Entertainment

Modern Love Podcast: Married to a Deal Breaker

anna martin

OK, if any of you are in college, this is a message for you. Modern Love is hosting another college essay contest this year. Modern Love editors want to know what is love like for college students right now? Check out the show notes for more details.

[music]

OK, here we go. I want to call some people.

[phone ringing]
will

Hello?

anna martin

Hi, Will.

will

Hi, Anna.

anna martin

Where are you right now?

will

Oh my god, OK. I am in line to get on a ferry to go pick up my new cat.

anna martin

That’s exactly how I wanted to catch you actually, so this is perfect.

[music]

From The New York Times, this is the Modern Love podcast. I’m Anna Martin, and these are my friends.

aaron

Sitting at my window, looking outside listening to Adele.

raquel

I am in my apartment in Los Angeles, California.

abby

I am in Florida.

shruti

Oh, I’m at the hospital. I’m on a 24-hour call in the pediatric I.C.U.

ang

Got back to my little studio.

anna martin

Yeah, you painting today?

ang

You know it.

anna martin

I have a question for you.

annabelle

Yeah, for sure.

anna martin

I’m talking to our friends about deal breakers. Do you have a deal breaker when it comes to dating?

annabelle

I think my deal breaker is that I need to date someone that asks me a lot of questions, like, about my life or my thoughts. And like, here’s the thing where it always becomes a problem — genuinely wants to hear my answers.

raquel

I feel like that’s such a big part of dating is, like, getting to know someone else’s world and also, like, experiencing new things together. And someone who isn’t interested in any of that, I just know it’s not going to work out.

anna martin

I’m going to call some other people.

[phone ringing]
will

Oh, I got some. Let’s see. Let’s see.

anna martin

Deal breakers are things that you personally don’t want in a partner. Like it’s not mean per se, it’s just it’s personal.

will

That’s true. That’s true.

shruti

I’m someone who really loves to split entrees, and like, share apps. And when that doesn’t happen, I’m just like, I don’t know if you’ll get me because I don’t know if you understand this part that’s inherent to my culture.

anna martin

So it’s like if they don’t split the nachos.

shruti

Queso closed.

anna martin

Queso closed.

abby

Very often, like people I’m meeting are like trying to make it in music, or like film, or something creative. And if it’s like really bad —

anna martin

You mean like, if the thing that they’re trying to do, like, if their song is bad.

abby

Exactly, like their new single is really not for me. Like, on the one hand, I root for you from afar. But, like, I don’t think I could be your girlfriend and like fake it, and go to your show, and be like, I love this song, you know? So it’s like as much as I root for them, I think it is a deal breaker.

anna martin

Chase your dreams, but do it with someone else.

abby

Yup. Yup, yup, yup.

anna martin

Hey, Will, with that, I’m going to let you catch your ferry. Send me a picture of the cat when you get it, OK?

will

Will do.

anna martin

I love you.

will

Love you. Bye.

anna martin

Bye.

[theme music]
archived recording 1

Love now and always.

archived recording 2

Did you fall in love last night?

archived recording 3

Just tell her I love her.

archived recording 4

Love was stronger than anything.

archived recording 5

For the love —

archived recording 6

Love.

archived recording 7

And I love you more than anything.

archived recording (haddaway)

(SINGING) What is love?

archived recording 8

But first love.

archived recording 9

Love.

anna martin

A deal breaker is a tipping point. It’s not about attraction or desire or even love. It’s saying if we can’t work this one thing out, we just can’t be together. The essay on today’s show comes from a woman doing that work — who fell in love despite her very big deal breaker. It’s called “Stand by Your Marlboro Man,” written by Hyla Sabesin Finn, and read by January LaVoy.

[music]
january lavoy

“That’s your husband?” the woman asked. I nodded. Together, we watched Larry, alone on a snow-covered porch, puffing away on a cigarette while the party went on inside.

“I’d never date a smoker,” she said, “much less marry one.”

“I didn’t marry one,” I said. Larry quit before the wedding. I declined to mention that “before” meant “the day of,” and that “quit” actually meant “refrained from” until he had so sullied our honeymoon with his grumpy behavior that I almost wished he’d start again.

“Still, he smokes now,” she said. “For me, it’s a deal breaker.”

Did she think it had never occurred to me that I should have a rule against smoking? I was indoctrinated by parents whose cocktail parties were littered with “no smoking” signs back when smokers still mingled freely in society. I hated smoking. I wanted to ask her: How can you so casually dismiss someone you might love just because of one annoying habit? Was it Larry’s fault he started smoking at 16 and couldn’t seem to stop, despite a record-setting number of attempts? Desperate to escape, I excused myself.

