Christmas

As usual, this month has been filled with delightful gatherings, dinners, and parties. I have loved this time of year since I was a child, whether in the form of wintry, white Christmases in rural Virginia, or sunny holidays in southern California, set to Christmas music by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and David Brubeck. Christmas with a baby brings a new twist, because she is seeing everything for the first time, including Christmas lights, sparkly ornaments, candles, glowing decorations, etc. After having celebrated Christmas annually for over 3 decades, it’s fun to see how see a little person experiences the festive details as a newcomer to this planet.

This year has been no less busy than before, and we even had a wedding to attend in Los Angeles, among the other usual festivities. My boss was excited I can drink again, and we took a shot together at the company party (tequila for me, Fireball for him). I was offered the Fireball, but had to refuse. Fireball spells downfall for me; the sugar in that “whiskey” is death in liquid form. I don’t think I’ve ever had a shot of Fireball and not had severe regrets. On the other hand, bottom shelf house tequila never tasted so sweet, after an extended absence.

This is indeed the time of year to enjoy a nice glass of Cabernet, along with a winter-flavored Belgian, and new IPA’s. Still, I’m careful not to get too drunk because taking care of a baby while hungover sounds like total hell. Speaking of hell, Vale will go to church for the first time on Christmas Eve, and we hope she does not catch fire at the threshold.

This is not to say this holiday season has been without its bumps in the road. I was graced with mastitis round 3, more antibiotics, and all the accompanying frustrations. While Vale has slightly backed down from her insistence on eating only while lying down, the combination of this predilection, along with a distaste for the bottle, and dislike of eating with a cover draped over her face, makes feeding her in public or at social functions somewhat of a nightmare. For this reason, I’m sadly inclined to pass on a visit to Irvine, and a night out at Korean BBQ, and instead will opt to indulge at home, where wine is plentiful, and breastfeeding is easy.

Another first for this holiday season: This is the first time in 11 years we have not gone to get a tree together (Vale was a milk monster and we were running out of time, so Kyle had to go get it himself).

Three Weeks In…

The hard part about all of this is, you think you notice a pattern, and then baby switches it up on you. She’ll sleep through diaper changes one day (awesome!), then scream through them the next (damn!). For a couple of days, she was nursing for about 20 minutes on each boob, then 2 days later was doing 10-minute spurts. She certainly is keeping us on our toes, and it’s a constant learning process to say the least.

I’ve started walking the hill regularly and working squats back into the exercise routine. I lost about 9 pounds after giving birth, and weighed about 132 pounds in the first couple days after returning home from the hospital. I’ve been eating normally and lost another 7 pounds over the next 3 weeks. 16 down, 14 more to go. Yet, all the weight loss in the world won’t do anything for my angry stretch marks, which are worse on my left side because Little V threw most of her weight on that side when I was pregnant. It’s amazing how they seemingly developed overnight. I had not a single stretch mark up to week 38; they seemingly appeared out of nowhere and then exploded with the fury of a thousand suns.

I started this post a week ago, and I write this now, I realize stretch marks were the least of my problems. Late last week, I developed mastitis, and had all kinds of horrible symptoms like terrible breast pain, body aches, chills, hot flashes, and a low-grade fever. I’ve never received a flu shot because I honestly cannot remember the last time I had the flu, and this experience confirmed my decisions. They say mastitis causes flu-like symptoms, and I felt weak and horrible in a way that felt quite unfamiliar. I was like oh shit, is this what the flu feels like? What the fuck. All I wanted to do was pound ibuprofen and sleep, but Little V wanted to feed nonstop from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. that night and I definitely cried.

Fortunately, antibiotics acted quickly. I took the first dose at 9:00 p.m. and felt better by Saturday morning. Just in time for an old friend’s wedding reception/anniversary party. This is a friend with whom I’ve made trouble since sophomore year of college, and I had been looking forward to this celebration for some time. The event was held at Syrah, where I had spent many a drunken night, e.g. Halloween, New Years Eve, birthdays, and plenty of times for no particular reason, including one night during law school when I took too many tequila shots and fell asleep briefly in the adjoining parking lot at the end of the night.

