TIME relationships

Couple Married for 67 Years Die Together While Holding Hands

Couple Dies Holding Hands
Cynthia Letson—AP In this March 2014 photo provided by Cynthia Letson, Floyd and Violet Hartwig pose together in a yard in Easton, Calif.

"They wanted to go together," said the couple's daughter. "It was meant to be that way."

In the end, this couple, who were married for 67 years, got their wish of wanting to die together, surrounded by family.

Floyd, 90, and Violet Hartwig, 89, from Fresno, California, got married on Aug. 16, 1947, and died at home on Feb. 11 while holding hands, according to theFresno Bee.

Their family noticed something was wrong when their synchronized breathing stopped. Floyd died first, and Violet followed five hours later.

“They wanted to go together,” Donna Scharton, the couple’s daughter, told the newspaper. “It was meant to be that way.”

Violet had dementia for the last few years, and the family noticed a decline in her health over the holiday season, reported ABC News. Then, in January, Scharton got a call from Floyd’s doctor telling her that her father had kidney failure and two weeks to live. At that point the family decided to put them in hospice together.

When they noticed Floyd had passed, they pushed their hospice beds together.

“They weren’t fancy,” Scharton says. “They were just decent people that were always committed to each other, no matter the situation.”

The couple had three children, four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

“They never, ever asked for anything,” Scharton says. “All they ever wanted was their family, and it was amazing that they got that in the end.”

This story was originally published in People.com

 

TIME relationships

How to Have a Fair Fight

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With these ground rules, quarreling with your partner can actually help the relationship

Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few months, a few years, or a few decades, you’re bound to fight with your partner at some point. But what constitutes “fighting” is different for every couple: Some only admit to having disagreements; others say they occasionally bicker; some seethe in silence, while others don’t believe they’ve had a real fight until someone yells. “There are negative and unhealthy ways to fight, but disagreeing is not unhealthy,” says Laurie Mintz, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Florida and author of Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex. Since you’re going to squabble, try these eight ways to stay in fighting form without going down for the count.

Keep the goal of the fight in mind.

“The goal of the fight is to get closer, to understand each other better, to resolve an issue so you don’t have to face it over and over again,” says Mintz. Take a deep breath during the fight and think to yourself, “This is a person I love and respect and they probably have a valid point. I need to listen and to find a grain of truth in what they’re saying.” Nothing de-escalates an argument more than someone acknowledging the truth in what the other person is saying, even if they’re not in complete agreement.

Voice grievances the right way.

Before the fight even begins, couples should ideally share a culture of appreciation and respect so that they don’t resort to defamation of character, says Carrie Cole, M.Ed., LPC-S, Certified Gottman Master Trainer, Center For Relationship Wellness. If you want to have a difficult discussion before it becomes a fight, Mintz suggests saying, “There’s something I want to talk about, is this a good time?” Then start the conversation in a gentle way and take ownership of your issue, saying, “I have a problem with…[fill in the blank],” suggests Cole. Allow yourself to accept input from your partner and try to see things from their point of view. Remember, part of the reason you’re with this person is that your value systems are aligned.

Know when it’s okay to go to bed mad.

You probably heard that “you should never go to bed angry,” but experts say there are times when you might need to sleep on the issue. If you or your partner is exhausted—or one of you drank alcohol that escalated the fight—it’s okay to say, “I love you, let’s talk about it in the morning.” By then, hopefully the intensity will have dissipated, and one of you might realize you were just tired or feeling sensitive. “You have to judge the situation,” says Mintz. “If you’re too exhausted to resolve a fight, stop it before it goes downhill fast.” Just be sure to address it within 24 to 48 hours, before you get wrapped up in life again. Because if you just “move on” but aren’t emotionally connected, the next argument that comes up will likely include this fight in it as well and be too overwhelming to deal with, says Cole.

Don’t have a “kitchen sink” fight.

