8 Organic Couples Habits In and Out of the Bedroom

There’s no cookie cutter formula for the perfect relationship. But research does show that a combination of both big and little things—from doing yoga together to sharing meals prepared with organic ingredients—helps maintain happier, more satisfying partnerships.

Here are the mindful habits that connected couples rely on.

Young Ethnic Couple On Kitchen Slicing Vegetables1. They Do Yoga Together
You can probably think of more romantic things than sweating it out in a vinyasa class. But making a date to do yoga or go on a hike through the forest with your partner can bring about worthwhile results in a relationship. The buddy system will not only help inspire you, but it will create a feeling of synchronicity between partners, highlighting a shared passion and common goals. Bonus: Working out together has been proven to help you burn more calories and possibly even spice things up in the bedroom.

2. They’re Open About What Goes On Between The (Bamboo) Sheets
It’s not just about the monkey business that happens in the bedroom. A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships concluded that young, monogamous couples—especially the males of these couples—reported both more sexual satisfaction and overall satisfaction with their relationship when they talked openly about bedroom preferences with their partners—right down to what kind of natural linens they like. Getting over fears or anxieties related to sexual disclosure and revealing more may lead couples to a higher level of intimacy.

3. They Stress Less
According to UC Berkeley researchers who tracked conversations between 154 married couples, those who used the words “we,” “our,” and “us” more than “I,” “me,” and “you” reported being more satisfied and showed fewer signs of stress. Strike a healthy balance between individuality and togetherness—whether that be spending an afternoon harvesting backyard tomatoes or engaging with neighbors while volunteering together at the community garden—and you’re one step closer to a strong, lasting bond.

4. They Understand The Value Of Sharing Homemade Meals At The Table
It may sound silly, but get this: A survey of newlyweds conducted by a mattress retailer found that a partner eating in bed tied with snoring as the number one pet peeve distracting couples from bedded bliss. It turns out that conflicting meal etiquette and discord over whether or not to use organic, GMO-free ingredients can lead to a crummy night’s sleep. A UC Berkeley study found that poor sleep can turn lovers into fighters. Even one rough night of sleep can have a negative impact on spouse interactions, causing more discord between couples, poorer conflict resolution, and decreased ability to gauge one another’s emotions the next day.

Mixed Ethnicity Gay Couple Kitchen5. They Give Constructive Feedback About Each Other’s Healthy Habits
Experts have theorized that, in the most contented pairs, the magic ratio may be five positive feelings, efforts, or exchanges for every one negative, such as complaints or criticisms. For example, share what organic habits you like (the new all-natural soap in the bathroom) when telling your partner that leaving the compost bin out with the lid off drives you nuts (it attracts fruit flies!). Think of the former as an antidote to the latter and make efforts to be a good listener, stay calm and non-defensive, and have empathy in times of disagreement. The power of positive thinking (and expressing) is especially potent in partnerships.

6. They Connect Over Nature
Relationship experts at The Gottman Institute (which helps couples achieve lasting, loving relationships through research) studied couples’ reactions to random small talk, like “Wow, look at the sunset.” Researchers categorize this as small but important requests for connection. They found that couples who regularly engaged each other in this kind of nature-loving small talk were the ones who ultimately stayed together.

7. They Share A Netflix Account With Animal Documentaries
You’ve heard that life imitates art, right? A study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology—in which couples watched one movie each week for a month—documents an interesting finding. It turns out that watching films featuring an intimate relationship as the main plotline (in this case, maybe it’s the monogamous mating habits of penguins) inadvertently sensitized these couples to issues in their own partnerships and triggered the desire to work through their own problems. The films acted as gateways for couples to reflect on their own relationships in a safe, nonthreatening environment.

8. They Emphasize Digital Detox
If your faces are constantly buried in your smartphones, you may be digging your way to a problem. It may seem dramatic, but a trio of researchers at Boston University’s Department of Emerging Media Studies found evidence that frequent use of social media in the presence of your partner—which can feel antisocial—negatively impacts overall relationship happiness and quality. Another analysis even found a correlation between heavy use of Facebook among partners and spikes in divorce rates. Try leaving your digital life to your daily commute and focus on inclusive activities with your spouse—like camping together or taking evening walks around the lake.

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When It’s Okay Not to Have Sex

Have you ever asked for a sex break?

How do you tell a married couple to abstain from sex when there is no health or physical challenge in the way? It sounds suicidal and so wrong, right? After all, sex is a key aspect of the beauty of the union.

In fact, marriage is the only place that sex is legally and morally allowed without the familiar backlash of society. So what could make anyone counsel a married couple to abstain from sex? It sounds like a ridiculous suggestion.

There are times when married couples practice impromptu abstinence due to health or spiritual reasons. Not having regular sex in marriage could also be caused by long distance, that is, when your spouse is away from home for a long period of time. This type of waiting game has its resultant effect -good or bad- on marriage depending on the duration.

As bizarre and ridiculous it sounds, the practice of abstinence in marriage in this sex-crazed world is important. It is important that couples stay away from under-the-sheets for a period. The Bible has already given spiritual reasons for abstinence from sex but more than that, abstinence helps to build a deeper intimacy with your spouse.

There is so much emphasis on sex in marriage that couples have relegated other forms of intimacy to the background. Sex is seen as the ultimate way of having a lasting relationship but this concept is so wrong. While sex is important, it is not the bedrock of relationship. Too much concentration on sex could leave cracks in a marriage.

