I suppose it’s not that uncommon, but my cuñada didn’t like
me much for many years.
“Nice to meet you,” she said, in clipped and heavily accented English the first time we met. She shook my hand taking it away quickly and barely made eye-contact, but I knew she didn’t approve of my short hair, my tattoos, or the fact that I was third-generation Mexican-American. If I had been someone else entirely, she probably would have found other things to hate about her too. My cuñada had left Mexico by herself. From what I know now, there were some dark reasons that she had to leave. It took her two tries to cross in Tijuana, but she made it all on her own, knowing that her brother would pick her up in Los Angeles, show her the way in the Bay Area, and support her financially for as long as was necessary.
She must have felt that my relationship with her brother was a threat.
When we first met, I was visiting the apartment that they shared then. We hadn’t been dating long, but things had gotten serious fast on account of our ages and his immigration status. I was 28 and he was 33.
“She’s just one of those women who doesn’t like other women very much,” my marido explained.
I hated those kinds of women. He squeezed my hand on our way down the stairs of his apartment on our way to eat. We always went out to eat those days. I could see the spring light shining through the large glass-front apartment door. Everything was shiny, new, and bright then, except for this one thing; this relationship with my cuñada.
I was pretty much the opposite of my cuñada. I was American-born, raised by women, had been in a band with women, and was about to start attending Mills College, a private women’s college in Oakland. I defaulted to hating or distrusting men and liking women, feeling a kinship through our shared inequality in a male-dominated world. But for months and months, maybe years, when I’d see her, my cuñada would attempt a smile and say, “Hola, Morena,” her lip sneering as it rolled over the ‘r’ in my family nickname, Morena.
Still, I had vowed to not default to hate her just because she was a woman who didn’t get along with women, or because she was my sister-in-law.
I wasn’t going to compete with her or play into the
catty-woman stereotype, and I was going to be kind and compassionate to her no
She made this very difficult.
When we first met, my cuñada had been living in the US for three years already, but she spoke very little English. I was surprised by how little English she spoke. She was surprised that I spoke very little Spanish.
“Hay muchos Mexicanos que no pueden hablar español.”
She said it a few months after my marido and I were married. She said it not to me, but to a friend who was bilingual, perhaps thinking that I wouldn’t understand her. Then she said it again to another friend. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I promised not to participate in the catty-woman stuff or be passive-aggressive or hate a family member. I made myself another promise – to be kind and compassionate no matter what, but not to take her shit either.
I knew, though, that this one slight was so personal that it was going to be hard to forgive.
My marido got into bed first that night. I put on my
nightgown, and sat down on my side.
“Hey, you need to have a talk with her sister ‘cause if you
don’t do it. I’m going to have to do it.”
He looked up. “About what?”
“About what she said.”
“What did she say?”
I put my hand on my hip and did my best imitation, “Hay
muchos Mexicanos que no pueden hablar español.”
“Oh, that.” He made a face.
“You better talk to her because if I have to do it, by the
time I’m finished with her, she will be so embarrassed that she has been in the
US for three years and doesn’t speak English that she will never want to speak
it. That’s what’s going to happen.”
It wasn’t my finest moment.
“Okay,” he said, “I’ll talk to her.”
He never told me how the talk went, and I never asked because I didn’t need the argüende and because she never said it again. Within a year, she made us the padrinos of her first born, but I knew that I was only the madrina because I was la esposa de su hermano.
I still get a flash of anger when I think about her “hay muchos Mexicanos” comment, or the time she wouldn’t get out of the car to come and see our new house, or all the times I saw her roll her eyes and sneer at me, but I’m older than she is, and committed to supporting women, so I just waited her out. I took my ajihada on weekends to give my cuñados a break, made sure to remember my cuñadas birthday, participated in their extended family’s parties, even when I didn’t want to, and tried to forgive and not hold it against her when they had to miss our son’s birthday parties, prioritizing her marido’s large family’s numerous gatherings over ours.