If you and your partner are arguing about finances, don’t throw in “everything and the kitchen sink,” meaning other grievances you have about parenting, in-laws, sex, or anything else that isn’t immediately relevant. Keep the fight focused on what you’re fighting about. Resolve one issue at a time and don’t bring everything into it. If there’s an issue from the past that keeps resurfacing when you argue, set aside time to deal with it when you’re not mad, or consider addressing it in couples counseling.

Be a master communicator.

While you might be tempted to unleash fury on your husband when he’s late picking you up, it’s better to start with “I” statements and own your feelings. We know it’s not easy to speak calmly and share your emotions when you’re fired up about something, but yelling, “You left me waiting for 20 minutes and areso inconsiderate!” will elicit a different response from your partner than, “I was left waiting for 20 minutes and it made me feel uncared for and hurt.” Describe yourself rather than your partner. “Instead of calling your partner a liar, say something like, ‘I need transparency and honesty,’” says Cole.

Put yourself in timeout.

If things are getting heated and the fight isn’t going well, take a break. When you get very upset, your heart rate goes up and stress hormones are released, says Cole. Not only that but the brain’s frontal lobes, which handle logic and communication skills, shut down. What is activated in the brain is the “flight or fight response” that our cavewoman ancestors used to deal with life-threatening situations. The bottom line: When you’re angry, you might be in danger of engaging your mouth before your brain and saying something hurtful, so tell your partner that you need a timeout to think it through, suggests Mintz.

Remain emotionally trustworthy.

Avoid saying things like “I’m done,” “Let’s end this,” or “I want a divorce” when you’re in a fight. “Someone might say this because they want to grab their partner’s attention,” says Cole. “But it makes their partner feel unsafe and insecure in the relationship.” If those kinds of things get said often, then the partner either stops believing them, or feels that sharing feelings will “end” the relationship. “Bad words are like bullets—you can’t take them back once they’re out,” says Mintz. Fighting fairly is about slowing yourself down and asking yourself if you’re arguing to get closer or to hurt your partner. If you did say something that hurt your loved one, stop and say, “I messed up, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

Pick and choose your battles.

When you’re living with someone, it’s safe to assume they’re going to do things that you don’t agree with or that get under your skin. While you shouldn’t complain about every annoying thing your partner does, if one of them truly hurts or upsets you and you can’t let it go, make sure you address the issue so it doesn’t appear in other fights, suggests Mintz. And be willing to “give in” on some things. Decide what you are willing to be flexible with (perhaps not griping out loud about dirty socks left on the floor) and work to resolve things you feel more strongly about (like if your partner makes fun of you in front of friends).

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME relationships

New York Man to Celebrate 108th Birthday With Wife, 104, After 82 Years of Marriage

Duranord Veillard still does 5 to 7 push-ups a day

A Spring Valley, N.Y. man celebrates his 108th birthday on Saturday with his wife of 82 years. And on her birthday in May, she’ll turn 105.

Duranord and Jeanne Veillard were married in Haiti in 1932 and moved to the U.S. in the late ’60s. The couple raised five children and live at home with a daughter. They are grandparents to 12 and great-grandparents to 14.

USA Today reports that the birthday boy starts each day with oatmeal, fruit and a cup of tea, and ends it with fish and vegetables. He is apparently still able to do five to seven push-ups daily.

[USA Today]

TIME relationships

How to Deal With an Office Romance

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Keep it professional at all times at the office and on the road

If you’re currently crushing on, seeing, secretly dating, or hooking up with someone in the office, you’re probably wondering if you’ve gone mental with all of the questions swirling around in your mind.

Am I putting my job at risk? Is this girl or guy worth the constant morning distraction and pressure to find something perfect to wear each day? How do other people handle matters of the heart at work? Does this relationship even have a chance to work? What if it backfires?

