I Got Married in Jeans but Our Marriage Got Serious

I GOT MARRIED IN JEANS BUT OUR MARRIAGE GOT SERIOUS

Luke Dani Blue

Editor’s Note: We’ve been studying relationships for the last four decades, but we still have so much to learn. Through the individual stories and experiences shared in Real Relationships, we aim to paint a more realistic picture of love in the world today. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and are not necessarily based on research conducted by The Gottman Institute. Submit your Real Relationship story here.

Last February, my sister-in-law asked my partner, Migueltzinta, “Do you and Luke ever think of getting married?” At the time, Tzinta and I had been married for four years.

It’s not so surprising that she would have forgotten. Tzinta and I got married as we do all things: on our own, impulsive terms and with a (dignified) F-you to social expectations. In this case, at a courthouse under a papier-mache Valentine’s Day heart, with a diner breakfast as a celebratory chaser. Migueltzinta wore a tie. I’m pretty sure I was wearing jeans.

We’d been together for three and a half years, and already agreed we wanted to be together for life, when we ordered our fateful seafood molcajete on the balcony of a touristy restaurant in southern Guadalajara. Octopus tentacles sizzled in the lava rock, the green salsa bubbled, and the tortillas were soft as worn-in denim. Food that good merited a dramatic gesture. 

“Should we get married?” I asked. “Okay,” he said. We exchanged a look—I dare youNo, dare you—and grinned at each other. Hetero couples and families strolled in the courtyard below the balcony. We were invisible up there in the dark, savoring the dish too large and messy for most people to bother ordering, suddenly engaged. Although we were the only people to whom any of this was a shock, we loved the feeling of our own outrageousness. How dare we betray expectations by doing the one thing most expected of any couple, and yet with so little apparent regard for what it was supposed to mean?

The thing was, we both said “married” and “wedding” with fingers crooked into quotes. It’s not exactly that we were too cool for marriage. We were too skeptical. We were trans people who had spent our childhoods deconstructing girlhood and our adulthoods questioning and violating the rules of manhood. Tzinta regularly posted nude pictures on the internet, hashtagging them #ManPussy. I cringed involuntarily when anyone referred to me with either male or female pronouns, but was going through a long hair and skirts phase. Because of the vagaries of identification laws, my revised birth certificate had an ‘M’ on it and butch Tzinta’s had an ‘F’, meaning that legally, we were straight. This, especially, titillated us. Marriage was a fancy house we hadn’t been invited into and we wanted to dance on the sofa in muddy shoes.

We had no plans to be monogamous, wear rings, change our names, or label either of ourselves husband or wife or some cutesy genderqueered alternative (wifeband? Hufe?). We also weren’t going to pretend that stamping our relationship with a “MARRIED” sticker changed its fundamental makeup, gave it a fresh beginning, or made it safer. Break-ups still happened to married people, as did jealousy, betrayal, and loneliness. All marriage meant, really, was that we could visit each other in the hospital and that no cop or court or interfering parent could split us up. That felt like one big gay freedom.


This past November, Tzinta fell in love with a trans guy who lives far away. Swiftly, the rest of our relationship seemed to collapse too: trust, plans for the future, our ability to laugh audaciously at the same jokes.

I binged on therapy podcasts, stayed up all night doing online quizzes about attachment trauma, and checked out piles of relationship books from the library. Even the best of them (the ones by Harriet Lerner, the Gottmans, and Esther Perel) tended to describe predictable behavior dynamics between a male and female partner. The men, it seemed, were supposed to evade intimacy and seek independence. The women in the case studies tended to get clingy, dread abandonment, and over-accommodate.

Hungry for any help at all, I tried my best to apply the examples to our relationship. Which of us is the man? I found myself wondering. Also, which of us is the woman? Tzinta is, without question, very manly. He loves western wear, has a well-oiled beard and when lost in thought, which is often, frowns with crossed arms, gazing into the middle distance. Like the men in the books, Tzinta kept telling me he wanted more space and more silence. He wanted to do a solo three-month road trip and camp the whole way. He wanted lots of sex, with other guys. He wanted to run. It seemed like lately all he wanted to do was run. Man, man, man.

All wanted lately was his approval and attention. I wanted him to walk in the door excited to see me. I wanted to be enough for him. This qualified me for the woman role. Maybe. Except that earlier in our relationship, I’d fallen for someone else too and all I’d wanted then was to push Tzinta away. I’d fantasized about moving into a studio apartment and single-mindedly pursuing my career with a few lovers on the side for entertainment. Man?

The fact was, Tzinta fit the “woman” role better than I did. Besides the stereotypical stuff—he loves clothes, especially glittery or tight ones; he cries a lot; he’s extremely empathetic—the reasons he was mad at me were “woman” reasons: I didn’t make him feel pretty, I didn’t support him, I wasn’t a good listener, I shut down in the face of his feelings, he was tired of sacrificing his personal desires for mine.

Defeated, I pushed aside the pile of books and closed the computer. It was late. Exhaustion beat hotly against the insides of my eyelids. Tzinta was asleep downstairs but he felt a million miles away. Any other time in our relationship, I could have savored this joke, knowing I’d share it with him in the morning. “I realized,” I would say, “that you just have more gender than I do.” It would have been hilarious to think that Tzinta was both more of a man and more of a woman than I was, if I hadn’t been terrified that I was about to lose him.


Tzinta was going away for a long weekend. Our goodbye was chilly. He pushed me away, then cried and wanted me to come close again. It was the same hot-cold stuff that had been going on for months. I felt like a spaceship leaving earth’s orbit, Tzinta’s pain and frustration winking far below before being swept into blackness. I thought, how much more of this can I take? Tzinta kissed me and the dog, got in the car, and drove away. 

As soon as he was gone, the blackness of outer space turned out to be a hurt larger than comprehension. It kept sneaking up and pouncing. I’d thrash on the floor until the mauling stopped, then get up and continue whatever I’d been doing. It took five hours to do laundry. 

We didn’t talk or text that weekend. Instead, we contemplated life without one another. It turned out, as it always seems to, that my life would go on without him. I didn’t like it, but it was imaginable. 

Do fights ever end or do they just go to sleep? Does love? Maybe, I thought, getting older is knowing that there is no exit. I could lose Tzinta or not but I would still be wedded to myself. Still circling my own fears and wounds with whoever else was on hand.

