Posted in A whole lot, Accomplishments, Marriage, Married Life, Mars and Venus

23 Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage

When you first met and got hitched, you couldn’t stop gushing about married life and how wondrous it was going to be. In fact, the situation was so serious that your best friend, your sister, and even your mother were getting a little tired of hearing the details.

But then, after the wedding hoopla faded, you probably found that life kicked in at a wicked pace, your priorities got reshuffled, and you just didn’t have time to sit back and reflect on your marital bliss. If you can relate, know this: “It’s not the traditional stuff — the big dinner out once a year, or even the regular Saturday-night dates — that pulls you together and bonds you,” says Constance Ahrons, Ph.D. “It’s little bits of time stolen together and small, frequent gestures that remind you of what you have in common and your commitment to each other.” Of course, no one’s saying you should bag the annual dinner. But try these ideas from experts and couples, and you’ll find that opportunities to connect and feel really good about your marriage are lurking everywhere, every day of the year.

1. Tell him you love him
Spill your most loving thoughts. “We tend to get caught up in complaining — he doesn’t say this or do that — but it’s so important to affirm out loud what a great guy he is, and why you fell in love with him, and love him so much today,” says Gloria Richfield, Ph.D. Next time he cracks you up, pipe up about how incredible it is to be married to a guy with such a terrific sense of humor; or first thing in the morning, before your feet touch the floor, let him hear that whatever the workday holds can’t faze you, since you know you’ll see him that night.

2. Talk about the future
All new couples love to daydream about the future — the places you’ll go, the parties you’ll throw, the house you’ll renovate — but that habit tends to fall by the wayside when you’re in a long-standing union. To get that sense of anticipation going again, and make sure the coming years have the highlights you’re hoping for, visualize the future together. Plan a romantic vacation, a wilderness adventure or something closer to home, like putting a Jacuzzi in your bathroom — and make it happen.

3. Give “just-because” gifts
Instead of going for big-ticket items on “real holidays,” a writer and mom of three in California and her husband, Bill, give gifts when the appropriate occasion strikes, calendar be damned. “When I noticed that I was bored silly with seeing him in the same suit everyday, I took him shopping for a new one, and when he saw that a writer’s conference was coming to a college near us, he signed me up to help my journalism career along,” she says. “Those kinds of gifts make us feel connected, like we’re looking out for each other all year long.”

4. Keep a sex diary
“During our first anniversary dinner, after a little too much wine, my husband toasted our sex life and a particularly unusual spot in which we’d done the deed,” says a portrait artist in Texas. “We began reminiscing and wrote down, in the back of my datebook, every place we’d ever had sex. Now, every anniversary dinner, we update that list, and if the new locations aren’t numerous or exciting enough, we challenge ourselves to do better next year. It’s silly but fun, and lets us obsess over our sex life a little.”

5. Take the “happy” challenge
Your child’s favorite shirt has gone AWOL. You’ve forgotten to mail the car payment for a week now. On top of all this, you’re supposed to commit random acts of kindness for your husband? Well, yes, say the experts — you’ve got to make an effort to pamper that life partner of yours. “Ask yourself: ‘What one little thing can I do to make this person happy today?'” suggests Judith Wallerstein, Ph.D. It can be something as little as bringing a cup of coffee with just the right amount of milk or calling during the day to say, “I’m thinking about you.” Those little touches make a guy feel appreciated, nurtured — and altogether in love with the institution of marriage.

6. Toast each other
Recognize the good stuff regularly. “We inherited this huge champagne glass from my grandparents — it holds almost a whole bottle of bubbly — and any time we have an excuse, we bring it down and drink to our life together,” says one woman who works at a law firm. “We’ve used it on anniversaries, when we closed on our house and when either of us got a promotion or a new job.” So if you didn’t receive a pair of champagne glasses as a wedding present, buy some now and put them to use — often.

7. Get your picture taken
If you’re like most couples, the only recent photograph you have is of your forearm bracing your child as she tries out her new Jolly Jumper. Invest in having a professional photo taken of you and your man, frame it, and squeeze it in between those baby pictures covering the hallway wall. That permanent record of the two of you, beaming at each other, will reinforce your happy state of togetherness whenever you glance at it.

8. Avoid usual topics
When you do have some quality time together — maybe on Sunday morning while the kids are watching cartoons — don’t let conversation fall into the usual ruts, says Dr. Wallerstein, be it complaining about the boss or strategizing how to get your toddler to eat something other than peas. “Really talking — about your hopes, say, or your innermost thoughts — has an energizing effect on the relationship and helps you better know and appreciate each other,” she says.

9. Re-create your early bonding ritual
Were the two of you knocked out by a particular film on one of your first dates? Rent it. Is there an album that served as the soundtrack to the summer you fell in love? Play it — often. Or did you used to meet for a drink at that little bar near the bookstore? Go there again. All will remind you of those heady early days, and give you ample opportunity to note how your love has deepened since.

10. Check on your sleeping children — together
The ideal time to moon over them is when they’re soundly asleep, like angels. Tiptoe in together and revel in the fact that you made these wondrous little creatures. And remember, be very, very quiet.

