Get Closer by Mixing It Up in and Out of the Bedroom

If you feel that daily sex will make you both happier, read on. According to fascinating research, the action between the sheets once a week is enough to reignite and keep the passion and love alive between the two souls.

Although more frequent sex is associated with greater happiness, this link was no longer significant at a frequency of more than once a week, the team revealed.

“Our findings suggest that it’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner, but you do not need to have sex everyday as long as you are maintaining that connection,” said lead researcher Amy Muise, social psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto-Mississauga.

The results, based on surveys of more than 30,000 Americans collected over four decades, reveal that happiness quotient is not there after couples report having sex more than once a week on average.

In one study, researchers analysed survey responses conducted by the University of Chicago about sexual frequency and general happiness from more than 25,000 Americans (11,285 men, 14,225 women).

For couples, happiness tended to increase with more frequent sex but this is no longer true after couples report engaging in sex more than once a week.

Despite common stereotypes that men want more sex and older people have less sex, there was no difference in the findings based on gender, age or length of relationship.

“Our findings were consistent for men and women, younger and older people, and couples who had been married for a few years or decades,” Muise noted.

Sex may be more strongly associated with happiness than is money. To find this, the researchers also conducted an online survey with 335 people (138 men, 197 women) who were in long-term relationships and found similar results as the first study.

These participants were also asked about their annual income, and there was a larger difference in happiness between people who had sex less than once a month compared to people who had sex once a week than between people who had an income of $15,000-$25,000 compared to people who had an income of $50,000-$75,000 per year.

“People often think that more money and more sex equal more happiness, but this is only true up to a point,” Muise pointed out.

The findings don’t necessarily mean that couples should engage in more or less sex to reach the weekly average but partners should discuss whether their sexual needs are being met.

“It’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner without putting too much pressure on engaging in sex as frequently as possible,” Muise advised.

However, the findings were specific to people in romantic relationships and there was no association between sexual frequency and well being for single people.

The findings were published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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How Working Long Hours Really Effects Your Relationship Life

Apparently, being “married” to your job isn’t actually detrimental to your real marriage — or any romantic relationship for that matter.

No one wants to be working long hours all the time, so when you have to, you might feel a little guilty — for sitting too long, not getting any exercise, and, of course, not spending time with the person you love.

Well, there are ways to minimize the impact of sitting (so it doesn’t kill you — duh), and exercises you can do at your desk, but is there a way to repair the damage caused by long hours to your relationship?

The movies have created a picture in our minds of the hardworking man or woman mesmerized by the glow of the computer screen late at night juxtaposed next to an image of the partner anxiously waiting for that him or her to pull into the driveway.

But a new study published in the journal Human Relations contradicts that trope completely. Apparently, being “married” to your job isn’t actually detrimental to your real marriage — or any romantic relationship for that matter.

A team of researchers out of Switzerland and Germany gave 285 couples online surveys to test the “conventional wisdom [that] long hours at work dry up employees’ romantic relationships at home,” where they answered questions about their relationship and career goals, working hours, and relationship satisfaction.

Their main hypothesis was that “optimization” of one’s personal life — deliberately investing time, attention, and energy into the relationship — is linked to relationship satisfaction.

However, what they actually found was that couples who spent more time apart due to work obligations actually made more of the time they did have together to compensate for the time apart, creating a good balance in the relationship. They also found that career-focused people were more realistic about what they should expect from their personal lives.

When you really think about it, it’s not a huge surprise: When you spend a lot of time with your partner, it becomes much easier to fall into a comfortable routine and more difficult to make the effort to carve out actual quality time. Who needs a real date night when you just Netflix and chill every night anyway?

Regardless, it’s probably still important to not kill yourself with overtime at the office. After all, many past reports have shown that employees who take time for themselves to recharge — even taking a vacation! — wind up drastically outperforming those who live at their desks.

So find out if you’ve been overworking yourself and take a breather if you need to. But if you’re still set on getting all your work done, and you’re conscious about your relationship (as Shelly Bullard would put it), you can have a little faith that your significant other will still be there for you when you get home.

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Curious to Find Out If a Relationship Will Last with Nearly 100% Accuracy?

Relationships can be dragged down by negative emotions like sadness and hostility. The negativity becomes “like quicksand … the couple steps in and they just sink deeper and deeper”.

romantic coupleDoctors Julie and John Gottman have been studying relationship psychology for 40 years.

They claim the ability to predict with 94 percent accuracy whether a relationship will last.

They’re in Auckland to train clinicians, and met with Story’s Kim Vinnell for an exclusive interview.

