Today I am delighted to welcome Bonnie Trachtenberg to Colloquium! She is the author of Wedlocked, a delightful new romantic comedy about love, marriage, fulfilling one’s dreams, and the reality of life after saying “I do.”
While growing up in Long Island, Rebecca Ross, the daughter of a rabbi and a mother who zealously lives out her conversion to Judaism, dreamed of becoming an actress. She succeeded at everything she attempted while a student, but once she made the move to Hollywood to find her fame and fortune? Not so much. When her affair with a handsome director also failed spectacularly, she admitted defeat and moved back home. Depressed and lost, Rebecca holes up in her old bedroom, watching classic sitcoms on television and wallowing in despair. Her future looks brighter when she meets Craig Jacobs and her mother is thrilled when Rebecca marries him. The event is plagued by various small catastrophes, including a broken shoulder strap on the bride’s dress and a toddler-sized footprint in the side of the wedding cake. Worst of all, just a few short minutes after taking her vows, Rebecca confesses that she may have just made the biggest mistake of her life.
Living Together — The Peaks and Pitfalls
To live together or not to live together? If that is the question, be prepared for a dizzying array of unsolicited opinions on the subject. You’ll hear “war stories” like the one about the twenty-four-year-old woman whose altar-shy boyfriend convinces her to defer her wedding dream in favor of moving in, sharing expenses, and getting to “know” him better. Eight years later, she’s still waiting for that sparkly diamond as she splits the rent and electric, divides the chores, and dreams of a more perfect union — or at least a more romantic one.
One thing’s for sure, though: She has gotten to know him better. Yes, now she’s painfully aware of the fact that she’s holed-up with a commitment-phobe who has no intention of marrying her. She wonders what might have been had she heeded her grandmother’s admonition: “He won’t buy the cow if he’s getting the milk for free.”
But now that we’re well into the twenty-first century, shouldn’t archaic advice like this be left in the dust of the twentieth? Absolutely. However, practical cynicism needs to take its place. Living together is not necessarily the best first step on the way to the altar. It often takes you in a completely different direction. That’s why open and direct communication is extremely important before you make any rash decisions. When there is a mutual understanding that living together is all that both parties truly want at that point in time, it can work. It’s when it’s used for manipulation or as a bargaining chip that problems arise.
I hear many stories like this, particularly from women like the one just described. But when a woman listens to her gut she can usually sense when a man is giving her the run-around or when he’s serious. It’s in his actions, his words, his behavior. We hear it loud and clear, but unfortunately, we tend to ignore what we don’t wish to be true.
There are no hard and fast “rules” on the subject of cohabitation. The situation and the players determine what’s right. I’ve heard that statistics show the divorce rate is higher for couples who live together first, but maybe that’s because people who fear marriage the most are more likely to live together first. They may veer toward divorce more often since they’ve had one foot out the door all along.
That said, here’s one more opinion on the matter: If you’re sure you want to be married to the person you’re considering living with, get engaged first —- and make sure you have a ring and a definitive date before you call the moving truck. If there has been some kind of investment made, such as a diamond or a deposit, there is a much better chance that your loved one is serious about walking down the aisle with you. This way, you can live together with a certain amount of commitment and with marriage as your goal while still having the opportunity to discover if you are impossibly incompatible before any “I do’s” are exchanged.
If it’s still early and your partner isn’t yet ready for engagement, then wait a little while. Either they’ll be ready in a reasonable amount of time or you’ll soon get that “run-around” feeling and realize they never will be. And if you do get that inkling, you can move on and take solace in the fact your future will be brighter if you’re not settling for less than what you truly want.
Bonnie Trachtenberg graduated from New York University with a major in Film and Television Production, and promptly found a job on the set of a “B” movie no one has ever heard of. Just four days later, she retired from her brief film career after working the craft service truck and throwing her back out while attempting to lift a large coffee urn. She had always had an aptitude for and interest in writing, even though she says she let herself get sidetracked trying to pursue other career choices like film director (in college), lawyer (she had a panic attack and walked out of the LSAT), and even FBI agent.
Finally realizing that she was meant to be a writer, Bonnie worked 4,749 crappy jobs (approximately) on two coasts before being published in a national magazine. Her writing career then took her from the health and fitness field to the entertainment industry to journalism and public relations before she landed her dream job as Senior Staff Writer/Copy Chief at the Book-of-the-Month Club where she wrote hundreds of book reviews and hobnobbed with the literati. She also began work on her first novel.
Five years later, Bonnie and 500 of her colleagues were laid off after a corporate takeover. Bonnie saw that as a sign that it was time to finally finish her first book. Wedlocked was released this past June and Bonnie is loosely based on her “first brief, disastrous marriage, something I went into impulsively and out of desperation after fifteen long years of dating.” Like Rebecca, Bonnie had also just moved home to New York after ten years in Los Angeles, and had no job, no apartment, and few friends. About that time, she says that “everyone around me had been married for years and they piled on the pressure. I began to feel like an old maid, something that I didn’t experience in Los Angeles as there were so many like me out there. When my ex-husband came into my life, he came in like a hurricane and I let myself get blown away. Luckily, I was independent enough and strong enough to find my footing again.” Many of the characters are composites of people in her life. The publication of Wedlocked is the culmination of eight years of part-time writing and one year of full-time writing.
Today, she lives on Long Island with her second husband, Mitchell Silbowitz. They were high school friends who met again in 2003, renewed their friendship, and fell in love. She has three stepchildren, four irresistibly cute cats, and is working on her second novel.