On Monday, Tzinta came back. I let him in. We talked. For the first time in a long, long while, we also listened.


The darkest period in our eight-year relationship has, I hope, passed. For reasons of their own, Tzinta and his lover broke up. It didn’t make our problems go away. It didn’t make the things I’ve done over the years that hurt Tzinta magically erase themselves and it didn’t make the ways he’s hurt me this year not matter.

Recently, I’ve found myself thinking about our courthouse wedding. Particularly, about this thing that happened while we were responding to the courthouse-provided vows. “I do,” said Tzinta, tears rolling down his cheeks. My hands stiffened in his. I felt pure fear. Not over the commitment—I had committed to him in my heart months before—but because of his tears. I had thought getting married didn’t mean anything other than a beautiful dare, a crazy joyride through heteronormative convention. But when Tzinta cried, it dawned on me that I missed something. Some complexity, some reason it could make him weep.

At the time, I thought I was just embarrassed about my jeans and lack of tears—the general discomfort of not matching Tzinta’s intensity. Now, though, I wonder if I was, simply, sad. After all, I had missed the opportunity to make the symbol of marriage my own.


I still don’t believe that marriage is inherently meaningful or that the four years Tzinta and I have been married can really be distinguished from the four years we weren’t. In my mind, the clock of us begins on my birthday in 2011, when we were two near-strangers shyly grinding in a sweaty queer bar in Mexico City. Each year since then has added a layer of complexity. 

Now, in this pit of difficulty, love, and effort, is the most married we have ever been. By which I mean, I think, we’ve done the most growing into and through our emotional bond. That would be just as true without a piece of paper from Alameda County.

But I wish we had some vows to fall back on, rather than a list of negatives, like “not monogamous,” “not embracing false security,” and “not becoming our parents.” In the dark, it’s good to have a light to circle back to. Something to remind you who the two of you are together. Even a rule or two would be nice, so long as they were good ones, like “remember to give compliments” or “go on dates.”

Recently, I said to Tzinta, “Maybe we should have a real wedding.” He considered that but said it would feel like we were trying to start over. He didn’t want to start over, he said. It had been enough work to get to where we were. Hearing that, I again felt the sadness of a missed opportunity. A weight began to resettle on my chest.

“Let’s do a huge party for our tenth anniversary instead,” he suggested. And because he is still him, and I am still me, I said, impulsively, willingly, full of a sense of brightness, “Okay.” And then, “What food are we going to serve?”

A Letter to My Younger Self on My Wedding Day

A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF ON MY WEDDING DAY

Shantel Patu

Dear younger self, 

I’m writing to explain what marriage really means because I remember all too well your fairytale ideology that marriage is about a beautiful wedding, then fast forward to your happily ever after

With that said, I’m not writing as a warning. I’m writing more as an opportunity—merely think of me as your sponsor – because you’re definitely a hopeless romantic. 

Your dreams of a man riding in on a white horse, or a knight in shining armor, are figments of an animated imagination and I just want to take some time to talk to you about what’s real.

I want to let you in on a secret, if you will. A moment in time, to give you a gift, the gift of a second chance. 

You are still so young, at only 22 years old. And here you already have a small beautiful child, own your home, and you have a wonderful man who hasn’t quite discovered how great either of you are just yet. You should feel proud and accomplished. I know when I look back I’m definitely proud of you. 

Nevertheless, I specifically want to talk about fear. You see, although you survived a lot of abuse and neglect, you’re traumatized. Your traumas have caused significant damage and created a space for constant anxieties to thrive. Anxieties like your fear of being a victim, a fear of someone thinking they can take you away, and other fears, like your fear of intimacy, of getting in trouble or making mistakes, of not knowing enough information or being looked at as incompetent. And mainly, your fear of simply not being good enough to be loved.

I know you. Probably better than anyone really knows you. I know how hard you try to be perfect. I know how hard you work to be accepted. How much you feel you don’t and can’t possibly fit in anywhere, with anyone. And I know you think that if you achieve genuine happiness it means that you have reached the end of your life. But you don’t have to be afraid. I’ve begun to discover that you can be accepted and you are more than lovable. 

As I write this, I realize now that you are just starting out on the first path of many that will lead you on a journey into a life that brims with love and hardship, joy and sadness, peace and war, as well as abundance and strife. Your life will be wrought with moments of destitution and incredible successes. And I wouldn’t have you change any of it (except please buy Amazon stock and change your Sam’s Club membership to Costco, trust me, Sam’s Club will fail us). You will learn so much from the experiences that living this life will teach you. 

I would also encourage you, as your sponsor, to ditch your unhealthy addictions earlier.  You should see life through the eyes of someone who chooses to actually live. Find life in every breath. Leave behind the acts of fear that cause you to bury yourself and hide away all that is great in you. 

Now, about the young man you have chosen. He is going to be amazing. You were right to be attracted to his high levels of intelligence, and his cautious, careful approach to tasks. And that great sense of humor. You will laugh every day of your life. He will hold you close when you feel lost and afraid. He will trust your guidance and seek your counsel. He will treasure you. 

But it will take some time. You will both have to learn to grow up and embrace the art of communication. You will find an amazing woman, Julie Gottman, who will introduce you to techniques that will enable you to overcome so many marital obstacles. You’ll learn principles about communicating and methods for dealing with conflict that you’ll even align with your body of work. Trust me, these tools will prove invaluable. 

Your marriage will become a beacon of hope for couples around the world. But it will take time. Time that can be shortened if you heed many words and remember this letter, starting today, your wedding day. You can be so much more if you start by shedding the heavy, unsightly cloak of fear. 

Your story needs to be heard through the ears of faith and not through fear. Fear prematurely ends stories. It changes the narrative and demands surrender. It turns heroes into cowards and strength into weakness. It both clouds and casts judgment. It slowly takes away the essence of who you really are. It highlights scarcity and inflates the balloon of false pride. You are not what you’ve been through. Your truth and destiny lie in the places you will go and the people whose lives you will touch. So continue to go far and shine bright. Dream often. And fear not.

