Tag Archives: relationship tips

Will men helping with chores lead to more action in bedroom?

vacuum morguefileResearch shows that when men do their share of the chores, divorce rates are lower, their partners are happier and less depressed, the relationship has fewer conflicts, and they tend to have more sex. The last point seems to be the most written about, as in “help with the laundry to get more sex.” More on that in a bit.

Being an active, involved father has its own share of benefits, both for men and their children. Participating in childcare helps to make Dads more patient and empathic, and it reduces rates of substance abuse in men. Fatherhood is correlated with lower blood pressure and less cardiovascular disease. Active fathers in Fortune 500 companies have higher job satisfaction. (See NYT article below.)

Benefits to children of involved fathers are numerous: fewer behavioral problems, more likely to succeed, happier kids. Dads who do an equal share of housework demonstrate to daughters that they shouldn’t limit themselves to stereotypically female jobs. “For a girl to see that she has the same opportunities as boys, it makes a big difference to see Dad doing the dishes,” say Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in the New York Times article “How men can succeed in the boardroom and the bedroom.”

With all these advantages, it’s a wonder that husbands everywhere aren’t tripping over themselves to load the dishwasher and vacuum the family room. However, it’s the talk of “choreplay” that leads some women feeling a little less than, umm, satisfied.

The latest high-profile conversations are telling men that helping out in the kitchen will lead to greater action in the bedroom. And maybe it will. But probably not if they are looking at it in a quid-pro-quo fashion.

Jessica Valenti explains the rub in her article “Women don’t need ‘choreplay’. They need men to do some chores.” She explains,” My husband does not do laundry because he wants to have sex. He does the laundry for the same reason I imagine most people do: because the clothes are dirty.”

Men should be involved in the home and promoting domestic equality because it’s the right thing to do—not as an incentive for sex, she explains. While the laundry-for-sex campaign is meant to be cute, Valenti says “in a culture where men are already taught to feel entitled to women sexually, I don’t find it cute in the least.” In addition, it creates a transactional view of sex within the relationship. (Should women also provide sex for new furniture?) It also communicates that the responsibility for all the chores was on the woman in the first place.

The truth about what women want is closer to this: women don’t want to be so exhausted with work and home responsibilities that they no longer have energy for sex. They are turned on by loving men who view them as equals and want to be helpful at home and supportive of their efforts outside the home.

So, yeah, husbands should help in the kitchen. But not as an exchange for sex in the bedroom. Helping with the kids and in the home is the responsibility of both partners. Men who do their share of chores will have happier wives, fewer conflicts, lower rates of divorce, and yeah, probably more sex. Go forth and vacuum.

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 19 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.

Think of your sweetie, and boost your mood

love on hand by David Castillo Dominici freedigitalphotos.netWhen you spend time thinking about your romantic partner/spouse, your body chemistry is positively impacted, say researchers from Western University.

Study participants got a boost in blood sugar/glucose levels by just thinking of their partner, giving them a boost in energy and happiness. It wasn’t just people in the early stages of young romance who experienced these benefits; long-term relationships and marriages benefited as well.

If we think about our romantic partner, we get a boost in glucose and a boost in our mood. And those who get a boost of glucose are the ones feeling really happy, explains psychology researcher Sarah Stanton. The researchers call the effect eustress, positive, euphoric stress.

Stanton explains, “It seems that no matter how long you’ve been with your partner or how happy you are or how old you are, if you think about them … you can still get that little stress response.”

These results are added to findings that thoughts about love stimulate cortisol and bring health benefits.

I wonder if the researchers considered only happy relationships in this study, because it seems couples who are having difficulty may not be able to get this easy boost. For example, if thinking of your partner reminds you of your most recent argument, it may negate the eustress effect.

However, it seems like good news that a zero-calorie, zero-side effect method could bring about these pleasant results, at least for many couples. Give it a try, focusing on positive aspects of your spouse, and see if you agree.