In what seemed like a wonderful alignment of lucky stars and good teamwork, my dad was able to watch Little V at a friend’s hotel room only 2 minutes walking distance away from the party venue, Little V caught onto bottle feeding after having been introduced to it just 2 days prior, I felt much better, and we were able to make an appearance and celebrate. I fed her in our friend’s hotel room right before we left, and Husband left the reception an hour in to bottle feed her. All in all, it was a highly successful evening.

Week 39

Monday

I met a friend, who is also pregnant for lunch at Panera. She’s in the process of switching over to my OB-GYN because she was somewhat displeased with her (mine has been awesome up to this point!) Work flew by because I charged through a couple of projects I wanted to wrap up before leaving. After work, I did a couple of yoga videos.

Tuesday 

Work went by fairly quickly again, and I met another friend for lunch. I don’t usually eat out for lunch very often, but I figured now is the time to make last-minute time for good friends before Fetus makes her appearance. (Hey, think of all the money I’ve saved by not drinking alcohol these past 9 months!)

I’ve been trying to eat healthier, but I decided YOLO and suggested Persian. It’s not that Persian food is necessarily unhealthy, but I love it a lot and tend to go overboard. We met at this place with a sweet ass lunch special. They give you a small basket of bread and olives as soon as you are seated, and then the salad bar alone is glorious;  I treated myself to cucumber and tomato salad, tabouli, dolma, pickled veggies, and dates. The two of us shared the eggplant stew and a koobideh kabab that came with the usual roasted, juicy tomato and buttery saffron rice. Yeah, you try ordering this stuff and not going overboard.

The lunch was so lavish and abundant I even had leftovers to take home for husband, who enjoyed it as well. To think, there once was a time he hated Persian food! I’m glad I turned him away from a life of sure deprivation.

This put me in a great mood the rest of the day, and I compensated after I got home with some weight exercises (triceps dips, wide squats with a 20 pound weight, wall sits, bridge lifts) and a little bit of yoga.

Wednesday

Very tired. I successfully limited my liquid intake after 8:00 p.m. the night before and did not wake up much to pee… but did wake up for no reason at 3:00 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. We went to a doctor’s appointment, and I’m not dilated, though she said this is not any kind of predictor as to when I would go into labor. I was not particularly motivated to exercise after work, but managed some triceps dips and about an hour of yoga.

We went through a big box of baby clothes our neighbor kindly gave us, and sorted them by size. Most of them were boy items, but it’s not like babies really care. Girls can dress up as frogs and bears too. Although the onesie that says “Lock up your daughters!” really might be a little odd.

Thursday

Had lunch with boss and clients at Bentley’s. I ordered a Cobb Salad with the Mandarin ginger dressing instead of bleu cheese dressing. It came in epic proportions, but I think with the hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and veggies, it was still a healthier choice. On the other hand, the baked Brie appetizer with onion dip and berry jam were not.

After lunch, I stopped by Champagne Bakery, located in the same shopping center. I used to go to the one in Irvine all the time in high school, when a friend of mine worked there. I’d hang around and chill toward the end of his shift and wait for him so we could hang out. He introduced me to French desserts such as Creme Brulee, for which I have developed a lifelong love, meringues, and custard brioche. He eventually was fired for stealing from the cash registers, but my best friend in high school later also worked here, so I continued to be a regular fixture for some time.

On this occasion, I stopped to get desserts for our wedding anniversary. Although I had planned a trip to the Cravory, which has oddly flavored cookies that are amazingly tasty (e.g. balsamic rosemary – who knew this could be so delicious?), I changed my mind and was drawn to Champagne instead. I got husband a slice of Princess cake and a berry tart for myself. It was tough choosing between the berry tart and Creme Brulee. Creme Brulee usually wins over all else, but maybe pregnancy has had an effect on my taste? Also, the berry tart is just aesthetically quite a bit more pleasing. I also bought a raspberry macaron for myself and ate it on the way back to work. Stayed tuned for weight gain.

We walked a nearby hill 3 times for exercise, then rushed to the Bahn Mi place for dinner before closing time. The sandwiches were delicious and we could not believe we’d taken so many years to finally try this place.

Weekend

Friday, I went for a foot/body prenatal massage combo and it was amazing. There’s a place I’ve gone to a couple of times now that is sort of a good mix between discount massages and a spa experience. It’s more money than a cheapo Asian place, but the skill level and atmosphere are also better. The atmosphere is not quite at the level of a more professional spa, as I’ve never been to a luxury spa where the masseuse is wearing shredded denim capris or smells vaguely of cigarettes, but I’ve seriously gotten two of the best massages ever here, irrespective of price, so I’m a fan.