In this letter, I want you to recognize that you are going to have a beautiful family, a legacy of serving others, and a connection to your husband that’s absolutely unbreakable. But your life will really begin when you can begin to see yourself as a whole. Know that life is not just about what you know or have learned, it’s about how well you learn how to live. Do it fearlessly, for there is life in every breath.

So with that said, here are a few things I’ve learned about love and life over the last 23 years of marriage. 

Never stop dreaming together
Talk openly about your goals for the future, and always support your husband’s dreams. Be curious, creative, and explore your entrepreneurial spirit. 

Take better care of your health
Eat better and get into a fitness program or routine. Stop complaining and taking your amazing body for granted. Spend less time worrying about how you wish you looked and spend more time loving yourself. 

Spend less time yelling
You can be heard the loudest in moments of silence.

Enjoy spending time with yourself
I didn’t discover this until I was in my forties. I missed all that time just enjoying who I was and dreaming about who I’d be.

Keep your childlike twinkle in your eye
It will serve you well and keep you and others laughing. You are funny—stay that way. 

Spend more time in the moment with your children
They really do grow up fast. Parenting isn’t a race, it’s a journey. It doesn’t end when they’re 18. It will challenge you in different ways, but you’ll never get their little inquisitive minds back, so enjoy it while you can. 

Always spend time talking to your husband
It gives you both so much life. Have patience for teachable moments and keep laughing, it really is medicine for the heart.

Keep making space for passion and intimacy
Keep being intriguing and spontaneous. These moments keep you both connected.

Challenge yourself often
Don’t sit in the same place, be different, choose different. Regular is your enemy. 

Trust the process
Everything good and bad happens for a reason, even when you don’t understand why. Keep believing and trusting in the process. There’s always another side and a way to go through. 

Please take these words with you, always. And, I love you. 

Why Conventional Marriage Wisdom Is Wrong

WHY CONVENTIONAL MARRIAGE WISDOM IS WRONG

Christopher Dollard & John Gottman

Marriage is one of the oldest social, economic, religious and legal institutions in the world, and there’s no shortage of opinions on what makes it work. But much of the conventional wisdom is not based on evidence, and some is flat-out wrong. After researching thousands of couples for more than 40 years at The Gottman Institute, these are some of the myths we’ve encountered most often.

MYTH NO. 1

Common interests keep you together.

Some dating sites, like Match.com, ask users to list their interests to help attract potential mates, and LoveFlutter matches users solely based on shared hobbies and activities. In a Pew survey, 64 percent of respondents said “having shared interests” is “very important” to their marriages — beating out having a satisfying sexual relationship and agreeing on politics.

But the important thing is not what you do together; it’s how you interact while doing it. Any activity can drive a wedge between two partners if they’re negative toward each other. It doesn’t matter whether two people both enjoy kayaking if, when they head out on the lake, one says, “That’s not how you do a J-stroke, you idiot!” Our research has shown that criticism, even of paddling skills, is one of the four destructive behaviors that indicate a couple will eventually divorce. A stronger predictor of compatibility than shared interests is the ratio of positive to negative interactions, which should be 20-to-1 in everyday situations, whether a couple is doing something they both enjoy or not.

MYTH NO. 2

Never go to bed angry.

It’s one of the most cliched pieces of relationship advice, immortalized in Etsy signage and a ’90s R&B ballad by Silk: Don’t allow an argument to go unresolved — even overnight. No less an authority than the Bible agrees: “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).

This advice pushes couples to solve their problems right away. Yet everyone has their own methods of dealing with disagreements, and research indicates that about two-thirds of recurring issues in marriage are never resolved because of personality differences — you’re unlikely to work out that fight about the dishes no matter how late you stay up.

In our “Love Lab,” where we studied physiological reactions of couples during arguments (including coding of facial muscles related to specific emotions), we found that when couples fight, they are so physiologically stressed — increased heart rate, cortisol in the bloodstream, perspiring, etc. — that it is impossible for them to have a rational discussion. With one couple, we intentionally stopped their argument about a recurring issue by saying we needed to adjust some of our equipment. We asked them to read magazines for 30 minutes before resuming the conversation. When they did so, their bodies had physiologically calmed down, which allowed them to communicate rationally and respectfully. We now teach that method to couples — if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed during a fight, take a break and come back to it later, even if that means sleeping on it.

MYTH NO. 3

Couples therapy is for fixing a broken marriage.

This is a common misconception. A 2014 New York Post story on “the crumbling marriage of Jay Z and Beyoncé” noted grimly that “they’re allegedly traveling with marriage counselors.” Seeking help early in or even before marriage is often seen as a red flag. As one skeptic noted in New York magazine, “If you need couples therapy before you’re married — when it’s supposed to be fun and easy, before the pressures of children, family, and combined financials — then it’s the wrong relationship.”

This idea often keeps spouses from seeking the sort of regular maintenance that would benefit almost any relationship. The average couple waits six years after serious issues arise before getting help with their marital problems, and by then it’s often too late: Half of all divorces occur within the first seven years of marriage. In a therapist’s office, spouses can learn conflict-management skills (like the Gottman-Rapoport intervention, based on a method used to increase understanding between nations during the Cold War) and ways to connect and understand each other.

The point of counseling is not to salvage a bad marriage or sort out trauma. It’s about revealing the truth about a relationship. As Jay-Z told David Letterman, he gained “emotional tools ” in counseling to help him maintain his marriage.

MYTH NO. 4

Affairs are the main cause of divorce.

An affair is traumatic for any monogamous relationship. “Extra-marital affairs are responsible for the breakdown of most marriages that end in divorce,” an article on Marriage.com reads. Today.com offers a similar analysis: “Cheating is one of the main drivers of divorce.”

While affairs can destroy the foundation of trust upon which a marriage is built, the cause of divorce typically precedes the affair. In a study from the Divorce Mediation Project, 80 percent of divorced men and women cited growing apart and loss of a sense of closeness to their partner as the reason for divorce. Only 20 to 27 percent blamed their separation on an extramarital affair. In their clinical work, John and Julie Gottman learned that partners who have affairs are usually driven to them not because of a forbidden attraction but because of loneliness. There were already serious, if subtle, problems in the marriage before the affair occurred.

MYTH NO. 5

Marriages benefit from a ‘relationship contract.’

