Soup

There’s a tradition in our family started by Eva, my dad’s wife, to make a big pot of soup and have it ready when someone comes home from a trip. When you are jetlagged, the last thing you want to do is go out to a restaurant or cook. After a shower, opening the refrigerator and seeing a beautiful pot of soup in the fridge is nirvana. Soup made with love – you can taste the difference. 

I made a pot of homemade chicken soup and matzoh balls about two months ago in anticipation of Jeff coming back from Israel. He had been there since January, working in a busy Emergency Department in Ashdod, Israel. Today, I am defrosting the soup made for him. I don’t think I’m going to see him for a while.

I know for some of you it’s tough to quarantine with family. Tempers are short. You don’t have the usual distractions. But quarantining alone is no picnic. Everyone in my family is on lockdown in their prospective countries.  

My brother is staying here. He too, separated from family. And it’s kind of weird to live with your brother for weeks in the house you grew up in. It just adds to the surreality. 

We are both in Milwaukee with our 99 year old father. Even for a Holocaust survivor this current situation “feels like the end of the world”. He watches at a distance, as an outsider. His joie de vivre, social interaction, has been snatched from him. His hospice nurse recommends the two of us “use FaceTime or something” instead of visiting. His apartment is a short walk from my house. Going there makes me anxious but not going is even harder. Isolation and loneliness are leading to a huge decline in his quality of life.

So when I cook he wants Hungarian meals from the old country like Káposztás Tészta (cabbage and noodles), cholent and Toltott Kaposzta (stuffed cabbage). And of course soup.

Make soup for someone you love, they can taste the difference.

MOMENTUM

Momentum is everything.

Most of my readers know how much I love football. During the recent playoffs, I don’t know how many times I said/texted/tweeted the word “momentum”, but it was a lot. That sense that the team with the momentum is unstoppable, fueled by the roars from the fans in the stands. With positive momentum, the magic happens.

Momentum is a term from physics. It refers to the quantity of motion that an object has. Objects at rest do not have momentum.

Momentum runs high at the start of a romantic relationship. It is fun, playful and carefree. Both of you are reflecting over-idealized versions of each other so powerful that instincts of hunger and thirst are ignored. You believe you could live with this person in a tent until the end of time. Spending glorious days in bed in a delirious state makes it easy to ignore the tedious responsibilities of reality.

While society prioritizes this phase, the challenges of long-term relationships leave us wondering: is that all there is? The little quirks you loved at the start are now the most annoying. The two of you need to make grown-up decisions, face health and financial concerns, and cope with the drudgery of everyday life. Staying in bed all day is no longer an option and, if given the choice, many would rather be in bed alone.

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Has longevity made long-term relationships a mathematical impossibility? Are relationships designed for planned obsolescence?

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Don’t think I’m down on long-term relationships. They have great value. We just need to learn how to make them more fun.

Think about it: What made it so compelling in the beginning?

The criteria that made you an attractive mate remain the same 20, 30, and 40 years later. We do not lose our desire for adventure, spontaneity and passion. Within the context of a decades-old relationship these seem impossible. So we either accept this as is, or blame our partner or complain.

Why bother with this challenge if you have a partner and no plans to leave?

Why bother? Because not only can it save a marriage, it can enhance your life journey and lead to happier aging.

For this to happen, focus needs to shift to ourselves. It’s not about fixing the relationship. Paradoxically, stronger individuality is the catalyst for momentum.

With a long term relationship, you have the basics down. Food, protection, sleep, sex, security. As a team you navigate the tasks of raising a family, aging parents, health scares and mortgages. It feels cosy, like an old shoe.

Once the basics are stable, humans have the remarkable adaptive ability to move beyond to create music, art and literature. The key to momentum is keeping things moving.

This means men and women must be comfortable with changing it up, even in mini ways. Try out a new exercise and talk about it. I find just listening to music changes me. Recognize culinary ruts. Spend time on your own. Talk to wise elders and share stories. Consider role playing in bed. Bring more to the table. Keep the focus on yourself, not your partner.

With positive momentum we are unstoppable. At any age.

Imagine all the benefits of the stable relationship with a sprinkling of fantasy dust!

HAPPY NEW YEAR💜

loveandmedicine.com has had a great year. In case you may have missed something, here are all of the posts from 2019.

Read and reread! This year I’d love to see more comments and dialog.

ASK DR. ANNIE K. is open 24/7 and is 100% anonymous.

