New Way To Enjoy My Blogs

This blog is really fun but it takes a long time to write and then code it to get it on this format.

I have found that while this has been a lot of fun, I am writing less and coding and formatting pictures more and the text sometimes suffers!

Please "Like" and follow me on my new Face Book page that will have all the things you like about this page while allowing me to write more and deal with appearance issues and coding less!

"https://www.facebook.com/politicalpaula/

Hope to see you there!

Stay tuned here as well for larger blogs and as always I read all comments posted to both pages!

Pain Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

They say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

The same can be said for pain. People experience pain differently and some see only THEIR pain as valid while writing off others who complain of excruciating pain as "attention seekers" and "cry babies."

There is something called a "pain threshold" that is the level of pain our bodies can tolerate. Everyone's pain threshold is different. I have a fairly high pain threshold but like most, I do have my tipping point, the kind of pain I can not handle and will bring me to the point of wishing I was dead rather than have one more second of certain types of pain.

My pain threshold ends at tooth and mouth pain. I don't remember a time between the ages of 11 and 18 when my teeth did not ache, my stomach turned as my next orthodontist appointment drew near. Just as I finally healed from the last visit, a new one was looming and more extreme pain coming. A time during these years when I was constantly terrified of what was coming next with my teeth.

Living constantly with open cuts in my cheeks from the metal wires cutting into them was torture everyday.


This experience completely colored my view of all dental procedures and of dentists in general. Many people hate going to the dentist, I have a deep seeded fear of it. A fear that somehow going to the dentist, having anyone touch my teeth in any way could actually kill me.

Today, as an adult, when my teeth hurt, I flash back to those years in braces and having no control over the constant pain and discomfort I lived through "for my own good, I should be grateful for."

I am never grateful for dental pain even when it is necessary because it not only causes me physical agony, but emotional pain as well.

When I share this pain on social media, some are quick to tell me my pain is "nothing" compared to what they have suffered or are dealing with. Really?????? Does one person's definition of pain trump another?

Is pain a contest and those who have the most horrible stories win some sort of prize or get to tell me to "shut up and get over myself?" That I am using what they consider "minor discomfort" by their experiences to get attention?


I have a good friend who is terrified of needles to the point of hyper ventilating at the thought of having blood drawn or an injection of any kind. I don't have any problem with needles and sadly, have made fun of her in the past.

I made fun of a Food Network star who cut herself on a live show and for the rest of the show was wincing in pain and drawing attention to herself. At the time, I found this unprofessional as I cut myself a lot learning new techniques in cooking and to me a cut is not a big deal. I had no right to judge her pain. After this week, I will never be so insensitive again.


Pain, however temporary, is still pain! One week, one day, one hour. Pain is in the eye of the beholder. It can only be defined by the person experiencing it.

If you can not sympathize with someone who is experiencing THEIR definition of horrible pain, just say nothing. Kicking someone when they are down is hurtful and insulting.

On any given day at any given time, someone is suffering far worse than I ever will. I acknowledge and respect that.

Does that mean I have no right to share MY PAIN and expect some love and support for what I am going through?

I invite my readers to share your experiences with pain. How did others treat you when you expressed your pain? Were they kind, or callous?


Paula Luciano is a writer, comedienne and "experimental chef."

Learning To Love Me

Dear Readers,

This week has been very emotional for me. The Today Show is doing a series on "Love Your Selfie." They encouraged women to go without make up and take pictures of themselves and to embrace what the pictures showed. This was incredibly hard for someone like me.

When we are young, being different in anyway is a curse. As a child; I was different from my peers in so many ways. Growing up in the 70"s not having a father, having a working mother was enough to create a huge gap between myself and my classmates. When you add being obese at age 8, being the only child in class to have a mouth full of metal braces at age 11 and having a mentally ill, overprotective Grandmother who was not shy about causing scenes in front of those I hoped would be my friends; you can see childhood was not a walk in the park for me.

Several issues addressed on the Today Show gave me real insight into how I became what I was and then evolved into what I have become.


Mothers and Body Image:

The first time little girls learn about body image is the way their mother's see their own bodies. My mother hated her body and struggled with her weight my entire childhood. At the same time she told me I was not fat even though I was obese at age 8. She allowed me to eat very unhealthy foods telling me I would outgrow my "baby fat."

I don't remember a time during my childhood when my mother was NOT on the "diet du jour." Weight Watchers, Nutri System, Fen Fen. She tried them all and would lose 50 lbs and then gain 60lbs back as she had no discipline and my grandmother was really good at sabotaging any diet because she felt being fat was genetic and the sign of a good, healthy Greek woman. Diets were an insult to Granny's high fat way of cooking she took joy in preparing and watching us eat.

The summer before ninth grade, I lost 35 pounds. All of a sudden, I was not a bastard, the braces were still there but no longer an issue. I was "normal and accepted" by all my peers. Kids who would not speak to me or would bully me the year before wanted to be my friend. WOW! Did that send a message!

That was also the year I became Bulimic. Harming myself in order to fit in and be accepted by classmates I did not realize would have very little influence over my future. Would in fact have very little part in anything I did after high school.

Their acceptance, looking like them, being like them was so important, I was willing to risk my life to fit in. Bulimia would become a way of life learned at age 14 I would battle for 20 years. A way to make those who wanted me to overeat happy while maintaining the "normal" I needed to be in order to be accepted and loved. It would take much counseling and the true love of a wonderful man, my husband, to fully recover from the disease and scars of my childhood.


The First Time You Feel Truly Beautiful:

Many women say the first man who told them they were beautiful was their fathers. I was raised by two women; my mother and her mother, my grandmother. I had no male role models in my life and very little interaction with adult men. My grandmother made it her goal in life that I did not spend any time at all with adult men, even my own father and the one man my mother dated during my childhood.