Whoa, ok, take a deep breath. I’ve been there, and I know exactly how stressed you must feel. But, it’s sort of exciting right? Sure there’s a chance it may not work out, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Once you know for sure that your company doesn’t have a fraternizing policy, then you’ll want to do your best to pursue your feelings in the right way. Here are tips, real life stories, and stats to help you figure out your next course of action, including a love contract. Yes, a love contract.

MORE What Fifty Shades of Grey Says About Your Office Crush

In a recent survey conducted by Vault.com, 17% of women report that office romances led to long-term relationships and 20% of women have taken gone so far as to date a supervisor.

Such was the case with “Jane” who has chosen to remain anonymous while sharing her office love story.

Jane and her ex-boyfriend had been broken up for months before she realized weekends were becoming dateless and lonely.

“I decided after some whiskey shots, that I would try Match.com on Saturday night,” she said. “I was quick to set up my profile–three photos and the most basic info I could add without answering any real questions. I really just wanted to research the kinds of men that were online.”

She fell asleep only to wake up with a headache and in panic, afraid her ex would see her online. She quickly logged on with the intention of deleting her profile, and there it was: an email from her company’s CEO.

He was polite and sweet, and wished me luck in finding someone. We exchanged a few emails that day, Sunday. He told me he didn’t date coworkers, so as friends we decided to meet up for a drink that Tuesday.”

He kissed me that night and then took me out on a real date that weekend. We kept our relationship secret for about six months and finally, we talked to HR, who consulted with our lawyer and pretty soon, we were signing a ‘relationship agreement.’ We had to both advise our coworkers (for him, it was the President) and for me, it was the SVP. They were not supportive and both thought it could hurt business.

Well it’s been almost two years and we are still in love.

Curious about this so-called relationship agreement, also known as a love contract? Here’s what this document usually entails, with it’s main purpose being to protect the employers from certain risks and liabilities.

According to Beth Zoller of XpertHR, an online service that provides HR professionals with practical compliance tools, a love contract is a document signed by employees involved in a romantic relationship setting parameters for their relationship in the workplace.

By signing the love contract, the employees agree that the romantic relationship is voluntary and consensual, they will refrain from retaliation, and they will not sue the employer for sexual harassment. A love contract may also outline the employer’s expectations of what’s considered appropriate and inappropriate workplace conduct.

Though Jenelle Augustin, 25, and CEO of Jones Lifestyle Group LLC in another office romance narrative, didn’t sign a love contract, she did take a similar approach to slyly dating in the office to that of Jane.

Augustin met and began dating her husband after they were seated in neighboring cubicles.

He was humming and I told him to stop. We began talking, and approximately two weeks after that, he invited me to an event where he was performing. We started speaking regularly via email, then Google chat, then he finally asked for my number. It turned into a whirlwind romance and after courting for 2 years, we wed on September 12, 2014 and have been married almost 5 months.

During the time we worked together (three months–before I started my own business and he went into copywriting and brand consulting) we tried to keep our burgeoning relationship under wraps, as we didn’t want to become office gossip.

The key to a successful office romance is maturity in both parties. You should also discuss the trajectory of your relationship as early as reasonably possible. No one wants to become office gossip and then break up!

That final piece of advice from Augustin is exactly what tops the list of inter-office-dating tips from Irene LaCota, spokesperson for international matchmaking service It’s Just Lunch. LaCota recommends:

“Keep quiet around others. Try to keep your relationship private as long as possible, especially during the early stages when you’ve made no commitments to each other. Otherwise, coworkers will scrutinize the two of you and fuel the office rumor mill.”

MORE What Do You Do About That Office Crush?

But, LaCota says, you must communicate with each other before your relationship gets too serious and discuss the rules of the “partnership” so neither of you will misunderstand the other’s intentions and be hurt.

“As a couple, develop speaking points so you both offer the same story when someone in your office asks about the two of you. Co-develop standards for how you interact at the office.”

She says that many a relationship has been hurt because one person tries to be discreet at the office and the other person expects some displays of affection.

“For example, the guy interprets a head nod as a brushing off when all the girl was simply to do was be discreet,” says LaCota.

