Contest Rules

It’s Not You It’s the Dishes Contest
OFFICIAL RULES

1. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. It’s Not You It’s the Dishes Contest (the “Contest”) is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States. Entrants must be at least eighteen (18) years Continue reading

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Now It’s Your Turn…

…To give us some advice.

Our book is out today, and to celebrate, we’re having a contest! Here are the facts:

The prize: A couple’s massage. Not from us–from actual professionals at Bliss or the closest cool spa to your house.

The job: Make a short video (roughly 1:30) describing how you’ve solved a problem in your marriage. See example below (thank you, Nivi). Like our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ItsNotYouItstheDishes, then post it. Only takes a few seconds.

Deadline: Post it by June 26 and we’ll announce the winner by July 3.

So don’t hold back. Be honest. Think of all the couples who could use your help!

See complete rules, in all their legal glory, here.

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Everything is Different Now

Now that we have two kids, both still in diapers, and my maternity leave is over, everything is different. Nivi and I race out the door in the morning and race back home at the end of the day. Every moment with our kids should be “precious”, but in reality, it’s “extremely stressful”. One thing we’re trying to stay on top of is family dinner. While I was on leave I was able to cook dinner almost every night and have it ready by the time Nivi got home. We’d sit at the table with our two-year-old, Ida, in her high chair, and baby Noa in her stroller or in one of our laps, and have 10, maybe 15 minutes, of somewhat-calm quality time before Noa would cry for her dinner or Ida would demand to be let down to play. Nevertheless, those few minutes were, in fact, “precious”.

These days, it’s impossible to get home at 6:30 and make dinner. We’re exhausted, Ida is whiny, Noa is hungry and tired. Recently, Nivi came up with a possible solution: We prep dinner in the morning so all we need to do when we get home is put the pan on the stove. This means you can find us on any given weekday, at about 6:45 a.m., in the kitchen peeling and roasting carrots, washing spinach, chopping tomatoes or breading chicken cutlets. Ida is still asleep and the baby is chewing on some plastic toy on the living room floor. We are a well-oiled machine. All business.

I was pleased to see we aren’t the first parents to try this. My friend Jenny Rosenstrach recommends the strategy in her new book, Dinner a Love Story: It all Begins at the Family Table, and after doing it for two weeks now, so far, so good. Still, every morning I’m reminded of just how insane it is for two working parents to raise two kids and have any time to breathe, let alone enjoy each other’s company. Another thing Nivi and I could be doing with that early-morning time is sleeping, or chilling out in bed with the baby, or sitting in our backyard and drinking coffee. Instead, we’re hard at work in the kitchen because we’ve prioritized family dinner. Everything’s a tradeoff, and everything is different.

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4 Ways to Stay Married 43 Years

I wrote a book filled with advice about how to have a great and lasting marriage. It’s a pretty good book, and if you don’t own it, you should click here and buy it right now. But let’s be honest, what do I know? I’ve only been married 5 years! The joke’s on you! My parents, on the other hand, have been married–to each other–for 43 years. It’s nauseating, but it does kind of makes them experts. So after I read author Lydia Netzer‘s take on how to stay married 15 years, I thought I’d ask my parents how they managed to get to 43 years and counting. I also asked them for $10,000. Here’s what they said:

Mom:

1. Don’t overthink it.

2. Don’t think of it as work. (like the advice that relationships take work, you have to work at it, etc.) You already have a job. This is supposed to be the other part of your life. (see Rule #1)

3. Be prepared to make sacrifices. Our parents and grandparents got this (maybe because divorce was taboo), but succeeding generations are very entitled.  So here’s what happens. You have to give up some personal life dreams and plans and ordinary expectations in order to accommodate someone else’s. Often. (Go to Argentina again instead of a cruise. Get a bouvier instead of a poodle. Live in a messy rather than neat house. Have a certain number of children. Not get a motorcycle. Live in the city. Live in Capri. Spend money on these things instead of those.) And then every time it happens you just have to do it. Maybe you trust that over the long haul it works out or maybe you just don’t even think about it after the decision is made (see Rule #1). Yes, you do have to draw a line in the sand sometimes (no driving the kids without seatbelts, no spending every single vacation with in-laws, no living in Pocatello). But that is not in the category of sacrifices. Expecting the other person to sacrifice does not mean asking the other person to go through hell. Don’t let it take too many years to figure out who should be the one to sacrifice something when the alternative is that the other will go through hell.

4. Be uncritical (even pleasant) about unintended slights and errors (see Rule #1). This may take a few years to operationalize. But don’t stop waiting for it.

Dad:

1. Don’t overthink it. Consider what it means to the relationship that you frequently spend significant time mulling over a disagreement (whether ardently argued or simmering beneath the surface). After a while of this, it’s worth considering comparing the priority of the subject of disagreement to the many foibles we carry about us, seemingly with no concerns for the effects on others. If it’s a habit, overthinking could turn into a corrosive underlying rut that could say more about you than about your spouse. And, of course, this subject, as with all others, should be taken as guideline, not mantra.