Saturday, I did some stretches and we did the  steep hiking trail hill by our old house once, which was nice. Later in the day, we went to the beach and did some meditation practice and I did some more stretching on the beach. I haven’t gone to Yoga class since I finished up my 10-class package, but a lot of the poses and stretches I learned in class have been immensely helpful, particularly toward the end of the third trimester.

Sunday, I walked the same hill twice and it was a big mistake. It tired me out for the rest of the day and made me grouchy. For the future, I will remember the oft-repeated advice regarding not pushing yourself too much during pregnancy. It is not the time. I think it’s good to push myself to get some type of exercise even when I’m feeling lazy, but maybe not to push it to uncomfortable limits e.g. long hikes, too much cardio, too much heat. Certainly it’s not harmful and it might be helpful for staying in shape, but the toll it takes on the rest of the day and sometimes the day after is not worth it. Sort of like a bad hangover. Except I didn’t have the pleasure of drinking, and instead of dehydration and a headache, I’m grouchy, irritable, and tired.

???

As I near the end of pregnancy, I feel the old doubts of having children surfacing. I’ve spent the last several months treating this entire experience like an important project, with plans, research, classes, books, etc., so I thought I’d resolved such anxieties, but I suppose that is not the case after all. One would think the last 7 months of preparation would have served as a gradual transition, but it seems the impending due date only highlights the severity and certainty of this decision.

I used to be utterly freaked out by the idea of giving birth; that’s still somewhat the case but infinitely overshadowed by the fear that I won’t enjoy being a mother. I’ve had to make many lifestyle changes and compromises since December 23, 2016 but of course none of it can compare to what lies ahead. It seems like having to rebuild an entire life from scratch (mine).

I think my husband and I have built a special life together. I don’t mean “special” in the sense that we’re particularly unique, interesting, or superior compared to others, but 12 years together necessarily results in something irreplaceable and I could easily live another 12 years like this, or the rest of my life.

We met on a rainy night in February painted by the haze of alcohol. The friend who introduced us accidentally set something on fire at a party, after which we quickly made our departure, and I was so drunk I spelled my own name wrong when I entered it into my husband’s cell phone. We didn’t start dating until a year and a half later, because only Fools Rush In.

When I first moved in with him, the living arrangements could best be described as a small fraternity house nestled in the heart of suburbia, inhabited by gamblers and students who drank too much, joined by unruly dogs, and then our equally recalcitrant cat.

During my first year of law school, my husband quit his engineering job and became a professional poker player, so the summer after my first year, we leased our room in the house, and left the country for two and a half months. We rented an apartment in the suburbs of Barcelona, and he funded our trip with poker while I promised to undertake some domestic tasks while he worked. The “tasks” were an adventure in and of themselves, as I enjoyed every moment of Barcelona, including regularly walking 25 minutes to the grocery store (we did not have a car), where I could buy unfamiliar foods and practice Spanish. We fell in love with the city, but moved on to Prague, Milan, Rome, Tuscany, and Yellowstone National Park the rest of the summer.

For the duration of law school, I packed all my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I could have 4-day weekends every weekend, and there were many trips to Vegas with free hotels, compliments of my husband’s card-counting days. When I unexpectedly was notified I was the recipient of a $32,000 merit scholarship I hadn’t applied for, we took tequila shots all night at a bar in Cardiff-by-the-Sea that now longer exists, and I jumped into the ocean with all my clothes on.

Eventually, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment by ourselves, in a neighborhood characterized by beach bums, dirty hippies, quirky stores, and drug use. Our complex was built in the 1970’s, and rumor has it the communal hot tub was built of an epic size because the complex used to be a swinger’s colony. The neighborhood has since gentrified and I miss some of its formerly bummy, disheveled, and unpretentious elements.

After I took the bar exam, we celebrated with an Asia trip to Taiwan and Thailand. We scootered through the canyons of Taroko Gorge and indulged in decadence on Thai beaches. In the first couple of years after I started working, we traveled to Kauai and hiked Mt. Whitney with his family, and I started paying down substantial amounts of law school debt.