I know there is a lot of crap out there to read. There is an epidemic of pseudo-science and medical BS being read by millions. Would you go to a plumber to fix your teeth? Don’t go to a celebrity for medical advice. I’m guilty of it too – remember when I bought Sex Dust? That was the old me 😉. Let’s not do that. In this blog you will find facts, not fads. I do my homework.

If you are curious, the most popular post this year was How Hard Can It Be? Understanding Erectile Dysfunction. A sign I need to focus more on sex and sexual dysfunction.

Most importantly, my readers, continue to be smart and skeptical. Stay strong and open to change. Kick-ass this decade! Remember:

“It’s the small habits. How you spend your mornings. How you talk to yourself. What you read. What you watch. Who you share your energy with. Who has access to you. That will change your life.”

Anne Koplin, Author of Love and Medicine

ASK DR. ANNIE K

Post Menopause
Legitimizing Mental Illness
Breaking the Cycle
Ovulation
Pain
B12 Injections
How Mental Health Can Affect Relationships

SEX
Magic Dust and Artichokes
Understanding Sexual Dysfunction
The Lifeguard

LIFE
The Best Weekend of the Year
Hello June
Celebrate Independence
Eat A Peach
Mercury Retrograde and What Does It Have to Do With You
Hula Hoops
Friday the 13th
7 Fool Proof Tips for Fall
The Weekend
Have a Peaceful Weekend

HEALTH
Sugar, Sugar
Stopping Antidepressants
The Secret Killer in Your DNA
Self-Love

FAMILY
Intercontinental Parenting
Am I the Only One Who Thought The Marriage Story was Lousy?
How To Throw a Great Wedding
The Way to a Man’s Heart
I’m Changing My Name Again and Here’s Why
Yes, Look Back

POETRY

Inspiration

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO THOUGHT THE MARRIAGE STORY WAS LOUSY?*

*spoiler alert- for readers who have seen The Marriage Story or those with no interest in suffering through it.

It is partly my fault. My expectations were über high. The hype – the actors, director, subject matter – all right up my alley. I had the December 6th release date etched in my mind.

It did not come close to meeting my expectations. In fact, watching until the end felt like a chore. The rave reviews and award nominations were shocking. What do they see that I missed?

A good movie starts with casting. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are brilliant actors yet neither felt right in this role. They had zero chemistry. Their attractiveness and avant-garde lifestyle made them unrelatable to the common movie goer. While I felt empathy for Driver, I honestly didn’t really care about either one of them. Their son was incidental, neither seemed to care very much about him. To like a movie, I need to care about the main characters.

The cliché stereotypes of New York and Los Angeles are passé. Come on Hollywood, aren’t we over that? No one exemplified platitudinal LA better than Laura Dern who played Johansson’s slick divorce lawyer. Hey, isn’t that Renata Klein? Dern basically plays the same role she played brilliantly in Big Little Lies. Was Johansson really so vulnerable and naive to fall under her spell? “It’s the manuka honey.” We all know LA is not only superficial and indulgent and New York is not all genuine and real. Was this maybe a parody that I missed? If so, it just didn’t belong in this film.

Sex was hardly mentioned. The influence of sex on marital conflict and relationships and vice versa was completely ignored. Isn’t sex the main difference between marriage and other adult relationships?

The complexities of in-law involvement was presented comically and it was not funny. When couples split, it usually means a break up from the extended family. It can be hurtful as hell when the family acts as if they “side with” the soon to be ex-spouse. Johansson, feeling unsupported, demanded her mom side with her. Again, the scenes were not funny, not believable.

The music by the talented Randy Newman is beautiful but was ineffectual background music here.

Naturally I thought about Kramer vs. Kramer, the 1979 award winning film starring Dustin Hoffmann and Meryl Streep. I encourage anyone who watched The Marriage Story to watch this. Just to make sure I wasn’t basing my thoughts on sheer nostalgia, I watched the movie again before writing this article.

There are scenes from that movie that are unforgettable – Dustin Hoffman making french toast with his son, the painted cloud walls in the boy’s bedroom, the accidental run in between the gloriously naked JoBeth Williams and Hoffman’s 6 year old son, the musical score – “Mandolin Concerto in C Major” by Vivaldi. Hoffman took ownership of his role in the dissolution of the marriage and became a more evolved human being. The emotions were palpable.

The Marriage Story left nothing memorable. No one evolved. It felt disconnected, forced and superficial. Taking on the unraveling of a marriage is a herculean task, I understand that. Let’s go deeper next time. We are adults and we can handle it.