2. Don’t think of it as work. Aristotle noted that “all paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.” I would suggest questioning the whole concept of the most essential relationships as work. It’s so American to think in these terms, a derivative of the culture of entitlement. Work is friggin’ work. Relationships demand (unpaid) time.

3. Be prepared to make sacrifices. See 2 above. ”Our parents and grandparents… :” what she said. However, I am mindful of the relationships in which one of the spouses came to the realization of being in a trap. I feel bad about them, and wish the taboo had not been so unforgiving.

4. Be uncritical…. See 1 above.

After reading the above, I got to thinking how very differently different generations define what it means to have a healthy marriage. All my grandparents are dead, but I’m confident they would answer my question differently than my parents did, and than I do (my bubby would no doubt list “Food” as the #1 necessity for any decent marriage, whereas I might say “Sex”). For all I know, people in the suburbs see it differently than those in the city, men differently than women, Swedes differently than Nigerians. Or am I just overthinking it, breaking my parents’ most important rule? What do you think it takes?

 

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How to Get a Guy to Commit

Interesting take on relationships and habits by our friend Charlie Duhigg, author of the bestselling Power of Habit. Women turn to bad habits when they’re stressed, men when they see a line of cocaine. Obviously!

For women, exposure to stress-related cues triggered bad habit impulses. Seeing a photo of a child in potential danger, for instance, caused female addicts to crave a glass of wine or cocaine. Emotional cues seemed to be enormously powerful. Men, on the other hand, were much less affected by stress.

But when men saw visual or anecdotal drug-related cues—a photo of someone at a bar, or of a needle or line of coke—their habit centers were triggered. For women, those images had less power. One takeaway from this is that therapies should be different for men and women. Female addicts should be instructed in stress reduction techniques, while men—the findings suggest—may do better in a 12-step program.

I’ll tell you this: Nothing makes me want to drink so much as money troubles, job worries or kid anxiety. Not so my husband, who can generally shrug that stuff off, but will likely go on a bender at the mere sight of a bar stool.

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My Husband and I Made This Together

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The World’s Best Wife

My friend Jessie Knadler is really the best wife in the world. Her memoir, Rurally Screwed, just came out, and I highly recommend it. You might learn to be a great wife, too. She’s married to a guy named Jake. Jake loves trucks, horses, dogs, tools, and his family. He just came back from a year in Afghanistan, during which time Jessie was a single mom to baby June and a flock of chickens, wrote a book, and managed to not totally lose her shit. Her latest blog post reminds me again of how much I admire Jessie’s attitude toward love and marriage. She doesn’t keep score and she doesn’t whine (at least not in public), and she can always find her way to compromise. The latest example: She’d love nothing more than to take an exotic vacation with her husband; instead, he’s taking her to exotic Kentucky:

I need a vacation.  I need a vacation with my husband in a big way.  I spent a good part of the past year fantasizing about where to go upon his return.  Somewhere foreign and exotic.  Croatia.  Argentina?  Estonia!   Jake had other plans.   He planned a trip for us.  Guess where we’re going?

We’re going to Kentucky.  Foreign…exotic…Kentucky.   (Meaning, it’s not Virginia.)…

Still, I can’t complain.  I’m thrilled to be able to “jet off” with Jake at all.  For a man just home from Afghanistan, maybe a drive across the Blue Grass State, where we can pull into any Sheetz we please and order nachos by touch screen, is just the thing this tired soldier needs.

 

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What’s Going on Here?

Thought you were going to Spousonomics.com? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. The paperback edition of our book–out June 12!–simply has a new name. And a new look. And new and improved features. We’ll still be talking about the same stuff–what makes marriages work and not work–but with a makeover. I like to think of SPOUSONOMICS as my starter husband, and IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S THE DISHES, as my hotter number two. What do you think?

Our sexy Italian designer friend Giulio Pastacaldi (aka Hot Pasta) designed the cover. It’s a fridge. Get it?

Anyway, please keep tuning in for lively and weird discussions about marriage, love and negative sloping demand curves.

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Here’s to Going to Bed Angry

Jenny and I have been pushing this advice for years. Some people think we’re nuts. But we know we’re right. Why stay up late making each other more miserable when you can get a good night’s sleep and probably feel better in the morning? Now novelist Lydia Netzer has come out saying the same thing, and her recent blog post on 15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years is making the rounds on the Internet. Number one on her list: Go to bed mad.

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We Won an Award!

There are few things more annoying than people tooting their own horns. But here we go:

Last night, judges for Books for a Better Life picked Spousonomics as the best relationship book of the year. The event was at the Times Center, Anne Patchett was there, and we won! An award! People read all these awesome books and picked ours! Thrilled would be an understatement.

While we love our book, and we are generally confident people, we did not expect to win. At all. Which is why when we did win, we were woefully unprepared for the acceptance speech (must reinstate rule # 500: always be prepared). We worked really hard on this project, and it was so cool to have that work recognized.

Thanks to the Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which sponsors the event, for choosing us. We were honored. And while I will probably never win another award, if I do, I will certainly be better prepared.

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