Slowly but surely over the years, the ice began to thaw between us. My warmth, no matter how awkward and forced, combined with time and maturity, on all our parts, has allowed something new to develop, something real. And it’s good that I worked hard not to hold grudges and forgave what I perceived as slights because learning to forgive is good for our health. It can lower blood pressure, risk of heart attacks, cholesterol, and forgiveness can help improve sleep.
“Hi, Morena,” she smiles when she sees me now (which seems like all the time), and hugs me tight, and dumps a pile of food she brought, leftovers from the Philipino restaurant where she works, or un bote de frijoles that she made at her place and brought with her, a whole packet of corn tortillas, the family-size packet, and cans of soda in any flavor anyone in the house might drink. The other night she brought me a bottle of my favorite wine, and I shared it with her because that’s what cuñadas do. That’s what we’re supposed to do.
So often we hear the words “never settle” from our own mamas and father. Never settle. Not on our dreams and hopes, not on our hearts’ most desires. And while, oftentimes, settling isn’t an option for those without certain privileges a recent post on Reddit is highlighting what happens when you DO settle in love. When you settle for someone who isn’t The One.
Like Mary Fiore almost did for Massimo in The Wedding Planner, these women settled on love.
Check out their feelings on it, below.
“Finally ended it just under three years ago, after a decade of on and off. Now living a happy life with someone, who is definitely the one.”- messyaurora
“Similar situation. Spent many years in a meh relationship, on and off. Finally ended it and now I am very much in love in a healthy relationship. Ladies, don’t settle! On the long run is better to change.”- Messageinabottle17
“Decently well. We have some communication issues to work on (as well as emotional maturity on my partner’s side), but otherwise it’s functional and I’m mostly happy.”-GoddessOfPlants
“I’m kinda in your camp. I don’t know if I really fit in this question. Let’s just say… I had doubts. Serious ones. But I also thought he had strong potential to be a really great dude for me and I knew I loved him so I married him 6 months after we met.
3 years in we’re still going strong. We started a business together, got two dogs, went through infertility together, moved into a new house that were in the process of turning into our dream home. He’s really worked on fixing the parts I had doubts about, and we’ve really worked on our communication. I also work on not being so demanding and being better about my admittedly short temper. We still have struggles from time to time but every month gets easier.
He’s kinda like Captain America. He isn’t a perfect husband but he’s a good man, and that makes him work to be the perfect husband and as long as he’s putting in the effort (and I am too!) we’ll make it.”- frostysbox
“I kinda relate. I love my significant other and I know he loves me but we clash and see life in two different ways. He is more down to earth and stays to himself while I may be more likely to be caught in a spontaneous adventure. We do go well together though and coexist well. Sex is far and in between but I have adapted to that. We do show random appreciations, or obviously celebrate birthdays and milestones together but Sometimes we seem more like roommates than lovers- but it isn’t a bad thing. Being friends with your significant other over romantic isn’t the worst thing on the world is it?”-idk_about_this_J
“I will be amicably divorced and officially single on 4/19/21. It’s insane to think I’ll be single again after 13 years. I’ve been living alone for the last year and once I get my second dose in a week or two I will be back on the dating scene (that is scary!)
“Same. I thought my ex-husband was a good person. Turns out he wasn’t. I was finally able to get away 9 years ago. Soon after realizing that I deserve better I did meet someone who I knew I was meant to be with and we have been happy ever since.”-princessducky11
“Same. I never thought he was “the one,” but I would have stayed with him till death do us part had he remained a good, kind, caring person. I think my “one” was an ex from a while back, but I was unwell and he had a drinking problem. Perhaps I will meet another one in the future or perhaps I will find a man who stays good.”- DeSterrennacht
“This is what I’m trying to do. We have a cat that I absolutely adore and mostly care for and I’m terrified that I might have to leave her with him, which is honestly one of the main reasons I haven’t been able to move forward with this.”-Selthien
“It became clear after 8 months in that he never wanted a relationship, just a girlfriend as a sign of successful “adulting” and to not show up at family functions alone anymore. All the time, I was completely committed to the relationship even though I knew he wasn’t the one from the get-go.