For example, some people cannot communicate with their partner unless sex is involved. When this becomes a ritual in marriage, then the value of sex is abused. Instead of a bonding, there is bondage. Sex becomes a manipulative tool in the marriage, a bargaining chip to get your spouse to do as you desire.

An extreme fall-out of too much sex in marriage is when your partner is addicted to porn and uses you as his tool of release.
If you find yourself in such scenarios, then you need to practice abstinence in your marriage. Abstinence comes with its advantages and disadvantages but if well informed, it yields the desirable results. Before you embark on this journey, it is important to know the following facts:

1: Abstinence is a mutual agreement: Couples who intend to use the abstinence therapy must be willing to do it. The decision should not be one-sided. Both parties have to talk about it and see it as a means to a healthy relationship. If one party is in disagreement, then it is no longer abstinence. There must be clear understanding by both parties on the necessity for such a practice in their relationship.

The One Thing Happier Couples Do Together

A study shows that giggling in tandem is a good indicator the relationship’s going to last.

Study after study has shown that laughing is good for the soul. But now we know something else: sharing giggles with a romantic partner keeps the lovey-dovey feelings going, according to a study published in the journal Personal Relationships.

Laura Kurtz, a social psychologist from the University of North Carolina, has long been fascinated by the idea of shared laughter in romantic relationships. “We can all think of a time when we were laughing and the person next to us just sat there totally silent,” she says. “All of a sudden that one moment takes a nosedive. We wonder why the other person isn’t laughing, what’s wrong with them, or maybe what’s wrong with us, and what might that mean for our relationship.”

Happy Couple In Bath

Kurtz set out to figure out the laugh-love connection by collecting 77 heterosexual pairs (154 people total) who had been in a relationship for an average of 4 years. She and her team did video recordings of them recalling how they first met. Meanwhile, her team counted instances of spontaneous laughing, measured when the couple laughed together as well as how long that instant lasted. Each couple also completed a survey about their relational closeness.

“In general, couples who laugh more together tend to have higher-quality relationships,” she says. “We can refer to shared laughter as an indicator of greater relationship quality.”

It seems common sense that people who laugh together are likely happier couples, and that happier couples would have a longer, healthier, more vital relationship—but the role that laughter plays isn’t often center stage. “Despite how intuitive this distinction may seem, there’s very little research out there on laughter’s relational influence within a social context,” Kurtz says. “Most of the existing work documents laughter’s relevance to individual outcomes or neglects to take the surrounding social context into account.”

Kurtz noted that some gender patterns emerged that have been reported by previous studies. “Women laughed more than males,” she notes. “And men’s laughs are more contagious: When men laugh, they are 1.73 times more likely to make their partner laugh.”

There’s also evidence that laughing together is a supportive activity. “Participants who laughed more with their partners during a recorded conversation in the lab tended to also report feeling closer to and more supported by their partners,” she says. On the flip side, awkward chuckles, stunted grins and fake guffaws all are flags that there may be something amiss.

This harkens back to a classic psychological experiment conducted in 1992, where 52 couples were recorded telling their personal, shared histories. The team noted whether the couples were positive and effusive or were more withdrawn and tired in telling these stories, then checked in with the couples three years later. They saw a correlation in how couples told stories about their past and the success of their partnership: the more giddy the couple was about a story, the more likely they remained together; the less enthusiastic the couple was, the more likely the couple’s partnership had crumbled.

While there are cultural differences in laughter display—Kurtz says that Eastern cultures tend to display appreciation with close-mouthed smiles, not the heartier, toothy laughs that are more Western—there’s no question that laughter is important. “Moments of shared laughter are potent for a relationship,” she says. “They bring a couple closer together.”

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Original Article

Couples Advice: How to Avoid the Worst Fights

What’s the worst fight couples have?

Depending on your history with fights in relationships, the question might send a shiver up your spine. I solicited relationship experts of all stripes to reveal the most harrowing fight they commonly hear couples have — that argument that ends the relationship, or at least damages it nearly beyond repair. One conclusion: People say horrible things to each other in fights. Another: There are ways to avoid ever having such destructive fights to begin with. In terms of subject matter, the experts didn’t cite one particular awful fight as most typical, but rather each expert related a different spat they’d heard over and over that clients wish they’d never had. However, though the topic may have varied, the theme was the same: These brawls were down-and-dirty, rough, inconsiderate — and brutal.

None of these squabbles were of the ilk I’d file under “healthy fights,” but rather came from places of mutual disrespect, anger, fear, resentment and genuine lack of support for one another, rife with insults, judgment and attempts to control one’s partner. It doesn’t take a brain scientist to know that a quarrel like that isn’t going to end well.

The fights couples have that they wish they could go back in time and take back — the doozies, the ones that cause near-irrevocable fissures or linger in the relationship indefinitely — are the ones we’d all like to avoid in our romantic relationships. The good news: They are avoidable, as long as you stay on top of issues and don’t let your relationship spiral out of control to begin with.

My favorite response was short and sweet, from Joan Fradella, a Florida Supreme Court certified family mediator: “The one fight couples wish they never had is the one that preceded the appointment with either an attorney or with me.” Preach.

1. The Sex Fight

This one should be a no-brainer, but it turns out that couples who fight during or immediately after sex come to regret it (and yes, as usual, pun intended). “Avoid all arguments, and never say anything even vaguely critical during or immediately after lovemaking,” say authors Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels. The married couple have written several books about sex and love, including Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships, and are adamant about barring fights from the bedroom. “Most people are in a highly vulnerable state when they’re turned on and after a sexual encounter,” they say. As such, a little tact and gentleness go a long way.