“Make him quit!” she called after me.

[music]

I first met Larry in our college library where smoking was not permitted.

By the time our paths crossed again outside the library, I was already smitten. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes. It was a miracle I was able to croak out a disbelieving, “You smoke?”

I imagined my parents’ reaction to the news that their 17-year-old daughter was involved not just with an older man — Larry was 21, a law student — but one who smoked. “Yes, but I’m quitting,” he answered, inhaling deeply on his Marlboro. How long could it take? I wondered. Two weeks? A month?

A year later, we were still together: me, Larry and the cigarettes. The Larry and me part was great — the cigarettes not so good. I found myself alone in restaurants while Larry stepped out. I got cold when he put down the top of his Jeep because we needed the air circulation, and I was afraid for my life as his cigarettes dangled precariously near flammable materials. Yet, I was so in love that I was unable, that first year, to protest anything he did.

But when he forgot my birthday and still remembered to buy a new lighter, I gathered my nerve and blurted out, “Do you remember what you said when we first met?”

“Nope.”

“That you’d quit smoking.”

“I did?” “Yes. So will you?”

“Sure.”

“Um, when?”

How about when we drive to Florida next week?

Goodbye, cigarettes, but hello withdrawal symptoms on our 20-hour road trip to Miami. And in Miami, after making the excruciating rounds of his disjointed family, I had new insight into Larry’s psyche and a new desire to shove a cigarette into his mouth. Not that he needed any encouragement.

Back at school, with torts to study, video games to play and socks to pair, turning over a new leaf was not a priority. But once law school ended, Larry was determined to quit, and he did. Picking him up from his new job as a law clerk for a federal judge, I was proud of my smoke-free, young, professional boyfriend. Then one day, something seemed askew. Larry, you smell so minty, I said, leaning over for a kiss. The dentist told me to clean my teeth more often, so I’m keeping a toothbrush in my briefcase.

Many wintergreen kisses later, I found a cigarette butt floating in the toilet.

“Don’t you care about yourself?” I cried. “Or me?” He claimed he did and signed up for a smoking cessation class.

“How’d it go?” I asked when he returned, in my breeziest voice.

“The people in my class are a mess. They elected me their unofficial group leader. Trust me, smoking is the least of their problems.”

So much for the class or any cessation. But I kept on it. I researched hypnosis and acupuncture. I bought books, tapes and videos. All failed. Then Larry proposed, and he promised to quit before we were married. And again, he quit.

Back from our honeymoon, he was industrious on other fronts, too, embracing more than his share of daily errands. Nothing was too small, large or inconvenient for Larry to procure. Low on napkins during a season finale? Larry was out the door. Craving ice cream at 2 a.m.? No problem. Need shampoo during a snowstorm? Be right back. Soon, I smelled trouble, or, more precisely, smoke upon Larry’s return from errands. Devastated, I couldn’t fathom that I’d legally entangled myself with a man who would run to the store under false pretenses.

What would it take to motivate him? What, as my parents regularly asked, was wrong with him?

The truth is that Larry was completely supportive. When I wanted to move closer to my parents, he agreed. When I wanted to start a business, he said, go for it. Why couldn’t I accept him as he accepted me, flaws and all? I tried, but the smoking always got in the way. I don’t think he’s ever going to quit, I wailed to my sister. No one thinks he’s ever going to quit.

But he started taking a prescription drug that helps smokers kick the habit. Despite nightmares, profuse sweating and an inability to think clearly, he stuck with the medication. Several months later, we went out to dinner with another couple.

“I’m sorry Larry’s smoking again,” my friend Jen said. “Dave is, too.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “Larry quit months ago.”

“I thought I saw him smoking on his way to the train the other day.”

Could it be true? Later, I confronted Larry. “Tell me the truth. I won’t be mad. Did you start again?”

“No, Hyla,” he said, looking me straight in the eye.

A week later, I found cigarettes hidden in his dusty gym bag. That evening, for the first time, I slept in another room. Smoking was one thing but lying right to my face was another. This was no longer only about an annoying and unhealthy habit. It was about trust. If he could lie so easily about smoking, what would stop him from lying again about something else? I actually considered leaving, but where would I go? Move in with my parents? It seemed absurd.

Later that night,

Larry crawled in beside me and whispered, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to disappoint you.” I kissed him, trying not to notice the smell of smoke on his breath or calculate the years we had left together. I knew I would never leave. Instead, I decided I would quit, my nagging — I mean.

And so I was shocked but silent when, without any urging, Larry, on a rotating cocktail of prescription drugs, the patch and nicotine gum, finally did it.

