I have been a psychotherapist for 40 years. I was raised with very conservative parents. I went wild in the hippie days. I have worked with over 10,000 couples/ families and hundreds of teenagers. This is what I’ve learned below. Some of it may sound harsh. But all of it is true. And it works. When I see a couple who has not gone on a date since the first child was born 8 years ago, or a couple who has not had sex the last 13 years of a 20 year marriage I ponder how they have not yet poisoned each other! People are lazy but sad. People want to be happy. With awareness and guts to change that can happen. Complacency is not love, not even a vague resemblance to the stunning couple one can be with only a little effort.
Here are a few steps and ideas to improve your marriage and love life:
1. Go for pre-marital counseling. Even one session could transform the relationship. You should know your partner for two years prior to marriage. After approximately one year the hidden seeps to the surface.
2. The couple who prays together or who shares a spiritual communication with God or a higher bearing has a profoundly more solid relationship.
3. A couple should know or learn how to fight and argue fairly, and most important how to forgive. Do not let the moon rise on anger.
4. One should never say ‘no’ to sex. Unless you’re vomiting or en route to hospital. Why? It too easily becomes ammunition when one is angry at the partner. He says he is tired but he really is irritated with his partner. Giving sex becomes a power struggle in which one is begging the other to respond or initiate.
5. In this age of tech gadgets, cell phones, and Facebook, the world is privy to all. Do not stalk your partner, or spy at her photos or call logs. If you’re already doing this prior to marriage take a second look. And ask if it is the partner or yourself who is not to be trusted?
6. Romance and courtship must continue. That includes regular dates in which each alternates creative ideas. The I Ching says, ‘The difference between courtship and wooing is perseverance.’ Do not stop gazing at her after the wedding day.
7. Finances: Major purchases over a set amount should be discussed. The person who makes more should not have all the decision making power. No secret accounts.
8. If there is verbal or physical abuse, contact a therapist immediately. That cannot be any part of a relationship. Period.
9. Compulsive honesty is destructive and benefits the confessor more than the recipient. Why bring up a past relationship if it no longer exists or did not impact you? To merely relieve your own guilt? Do individual therapy instead and make peace with yourself.
10. Open relationships with threesomes and trading partners in the hot tub are dangerous. The hippie days are gone. The atmosphere and goals were entirely different 40 years ago.
11. Love each other as though there may be no tomorrow. We have no idea what will occur in the next moment. No regrets and saying /doing all you desire in order to display your love is what a real marriage is all about. Be as creative as possible. Ponder: love notes, telegrams, anything extraordinary. It just takes a minute to consider. Turn off the TV. Shut down the cell phone. Dance in the kitchen.
12. Pay no heed to what others may say. At 20, we wondered what the world thought of us. At 30 we worried what the world thought. At 40 we no longer cared. We all are afraid how we look out on the dance floor. But so is everybody else. Nobody is really paying as much attention as you might perceive.
13. A handful of relationships are a pure and easy gift from above. Most balance us so we learn from each other. Some choose partners who resemble their parents in order to unconsciously work out old relationships. Those are tough but can work. If you know what you are doing, you can transform marriage into a high love.