This message, "men were dangerous" did the job and for most of my younger years I had a fear of adult men which of course was the intention of my grandmother. It also accomplished something else which Granny did not intend. The first adult man who told me I was beautiful, at age 19, was 25 years older than I was and I fell for him hard.

This three year relationship changed my life in so many ways, all of them positive. This wonderful man was so much more than my first love. He encouraged me to take a college accounting course, took me on trips and even helped me study. Most importantly, he told me every time I was with him that I was beautiful! I will forever be grateful for his love and support as he changed my entire life and how I saw myself.

No longer was I the ugly fat bastard child with a crazy grandmother. In his eyes I saw for the first time an intelligent, beautiful, and yes, sexual woman. Part of who I am today, is because of him.


Different Is A Good Thing:

I gained a lot of weight after my mom died in 2004. I was not happy with myself once again and in 6 months lost 50 lbs. At 5'2", I weighed 97 lbs and looked skeletal. I was so excited to show off my new body that summer.

The reaction this time was so different from that 9th grade return to school when everyone wanted to be my friend. This time, people worried for my health, told me I was too thin. Some pulled away from me.

The truth is having this great body turned me into a diva, someone I did not recognize. I felt that outside beauty gave me the right to stop listening to my heart. To stop caring about anyone or anything other than what I allowed myself to eat, my exercise regimen and the outfit I was planning to show off that evening.

This is the adult lesson I had to learn. As adults, we all see beauty differently than the size jeans one wears, looking good in a bikini at the pool. What I learned that summer was people cared more that I was healthy rather than what I looked like. What an eye opener!


The selfie on this page is the person my husband sees everyday and continues to love and consider beautiful. I have more "true" friends now than ever before. Friends that share common thoughts, common interests and don't think so much about the clothes I wear or the make up I apply.

Isn't it strange that all we cared about in high school was clothes, hair, shoes, how we looked on the outside, yet we never really talked to one another about anything important? About anything that would matter 30 years in the future?

As an adult, I no longer see "different" as a curse. I don't want to be like everybody else because how boring would life be if I saw myself every time I was with another person? If I saw THEM when I look in MY mirror?

It took me 49 years to realize that real beauty is not something you see. It is something you feel.

I can look at my picture and embrace my flaws. I accept that living half a lifetime leaves scars and those scars are memories. Some good, some bad. Some chosen, some not.

Those memories are MINE and every time you see me, REALLY see me; you see all those memories, those scars.

I see this as a gift I share with all of you. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT EACH OTHER! See true beauty for the first time through "different eyes."

In Sickness And In Health

When I started this series I sent a survey out to 15 of my friends in different stages of marriage. One of the questions was, "If your spouse/partner were to become seriously ill, would you/could you care for them and handle this new situation in your marriage/relationship?"

The answers may surprise some of you, but did not surprise me. My husband and I both took the survey and both of us answered the same as many others did. "Depends on the illness and what care is required." Statistically, our answers are not so far off the mark even though they may sound callous.

http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Why-Men-Leave-Sick-Wives-Facing-Illness-Alone-Couples-and-Cancer/

A 2009 study published in the journal of Cancer found that a married woman diagnosed with a serious disease is six times more likely to be divorced or separated than a man with a similar diagnosis. Among study participants, the divorce rate was 21 percent for seriously ill women and 3 percent for seriously ill men.

These days, notes Jimmie Holland, MD, caregivers fill a larger role than ever: "In the past, a person would stay at the hospital for weeks. Now people come home with wounds that need to be cleaned, and all kinds of other things we once used to think only nurses could do."

When we marry, we take vows that include "in sickness and in health." It should therefore be assumed that when one spouse becomes seriously ill, it is the duty of the other spouse to stand by them and provide care and support.

I find when talking to married couples, that not everyone is a born caregiver and simply can not emotionally or physically care for a seriously ill spouse, while others find an inner strength in themselves they never imagined they had.

This blog tells the stories of three very brave readers who lived with or are living with an illness in their marriage/relationship. I hope you all find them as inspiring as I did.


Chris and Amber, "It's Always Something"

Chris and Amber have been together 5 years. As a gay couple, they can not legally marry in the state they reside in, however they share a love that is just as strong if not stronger than many who can legally marry.

Chris was a very successful businesswoman, independent, a wonderful mother to her young son and starting a new relationship with Amber when she was diagnosed with several illnesses all at once. She was hospitalized multiple times, has had several surgeries as well as battling cancer last year.

Amber, who has a background in nursing, did not think twice. She immediately took over Chris's care.

She commented to me, "my partner means everything to me. She is my best friend, my rock, the one I laugh with, spend every minute of every day with and can't get enough. She means the world to me and I would do anything for her."

Chris echoed this with her response, "My partner means everything to me, I wouldn't give her up for anything and would do just about anything for her especially if she was ill."

Chris is now disabled and can not work and this has caused both financial and emotional strain for the relationship, but the bond and commitment of these two amazing women should be an inspiration to us all. Government refuses to acknowledge them as a married couple, but they exhibit the true meaning of what marriage is supposed to be.


Joe and Bunny, "Death Was Not The End Of Their Love Story:

I met Joe in 2006 on a medical web site when I though I had cervical cancer and his beloved wife, Bunny was battling lung cancer. Joe was so appealing because most of the people on this site were those actually suffering from cancer, most were women and here was this husband pouring his heart out each day to any who would listen about the love he had for his wife and how he was going to be there every step of the way to make her well again.

Bunny suffered with severe back pain for several years before getting the devastating diagnosis of lung cancer. Joe commented that the day she was diagnosed "my jets went totally Bunny!"

Joe went to every doctor appointment and even lost his job because of the time he needed to take off to be with Bunny and care for her.

After my cancer scare was determined to be lab error, I stayed in touch with Joe and I was at the bay when I got word from him his beloved Bunny had passed. I took flowers from my garden and went to the water and said a prayer for Bunny and Joe. We have been dear friends ever since.