Read the last post about how letting glucose levels fall can impact your relationship.

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for more than 18 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

The #1 Thing Men Want More of is Not What You Think

The Normal BarBased on survey results from more than 70,000 respondents, the new book, The Normal Bar, provided a number of surprises. But the most surprising result I read about was when men in unhappy relationships were asked what they want most from their partners that they’re not getting. The authors/researchers expected to find that sex topped the list, but it didn’t make the top two.

Male respondents instead want more and better communication, saying their partners don’t listen to them attentively enough. Coming in second, they wanted more affection. In third place, they said they desired more sex.

Unhappy women also ranked communication at the top of their wish list, and for more affection in second place. Their third wish was for financial stability.

Remember that these were the responses from unhappy couples. Another surprise was the response from happy couples as to what they wanted more of. The number-one answer was “nothing.” In fact 35% of satisfied women and 40% of satisfied men say all their relationship needs are being met.

These results were not just true for Americans, but were true worldwide. Communication is apparently a bigger issue than most of us realize, being the most important relationship issue for many couples. Only the French reported affection as more important, which was surprising because the French were number-one in romance.

Take-Away

What can we take from these results to help us in our marriages? First, if your spouse is asking for better communication, don’t roll your eyes or belittle its importance. In your partner’s eyes, the way you speak to them and listen to them out may be one of their top concerns. Second, better communication may mean less talking and more listening. Reflect back what you hear to make sure you are understanding them correctly. And third, remember that it can be easy to drift apart. Make daily effort to reconnect on an emotional and physical level. Show affection and demonstrate your love with small daily efforts.

Are you giving your spouse enough time and attention? Are you talking only about the day’s agenda or about deeper issues, desires and concerns? Can you carve out time for a walk together or to have a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening? Try to bring a fun topic or question to your chats, such as dreaming about a future vacation, or guessing what famous person you would each like to have over for dinner.

Communication is a skill we can all learn to improve. If communication is an area of dissatisfaction or dispute, seek out a class, a counselor or even online tips for how you can take your communication to the next level.

I’ll be providing some additional insights from the book. You can learn more by reading The Normal Bar by Chrisanna Northup, Pepper Schwartz, PhD, and James Witte, PhD. Let me know if you’re interested in having your  name added to a drawing for a free copy of the book by leaving a comment below.

Do you agree or disagree with the survey results?

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Celebrate Each Day With Your Loved Ones

I want to wish a Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate. As we reach the holiday season again, I’m reminded that I haven’t lived up to my aim to celebrate each day of 2011 in my own way. Many days, I was caught up with the to-do list and didn’t have my heart leaning into celebration. I’m re-reading those tips and trying to take them more to heart. I hope you will, too.

My friend Debi Walter recently wrote about the famous Jim Croce song, Time in a Bottle here at The Romantic Vineyard. The lyrics that struck me were: “But there never seems to be enough time to do the things we want to do once you find them. I’ve looked around enough to know that you’re the one I want to go through time with.” Listen to the song, and let it remind you that we can’t save time in a bottle and spend them again with those we love. We just get the one shot, and before we know it, another year has passed. 

When I was young, my mother and I used to watch the soap opera, Days of our Lives, which always began, “Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Thankfully, I gave up soaps long ago! But I think of those words as I look at the hourglass in my son’s room. Please share your ideas for making each day really count, both as we finish up 2011 and as we make plans for 2012. Blessings to you.

Online florists offer flower delivery to help people show loved ones they care.

Dr. Oz Credits Wife with Success While Promoting Good Health

Mehmet Oz, M.D., with wife Lisa

When I met Dr. Oz this week at a luncheon in Indianapolis, I was expecting to get useful health advice, and he did not disappoint. However, I wasn’t expecting to hear how much his marriage has played into his success.

“My wife, Lisa, is not only the woman of my dreams, she’s also the woman who made my dreams come true,” said Dr. Oz.

