This was reiterated to me hundreds of times in the emails. The nature of the sex itself varied quite a bit among couples — some couples take sexual experimentation seriously, others are staunch believers in frequency, others get way into fantasies — but the underlying principle was the same everywhere: both partners should be sexually satisfied as often as possible.
But sex not only keeps the relationship healthy, many readers suggested that they use it to heal their relationships. That when things are a bit frigid between them or that they have some problems going on, a lot of stress, or other issues (i.e., kids), they even go so far as to schedule sexy time for themselves. They say it’s important. And it’s worth it.
A few people even said that when things start to feel stale in the relationship, they agree to have sex every day for a week. Then, as if by magic, by the next week, they feel great again.
12. Be Practical, And Create Relationship Rules.
“There is no 50/50 in housecleaning, child-rearing, vacation planning, dishwasher emptying, gift buying, dinner making, money-making, etc. The sooner everyone accepts that the happier everyone is. We all have things we like to do and hate to do; we all have things we are good at and not so good at. TALK to your partner about those things when it comes to dividing and conquering all the crap that has to get done in life.” – Liz
Everyone has an image in their mind of how a relationship should work. Both people share responsibilities. Both people manage to finely balance their time together with the time for themselves. Both pursue engaging and invigorating interests on their own and then share the benefits together. Both take turns cleaning the toilet and blowing each other and cooking gourmet lasagna for the extended family at Thanksgiving (although not all at the same time).
Then there’s how relationships actually work.
Messy. Stressful. Miscommunication flying everywhere so that both of you feel as though you’re in a perpetual state of talking to a wall.
The fact is relationships are imperfect, messy affairs. And it’s for the simple reason that they’re comprised of imperfect, messy people — people who want different things at different times in different ways, and oh, they forgot to tell you? Well, maybe if you had been listening, asshole.
The common theme of the advice here was to be pragmatic. If the wife is a lawyer and spends 50 hours at the office every week, and the husband is an artist and can work from home most days, it makes more sense for him to handle most of the day-to-day parenting duties. If the wife’s standard of cleanliness looks like a Home & Garden catalog, and the husband has gone six months without even noticing the light fixture hanging from the ceiling, then it makes sense that the wife handles more of the home cleaning duties.
It’s economics 101: division of labor makes everyone better off. Figure out what you are each good at, what you each love/hate doing, and then arrange accordingly. My wife loves cleaning (no, seriously), but she hates smelly stuff. So guess who gets dishes and garbage duty? Me. Because I don’t give a fuck. I’ll eat off the same plate seven times in a row. I couldn’t smell a dead rat even if it was sleeping under my pillow. I’ll toss garbage around all day. Here honey, let me get that for you.
On top of that, many couples suggested laying out rules for the relationship. This sounds cheesy, but ultimately, it’s practical. To what degree will you share finances? How much debt will be taken on or paid off? How much can each person spend without consulting the other? What purchases should be done together or do you trust each other to do separately? How do you decide which vacations to go on?
Have meetings about this stuff. Sure, it’s not sexy or cool, but it needs to get done. You’re sharing a life together and so you need to plan and account for each person’s needs and resources.
One person even said that she and her husband have “annual reviews” every year. She immediately told me not to laugh, but that she was serious. They have annual reviews where they discuss everything that’s going on in the household that they like and don’t like and what they can do in the coming year to change it. This sort of stuff sounds lame but it’s what keeps couples in touch with what’s going on with each other. And because they always have their fingers on the pulse of each other’s needs, they’re more likely to grow together rather than grow apart.
13. Learn To Ride The Waves.
“I have been married for 44 years (4 children, 6 grandchildren). I think the most important thing that I have learned in those years is that the love you feel for each other is constantly changing. Sometimes you feel a deep love and satisfaction, other times you want nothing to do with your spouse; sometimes you laugh together, sometimes you’re screaming at each other.
It’s like a roller-coaster ride, ups and downs all the time, but as you stay together long enough the downs become less severe and the ups are more loving and contented. So even if you feel like you could never love your partner anymore, that can change, if you give it a chance. I think people give up too soon. You need to be the kind of person that you want your spouse to be. When you do that it makes a world of difference.” – Chris
Out of the hundreds of analogies, I saw these past few weeks, one stuck with me. A nurse emailed saying that she used to work with a lot of geriatric patients. And one day she was talking to a man in his late-80s about marriage and why his had lasted so long. The man said something like, “relationships exist as waves, people need to learn how to ride them.”