Joe has never forgotten Bunny. In fact if you talk to him today about any topic, he will likely bring it back to a "Bunny" story. He has not remarried and expresses his grief through the music he loves and keeps Bunny's memory alive whenever given the chance.

"In sickness and in health" was a promise Joe made to Bunny and she made to him. Bunny's cancer was a mountain to climb, they did it together and when only Joe was left standing, his love for Bunny did not die with her body.

Her soul and the life they shared, the memories they made together, Joe keeps alive and through him, those who never met Bunny feel honored to know the beautiful woman she was, the Angel she is today. That Joe keeps her memory alive for all of us to know the beautiful soul she was is a true gift. The gift from Bunny to Joe and from Joe to all of us who get to know this exceptional woman through him.


Kathi and Larry, " Living With Chronic Illnesses And Still In Love":

In 1990, Kathi, was happily married, had a job she loved and was raising three children. After being tested with one seriously ill child early in her marriage, life was good. Her marriage was strong and her three children, including her son, who had completely recovered from his illness as an infant, were all healthy.

This was the year the biggest test revealed itself. Kathi as not feeling well and after many medical professionals writing off her symptoms, she was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.

Each of these diseases by themselves can be debilitating, but combined, they are disabling. Kathi faced two hurdles in even getting a proper diagnosis. Today, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia are recognized as true diseases, back then they were not. Kathi's first test was to convince her doctors there was something very wrong other than just being tired all the time and in excruciating pain.

It took a year to get the diagnosis and several more to win her disability status so she could once again contribute something to her family's income. Kathi shared several quotes with me that helped her along the way and she wanted to share them with you.

"Learning to accept a diagnosis as uncertain as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome does not come quickly or easily. It is said one mourns the loss of one's good health in much the same way one mourns the loss of a loved one."

"Learning to accept the reality of a chronic illness is crucial to regaining a sense of control over my life. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. The names are not terribly comforting, but at least they have a name."

After the diagnosis, Kathi had to then take stock of how this illness would not only affect her own life, but her family's as well.

"I don't have this illness alone, my whole family has it. It changed everyone's life."

Kathi could no longer work and that changed the financial dynamic of her family. She worried as her children were still young when she was diagnosed, they would not have the best of their mother. Her husband, while becoming the sole bread winner of the family, also had to take over chores he and Kathi used to share as she was no longer able to do them.

Her children also had to step up and cook dinners, help more around the house as on bad days Kathi slept 18 hours, had very poor balance and could not write a check or sign her name.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a silent illness. People who don't know her, look at Kathi and think she is healthy. They don't see her on bad days which happen more frequently as her illness progresses and with the added diagnosis of COPD, in 2009. She now uses oxygen regularly in order to function.

"It is the uncertainty that is so difficult to live with. If I knew I was going to get better in a year or even five years, I think I could manage. To not know whether I will ever be well is devastating."

Through it all, Kathi's family has been by her side. He husband, Larry is the same loving wonderful man she married 39 years ago when they took those vows, "in sickness and health." He meant them, as did Kathi when Larry suffered a heart attack in 2007 and she was by his side every step of his recovery.

Her children are adults now with families of their own and they have used the lessons their mother and her illnesses taught them to become caring, beautiful human beings.


The three stories I told here are different but the following quotes Kathi lives by may send a message to all who are living with illness or loss of a loved one.

In the 24 years she and her family have lived with chronic illness she recites these quotes to herself each day:

"I don't choose to be called a victim of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, of any illness. I prefer to call myself a survivor!!!!!"

Her personal favorite: "I have lost function, strength and mental ability but I will fight for my dignity and self respect!"


Many marriages fail when one partner becomes ill and the other can simply not handle it. This blog shared three stories of relationships that not only survived, but thrived in the face of illness and even death.

We should take a lesson from these three amazing couples. Do we mean it when we say, "In Sickness And In Health?" Can illness make a marriage/relationship stronger?

You, my readers, be the judge. Share your stories with me or comment on the stories you read here.

For Richer, For Poorer

Money, money, money! It is the one major issue married people fight about. It can be the one hurdle two people who truly love each other can not overcome.

It is very interesting that of the people I interviewed for this blog, those who have been married the longest found that money was not as important as younger married couples did.

Today, couples who marry assume financial stability will come with marriage. They will be able to afford whatever they feel they need, as individuals rather than thinking as a couple. Couples who married 30 or 40 years ago accepted the financial struggles they had from day one of their marriage and worked together to overcome them.

Let's take a look at the issue of money and how it's importance has evolved throughout history; making it one of the major obstacles couples face.


History:

One hundred years ago, marriage had very little to do with two people falling in love, but more to do with parents wanting to "marry off" their daughters to "the highest bidder." Young women in those days were considered a burden on their families once they reached a certain age. It was up to their Father's to find them a suitable husband, meaning a wealthy husband who could take over the support of their daughters.

In the 1930's and 40's, during World War 2, when husbands were serving in the military, their wives and children often went to live with relatives as it was thought a wife and mother could not live by herself in a home of her own, pay the bills and care for her children without family help and guidance.

Even during the 1970's and 1980's when I was growing up, I was told that "good girls" lived with their parents until they met their "prince" and then our only job was to keep a nice home and raise babies while our husbands provided everything THEY felt we needed.

Bottom line, women first had to obey and do as their parents said; then as adults, we traded in our parents for husbands who took over the "parenting role" and dictated every thing we did. We were never in control of our own lives and what we wanted or desired was at the mercy of our husbands who controlled the MONEY!

It was inconceivable that a woman could ever take care of herself, maybe make her own way in the world, be independent before getting married and having a family.

Fast forward to 2014 and see how things have changed.


Yours, Mine, Ours:

Much has changed since the days when a man was the "King of His Castle" and primary breadwinner for the family. When a wife had to ask permission to go out to lunch with friends, buy a new outfit or go to the hair salon.

