafra @ pixabay.com

Admittedly since we got married, Mr. D now feels that he doesn’t have to try so hard, so things like opening car doors, pulling out my chair in restaurants and flowers are now a thing of the past! Hmmm… And don’t think I haven’t complained about it!

Courtesy of Erbs55 @ pixabay.com

Courtesy of Erbs55 @ pixabay.com

But one thing that hasn’t changed about Mr. D is his good heart. He has got the kindest heart out of everyone I know. He’s extremely compassionate,  forgiving,  non-judgemental  and he treats everyone with the respect they deserve.  He’s  the last person you’ll  ever find bitching  about anyone (though I have heard him complaining about me more than a few times!) Whereas my exes were so caught up in appearances  and being the life and soul Mr.  Popularity, down-to-earth Mr.  D.  really couldn’t  care less about any of that and is just intent on being his humble self. It’s an attitude  I find refreshing and is one of the reasons why it’s  not just me,  but why my family and friends love him him as well.

Courtesy of OpenClipart Vectors @ pixabay.com

Courtesy of OpenClipart Vectors @ pixabay.com

I always feel that you know when you’re with the right person because they bring out the best in you and Mr. D certainly does that for me despite us being total opposites. He’s been a very calming influence on me and the fact that we are so different means that it never gets boring and we learn tons from each other.

Courtesy of cspxbay @ pixabay.com

Courtesy of cspxbay @ pixabay.com

A few of our closest friends know that last year was a very tough year for us. It was one of the most stressful and traumatic periods we’ve ever encountered in our married life and I hope we never have to go through anything like that again. But marriage isn’t always wine and roses and as someone once said, sometimes you only know the strength of a relationship when it’s been pushed to the limit and you’re being tested. I’d like to think we’ve passed the test.

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Mr. D.  is absolutely my best friend, the love of my life and my most favourite person. I could spend all day, every day with him and never get bored. I’m so thankful I get to call him my husband.

Courtesy ofJohnNapat @ pixabay.com

Courtesy ofJohnNapat @ pixabay.com

And I will forever be grateful to that rock band from Oklahoma!

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Opposites Attract? We Think So!

 

On Saturday, Mr.D and I celebrated six years since we became a couple. So to mark the occasion we thought we’d go to the theatre (for me) followed by a meal at Mr.D’s favourite steak house (for him!) I quite enjoyed the theatre performance but Mr.D. wasn’t so impressed:

Me: I’m so glad that you came to the theatre with me today.

Mr. D: Hmmm.

Me: Usually I have to go on my own or with friends. But never with you.

Mr. D: Hmmm.

Me: Did you like it?

Mr. D: It was Ok, I guess.

Me: I thought it was very interesting.

Mr. D: I’m not really much of a theatre person. I much prefer going to the cinema.

Me: Well it’s not too dissimilar from the cinema. And the action is unfolding right in front of you.

Mr.D: The play wasn’t really my thing. It was all about feelings and stuff – not my cup of tea.

Me: Of course not. You prefer to watch movies where people are battering the crap out of each other!

Mr.D (laughing): Sure I do. It’s more interesting!

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This interesting little exchange highlights just how different we are in many ways. It was very obvious that we were chalk and cheese when we got together but after a few years of marriage when you pretty much merge into one person you sometimes forget about how different you are. But it’s episodes like this that remind me of our unique personalities and interests.

A while ago I did a blog post on how similar my mother and I are although it would appear that on the surface we couldn’t be more different. Now I’m thinking about how Mr.D. and I seem to be total opposites. But is that such a bad thing…?

1. TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE

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I think the biggest difference between me and Mr.D is the great geographical divide. I was born and raised in the city. It’s what I know and love: the hustle and bustle, the sounds, the lights, the sights, the excitement, the fact that there’s so much to see and do… whichever city you’re in, I don’t think it’s possible to feel bored. Admittedly city life has become a lot more congested than it used to be but having tried country living – something I’d wanted to do for a long time – I realise that life in the fast lane is the right place for me as I thrive on the energy and vibrancy of city life.

Mr. D. however is a country boy through and through. He cherishes fresh air, open spaces, green fields, and a quieter, slower pace of life – more so after a very long period of living in the city which in his opinion is akin to living in purgatory! Mr. D. has made no secret of his desire to up sticks and head back to the country but as we both work in the capital, that just isn’t possible right now. I know at some point we’ll have to move some where that has a bit of what we’re both looking for but right now, the city it is!

We do, however, both love the beach!

2. THE GREAT OUTDOORS VS. THE SNUG INDOORS

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Give a man a fishing rod, and he’ll feed himself. Give a man a tent and he’ll live outdoors for the rest of his life and never come home!

One of the disadvantages of living in England for Mr.D. is that the often miserable weather means that he spends more time indoors than he would prefer. If the weather was glorious all the time, he’d never be indoors as he’d be out pursuing all kinds of sporty and leisurely pursuits: camping, archery, rowing, tennis, canoeing, football… being stuck indoors (or worse trailing around the shops after me) is most definitely not his idea of fun – but at least he has his video games to keep him quiet!