He credits Lisa with hearing his daily concerns about not having a strong enough impact on getting patients to change their behaviors. She not only listened, but encouraged him to think bigger and reach out to a TV audience to reach his goals and achieve his calling. The result was a TV show they started called Second Opinion. By luck or grace or hot pursuit, Oprah Winfrey agreed to be a guest on the show, beginning a long and fruitful friendship and partnership. The result is that Dr. Oz has been mentored to take over the open TV slot Oprah has vacated and reach even larger numbers with his message of healing and wellness.

Lisa’s ability to not just be a sounding board and a good listener, but to also nudge him in the right direction, propelled her husband to have one of the highest rated TV shows in America, along with web traffic double that of WebMD, and radio shows to boot. However, he still performs surgeries one day a week, educates students, provides direct patient care, and produces weekly TV programming.

Dr. Oz and Lisa still have time for their four children. He has traveled the world to learn about health issues and advantages in different countries, revealing many healing trends from the use of music to T’ai Chi and other balance-building skills. He also mentioned the need to address healthy relationships, particularly for young people, and says loneliness can be a killer.

More than the advice he shared, I was struck by the life he is modeling by prioritizing his marriage and family, by finding a way to achieve balance through healthy diet and exercise, by following his dreams and finding his passion, by working to solve the world’s biggest problems from obesity to disease to learning how to be a good listener.

While I don’t think we should be giving our spouse advice on a regular basis unless requested, I’m reminded to take my spouse’s concerns to heart and to make a better attempt to be honest and supportive. I’m also reminded to take responsibility for living a balanced and full life and to hold myself accountable for reaching my personal goals.

Read about Lisa’s perspective here in this article on Strategies to Keep Your Marriage Healthy. She says her husband extols the medical virtues of wedded bliss: “It can lower your stress level, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, even improve cancer survival rates. All very well—but the operative word here is bliss. It’s been proven that it takes a happy marriage to reap the most from those benefits. And—as I can attest after nearly 25 years of marriage (some a bit bumpy)—that takes work.” So check out her tips.  

Read more: What is one sentence your spouse might say about you if he or she were giving a speech today?

Are you truly compatible? Does it matter?

“There is no correlation between being happily married and how compatible you are,” says marital therapist Mary Jo Rapini. I thought her article “A Good Marriage May or May Not Be Compatible” was spot on, and I encourage you to read it. Rapini calls this compatibility issue another myth that couples strive for.

Couples who become unhappy often blame “incompatibility,” when in fact couples can’t be compatible at all times and may argue about budgets, sex, child rearing, chores, etc. Rapini cites a study that shows a telltale sign of an unhappy marriage is when one spouse begins to worry about being compatible or overstate the importance of compatibility for a good marriage. “Unfortunately, due to the lack of healthy marriage mentors, couples don’t understand that it is normal to go up and down,” she explains.

Instead of blaming our newfound incompatibility, we need to work through challenges and narrow down our differences. We also need to realize when our own personal issues are to blame, or when we have different visions for the future.

I recall seeing this happen with a friend who had decided to divorce her husband. “We really never had that much in common; we’re just too different,” said the mother of two about their father. It’s a similar kind of justification.

I probably have many more differences with my husband than similarities. I think that respecting and even admiring our differences is key, even encouraging growth in different areas. On the other hand, I think that having similar values and life goals is very helpful.

Rapini adds that when we walk away from challenging times in our marriage saying, “We aren’t compatible,” we lose an opportunity for growth not only in our marriage but also within ourselves.

Are you currently testing your relationship to see how compatible you are? Do you sometimes wonder if you and your mate are truly compatible? Narrow down the specific areas that are bothering you, and check out Rapini’s tips.

Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.com by Edward Bartel

Three Ways to Enjoy Your Relationship More

Please check out these three relationship tips that I was asked to provide for Redbook’s Shine! from Yahoo blog. These are the tips I would share if I had just a couple of minutes in an elevator with you and your spouse, and you asked me for simple, yet meaningful, advice you could take to your marriage today.

