1. No more fumbley, weird “I don’t even know what you like” first-time sex. That’s not to say that boyfriend sex is fool-proof but your odds of having someone accidentally pull your hair because their stupid elbow was on it go down by a lot.
2. He can not reply to your text and you won’t go into a panic attack shame spiral wondering if he’s ghosting. You can say “he’s probably just busy” and know for a fact that yes, that is why. It’s like having an oxygen tank at all times.
3. You always have someone to zip up the back of your dress so you don’t have to do that weird acrobatic arm thing. Even if it is probably good for your deltoids or something. It still blows.
4. You always have someone to split food with for those days when you feel like ordering like a monster but then remember you have a normal human stomach. And then on days when you somehow have a superhuman stomach…
5. You have twice the food always. Oh what’s that? You’re not hungry? Guess who is? It’s me!
6. No more Tinder dates to run screaming from while wearing shoes that are really hard to run in. Plus, no after-work drink dates means you can actually get through the work week without a hangover from hell. Hello, productivity and a general lack of nausea.
7. You can do any embarrassing thing on the planet and he will still think sun shines out of your butt. Which it honestly could. You don’t know. You can’t see down there.
8. You finally at long last have someone to suffer through family dinners with. There is no better feeling than kicking your boyfriend under the table when your grandad straight up starts eating that huge bowl of gravy with his own spoon.
9. You get to double date with your friends aka you get to spy on you friends’ boyfriends to make sure they’re good enough. And run over the data you have learned with your boyfriend to make sure you didn’t miss any #facts.
10. There will always be someone to like your selfies. You can now post freely without fear of Zero Likes.
11. You automatically have approximately 40 percent more space in your brain because it’s not begrudgingly focused on meeting The One. Obviously this much of your brain isn’t focused on that but jesus christ, sometimes it feels like it’s supposed to be and it’s exhausting.
My boyfriend and I moved to New York with only each other. We were 3,000 miles from home and knew no one else in this big city. I don’t think either of us anticipated just how homesick we’d be, but at 19 years old, we were sure that all we needed was each other to take on this brand new world, so starkly different from our Southern California roots. Our naiveté didn’t last long.
I hardly remember that fall, our first couple months learning and forgetting subway routes, me dutifully buried in schoolwork and him working 50+ hours a week just for an excuse to leave the house. But before I knew it, winter was upon us and we trudged through slush and snow, feeling perpetually frozen in a way that even my time in Colorado and London couldn’t have prepared me for. Poor California boy, he’d never experienced anything like it.
By January, less than six months into our New York new life, hairline fractures of fear and homesickness had evolved into cracks of exhaustion, depression, and irreparable loneliness. Relying solely on one another for comfort, friendship, love, and support had made him needy and me resentful.
Frustrated by the imposed restrictedness on any social life and simultaneous monotony of our relationship, I sought out the attentions and affections of other men, former flings, and subway strangers, craving some kind of social interaction other than the repetitive banter and routine we had established at home. But my attempts to divert my domestic displeasures only made them that much more pronounced — we spent our evenings sitting opposite one other, Netflix on the TV but our fingers and eyes glued to our phones in a silent, self-induced boozy haze.
It was unfair of me to assume that he wasn’t perceptive enough to notice. I kept my phone close at hand at all times, especially after his semi-successful attempts to learn my passcode and read my texts. We both felt the gap between us — mentally, emotionally, physically — widening, but were too scared of the potential loneliness to bring it up.
Our relationship ebbed further into distrust and resentment. Sensing something was going on, he would try going into my texts, Facebook messages, and email looking for something concrete to confirm his suspicions, and I would respond by strengthening my passwords and carrying my laptop with me when I left the house. But there weren’t any sexts or dirty photos or evidence of infidelity that he was searching for in any of the messages with these other men. It wasn’t the physical temptations leading me astray, but the search for emotional understanding from anyone to feel less alone.
One guy in particular, Sam, an old high school fling who was back in California, escalated our increasing trust issues to an unsalvageable level. Already (and quite reasonably) threatened by our history, my boyfriend was far from OK with my ongoing communication with Sam, especially as I became more secretive with my phone. So I would make excuses to leave the house while I called Sam for reassurance and comfort. I complained about my boyfriend and he responded with sympathetic encouragement for me to end things, that things could be so much better without him, that Sam and I had a “real” future together, until I was so worked up that I stormed home, icing out my boyfriend for no particular reason.