Many women today are marrying later in life. At the time of their marriage, they are college graduates, have successful careers, homes of their own and an independent nature not seen in the past when the "weak, little woman" needed a strong, successful man to take care of her.

Many women today choose not to take their husband's name and also choose not have joint bank accounts with their spouses.

What used to be "ours" after the marriage has turned into "mine" and "yours." In today's economy, with the costs of homes, cars, children and food skyrocketing, most married couples need two incomes to even come close to having what their parents had with one.

This can cause stress in a marriage. Many people in marriages where both partners work feel that the money they earn individually need not necessarily be shared with their spouse or go to household expenses. Some continue to maintain separate bank accounts in order to have control over the money they work to earn.

Many married couples today seem more like room mates than two people who want to build a life TOGETHER. Each paying their half of the rent, utilities, even splitting a restaurant tab when going out for dinner together. Some take separate vacations or split the cost of a shared vacation because each person in the marriage is an individual instead of part of a couple.

When researching this blog, I learned that money management is a personal choice and one the couple usually decides together, whether they choose to keep their individual earnings separate or combine them in joint accounts.

When this very important decision is made as a couple, my readers report they are happy with the results and their choice makes their marriage stronger.


Where Does All The Money Go?:

Many times in a marriage one person takes over the responsibility of the dreaded monthly budget. This can leave the other partner out of the loop.

One reader, who is in charge of paying all the household bills and budgeting the money commented she wishes her husband would take more of an interest in where their income goes. He truly has no knowledge of what the monthly bills are.

Many women also report that their husbands handle all the finances and they worry if something were to happen to him, they would have no knowledge of what is needed to maintain the household. I had a relative who, after her husband died, did not even know where he kept the checkbook let alone how to deal with the household finances.

I believe when it comes to finances, both adults in the home should be aware of the monthly expenses, regardless of who physically pays the bills. Both should know the amount of income required to maintain the home and should have joint access to all bank accounts that are used to pay those bills.


Family Comes Calling and Begging:

We marry the man or woman of our dreams, love them and want to live a long life with them. Just the two of us. Problem is it is never "just the two of us." We become part of our spouse's extended family as our spouse becomes part of ours. Extended family actually can define a marriage depending on the way "family issues" are handled by married couples.

Couples who become financially successful often have family members coming to them for money. Parents feel the most successful child should take them into their home if they become ill or can no longer afford to live on their own.

One reader shared a very sad story of family betrayal that should send a message to all of us:

Her husband's parents, being faced with losing their home, came to their son and asked to be "loaned" $50,000 with the promise the money would be paid back or he and his wife would be able to move into the home they saved from foreclosure.

Unfortunately, the parents took their son's money and never paid one dime of it back. Kept their home and are now living large while their son and his wife live in poverty. They gave up their life savings to take care of husband's parents and those parents kicked their son and daughter in law to the curb.

The beauty of this story is that this wife, who has had so much stolen from her by her husband's family remains committed to her marriage and loves her husband.. They are working through this difficult time together however it has caused a rift in the couple and the husband's family that will never heal.


When my mother died, an evil, sick family member went to everyone at her funeral and told them my mother left me over one million dollars and that I was rich!

While this was not true, it did not stop some from coming to me shortly after the funeral to make subtle hints that I may want to invest in a business they wanted to start or ask when I was buying my dream mansion.

Perception is one thing, reality another. It continues to amaze me that some in our families consider us wealthy when nothing could be further from the truth.

To protect our marriage and our financial security, we have rules as a couple that I strongly suggest all couples think about implementing:

Never do business with family unless legal papers are drawn up and it is made clear that it is a BUSINESS transaction, not a gift! Let it be known that family will be treated as any customer and failure to pay will result in the same collection procedure as any other customer who refuses to pay for services provided.

Never "loan money" to family. Treat any money a family member asks for as a "gift" that will most likely never be paid back. Never "loan" more than you can afford to lose.

Being married means accepting our spouses family as part of our lives, it does not mean we are financially responsible for our spouse's family or should allow our success be taken advantage of by any family members on either side of the marriage.


Conclusion:

Money is important to many successful marriages, while it means nothing to others that are equally successful.

In my research, I have found that money matters more to those who had it and lost it, those who have it and are trying to protect it, and those who believe having it will make them happy.

Married couples who were not born into money, brought no money into their marriage, worked together from nothing to achieve what they have today; seem to be the happiest.

Money can buy material things, can give people standing in the community. Money can buy the fancy houses and toys to impress friends and family, but at the end of the evening, it is still just two people who took marriage vows and go to bed together. When their eyes are closed, they will not see all the fancy stuff in their mansion or the 4 cars in the garage. They won't taste the shrimp and lobster they served at the dinner party.

All they will have is the person sleeping next to them, the person they will wake up next to tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come.

Money can not make your heart skip a beat when your husband walks in the door, it can not make you smile when your wife falls asleep on the sofa and does that little snore thing you used to hate and have now come to love.

Money comes and money goes. True love lasts! For richer, for poorer!

The Baby Carriage

"Go forth and procreate!" This used to be an actual part of all religious marriage ceremonies. "And may their first child be a masculine child!" That is a quote from "The Godfather."

Children, grand children, carrying on the family name has always been an obsession in this country. The entire purpose of marriage used to be about having children and becoming a "family." I say "used to" because times have changed.

Rarely do you hear anything about children mentioned in most modern day wedding ceremonies and many couples who choose to marry today, do so having already agreed that they will never have children.

After choosing the person one wants to marry, having children is probably the most important decision a couple will ever make, one that will change their lives forever.

I will say that all of the people interviewed for this blog who have children said that they feel blessed by their children and, for the most part, having children made their marriage stronger.

On the other side, those who chose not to have children are also happy with their decision and reported that their marriage is happier and healthier because of that choice.

One reader, Kathi commented, "there are basically two kinds of marriages in our society; those who have children and those who do not." She continued, " having children changes the dynamic of the relationship."