My saving grace was that I found my dream job roughly 2 hours away from where we lived (we lived in the same town, just not together). I was eager to move away and finally pull the plug. I still would have broken up with him anyway, but I was glad to be moving far (enough) away.
Two weeks before I officially ended it, he told me that if one of his friends was dating someone like me, he would tell him to run and never look back. So I quoted this in the breakup and asked him what exactly he thought would happen? If he felt that I would want to stay after being told something like this? He said, and I kid you not, that he thought that by saying this to me that I would try to be a better girlfriend
Edit: he was otherwise a decent guy, but he wasn’t honest with himself. He does not want to make the effort to build and maintain a relationship. My interactions with his family especially made me realise that there was some pressure or expectation for him to be in a relationship and have children. But I never got the idea that this was what he wanted for himself.”- Watto_007
“My dad married my mom for the same reason – he was insecure and just wanted to show off to the world that he could “score” a smart and beautiful woman. After they got married and had three kids together, my dad became increasingly controlling and abusive until my parents got divorced 15 years later. The deadbolt on my mom’s bedroom door is still there today and reminds me of the terrifying nights when he’d pick the lock and beat and rape her in her room. You dodged a huge bullet, friend. I’m glad you saw the red flags early enough.”- TheYellowBuhnana
“Don’t get me wrong, my SO and I definitely make fun of each other, but we would never make fun of each other for being a bad partner. That’s a serious disrespect and boundary issue, I’m glad you got out and found someone hopefully who treats you the respect.”-alilminizen
“Fairly well, ups and downs for six years now. He works long hours and I love spending time on my own! It’s harder when we have his kids as I have no desire to be a mother, but I’m better at organizing than him, so take on a child minder role anyway. Hoping for the world to open up soon, as one of the things we enjoy is a romantic get-away. I love him, but I’m not in love with him. But that’s enough for me, as he is one of three men I have ever been interested in. I don’t(and have never) get crushes. I think I’m a bit asexual. Oh and even greater now as we found a rental house instead of a flat and I have gotten cats!!!”-SunshinePipper
“Married for 28 years! We have had our ups and downs, but to be honest he was the one, I just didn’t know it at the time. Sometimes “the one” is an ideal based on youthful priorities, but with maturity, you realize some of those qualities aren’t as important anymore. My husband is my best friend, but whether you marry “the one” or someone else, a good relationship requires hard work and give and take. We have been through many events together, and we grew closer as a result. We are a team!”- LoopyLadyCA
“Something my therapist said to me a while ago completely changed my perspective on my current partnership: “usually what makes a relationship exciting and dramatic is not what makes a good long term partner, those are the tradeoffs.” A lightbulb went off in my head, and that put to rest so many of the lingering demons I had about whether my partner and I were good matches for each other.. or if he was my “one.” Now that I’ve let those obsessions go, our relationship is so much better. I’m so, so happy.”-wabisabister
“I don’t like the idea of “the one”. When I met my ex, our eyes literally met across a crowded room, it felt like he had a spotlight on him, and the world stopped still and moved at the same time. I knew I had met “the one” I was going to marry.
Turns out my gut feeling is a pretty bad judge. We lasted a couple years, mostly because I was so hung up on not losing the one. He isn’t even a bad dude, just not somebody with my life goals, my sense of humor or anything that would be compatible with me.
When I met my fiancé in grad school I didn’t even notice him until we had to do a project together. Now I couldn’t wish for a better partner, I’m so much in love with him and so excited to go through life together.”- AlternativeCover3379
“It went bad. Staying in a relationship like that for me felt like giving up a piece of me. It’s mature to compromise yes, but do it for the rights reasons with the right person for you. If your truth is to feel safe, if that’s the most important always, then go for it. I personally felt a void, something missing..I felt ultimately lonely and we broke up.”- tinaple
“Hmm to offer a different perspective — my partner (of a little over a year) recently told me that he doesn’t feel intensely in love with me/sexually infatuated with me, and hasn’t since after about a month into the relationship (which is when we began cohabitation, thanks covid). But he does love me, very much, and of that I have absolutely no doubt.