We’ve all swooned at the adorable stories of couples who spend their whole lives together, and are just as much in love with each other in old age as they were right at beginning. But what is their secret? How do they manage to maintain, and strengthen, their love through the years?
Well, psychiatrist Mark Goulston has published his advice. Read on to discover his 10 tips for lasting relationships:
1. Go to bed together. This doesn’t mean go have sex every single night, but rather go to bed at the same time. Dr. Goulston reckons that “happy couples resist the temptation to go to bed at different times” even if one gets back up shortly after. There’s nothing like a bedtime cuddle!
2. Work out your common interests. It’s fine if he loves rugby while you’re into painting, and you shouldn’t even worry if the thing you find most boring is what really gets him going. But Dr. Goulston reminds us that the initial passion won’t last forever, so you need to make sure there’s some substance behind your relationship.
“If common interests aren’t present, happy couples develop them,” he says. “Don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting and prevent you from appearing too dependent.” Got it.
3. Hold hands. Next time you’re out together, make sure you’re in sync by holding one another’s hand. A public sign of affection, Dr. Goulston advises that it’s a sign of real comfort. “It’s more important to be with your partner than to see the sights along the way,” he tells us.
4. Always trust and try to forgive. Obviously this depends on the severity of your disagreement, but as a general rule Dr. Goulston thinks it’s key to make “trusting and forgiving, rather than distrusting and begrudging” your default setting after an argument.
5. Focus on what they do right, not what they do wrong. Positive reinforcement is an age-old concept used with children and even the training of animals. But it’s still important for fully grown adults too. So compliment your partner when they deserve it and try not to look for things they do wrong. “You can always find something,” Dr. Goulston says.
But that works both ways; “If you look for what he or she does right, you can always find something too. It all depends on what you want to look for. Happy couples accentuate the positive.”
6. Don’t forget to hug. Dr. Goulston urges us to hug our partner every single day (if circumstance allows). “Our skin has a memory of ‘good touch’ (loved), ‘bad touch’ (abused), and ‘no touch’ (neglected),” he explains. “Couples who say hello with a hug keep their skin bathed in the ‘good touch,’ which can inoculate your spirit against anonymity in the world.”
7. Say “I love you” and “have a good day” every morning. Seems obvious, but it’s an important one. Saying something caring like that first thing will set the other up for their day. “It’s a great way to buy some patience and tolerance as each partner sets out each day to battle traffic jams, long lines, and other annoyances.”
1. The first time you hang out one-on-one (and yes, Netflixing counts).Nothing is more exciting than letting out all your pent-up crush energy on a first date. It’s almost as big a deal as your potential wedding day in terms of stories you’ll have to tell over and over. PRO TIP: Don’t bring up potential weddings on the first date.
2. That first awkward, nervous pause right before your first kiss. Your first kiss says, “I like hanging out with you, but I also want to make out with you all the time. Let’s take this to the next level.”
3. The first time you bone. Well, hopefully your first time was a great moment. And if not, you’re a very selfless person for sticking with them.
4. The first time you stay the night instead of abruptly peacing-out like Cinderella the second it hits 2 a.m. Especially if you usually run off into the night immediately after coitus. Well, maybe hobble into the night while trying to put on your pants is a more apt description. My point is, your first sleepover is a big deal.
5. When you did nothing in bed together and it was amazing. The first time you do this, it’s cute and romantic. The 90th time you do this, you’re codependent agoraphobics. But when you can literally spend all day sharing a tiny square together and doing nothing else, you’ve got something good going.
6. The moment you realize their family could also be your family (and you’re OK with that). Some people have stupid families. So it’s a relief when you meet your partner’s and you actually feel at home. Getting along with their family instead of feeling awkward and intimidated is great.
7. When picking your partner up at the airport felt like the best moment in the world. Spending time apart (however long) is rough, but getting to see each other again makes it all worth it. All right, maybe it would’ve been better to not be apart in the first place.
8. Buying a second toothbrush to keep at their house. You’re basically saying, “I’m coming over whenever I want so you can never cheat on me.” But also, you know, that you love spending time together.