“Keep it professional at all times at the office and on the road. Treat each other as coworkers at the office, and not as romantic partners. No revealing emails. No kisses over the cell phone. Give each other some space. You don’t need to be together all the time. In fact, you don’t need to be together all the time at the office. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. “

As for traveling together on business? LaCota says no matter what, “do not share a room together, in fact, don’t even enter the other’s hotel room. You never know who you’re going to bump into in that hotel hallway.”

And, I can only imagine the subsequent awkward conversation you’ll be forced to have. And, that my friends, is for a separate article.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

TIME relationships

Watch Bartenders Explain How They Totally Know You Met Your Date Online

For starters, you're "dressed a little bit too well and showered too recently"

Everyone who’s tried online dating knows it can be a great way to meet awesome people — but it’s inevitably going to be a tad bit awkward. Or sometimes really awkward. But if you think it’s only awkward for you and your date, you’re wrong. So, so wrong. There’s somebody else who’s experiencing it all with you: your bartender.

The Daily Share rounded up some bartenders from around New York City to talk about what it’s like watching Tinder dates unfold — and how they always know it’s an online date. They mostly cringe while watching these dates but also admit they love the free entertainment.

The barkeeps also keep tabs on whether or not the date is going well. All too often, they’ll see a guy go in for a kiss and the girl blatantly reject it. “The head turn, it’s a heartbreaker,” one bartender says. “It’s like watching a dog get put down.”

If the video makes you feel embarrassed that these bartenders are totally judging you, just remember: they’re probably secretly going on their own Tinder dates that are just as awkward.

Read next: More Men Use Dating Apps Than Women

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TIME relationships

5 Types of Friends That Everyone Has

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Because life is a journey we walk together through

The Comic Relief

Recently a close pal and I were both coping with very ill parents. There’s nothing funny about disease and dying, but for a whole year we compared notes in a humorous way. We each used hyperbole to describe our plights and made dark jokes about whose family situation was more depressing. We made fun to relieve our sadness (albeit temporarily), and that ability to make each other laugh helped us both get through the tragedy. Another good thing about a friend with a great sense of humor? She usually has warmth and compassion to spare.

Lucinda Rosenfeld is the author of four novels, including The Pretty One ($26, amazon.com) and I’m So Happy for You ($14, amazon.com). A former friendship and advice columnist for Slate, she lives in New York City.

The Life Coach

Because of our busy lives, I hardly ever speak to one of my closest friends. But it doesn’t really matter. When we do connect, without fail, she reinvigorates me. Her pep talks make me feel more hopeful about myself and my future. What’s more, my energizer friend is strong and tough, with a vigor for life I can feed off of. Through her example, she makes me more eager to achieve my goals or just keep tackling my everyday. Talking with her recharges my emotional battery until the next time we have a minute to pick up the phone.

Courtney Macavinta is the author of Respect ($16, amazon.com) and a cofounder of the Respect Institute, a nonprofit that offers youths the tools to build self-respect. She lives in New York City.

The Risk Taker

We all need an adventurous friend who nudges us out of the status quo—someone who introduces us to new ideas, philosophies, and activities that we might have otherwise not been exposed to or feared to explore on our own. I’ve long been inspired by a world-traveler friend whose preschooler’s passport has more stamps than most adults.’ She has helped me become less intimidated and more excited about traveling. In fact, thanks to her, my husband and I drove an RV across Canada two summers ago with our three children, who were all four or under. Scary? Yes. But we had so much fun, we’re going again this year.

Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and the author of The Friendship Fix ($16,amazon.com). She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Challenger

One characteristic we underrate in a friend is the ability to be brutally honest. That’s why I’ve always admired the friendship of the women’s rights leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. They led very different lives. Anthony was single; Stanton, a married mother of seven. And they continually and vociferously argued about temperance, abolition, sexual rights, and suffrage. But because they were able to challenge and educate each other, they accomplished much for females in the United States. It’s also why they remained close, trusted friends for more than half a century.