Now the only thing outdoorsy about me is shopping and al fresco dining! Admittedly I can be a bit lazy and on weekends, I can often be found snuggled under the duvet watching movies… or blogging! And I’m certainly not one for all the active stuff that Mr. D. is in to.

Although he did on one occasion insist that I join him on one of his outdoorsy activities. I impressed him so much with my ability to just get on with it and not complain that by the end of the day he presented me with a little box with a ring inside…

3. THE CLUBS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Even though we don’t frequent nightclubs and bars as often as we used to, if it’s a special occasion then we’ll definitely go. The difference here is that while Mr.D. couldn’t care less if he never saw the inside of a bar or a club ever again, I really don’t mind it. True, I often feel like someone’s nanna when I set foot into one of these establishments but I love getting all glammed up and I do like the social aspect of it: having a drink and a laugh with your mates, and if it’s a club that’s playing my kind of music – wild horses couldn’t drag me off the dance floor (wheareas they wouldn’t be able to drag Mr. D. onto the dance floor in the first place!)

4. DRESS TO IMPRESS OR DRESS TO BENCH PRESS

 

Years ago we were on the tube when we saw this fifty-something year old couple. The lady was extremely glamorous, clearly took pride in her appearance and had a keen interest in fashion. Her fella was in t-shirt and shorts and looked as thought he was going to do a couple of laps around the park. Then it dawned on me and Mr.D. that the couple were a more mature version of us!

“Do you think that’s what we’re going to look like when we get to their age?” asked Mr.D

“Well considering we look like them already…” I replied.

Years later nothing much has changed. I’m not image-conscious or vain but I do like to make an effort with my appearance, and although Mr.D. is always smart and presentable for work, outside of work you’ll just have to take him as you find him in his mega casual and sometimes sporty gear.

5. WE’VE BEEN THERE ONCE SO WE’RE NEVER GOING THERE AGAIN!

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If there’s a place I’ve been to that I really like, whether it’s a town, country, restaurant etc. It’s always my intention to revisit it again at some point. And why not? If it’s a particular region, I’d like to go back to do more exploring, and if it’s a restaurant, I’d like to go back to sample more dishes. And I love visiting Spain because it gives me a chance to use my language skills.

Mr.D. can’t see the point in revisiting places we’ve already been to. The way he sees it is that the worlds a big place with so much to discover that if you keep visiting the same old places, how will you be able to experience what the rest of the world has to offer?

He has a point but I see nothing wrong with making the odd trip back to a place that I really enjoyed.

The jury’s still out on this one!

6. HOW CAN YOU EAT THAT?

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My mum was always keen to stretch our taste buds so we grew up eating all kinds of food and are still eager to try new things. As a result I’m not one of those people who can eat the same thing day in, day out and definitely need variety. Mr. D. on the other-hand is Italian-American to the core and is happiest when a plate of something Italian-American is put in front of him. Plus he’s a massive meat eater, while I struggle to finish a whole steak. In a nutshell, our tastes in food are very different!

Since meeting me and moving to London, he has since tried a variety of different cuisines and dishes – something that seriously impressed my father-in-law! However even though he can eat spicy food, he’s still getting used to a lot of the hotter stuff and he’s still a bit of a fussy eater and has his list of can’t eat/won’t eats!

7. WORDS AND NUMBERS

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I’m an English teacher, language learner, blogger, writer and avid reader and once upon a time, I used to write songs. It goes without saying that words are very important to me. I love putting words together in an expressive way that gives meaning. I love bringing words to life. That doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer from an attack of writer’s block because sometimes I do, but words are very much my forté.

My husband however doesn’t feel that writing or public speaking are two of his strongest points (and often gets me to help out with these. But he  is very much a numbers man and is more geared towards maths and science. It’s what he works with every day and he has absolutely no problems with working out what is simple arithmetic for most normal people, but for what I would require a calculator, pen and paper, and use of my fingers and toes before seeking someone out for a second opinion!

8. HOW MUCH???

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I wouldn’t say that either of us are big spenders (oh look – a similarity at last!) Despite the fact that I spent a fortune on a bespoke wedding gown (come on, it was for my wedding!) I couldn’t justify spending a grand on a coat or handbag knowing that I’d have to be buried with it just so that I could use it in the after life to get my money’s worth (that’s what my wedding gown will be for!)

However every now and again, I like to spend a little more than I normally would on little luxuries – especially if I feel it’s well-deserved. But I don’t go mad and it is just an occasional thing.

However it’s not something that Mr.D. would ever do (actually come to think of it, he did once pay something scandalous for a beef Wellington that wasn’t even that good!) but he knows I like to have my little splurges – although I prefer not to mention it because, even though he doesn’t mind, he would tease me merciliessly!