The Gottmans shared a few of their key principals for making a relationship work:

  • Express the fondness and admiration you feel. Don’t just think it, say it.
  • Turn toward your partner’s bid for connection. Dr Julie Gottman says if your partner says “Look at that boat”, respond with, “Wow Charlie, that’s a beautiful boat”.
  • Talk about beliefs and values — they don’t need to be the same, but they do need to be discussed.
  • Everybody has conflict. Most conflicts are never resolved. Dr John Gottman says the masters of relationships are “very gentle with each other”.

Dr John Gottman told Story most arguments arise from personality differences, and those differences have to be accepted.

He says the masters of relationships say, “Here’s what I’m thinking, and here’s what I need from you”.

In a good relationship, Dr John Gottman says we see people saying things like “I might be wrong” and “I’m sorry”.

Relationships can be dragged down by negative emotions like sadness and hostility. The negativity becomes “like quicksand … the couple steps in and they just sink deeper and deeper”.

The Gottmans’ research suggests all couples, regardless of gender and sexuality, have similar problems.

However, social barriers — such as workplace prejudice and isolation from family — make some qualities more important in same-sex relationships. Those qualities include a sense of humour and ability to calm down during an argument.

The Gottmans say gay and lesbian partners are less likely to use controlling and hostile emotional tactics.

“What makes relationships work is not that we’re perfect”, Dr John Gottman believes — saying it’s all about “managing miscommunication and repairing.”

Watch the video HERE for the full Story report.

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See Who Thinks Romantic Relationships are Like Having a Job

Who would you guess?

People around the world fall in love. That seems like an obvious truth today, but it used to be quite controversial.

In fact, some scholars still believe that romantic love was invented by European troubadours in the Middle Ages, and that people outside of the western tradition don’t really experience it.

“We decided to see if that was true,” says anthropologist Ted Fischer, who teaches at Vanderbilt University.

In 1992, he and William Jankowiak, an anthropologist at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, did a survey of anthropological research on 166 different cultures around the world.

“We looked for evidence of romantic love, and that could have been love poetry, or elopements, or just general descriptions of what we’d consider to be romantic love,” Fischer says. “And we found it in an overwhelming majority of cultures.”

Fischer says in the few places where they didn’t find evidence of love, well, the anthropologists who did the original studies weren’t looking for the factors he and Jankowiak were looking for. So elopements or love-related suicides might have occurred and just not been noted.

“So we thought it’s very likely romantic love is found in all cultures,” he says.

Jankowiak and Fischer’s paper made a big splash, and today it’s widely accepted that people in cultures outside of the West experience romantic love.

But perhaps not all romantic love is the same.

“When you look at cross-cultural research of romantic relationships, you get these very striking cultural differences,” says Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu, a psychology professor at Idaho State University.

For example, when asked about love in surveys, people in some Asian countries are more likely to describe love in negative terms than westerners are.

“The sorts of cross-cultural differences that come out of self-report questionnaires would suggest that easterners, for example, really don’t feel passion, really don’t think about love as a positive thing,” Xu says.

In countries with a tradition of arranged marriage, falling in love is disruptive and dangerous. Historian Stephanie Coontz studies marriage, and she says only recently has there been an assumption that love would come before marriage.

Historically, “falling in love before marriage in India was considered an actively antisocial act,” Coontz says. “In ancient China, the word for love connoted a very socially disrespectable relationship.”

Falling in love is arguably about pleasing yourself, and some cultures put more emphasis than westerners do on serving your family or your community.

When asked about love, many people in China will talk about melding two families, or carrying on the family name. They’re likely to emphasize long-term attachment, rather than Hollywood-style romance. They’ll talk about duty and commitment. When freelance producer Rebecca Kanthor talked to people on the street in Shanghai about love, the word that kept coming up was “responsibility.”

“Being involved in a romantic relationship is a lot like having a job, actually,” says Jessie Chen, 24, a Shanghai accountant. “Both of them are very risky, can be risky. Having a job is risky. Having a romantic relationship can be risky.”

Chen says she’s hoping to find a husband whose parents will get along with her parents.

“Two years ago, I would say getting married is more about loving someone,” she says. “But now I’m getting more and more practical.”

That kind of approach to marriage is still common in China.

“It’s very pragmatic,” Xu says. “It’s based on thinking about whether or not this person is going to fit into your family and if they’re going to be a good financial choice, etc.”

And yet there is love poetry in China, and songs about romantic love. Xu says the surveys that seem to indicate a lack of passion in China don’t ring entirely true.

“The issue is that all of these studies are done using self report,” Xu says. “So it’s really difficult to know: Are people accurately reporting their experiences and there’s this drastic difference between how westerners experience love and how easterners experience love? Or is it that culture is influencing how people talk about it?”

Xu headed the first study to look at the brains of Chinese people who were in love and compare their brain scans with those of people in the US and England.

“We found that they’re almost identical,” she says.

