Whether you don red from head to toe, quiver under your covers all day or send yourself a $40 bouquet of roses, Valentine's day will arrive this weekend. I've never doted much on this day, blame it on my Introverted Loner Sensibilities - I'll tell you I love you when I feel like it, dammit. I sniff at the idea of expressing my feelings on a day designated by - well - others. The very idea of being required to distribute Valentines to every member of the class dredged up thick clouds of resentment in my second grade soul.
Yet here we have it, a day when many celebrate their love, or lust, or comfortably rutted relationship. A day many abhor or ignore while the candy companies dance in joy. Regardless of your deepest, inner feelings, this weekend will probably draw out thoughts of your loved ones; past, present or those residing in the hopeful future.
I'm (amazingly, earth-shatteringly, never-take-it-for-granted-one-second) fortunate enough to have collided with an even more compatible partner than I could have ever crafted myself. In fact, Alex even has Celiac Disease. No, we didn't meet at a support group. I sometimes forget that not everyone with Celiac Disease happens to fall in love with other Non-Gluten Homo sapiens. So what do you do when that person who gets your blood pumping scarfs down bread with both hands?
How to Live With A Gluten Eater
You may wonder how I have any authority on this subject. "Hey!" You might be thinking, "You've got your GF mate, what gives?" Well, I've lived with non-GFers in college and definitely understand the often heinous issues involved. I'll offer up a few things to consider here, but I turn to you, my co-habitating readers to offer up your own experiences in shacked up bliss.
Look Before You...er...Kiss
When you're around someone you love, sometimes it's hard not to show some affection! But if your someone is a Gluten eater you're faced with some particular obstacles. Cross Contamination can be "transmitted" through kiss, so your happy snogfest is liable to be rudely interrupted by some less than welcome reactions if your partner has been nomming on some gluten treats. A good habit for your Gluten Lover to get into would be brushing and gargling after every meal or snack when they're around you. Sure, it can be a pain but they get a healthy you as a consolation prize and they'll get a glowing report on their next trip to the dentist.
Alex is a dairy eater while I am definitely not, he's always really good about recalling that he's been eating dairy if I'm about to give him a peck. Putting the halt on a contaminated kiss is about the only time affection-rejection is a true sign of love.
Get It All Out In the Open
A Celiac Diagnosis can be a lot of things. Emotional, relieving, overwhelming, a big step in the right direction. Tacked on to your long 'to do' list is to have The Talk with your partner. No, not that talk. There are all kinds of configurations of Gluten-Non-Gluten living but the basics are: 1. Your Partner Will Go Gluten Free For You Out of Love and Pragmatism 2. Your Partner Will Go GF in the House While Inhaling Gluten Out In the 'Real World' or 3. Your Partner Will Eat Their Food and You Will Eat Yours. Personally, I don't even know how you keep food between partners totally separate. Do you make two dinners? Do you only cook for yourself and your partner cooks their own meals? Do they sometimes, grudgingly eat "your" food? Did you have, officially, The Talk? Are you happy with the arrangement you have reached? I'd love to hear your experiences, if you're willing to share.
Stay Close While Keeping It Separate
There's no way to get around it, when in any relationship you need SPACE. Yes, emotional space, growth space, work space and stop crowding me while I sleep space. Bulk up that list with some quality food cookware space. If you and your partner have chosen to live on separate food islands it is essential to your health that you designate very specific areas for your stuff. In order to keep it safe you might need to do some unique distribution in the cabinet area. Instead of divvying up shelves in one food cabinet you might try storing your food in a dish cabinet along with the plates or cups. Buying two sets of different colored plastic containers for leftovers will keep fridge lurkers split up. Pots, pans and cooking utensils come in all kinds of colors, stock up on all colored cookware for yourself while your partner uses all metal, black or gray. Befriend someone with a label maker. You're going to live a little differently so you have to do things a little differently. Make weird your norm and embrace it.
Acknowledge Your Acid Test
Any kind of adversity presented in a relationship should really be seen as a gift from the mysterious concoctions of life. How your partner faces this adversity can be a unique glimpse into the true depth of their feeling for you. Anyone who truly loves you will want to see you healthy and feeling safe. That is not to say that any partner who won't devote themselves to and unnecessary GF diet doesn't love you. Rather, it is in their attitude. Are they respectful of your food storage areas and cookware? Do they grumble often about having restricted restaurant dining options? Are they empathetic in the face of - er - less than attractive Gluten reactions? Do they simply make you feel badly about your diet? If you have a negative experience with your partner's reaction to your diet change you may be dodging a bullet. Anyone who doesn't want to support you in any way they can to make sure you're healthy and living life to the fullest isn't worth your time. If they react poorly to your GF decision how will they react to any other needs that arise? A truly loving partner will support your commitment to the diet and will go to great lengths to avoid contributing to contamination. Know that you are worth a supportive partner and hold on to those who respect your needs.