Let's look at the affect having children or not has on a marriage.


The Decision To Have Children:

Smart couples discuss their views on children BEFORE they get married. I have found in my research this is a very important issue and before vows are exchanged, couples should be on the same page about having children as when they are not, disaster can occur.

For those who have children, all reported that their children are a blessing but for sure, changed their marriage. Many shared that after having children, everything becomes about or for the children.

Making the transition from two adults responsible for ONLY themselves to having this newborn, innocent and totally dependent child to care for is a daunting realization. To realize that this tiny little baby needs you 24/7 and you must put his/her needs before anything you feel you need or want; can be quite overwhelming.

For the most part, my readers said having children made their marriages stronger. That they do, at times, fight over their children; but at the end of the day, their shared commitment to raising their children together, giving their children the best of both parents, becomes more important than any disagreements on how the children should be raised.

Some readers commented that after having children, they tended to put all their energy and attention into the children, ignoring their spouse and this caused stress and issues in the marriage.

Some spoiled their children against their spouses wishes, also causing stress in the marriage.

A very important issue is of course the way things have changed since many of my readers were children, being raised by a "stay at home mom."

Today women find themselves being, cook, maid, chauffeur, nanny, gardener, nurse, referee and, in many cases, bread winner who earns the money that supports the family.

I hear from many women that it is just too much and can cause resentment in a marriage. Husband goes out to work every day, comes home, eats the dinner the woman prepared after a long day at work herself, leaves the dirty dishes for her, the woman to wash and then kisses the kids she has been with for 5 hours goodnight and crawls into his bed for a nice long night's sleep.

The happiest marriages that include children seem to be the ones where both spouses share parenting responsibilities and work to be on the same page when it comes to decisions concerning their children.

One thing that can really damage a marriage is when either spouse believes the other intends to have children only to find out later, after the marriage they they have changed their mind. We have all seen the soap operas where a woman secretly stops taking birth control in order to "trick her spouse into thinking her pregnancy was an accident."

Some men tell their spouse they want children before the wedding and afterward decide they are "just not ready" or "the time is not right." Some have gone as far to either lie about having a vasectomy before the marriage or secretly having on after.

One reader shared that her husband wanted children more than she did and after their daughter was born, he lost all interest in the child he claimed was so important to him.

Having children or not having them can be a deal breaker in a marriage and should be honestly discussed BEFORE taking vows. A marriage that starts out with a lie about such an important decision can be doomed to fail.


No Child Is Perfect:

"Do you want a boy or a girl?" When asked this question, many soon to be parents answer "we don't care as long as the baby is healthy."

Unfortunately all children are not born healthy and when a couple is faced with a seriously ill child, it affects different marriages in different ways. Some grow stronger while some fall apart.

I turn again to my reader, Kathi. In 1975, she married a wonderful man who not only fell in love with her, but also committed to love and raise her 18 month old daughter. In 1977, they joyfully welcomed their son into the world, but very soon it was clear all was not well with their new baby.

He was diagnosed with a very serious illness and was admitted to a medical center specializing in treating serious conditions in children. The center was 45 minutes from their home. Kathi, of course was torn between being with her son and also caring for her then 4 year old daughter. Her husband did a great job of continuing to work full time, and then driving their daughter to the medical center to see her mom. He had to take on a lot of the household duties as well as being scared to death, his son might not make it.

Kathi, a woman of great faith in God, never gave up hope that her son would recover and live a normal life, but she did comment that is was very hard on the marriage. She and her husband handled their son's illness differently and it was hard for them to talk about it.

Thankfully, their son did survive and is a happy, healthy young man today. The true beauty of Kathi's story, is that her marriage also survived and became stronger. The ability of this couple, very early in their marriage to be able to work together to keep the family a unit while going through the heartache of having a seriously ill infant is a testament to their commitment to one another and their family. She and her husband are celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary this year.

Sadly, it does not always work that way and sometimes a seriously ill child can break a marriage. What I have learned from my research is that in many cases when a marriage dissolves "because" of a sick child, there were already issues in the marriage that were simply exacerbated by the stress of having a seriously ill child.


Raising Grandchildren:

Your children are raised, they get married themselves and have children of their own. You and your spouse finally have your home back and it is all about the two of you again until..... something goes wrong and you find yourself raising young children again at an age you expected to be relaxing and enjoying retirement.

For some marriages this can actually be very positive. One reader shared that she and her husband married when both had already had children and therefore, had no children of their own. Due to unexpected circumstances, they are now raising their two grandchildren together.

She reports that she and her husband had hit some rocky spots in their marriage but now raising these two children has made her marriage stronger and that they feel like it is a new beginning, having these beautiful children to take care of. They are more in synch now that they have their grandchildren's best interests to look after..

Some couples report having a stronger bond with their grandchildren when they live with them than they would have if they only saw them sporadically.

Others say it is hard when an adult child moves back home with his/her child. It is hard to draw the line between grandparent and parent. One reader commented that she bundled her granddaughter up so tight one day that the child was sweating like she was in a sauna because she felt her daughter was not dressing the child warmly enough.

This same reader however did say she made a serious effort to "bite her tongue" and allow her daughter to to parent her child.

Does not always work out that way. When my grandmother was widowed, my mother and father moved in with her and shortly after I was born my parents divorced. My grandmother decided the second I was under her roof that she was in control of my upbringing. She also decided that my mother was also under her rules and basically wanted to control every aspect of both our lives. It made for a very unhappy childhood for me and put a lot of stress on my mother, who was trying to raise me while working full time and supporting both me and my grandmother. It also destroyed all chances of my having a loving, nurturing relationship with my grandmother.

From my research, having grandchildren in the house can be a beautiful experience. It can make older married couples relive the fun of having small children around again, even keep them younger and healthier.

Those who do it successfully work very hard not to blur the line between grandparent and parent. They also make sure that having adult children and grandchildren in the house to not take away from their own marriage and time together.