For more detailed advice, check out the archives, as I’ve written extensively about each of these topics. If you haven’t yet subscribed to automatic blog posts, take a second to do that (on the right column). Or consider sharing the blog with a friend whose marriage you want to encourage. I generally send three research-based marriage tips a week, and you can opt out at any time. I hear from readers all over the world how simple tweaks can benefit their relationships and family life.

LINKS:
The always helpful  Michele Weiner-Davis writes about Why You Haven’t Seen Change in Your Marriage (and what you can do to fix it).  She is spot on.

The Generous Husband explains how one person’s changing the way you talk or argue can make a big difference down the line. Most of us are waiting for our partners to change. You don’t “lose” if you are the one to change; you both win.

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com.

6 Tips to Make Romance Easy/Automatic

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

Most of us intend to do nice things for our sweethearts, but few of us get around to doing these things. I think the key is to make it as easy and fast as possible.

For instance, I know lots of men “forget” that their wife needs loving notes or touches through the day. If you have a smart phone, you have no excuse to forget. Just as you schedule important client notes or work deadlines, simply program in brief reminders into your week.

  1. For example, Monday morning at 10 a.m. set a reminder to text or email your spouse about something positive from the weekend.  You can even put the reminders in code if you don’t want them to know, but make it easy. Then do it right away. “Had a great time Sat night” or “That lingerie was a hit” or “Thanks for putting up with my extended family this weekend.” Done.
  2. Wednesday at lunch, set a reminder to call and say you were just thinking of him.
  3. Thursday remind yourself to mail a sweet card that you have stashed in your office.  Buy these cards in bulk, pre-address them, and put love stamps on them. Always ready to go. If you don’t want to mail it, hide the card in a briefcase or leave where it will be seen.
  4. Saturday, set a reminder to go hug your wife. She won’t care if the hug comes after your phone buzzes.
  5. Sunday, set an alarm to leave a short sticky note or small gift somewhere they will find it, such as a favorite candy bar or a candle or scented lotion.

 For those who are willing to put a small fund toward creating romance, you can even automate your gift-giving. The first idea came from 1001 Ways to Be Romantic by Gregory J.P. Godek:

  1. Place a standing order with a friendly florist, giving him or her a list with birthdays, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or “just because” days. Provide a price range and your floral likes/dislikes. Leave your credit card number and a request to send these orders on the selected days, or to call you and go over the orders together a few days ahead of time.
  2. Join a beer/wine/cheese of the month club that allows your guy to get a monthly surprise.
  3. Your husband might even agree to a monthly lingerie allowance to surprise him. Select multiple items at once to save you time.

The key is to make daily romance automatic and easy. If you can’t make time for a two-minute task each day to maintain a romantic atmosphere in your marriage, your lover may not be high enough on your list of priorities.

What is your biggest obstacle to romance—time, creativity or money? Your answer will help me determine what kind of tips to share here.

Related Link:
The 50 best marriage tips ever from YourTango.com.

ABC News reports a good kiss can seal a relationship, while bad kiss can kill it. The video has more research on kissing.

Photo credit: ©Melissa Schalke/PhotoXpress.com

Use Business Skills to Win in Your Relationship

Tennessee Entrepreneur Louis Upkins Jr. published the following tips in a Business Week article called Manage Your Marriage Like a Business to help successful businesspeople use their work skills to help their marriages. Specifically, he recommends consistent excellent customer service strategies rather than “working at” a great marriage.  

