Two of my husband’s favorite food groups are bacon and beer, not necessarily in that order. So you can imagine my surprise when he announced, “I’m thinking of going on a three day juice cleanse. You in?”
My answer was three letters long, “Why?”
He told me that he’d been watching a segment on Dr. Oz that featured Joe Cross, the star of the documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. The husband mentioned that he’d also unearthed the juicer that someone had given us as a wedding present more than 14 years ago. The contraption had been used all of one time. I know this because I’m the one who used it. I vividly remember the drink I made with that juicer. I’d taken one sip and then dumped the rest down the kitchen sink.
“I thought I donated that thing to charity,” I said meekly.
“No, we still have it!” he announced proudly.
I sighed, finally answering his original question, “Sure, why not?”
“Awesome!” he said. “That’s what I was hoping you’d say!”
The cleanse began the following morning with a bright orange drink that contained eight thousand carrots and all of the ginger in the world. Okay, I exaggerate. It was more like seven thousand carrots and just half of the ginger in all the world. As I finished the drink, I had just one thought. It was this: “I’m still hungry.”
The cleanse continued two hours later with a very green looking concoction that, no doubt, killed every budding cancer cell in my body. Then for lunch came gazpacho juice that, amazingly, tasted just like the real thing. It left me with one thought, “Why not have the real thing? Why oh why?”
Then came another very green drink and then a very orange one followed by a very red one.
You get the idea.
We went on like this for almost three days, breaking the cleanse early because there were no green, orange or red vegetables left in our kitchen or even at the grocery store. My husband had cleaned out the entire produce section, buying everything available and feeding it into our juicer. (Okay, sure, I exaggerate, yet again. He could have bought a radish if he’d wanted to. He didn’t want to. Plus, we were out of money.)
It was after we broke the cleanse that I realized the deep, deep connections between juicing and the rare art of staying in love.
Sometimes You Assume Love Will Stink, And Then It Doesn’t.
You’d expect a very green looking drink to taste, well, greenish, right? Well, somehow every single kale-packed, sugar-depleted beverage was so tasty that I found myself finishing each glass quickly and yearning for more. Who knew the blended juice from kale, Swiss chard, cucumber, and oranges could be so tasty? Not me, that’s for sure.
It got me thinking about all of the things we do for love that aren’t as nasty as we expect: putting those underpants in the hamper rather than getting in a fight over them, admitting that his way really is the better way, letting her use your toothbrush, being kind to the in-laws, taking a road trip together after one or both of you has consumed a huge quantity of lentils. Oh, and the c-word: compromise.
Wait, sorry, strike what I said about lentils. That really would stink, wouldn’t it?
At any rate, the point is this: Just as you ought not judge a drink by its color, you should not discount relationship advice just because it strikes you as completely vile. Chances are, doing whatever your loved one wants won’t be as tragically disgusting as you think.
Hunger Fades, And So Does Lust.
On the first day of the cleanse, I suffered from a deep sense of culinary dissatisfaction. Not only was I hungry in the pit of my stomach, I also wanted to chew on something. And every time I walked through the kitchen, all I could think was, “A chocolate chip cookie would be really nice right about now … and now … and it would still be nice now …”
Then, on the day we broke the fast, I had some cannoli and a glass of wine and also a tiny little sticky bun. What I noticed as I ate such foods was this: “These don’t taste as good as I remember.” It was as if, in the past few days, food scientists had done something to ruin all the desserts in the world. Then I woke in the middle of the night and I couldn’t get back to sleep because it felt like sugar and wine and dairy fat were seeping out every pore.
As I tossed and turned, I couldn’t help reminisce about my mid-life crisis years. If you don’t know those years yet, I’ll fill you in. They are the ones during which every young man seems more attractive than the one you are married to. During those years, the quest to remain monogamous feels much like the life of a dieter who happens to live inside a cupcake factory but isn’t allowed to eat a single cupcake.
Not that I would know what it’s like to live in a cupcake factory, but I can imagine. Can’t you?
Anyway, when I was mired in the middle, I thought that lust would never end. I figured that, like my love of a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie, I’d carry that lust with me for the rest of my life.
So, you don’t need to know my exact age, but let’s just say that I’m now more than a few years closer to life’s end than I am to life’s middle. At this point in life, monogamy feels nothing like a dieter’s battle not to eat cupcakes. It’s more like getting dressed in the morning. It’s something that I do everyday without thinking about it. Much like a diet, staying committed to a relationship is easy in the beginning, hard in the middle, and easy in the end. Persevere.
Reality Doesn’t Meet Expectations. So What?
I thought the juice cleanse would, at the very least, peel off a few stubborn pounds that have clung to my midsection ever since my mid-life crisis ended. It didn’t. I also never experienced a wave of increased energy or euphoria. It didn’t even make me more regular.
Yet the cleanse did provide a few benefits. For instance, it got me and my husband talking, a lot. If you are newly dating or newly married, you might not relate. If you’ve been married for more than 14 years, as I have, then you probably can. There have been times when dinner at my house is quieter than the anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs. But during our juice cleanse, we had plenty to talk about over sips of green glop, ranging from how hungry we did or did not feel to the color of our teeth (sometimes stained red by beets) to the color of, well, something else.
Much like a juice cleanse, I expected a lot of things out of my marriage that never materialized, but I also got a lot of fabulousness I didn’t anticipate. And, most important, I regret nothing.
Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.