11. Plant something
Some couples talk about how satisfying it is to plant a tree in their yard and watch it grow bigger and stronger every year with their marriage. If you can’t commit to something that major, even a houseplant the two of you nurture will do. “We’ve got this one plant that’s been everywhere with us,” says a mother of two in Seattle. “We had it in Boston, when I was in grad school; it moved to Michigan, to Seattle, back East, then back to Seattle again with us. Every now and then, as we water it or move it to a new spot, we’ll think about all the places we’ve been and how, like the plant, we’re still going strong, no matter where we live.”

12. Declare an extra anniversary (or two)
Should the only celebration of your marriage be that one fancy-dinner-with-good-bottle-of-wine a year? No way. Add both the day you met and the day you got engaged to the calendar as excuses to go out or give each other a special gift (even a simple candlelit massage counts). To push things further, listen to a mother of two in North Carolina: “I’ve been really inspired by a couple I know who celebrate their ‘month-a-versary’ — they make a big fuss over each other on the date of their wedding, every month. Hard for me to pull off, but a good goal to aim for.”

13. Meet someplace all dressed up
Decide to rendezvous at, say, a bar or museum, but you do your makeup and wiggling-into-sheer-black-stockings routine at the office while he puts on a great dinner jacket and tie at home. When you then (surprise!) see each other looking your best, you’ll each realize what a dude/babe you’ve landed and feel that much more intoxicated with one another.

14. Feather your nest
Futon couches are for single folks. Now that you’re married, acquire the goods that married folks get to have, like a dining room set. Or, follow the example of one New York couple and become art collectors: “Over years we’ve bought paintings or photos on themes we’re interested in. They’re permanent, visible, and they remind us of shared passion in our lives.”

15. Say it with flowers
Who, if not your spouse, is going to greet you at the door with a bouquet of roses? The point of this rhetorical question: to get you back into that early-dating ritual of giving flowers — a gift that serves no purpose other than to delight the recipient’s senses. Keep in mind that it’s not a one-way street. See what a bunch of tiger lilies does for his mood.

16. Keep notes
“My husband and I work different shifts, so we barely talk during the week,” says a mother of two in Michigan. “So we leave notes for each other in a spiral notebook. Like I’ll say, “Last night was awesome!” and come home to find a funny little comment he’s added on. Sometimes I flip through the book, and it brings back a lot of good, recent memories about our life together.”

17. Walk arm in arm
Or hold hands. Or spoon at night for a couple of minutes, even if you can only fall asleep with your backs toward the middle of the bed. In case you hadn’t noticed, physical affection — and not just of the sexual variety — is one of the loveliest perks of marriage. Indulge in it often.

18. Bank on it
In the olden days, women known as “housewives” had this stuff called “mad money” — just-in-case funds for an emergency or, more likely, an unexpected splurge. One North Carolina woman adapts this tradition for modern-day life by trying to pay for things with singles, five-dollar bills, whatever, and putting all the change into a piggybank as a special anniversary-dinner fund. For more immediate gratification, you can use the cash for, say, buying a nice bottle of wine or dinner when the kids have sleepover dates.

19. Give the right thing
“Hokey as it may sound, my husband and I follow that ‘give something paper on your first anniversary’ tradition,” says one woman. “I like it because it makes us feel part of a tradition, as if we’re somehow linked with all the eons of married people, and so on.” But that doesn’t mean the gifts have to be old-fogey-ish. “We just celebrated our third anniversary — the leather one — and bought each other very cool jackets.”

20. Get a “married folks” hobby
Sure, you each need your own separate interests to keep you stoked and give you something to talk to the spouse about. But there’s something to be said for having a shared pastime. Golf, bridge, and the like are getting popular again. Maybe it’s because they provide time to bond as a couple, have all sorts of fun little rituals (think tees, monogrammed balls, gaudy golf wear, and we haven’t even hit on that addictive chocolate bridge-mix yet) and give you a chance to meet and hang with other couples.

21. Prick up your ears
“If one of us mentions that we really, really want something, we make it our mission to make it happen,” says one woman in New York. “My husband had once said he would love a surprise party on his 40th birthday, so when it came around, I surprised him with a real blowout — an evening dinner cruise on a yacht. It was a total life highlight for us, definitely worth all the planning and expenses. You’ve got to seize those opportunities to really indulge one another.”
22. Find an out-of-the-house meeting place
Once every month or so, have breakfast with your husband at the same local diner on your way to work or sneak out of the office at 5 p.m. sharp for drinks at a cozy neighborhood bar — it’ll give you time to connect and make the two of you feel that you have a special place, no matter how ordinary. Couples today, especially those with kids, have so little time together. Forget that Saturday-night-date stuff and steal time from the workweek. Your job will still get done.

23. Hang out with single people
There are two ways to make this work for you. One, you and your husband invite some single folk (or even better, an engaged couple) over for coffee and bask in their somewhat envious gazes and their relentless curiosity about your life. You’ve got what they’re dreaming of, and your little klatch will help you appreciate that a bit more. Or slide into a corner table at a singles hangout with your husband and watch the mating ritual over a cold beer. The two of you have come a long way — and to a fantastic place — haven’t you?