“If something is not working for you in the moment, and certainly if an activity is causing you any discomfort, it is good to speak out,” they advise. That said, steer clear from any language that implies blame or judgment. Don’t say, “Why are you doing that? It feels awful,” Michaels and Johnson recommend. Instead, try something more effective, such as, “I’m not sure I love that. Could you try this instead?” Unless there is an immediate need to say something, though, it’s best to put a pin in it and address your concern at a later date. “If something happens during sex and you feel the need to discuss it, kindness (not to mention enlightened self-interest) often dictates that you should save the conversation for later,” Johnson and Michaels say. It’s kind to bring up hard things, especially sex-related issues, outside of the bedroom; and it’s in one’s own best interest to do so, as there’s a better chance it’ll lead to a rational discussion — not a fight.

Michaels and Johnson put a spin on the old adage of “Don’t go to bed angry”: They suggest that you take it literally, and never have an argument in bed. Putting fights to sleep before you put yourself to sleep “is a somewhat controversial bit of conventional wisdom, though some recent research tends to support the idea,” they say. If you have to have a difficult conversation with your partner, try to do so at a time and in a place that “will minimize their potential for disrupting your connection” — not just before it’s time to snuggle. “While it may not be humanly possible to avoid ever going to bed angry, doing your best to minimize conflict in advance of sleep is kindness in action,” they say. So try not to have a fight just before bedtime, and “dedicate a space for your disagreements,” they say.

How To Avoid It:

I’m just going to quote Johnson and Michaels here, because what they have to say on this is so brilliant.

“If you’re getting ready for bed and are having an argument or feel one brewing, choose to take the discussion into that dedicated space and wait until things have cooled down before calling it a night. Most couples have most of their sex in bed, and it’s difficult enough to eroticize your shared sleeping space. Thus, it’s a good idea to refrain from creating an association between your bed and conflict. Being kind is not an abstraction; it’s all about making choices that demonstrate your esteem for your partner and send the message that, even if you’re furious about something, your anger in no way diminishes your regard.”

Mic down, Michaels and Johnson.

2. The Fiscal Infidelity Fight

“Money is … the number one topic that couples fight over (with sex coming in second),” says relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can’t Leave Bad Relationships. Money fights, or what Sansone-Braff calls “fiscal infidelity,” happens when “one partner learns the other partner has cheated on them in monetary matters.” The cause changes, but the problem is always the same: “Whether this person is guilty of lying about how much money he or she makes, claiming he or she can’t find work, gambling, spending too much, abusing drugs or helping out other family members without his or her partner’s consent doesn’t matter,” says Sansone-Braff. “The bottom line is that fiscal infidelity causes people to feel that they have been deceived and betrayed.”

How To Avoid It:

It all depends on how deep the fiscal betrayal goes. “The extent of financial ruin, and the amount of lying and manipulation employed to cover up the financial sinkhole, can and will determine whether these actions become a deal breaker,” Sansone-Braff says. “Additionally, If money had been a major issue in either or both of the partners’ parents’ marriages or relationships, then this can really trigger a ‘War of the Roses’ scenario that can either destroy a relationship — or rebuild it back up from a more honest and stable foundation of pecuniary transparency and trust.”

In other words, this fight offers a chance for healing if it’s played right. If it’s an ongoing fight that gets dragged out for a ride every month or two, it’s obviously not healthy and will lead nowhere. But if you and your partner see this conflict as an opportunity to work on fundamental financial issues and invite each other to have more truthful conversations as a result, the fight could lead to harmony in the end.

When You Haven’t Had Sex with Your Partner in a Long Time

I’m attracted to him, but I haven’t been able to get closer.

My husband and I have not had sex in a year and a half. We’ve had sex maybe 10 times in the last five years. I am a sexual trauma survivor. These two things are directly related, but it’s taken me years to make the connection.

Our sex life wasn’t always like this. For the first six months of our relationship, we had sex all the time. Passionate, mind-blowing sex, in fact. Knock-your-socks off sex. So you can imagine my husband’s confusion when I suddenly seemed to lose interest.

It was around the time we moved in together, and I didn’t know what was wrong. We thought it was hormonal, and I switched birth control. We thought it was related to some major life changes, so we waited it out. We thought it was a difference in libido, so we tried things like taking sex off the table for a month. We tried hooking up but not having intercourse. I started going to therapy. The problem only got worse.

My husband began to feel like I wasn’t attracted to him anymore. He stopped trying to initiate things. He grew resentful. We talked about options like opening our marriage. We had a lot of conversations about the fact that this wasn’t fair or what he wanted in a relationship. Since I have also been interested in women, he questioned whether I was attracted to men at all.

Meanwhile, I felt despondent. I felt detached and numb. I knew I was attracted to my husband, because I felt it. But I didn’t want to have sex. I wanted to kiss and cuddle without it leading to anything else. Sometimes I’d give into some form of sexual activity, but I always felt empty and used afterwards. There was always an elephant in the room. It felt like it was between us when we got into bed at night.

What’s funny is that I’m a certified rape crisis counselor. I can talk about the effects of sexual trauma on sex until I’m blue in the face. But I couldn’t internalize it and apply it to my own life. I was sure that there was a different problem. I swore that my trauma hadn’t affected me to that level. And for years, I used sex as a coping mechanism.

In the years leading up to meeting my husband, I found myself joining the “sex positive” movement. I wore it like a badge of liberation. I was determined to take back my body. I found BDSM and kink, and I jumped in with abandon. I thought I was free. It’s only now, with clear vision, that I can look back and see that I was not in an emotionally healthy place to be making these kinds of decisions. At the time, I viewed a lot of these activities as consensual but I recognize now that I was not emotionally healthy enough to be consenting. It is absolutely possible to participate in fully consensual BDSM. But for me, at that time, I wasn’t capable of it and I didn’t realize it. And the result of this is that it traumatized me more.