The Decision To Never Have Children:

I am going to start by taking this one. The night I met my husband, he asked first if he could buy me a drink and second question was, "do you have kids?"

Interesting for a chance encounter in a bar but later he told me if I had said I had even one child, he would have walked away. My husband knew at age 27 that he never wanted kids and he was looking for a woman who felt the same. He hit pay dirt with me! I also, after a very near death experience with a pregnancy at age 25, decided I never wanted children. We were meant for each other.

My readers who participated in this blog who have no children are all very happy with their decision even though many of them had some hurdles to cross to be recognized as Child Free.

They love the fact that they can enjoy the person they married. Go out at the spur of the moment and not need a baby sitter. Not having to worry about school districts when choosing a home to buy. Being able to go on vacations that don't include Disney characters or child friendly hotels. They have more money to spend on themselves, private time and read books without pictures in them.

Many child free couples reported that they have lost long time friendships when those friends started having children and they no longer had anything in common with them. That people with children seem to only want to talk about their kids and have no interest in the Child Free couples life.

Many adults with children decline invitations to anything that does not include their children and can sometimes get nasty when told their children are not invited to an event. For some reason they think that children should be accepted everywhere and that anyone who loves the adults should automatically accept their children.

My readers who know they never want children are very comfortable and happy with that decision but they had to face family members, friends and even medical professionals in order to be able to live by their choice to be Child Free.

We go back to those marriage vows and how in our society, most people see marriage as a first step and having children the natural next step after marriage.

My husband and I were married less than a day when people started asking us if we were going to have children. Most of them knew that we had decided long before we married to never have children, but they asked anyway. They assumed the fact we were legal now, would change our minds.

Society, even in 2014, assumes that every woman dreams of becoming a mother. This makes them treat women who say 'NO" to childbirth as mentally ill, or they tell us we WILL change our minds, and some of our families only care about having grand children or little "mini us" to carry on a name.

We saw the Supreme Court of the United states hear arguments about legalizing Gay marriage and the main argument made was that Gay people can not procreate and therefore their marriages can never be defined as "marriage" because they can never have children naturally.

This was an insult to me and all the other straight people who have married legally with the intention of NEVER having children. Those who are married and physically can not have children "naturally." This argument seemed to make our marriages illegal as well.


To me, marriage is between two people who love each other and what they do with their lives after they marry is their business. No one who falls in love and gets married should feel pressure to have children to be "normal" or fit in with society's expectations of what a marriage is.

For those of us who choose to be child free, our decisions should never be questioned just like those who have children don't appreciate their decisions being questioned.

The decision to have children should be a personal one. Not one made by family, friends, medical professionals or government. Not made by a Priest or any religious entity.

The people who make the extremely important decision to procreate should be the two people who having children will affect the most. The people who will be responsible for raising the child..


Does having children affect marriage? It sure does! It puts pressures on it; financial, emotional and even physical. Some marriages can handle it, some can't. The true beauty is knowing and accepting and then making the decision that is right for YOUR marriage.

The wonderful part about those who choose to have children is most are happy and feel blessed to have made the decision to have them and for those who choose not to have children, are equally happy and content with their decision.

At the end of the day, the most important thing, where children are concerned, is to have a choice and to make the right choice; for the children and for your marriage.

Paula Luciano is a writer, book and restaurant critic, comedienne and apprentice chef.

To Love, Honor And Cherish

Marriage! It used to be so simple. We all learned the rhyme in elementary school; "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Sally pushing a baby carriage."

As little girls we were given toys that would prepare us to be good wives and mothers. Kitchen sets, baby dolls. Told that when we grew up we should want to have a "princess wedding and a family." That we will live happily ever after!

"Happily Ever After?" Does it really exist? Should those who marry expect happiness and roses for the rest of their lives once rings are put on fingers, vows taken and kisses exchanged?


I interviewed eight married readers for this blog. Combined they have been married 134 years! From 39 years to 6 years. Let's see what these "Marriage Veterans" have to say about what keeps their marriages strong.

I will say what surprised me most is that those married the longest and therefore, have had many decades to find fault with their spouse; are the ones who answered a resounding "YES," knowing what they do now, they would for sure marry their spouse all over again!

Some would change the way they handled certain issues that have brought stress to their marriage, but all agreed they married the right person for them. One reader, 34 years married, made the statement that if anything ever happened to her husband, she does not know if she could go on. That she married her "best friend."

Another reader, married 20 years shared; "the perfect marriage is two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other!" I think that quote is very revealing.

When we decide to marry, we basically are molding two personalities together. We will be waking up together, going to bed together, sharing meals together, possibly raising children together and basically spending more time with the person we choose to marry than any other person on this planet.

The obvious question then becomes; how important are shared values, religion and politics to making a marriage successful? The answers may surprise you as they did me.


Faith and Values:

I was raised in a religious household in a faith that is not shared by most of the men I met and considered as husband material. I was always told, however, that sharing the same religion can make a marriage more healthy especially if one decided to have children.

Now I must define "religion" and "faith." They are two different things. For example some feel that they can only marry someone who is of the same RELIGION as they are, for example, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim. Many will not marry unless their intended convert to their Religion and promise to raise any children from the marriage in that one specific religion.

Others of faith only required that their spouse believe in God and need not attend church regularly but that any children from the marriage have some sort of religious upbringing.

I found that two things played a role in how much weight was given to faith when choosing a spouse: Age and family expectations.

My younger readers were less likely to make religion a major factor when deciding whom to marry. However, those who were brought up in an organized religion, while marrying someone raised in the same faith was not a requirement, they did require a potential husband or wife to convert to their religion before agreeing to marry them. Almost all in this group also wanted to raise children from their marriage in the religion they were raised in.

Statistically, I found faith to be more important to women than men. Many women reported that they wanted their spouse to share their faith, however some of these same women attend church alone or with their children. Their husbands refusal to attend church regularly was not a big issue in the happiness of the marriage. I also found that children make faith a more important issue than it is in marriages where there are no children.