A month went by, then three. I was cautiously optimistic. The patch disappeared, then the pills. I felt hopeful. The gum lingered for an eternity, constantly being chomped, chewed or parked in his mouth. Then one day, it was gone. Larry was officially a non-smoker, a socially acceptable mate. It had only taken 17 years.

anna martin

Hyla wrote this essay in 2005, so a lot has changed since then. After the break, I catch up with her — and Larry.

Hello.

hyla sabesin finn

Hi there.

larry

Hi there.

anna martin

Well, I’m happy to meet both of you, but Larry, I’m particularly excited to talk to you. So I’d love to start with you. Are you still smoke-free?

larry

I’ve been smoke-free since whatever that last paragraph was that Hyla wrote about me using all available nuclear options to stop.

[laughter]
anna martin

I’d love to go back to that moment though when you quit because this essay, I mean, it’s written from Hyla’s point of view, and it does end with that sort of surprise final paragraph where you seemingly, out of the blue, decide to quit and it sticks. And I want to go back to that time and ask you, why do you think that time worked when all the others didn’t?

larry

Just doing one thing to me was not going to enable me to stop doing what my normal habits were. So for me, it was a matter of kind of changing all of my habits. And so I combined, essentially, eating well, exercising every day, and so it ended up being something that I really took to heart.

anna martin

So it sounds like you did this for yourself. I mean, did you do this for Hyla, too? Or did you need to come to it purely on your own?

larry

Purely on my own.

anna martin

Mm.

larry

[SIGHS]

[LAUGHTER]

anna martin

That feels like a pregnant sigh. What’s behind that sigh?

larry

Yeah. Well, all the cajoling, all of the guilt, all of the pleading, all of that — it just doesn’t move me.

anna martin

Hyla, how does it feel to hear Larry say that?

hyla sabesin finn

[LAUGHS] It’s so true, and it’s — to this day, I just, it’s so hard to accept because people always say, you can’t change other people. And I always just thought, well, that’s so pessimistic. That’s, like, what a negative thought? Like, what do you —

anna martin

Well, these people haven’t met me.

hyla sabesin finn

Right.

anna martin

[LAUGHS]

hyla sabesin finn

Without hope, what is there, right? Because the tendency is to say, well, if they loved me enough, then they would do this for me. And I didn’t understand that it truly was an addiction, that it wasn’t just like a choice, oh, I can just stop doing it. It took a long time to really understand that it was at that level.

anna martin

Mhm. Well, it’s a lot of this essay takes place in the first couple years of your relationship, at least, in the early stage of your relationship, right. And you’ve now been married for how long?

hyla sabesin finn

I think it’s going on 35.

larry

We’re in the 35th year.

anna martin

Wow.

larry

Yes.

anna martin

Wow. And I guess I’m wondering, do y’all now have different ways of handling tension between the two of you, or did this dynamic of you cajoling, as Larry said and Larry suggesting, has that dynamic changed over the years?

larry

Hmm, it’s probably lessened some. I can tell you, 35 years with another person, I’ve never spent that much time, and she with anyone else either. And we’re probably similar to who we were then — not identical, but similar. And probably with respect to interacting with one another, we probably have lessened some of the behaviors less often, [LAUGHS] less emotion maybe because we’ve been through all of the experiences in communicating with each other. So you refine that communication over time is really what it is.

anna martin

This has been such a treat to talk to both of you. Thank you so much.

hyla sabesin finn

Thank you.

larry

Yeah, it was great. Appreciate it.

[music]
anna martin

Our show is produced by Julia Botero and Hans Buetow. It’s edited by Sarah Sarasohn. This episode was mixed by Elisheba Ittoop. Dan Powell created our Modern Love theme music. The original music in this episode is by Marion Lozano. Digital production by Mahima Chablani and Dez Ibekwe, and a special thanks to Ryan Wegner at Audm. And thanks to my wonderful friends: Aaron Edwards, Claire Bartholomew, Mira Dalal, Annabelle Newport, Ang Ziqi Zhang, Dora Grossman-Weir, Randa Sakallah, Harry Krinsky, Dave Immerman, Abby Sessions, Raquel Ledezma Haight, Shruti Gujaran, Will Sano and his new cat, Mia.

Modern Love was founded by Dan Jones. Miya Lee is the editor of Modern Love projects. I’m Anna Martin, thanks for listening.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/podcasts/modern-love-married-dealbreaker.html Modern Love Podcast: Married to a Deal Breaker

Fry Electronics Team

Fry Electronics.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@fry-electronics.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button