9. LEISURE PURSUITS TO SUIT… OURSELVES!

 

Just check number two for Mr. D’s favourite hobbies and activities. But along with shopping, blogging, having coffee/cocktails and a natter with the girls, I also love cooking and anything crafty that allows me to release the artist in me.

With us pursuing different interests, you might wonder how we ever get to spend quality time together but we do!

10. THE CALM BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE STORM

 

   🚻🚻.        Everyone who knows Mr.D. knows how quiet he is. He’s also extremely good-natured, very calm and rarely gets worked up about anything. I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite and have been known to get very emotional, scream my head off over the most trivial of things, stomp up the stairs, slam doors and generally release my inner fifteen year old!

BUT IT’S NOT ALL BAD…

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It’s not that we don’t have anything in common at all of course. The things that Mr.D. and I do actually have in common are things that matter. We both have old-fashioned morals and values; we believe in treating others the way we would like to be treated; we understand the importance of hard work and the value of money; our family and friends mean everything to us, and despite us coming from different cultural backgrounds, we’ve had similar upbringings and both come from big families.

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Some people prefer to be in a relationship with the male/female version of themselves but I actually like being married to someone who’s very different to me.  That’s not to say that the differences haven’t frustrated us both at one time or another but I feel that on the whole we complement and balance each other out. The things that one of is lousy at, the other one is great at. True, Mr.D. and I have two distinct personalities and abilities, different interests and hobbies, and our own beliefs and opinions but I actually appreciate the differences between us  because it’s kept things interesting and enabled us to learn and experience new things from the other. One of our friends even remarked how wonderful it must be to be in a relationship where we are continually learning from each other. And for the most part it is – except for when the ‘learning from each other’ leads to a heated debate!

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So I’m just going to leave you with a clip from How I Met Your Mother about the infamous ‘Olive Theory’. Incidentally How I Met Your Mother is Mr.D’s favourite show. I’m more of a ‘Lobster Theory’ Friends chick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You’re The Only Married Couple In The Village…

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It’s not just that I love being married but I love being married to Mr. D. It took him a long time to appear but he was definitely worth the wait. And I also love my fabulous close female friends. These are the girls who have been there for me long before Mr. D had me at ‘Hello’ and who always have my back. And luckily for me, my friends and Mr.D. get on well, so we’re all one big happy ‘framily’! The only slight issue is being one of the few married couples among our friends of mostly singles as at times we can find ourselves on different wavelengths.

My friends who are single are forever telling me about the problems they encounter due to their single status and as someone who’s been both single and married, I definitely know where they’re coming from: being the only singleton amongst a bunch of marrieds and feeling like a spare part; having your mother do a spot of matchmaking with anyone and everyone; sympathetic looks and ‘well-meaning’ advice; the endless questions about why you’re still single and warnings about ending up like Ms. Haversham; everyone assuming that you’re lonely and unlucky… and sometimes you really do feel as though you’re lonely and unlucky. The list goes on and many of my friends forget that I once walked in those shoes so I totally understand.

And the other thing they don’t realise is that you don’t stop having issues the moment you have a ring on your finger. Instead there’s a whole new set of awkward encounters that we have to look forward to. Married life is great, especially if you’re married to the right person, but when the vast, overwhelming majority of your friends are single you could very well end up feeling like a couple of jammy dodgers in a packet of shortbread fingers. And there’s tons of articles and posts out there on the subject of being the only single person when all your friends are married but virtually nothing when the situation is reversed.

So for all you singles out there who think we have it easy, read on:

1. YOU MISS OUT ON ALL THE COOL ALL-GIRL BREAKS

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I never got to do the crazy, raucous girls holiday abroad when I was single and I do regret not making the most of my days as a single young woman. Now that I’m married, it’s definitely not something that’s likely to happen. I don’t really have a problem with that because I have tons of fun holidaying with my fab husband but when the girls are off on one of their foreign jaunts, I’m glad that they’re having such an awesome time but I do know that I’m missing out on all the madness. And despite being invited, I would only spoil it for the girls with my constant moping because Mr.D. isn’t there.

But I do look forward to the stories and pics when they get back. Honest!

2. YOUR OTHER HALF IS INVISIBLE TO YOUR SINGLE FRIENDS

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Many of our friends extend invitations to the both of us when there is an event or a bash of some kind so we’re quite lucky in that respect. And likewise, if I was having a party, dinner, luncheon etc. I would make sure that my friends knew that their partners were invited regardless of whether I knew them well or not. When someone’s part of a couple it’s the right thing to do.

But some of our single friends don’t understand this and will only invite the person that they were friends with first when they’re having an event. I know it’s not done maliciously but the fact that we’re now a package deal seems to have gone over some people’s heads.  Now when it’s a stag or hen do, that’s perfectly understandable. But for all other occasions, I don’t feel that it’s acceptable. There was one occasion where one of my friends hired a cottage in Devon for a week of birthday celebrations. Rightly or wrongly, I’d assumed that the invitation was for the both of us and said that we’d be there and was looking forward to a week of festivies.