The importance religion plays in the decision to marry often comes down to the requirements, some that make no sense to the couple; organized religions insist on in order to marry a couple in the church. Many organized religions try to control who a church member marries, even where they marry.

One Catholic reader met her Catholic husband after they had both been legally divorced. The problem is the Catholic Church did not recognize their divorce and told them they would need to get an annulment through the church before her priest would agree to marry them. This annulment would have cost them $1000 each and their were no guarantees the Church would grant the annulments.

This couple chose leave their Catholic upbringing and instead married in a beautiful little stone church the found in their neighborhood where their previous divorces and their love for one another was not questioned. Their marriage has lasted 34 years and still going strong!

Some Christian Churches will not marry a Christian and Jew. Some, like the church I was raised in, will not allow a church member to marry anywhere other than the Greek Orthodox Church and if we do, we lose all our rights to be a "member in good standing" in the church. This means we can not receive any of the sacraments including Holy Communion.

While this can put pressure on a relationship at an already stressful time of planning a wedding, I have found that those, like myself and my Catholic reader, have not let religion play such a huge part in our relationships that it affects the most important thing: We both married the men we love, the men who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.


Politics:

Another surprise in this survey was that shared politics had very little to do with a happy marriage. One reader commented, "it makes things easier when you have the same political views. We don't have debates about politics. We confirm each others suspicions and points of view."

I have to say politics and current events are very important to me as most of you know. My husband is the least political person I know. What I find is many adults tend to vote the party their parents voted and my husbands family is very conservative. I am more liberal and this has caused great debates in our home but also some fights as well.

One thing I am grateful for, is the main political issues like woman's reproductive rights and health care, we agree on. Other issues we debate intellectually and while some of his views disappoint me, the fact is, I married a man who really hates politics and has no interest in debating me. I accept this about him. I guess this is why I have a blog.

Does it affect our marriage? Sometimes it does because I get really worked up about some political issues and he simply walks away and does not want to hear it. This both frustrates me and hurts me that something that is a major part of my life does not interest him.

Would having a great debate partner and avid political scholar as my husband make my marriage better? It would make it more interesting, especially dinner conversations, but at the end of the day, I married a good man who loves me. He supports my passions even if he does not share them. He has never tried to stop me from writing about or voicing my political opinions, even when they completely differ from his own. I will say, for someone like me, I married the absolute right person where politics are concerned.


When I asked my readers what makes their marriages last, all said that it is work. Like any job, it takes attention, vigilance, focus and commitment. Many met their spouses when they were least expecting to and many expressed surprise when realizing that their spouse was "the one."

My readers, like myself, looked for more than simply marrying a clone of themselves. In many cases, "opposites attract" seems to make for a healthier longer lasting marriage.

Perhaps when we marry someone different than ourselves, who comes from a completely unfamiliar background, we also open ourselves up to new experiences for better or worse! We see our marriage as a new adventure instead of simply a replica of our parents marriages or a continuation of the life we have always led.

I spent fifteen years of my life looking for the perfect mate. Several broken hearts and a lot of lessons later, I stopped looking for perfection and started looking for a person to share this crazy, unpredictable thing we call life.

Two people may be perfect, individually, even together, but "LIFE" has a way of getting in the way and it is how we handle what life throws at us, how we live in an imperfect world, that defines a marriage.


Please look forward to the next blog in this series--"The Baby Carriage." How children affect a marriage.


Paula Luciano is a writer, restaurant critic, comedienne and apprentice chef.

Love And Marriage

"Marriage!" It is one of the most used and abused words in the English language.

Over many decades, "marriage" has been something that many people fight to achieve, government and religious groups argue to define and some fight to stay as far away from as they can get!

What is it about marriage that so infatuates us, especially women? We are taught from childhood on; to look for and marry our "prince" and live happily ever after.

Society and our family pushes us to marry and have a "family" by their definition even if that is not what we want for ourselves.

We are told that "one is a lonely number." That we will only be complete when we meet that "special someone" and that is when our lives will truly begin.

That having a husband or wife and the 2 or more kids will make us a true family and all will be happiness and joy forever and ever!


What happens when the fairy tale we are sold as young children dissolves into one big mess? What happens when the prince has thorns and the princess is a royal bitch?

What happens when the children are not perfect and you spend more time dealing with their issues than being there for your spouse or partner?

What happens when you have no job and everything in your house is falling apart?

What happens when the perfect fairy tale becomes the perfect nightmare? Do you stay or do you go?


I decided to do a series on this thing we call Marriage because I want to know with a 50/50 chance of success, and with that a 50/50 chance of failure, what makes people get married?

What makes some stay married, while others decide to divorce?

What makes some decide to live together and never legally marry and why do some of these relationships last longer and end up happier then those who legally "tie that knot?"


For this blog I am interviewing people who all have different opinions of marriage from their personal experiences to both share with all of you and to learn for myself what makes marriages work, what contributes to divorce and why some simply have no interest in marriage at all.

I will also be sharing my own journey to marriage as your faithful blogger is not immune to opening up and sharing with all of you.


It is going to be quite a ride! The responses to my questions have made me laugh and cry. They may do the same for all of you.

Come along on this journey with me. What we learn together could change our lives forever!

Happy New Year!

Happy 2014 to all my readers!!!

The end of 2013 provided many difficulties for us both health wise and with our home.

I had to deal with an abscessed tooth that made me want to either take pliers and pull it myself or take a gun and shoot my face off!

Luckily I had a good dentist and all is now well but it taught me a valuable lesson, of all my body parts, my teeth are the most important and need to be cared for. I purchased a great Dental discount plan and am now in the process of having all that is wrong with my teeth; most of it caused, I believe by way too much orthodontic work as a child, taken care of.

