Love Language: Spelling It Out in the Love & Marriage Issue | Love & Marriage Issue | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Love Language: Spelling It Out in the Love & Marriage Issue


  • Rob Donnelly | Rev. Diane Sullivan

Unless you live under a rock or have carved out an existence blissfully free from social media, you're probably familiar with Wordle. A twist on the guess-the-color game Mastermind, the daily online puzzle is a global phenomenon; last week, the New York Times paid its creator more than $1 million to add Wordle to the company's game collection.

The beauty of Wordle is its simplicity. You get six chances to guess one five-letter word, once per day. That's it. The puzzles are effective brainteasers but rarely diabolically difficult. The addictive distraction has become part of the daily routines of millions. I play it over morning coffee to hot-wire my synapses for the day.

For this issue's cover, we reverse engineered a love-themed Wordle, a process that was exponentially harder than the game itself. The idea was to use the board to tell a love story in six words. Because here's a fun fact: Wordle itself is a love story.

Brooklyn software engineer Josh Wardle invented Wordle about six months ago as a game to play with his partner, Palak Shah, who was obsessed with the New York Times' online Spelling Bee game. He had no designs on becoming popular or a millionaire. Yet Wordle will soon take its place alongside Spelling Bee, the daily crossword and other Times puzzles because Wardle did something thoughtful for someone he loved. How cool is that?

We couldn't tell you whether Bruce Chalmer and Judy Alexander are Wordlers. But, given the name of their podcast, "Couples Therapy in Seven Words," it wouldn't surprise us if the South Burlington spouses enjoyed a good word game. They spoke with Chris Farnsworth about helping Vermonters find — and maintain — love.

Sometimes even the best therapy can't stop a relationship from ending. But that's not always a bad thing, writes Jordan Adams. In Vergennes, Sarah Lyman runs PurplCouch, a new business that offers online resources to demystify and destigmatize divorce, reframing the experience in a positive light.

Lyman should consider hiring Vermont writer Kimberly Harrington as a guest speaker. Her latest laugh-out-loud collection of vignettes and essays, But You Seemed So Happy: A Marriage, in Pieces and Bits, isn't quite a tell-all. Still, Harrington "dissects some of the more painful moments in her relationship with an unsentimental precision that will make your face hot," interviewer Chelsea Edgar writes.

In Bristol, Alex Belth and Emily Shapiro offer a different take on marriage. In their new audiobook, Here I Are: Anatomy of a Marriage, the couple reveals how they've navigated their relationship around the incursion of an uninvited third party: Shapiro's chronic illness.

Cabot-based marriage counselors and sex therapists Israel and Cathie Helfand claim to have saved hundreds of marriages while helping their clients become more sexually comfortable, compatible and communicative. Israel, who's working on a book about his sometimes bizarre career, shared tantalizing tales with Ken Picard.

If the Helfands' clients wanted to enhance their marriages with an intimate-wear upgrade, they could always head to L'ivresse Lingerie in Essex Junction, where owner Nicolette Baron specializes in practical and provocative undies for all body types.

Finally, love is all about the little things, and the fastest way to many a heart is through the tummy. Food writer Melissa Pasanen highlights three small pleasures — from chocolates to shrimp bisque to gelato — to savor with a sweetie on Valentine's Day.