We are definitely best friends, have no shortage of emotional and intellectual intimacy, go on countless adventures together. We both really think our partnership is awesome and want to build lives together. Which means we are having a lot of tricky conversations about what this (intense romantic/sexual attraction imbalance) means for us.
Practically, we are monogamous (each has gone on a date or two since meeting) but are more philosophically aligned with ethical nonmonogamy.
This has spurred on a lot of conversations about “the one”. For people struggling with this, I really recommend the book “Designer Relationships”. Even if you’re monogamous, it’s a hugely helpful book (& short! Like 120 pages) for reflecting on your various relationships.
A takeaway is that the invention of the romantic ideal as our life partner is a fairly new one, like as recent as the last century. Prior to this, marriage and life partnership was often based around a “shared goal or project” and romantic fulfillment was sought beyond the relationship (helloooo affairs).
There’s another really good book on the conflict between the domestic and the erotic, called “Mating in Captivity” and it proposes that often times familiarity can cause difficulties in erotic spaces in the relationship and that maintaining a strong sense of independence allows you to maintain erotic energy.
Anyhow, we are both in therapy but have a lot of working theories about the imbalance. Part of it is due to me being attracted to what I can’t have (I could always tell he was a little less sexually thrilled by me, we’ve had some difficulty where he wants sex every couple weeks and I could go every other day, it’s not due to a low libido on his part hahah), part of it is the guilt he put on himself for not being “as in love with me”, part of it is that we spent every freaking minute together since this pandemic started and while familiarity and platonic love breeds sexual desire in me, he likes distance in his erotic relationships.
But honestly, I’ve never grown so much from a relationship. We continue to amaze each other with our ability to navigate this. I’ve cried a good bit, because yeah, it hurts, but our conversations always end with each of us feeling more emotionally intimate and empathized with.
Seeing all of these comments, I’m really wary of people believing they need to find “the one”. No relationship is perfect and takes absolutely no work, and oftentimes, you can cultivate a relationship that is fulfilling and adds a richness to life for both parties. The expectations we put on finding a life partner are honestly ridiculous and downright damaging.”-toomanyblankspaces
“I was convinced the one was going to give me butterflies and be overwhelmed by my presence, when I met my current partner none of those things were true. I kept questioning it being like somethings wrong I don’t know if he’s the one. We’ve been together for a while and I’m glad I didn’t listen to those shreds out doubt. Butterflies are overrated, my partner shows up for me everyday and we have built a really strong and solid foundation. He isn’t overwhelmed by my presence, and turns out it’s a good thing. He pushes me to be a better person everyday and is willing to push himself to be better too. He’s completely changed my understanding of what love is and is supposed to be. I never grew up with a good role model and took my understanding of love from mass media. Turns out that mass media love isn’t real for a reason. I’m incredibly happy with my partner now even though there were times in the beginning where I really thought he wasn’t the one. I’m not saying stick with people you aren’t right for, but that definitions of love change as you get older. And passionate flame sparking loves with no foundation don’t last for a reason.”- killerwheelie
“You are so right with the statement it’s “easy after every issue to think I knew I never should have stayed with him”. There’s something in our brains I think as humans that really makes us goto to that negative area ABOUT US. Like, your husband does something to hurt the relationship intentionally, or unintentionally, and your first thought is to be mad at yourself because you didn’t leave X amount of time ago? Why do our brains do that?!
This is something that my husband pointed out to me was a really unhealthy way that I think. Its not only hurting the relationship because it if we voice that, it seems like we’re always one foot out the door…. but it’s beating me up AND letting him off the hook for any responsibility in the matter, when it should be us against the issue.
