published Friday, February 25th, 2011

Leber: Habits we acquire from significant others

Love is a Petri dish.

Oh, I know, Pat Benatar would have us believe it's a battlefield. And it might well be, but that's a different column.

I spent the weekend in misery on my sofa, doing the whole coughing/sneezing/sore throat/sinus headache bit, some sort of pterodactyl flu I contracted at work. My significant other spent three days taking care of me—bringing me medicine, making tea and chicken soup, running errands and soothing my sick, cranky soul—in a loving manner that reminded me, despite feeling like I'd been run over, what a very lucky woman I am.

For his good deed and loving heart, the man has been rewarded with a sore and swollen throat. As far as diseases couples can transmit to each other, a cold is fairly innocuous, though there are more fun ways to spread germs than nursing a sick partner.

But we contract so much more than disease from our significant others, don't we? We can pick up their mannerisms, habits, likes and dislikes. Have you ever seen those couples who end up dressing alike without even trying?

To wit, I recently had dinner with a lovely couple I know. They both showed up wearing teal, they swear by coincidence.

Some contagious habits are not great. "I think eating and exercise habits are easy ones that tend to rub off on me," one girl friend said, "usually in the form of terrible eating and no exercise."

Is it just me or does it seem like it's more often the men who have a negative influence on eating habits?

Others are quite positive. A co-worker told me her husband helped instill her with a heightened sense of adventure by providing her with opportunities to take risks she wouldn't have otherwise taken.

Some things we acquire knowingly. We may take on our partners' debt, religion, family, pets, and though they may be less than ideal, the right person can be worth the hassle.

Sometimes. (No, my love, we absolutely cannot get a dog).

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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