I think he offers excellent advice. He also reminds us that “a wide body of research suggests that the status of our marriages influences our well-being at least as much as the status of our finances.” He says he is amazed by the number of successful executives who on the surface seem to “have it all,” but who fully admit they are anything but happy. Here’s a summary of his ideas; link to his article for more details:

  1. Know your customer. Stay in tune with your spouse’s changing needs, hopes, and concerns. If you’re not sure what they are, ask.
  2. Earn their business every day. Just as you would impress clients with attention and treat them with respect, do the same for your partner.
  3. Don’t make excuses. Customers (and spouses) want solutions, not excuses. When you make a mistake, acknowledge your error, and then fix it.
  4. Work on a win-win strategy. Regularly ask your spouse, “What can I do to help you be successful?” Then follow through with what they need. Use your planning skills to balance the family’s needs, for example if one spouses is putting their career on hold to raise children.
  5. Mix business with pleasure. “We seldom give our spouses the rewarding experiences we give our best customers. Find ways to inject new life into your relationship via activities that have no purpose other than to say, ‘You matter.’”

Upkins reminds professionals that they strive for excellence on the job, and they shouldn’t settle for anything less of themselves at home. In fact, the skills acquired on the job can help you retain your most valuable customer, your spouse.

What other business skills do you think come in handy in your marriage? What necessary skill sets for marriage are very different from what you learn at work?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

Don’t Expect Your Spouse to Meet All Your Needs

How many close friends do you confide in? Half of Americans have just one person with whom they discuss important matters. For many married people, that person is their partner. In recent decades, the number of people we truly connect with and count on has dwindled. The problem is that one person—even your “soul-mate”—can’t be expected to meet all your needs.

In a Times of London article titled “How to Stay Married,” correspondent Stephanie Coontz argues that a strong network of friends is the best way to keep a marriage strong. She says that it is only in modern times have we expected so much from the marital relationship and so little from everyone else. This article was a reminder to me to rekindle some of my friendships, not just for my own benefit, but as a possible benefit to my marriage. Just because I consider my husband my best friend doesn’t mean he wants to go purse shopping with me or discuss hair styles. (I’ve asked my poor hubby to do both. He declined.)

Common advice tells couples not to let other relationships interfere with time together with our spouse. We are urged to “deepen” and “strengthen” our bonds. “But trying to be everything to one another is part of the problem, not part of the solution, to the tensions of modern marriage,” says Coontz.

She explains that until the middle of the 19th century, the word “love” was more often used to describe feelings for friends and neighbors than for spouses. Both women and men often had extremely strong bonds with friends and family members. It was during the postwar “Golden Age of Marriage,” when spouses began to expect their partner to meet more of their needs, Coontz says. However, she says housewives soon found “they could not find complete fulfillment in domesticity” while men also felt diminished in their less social roles.

In the modern era, we often see “happily ever after” as living in marital bliss and perfect harmony while meeting one another’s emotional and physical needs. Perhaps we are expecting a little too much from each other?

In addition, we are likely neglecting other relationships. Modern married couples are less likely to visit, call or offer support to their parents and siblings than are single individuals, according to a U.S. study from 1992 to 2004. When our children are young, we may spend time with other young families. However, with the exception of that time period married, people are less likely to socialize with friends and neighbors. This isolation can be unhealthy to the couple, and it also doesn’t allow us to reach out and help our neighbors when they need us.

Women and men today often have careers and hobbies, so why are we so weak at having multiple strong relationships? Coontz explains that “our speeded-up global economy has made balance harder and harder to attain, leading us to seek ever more meaning and satisfaction in love and marriage.” Sadly, that makes sense to me. We’re so busy rushing around seeking accomplishment that “obtain a great marriage” becomes yet something else on our to-do list.

I was relieved that Coontz does not recommend we try to lower our expectations of intimacy and friendship within marriage. Instead, she suggests we raise our expectations of other relationships and invest in those relationships. “The happiest couples are those who have interests, confidants and support networks extending beyond the twosome,” she says.

Stephanie Coontz is the author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage. She is also the director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families.

How much do you rely on your spouse for friendship, problem solving and socialization? How strong are your relationships with friends, coworkers, neighbors and family members?