We had some home issues with a hot water heater and some city ordinances that required us to destroy a 100 year old door. This made me wonder if I truly OWN my home or if the city I pay way too many taxes to, owns it and can force me to do whatever their code of the day requires.


I have been away for a bit as the news no longer appeals to me. Same stuff different day. I have, however found a new topic that really interests me and that is the topic of Marriage and Divorce in our country.


I am starting a series on Marriage here and have sent several surveys out to people in different stages of marriage:

Those who consider themselves happily married and have been married a long time

Those who have divorced

Those who are Gay and their feelings on marriage

Those who are straight and choose not to marry even while raising children together.

If any of you out there would like to take part in my surveys for this blog, please send me a personal message either here or on Face Book. I will send you the survey that pertains to you.

All answers are confidential and the blog will not name anyone unless the reader sharing tells me to use their name.

Never be shy, I protect my sources.


I hope you all had a great Holiday and are ready to read some new Political Paula in 2014!!!

Holiday Office Party, Fun Or Obligation?

Office Party is kind of an oxymoron. I mean really, who equates anything to do with the office or their job with a "party?"

We should begin by defining the word "party." Parties usually start with invitations being sent by someone who wants to gather people they care about to celebrate something. The person receiving the invitation then can choose whether to accept or decline the invitation.

This time of year, many invitations are sent out for a different kind of party, the Office Holiday Party. Unlike other party invitations, many times, this invitation is not really an invitation but an order and attendance is mandatory! For some reason attendance at the Corporate Holiday Party has become part of one's job description.


There are many reasons businesses have holiday parties:

Some want to show employees how well the business is doing by splurging on open bars and fancy food.

Some want to make up for the fact that they pay their employees so little that for one night a year they treat them to food, drink and atmosphere the employees can never afford to enjoy on their own time with people they ACTUALLY care about.

Some call it "employee bonding." Getting employees who would never normally hang out together in one place to boost moral and teamwork for the office.

Some also wants to see who gets drunk, who over eats and basically watch to see who are the ass kissers and who just showed up for the free shit.

Some want to simply know that they not only control their employees from 8AM to 5Pm Monday through Friday, but also can control their off the clock hours by forcing them to come to a party the employee have no interest in just to praise the boss for his/her generosity for providing such a nice "party."

Whatever the reasons, many of these parties are MANDATORY and employees are instructed to attend or "else." Meaning there could be repercussions to anyone who does not agree to spend an evening with the boss and their workmates at a venue of the bosses choosing for the "Holiday Party."


Let's look at some Corporate parties and see if what many readers have told me is true. Holiday parties actually cost employees more money than the free booze and food provided by the boss at the party.

First of course is babysitting. Many employees, who already pay extraordinary percentage of their salary for daycare have to now pay a babysitter to go to the Corporate Holiday Party.

Since many Corporate parties are held in fancy places, the lower wage employees may have to buy fancy clothes for both the employee and their spouse so they will look like they belong for one night in the boss's world.

Sometimes the venue chosen by the boss is also over an hour or more away from the employees home so many are forced to get hotel rooms since drinking is part of almost all Corporate parties. Add that to an overnight babysitter, the party soon is no longer a Holiday gift from the boss, but instead a stressful, expensive night the employee never wanted or needed.

Most employees, in fact would rather the thousands or in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars spent on the Corporate Holiday Party be spent instead to give THEM a Holiday bonus or an increase in their hourly wages. Most would rather spend their free time, especially during the holidays, with family than with the Boss and work mates when they are not on the clock.


On a personal note, I started working for a company when I was 20 and I worked with 3 other girls under a female boss. One day she said I was invited to her house for dinner as we all were and I said "no thank you." I did not want to go spend my evening with the people I spend 8 hours with and I wanted to go home make dinner and watch my recorded soaps and do my counted cross stitch.

Imagine my shock when my workmates told me I was not allowed to say no. That she had this dinner every year and we all needed to attend. My first question was, will I get overtime pay for this? Seriously, all I signed on to when I accepted the job was working 8-5. I never signed on to being forced to have dinner with my boss and my workmates but apparently it was part of the job.

So I drove 25 minutes to the boss house and had dinner because it was intimated that if I did not go, I would have problems at work. My work day that day was technically 15 hours but I only got paid for 8 hours. The dinner at the bosses that I did not want to attend was considered my "free time" even though I certainly was not free during the time I spent there.


The bottom line is that Americans spend more time at work than with their families in their own homes or on vacation when compared with our European counterparts. Many children come home each day to empty homes with no parents and many children don't even have regular meals with their working parents.

Many employees no longer have Thanksgiving Day off with their families and only get one day for Christmas and New years.

Employers today are trying to stop female employees from having birth control paid for by company insurance and force employees to live by the boss's religious beliefs.

Employers control most of Americans daily lives and I think it is wrong for them to control any time employees are not on the clock. Forcing them to attend parties with people they can barely stand spending eight hours a day with when they are being paid for it; let alone being forced to spend a Saturday night partying with them at the bosses orders!

Refusing to realize that this time of year, employees would rather be doing what THEY CHOOSE with whom THEY CHOOSE when not on the job, continues to show the fact that many employers believe they can control every minute of every hour of an employees life. Even how they spend a Saturday evening in December.

Make no mistake, when attending an office party, you are on the job and your behavior is being evaluated just as if you were at your desk and on the boss's time because the party IS the boss's time and money!

I have heard from people who attend Holiday Office Parties who say that by attending they get "points" with the boss and may get promoted faster. WHY?

No "party" should ever be mandatory! An employee should be evaluated on the clock during working business hours. Not by what one's spouse wears or how one comports themselves off hours at a company party where drinking too much is encouraged and making a fool out of one's self usually happens.


Note: Happy to report my husband is an independent contractor meaning the only Christmas Party we are going to this year is the one we hold in our own home for two people who have nothing to prove to the boss(my husband) and DO LOVE EACH OTHER

Happy Holidays Everyone!

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