Mary Ann Dzuback, Ph.D., is the director of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Washington University, in St. Louis.

The Loyalist

Every woman needs a “hot mess” friend—by which I mean a friend you can be a complete wreck in front of. This pal can drop in unannounced when you’re looking your worst. You haven’t showered and the house is a total disaster, but she won’t judge you. More important, she’ll let you be emotional when you’re at a low point. Recently I was at dinner with a friend when I got the call that I hadn’t landed a big acting job. I tried to pretend that it was no big deal, but she didn’t buy it. She said, “I’d rather you talk about being bummed than wear a fake smile all night.” And so I vented my frustration at not getting the job, and she really listened. We all need a friend who hangs in there even when we’re not at our best.

Ariane Price is a member of The Groundlings, a famed improv troupe in Los Angeles. She blogs about her life at Tales of a Real Hollywood Mom.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME relationships

World War II Veteran Reunited With Love Letter He Wrote 70 Years Ago

Bill Moore wrote the letter to the woman who would become his wife in 1945

In 1945, while fighting in World War II, Bill Moore wrote his beloved girlfriend, Bernadean, a love letter. Seventy years later, the recently rediscovered letter is back in the hands of the still-smitten writer – and serves as a poignant reminder of his lost love.

“I was really surprised, because I had no idea it would show up in the way it did,” Moore told ABC 7 in Denver after a determined stranger found the letter and made sure it was returned to its rightful owner.

When Ilene Ortiz brought home a record she had purchased at a thrift shop in Colorado, she was surprised to find a love letter inside.

“I thought, ‘This is such a romantic letter and someone should have it,’ ” Ortiz also told ABC 7 in Denver after contacting the news station for help locating the owner.

Six months later, she got in touch with the couple’s daughter, Melinda Gale, who couldn’t believe her eyes.

Turns out, Bernadean had saved all the letters Bill sent her, but they got lost after she died in 2010, after 63 years of marriage. Gale and her father, now 90, are grateful to now have this one.

“Most of their dating was through letters in the war,” Gale told the outlet. “I can’t even imagine their relationship and how hard it would have been to love one another so very much and to never know what was going to happen.”

The letter from 20-year-old Bill reads, “My darling, lovable, alluring, Bernadean. I ran out of space, but I could have written a lot more adjectives describing you. You are so lovely, darling, that I often wonder how it is possible that you are mine. I’m really the luckiest guy in the world, you know. And you are the reason, Bernadean. Even your name sounds lovely to me. It’s just when I get so horribly, terribly lonely for you that I write letters like this. I have never been so homesick for anyone in my life as I am for you.”

“They had so many great, wonderful years together that just going back to the beginning is always something that’s an amazing thing,” Gale said. “This is the most wonderful gift.”

Seventy years after first penning the letter, it’s clear Bill’s passion for Bernadean still burns bright.

“I loved her,” he told ABC 7 through tears. “And she loved me. That’s all I can tell you, that it’s a heartache not being with her all the time.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Dating

More Men Use Dating Apps Than Women

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Swipe away, fellas

According to a new study, some 90 million people around the world used location-based dating apps like Tinder and Momo last month. And it turns out that nearly two-thirds of those swipers were male.

Research firm GlobalWebIndex surveyed 32 countries, and found that 62% of dating app users are men. (No word on the percentage of Tinder-loving bros who take selfies with babies or tigers).

The news isn’t entirely surprising. In 2013, Pew Research Center found that men were more active on dating apps and sites. Some 13% of American males had used an app or site, compared to only 9% of American women.

Although that doesn’t mean men spend more time on apps than their female counterparts. Tinder, which the New York Times estimated to have upwards of 50 million active users, said that while men spend 7.2 minutes in an average session, women spend 8.5 minutes swiping through options. Dudes also swipe “like” 46% of the time compared to women’s 14% of the time.

Quantity doesn’t equal quality, fellas.

