Archive for December 19th, 2018

The expression caught on in the 1970s and is now so common as to be a cliché—but it’s still as confusing as ever.

Aerial view of a riverbed in Fjardargljufur canyon, shot with a drone, Iceland

The Amazon show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been praised for the “intricate,” “meticulously created” fictional 1958 world that the titular comedian Midge Maisel and her loved ones inhabit. But while the visuals of the series may be transporting, the dialogue, for the sociologist Jay Livingston, is occasionally jarring. He’s written a couple of blog posts about the anachronistic words and phrases characters have used on the show—“totally,” “kicking ass,” and “alternate universe” among them.

The second season of Mrs. Maisel just came out, and in the first episode, Livingston heard another modern phrase, this time spoken by Midge’s estranged husband, Joel Maisel: “I think it would be better to have a little space right now,” he tells her.

But in the 1950s, people didn’t ask for “space” in a relationship. According to Google Ngram, the phrase need some space was nearly nonexistent, in published books at least, until the 1970s, and it really took off in subsequent decades. The phrase likely entered the lexicon a few years before it showed up in this data (accounting for the time it takes for books to get to publication), the linguist Scott Kiesling of the University of Pittsburgh told me, “so it was probably there in the ’60s as a popular phrase.”

It makes sense that this phrase, which people use to assert their individuality within a relationship, didn’t catch on until the ’60s and ’70s, when the sexual revolution and the women’s-rights movement helped loosen the vise grip of marriage. The United States was emerging from a time when the median age of marriage was the youngest it had ever been, and the strict gender roles expected in heterosexual relationships meant that asking for “space” would have been unnecessary for most men and impossible for most women.

“Husbands, traditionally, and men in relationships had a lot of space because they were the ones who went out to work and who were still allowed to go out with their friends,” says Stephanie Coontz, a professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College. But space, she says, is “just not a concept that women in the 1950s and ’60s were allowed in relationships.”

In the 1970s, as young people began delaying marriage (a trend that would only accelerate in the decades to follow), and, presumably, spending more time dating before settling down, self-help books began to populate the nation’s shelves. “These new self-help ideas are specifically about getting people to recognize and accept their individual needs as opposed to the demands that family puts on you,” Coontz says.

At the same time, in the psychology world, Gestalt therapy was catching on—a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the individual’s needs and responsibilities. Fritz Perls, the German psychiatrist who founded the method, summed it up thusly in the “Gestalt prayer,” circa 1969:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.

Though the exact origins of needing some space are unknown, multiple people I spoke with for this story said that they suspected the idea came from the same stew that produced individualistic psychotherapy ideas and popular self-help. Indeed, it seems that the phrase is almost always used in reference to the self. Looking at Google Ngram again, it’s clear that “I need some space” is a far more common thing to say than “You need some space” or even “We need some space.”

Frequency of variations on “need some space” over time

Space for oneself, or a lack thereof, likely became a salient issue for couples from the ’70s on, according to Coontz. “That was a period when expectations of intimacy were actually getting larger,” she says. “This is the time when we first begin to think that men and women should be really good friends as opposed to just two gender-role stereotypes.” This creates the possibility for a deeper, more meaningful relationship, but when people start expecting their partner to fill more of their needs, they may find themselves feeling too close, too interdependent.

Wherever the phrase came from, once it was out there, it likely fueled its own acceleration. “Language gives you tools,” says Kiesling, “and tools often make you do things in particular ways that you wouldn’t otherwise do.” Once needing some space was a commonly understood term, it stands to reason that a person wanting some time away from her partner, or to put the brakes on a relationship, would likely ask for “space” rather than finding another way to convey her meaning.

But “space” is a vague thing to need, and that lack of clarity can be frustrating for the person who is being asked to give it. The phrase is so common now as to be cliché, and yet there are still seemingly endless Reddit threads, Quora questions, and Yahoo Answers posts from worried lovers all beseeching: “When my partner asks for ‘space,’ what does he really mean?”

According to William Bumberry, a couples’ therapist in St. Louis who works with the Gottman Institute, a person who says she needs space in a relationship is typically saying one of two things: Either she wants space from her partner, which Bumberry says is often “a step toward the dissolution of a relationship,” or she wants space for herself, to reflect on her own needs and desires, or on what is and isn’t working in the relationship. “In my experience,” Bumberry says, the people who ask for space for themselves tend to “at least come back and really give the relationship a good effort.”

Those are two very different messages, with two very different potential outcomes. “Space” could spell doom for a relationship, or it could herald a period of renewal. No wonder the phrase sparks such anxiety.

Read: The divorce-proof marriage

Interestingly, according to Bumberry, the concept of needing space is particularly stressful for heterosexual couples. For gay and lesbian couples, he says, “there seems to be less panic over this.” Some research shows that homosexual couples are more upbeat in the face of relationship conflict and experience fewer negative emotions. And, Bumberry adds, “historically in the gay community, it’s been more easily accepted in an intimate relationship that you don’t possess somebody; they have a right to be themselves too.” The history of heterosexual relationships, on the other hand, carries a different message.

For any couple, being clear about just what “needing space” means and doesn’t mean can help partners know where they stand. Bumberry referenced a situation with a couple he works with, in which the woman was staying at her mother’s house. Bumberry asked if she and her husband were separated, and the woman said, “No, we’re just taking some space. Living at my mom’s isn’t about leaving the marriage, it’s about finding myself.” That’s a case where asking for “space” could easily lead to a misunderstanding without her additional clarification.