But as the date drew closer, I got an email from her which made it clear that it was to be a girls only thing which was the first I’d heard of it. All I can say is that I’m glad she said something before Mr.D. and I booked our train tickets – then I really would have been furious! I accepted that it was her right to host her event as she wished – but she also had to accept that I wasn’t prepared to be away from my most favourite person in the whole world for a week so I very politely declined.

So note to all: if someone’s part of a couple, be sure to extend invitations to both of them.

3. YOU’RE THE ODD ONE OUT AT THE HEN WEEKEND

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When all the ladies at a hen party are single and ready to mingle, and you’re the only married woman there, you can’t take part in all the shenanigans. In fact once you’ve finished throwing some shapes on the dance floor, you’ll find yourself sat at the table by yourself minding drinks, handbags and outrageous hen party paraphernalia while all the single girls find a fine looking fella to cosy up to. I don’t mind that I’m not joining in with the crazy escapades. I just don’t like sitting by myself like Billy-no-mates – or worse having to fend off unwelcome attention.

Times like that I could do with a married friend so we can both discuss how glad we are that we’ve passed this stage (although it was great fun at the time!)

4. YOU’LL EXPERIENCE SOME SPITEFUL BEHAVIOUR

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When we had to announce our engagement, I was very careful to be sensitive about it despite wanting to shout it from the rooftops as I knew that there were some friends who were going through all kinds of difficulties in terms of relationships. And even though most people appeared genuinely happy for us, I was stunned by the behaviour of a couple of people.

The daughter of my mother’s best friend stopped talking to me and as hurtful as it was, I had to be understanding as her own engagement had hit the rocks. I tried to keep the lines of communication open but wasn’t getting any response. I thought that in time, she’d come round but I haven’t heard from her to this day.

Then there was one of my best friends who’ve I’ve known since we were both toddlers. Within a month of Mr.D. and I getting engaged, she amazingly got engaged to a guy she hadn’t been seeing for very long. This surprised me as I didn’t think she was that into him but as weeks went by it was very obvious that she was being competitive. I saw a not-so-nice side to her character with lots of snidey comments aimed at me; losing her temper because I couldn’t go on a shopping trip with her; I wasn’t invited to her engagement party, and despite me asking her to be bridesmaid at my wedding, instead of following me down the aisle, she was seen sitting among the other guests – in her bridesmaid’s dress! When I asked her why she had done that, she said that she had forgotten what she was supposed to do! Seriously, you couldn’t make it up!

I know deep down that she never wanted to get engaged to her fiancé (now husband) and she was mad at me because she felt I’d somehow forced her hand (?) We’re still friends but I think it’s safe to say that we don’t really regard each other as best friends any more and don’t meet up as often as we used to.

A real pity.

5. YOU GET ASKED THE INEVITABLE BABY QUESTIONS ALL THE TIME

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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage!

Or so the playground song goes anyway. And it would appear that most of our friends – single or not – agree. Admittedly it is something that everyone’s going to ask but I can’t help getting annoyed – both by the question and from having to answer that same question all the time. And it seriously peed me off when at a recent dinner party, a close, single female friend asked across the table in front of everyone if we wanted to have kids, if we were trying and when it was going to happen. Oh wait, let me just grab my crystal ball…

Yes, kids are part of the plan but I’m not sure when the time will be right. But I absolutely resent being asked something so personal in public – even if she is a close friend.

After all, I don’t think she’d have been too pleased if I’d publicly asked her why she’s still single or when was the last time she had sex… but it might help to get my point across!

6. YOU LOSE FRIENDS

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I had very few friends get married when I was in my early twenties but I soon learnt something – that the last time I’d ever see my friend again would be on their wedding day. It’s a good job I didn’t know that at the time or I’d have been blubbing so hard, the guests would have called for Noah and his ark! But it was true – once my friends got caught up in their newly-married status, new home and the kiddies that eventually came along, they found that they had less and less in common with their single counterparts and we inevitably drifted apart despite my efforts to prevent that from happening. And of course they formed new friendships with other married couples who they felt that they had more in common with. I decided that when I got married, I wasn’t going to let my marriage have such an impact on my friendships even though I knew that things would have to change a little.

Unfortunately it seems as though some of my single friends didn’t get the memo and instead opted to spend their time with other single friends. True, I couldn’t go out on the lash with them but that didn’t mean that we’d turned into Mr.and Mrs. Pipe-and-Slippers now that we’re married. We still liked to have a laugh, great fun, and a fab night out. I know other married friends have experienced this problem too. I’m glad that I haven’t technically lost any friends – no one has actually ended the friendship – but we hardly ever keep in touch.