That all came to a head for me when my husband and I moved in. What I know now, that I didn’t know then, is that all of this is normal. What I know now, that I couldn’t internalize then, is that I was coping in the best way I knew how. And it’s because of the safety that I finally felt with my husband and in our relationship that the symptoms of my trauma finally shone through. And now I’m left undoing not only the harm that other people have done to me, but the harm I caused myself under the guise of sexual liberation.

Today, my husband and I are seeing a wonderful counselor. What we’ve learned, together, is that it’s normal for sex to be great at the beginning and to taper off when the survivor begins to feel “safe.” My dissociation and numbness around sex are also normal. It was hard for him to understand at first, because dissociation doesn’t look traumatic to someone witnessing it; it just looks like lack of enthusiasm. Which is why, for so long, my husband thought I just wasn’t into sex with him. As we, and I, start to work through this stuff, I get triggered. It gets hard. It gets uncomfortable. But I choose to think of it as progress, as a sign that I’m beginning to move through the numbing phase and onto the healing phase.

We both know that we have a long road ahead of us. We know that we won’t go back to having wonderful, consistent sex tomorrow, or even next week. But now that we’re both on the same page and the problem is clear, we feel a freedom and a closeness that we haven’t felt in a long time. The fact that we’re tackling this together brings us an intimacy that we lost when we stopped having sex. And while having regular date nights and finding activities to do together doesn’t bring quite the same intimacy that sex does, we’re taking steps in the direction of healing and we both finally feel hopeful that one day, we’ll have sex again.

Curated by Erbe
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More Into P*rn than You–What Do You Do?

Passionate Living Coach Abiola Abrams gives love, dating and self-esteem advice on the CW’s Bill Cunningham Show and all over the web through her hit web series AbiolaTV. Now she wants to help you keep things spicy and fresh between the sheets. Are you in need of an intimacy intervention? Just ask Abiola!

Dear Abiola,

Is it normal for my husband to be more into porn than into me?

I got married 4 years ago. From the beginning I have had a feeling that my husband is not emotionally attached to me. Now we talk very little. He is always busy internet surfing or playing games. I feel so lonely.

He is not interested in sex any more. It has been 2 months since we had sex. I have caught him masturbating so many times while watching porn. But whenever I try to join in or do sexy stuff with him, he refuses or remains quiet.

This all hurt too much. I love him and want to be with him. All I want is to be loved and to have his time. I tried to talk to him but he refuses or says it’s not a problem or gets angry.

I feel like porn has come between my relationship and I am blaming myself. Pornography is evil. What should I do to be loved by him!


Broken Woman

Dearest Sacred Bombshell,

First of all, you are not broken. You are a whole and complete woman no matter what is happening to you in your relationship, bedroom, or life.

You have nothing to blame yourself for. A man — or woman — cannot be driven to porn by anything his or her partner does. Read that sentence again. Your husband is an adult. He is the only one responsible for his choices. Your husband should absolutely not be choosing porn over you. That is beyond problematic.

Your question, “What can I do to be loved by him?” is also extremely troubling. That set off all of my alarms; not only as Life Coach but also as a woman. There is no right thing that you can do to be loved by the wrong person. Someone either loves and accepts who you are or they don’t.

You say that your husband has not been emotionally into you. Is it possible that your husband may be depressed and not have the emotional ability to express his sadness? Did something transformative happen personally or professionally around the time that his behavior changed?

If someone wants to numb and avoid their real lives, they can become addicted to anything. Porn is your husband’s drug of choice. It is not the adult films that are evil. The issue is that you are sad and lonely in a non-communicative marriage with no emotional or sexual intimacy. If your husband is addicted to pornography, you cannot have a healthy relationship. You can’t have a healthy relationship with an addict.

Ask your husband to join you in therapy ASAP. Show him this post. Tell him that this is a 911 situation. Let him know that you have been feeling sad and lonely in your relationship. Meanwhile, you may both find support in a 12-step group. Please note that this is not intended to treat or diagnose any illness or condition. Your husband needs to take responsibility for his own well-being.

Be Broken Ministries is a group for men struggling with porn addiction. FightTheNewDrug.org is an online recovery program and Sexaholics Anonymous at SA.org can be a great place for you both to find support.

I called you a Sacred Bombshell because I have reclaimed the word “bombshell” to mean a woman who loves, honors, and cherishes herself in mind, body, and spirit. This is what I want for you. You deserve to feel love and connection in your relationship. You deserve your man’s love and his time. Whether your husband acknowledges the issues or chooses remains in denial, I urge you to get support for yourself immediately.

Passionately yours,


Curated by Erbe
Original Article

7 Things I Learned From Marriage That I Couldn’t Learn Anywhere Else

Marriage: It’s two people really digging deep, getting to know each other and share each other’s lives, to give and take strength from each other as needed. 

In my standup comedy act, I sometimes ask the audience “Who’s married?” and a lot of hands go up.  Then I ask them, “Who USED to be married?” and feign amazement when lots of the same hands go up.  I berate them for making the same mistake twice-

“Who ARE you people?  Who on earth says, well, that sucked- let me try it again with some other asshole?”

I only sort of mean this.

But I don’t entirely not mean it.

I was married for eight years.  That’s right, in a row, because anyone can take breaks, Janice!