It’s been a struggle to recondition my brain to stop thinking like that, and I’ll admit I still struggle especially during big issues (we struggle from libido mismatch as well! I’m so sorry and feel your pain!!) but I’ve got to tell you, working on that has been one of the single biggest improvements on my side for my self worth, our relationship, and well being.”-frostysbox
May 20, 1986, started out for Desireé Rodriguez and her family as an idyllic morning.
At the time, Desireé’s father (a 30-year-old construction worker by the name of Thomas Rodriguez) had taken her, her mother, and sister as well an aunt and uncle out to Catalina Island for a day of sailing. The plan was to go out, fish, and bask in the summer sun before heading back home. In the evening, just as they were headed home the family was impacted by a dense fog. Desireé and her 5-year-old sister Trisha awoke from a nap on the boat to calls from her father to abandon ship and within minutes the entire family was lost at sea. Out in the water and away from their boat that had capsized.
The family of six was stranded in the chilly Pacific water for hours and Desireé watched as her father first went to swim for rescue and never returned. In the hours that slowly stretched by Desireé witnessed the death of her sister, her mother, her uncle and then her aunt.
Decades have passed since her family’s accident but Desireé has lived to tell of the story thanks to the two men who rescued her.
In a recent piece by The New York times, Desireé was reunited with the two men who were remarkably able to save her after she spent a nightmarish 20 hours in the ocean.
Only 9-years-old at the time of the tragic events, Desireé recalls believing that her father would return with help when he first swam away from the boat. “My dad was like the superhero to me. I actually thought he would get help,” Desireé explained before calling the desperate hours that followed. After watching her family members die, she found herself all alone.
“At that point, I just kind of made the decision, I need to get away from this boat,” Desireé recalled to the New York Times. “I need to swim away, somewhere else. … Where? I don’t know.”
Just when Desireé decided to give up hope, the skipper of a commercial sportfishing boat spotted her orange life jacket in the water.
The boat’s first officer leapt into the water and fished Desireé out of the water. Desireé was ultimately transported back to San Pedro and never saw her rescuers again.
“I don’t think I would have lived, I’ll be honest with you. I think at that point, I was just kind of done,” Desireé explained in a recent interview about the incident. According to an article at the time that described the incident, Desireé had suffered no major physical injuries and was “in good spirits.” She left the hospital in San Pedro the next time.
“I had even hoped that my dad did make it somewhere,” Desireé explained of her thinking of the time. “Maybe he is living on an island and just got amnesia and didn’t know that he has a family. You know, you always have hope. But you get older, and reality sets in, and you’re like, OK. He didn’t make it.”
Paul Strasser and Mark Pisano, the two men who rescued her, ultimately earned commemorative plaques for their bravery from Mayor Tom Bradley. Desireé Rodriguez, now Desireé Campuzano, was adopted by another aunt and uncle who raised her. She went onto attend junior college in Fullerton, built herself a career in criminal justice, married and had a son. Still, she always wondered what had happened to the men who saved her.
It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Strasser and Pisano came into contact with Philip Friedman who launched a podcast about his hobby as a fisherman.
“Friedman Adventures” which launched this past December, shares incredible stories from fishermen. Ine one episode Pisano spoke about the 1986 rescue.
“It’s kind of a weird story, kind of like there are some supernatural qualities,” Pisano explained of the experience on the podcast.
Friedman felt motivated to unite the two rescuers and Desireé. Ultimately a friend of Desireé’s heard the episode when it aired and made the connection. He reached out to Desireé and then Friedman and ultimately she and her rescuers were reunited.
“I was nervous at first,” Desireé said of meeting Strasser and Pisano “just seeing [the] guys and putting kind of finalization to the ‘what happened.’” The three were finally reunited during another episode of the podcast.
“I feel like she’s sort of our daughter, in a way, because we brought her back to life,” Strasser said during their reunion. “Even though we never knew each other.”