“To me, when somebody asks for ‘space,’ that’s like the title of an essay,” Bumberry says. “That’s the title—now tell me what that means.”



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These natural remedies for UTI will help ease the pain before you can get a prescription.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common bladder infections to catch, especially for women. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria getting into the urinary tract and causing inflammation and pain. “The female anatomy is a set up for infections of the bladders,” explains Sherry A. Ross, MD, a women’s health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. Dr. Sherry explains that because women have a shorter urethra, which is essentially the tube that leads urine from the bladder out of the body, bacteria can enter much more easily than it can through male anatomy. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women are 30 times more likely to get a UTI than men and more than half of women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. But as much as knowing you’re not in the minority may be reassuring, it doesn’t take away from the stinging, burning, and needing to rush to the bathroom every 10 minutes feeling you get when you have a bladder infection.

5 natural remedies for UTI relief

“A true UTI needs antibiotics to clear the bacteria responsible for the symptoms and infection,” Dr. Sherry explains, so call your doctor if you’re experiencing UTI symptoms. While you wait for your appointment, though, there are some home remedies you can try to help relieve some of the discomfort.

Avoid foods and beverages that will irritate your bladder

Drinking coffee and alcohol, and eating spicy food or foods with lots of added sugar will irritate the urinary tract. They can decrease the blood flow to the bladder, which will make it harder for your immune system to fight off the infection.

Drink lots of water and empty your bladder often

According to Chicago-based OB/GYN, Jessica Shepherd, MD, drinking lots of water when you are experiencing UTI symptoms can help flush away the bacteria. “Draining your bladder frequently is essential to getting rid of the bacteria,” Dr. Shepherd explains. The more water you drink, the more you’ll have to relieve yourself.

Use a heating pad

Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Sherry both recommend applying heat to your abdomen for relief from UTI cramps or the burning sensation. “A heating pad or hot water bottle over your lower abdomen can help ease some of the discomfort from a UTI,” Dr. Sherry says. If you’re using an electric heating pad, be careful not to fall asleep with it on or leave it on your skin for long periods of time. This can be dangerous and either burn your skin or worse, cause a fire.

Try an herbal remedy

Recent studies have shown that uva ursi plant extract, also known as bearberry, may help combat UTIs through the plant’s antimicrobial properties. However, there can be side effects, and uva ursi can be harmful if not taken properly, so be sure to consult your doctor before trying the supplement.

Avoid vitamin C if you’re already experiencing UTI symptoms

Vitamin C is known to help prevent UTIs by acidifying the urine, which can kill certain bacteria present in the urinary tract. But Dr. Sherry warns if you already have a UTI or are experiencing real symptoms of one, vitamin C will not be effective in killing off bacteria. This is because unless you know the exact bacteria causing the UTI, vitamin C—although helpful—may not be doing enough to kill the infection you’re experiencing.

How to prevent a UTI from striking again

Sick of dealing with urinary tract infections? Really, the best “natural remedy” is simple: just prevent one from striking in the first place! Here’s how:

Drink cranberry juice

Although it has often been thought of as a treatment option, cranberry juice can only help as a preventative measure. “Cranberry juice can be helpful in preventing UTIs by making the urine more acidic and preventing harmful bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder,” Dr. Sherry explains. “An acidic environment in the urine makes bacterial build-up more difficult and reduces your chance of getting a UTI. But even with this information, studies have conflicting evidence about cranberries being a reliable source for prevention.” So if you’re prone to UTIs, it won’t hurt to drink unsweetened cranberry juice. But it’s definitely not the UTI cure-all it has always been thought to be.

Practice good hygiene after sex and ask your partner to, too

“Overall health with increased water intake and exercise is the best way to improve health and help with decreasing UTIs,” Dr. Shepherd shares. This includes good hygiene and being diligent about cleaning all of your lady parts. And make sure your partner does, too. “Bacteria from sexual intercourse is one of the most common ways women can get a UTI,” Dr. Shepherd explains.

Limit antibiotic use

Although it can’t always be avoided, frequent antibiotic use can actually cause more harm than good and lead to UTIs. Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, which can allow unwanted bacteria to enter the urethra. When fighting off illness, antibiotics can wipe out good as well as bad bacteria, which can leave you more prone to infection. Dr. Sherry recommends taking a daily probiotic to help repopulate the good bacteria in your body, but more research is needed to test its effectiveness in treating UTIs.

Avoid feminine hygiene products with scents and chemicals

“Using feminine products that have perfumes and other irritating chemicals can introduce disruptive bacteria into your body,” Dr. Sherry says. Even more so, Dr. Sherry stresses that if you’re prone to UTIs, any products that will allow unwanted bacteria to enter your body should be avoided. “Avoid diaphragms, vaginal sponges, diva cups, and sex toys if you’re prone to UTIs,” she advises.

Wipe front to back

“Always remember to wipe ‘front to back’ to avoid bringing unwanted bacteria from the anus to the vaginal area,” Dr. Sherry says. A rule as simple as this make all the difference between frequent UTIs and not getting any.

Stay hydrated

“Drinking a lot of water will help keep unwanted bacteria moving out of your body,” Dr. Sherry says. “And, don’t hold in your urine for long periods of time—a general rule of thumb is to urinate every two to three hours or when you first feel the urge.”



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