We got married in 2013, 2 weeks after our 8-year anniversary in a ceremony officiated by a dear friend. We wrote our own vows and exchanged them in the glow of the southern Californian sun, and at the reception, through a series of small mishaps, many guests got unbelievably drunk. Two weeks later, we honeymooned in Bali, Macau, and Taiwan.

In 2014, we went to Colombia, where we ate ceviche on Cartagena beaches, hiked a beautiful national park, and walked the romantic alleys of Santa Marta at dusk. I took a picture outside the former residence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and constantly had a Colombian beer in hand to counter the Caribbean heat. We spent one night in some of the worst accommodations I have ever experienced, and when I was awoken at 4 a.m. to roosters, cats, and dogs brawling in the streets amid human yells, 90 degree heat/90 percent humidity with a broken fan, and a broken bed, there was nothing to do but laugh at the outrageousness of the situation.

In 2016, we picked Vietnam over Greece and had a dream vacation at beach side resorts, daily all-you-can-eat buffets of Vietnamese breakfasts, luxurious city hotels, lush jungle retreats, and scooter rides in Saigon, Hue, Hanoi, and the Vietnamese countrysides. We took the longest cable car ride to the highest peak in Indochina and enjoyed the view as lone passengers in a car designed for 30 people with a 360-degree view of the valleys, rice terraces, and mountains of Sapa.

We drink, cook, hike, exercise, and laugh together. We’ve taken painting classes, dance classes, and played on a soccer team. We own a house and a condo together, refurbish old furniture sometimes, save for early retirement, and spoil our cats. We are very different in some ways and have been at each other’s throats yet are fundamentally so well-suited for each other that if I weren’t an atheist I’d chalk this up to fate.

Our years together have not been extraordinary in and of themselves (plenty of people hike, drink, and travel), but for me, the last 12 years has been characterized by little pieces of magic here and there, and everywhere.

When I was little, I was prone to impractical daydreaming. I would daydream of being a rock star or sprouting wings and flying, for instance. On the other hand I rarely contemplated much in detail about the specifics of my future life. My eleven-year-old self didn’t care to think about what kind of career, husband, house, kids she’d have, or vacations she’d take, beyond assuming that there would eventually be a job, a dude, and an abode in the mix on an abstract level, because that’s what adults do.

So what I mean by “special” is, it’s special to me, and if my eleven-year-old self was given a glimpse into this future, she’d be pretty damn smug and content, implausible fantasies of growing wings and flying across oceans aside.

Having a kid is supposed to be the “next” step, a higher level or deeper stage, but sometimes it feels more like we’re tearing parts of a great creation down and rebuilding it to be something completely different and unfamiliar.

So, what will the next 12 years be like? Stay tuned…

 

#TBT When I Got My $200 Wedding Dress From China

It’s wedding season and I love weddings, though I continue to be shocked at the rising cost of weddings. According to theKnot.com, the national average is $35,259 as of 2016. I always look back at our wedding fondly and am particularly pleased with the $200 custom tailored dress I ordered from Dressilyme.com. Say all you want about cheap Chinese crap, but this was the best decision ever, and I got a brand new, custom made, high-quality, wedding dress for less than $200:

I started off dress shopping with a really low budget, as I really was not keen on spending even close to $1,000 (approximately the average, according to Cosmo, or more like $1,500 according to the Knot). I looked for deals at David’s Bridal, but wasn’t wowed by anything. I browsed and tried on a couple of used dresses from Craigslist searches. However, even some of the used dresses were absurdly expensive in my opinion, in the $400-$600 range. Look, I get that you paid $2,000 for it, only wore it once, and think that $600 for your dream dress is a steal, but in the end, it’s still $600 for a used dress.

Rather displeased with my options, I took to the internet and took the plunge, despite some mixed reviews for Dressilyme.com. Most people had good experiences, though there were definitely several horror stories.

The process was easy: I browsed the stock photos on their website, picked a dress I liked, measured myself, sent them the measurements, and received exactly what I ordered by mail probably 6 weeks later. They basically replicated a designer dress to the T and charged a fraction of the price. The dress was folded into an absurdly small package and shipped to me in a nondescript box, but the wrinkles were easily taken care of with a steamer.

I did end up paying around $150 for alterations, but this was not due to any incompetence or lack of skill on their part; I decided I wanted the dress to be tighter, and additionally, had ordered the dress in too long a length because I did not know what height my heels would be. They did not skimp on material or attention to detail, and all five layers of the dress had to be hemmed, which obviously increased the cost of tailoring. Part of the tailoring cost also included having it bustled, which would be an additional cost whether I ordered my dress from China or not.