My marriage ended badly, but that doesn’t mean that it was all bad.  I learned a lot about what marriage is.

The first thing I learned about marriage is that it’s not about the engagement or the parties or the wedding, those public, social media things.

It’s the opposite of that.  It’s the ultimate private thing.  It is two people making a life together, alone.  It doesn’t have anything to do with looking pretty in a dress or if your mom enjoyed the profiteroles at the reception.  There is a whole industry geared up to tell you that marriage is about paying 100% more for shoes because they are white, and if you don’t have the right diamond ring, it means he doesn’t love you enough.  It’s not about that.  I learned a lot of things about what marriage isn’t, or wasn’t for me.  It’s not an endless meet cute.  It’s not (necessarily) about pleasing God or childrearing.  It’s two people really digging deep, getting to know each other and share each other’s lives, to give and take strength from each other as needed.  If you primary motivator to get married is not the desire to make and share a life with that person, you should look at what it is you really want.

The second thing I learned about marriage is that you could be so proud and excited about spending the rest of your life with another person one second…

like the time I came home and found that my spouse had spent the day spontaneously putting up shelves for me, and just as aggravated the next day, when that same spouse had totaled his car doing something stupid.  It’s the same person.  “I’m so lucky, I can’t believe I’m married to you!” is the flip side of “OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M MARRIED TO YOU.”  They’ll feel the same way about you sometimes!

They WILL do stupid things, and you will too.  Committing to the rest of your life together means that you’re going to have moments of strength and weakness, days when you can take on the world and days when you can’t get out of bed.  If we were all paragons of virtue and strength every day, we wouldn’t need other people, we’d just be constantly having sex with celebrities.  I think.  And we’d never be sick or tired or unemployed or lonely, because we’d be so busy kicking the universe’s ass every single day.

The third thing I learned about marriage is that it can transform you.

The support of another person, plus all the time you save from online dating, means that each of you can really figure out what you want your life to look like, and make that life.  Sure, you’ll probably stop matching your bra and panty sets and you’ll start eating more bread, but you can become a more fulfilled person.

The things your partner does will reflect on you in a way they never have before, both good and bad.  If they spout off at a party, fail to keep their promises, or behave antisocially, that’s your problem too.  Of course, if your spouse is a Nobel-prize winning doctor, some of that rubs off on you, as well.

I also learned that your spouse is who they are.

People can change behaviors but they can’t really change their identities.  When I met my husband, he was leaving a marriage that ended in infidelity.  Ours ended the same way.  He’s married again and I suspect it’ll end with another woman’s number in his phone.

One good thing about being united with another human being is that you can learn more about who you are, by contrast.  “That’s his thing.  That’s my thing.”  You can find out more about where you overlap and don’t overlap.

 Sex will get really good.

Really, really good.  Having sex with one person who is committed to having good sex with you, having years to figure each other out, means married sex, although the phrase lacks luster, can be incredible.

Your spouse will know you better than anyone.

I regret that my marriage ended badly, because there are things I want to tell him sometimes that only he’ll get.  The person who was closest to you for ten years is hard to lose.

The thing I learned when my marriage ended was that all endings are sad.

Every person who tells you they are divorcing deserves your sympathy and condolences.  Even when the marriage was bad, had been bad for years, there is a sadness in ending something that you hoped would last forever.

The last thing I learned is that other people like being married, and when they’re healed and feeling strong, they’ll seek it out again, and I won’t.  And that’s OK, too.

What are the things you learned from your marriage?

You May Need Relationship Therapy and Here’s Why

In early 2015, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard opened up to the media about the key to their happy marriage: couples therapy. Their advice? You shouldn’t wait until there are signs you need couple’s therapy. You should start from the beginning.

“You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe. Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about,” Bell said, according to US Weekly.

You don’t have to have the insight at the very beginning of your relationship to benefit from couple’s therapy. There’s never a bad time to learn better ways to communicate and deal with conflict.

As a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I’ve counseled couples who have run the gamut from mostly happy to inches from fleeing to different countries. Many of the problems they thought were insurmountable really weren’t. They just didn’t have the tools they needed to tackle their problems or the courage to be truly honest.

Here are some of the most common reasons couples sought out counseling, in case you’re on the fence. And if you are on the fence, there’s no rule that says you have to keep going back.

1. Your Or Your Partner Is Pregnant


There’s arguably nothing that will change your relationship more than having children. You need to share love and attention, live with no sleep, quadruple your responsibilities, and keep another living being alive. The fatigue alone is enough to make you less-than-pleasant, to say the least. Plus, you have to deal with changing bodies, a new budget… the list goes on. Having someone else to talk it out with can make your transition much smoother.

2. There’s A Lack Of Sex


If you’re having a lack of sex that’s more than the common occasional dry spell, you could be feeling disconnected from your partner. Talking to a therapist can help you reconnect, or explore other contributing problems, like lack of self-esteem, poor time-management, or boredom. And if your low sex drive is medical, your therapist can help point you to the medical resources you need.

3. For That One Lingering Problem


All couples have problems and disagreements, and sometimes they have to agree to disagree. Some problems, however, aren’t as simple as being willing to look the other way. If one of you wants children and the other doesn’t, for example, you may need help navigating that issue. If you can’t agree on anything, your therapist can teach you how to compromise and make sure you’re making decisions fairly.

5 Surefire Tips for a Successful Marriage from Real-Life Couples

Marriage can be both a source of joy and sorrows. Through ups and downs, couples can bolster their happiness by following these five tips that real life couples find work for them.