It’s important to do nice things for your partner and to do your fair share around the house, principles that an increasing number of couples have decided to formalize with a contract. One essayist explained in the New York Times how hers “spells out everything from sex to chores to finances to our expectations for the future.” Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan also hashed out some rather specific details in their contract, such as: “One date per week, a minimum of a hundred minutes of alone time, not in his apartment and definitely not at Facebook.” Far more couples opt for informal agreements, written or verbal, delineating who’s responsible for what.

The concept, though, has no basis in science. In 1977, researcher Bernard Murstein found that marriages oriented around reciprocity were less successful. And from what we’ve seen in our clinical work, keeping track can cause couples to keep score, which can lead to resentment. Dealmaking, contracts and quid pro quo mostly operate in unhappy marriages. Criticism and contempt can arise from unfulfilled expectations, especially if those expectations are quantified. And when one partner does something nice for the other and there is a contract in place, they may expect something equally nice in return. That response may not happen for any reason — a busy week, forgetfulness — which can create resentment and an environment of trying to “win.”

Consider one thing nearly all couples fight about: housework. A couple wants to have an even division of chores and responsibilities, so they make a contract. But a few months later, there’s a pile of dishes in the sink, and they’re fighting again. According to a study of 3,000 couples by Harvard Business School, the solution is to ditch the contract and spend money on a cleaning service. Why? So the couple can spend more time together having positive interactions and fewer arguments. Instead of a contract, it’s a compromise.

Couples need to act in kind and loving ways, intentionally and attentively, as often as they can. Some things simply cannot be mandated, not even by contract.

Facts About Long-distance Relationships

FACTS ABOUT LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS

sheqoz

How Long is the Distance?

Depending on what you refer to as long distance, expectations may vary. Some people consider living in different cities as long distance. In my opinion, if you can drive to someone at any given day or time, then your relationship is not really long-distance.

Couples who can spend every weekend together can thrive very easily as long as they are committed to each other. Being in a position to discuss things one on one is the key to a long-lasting relationship.

When Life Takes its Course:

Things happen in life forcing separation of two people who truly love each other. When one person travels to a distant land for whatever reason, the couple may manage to maintain their passion and love for an extended period of time.

Even with the distance between the two love birds, they can easily maintain intense passion and love for each other. Unfortunately because of lack of physical contact, long-distance relationships cannot be battle-tested.

Because majority of the problems are either ignored or not properly resolved, they begin to create an emotional gap to a point where the relationship just masquerades a real relationship.

Love is Present:

The fact is, real love requires time, commitment and contact with reality. A distant relationship is more like a suspended honeymoon with both lovers waiting for the verdict as to whether or not their boat will sink.

Unless there’s a strong plan on the drawing board backed by two disciplined individuals, long-distance relationships are not worth wasting time or energy on. The moment one boards a plane marks the beginning of the end to a love story.

The Battleship in Distant Relationships:

The number one killer of long-distance relationships is hearsay. Friends and family always have true and fabricated rumors cooking. Once the trust is broken, the bond goes down with it. Without trust, even the strongest cannot thrive.

Holding on to a long-distance relationship without any trust is the worst mistake anyone can make. Without emotional connection there can be no future. Disconnection in this area is a sign to move on with your life.

Communication plays a huge part too. Once the chemistry starts fading, which does happen because of lack of physical contact, the phone calls or text messages become minimal. Communication clearly becomes a burden.

Don’t Waste your Precious Time:

When days turn into weeks, months and eventually years, don’t look back. The pain is not worth revisiting. It’s like opening a healed wound. I know there are always chapters waiting to be written once that flight takes off.

But unless there’s a definite plan and minimal time frame away from each other, trying to build a long-distance relationship is like building castles in the air. There’s someone special for each and every one. However, if that someone is not right where you are, save yourself and keep it moving.

Inevitable Breakup: Who is to Blame?

When long-distance relationships fail to thrive, it is nobody’s fault. The distance just plays its role while fate opens fresh doors. Don’t miss out on the best things in life trying to focus on the rear-view mirror. Life is best lived forward because there are a lot of discoveries to explore.

Although these are facts about long-distance relationships, there are a few exceptions. Just like you are more likely to be struck by lightning than you are winning the lottery, few love birds do push it through.

‘Arrogant.’ ‘Ruthless.’ And Unapologetically Themselves

‘ARROGANT.’ ‘RUTHLESS.’ AND UNAPOLOGETICALLY THEMSELVES

Maya Salam

“I feel this team is in the midst of changing the world around us as we live.” — Megan Rapinoe, the United States’ star attacker and the World Cup’s top scorer

When the athletes of the United States women’s soccer team celebrated their 13 unanswered goals against Thailand in the first round, they were called “arrogant.”

When they tore past France in the quarterfinals, they were called “ruthless.”

And when President Trump, responding to a months-old clip of Megan Rapinoe using an expletive to say she wouldn’t visit the White House if the team won the World Cup, told her to win “before she talks,” she and her teammates continued talking.

As the historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich famously said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” On Sunday, the American women’s team did just that — securing a record fourth World Cup championship to maintain its reputation as the world’s greatest women’s soccer team (and one of the world’s greatest sports teams, period).

In the process, the Americans did more than shine as symbols of athleticism and teamwork; they affirmed themselves as fighters for equality on multiple fronts.

Here are three ways the team has elevated issues of fairness.

Megan Rapinoe celebrating with teammates after scoring the United States’ first goal against the Netherlands during the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday

The fight for pay equity

After the American women sealed their victory in Lyon, France, chants of “Equal pay! Equal pay!” began to grow inside the stadium.

The American team will be awarded $4 million for its win, while the winners of the men’s World Cup last year received $38 million. Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, soccer’s governing body, said the organization would double the total women’s prize for the 2023 tournament — but it’s also expected to raise the men’s award in 2022.

In 2015, the United States Soccer Federation awarded the women’s team $2 million for winning the World Cup. In 2014, the men’s team earned $9 million even though it did not advance past the first rounds.

Not surprisingly, the women’s national team is not taking that disparity lying down.

In March, all the players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, accusing it of years of “institutionalized gender discrimination.” They also noted that the argument that the men’s team generates more money simply isn’t true.

According to the suit, the federation had expected a combined net loss for the national teams of $429,929 from the 2016 fiscal year, but largely because of the successes of the women’s team’s, it revised its projections to a $17.7 million profit.