I did not have a boutique shopping experience, or get a champagne toast when I found “the one,” but for me, it brought me much more glee to employ the services of the internet to find the dress I wanted and have it travel to me from thousands of miles away without even coming close to breaking the bank. No one would know my dress was shipped from a factory in China, except that I enjoyed gloating about it.

 

Thoughts on an Article I read Pertaining to the Economics of Marriage and Divorce

I recently read The Economics of Marriage and Divorce on FEE.org, which raised some interesting points. The article starts out in an informative manner, and is rightly critical of state meddling, regulation, and intervention in the private matters of marriage and divorce. However, the article goes on to say,

Another turning point was no-fault divorce, which was first introduced in California in 1969 and has spread to almost every state. In no-fault divorce, a spouse does not need to prove wrongdoing but can merely claim incompatibility. It is sometimes called unilateral divorce because one party can request it; the other cannot refuse. Moreover, marital conduct cannot be used as a factor in determining the division of property. The arrangement is set by law, not by the parties involved.

The writer cites to skyrocketing divorce rates as a result of No-Fault Divorce policies, and goes as far to quote a Men’s Rights Activist who laments, “You can be forcibly separated from your children, your home, and your property, also through literally ‘no fault’ of your own. Failure to cooperate with the divorce opens the innocent spouse to criminal penalties. No-fault divorce made divorce far more destructive by allowing the state to undertake court proceedings against innocent people, confiscate everything they have, and incarcerate them without trial.”

I don’t think “No-Fault Divorce” should have required a law to begin with, as no one should be forced by the long dick of the law to stay in an unhappy or even abusive relationship, but the reality is the law wants to have an opinion on just about everything, and this particular regulation (really, it seems to be the negation of a prior regulation – Fault Divorce law) happens to be one that is in accordance with the principles of liberty. Consider the alternative. If one spouse wants to leave, should the other truly have the right to refuse and to enforce that refusal? One may not want to lose their spouse and face terrible financial consequences, which are exacerbated by government laws, but the answer should not be to force people with government laws to continue to be legally bound together against their will.

I will never forget when my high school English teacher from sophomore year casually related a story of her marriage to her first husband, who was regularly physically abusive. She literally had to show up at court with bruises on her body, with a witness in tow (a friend), and both of them had to testify to the horrors of her husband’s beatings for her to be able to legally obtain a divorce. There are numerous abhorrent aspects of family law, but No-Fault Divorce’s abandonment of antiquated ideas of people as slaves or property is not one of them. Do we really want to return to the days of Fault Divorce? Is this author really a feminist?

Strangely, this article describes in great detail how financially destructive and downright devastating divorce can be – then proceeds to nonsensically argue the current legal state of marriage is such that marriages are insufficient contracts because they essentially are agreements that “can be unilaterally broken without consequences”  …Say what?

Admittedly, one person initiating a divorce and dragging the other unwilling party through unwanted consequences is lamentable. The fact the consequences can be so severe, expensive, and dire, is largely the fault of other government policies, as the writer rightly points out, but the answer is not to require someone to prove “fault” – e.g. adultery, cruelty, abandonment, mental illness, and criminal conviction – or be forced to remain in a marriage. Indeed, for an article coming from FEE.org, I have to point out it is the very antithesis of libertarianism to advocate a person be forced to remain in a marriage unless they prove certain elements of fault, just because some number of years ago they made vague promises to be “patient” and “kind” and to be together “forever.”

While there are a great many things wrong with family and divorce law, this Men’s Rights Activist (predictably) and this author (who claims to be a feminist) blatantly turn logic on its head by suggesting that not forcing someone to stay in an undesirable marriage is in fact “forcibly” separating family, home, and property. This makes absolutely no sense, unless operating on the assumption people are objects, or a means to an end, and that a spouse is legally entitled to the labor and utility of the spouse attempting to dissolve the marriage.

The author concludes, “No-fault divorce removed all vestige of marriage as a contract between two people” and proposes the following:

The simple and proper solution is to return to marriage as a civil contract. It does not need to be a complicated agreement. It could and probably would evolve in the same manner as wills have—that is, a variety of standard ones can be purchased inexpensively in bookstores or online. Close down the family court systems that regulate divorce and which provide lawyers with inflated incomes. Allow the breach of a marriage to be arbitrated in a manner spelled out in the contract itself.