Share the housework

Research finds that couples that split household duties, including cooking, cleaning and child rearing, enjoy more sex and are happier than couples where the woman tackles “feminine” tasks and the man tackles “manly” tasks.

Lamar and Ronnie agree.

“We do everything as a team. We’re a team at work but also at home, you know with raising the kids. So teamwork has been instrumental in our marriage,” says Ronnie.

All you need is love

A majority of couples say love makes their marriages successful. Saying it to each other and remembering it can help strengthen relationships. Joel and Michael realize the importance that love plays in their marriage and celebrate it.

“I really don’t think there’s any difference between gay and straight marriage. It’s just two people who love each other and are going through life together. Marriage is marriage. Love is love,” says Joel.

Pack your bags, but not the kids

While parenting feels fulfilling, sometimes taking a break from the kids and focusing on the each other is greatly needed. It helps couples re-join and allows kids to gain some independence. Trina and George knew they needed some kid-free time away.

“We decided to start taking vacations without the kids because we knew almost immediately that it was important for us to stay connected,” George said.

Trina says the couple goes away mostly for weekend trips and the location doesn’t matter much.

“It really is about being together being exclusively together,” she says.

I want to hold your hand

Couples who hold hands with their spouses show the world that they love each other. They also provide strength, comfort, and affection to each other.

“It’s very much a sign of or a silent way of saying I love you,” says Lee, who has been married to Harry for 67 years.

Have fun together

Laugh together. Go on adventures. Play games. Share new experiences and have fun together to boost your marriage.

“I think the secret to our marriage is to be honest and open and laugh whenever we can and spend time with each other,” says Michael, who has been married to Joel for two years.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

6 SEX New Year’s Resolutions for Couples

These resolutions sure beat dieting and promising to go to the gym.

Enough with the resolutions about diets and gym memberships. As midlifers, we know there are more important changes to make in your life for improved health and well-being, stronger self-esteem and better relationships. And while a few may involve the kitchen (wink, wink), nobody is talking about dieting here. H/T to Leah Millheiser, Nuelle’s chief scientific officer, for these marvelous Sexolutions:

1. The bedroom will not be used for electronics unless they vibrate.

No, we don’t mean your phone on vibrate mode. Bedrooms are for sleeping, relaxing and love-making. There is no room for smart phones, iPads, laptops or televisions. Bedrooms are sacred spaces and should be afforded their due.

2. Exercise all your muscles.

Working out stimulates the body and the brain and of course helps burn calories and releases endorphins. All good stuff, notes Millheiser. But, ahem, aren’t you forgetting something? The Kegel muscles — AKA the love muscles — wrap around the vagina and anus. Working them helps strengthen the pelvic floor, which supports the bladder, rectum, uterus, and vagina. Kegel exercises can improve your general health, give you better control over urinary and bowel functions, and also make sex sensational again because strong Kegels heighten your arousal, enhance your orgasms, improve blood circulation to the genitals, and increase vaginal tone and lubrication.

3. Think arousing thoughts.

Be in touch with your sensual self. Building self-confidence in your sex life will only improve it, Millheiser notes. Build a mind-body connection. News flash: You won’t be the first person in the world to see George Clooney when you close your eyes.

4. Install a bedroom door lock.

Maybe Millheiser has met your Golden Retriever who moves from the foot of the bed to between Mom and Dad when things start to get interesting. She says it is wise to keep the kids and pets at bay and distractions to a minimum. Clearly she knows from whence she speaks.

5. Talk more, fester less.

Let your partner know what you want. The more you discuss your likes and dislikes, the easier it is to have your needs met. Nobody is a mind reader. Being upset because you think your partner “should know” something makes no sense — and won’t improve your relationship or sex life. Tell them, not your best friend, when things aren’t happening for you.

6. Make it fun.

Sex toys, role-playing, whatever gets your engines revving — go for it.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Better Sex After Childbirth

A study of 1,118 couples with children showed that 94 percent said they were satisfied with their sex lives and nearly 60 percent said that it actually got better after childbirth.

London: Resuming sex with your partner after childbirth may be a matter of two months on an average but when passion does return to the bedroom again, it comes with a new vigour, enabling couples to enjoy the act of lovemaking more, new research suggests.

A study of 1,118 couples with children showed that 94 percent said they were satisfied with their sex lives and nearly 60 percent said that it actually got better after childbirth.

But new parents on an average wait for about 58 days before they resume sex with their partner, according to the study.

Although most women fear that their partner would not find them attractive after childbirth, the findings of the survey conducted by Britain-based parenting site Channel Mum showed that men actually prefer their partner’s post-birth figure as it is more curvy and fuller.

Just 14 per cent of new mothers feel body confident after giving birth, Daily Mail reported citing the study.

“Having a baby is the biggest change you can bring into a relationship, so it is wonderful to see it can bring couples closer together rather than drive them apart,” Siobhan Freegard, founder of Channel Mum, was quoted as saying.

The research, however, showed that men are more keen to have sex after the wait than women.

While fathers want sex twice a week on average, mothers remain content with sex just once a week.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

China Opens Up to Families This Year

The new two-child policy, approved by the national legislature in December, allows couples to have two children from January 1.

Couples in China are now allowed to have two children as the new family planning law came into effect from Friday.

Couples in China are now allowed to have two children as the new family planning law came into effect from Friday, ending the world’s most populous country’s controversial one-child policy amid concerns over an ageing population and shrinking workforce.

The new two-child policy, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in October and approved by the national legislature in late December, allows couples to have two children from January 1.

“It is worth noting how people’s lives will be affected,” state-run Xinhua news agency said in its report.