Xu says the few differences her team found may have been because they were using a stronger scanner than earlier studies had used.

This research provides support for what Xu had guessed was the truth: “How we go through the process of love can be very culturally defined,” but the experience of love is really not so different from culture to culture.

And Chinese culture may be changing when it comes to love and marriage.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the marriage markets that have sprung up in Chinese cities in recent years. As millions of people have migrated to urban areas, old ways of negotiating matches have become impossible. You can’t consult with the neighbors if you don’t know the neighbors.

On a recent weekend in Shanghai, people looking for spouses filled People’s Park to look at personal ads laid out on the sidewalk or attached to walls. Many were parents looking for spouses for their adult children — sometimes without the children’s knowledge. Some opened umbrellas, set them on the sidewalk and clipped laminated sheets of paper to them, listing their children’s vital statistics — age, height, income.

Zhou Yun, senior matchmaker at Shanghai Hongyan Matchmaking Company, was at the market to help arrange meetings, for a fee. She says things have changed since she was a girl.

“In contemporary China, young people put a lot of emphasize on material conditions” when they look for a spouse, she says. “They are quite picky.”

One thing many parents of young women insist upon is that the prospective groom have his own apartment. Not many young men can offer that. Zhou Yun says people want too much, and so they’re not likely to find spouses.

“Many young people are the single children in the families,” she says. “Their parents are concerned about their kids being taken advantage of in marriage.”

Some people in Shanghai say they think Chinese ideas about love are changing, influenced by the West. But Zhou Yun disagrees.

“Actually throughout Chinese history, falling in love hasn’t changed much, regarding how people feel,” she says. “Regardless of Chinese or foreigners, our feelings are basically the same when it comes to love and relationships.”

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A Commitment to Purpose and Other Qualities of a Highly Successful Relationship

We are approaching a period of time when relationships are ready to go through a major redesign. The current paradigm isn’t working. People are unsatisfied in love; people don’t know how to make relationships work.

couple of teenagers volunteering outdoor in the parkAnd, believe it or not, this isn’t a bad thing. Because when systems break-down, that’s when they change. I believe that’s what’s happening in the area of intimate partnership. The break-down is forcing us to move towards conscious love.

So what exactly is a conscious relationship?

It’s a romantic relationship in which both partners feel committed to a sense of purpose, and that purpose is growth. Individual growth. Collective growth as a couple. Growth that makes the world a better place.

As of now, most people get into relationships to satisfy their own personal needs. This might work for a few years, but eventually the relationship fails us, and we end up unsatisfied as a result.

But when two people come together with the intention of growth, the relationship strives towards something much greater than gratification. The partnership becomes a journey of evolution, and the two individuals have an opportunity to expand more than they could alone. Deep satisfaction and long-term fulfillment arise as a result.

So if you’re someone who feels called to take your experience of romantic love to the next level, below are four qualities that characterize what being a conscious couple is all about. Welcome to the path of the conscious relationship. This is next-level love …

What Gratefulness Can Do For Your Relationship! It’s Big.

One of the first life lessons little kids are taught is to always say, “thank you.”

When someone does something nice for you, you thank them. It’s a concept that is drummed into our heads starting at the age of about two. But you’ll notice that saying thanks doesn’t come easy. Very rarely does a kid remember to say it – it usually follows a prompt by a parent…now what do you say? And it never gets easier.

Gratitude doesn’t come easily or naturally to most of us; rather, it’s a skill that needs to be honed and crafted. But when you get it down, it can literally change your life. Countless studies have demonstrated that expressing gratitude can vastly increase our physical and emotional well-being.

Gratitude can also have enormous implications for your relationship…and your ability to find love if you aren’t currently in a relationship. When both partners see the good in one another and feel appreciative, the relationship is filled with love, connection, and harmony. When both partners focus on what the other isn’t doing and take each other for granted, the relationship is filled with resentment, frustration, and bitterness.

The truth is, a good relationship starts with you. When you bring positivity and happiness into the relationship, your partner will rise up to match and then your relationship will flourish. I’m not saying the responsibility is on the woman – it goes both ways. But the only person you can control is yourself.

If you want your life and your relationship to improve, you can’t blame circumstances or your partner. Instead, you need to take responsibility and make internal changes that lead to external ones. And the most important lesson is that of giving thanks.

Read on to find out how it’s done and why it’s so important.

Why Is It So Hard?

Life can tear a lot of us down. As the years go by, bitter experiences pile up and our hearts become shrouded with hurt and pain. The more jaded we become, the harder it is to see beyond the darkness and feel thankful for anything. A lot of us become the victims of our own lives and we feel justified in it. We blame our parents, our upbringing, the boy who broke our heart, the bad economy. I’m not saying none of it is valid, but when you dwell on all the bad hands you’ve been dealt, you fuel the fire of anger and resentment and this only makes for an even more miserable experience.