While I can get on board with the idea of privatization of matters that are none of the government’s goddamn business, it is absolutely not the case that No-Fault Divorce is to blame for the failure of marriage as contract. If marriage is to be treated as a contract, it must abide by the principles of contracts, and most marriages do not, and historically have not, at least in the modern era with which I am familiar. The hopelessly vague, undefined, and nondescript marriage vows 99.99 percent of couples currently exchange in the course of wedding ceremonies would never hold up as a valid contract in any court of law (private or state-run).

Additionally, to the contrary, it’s unlikely marriage in and of itself could ever be an uncomplicated agreement. There are undoubtedly some clear indicators of wrongdoing, such as repeated cheating or violence, but for the most part, marriage is a complex relationship of constant negotiation and re-negotiation based on mutual, rather vague, promises of people to do their best to stay together. Sometimes even cheating or violence may be forgiven, but sometimes a more minor offense might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back after years of emotional neglect or abandonment. Regardless, it’s not the place of the law to dictate what constitutes “fault” and force parties to remain together in the absence of proof of that fault.

Surely, some terms of marriage commonly used are unambiguous; promises to be faithful are widely understood. Few people are going to get away with, “Oh shit, you mean sleeping with your sister/brother violates my promise to be faithful?” On the other hand, spouses often promise to “honor” or “respect” one another. They assent to bible passages in the course of their vows to be “patient” and “kind” to each other. But what does this actually mean?

Anyone who has ever read any contract will notice the first several pages of any contract contain recitals and definitions setting forth the mutual understanding of relevant context and certain terms. Well, what in the fuck does “honor” or “respect” mean to each individual? Are you dishonoring your husband if you only do the laundry every month when he wants you to do it every week? Is your husband disrespecting you if he plays too many video games after you’ve asked him to cut down? What does “patience” and “kindness” entail? How patient do you have to be after your husband forgets to clean up the dog poop day after day, month after month? How kind do you have to be if your wife kicks the family cat? Some women promise in vows to “follow” their husband, the god-ordained “leader” in marriage; does that apply when the husband goes on a murder-suicide rampage? How are these terms defined, and how are the respective actions to be implemented?

To my knowledge, few, if any marriage vows bother to define or clarify the meaning or expectations associated with these terms. If a husband regularly enjoys taking a giant shit on the living room floor, is this “dishonor” or “disrespect” constituting breach of contract? And if so, to what remedies is the wife entitled? In that case, would a proponent of Fault Divorce agree the husband committed fault? Or is that insufficient “fault” such that the wife is still without reason to “unilaterally” breach the contract? If a spouse threatens to cheat or file for divorce, but has not actually done it, does it count as anticipatory breach, so that the other is immediately entitled to remedies? Or given the duration and gravity of the relationship contemplated, are such matters considered minor breaches for which the breaching party is entitled to a chance to cure the defect?

Things get even more complicated. Contracts are rightfully dissolved when there is a frustration of purpose. If Alana contracts with Beth to supply widgets for building robots, but Alana’s robot factory gets crushed by an asteroid, there is a frustration of purpose, and the contract can be terminated. As applied to marriage, most people enter into marriage to mutually provide and receive security and happiness. What happens when one person feels financially and emotionally insecure and miserable? This is certainly frustration of purpose for at least one, and possibly both parties, but more importantly, who is the breaching party? Is it the person who failed to take reasonable measures to provide security and happiness to the other? Or is it the person who is insecure and miserable because he/she is simply a difficult person? We don’t know because none of these things are agreed upon in advance of 99.99 percent of marriages. 

Imagine the many pages of definitions one would have to append to a contract to be able to define what circumstances constitute “security” or “happiness” for each individual involved. Perhaps one might want to include a clause indicating that if a party substantially complies with certain acts in furtherance of promoting security and happiness, the duty/responsibility is considered fulfilled and the other spouse’s lack of subjective feelings of security and happiness is not grounds for breach. Or perhaps the parties might decide that in fact, the individual subjective valuation of these elements is key (or would that then be an illusory contract?)