(h/t: The Guardian)

Read next: Here’s Proof That Everyone Will Be Online Dating This Valentine’s Day

TIME relationships

Utah Woman Seeks World Record for Most Wedding Bouquet Catches

The irony, of course, is that Jamie Jackson is still single

If wedding bouquet-catching were an Olympic sport, a special spot would be reserved for Jamie Jackson at the top of the podium.

The 37-year-old Salt Lake City, Utah, woman has been to more than 80 weddings, catching the bridal bouquet a record 46 times, edging out other single women in the room like a defensive back intercepting a touchdown pass.

The irony, of course, is that Jackson is still single.

“I’ve pretty much crushed that ‘next-to-be-married’ myth,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’ve had boyfriends, sure. But I’m liking the single life. Besides, if I were married, I’d have to give up my favorite sport.”

Read the rest of the article at People.com

TIME relationships

The Valentine’s Day That Should Have Stopped Me From Getting Married

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

All I wanted to do was to give him a special gift for Valentine's Day

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I think it’s safe to say the color most closely associated with Valentine’s Day is red. Red hearts, red roses, red wine. Or in the case of my 2003 Valentine’s Day, red flags.

I was never super-into Valentine’s Day — at least not after elementary school; I would actually take a lot of care choosing my mass-marketed, perforated Valentines at CVS and deciding whichGarfield & Friends” character made the most sense to give to which classmate. Once I got to middle school, I quickly realized it served as an opportunity to feel rejected if I didn’t have a boyfriend or disappointed if I did and he didn’t put as much thought into a gift as I did. (I’m sorry, but a personalized dude-bracelet from Things Remembered is a way more thoughtful gift than a made-in-China teddy bear from Drug Fair.)

Come high school, Valentine’s Day just became uncomfortable. My freshman year, a sophomore boy who had a girlfriend snuck an extremely intense, handwritten poem into my backpack — my first taste of how terrible people can be to their significant others on a day that’s supposed to celebrate them. After that, I don’t even think I acknowledged Valentine’s Day until my sophomore year of college, when I bought the guy I’d been dating for two weeks a frame for his favorite picture of him and his best friend, and he bought me a white negligee; that sufficiently creeped out sexually inexperienced 19-year-old me.

Because every day is Valentine’s Day when you’re in love, I got engaged on a random October day in 2002, at age 23, to a guy I’d been dating for only about half a year. We just knew, you guys, we just knew. Terry (most definitely not his actual name) and I had met through The Onion‘s online personals (do those even exist anymore?) before Internet dating was even remotely normal, and in addition to all the lovey-dovey stuff we were pretty sure we were genuinely feeling, we were intent on proving that rushing into marriage in one’s mid-20s after meeting through a satirical-news website was a totally reasonable thing to do and also probably the wave of the future.

MORE 17 Memorable Kisses Throughout History

The following Valentine’s Day would be our first together. Neither of us cared about it, but in the grips of excited fiancéehood, I thought, hey, why not do a little something special? My idea: Print out and frame the deactivated Onion dating profiles that brought us together.

A few months earlier, I had made the mistake of forgetting to deactivate my profile and was very publicly reminded to when, early in the summer, I became a “featured single” in Time Out New York, which mined The Onion and Nerve for its personals. Terry’s profile was also still active at the time; it was our first time doing online dating and we honestly just forgot that we’d have to proactively disable our listings. After my embarrassing appearance in TONY, he and I both turned off our profiles. We actually took turns doing so at the same computer, and he even unsolicitedly told me his password as a symbol of his trustworthiness.

On the afternoon of February 14, while Terry was at work at a wine shop in our neighborhood, I signed back into The Onion personals for the first time since I’d deactivated my account back in the summer. I figured if I couldn’t find his inactive profile by directly typing in its old URL, it would be okay to sign into his account using the password he’d told me — just this once — so I could access the old profile and print it out. Even the idea of innocently doing that for the sake of the gift made me uncomfortable, though, so I was relieved when, after typing in the URL of his old profile while still signed into my account, it was viewable.