9. When you had an insane fight, but you knew you never wanted to break up. At first glance, this might not seem like this should be labeled a “best moment.” But it’s fights like these that make you realize you really want to try to make this relationship work. Also, yo, makeup sex.
10. When you accidentally blurted out “I love you” and waited to hear them say it back. In the history of mankind, no two people have ever said “I love you” and then not fumbled through a conversation afterward. Your first declaration of love is always followed by an “I mean…” while you stare at your partner and hope they say it back before you punch out the nearest window and cut your jugular with a shard of glass.
11. When you went on a couples vacation that still feels like one of the high points of your relationship. Even if it’s just an overnight trip, it beats the family trip you took to the Grand Canyon with your parents a few years ago.
Understanding the causes and effects of workplace stress is important to developing strategies for change. The critical component of any stress management program is the belief that alternatives exist. Feeling trapped and without choices, is perhaps the greatest stressor of all.
There are two ways to approach stress management in the workplace. You can reduce environmental stressors in the workplace and/or change your response to this stress. Discussing your concerns and suggestions with a supervisor often yields positive results.
My suggestions for change include:
- Be appropriately assertive and don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries and limits; say no when necessary.
- Recognize that stressful situations often result from someone else’s inefficiency and tendency to manage by reactive, crisis techniques rather than proactive postures.
- Personal problems can cause individuals to function in an unhealthy way. In these situations, recognize that you did not cause the problems and are not responsible for their consequences. Seek support from others in order to clarify your position and avoid being a scapegoat.
- Practice relaxation skills and avoid using unhealthy escape mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs. Exercise is an excellent way to deal with stress and the biochemical effects of tension and pressure. Take a brisk walk at lunch or exercise regularly after work.
- Become more efficient with your time and learn to avoid “time-wasters” such as unnecessary phone calls, “drop-ins”, and gossiping. Strive to maintain a focus and agenda, and be a leader who is committed to keep things moving during meetings.
If your stressful workplace situation is unchangeable, and the toll it is taking on you is too great, then seeking options of other employment may be necessary. Changing jobs for the right reason is nothing to be ashamed of and may lead to a much healthier situation in the long run.
Texting also gives us peace of mind. I carry my phone with me on my nightly walks with our dog and text him once or twice during the walk, sending a photo of a particularly gorgeous moon or asking him to feed the cat. He texts me when he arrives safely at work in the morning and again when he leaves for home in the afternoon, giving me an estimated time of arrival. I text him when I drop off the kids at school in the morning and let him know my plan for after school. And so it goes. It’s not only about safety, it’s about connection — feeling as if our family is together, even when we’re in our various pursuits.
And yes, we even text each other from different rooms of the house. If that sounds like a warning sign of a bad relationship or an addiction to tech, let me explain: We have two young children who fill our days (and nights) with chatter and stories of their own. In the evenings, we collaborate to get them to bed. We text each other while we’re getting them bathed and in bed, when they are capable of doing everything themselves but still require some supervision. Even though we’re in the same house, the many tasks that are involved in family life means that we aren’t usually face-to-face and alone until after 9 p.m. at night. By that time, there are few details of each other’s day that we don’t already know. I feel as if I had been sitting in his middle school classroom while he taught math, I know what traffic was like both morning and afternoon, even what he had for lunch. He knows about my writing deadlines, has received links to my newest published piece, and knows how much coffee I had in one of my writing sessions at the coffee shop. We are together even when we are apart.
Being cheated on is the worst. You feel rejected but also pissed. You don’t know who you can trust. Well, scientific studies have narrowed down some traits that are statistically more common in guys who cheat, so here are some signs (not confirmation, obviously) that your guy will never stray.
1. You bring home the same amount of money. A recent study from the American Sociological review showed that partners were less likely to cheat if they were in the same (or similar) income brackets. Men were more likely to cheat if they made a lot more money than their partner, and they were most likely to cheat if they made a lot less. So if you two have similar paychecks, you’ve got statistics on your side.
2. He’s from the Midwest. According to this poll, Midwesterners are just too well-mannered to cheat on their partners.
4. He feels loved and trusted. According to a study conducted by Newman, most men don’t cheat because they’re not satisfied sexually. They cheat because they’re seeking emotional satisfaction.