Even if we were to force a contract analysis on marriage vows, which do not remotely fit the definite requirements of contract formation, what’s to say the flood of divorces are actually “unilateral”? Maybe the spouse who filed for divorce on No-Fault grounds in fact felt dishonored, disrespected, unloved, and not at all “cherished” for the last 15 years, and thereby finally decided to seek divorce as a remedy for the 15 years of continual breach by the spouse who is unwilling to divorce. This attempt to conflate marriage promises with enforceable legal agreements is laughable and downright wrong.

If definite terms of a marital relationship were in fact achievable, one could begin to make some good faith arguments as to who was breached the contract and the damages owed accordingly, but in the absence of these definitions, marriages that dissolve today and result in nasty legal consequences do not come to such ends because someone “unilaterally” breached a clear-cut, valid, and mutually agreed upon contract “without consequences” or because of No-Fault Divorce. Rather, they dissolve in a messy way because an adequate, comprehensible, and enforceable contract as to rights, responsibilities, and property division was not created to begin with.

Many, many, many people do not make clear agreements when they get married (or any agreement at all), and then become entangled in the government clusterfuck of divorce law when shit hits the fan. Of course, even for couples that do make clear agreements (e.g. in the form of a prenuptial or marital agreement), the government (at least in California) can unfortunately override their agreements to an extent, e.g. agreements to not pursue spousal support or child support. But according to this source, only 5 percent of divorces involve couples who had a prenuptial agreement, so these people are in the vast minority.

What is far more practicable and realistic is for the finances associated with marriage, rather than marriage itself, to be subject to contract principles, but free from some of the egregiously unjust and burdensome laws currently in existence. It is much easier to formulate how to split a house, a 401K account, or how to divide other family assets, than to decide who is at “fault” for the degradation of happiness, security, fulfillment, and meaning in a marriage. When entering into a marriage (however each individual may subjectively define that relationship), it is a good practice to decide in writing or otherwise how to split assets, property, income, and how to handle other matters in the event of dissolution.

Certainly, as acknowledged above, because of bad laws and state meddling, even if people do come to definite agreements, they can face expensive lawyers and unfortunate consequences. However, as it currently stands, while legal fees and hurdles can be a barrier, the majority of people do not bother to attempt to make specific agreements because they simply do not want to. According to the Huffington Post, it is a minority of people who think a prenup is a good idea (44 percent), and even of people who have been divorced, only 15 percent wish they had one in the first place (here). Just take casual poll of people you know, and it becomes clear it’s not just that it can be cost-prohibitive to hire attorneys; a large proportion of people avoid definite, binding financial agreements in the context of marriage simply because they believe it unromantic, morbid, pessimistic, and just a plain bad idea, and this has absolutely nothing to do with No-Fault Divorce, nor is it solely the fault of government.

Giving Thanks To Beer, And Alcohol In General

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for a great many things, including friends, family, a good job, and good health. As this blog is largely devoted to beer, I am of course also thankful for beer and alcohol in general.

I met my husband while drinking. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be in a fraternity or sorority without having a penchant for alcohol, but that wasn’t us. We met on a rainy night in February that involved lots of drinks, apartment party hopping, and a friend accidentally lighting something on fire at one of those parties (because he was drunk, as we all were). Back in those days, I was a 19-year-old sorority girl with an unrefined palate. I was probably sipping on whatever sugary, crass, cocktails were passed my way. I will regret this poor taste for the rest of my life, but regardless, that night was the beginning of a series of fun moments, many involving more drinking.

In college and some of law school, I was a fan of Jack on the rocks. We went through a period (early twenties) when we really liked wine. We still like wine, but love craft beers above all. Beer can make a dull day glisten with unexpected delight, and can turn a boring meal into an interesting one. There are so many types and styles of beers that the excitement never ends.

When we got married about 8 years after dating, we made sure to have good beers at our wedding. We had a small keg of Piraat, a beautiful and deceptively powerful Belgian trippel by Van Steenberge, a 10.5% abv delight (his choice). My choice was Westcoast IPA by Greenflash (7.3%). We got a keg of Modelo just in case anyone had lighter preferences, but predictably, that keg was not as popular. At our wedding, people had great beers and great fun; some probably had a little too much fun. It was a night to remember, except for the guests that drank too much to remember.

Cheers to beers, cheers to love, and cheers to my husband.

I am very thankful for all of these on this Thanksgiving.

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