The relief immediately turned to nauseated distress when I realized the profile was still active. I had seen him deactivate it months ago; either he hadn’t done it correctly, or he’d reactivated it at some point since we’d gotten engaged.

It soon became clear that it was the latter, because the content of his profile was completely, horribly, devastatingly different.

“I’m engaged to an idiot who doesn’t know the difference between merlot and cabernet,” it read. “I’m miserable. If you’re an oenophile and aren’t put off by my current situation, let’s talk.”

It took every muscle in my body to keep vomit down; I literally clenched my feet to help stop myself from throwing up. My face was tingling painfully, like when a limb falls asleep. I was too upset to cry — yet.

Feeling like my body was being held together by safety pins, I called Terry. I knew he wasn’t allowed to have his cell phone on the store floor, so I wasn’t surprised when it went to voicemail.

“Terry, you need to come home as soon as possible,” I said, knowing the anger I was trying to keep contained was clear in my voice. “If they let anyone go home early tonight, please make sure it’s you.”

As I waited for him to come home, I started digesting what I’d seen. My fiancé hated me, apparently due to my wine ignorance, and he was actively looking to either cheat on me or leave me for someone else. He hadn’t let on to me that he was unhappy, that my lack of interest in wine or anything else about me was enough to do something so cruel.

An hour later, and shortly after I’d finally started crying, Terry walked through the door.

“What’s wrong?” he said, seeming genuinely concerned.

I handed him a printout of his profile — a much different printout than I had intended to frame for Valentine’s Day.

“What is this?” he said, playing dumb.

“Oh, come on,” I said, my volume already bordering on a yell.

“Uh… wow,” he started. “One of the guys must have done this as a joke,” meaning one of the guys in his sketch-comedy group. He knew I was insecure about whether or not they liked me, so they were an easy scapegoat.

He looked up at me, and one of his eyes crossed. That was his tell. That was what I’d come to identify as the sign he was lying.

“Oh, for goodness’ sake, Terry, don’t lie to me,” I shouted, my face red and wet.

He was quiet for a while. I could tell he just wanted to run, or at least go into a different room, but we lived in a studio apartment. If he felt stuck with me before, I imagine it was infinitely intensified in those moments.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said, sighing. “I’ve been freaking out lately.”

“Why not tell me?” I think I was screeching at this point because our dog, Max, had hidden in the bathroom. “Why do this? Why call me an idiot and look for someone to cheat on me with, and on a public website? The one we met on!”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said. He looked like he might start crying, too.

“Do you want to marry me?” It was a question, but my inflection went down at the end of the sentence.

Without hesitation, he said, “Yes.”

“I don’t believe you,” I replied.

And I shouldn’t have. He wasn’t ready to marry me or anyone else. He wasn’t ready to admit that there were many things about me — many non-wine-related things — that he didn’t like. But after several days of his timid attentiveness, I forgave him.

And after several months of trying to forget a flag so red it was practically on fire, I married him.

I think we actually did love each other, at least a little bit; but more than anything, I think we wanted to not be wrong. We wanted to believe two twentysomethings who couldn’t even make ends meet had made the right decisions, no matter how hasty and immature and delusional those decisions were.

About two years after we got married, we separated — and far more amicably than we’d spent the second year of our marriage. Our goodwill toward each other had run out, and we had matured enough to admit we weren’t right for each other and never had been.

Although I know, looking back, that I should have swallowed my pride and called off the wedding after that Valentine’s Day, there’s no point wasting time regretting how things panned out.

I’m actually really pleased with the balance I’ve developed between being guarded and trusting, and it’s something I’m always fine-tuning. My tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt might prevent me from fully honing my red-flag-detecting abilities, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never marry another guy who calls me an idiot — to my face, on a dating website, or otherwise.

Marci Robin wrote this article for xoJane.

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