Defying the sportsmanship double standard

As the United States team rampaged against Thailand in its first World Cup match last month, the players leapt and celebrated nearly every goal. Clare Rustad, a former player for the Canadian national team, called the celebrations “disgraceful.”

Last week, striker Alex Morgan pretended to sip from a teacup after scoring against England in the semifinal. Lianne Sanderson, her former National Women’s Soccer League teammate, said the celebration was “distasteful.”

“I feel that there is some sort of double standard for females in sports,” Morgan said. “We have to be humble in our successes and have to celebrate, but not too much or in a limited fashion.”

“You see men celebrating all over the world in big tournaments,” grabbing their crotches and that sort of thing, she said.

And Rapinoe, when asked about the team’s celebrations said: “What do you want us to do? We work hard. We like to play hard.”

Both Partners Are Never Equally Satisfied in a Romantic Relationship

BOTH PARTNERS ARE NEVER EQUALLY SATISFIED IN A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP

Kyle Benson

Without extensive research, one might assume that both partners in a romantic relationship would have similar opinions and levels of satisfaction.

This is a myth.

Over 5 million individuals in a committed relationship have confirmed that each romantic partner has their own unique view of the marriage or relationship. Research by Prepare-Enrich has revealed that a romantic partner only has a 25% chance of predicting their partner’s level of satisfaction and opinion of the quality of the relationship.1

There really is a “his” and “her” experience of the relationship.2

The reason this happens is that each partner has their own metrics by which to assess their level of satisfaction in a relationship.

Here’s a potentially fun activity.

  1. Write down what you think gives your partner the greatest satisfaction in the relationship. Do not share this with your partner (yet).
  2. Ask your partner, “What is one thing we do that gives you the most satisfaction in our relationship?”
  3. Compare their answer to the guess you wrote down.

If you find that you are spot on, bravo.

If you find that you are off, congrats! You learned something new about your partner and can do more things that support your partner’s satisfaction in their relationship with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I had no idea that was important to you.” Even from couples who had been married for decades.

Romantic partners are often unaware of how important a given issue is for their lover, because from their perspective it’s not a big issue, even if their lover has complained about it over and over again.

As the authors of the book The Couple Checkup highlight, sometimes the levels of disconnection and satisfaction printed on The Couple Checkup assessment finally connect the dots on how important something is.

Here’s an example:

From Tom’s perspective, his relationship is great. He feels connected and close to Jake. Throughout their four years of marriage, Jake has complained about the lack of time spent together. Tom thought the time spent together was perfect.

Growing up Tom spent a lot of time playing by himself and had the freedom to do things he wanted when he wanted. Furthermore, his mother never complained to his father about how much time his dad spent working in the shop or out golfing. In Tom’s family culture, there was a lot more me-time than we-time.

So when Jake brought this issue up, Tom didn’t think it was a big deal. After all, it had never been a problem in past relationships.

But for Jake, time together signified love and importance. So, when that time together continued to be limited, Jake felt neglected and like he didn’t matter to Tom.

When Jake was able to reveal these hidden emotions and Tom was able to actually listen, Tom was shocked. He had no idea how important this was to Jake.

Putting Your Partner’s Satisfaction On Par With Yours

One of the key differences between happy and unhappy couples is the attitude of a two-person system as defined by Stan Tatkin, PsyD.

satisfaction
Source: Stan Tatkin’s Facebook Page. I would recommend reading the description and Stan’s first comment. He also describes this in more detail in his recent book We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love.

“A couple’s ability to operate as a coregulatory team determines the success or failure of that relationship and is fundamental to relationship safety, security, and longevity.” – Stan Tatkin, We Do

This means that if your partner is hurting, the relationship is hurting and as a result so are you.

This means recognizing that your partner has a different perspective and experience of the relationship and you have to check in with them and make corrections so the relationship will work for them and you.

Just as we might see in a three-legged race, you can’t win at the expense of your partner.

This is part of being a member of a two-person team.

You must remember that what satisfies you may not be what satisfies your partner. But if you collaboratively work together you can satisfy the team.

This requires working together, first by completely understanding each other and then arriving at an agreeable win-win solution.

In Tom and Jake’s experience, they learned to honor their unique preferences for me-time and we-time by intentionally dialoguing about how they would spend their time together and how they could make that time more meaningful

During their weekly State of the Union meeting, Tom checks in with Jake about the quality of their time together by asking what Jake liked about the past week, and then asks how this week might look. During this conversation, Jake asks Tom about his alone time and ways they can, as a team, make adjustments to meet both partners’ needs.

Ironically, just having this topic brought up by Tom on a weekly basis has significantly made Jake feel loved and important, even on the weeks when there is the same amount of time together as there was before Tom caught on.

Why?

Because Tom makes a conscientious effort to show that Jake’s satisfaction is just as important as his. This is demonstrated by bringing up the question each week.

When you take the time to communicate, truly listen to each other, and team up to make changes in your relationship, you can get closer to having a similar level of satisfaction in the relationship—one that is happy, connected, and meaningful.

  1. This research is cited in The Couple Checkup by David Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg, and Peter Larson (p. 8). Furthermore, research indicates that a couple spending more time together does not make their assessment of each other’s relationship satisfaction more accurate. Rather, it gives them the illusion that they are more accurate. Source: Swann, W. B. J., Gill, M. J. (1997). Confidence and accuracy in person perception: Do we know what we think we know about our relationship partners? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 747–757. 
  2. This is a paraphrased quote from The Couple Checkup (p. 8) 

Why Are Pregnant Women So Sweaty?

WHY ARE PREGNANT WOMEN SO SWEATY?

Jessica Grose

A lot of parenting questions boil down to: Is this a thing, or is something wrong? We’re doing an occasional series explaining why certain things seem to happen to your kid (or to your body or to your relationships) as your child grows. This week, we’re talking about prenatal and postpartum night sweats. 

For this week’s edition, I put out a call on Twitter for questions about your weird prenatal and postpartum symptoms — and, wow, did you all deliver. In a beautiful and bizarre outpouring, you told us about painful carpal tunnel, constipation, thyroid malfunctions, excess drool, itchy nipples, strange divots in your thighs and shins that won’t go away, cured aversions to cilantro … the list goes on, because the human body is a magical, horrible wonderland. I tallied the responses, and by my extremely unscientific calculations, night sweats seemed to be the most common unexplained symptom from our respondents (e.g., “I had to sleep on a beach towel because of all the sweat and the milk leaking”). So that’s what I’m delving into today.

