Friday, February 12, 2010

Is Your Intimate Behavior Killing Your Relationship or Marriage?

When people are together long enough to get comfortable they start doing things exclusive to their relationship, like “baby talk” and wearing sloppy or goofy-looking clothes, that might be immediately cute or novel to them, but can kill attraction deader than a rock. Sometimes they get so comfortable with it in private that they give the rest of us a dose of it, too! (Yeah, YUCK! is right!) Look for signs of this in your relationship.

I had a visit from a couple of friends, Bill and Cheryl. It was a study in “what not to do” as they say. They’ve been married for about twenty-six years, and acted SO married it almost seemed scripted to watch them. They finished each others’ sentences, ate from each others’ plates, talked “baby talk” to each other (gag!!!), and were about the shabbiest dressed wealthy couple I’ve seen in a long time.

She was in an oversized men’s sweat suit (despite the 90°+ F. / 32°+ C. weather) because it was “comfortable” and wearing no makeup. He was wearing baggy cargo shorts, an over-sized graphic T-shirt, and sandals (accentuating his bow-leggedness, very knobby knees, and extremely large feet sitting below his rather robust torso, a left-over from his college days as a football player, giving him the look of some sort of cantilevered rock formation found in the deserts of the American Southwest).

Eventually she excused herself to the powder room, and I asked him how things were going, ready to bet the farm that they were comfortable and bored stiff; I would have won the bet. They had started out very into each other, having a lot of fun together, and things had cooled off quickly not long after their marriage.

They had joined that large group of couples in long-term relationships that sleep together every two months – yes, that’s a sad but true statistic, at least in North America. Adult couples in mature married relationships (two years or longer) average six sexual encounters per year. Sad, isn’t it?

These two were a textbook example of what happens when two people get too comfortable with each other. Take a close look at what they were doing. Is there anything whatsoever sexually exciting in hearing your partner talk like they are addressing a baby? Or like they are one? Not unless you’re a pedophile. “Sweet” as the girls say, maybe, but no way it’s sexy.

As for the flour-sack-esque, nearly homeless-looking attire, she might as well have been in an over-sized bathrobe with curlers in her hair and a cigarette dangling from a toothless mouth, and he might as well have been holding up a sign that said “will work for food” and looking like he hadn’t bathed in a month or two, except maybe in a bottle of cheap wine. Just makes you want to snuggle right up to one of them, doesn’t it? It's a shame, because properly dressed and groomed, they're a strikingly good-looking couple.

I also noticed that as they talked, if they weren’t doing the “baby talk,” they acted a lot more like girlfriends than husband and wife, especially the business with finishing each others’ sentences and reaching over to touch each other every time they started a sentence. Now, Bill is anything but effeminate, and when he spoke to me it was very “mano-a-mano,” and I found myself staring at him as he switched modes every time he switched between talking to me and his wife.

Don’t let this happen to you! A man and woman should communicate, freely and openly, but not in a way that kills their attraction for each other. They should be comfortable around each other, but not in ways that make you dull, sloppy, uninteresting, or project an extreme lack of self-respect.

Your partner should be the most important person in your life (other than yourself – holding your spouse as more important than yourself makes for a good romance novel, but makes for a disaster in real life) if you have a great relationship, and as such, they deserve the best in you, not the worst, the most interesting, not the most mundane. That’s how life-long love relationships are enjoyed, by keeping in mind that all other relationships are likely to be transient, and are therefore less important than this one.

Many people would shrink back in indignation or jump on a stump and start preaching at the mere suggestion that your partner be more important than even your children, and I’m not going to debate that subject with anyone; however, I will ask you to at least take a logical – yes, entirely unemotional -- look at it for a minute.

Your children come along, and you live with them day after day for eighteen years, plus or minus a year or two. Then they’re gone except for weekly visits if you’re lucky, if you are the average parent. Your partner, if you manage your relationship properly, was there before the kids, and will be there long after the kids have gone, day after day after day, “until death do us part,” right? You don’t want your adult children living with you, but you want your spouse living with you for the rest of your life, at least if you have a good marriage.

So logically, who is more important to your life’s happiness, someone who by definition (early death notwithstanding) will stick around for 18 years and be gone, or somebody who (again, early death notwithstanding) could be with you day after day for 50 years or more, if you give them a good reason to stay, like loving them, being interesting and fun to be around, sharing their values and celebrating their achievements with them? Pretty obvious, huh?

Obvious or not, and whether you accept it or not, real-world experiences bear it out. Marriage and parenthood are diametrically-opposed, and if you do not find a healthy balance point between them, one or both of them will suffer as a result. Men will probably be comfortable with this much more readily than women because of (as usual) biological factors, but everyone should think about it and come to grips with it as self-evident truth, because it helps you to at least appreciate the full significance of a commitment to a life-long relationship.

(And for any of you women who are right now thinking, “How dare he? My kids are going to come first and he can just get over it!” get this: if you make your husband take a back seat to your children or anything else, you give up your right to be upset, hurt, mad, or anything else when he chooses to let you take a back seat to something. Double standards and hypocrisy don’t work any better in relationships and marriage than they do anywhere else, so get some perspective before you make a choice that the whole family will ultimately suffer over. Put your marriage first if you want it to last a lifetime, or accept responsibility for spending your retirement years alone after alienating your husband by treating him like a second-class citizen.)

This doesn’t have to happen to you. It’s your choice, and it doesn’t take much effort. Basic awareness of the potential causes of the problem and choosing to do something other than commit one of those causes is really about all there is to it. Baby talk, men acting like girlfriends instead of men, and dressing yourself and acting in a way that does not project self-respect are only a few of the ways in which you can kill attraction dead, and knowledge is power!

Know what kills attraction, and what creates it, and use that knowledge to make one of those relationships that has you happy to be together for fifty or more years! (You wouldn’t believe the things people buy you for your fiftieth anniversary! Just kidding…) I put that knowledge together for you in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage.” It’s there, tested, working and guaranteed. All you have to do is go to http://www.makingherhappy.com/ and download it, and then USE IT. It’s just that easy, and life is just that short that you don’t want to spend it being part of some miserable statistic.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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