7. EVERYONE THINKS MARRIED LIFE IS LIKE LIVING IN DISNEYLAND

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Married life is what you make it but you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice if you expect it to be perfect all the time. It’s definitely not like ‘in the movies’ and there are times you’ll both get on each others nerves. However this seems to be lost on many of my single female friends who seem so eager to settle down, I’m pretty sure they’ve already got the long, white dress hanging up in their wardrobe!

They perpetually drone on and on about how awful it is to be single, how they wish they were in a relationship and how they hope to be married by the end of the year (even if it’s November!) Then they ask you about married life and look so hopeful and expectant that it would be cruel to shatter their dreams. So I don’t tell them about how Mr.D. drives me mad with his excessive video game playing, or how fed up I am that he doesn’t seem to know where the bin is for his empty crisp packets and coke cans. Neither do I tell them that my nagging (his word not mine) annoys the hell out of him and that he wishes I’d stop stressing over things that don’t matter.

So instead I tell them the truth (or part of it anyway.) I tell them that married life is wonderful when it’s with the right person but that it requires a lot of work, effort and respect on both parts, but that they really should enjoy their single life while they have it because one day their prince will come and then they’ll never have this time again.

Somehow I doubt they’ll be taking my advice.

8. YOUR SINGLE FRIENDS DON’T ACCEPT THAT YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE

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A friend who’s in a relationship with two kids, recently put up a post on Facebook ranting at friends who expect her to drop everything to go out and party with them. She also made it very clear that it was unacceptable for friends to keep texting and calling at all hours of the day and night as she has a family to care for and they are her priority now.

I understood where she was coming from but I do know that a lot of other people wouldn’t. And it’s the attitudes of these people that really grate on me. If we all did as we pleased after we got hitched, what would be the point in getting married? I’ve had people try to convince me that taking a teaching post abroad would be a brilliant idea, very conveniently forgetting that’s it’s a decision that also involves my husband. I’ve also had single friends who’ve kicked up a massive fuss because they think I run around after Mr.D. too much – when he’s ill!

Whenever one of my friends got married, my mum would always remind me that their priorities in life have changed and that I have to respect that, give them their space and accept that they’ll have new ways of doing things now. And now that I’m married, I hope my single friends will be as understanding.

9. SINGLE PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE SMUG

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Do I think I’m happily married? Absolutely. Would I call myself smug? No – but then I don’t have to as I have other people do that for me! I’ve had (single) friends tell me that Mr.D. and I are absolutely ‘nauseating’ and I even had one friend delete both me and Mr.D. from Facebook because he said (yep, this one’s a fella!) we were just too lovey dovey and he’s not big on romance. He clearly didn’t know that he could have just unfollowed us! And yes – we’re still friends. Just not on Facebook!

From the way people carry on, you’d think that we were re-enacting the Karma Sutra in public. Admittedly we are affectionate in public (not sickenly so in my opinion at least!) And I’m not going to pretend that I don’t think that marrying Mr.D. is the best thing I ever did because it makes other people feel better. But smug marrieds will make out that their marriage and their lives together are perfect and that they never have any problems. That’s not something Mr. D. and I would ever want to do. We both know that we’re not perfect as people but we do think that we’re perfect for each other. And we’re the first to admit that it’s not always wine and roses behind closed doors – and anyone who’s ever heard either of us moan about the other will know what I’m talking about.

And besides, I always think that being too smug about your relationship is like tempting fate. And if I wanted to tempt fate, I’d get a tattoo of Mr.D’s name!

10. MR.D. IS THE ONLY GUY AMONG A BUNCH OF SHRIEKING, OVERLY EXCITED GIRLIES!

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Mr. D. often comes along when I’m meeting the girls of dinner. And as none of them are in a relationship, he often tends to be the only man there and has to put up with our non-stop chatter, shrieks of laughter and and general over-excitement.

Hang on, what am I talking about? The only guy among girls – Mr.D. LOVES that!

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Congratulations Donnie Wahlberg… And Grow Up, Fans!

 

Most girls never forget their first childhood crush – and I’m no different. I love, have always loved and will always love New Kids On The Block. From the first moment I saw them bopping away on Top Of The Pops, they captured my heart, and even though I’m now very much a hard-rocking chick, there’s a piece of my heart where they still reside and refuse to move from – and that’s fine with me!

Like thirty million other young girls, I was convinced that I was going to be Mrs. Jordan Knight and had my former teenage self had her way, this blog could very easily have been called Chez Mrs. K! But alas it was not to be. Mr. K refused to wait for me to grow up and went on to marry someone else – paving the way for the man who did wait for me. Which is great because becoming Mrs. D is the best thing that ever happened to me – even if Mr. D does question my taste in music!

 

 

Earlier this week, television presenter Jenny McCarthy announced her engagement on The View (the American Version of Loose Women) where she is one of the anchors and flashed her beautiful yellow sapphire ring. And who’s the lucky man? None other than New Kids On The Block’s very own Donnie Wahlberg who McCarthy has been dating for the past year. It’ll be the second time down the aisle for both of them, and I, for one, cannot wait for the glossy ten page spread. For Jenny’s first wedding she wore a stunning vintage-style 1930s gown so it’ll be interesting to see what she wears for her wedding to Donnie.