Q: Are pregnant and postpartum night sweats really a thing?

A: Waking up with a soaking nightgown during or after pregnancy is common. In a study of about 430 women published in 2013, for instance, researchers found that 35 percent reported nocturnal hot flashes while they were pregnant, and 29 percent reported them postpartum. In pregnant women, night sweats peaked during week 30, while in postpartum women, they peaked during the second week after birth.

Why it’s happening is a little more complicated, so we asked four ob-gyns and a researcher who has studied night sweats about what might be going on in your body, and what you can do about it.

Why are pregnant women so damn sweaty?

The short answer is, we don’t know for sure, because there’s a lack of systematic research on the topic (more on that in a bit). But it probably has to do with their ever-shifting hormones.

During pregnancy, there’s a huge rise in the levels of progesterone and estrogen. Once you give birth, the levels of those hormones fall off a cliff.

Rebecca Thurston, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and director of the women’s biobehavioral health program at the University of Pittsburgh who studies night sweats and hot flashes, said that nocturnal hot flashes in pregnancy seem to mirror hot flashes in menopause, and that those hormonal fluctuations might play a role. (Several of the experts I spoke with said that prenatal and postpartum night sweats were a rehearsal for menopause … yay?)

Do all pregnant women get hot flashes?

No. While every person who has given birth experiences these hormonal fluctuations, not all of them get night sweats, and we still don’t fully understand the underlying physiology as to why this might be, said Dr. Thurston. More than just hormones are probably causing the hot flashes, and they don’t just happen at night.

The hormonal shifts are part of a complex set of changes that happen during pregnancy, said Dr. Jen Gunter, M.D., an ob-gyn, frequent New York Times contributor and author of “The Vagina Bible.” (Dr. Gunter said she remembered sweating so much at night when she was pregnant with triplets that she’d think, “my bed is a swimming pool.”) “There’s an increase in body temperature, and there’s changes in the blood vessels — they dilate more and increase blood flow to the skin,” said Dr. Gunter. So some women may find that they’re more sweaty in general, not just at night.

According to what little research has been done, African-American women and women with depressive symptoms are more likely to report night sweats during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Women with high pre-pregnancy B.M.I.s were also more likely to have night sweats during pregnancy but not necessarily postpartum.

I find the connection between night sweats and depression particularly intriguing, as there is evidence that women who were depressed during and after their pregnancies may also be more sensitive to hormonal shifts.

What can we do about our sweaty, sweaty bodies?

First, report your night sweats to your doctor or midwife, said Dr. Dara Matseoane-Peterssen, M.D., chief of general obstetrics and gynecology at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. If you’re experiencing other symptoms along with night sweats, such as a fever or a racing pulse, that may be a sign of a more serious problem, such as an infection or a thyroid issue.

If your sweats aren’t a sign of something more serious, exercising can be an effective first line of attack — whether you’re pregnant or not. Dr. Julie Chor, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago, said there’s some evidence that women who exercise are less likely to experience nighttime hot flashes than women who don’t. While experts aren’t sure why this may be, exercising during and after your pregnancy is beneficial to your health in general, so you might as well try it (as long as you’re following safe exercising guidelines).

Focusing on creating an optimal sleep environment can help you avoid creating a veritable saltwater marsh in your bed, too. If your household and energy bill can tolerate it, set your bedroom’s temperature to around 65 degrees at night, said Dr. Thurston. Dr. Colleen Denny, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at N.Y.U. School of Medicine, also suggested keeping cool water and a cold compress by your bed, and dressing in layers so you can take them off as the night, and your sweating, progresses.

As a fellow night sweater during pregnancy, my personal suggestion is to keep a second set of night clothes by your bedside so that you can make a quick change out of your wet pajamas in the middle of the night without groping around in the dark.

Why don’t we know more about night sweats?

“There are major gaps in knowledge about women’s health and women’s bodies,” said Dr. Thurston. Women overall have been less likely to be represented in clinical trials, because researchers have historically been men. And pregnant women in particular are “severely underrepresented,” in part because of fear of harm to their fetuses. Many of the experts I spoke with mentioned that we’re just starting to care about the health of the mother, and not just the health of the fetus, as vital to the overall health of the pregnancy.

But there is also a lack of study on the day-to-day experiences of women, said Dr. Gunter. Something like night sweats could just be a “nuisance” symptom — which is to say, uncomfortable but ultimately not harmful. But these sorts of symptoms could also be associated with better or worse pregnancy outcomes, and “we don’t know because they haven’t been studied,” Dr. Gunter said. In preparation for our interview, Dr. Gunter scanned her copy of the latest edition of a 1,400-page medical text book, and there were just two lines about sweating, referred to as “increased cutaneous blood flow” — she couldn’t even find the word “sweating” in the index.

Dr. Thurston emphasized the importance of reporting these kinds of symptoms to your midwives or doctors, not just to rule out serious problems, but also to add to the body of knowledge that exists on women’s health. “The more we know about these symptoms in the medical community, the more we can generate research around them,” she said.

The Many Faces of Family and Love: There Is No “Best” One

THE MANY FACES OF FAMILY AND LOVE: THERE IS NO “BEST” ONE

Bella DePaulo

A commonsense manifesto for valuing all families, relationships, and life paths.

Never before have people in the U.S. and other nations around the world organized their personal lives and their family lives in so many different ways. In the U.S., for example, nearly as many adults are not married as married. The most sentimentalized family type—mom and dad, married with children—now accounts for fewer than 20 percent of all households. There are more households comprised of one person living alone.

Children are living in many different kinds of families and households. A full 40 percent of them are not being raised by two married parents. Many are living with one parent, or with cohabiting parents, or with stepparents or grandparents, to name just a few of the most popular permutations.

Family” is a many-splendored thing and it can take all sorts of shapes and sizes. Twitter embraced that notion when the writer Lucy Huber posted this tweet:

Stop saying “start a family” when you mean “have kids”. A couple is still a family. A single person and her cat is a family. A couple and their plants are still a family. Three weirdly close roommates could be a family. You don’t need kids to be a family.