The one-child policy, which was implemented from 1978 and restricted most couples to only a single child through a system of fines for violators and even forced abortions, was credited to have prevented over 400 million births restricting the population to over 1.357 billion as per census held in 2013.

The three-decade-old policy was changed as demographic crisis deepened with sharp rise in population of old-age people and shrinking workforce in the world’s second largest economy.

According to latest figures, the number of people aged 60 or over in China has reached 212 million at the end of 2014, accounting for 15.5 per cent of the country’s population, with the number of disabled elderly people approaching 40 million.

The United Nations has predicted that people over age 65 will account for 18 per cent of China’s population by 2030, double the number in 2011 which will have a negative bearing on China’s labour availability.

By 2050, China is expected to have nearly 500 million people over 60, exceeding the population of the US.

However, recent official surveys said that despite massive publicity to the lifting of the one-child policy, the two children rule has evoked less enthusiasm among 100 million couples who are eligible to have second child as they are not keen due to heavy costs involved in bringing up another baby.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Managing Your Money Together as a Millennial Couple

Love is grand. Love and money — eh, that’s a little less grand. Hell, most of the time it’s super complicated.

Talking about your finances with your partner — whether you’re quibbling over who paid for dinner last or deciding to make a big purchase — can be super stressful. And things get even more complicated when you start living together. When, how, and why you choose to combine your money is a tough decision, and every couple handles it differently.

While your friends and family will offer you plenty of dating advice, we tend to be less forthcoming with information about money management. And it’s not so simple as just copying our parents. We’re coming of age in a very different time: We’re the first group in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than our parents and grandparents had at the same stage of their lives. But it’s not all bad news. With more women working than ever before, 80% of millennials report being part of a dual-income couple. And we’ve found new ways to cobble together a living wage, with 38% of people under 35 relying on freelance work to contribute to their income.

So if you’re not using your parents model for managing money, and you probably shouldn’t demand to see your friends’ bank statements or 401(k) contributions, where do you go for real info? Well, we did the legwork for you, rounding up four young couples* — all somewhere between marriage and kids — who were willing to share the details of how they make their money work, individually, and as a unit. To help make the conversation as educational as possible, we asked Priya Malani, a financial planner and founder of Stash Wealth, to provide advice for each pair that’s also widely applicable.

Peter & Kelly

Peter, 30, works as an editor for a major sports website, and he does some freelance sports writing for other high profile sites. Kelly, 29, is a full-time bath designer, who also does some kitchen and bedroom design on the side. She has aspirations of starting her own company one day. Kelly and Peter recently married and own a condo in Jersey City, NJ. Together, they make about $80,000 annually.

The couple moved in together after a year of dating, immediately opened a joint checking account, and got a shared credit card. From the beginning, they have contributed the majority of their paychecks to the joint account — putting about 60% of their individual incomes into the joint account and keeping 40% separate.

Peter is the nervous one about their finances, admitting money was tight when they first started dating. “I was probably over-anxious, he says. “But we didn’t spend outside our means in the early days, and we both made a conscious effort to not fight over finances.”

Living within their means worked well for them, and they’ve managed to put down financial roots, even in New York’s insane real estate market. In February 2014, Peter and Kelly bought a condo in Jersey City. It’s a long-term investment they hope to rent one day, to help offset the cost of a home large enough to accommodate a growing family.

Peter and Kelly don’t have too many immediate money concerns. “The only thing that would worry me is if one of us died, because we don’t have life insurance,” Kelly says. “Otherwise, we have health insurance, we have savings, and we’re okay.”

As their careers have evolved, so have their money management skills. Although a majority of their income still goes to the shared account, they’ve also opened individual credit cards. This allows Kelly to cover business expenses like design materials, without bogging down their joint credit limit. They’ve also been able to grow their side gigs: Peter’s freelance writing and Kelly’s interior design work. In the future, they’d like to be able to focus even more on these professional pursuits, but both are concerned about financial security.

“At the end of the day, we want to do what is best for ourselves — as that will lead us to what is best for our family,” Peter says. “Kelly has thought about trying to build her own business, but the stress of an uncertain financial future, particularly when we are preparing for a bigger space and kids, is enough to keep us doing what we are doing.”

Financial Feedback:

Priya Malani was super impressed that Peter and Kelly are able to live within their means in such an expensive city. But, she urged them to open a Roth IRA as soon as possible.

“Saving for retirement when you’re young is much easier than when you’re older — each dollar counts a lot more,” she says.

Regarding Kelly’s concern about not having life insurance, Malani recommends looking into a term policy versus a whole life policy.

“As long as you keep up with your savings goals, you will do much better in the long run not to invest in a whole life policy,” Malani says.

For more information of the difference between term and whole life insurance, check out this story on Stash Wealth.

Watch Out! What One Behavior Spells the End

Contempt, a virulent mix of anger and disgust, is far more toxic than simple frustration or negativity. It involves seeing your partner as beneath you, rather than as an equal..

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are “pending” divorce after 10 years of marriage.

On the way home from work you have every intention of greeting your partner with a friendly “Hi, how are you? How was your day?” and listening attentively while he or she tells you all about it.

But the minute you open the door and drop your keys on the counter, you find yourself knee-deep in an argument about how he or she bought the wrong type of pepper.

Don’t worry: It’s perfectly normal to get into arguments like these with your significant other every once in a while, John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington and founder of the Gottman Institute, told Business Insider.

It’s what happens next that you need to watch out for, he says.