 

But it seems that not all the fans are jumping up and down at the idea of Donnie finding his Favourite Girl. Some of the nasty remarks and comments I’ve come across are really shocking. I’ve even had to reread some of them twice to make sure that they really do say what I thought they did. It actually made me see red. I suppose mildly catty comments are inevitable. But to say that these comments are mildly catty is like saying that water is a little bit wet! I’m not going to repeat any of these hideous remarks but it seems as though they were written by females who still think they’re eleven years old and back in 1989, where they’re making up dances to New Kids’ songs in the playground. What’s shocking is that some of these women have let slipped that they’re married! MARRIED??? Oh my goodness ladies – it really is time you got a grip!

 

 

True, I don’t think anyone would have thought of pairing Donnie and Jenny together – but then don’t opposites usually attract (definitely do in the case of Mr. and Mrs. D!) And how does Donnie’s love life concern his fans? Shouldn’t they be happy that their idol has found love instead of making derogatory comments about his new fiancée? And did they really think that they had a shot – a real shot – at marrying a New Kid? Furthermore, did they actually think that Donnie would stay single and available while they grew up and moved on with their lives? It’s beyond ridiculous! Whether anyone thinks that Donnie and Jenny are a match made in heaven really isn’t anyone’s business except – surprise, surprise – Donnie and Jenny’s. And assuming that we’re not relatives or close friends of the couple, it’s not as if any of us actually know them well. So who are we to pass judgement?

 

 

 

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the level of vitriol I’ve discovered. A look at forums and comment boards regarding all things New Kids On The Block have indicated that for every fan who is happy that the band members have the whole relationship and kids package, they are about a hundred haters who have absolutely nothing nice to say. And that’s putting it very mildly. In fact what’s even more disturbing than the nasty name-calling are the most ridiculous allegations against the New Kids members which could seriously put their relationships in jeopardy had they not been married to really strong women who knew well in advance that this sort of spiteful behaviour came in the job description of wife of a New Kid!

I’m absolutely appalled that the people who run these sites and forums have not removed these comments, and I’m even more surprised that the New Kids haven’t threatened to sue. Maybe they’re just too smart to read such comments. Or maybe they do read them and just laugh at how pathetic these women are. I remember back in the ’90s, the New Kids – like many male pop acts at the time – couldn’t admit to having a girlfriend for fear of alienating fans. They couldn’t even admit to having had a girlfriend. But as they are all grown men in their forties, do we still expect them to pretend that they’re still waiting to experience their first kiss just to keep us happy? To be honest, this wouldn’t actually make me happy – I’d just wonder what was wrong with my idols!

 

 

I suppose the real issue here, is that the spite, jealousy and hostility that women are famous for pelting each other with is still there. And I know it only too well – I did go to an all-girls school for five years. If a woman has something that another woman wants, you can bet her Fendi clutch that she’ll feel the full force of the other woman’s insults as they rain down upon her. I suppose what some of these ‘fans’ don’t realise is that they are actually dealing with real people – not just faces on a poster that’s stuck on the wall – and their families. And real people have real feelings and feel real pain. I wonder how I would have felt, had I really become Mrs. Knight and I had to read the most disgusting rubbish about me, written by people who hadn’t even met me. Actually I know exactly how I would have felt and that’s why I think it’s just wrong. I really cannot believe just how childish some people can be. It really is about time some people learned to grow up.

And on a less ranty note, congrats to Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy. I hope they prove the haters wrong. I really loved how Jenny got all emotional when she was telling the girls on The View all about the engagement – she very nearly set me off too! Awesome news and I’m so glad that one of my fave New Kids has found someone who has the right stuff!

 

Gym And Slimline By Emma Burstall

 

I’ve had a lot more time to indulge in my favourite pastime lately – reading! And I’ve just finished reading Emma Burstall’s fantastic Gym and Slimline.

I don’t normally opt for books with a sporty theme – not being so sporty myself – but I do enjoying reading books with an evident friendship theme which emanates from close-knit groups and that’s exactly what you’ll find in Gym and Slimline: a group of very different women who meet at the south-west London gym where they are members and soon forge a long-lasting bond.

 

The health and fitness element is actually secondary to the trials and tribulations experienced by the female characters in the novel: hard-to-pronounce Persephone is distraught to realise that her marriage is on the rocks, leading to a not-so-harmless flirtation and a secret addiction; former ballerina Carmen is desperate to become a mum especially as she’s pushing forty – but is her commitment phobic boyfriend really father material? Stunning Patrice is eager to add to her family but hasn’t been intimate with her controlling husband, Jonty, for years. The only lucky one is career woman Suzanne who manages to juggle motherhood with a high-powered job and she’s managed to bag a sexy, young husband – but is her wonderful life all it seems…

I enjoyed reading this book from beginning to end and was so sorry when I finished it (if only I’d read it slower!) There were moments where you laughed out loud; felt anxious for the characters, and felt the tugging of heartstrings. As well as friendships, relationships, and health and fitness, there was also a theme of forgiveness that runs throughout the novel.  A very dramatic and life-changing episode occurs in the middle of the novel which puts a huge strain on the women’s friendships: it divides two of the women drastically and pulls the other two in different directions. The ‘shock twist’ which creates the tension amongst the group isn’t really much of a shock as the preceding chapters had in fact been leading up to it but when the secret is revealed and the people involved exposed it still hits you like a roller-coaster. It was an original idea and very cleverly written.