Within a week, the tweet had been liked more than 185,000 times and shared more than 47,000 times.

Scholars have been writing about diversity in relationships and families and some of the most unlikely terms have been catching on. Take amatonormativity, for example. That one was coined by Elizabeth Brake. It refers to:

“the assumption that a central, exclusive, amorous relationship is normal for humans, in that it is a universally shared goal, and that such a relationship is normative, in the sense that it should be aimed at in preference to other relationship types.”

Professor Brake argues against that assumption. She thinks that other kinds of relationships and social circles, such as friendships and care networks, should not be valued less than romantic relationships.

Though growing in popularity, the valuing of many different kinds of relationships and families and life paths is still an idea that meets with considerable resistance. A new and important report recently released by the think tank, Family Story, documents the ways in which marriage has come to be privileged and promoted as the ideal family form, even as fewer and fewer people get married or have children.

Elsewhere, I described some of the key take-aways from the report, “The Case Against Marriage Fundamentalism: Embracing Family Justice for All.” Here, I want to describe the values espoused in the Family Story report, and the principles of family justice that follow from those values.

Values at the Core of Justice for All

“The Case Against Marriage Fundamentalism” argues that respect for all of our relationships, families, and life paths is built on four core values.

1. Equality “requires the reduction of social and economic inequality within relationships and between family types, as well as legal equality among different types of families and relationships.”

2. Autonomy “requires making it possible for people to freely choose their relationships and family types—including, but not limited to, marriage—by reducing structural and other barriers that stand in the way.”

3. Interdependence “means acknowledging we are all interconnected and dependent on countless other people (not just ones to whom we are biologically related or with whom we have a legally recognized relationship).”

4. Care “requires acknowledging all the ways that these different forms of relationships are supportive and meaningful, and the positive impact they can have on our lives and well-being.”

Principles of Family, Relationship, and Lifestyle Justice

The conclusion of the report spells out the principles of family justice. They include:

There is no hierarchy; stop saying that certain people, relationships, or families are better than others

  • “A person’s marital status, relationship status, and living arrangements say nothing about their character or value.”
  • “Unmarried people should not be treated as less mature, less valuable, or less accomplished than married people.”
  • “Families and relationships should not be ranked from best to worst based on their structure.”
  • “Marriage is neither more nor less important than other close adult relationships involving care and commitment.”

There are lots of ways to create a family

  • “Neither children nor marriage are necessary to create family.”
  • “Co-residence is not necessary to create relationships of commitment and care.”

People who live in ways that are not normative (or not perceived as normative) deserve respect

  • “There will always be people who prefer to live alone, to not have children, or otherwise opt to live their lives in ways that are not consistent with whatever the norm is at the time.”
  • “None of this is a reflection of their self-worth, and they all have a right to equal respect and concern.”
  • “An adult’s ability to freely choose a particular relationship status or living arrangement should not be restricted or blocked.”

For children, relationship quality matters more than the other factors that get so much attention

  • “Children do not need to live under the same roof as a same-gender parent (or same-gender role model) for proper development.”
  • “Children flourish in a variety of family types and living arrangements.”
  • “Relationship quality is more important than household structure.” (Examples of different household structures include single-parent families and nuclear families. This principle means that having a loving and secure relationship with a parent is more important to children’s well-being than whether they have one parent or two, whether their parents are married, or whether their parents live under the same roof.)

Family Story maintains that the marriage fundamentalists, who believe that “a family composed of a man and a woman in their first marriage is ‘the best’ or ‘ideal’ type of family, especially for children,” have promoted their ideas by distorting and weaponizing social science research. I have spent much of the past two decades critiquing that research and explaining what it really does show. It is good to have other prominent voices joining in.

The Power of Couple Resolutions

THE POWER OF COUPLE RESOLUTIONS

Nurturing Marriage

Happy New Year on Tuesday!

Can you believe it is 2019?  Seriously, where did the time go?

With the new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate, and new opportunities and adventures. We’ve all probably packed on a few extra pounds during the holidays and it’s time to get to work on those New Year’s resolutions!

What are your resolutions and goals for the year?
What do you want to accomplish?
Who do you want to become?

Have you shared those goals and resolutions with your spouse?  Have you set goals and resolutions together?

The Power of a Personal Cheerleader

Whatever your goals may be, sharing them with your spouse could very well be the key to seeing them successfully completed within the next twelve months. Studies have shown that making your goals known to a trusted friend dramatically increases your success rate. This is largely because when you make your goals known, you feel a sense of accountability. There’s a little extra drive and motivation to reach the finish line when you know someone’s there waiting for you. 

Who better to choose as your trusted friend than your spouse! He or she already know you inside and out and understand you better than anyone else. They know your strengths and weaknesses and are very much invested in you and your personal development.

You spouse can and should be your greatest cheerleader! They can pick you up when you’re down and remind you of the vision you have for your future self. They can provide much-needed motivation to keep you moving forward with your goals when things get hard. 

I once read the story of a couple I greatly admire. In an interview about their marriage, the wife commented that her husband always gave her “wings to fly.” What an awesome compliment! That is something my wife and I have been aiming for ever since. 

So here’s my first challenge to you – sit down with your spouse and let them know what your New Year’s resolutions are. Ask him or her for support and help so you can accomplish those resolutions. Ask them to help keep you on track when you’re slipping, and offer to do the same for them.

​By being each other’s cheerleaders, not only will you each find more success in reaching your individual goals, but you’ll grow closer together in the process. Then, definitely go out on a fancy date and celebrate your successes together!

​Happy New Year! Can you believe it is already 2016? With the new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate, and new opportunities and adventures. We've all probably packed on a few extra pounds during the holidays and it's time to get to work on those New Year's resolutions (btw, did you know that by far the most common resolution is to lose those extra pounds?). What are your resolutions and goals for the upcoming year? What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to become? Have you shared those goals and resolutions with your spouse? Have you set goals and resolutions together?

The Power of Couple Resolutions

Along with individual goals, there is great power in setting couple resolutions together. My wife and I have found that there are few things that drive unity more than working together towards a common goal. And there is incredible satisfaction and fulfillment found in achieving goals together as a team.