When you express your frustration over the pepper mix-up, do you listen while he explains that perhaps you didn’t ever tell him what type of pepper you wanted? Do you think this over, and, when you realize that maybe he’s right, do you apologize? Or do you adopt an attitude and think to yourself, “What kind of an idiot doesn’t know that bell peppers are for stir-fry and habaneros are for salsa?”

If you find yourself in the second situation, you’re likely displaying contempt for your partner, and it could be putting your relationship in jeopardy.

Contempt, a virulent mix of anger and disgust, is far more toxic than simple frustration or negativity. It involves seeing your partner as beneath you, rather than as an equal..

Gottman and University of California at Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson found this single behavior is so powerful that they can use it — along with the negative behaviors of criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling — to predict divorce with 93% accuracy.

“Contempt,” says Gottman, “is the kiss of death.”

The striking 93% figure comes from a 14-year study of 79 couples living across the US Midwest (21 of whom divorced during the study period) published in 2002. Since then, decades of research into marriage and divorce have lent further support to the idea linking divorce with specific negative behaviors.

One recent study of 373 newlywed couples, for example, found that couples who yelled at each other, showed contempt for each other, or simply began to disengage from conflict within the first year of marriage were more likely to divorce, even as far as 16 years down the road.

Why are couples who exhibit this one behavior more likely to split up?

It comes down to a superiority complex.

Feeling smarter than, better than, or more sensitive than your significant other means you’re not only less likely see his or her opinions as valid, but, more importantly, you’re far less willing to try to put yourself in his or her shoes to try to see a situation from his or her perspective.

Picture a resonance chamber, suggests Gottman, with each person in the relationship a source of his or her own musical (or emotional) vibrations. If each partner is closed off to the other person’s vibes (or emotions) and more interested in unleashing their own feelings of disgust and superiority, these negative vibrations will resound against one another, escalating a bad situation “until something breaks,” Gottman says.

If you’ve noticed yourself or your partner exhibiting this type of behavior, don’t despair — it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed.

Being aware that you’re doing something that could negatively affect your partner is the first step to actively combating it. If you can figure out how to avoid the behavior or replace it with a more positive one, you’ll likely greatly improve the relationship — and increase your chances of staying together for longer.

Curated by Timothy
Original Article  

A Valentine’s Day Rebirth

It turned out Valentine’s Day ended up being pretty special and terrifying.

I like Valentine’s Day. There. I said it. It doesn’t bother me. I get why it bugs other people. It’s a marketing scheme invented by Hallmark that either puts pressure on people to buy overpriced cards, dinner, jewelry, and stuffed animals, (for those who buy other adults stuffed animals), or it makes you feel bad that you don’t have anyone to buy you all that stuff.  Like One Direction and Anne Hathaway, I don’t mind that Valentine’s Day exists and it has its place in the marketplace.  I know that’s a very easy position to take when you have someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, but even if I didn’t, I would like to think I’d use it as a great excuse to eat too much chocolate, get drunk with my friends and hate-watch that Anne Hathaway movie. Also, what else are you going to do in February? The holidays are over. That Super Bowl commercial that everyone tweeted about has lost its luster and is now just another commercial in heavy rotation. The weather sucks and it’s only going to get worse in March. What else do you have to look forward to? A President’s Day mattress sale?  Just order off the pre-fixe menu and rest assure you’re going to get laid.

My husband, Alex and I have been together for a really long time. When I tell a twenty-something how long we’ve been together, I can see her do math in her head and search for a nice way to tell me that I look great for a corpse. Our first Valentine’s Day was February 2001 during our senior year in college. THE TOWERS WERE STILL UP FOR SEVEN MORE MONTHS! That’s how long we’ve been together.

So for fourteen straight Valentine’s Days during this century, Alex and I would mark the occasion somehow with some combination of dinner, gifts, something that involved planning, primping and thinking of each other.  And then we had a baby last year. Cue screeching car brake sound effect. We spent last Valentine’s Day the same way we spent everyday those previous two weeks: sitting in a hospital NICU tending to our baby son, Harrison, who decided to join us six weeks earlier than expected.

For the first time in our relationship, we forgot about Valentine’s Day. It’s a thing other people living in the outside world get to do. Valentine’s Day no longer applied to us. We were completely unaware of anything that wasn’t about our son’s current bilirubin levels and weight.  We would have no idea that ISIS invaded Los Angeles as long as the route between our house and the hospital remained terror-free.  It turned out Valentine’s Day ended up being pretty special and terrifying. We found out that day would be our son’s last in the NICU and that night would be our first with him in a room at the hospital. It hit us that we will now be for reals parents, totally on our own without a team of nurses and doctors, no backsies. “Okay. So what do we do in the meantime? Wanna get food? It’s Valentine’s Day. I guess.”  

We found ourselves sitting at the only restaurant that’s walking distance from the hospital, the Pacific Dining Car.  The Pacific Dining Car is a historic Los Angeles institution that time forgot. If you’re not familiar with it, you may recognize it from that scene from “Training Day” when Denzel meets up with three corrupt higher-ups smoking cigars and being mean and stern about stuff. Soooo romantic. It’s the old man joint of old man joints: leather banquettes, dark wood, and a menu full of 70’s wedding banquet fare including surf and turf, prime rib, shrimp cocktail, a lot of versions of the baked potato, and something called a “Baseball Steak.”  There was no rose on the table, no special Valentine’s menu; actually there was no reference that it was Valentine’s Day.  The other patrons didn’t seem romantically involved or to even like each other.  Everyone there seemed to be negotiating a hit for hire.  It was the restaurant manifestation of our mindset: Valentine’s Day is a thing that happens to other people somewhere else.  We’re dealing with more important things.