But going back to the friendship theme, I love the strength of the women’s friendship that was illustrated in the novel – in fact you almost feel as if they’re your friends and feel quite protective of them. I hated the way Carmen’s ex, Simon, tried to worm his way back into her life when it suited him, and how Jonty controlled Patrice’s every move. Personally, I would have dumped him just for being called Jonty! But worst of all was Persephone’s – or Percy as she is known – predicament. A sweet, dependable lady who’s always trying to help other people, she cannot solve her own issues and you really feel for Percy when she becomes deeply entangled in her addiction. In fact there were times I wanted to scream at her to stop – but I would have attracted a lot of odd looks on the bus!

Gym And Slimline was the debut novel by author and journalist Burstall published in 2008 by Preface Publishing. A fantastic read – which I think might also make a great TV series.

 

So Much For Sisterhood!

 

I’m really appalled by Katie Hopkins’ latest round of controversial comments but I really don’t want to give too much attention to a woman who clearly gets paid to be so vile – and take pride in it too. Katie has been very open about her lack of remorse in taking her now husband away from his first wife. Everyone knows about Katie’s penchant for married men so this doesn’t come as a surprise. She’s clearly not someone who believes in women sticking together, and sadly there are other women out there who come from the school of thought that if you see something you want – take it. And they do take with very little regard as to who it belongs to or who gets hurt.
Naturally, as a happily married woman, this doesn’t sit well with me. Mr. D. is without a doubt a real catch; the best thing to happen to me. He’s as gorgeous on the inside as he is on the outside. It doesn’t surprise me that he catches the eye of other women. But I would hope that he’d tell her where to go. However, I would hope that a woman would have a strong sense of sisterhood to not even go there in the first place.

Sadly, there are plenty of women who don’t have this sense of solidarity  – and so would go there without a second thought.

 

No guilt…

Earlier this year, on a night out, I got acquainted with the friend of someone I know. Kerry* was hardly what you could call shy and retiring but even I was amazed by a later confession – probably fuelled by too much alcohol – in which we got talking about ex-boyfriends and she revealed that hers was already in a relationship when she met him.

“Oh my gosh,” I said, “he lied to you! So when did you find out about his girlfriend?”
“Er, when he asked me out,” she replied, clearly thinking I was an idiot.
“You went out with him even though you knew?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes!” Kerry replied, a little defensively, “his girlfriend and his relationship are his business. Nothing to do with me. I was the one who was single so I was free to do what I liked.”

 

Let’s just say we didn’t promise to add each other on Facebook at the end of the evening.

With friends like these…

Amanda* was a girl I knew from school. She was definitely not the kind of girl you wanted to mess with but one thing that did impress me about her was her strong sense of loyalty to her friends. And they did seem to be a pretty tight bunch of people. As someone not cool enough to make it into this elite ‘girl gang,’ I have to admit, I did feel a little envious of their close bond.

Fast forward six years and guess who runs off with her best friends husband? That’s right – Amanda! What was surprising was that many of Amanda’s friends – as shocked as they were by what had happened – stood by her. Amanda, herself, didn’t feel any remorse over what she had done, claiming that her friend Emily and husband Sean had had a very unhappy marriage and weren’t suited. She even claimed that Emily had even cheated on Sean once. It all worked out very well for Amanda as she is still with Sean and they now have two children together.

 

I actually bumped into Amanda several years after we had left school. By then she was expecting her second child – a daughter. It was a super quick catch up, in which she talked mostly about her children. She obviously wasn’t going to tell me about how she met her fella – and she didn’t know that I knew what had happened through mutual acquaintances.

Once again, there were no offers to keep in touch as I had no desire to keep in touch with anyone who treats their friends so shoddily. To sleep with a stranger’s husband or boyfriend is bad enough but when it’s the boyfriend of a friend or family member… it’s just not on.

Ruth* knows only too well the pain she felt when she realised that her husband, Simon*, was cheating on her with a woman she considered to be a friend, Erica*:

“I returned from a business trip and found things that things were not in it’s usual place or in the order they would normally be arranged. The biggest giveaway were the sheets being changed – something my ex-husband wouldn’t even know how to do. I asked a lot of questions but his answers were very vague and I instinctively knew that something wasn’t right.”