Your couple resolutions can be anything you can dream up! Here are a few ideas of couple-goals to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Go on at least one romantic getaway during the year (plan it well in advance so you can enjoy the anticipation and build up together!).
  • Save an extra $X dollars each month.
  • Run a marathon together (or maybe just a 5k…).
  • Get scuba certified together.
  • Intentionally make time to talk for fifteen minutes every day. 
  • Take a class or join a club together.
  • Hike a fourteener. 
  • Read 12 books together. Here is a shameless plug and a good place to start. 


Whatever your couple resolutions may be, just make sure you have some! Set resolutions that are meaningful for both of you. Create a vision of the kind of marriage and life you want to create together. Then, work each day to fulfill that vision. Sure, some days you’ll see more progress than others. In fact, some days it may feel like you have taken a step back. However, by the end of the year you’ll be able to look back and proudly admire how far you’ve come together. 

Couple resolutions are powerful because they build connection, create happy memories, and nurture friendship. You and your spouse will feel closer together as you work in unity to achieve common goals. Kind of magical. 

So just remember, by setting meaningful couple resolutions together, and diligently working towards them, not only will you be able to achieve great success as a team, but you’ll certainly nurture your marriage in the process!

Men Who Stare at Women

MEN WHO STARE AT WOMEN

Team Lovepanky

Staring at women is a fun hobby for most men, but seriously, what is it with men who stare at women? The Super Fella explains everything you need to know about the Stare, and how to stop a guy from doing just that.

What’s the real reason behind why men stare at women?

Each time a woman walks past, most men just can’t stop staring at her.

A few men may be discreet, while a few perverts may go “strip mode”, but either ways, men who stare at women incessantly are just no good.

Understanding why men stare at women

For most of my life, I had never really figured that women get annoyed when men stare at them.

But I guess it does bother women, because I’ve heard the story of the “scary stares” from girlfriends one too many times.

I for one, have never really experienced an ugly reverse stare from a woman, so you can forgive me for not figuring this out earlier.

But then, when men stare at women and the women don’t like it nor do they glance back, I really don’t think that qualifies for a flirtatious stare exchange.

But either ways, I don’t know what that stare could be called, so let’s just call it ‘the Stare’!

Men and staring at women

The last time I was out in a coffee shop with a girl pal of mine, I could sense that she was feeling quite uncomfortable, but she just shrugged it off when I asked her about it.

After a while, she told me about a guy who left the coffee shop just then. Apparently, he was doing ‘the stare’ thing with her! Oooh, it sounds creepy, doesn’t it? Almost as bad as Grudge Part I, she told me.

I was quite surprised because an occasional stare is complimenting, if the guy’s presentable enough. But then, she tells me it doesn’t matter how good the guy is, if it’s ‘the stare’ that he’s using, that’s just creepy and annoying.

To me, men who stare at women constantly sounded hilarious. To her, it was freaky. So that was my cue. I had to enlighten all women about ‘the stare’ and about men who stare at women. To blow the dust off the surface, ‘the stare’ isn’t just an ‘I’m-so-shy-I’d-wet-my-pants-if-I-looked-twice’ kind of thing from a guy. It’s actually more like the stare that forces you to time travel back fifty thousand years and see a hairy ape-like man grunting and beating his chest!

Now that I picture that, the hair on the back of my neck seems to stand up. I’m just being dramatic here, really, so I can relate to all the poor women who’ve had to put up with the knee buckling stare.

Men who stare at women and the way they think

So why do men stare at women really? First off, men stare because their eyes need action. Secondly, because they want to. Thirdly, because they can! However much it pisses off a woman, men stare at women and will continue to do so. Most men who have understood the fact that we live in the 21st century don’t stare hard at women, but men who haven’t yet figured that they’re way past the Stone Age still stare at women like they’re getting set for a mating ritual.

It’s those men you see, men who stare at women with such intensity that women would be confused whether the guy’s constipating or just trying to fart real bad. Now that’s the guy who has ‘the stare’ in his eyes. And that’s the guy you’ve got to have in your blind spot.

Now I’m the kind of guy who hates seeing a woman in a spot of trouble. I’m not a male chauvinistic pig, and I don’t mind sitting in the passenger seat of a car, while a woman’s driving, though the ride can be a bit freaky at times. And I’m the guy who stops the car and gets off to help, if a woman’s having a fight with a cab driver or fixing a flat tire. Women are sweet, but some men take their sweetness as a sign of vulnerability, which sucks. Okay, I’m digressing a wee bit too much.

Why do men stare at women instead of talking?

It’s all in the head, you see. When the man was still a boy, most other bigger boys and men told him that it’s not easy to talk with woman. The big men say this to cover up their own shortcomings with women. The smaller boys use this as an excuse to squirm out of making a move on a girl.

The point here is, the first thing that pops into a man’s mind when he wants to approach a woman is, “Will she insult me?” And with that one thought, a drum beat starts drumming away inside his head. And it just gets worse as he gets closer to starting a conversation with a woman.

Most men hate that feeling of getting spurned by a woman, and they definitely hate that drumbeat that’s their heart as they approach women. So they just sit back and stare at women. It’s the next best alternative for a loser of a guy who’s so sure he’d be spurned if he’d ever make a move. So he just sits back, and devours as much of you as he possibly can without making himself feel uncomfortable. These guys are just losers anyways, and they’re the ones who end up with goats or animals to give them company in bed, unless one of the women he stares at, finds it exciting and falls right into his arms.

Do men stare at all women?

All women. Definitely. Most women think men stare only at beautiful girls, petite girls, or girls with breasts that fill their shirts really well, but men who use ‘the stare’ don’t really give a damn. They just want attention back.

They want to stare right at you, and hope you’ll stare back. Of course, you’re going to be curious at first and give him a few glances out of curiosity. But these men take these little innocent glances as a sign of triumph. They think they’re on stage two of hooking up, now that they’re past the ‘stare, watch, and wait for reciprocation’ stage, and they try giving women that creepy smile along with ‘the stare’. This is when you’d feel like throwing up all over his annoying face.

Men who stare at women know you won’t really do anything about it, so they continue staring at women wherever they are. It’s annoying, but at least now you know why men stare at women.

But do you want to know how to piss the men who stare at women off, or what men really imagine when they stare? Click here to continue reading about why guys stare at girls to get the real dirty picture!

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