Time to get that resolution of being a better father, husband, and all-around human being out of the way. This year, if you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth, become a back-seat parent, or simply have lost a bit of the spark in your relationship, then you may benefit from the collective wisdom of Fatherly’s favorite relationship experts. If they’re of no use to you now, well, they’re good to stockpile for future screwups.
Schedule Sex Night. Seriously.
It’s hard to carve out some sexy time, especially when you’ve got kids. But call a babysitter and make it happen. Otherwise, unstoked furnaces lead to cold personalities — and more fights. “Set it up 2 or 3 times a week,” says Kim Anami, sex educator and practitioner of ‘vaginal kung fu’. “Air out things hanging in the ether. Don’t talk about the daily debrief — talk about the status of your relationship.”
What else should you be doing during this manned mission to her Innerspace? “You just need to be naked and intimate together and some kind of agenda, like ‘We’re going to find your G-Spot tonight.’ I wouldn’t run through a whole circuit, but have one or 2 goals.”
Learn When It’s Your Turn
Most couples go through times when one person is the prima ballerina of diaper-changing (you look great in a tutu, by the way), while the other parent is the career-driven backup dancer. What you don’t need to be is right there with them, micromanaging the micro-management. “If you’re able to appreciate being complementary with your spouse, you get a system that can really survive those first 5 years,” says Couples therapist and TED rockstar Esther Perel. “Those are the years with the highest rate of divorce, and if you get through them, you have a likelihood to actually stick it out.”
How To Divide And Conquer All The Chores
“People have the greatest relationship satisfaction when they both have a clear understanding of the division of labor and household responsibilities,” says Laura Silverstein, clinical director and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners. The deciding factor isn’t who does more but the clarity around whose job it is to do what.” And the fairest split isn’t always 50/50.
Don’t Let The In-Laws Win
Are your parents being the in-laws from hell? That’s a tight spot. Just know that whichever side you take in an in-laws fight, you’re going to end up making someone unhappy. Which means, take your wife’s side because you see her more than once a year.
Relationship expert and board certified psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger says that “feelings of resentment can build” in situations where a partner chooses their parent over their spouse, “and when those feelings start building, you get into a danger zone where it puts a strain on the marriage.” In the long run, your kids will thank you for freezing out grandma.
Try The Talking Cure
There’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in the biology of a married couple’s relationship: If your feelings are more roommate than romance, your wife’s oxytocin levels can drop. When she’s upset, your testosterone levels drop. Dawn Maslar, M.S., adjunct biology professor, researcher, and expert in the ‘science of love’, says the remedy is simple: Have conversations about anything.
“There were studies done with couples where the women weren’t interested in being sexual. One group of women were given nasal oxytocin and talked with their partner about sexuality and the relationship. In the other group, they just talked,” says Maslar. “They discovered that both groups were improved.” Just don’t say anything about her hormones.
Don’t Do “Date Night,” Do “Date Morning”
It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday or weekend, nights aren’t great a time for the chronically sleep-deprived. “The most important thing I understood is that I didn’t care about the evening. I cared about the morning,” says Ester Perel, who would be awoken, like all of us, by her young kids between 5 and 6 am. “It’s much better to have breakfast then dinner, because you’re actually awake, dressed, and you still have something to say. Most of us do date night when we’re depleted.”
There’s Such A Thing As A “Good” Divorce
Going through a split? As you’re meeting with lawyers and divvying up finances, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the logistical and emotional details and fall into an ‘I suck, I failed’ mindset. Wendy Paris, author of Splitopia: Dispatches From Today’s Good Divorce And How To Part Well, says the research shows that self-compassion is the strongest indicator of post-divorce resilience. First step: Stop thinking of yourself as the only divorced guy. “It’s easy to think ‘Everyone’s marriage is succeeding and I’m the only one.’ Understand that this is not a unique failing, and it’s part of the human experience,” she says.
Revisit the Best Relationship Advice From 2015
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