When it comes to relationships, expressing gratitude can be even more challenging because the stakes are so much higher. Romantic relationships can cause many emotions to rise to the surface…some are good and exhilarating, and some are bad and rooted in pain from the past. All of us look at life through a lens that is colored by our own experiences and we form certain expectations as a result. When you measure a guy against this code of expected behavior, he will always fall short and you will always feel disappointed. The reason he’ll fall short is because no one can get it right every single time. He isn’t a mind reader and he has been shaped by a whole different set of experiences.

When you think a guy should do something, and if he doesn’t it means he doesn’t care, then you ignore all the things he does that show he does care and get all riled up because of a few things that you (or rather, your unconscious mind) think a man should do when he loves a woman. You feel hurt and unloved and might start blaming him for “making” you feel a certain way. When you’re in this head space, you will not be able to appreciate anything he does and will silently resent him for not doing more. He can text you back promptly every single time and you will still get upset the one time he takes a little longer to get back to you.

When You Appreciate A Man…

Everyone likes appreciation; we all want to be seen and acknowledged for what we do. But appreciation hits different notes for men and women. Typically, women want to feel adored and cherished above anything else in order to feel happy in a relationship. Men need to feel appreciated and acknowledged. If a man doesn’t feel that, he will either leave the relationship or will stay in it and feel miserable.

When a man feels like a woman appreciates him, he will go above and beyond to make her happy. It’s not just about appreciating what he does, it’s about appreciating who he is. What men want more than anything is a woman who is happy with him. That’s really it. And a woman who expresses gratitude and is happy with who he is and what he does is the woman he wants to commit himself to.

The more gratitude you feel for him, the more connected he will feel to you and the more he will come to appreciate you. I’m not saying you’re never allowed to be disappointed or upset with him, but there is a difference between disapproving of an action and disapproving of a person. You can express your discontent in a loving way that still conveys an appreciation for his character as opposed to a punishing and blaming way that makes him feel bad or guilty.

If you want more love from your man, you need to make him feel loved and the way to do this is to show genuine appreciation for the things he does. Look at the intention, not the action. He’s not going to get it right every single time – that just isn’t possible. But the majority of the time, his intentions are good. He set out to make you happy and that deserves to be appreciated. You don’t need to give him anything in return – just you being happy with who he is and what he does is all he needs from you.

How to Train Yourself to Be More Grateful

Now that we’ve covered why it’s important to be grateful, let’s talk about tangible ways to do it.

I think the most powerful way to re-train your mind to be more grateful is to keep a gratitude journal. A teacher of mine gave me this suggestion many years ago and I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I considered myself a very grateful person and did not see how this would benefit me at all.  But then I gave it a try and wow…it was not as easy as I expected. My teacher told me to write down three things I was grateful for every day. Easy enough. The catch was that they always had to be different, as in no reruns.

As the days passed and the exercise got a little more difficult, I noticed myself changing. I started to live every day actively looking for things to be grateful for. Usually this was because I wanted to come up with three things and just be done with it, like getting in an early morning workout. I thought it would only continue to get harder but a funny thing happened after a few weeks…it actually got easier. And soon, I was finding way more than just three new things to be grateful for each day. I kept going with this for months and can affirm that it is absolutely life- changing. I felt so calm and so at ease and just happier all around.

If you are having trouble in your relationship, I highly suggest you think of two or three things every day that you love and appreciate about your partner. You don’t even need to tell him you’re doing this or what the things are. Just think about it every day and write it down. And like I did in my exercise, think of new things every day. It can be things he did for you or things about him. Focus on everything he does right and see how that impacts your relationship. (Mark my words, you’ll start seeing major changes within about a week or two.)

Even if you aren’t having major issues in your relationship, anytime your partner does something that annoys or frustrates you, just think about a few reasons why you care about him and why you’re grateful to have him in your life.

I just want to add that this does not apply to relationships where there is physical or emotional abuse. I’m talking about healthy, functioning relationships that just get rocky from time to time…as most relationships do.

If you’re single, think about what you love about your life right now. Think about what you’re appreciative for and good things that have happened throughout the day. I think writing it out is best because it makes it more real, but if that feels like too much of a commitment then just spend time every day reflecting on it.

Practicing gratitude on a daily basis can literally re-wire you. It can transform the way you think which will change the way you feel and the vibe you transmit. People can naturally pick up on the vibes someone is sending out. When you feel bitter or angry or jaded on the inside, it will come across on the outside no matter how you try to hide it. There is no faking being in a good place.  You have to work on it, and if you do, suddenly everything will change and you’ll notice enormous improvements in all areas of your life.

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