Posted in Accentuate, Beauty Tips, Budget Wisely, Common Sense, Fetish Addict, Summertime

7 Hot-Weather Beauty Horrors (and How to Avoid Them)

Summer Snafu 1: Sunglass Tan

You wore sunglasses for protection against the rays and wound up with a reverse-raccoon tan.

Stop it before it starts: Even though you already know you should be doing this, slather a sunscreen with SPF 30 on your entire face to reduce greatly the amount of sun you’ll get throughout the day. No sunscreen to date blocks out 100 percent of the sun’s rays, but using a broad spectrum UVA/UVB formula every two hours will make your tan line minimal … even cute.

Salvage it: Using a foundation shade that matches your tanned skin, dab a couple of dots under your eyes and blend, blend, blend, says makeup pro Sonia Kashuk. (Don’t use concealer, since it won’t blend well enough.) Also, go for nude or light brown eye shadow to help balance things out.

Summer Snafu 2: Sun-Damaged Polish

After two days in the sun, your sheer pastel nail polish has turned an ugly yellow tint.

Stop it before it starts: “Light pink and beige shades turn yellowish when they’re exposed to the sun,” says celebrity manicurist Maria Salandra. The solution: Use a clear top coat specially formulated to prevent UV rays from altering the hue of your favorite lacquer. Also, when you’re at the beach, rub sunscreen over your nails each time you apply it to your body (which, as we said, should be about every two hours).

Salvage it: If your digits have jaundiced and you don’t have time to redo your manicure, try this quick trick: “Since only the surface will have changed color, just removing the top layer will get rid of the problem,” says Salandra. Use the finest-grain side of a block file to buff away the yellow gently. “Seal with a top coat for shine and you’re set,” says Salandra.

Summer Snafu 3: Blisters

Those sandals may look hot, but a night out in them has left you limping from blisters.

Stop it before it starts: Reduce the shoe-on-skin rubbing that creates a blister by sprinkling your feet with a foot powder to keep them from sweating, says Chappaqua, New York, dermatologist Lydia Evans. If you begin to feel the rub, protect the sensitive spot with a bandage.

Salvage it: If you already have a mean blister, baby it back to health. “If it’s intact, sanitize a needle with alcohol, then pop the blister to let the fluid out,” says Dr. Evans. Don’t peel off the skin, though, she warns. If it has already been torn open, apply an antibiotic ointment like Polysporin to prevent an infection, then cover it with a bandage.

Summer Snafu 4: Liquid Lipstick

You open your lipstick and get a handful of melted mess.

Stop it before it starts: If you’re heading to the beach or park equipped with a cooler for your soda, toss your lipstick in. Or bring a pot of gloss or a tube with a wand instead of a bullet of lipstick. This way, if the color melts, it will cool into the same shape.

Salvage it: If your lipstick is soft but not yet dribbling, place it in the fridge or prop it up near an air conditioner. If it’s really liquidy, scoop the lipstick into a small empty plastic pot, and voilà! — a new carrier for your favorite color.

Summer Snafu 5: Frizzy Curls

The humidity has frizzed out your curly hair to epic proportions.

Stop it before it starts: The drier hair is, the more it’ll frizz in humid weather, so keep your locks hydrated by using a rich conditioner. Postshower, spritz on a leave-in conditioning spray, then put on a baseball cap to prevent hair from expanding as it dries, says Brigitte Danyi, a stylist at the Louis Licari Salon in Los Angeles.

Salvage it: If the humidity has already struck, wet your hands and run them over the top layer of your hair to put moisture back in and calm frizz, says Danyi. Next, use a wax or texturizer to add control. “Then twist curls around your finger to re-form them,” she says.

Summer Snafu 6: Razor Rash

You prepped for the beach by shaving your bikini line. Now you have a bumpy razor rash.

Stop it before it starts: Always use a fresh razor blade on your sensitive bikini line. Also, use a gel (skip the soap; the results won’t be as smooth) and let it sit on the skin for a couple of minutes to soften the hair before you shave. Always shave the bikini line in the direction of hair growth to minimize irritation.

Salvage it: Reduce the rash by applying a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to the area. If the skin isn’t broken, conceal the redness with a tinted facial moisturizer. Still bashful about bumps? Work a sexy sarong look when you’re not in the water.

Summer Snafu 7: Brassy Highlights

Those gorgeous golden highlights you paid beaucoup bucks for are turning brassy faster than you can say “Boo-hoo.”

Stop it before it starts: Highlighted hair that’s naturally medium brown or warm blond is most likely to get coppery since those shades have more red in them. And all streaked strands are more porous, making them susceptible to oxidation caused by the sun seeping into them, says NYC salon owner Haime Muñoz. (The process is similar to how an apple slice will turn brown if it’s left out for a while.) To prevent this, cover up with a hat or a head scarf when outdoors, says L.A. colorist Stuart Gavert. Also use styling aids that block UV rays. (It will call this out on the package).

Salvage it: If your hair hue is already trashed, your best bet for resuscitating the color is to head to the salon for a color gloss, which will tone down the brassiness and add shine for less than the cost of getting the highlights redone.