5. He’s an extrovert. Extroverts are less likely to go along with the influence of others.Research shows that introverts are actually more likely to cheat because they’re more likely to agree to someone propositioning them. So even if he’s always out there meeting new people, you actually might be safer.
6. He just seems like the kind of guy who wouldn’t cheat. According to a real study that people spent time on, researchers found that you can trust your gut when it comes to guys who look like they’d cheat. If your gut is telling you “no,” then it’s a good idea to listen to that gut.
7. He’s really into Pantera. Yeah, according to this survey conducted by the Mirror (so, questionable), heavy metal listeners are apparently the least likely to cheat.
8. He comes from a big family. A survey from adult meet-up site Seeking Arrangements shows that cheaters are usually only children. Ask if he has a sister.
When the Beatles wrote, “All you need is love à” they should have added, “and the wisdom to work through tough times, even if it means seeking professional help.” This is because counseling can be a relationship-saving resource for couples. Couples counseling is also known as marriage counseling or marriage therapy when the two people involved are married.
When Counseling Can Help
Perhaps blowups between you and your partner are occurring more regularly. Or ongoing sticky issues and irritations are causing increased tension and resentment. If you have had little success working through relationship issues, find yourselves avoiding each other, or using hostile words or actions that cause emotional or physical hurt, professional counseling may help.
Sleep or sexual problems, extreme moodiness or feelings of dissatisfaction, loneliness, sadness or failure also can be clues that something is wrong. Couples counseling can uncover the underlying issues.
There may be external factors that can add stress to your relationship, including:
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Chronic illness or disability
- Substance abuse
- Financial problems
- Career pressures
Professional counseling can help you learn coping strategies for such periods of transition or stress.
Finding a Therapist
Your local mental health association, family doctor, clergy or friends are good referral sources. Look for someone whose education and training best fits your needs and situation. For example, a gay couple may benefit from a counselor experienced in dealing with gay/lesbian issues. Make sure your chosen therapist is licensed by the state or accredited by a professional organization.
What to Expect from Therapy
Most couples meet with their therapist once a week for about an hour each session. Generally, therapy lasts for about 12 to 20 sessions. During the first session, the therapist will review the therapeutic process, confidentiality and cost. She will become acquainted with you and your partner and the problems that brought you to counseling. She will ask many questions to understand your lives and relationship as best as possible. Both you and your partner should feel comfortable talking with your counselor.
Couples counseling is different than family therapy or individual psychotherapy. In family therapy, the focus is on helping the family figure out the large problems within the entire family (including children), and helping them to find fixes (such as improving communication). In individual psychotherapy, the focus is on a single person. While that person may talk about their relationships in session, the relationships are not usually the primary focus of the counseling.
The Couples Counseling Process
For the first several sessions, the therapist will attempt to evaluate your relationship. She will try to figure out:
- What keeps you together
- What stresses your relationship
- The nature of your conflicts
- Behavioral and communication patterns
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- The power structure
- What qualities are missing or dysfunctional in your relationship
She also will study you as individuals.
Together, the two of you and your therapist will set realistic goals, which could be anything from learning how to be empathetic to figuring out new ways to negotiate problems to deciding how to share household and parental responsibilities. Your counselor will use a variety of therapeutic techniques until your goals are met or until you reach a point where either you or the therapist wants to terminate treatment.
Responsibility of the Couple
Ideally, both you and your partner will seek professional help together. But, therapy can have positive outcomes even if only one of you is willing to attend. Most important, however, is your willingness to be honest and to make changes. Although your therapist can provide direction, you are responsible for acting on such guidance. By doing so, you will enjoy improved interaction and renewed enthusiasm for your relationship.
Is your marriage alive and well, or is it time to dial 911? Chances are the health of your relationship falls somewhere in the middle — slightly out of shape and tired. Unfortunately most of us tend to take the health of a marriage for granted. And we don’t realize how important a happy, healthy relationship is until it’s time for marital CPR.
Maintaining personal health requires work — exercise, good nutrition, rest and regular checkups. No one teaches us that the same kind of maintenance is also necessary in order to keep a marriage alive. Love between a parent and child is unconditional. Love between a husband and wife is not. As divorce statistics would indicate, an untended marriage falls apart too easily. The good news is that there are ways to make a marriage survive, and better yet, thrive.