Eventually it was a local café owner who told Ruth what had really been going on:

“I mean we live in a town where pretty much everyone knows everyone. I can’t believe he was so stupid as to think he wouldn’t get caught. What I learned is that he had been seeing her for a while and that they had been seen out together. I now believe that whenever I was away working, he’d bring her over to the house. I didn’t know which was worse: the fact that everybody knew or the fact that he’d brought her into our home. It tore me apart that he cheated with a woman that I was quite friendly with. It was the ultimate betrayal.”

Ruth confronted her husband and her friend, before kicking her husband out. He then tried to work things out with Ruth but when it became clear that she wasn’t going to take him back, Simon then moved in with Erica and the two of them carried on their relationship for the next four years:

“I was never going to take him back. He’d destroyed my trust. There was no way our marriage could ever work. I was devastated though when he went to live with my former friend. Devastated but not surprised. However, what made it easier was knowing that he still loved me – if you could call it that – and that he was only with her because he was so needy and didn’t want to be on his own. Even our mutual friends agreed he’d be back tomorrow with his tail between his legs if I’d agree to have him back. Strange as this may sound even though I hated my ‘friend’ for pursuing my husband the way she did, I also felt sorry for her because it was so obvious she was second best.”

Ruth has since remarried and has very little contact with Simon – who is no longer with Erica.

“Thankfully they moved away shortly after they started living together which made things a lot easier for me. It took a while but I slowly picked myself up and moved on. I met Craig* about two years after my divorce. He restored my faith in men and relationships and we’ve been together for nearly nine years now. Simon even made an attempt for us to get back together just after I met Craig but obviously it never happened. By then, they’d broken up. I think she [Erica] was expecting Simon to propose after the divorce came through. It never happened and the relationship didn’t last long. I see Simon from time to time at weddings and other events. We are civil towards one another but I don’t know anything about his private life. As far as I know he’s not with anyone.”

I’m glad that Ruth got her happy ending and that Erica didn’t come out of this so well. I just hope she’s learnt her lesson and won’t hook up with a man who isn’t available ever again.

The same thing applies to men and ‘brotherhood’…

Sadly it’s not just women who have a lack of respect for relationship boundaries. Men can be just as bad too.

Gavin* has been with his wife Amy* for thirty years and married for just over twenty. The reason why it took so long for them to walk up the aisle is because Amy was already married with a young daughter when they met.

“It would sound odd to a lot of people but with Amy and me there was no sneaking around or hiding. Our relationship was common knowledge – even to her husband Rick*. Her husband had hoped that this would be something that would fizzle out and he was worried that if he’d pushed her into not seeing me again, she might leave him. As a result it just made me have absolutely no respect for him at all.”

Rick and Amy then went on to have a second daughter. Many people hoped that this would strengthen the bond between them and that she would stop seeing Gavin. But there was a twist in store…

“We all limped along for another six months after Lilly* was born, but the truth eventually came out: Lilly was my daughter – not Rick’s. Rick already suspected it so the news wasn’t that much of a shock. It was the end for Rick and Amy after that as he knew that I just wasn’t  going to go away. Amy moved in with me and we got married about a year after her divorce came through and we’ve been together ever since. People used to ask me if I was worried about Amy doing to me what she did to Rick but the honest truth is I don’t. They weren’t compatible and the truth of the matter is that if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else. Amy and I love each other even after all these years – we were meant to be.”

However for those of you who think that Gavin sounds a little too much like the cat who got the cream, it may be a comfort for you to know that it hasn’t been all plain sailing…

“Amy and Rick had a daughter, Rosie*, so naturally Rick was always going to be around as he had to play a part in his daughter’s life. Despite everything and how I felt about him, I was never going to take his daughter away from him – even though I love Rosie as though she’s my own. The three of us decided to behave as adults and put her first. This has meant that Rick’s been present at every sports day, school play and presentation evening. And it’s always Amy and him who went to Rosie’s parent’s evenings. At Rosie’s wedding, he obviously was the one who walked her down the aisle which I accepted; there isn’t much of a role for stepfather’s at weddings even though I helped raise her too. When the kids were young, we used to have him over for Christmas as Amy felt it was best for Rosie. And now that there are grandchildren, we still occasionally have to have Rick – along with his second wife Beth* – over for Christmas dinner. We’ve all learnt to be civil even though we’ll never be great mates but I’d be lying if I said I miss not having Rick over for Christmas. It’s not ideal but what can you do?”

I’m sure there are plenty who don’t feel any sympathy for Gavin – and who can blame them?

I remember a conversation at secondary school, in which I asked a friend if she thought it was OK to go out with a boy who was already seeing someone else.

“No”, she replied quite matter of fact.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because I would hate it if I had a boyfriend who did something like that to me,” she answered,”so I couldn’t possibly do that to someone else.”

Wise words from someone who wasn’t even sixteen at the time. Too bad people twice that age don’t take that advice. The world might be a happier place with less heartbroken people.

* Names have been changed

 

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