Your Marital Diagnosis
There are warning signs or “symptoms” when your marriage is “under the weather.” Here are some key symptoms:
- feelings of chronic resentment toward your spouse
- lack of laughter between the two of you
- desire to spend free time with someone other than your mate
- too much time spent playing the “blame game”
- conversations between you are laced with bitterness and sarcasm
Relationship Revival Program
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, it’s time to revive your marriage by following this program.
- Make the marriage your priority, not an afterthought. Set aside regular time to be alone with your partner. If kids are in the picture, hunt for a “network” of trusted babysitters. If money is a concern, compare the cost of a night out with that of marital therapy or a divorce attorney! Get the drift? Start doing some of the things that used to bring you joy, and helped you to feel more connected. There are plenty of activities that you can do for free — a long walk, star gazing or window-shopping are all simple pleasures that can bring you closer together.
- Resuscitate your romance. Remember how the sparks flew when you first met? It’s probably not too late to rekindle the embers. Surprise your spouse with a homemade Valentine (any day of the year!) and a bottle of champagne. Light up the bedroom with candles, or put a love note in his briefcase. Last but not least, initiate lovemaking. Passion is the glue in a marriage — it helps you feel close to your mate, and makes getting through rough times a lot easier.
- Accept what you can’t change. Much marital strife is caused by the belief that you cannot be happy in your marriage as long as you must live with your partner’s bad habits or imperfections. Have you noticed that no matter how much you gripe and moan, these things don’t change? Rather than trying to control what you can’t, work around his quirks and focus on the positive. We all respond much better to praise than to criticism. And here’s the paradox: Sometimes when we stop fighting the way things are, they actually do change. No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.
- Be attractive, inside and out. “Married” doesn’t have to mean complacent. Continue to learn and experience new things, and share these with your partner. Eat right, exercise, rest and make the most of your appearance. Doing these things is taking good care of yourself, but it’s also a way of showing your mate that you want to be your best and share yourself with him.
- Improve communication and negotiation skills. Being a good listener is key to healthy communication. Even if you don’t agree with what he’s had to say, empathize with his position. This will open the door to more effective conflict resolution. If you must be critical, convert criticism into a request for behavioral change by stating it positively. Most important, apologize when you are wrong.
There are no marriages made in heaven. But by devoting time and energy to reviving your marriage, you’ll once again feel your relationship pulse beating strong and steady.
Michael and Gwen enter the counselor’s office and nervously take their seats. Michael fidgets and stares at the floor while Gwen sits upright, looks toward the therapist and utters the words that marriage counselors hear so frequently, they can almost say them in unison, “Doctor, we’re not like most of the couples you see… we don’t have any really serious problems; he doesn’t drink or beat me or chase other women—nothing like that. Our problem is that we just don’t communicate.”
“We just don’t communicate.” The cry is frequent and the assumptions are clear: Communication means a better marriage; more conversation means more connection; increased interaction means increased intimacy. It all sounds logical enough—or does it?
In the past, I might have rushed in with a glut of techniques to help a couple like Michael and Gwen accomplish their stated goal of better communication. But over the years I’ve learned that working to improve marital communication is a lot like exploratory surgery: The risk of what might be exposed is fraught with peril. Couples need to brace for the potential fallout that better communication may bring before they recklessly plunge ahead with the scalpel.
Good communication involves both partners being aware of their own thoughts and feelings and expressing them in an open, clear way. When a person communicates effectively, there is congruence between their inner experience and their outward expression. However, even an increase in direct and consistent communication doesn’t insure that a relationship will improve.
Let’s take television’s Cleaver family, for example. If Ward started to be more open with June, maybe he would finally tell her that he doesn’t like her award-winning meatloaf or share the fact that he’s still upset about her quitting her job last year. He might even confess that he just lost half of their savings by making a bad investment. If June risked better communication, she might reveal her dissatisfaction with their sex life, complain about Ward’s low income or disclose the fact that his inebriated brother made a pass at her last Thanksgiving.
Partners conspire to restrict and filter their interactions because they sense the danger involved in expressing themselves more openly. Once this pact of limited communication is broken, the lid of Pandora’s box can blast open.