How to Make Love Last, Even When He Refuses to Rinse His Dirty Dishes

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on December 10, 2007
Tags: ,

first dance.

I’ve always been a bit of a commitment-phobe (understatement). I’ve given each and every one of my past boyfriends hell, none moreso than my husband. I’m stubborn, solitary, and independent, and entrusting my heart to another has always been somewhat of a stretch.

As a result, I’ve read an estimated one trillion relationship how-tos. Out of those trillion or so books, my favorite couple therapists/authors have been Barry McCarthy and John Gottman.

McCarthy is a marital and sex therapist based in D.C., and I read his Getting it Right the First Time, so that I wouldn’t have to someday read Getting it Right This Time.

Gottman is a professor of psychology and the co-founder and co-director of the Gottman Institute. Of his many books, I own Why Marriages Succeed or Fail and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

I’ve tried to follow the tips in their books as consistently as possible and, as a result, my life with my husband has never reverted to The Way Things Were When We First Moved In Together:

  • If you don’t respect each other, there’s going to be a problem. Remember the person you fell in love with, warts and all, and you’ll be able to accept both their strengths and their weaknesses for many years to come. It may help to reminisce about the beginning of your relationship, before it occurred to you how annoying it is to have a girlfriend who eats cookies in bed.
    • This means that you should not demean your partner, especially in front of others. Even if you think it’s clear that you’re just teasing.
    • And acknowledge the fabulous things they do or accomplish.
  • Hold on to those positive feelings. Aim to maintain a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative couple feelings and experiences. This way, the tough times will never be so overwhelming that they shake the very foundations of your relationship.
  • Your Way Is the Right Way, But You Can Still Humor Him. Just kidding. The truth is, the both of you were most likely raised in wildly different ways, so you probably have differing ideas of right and wrong (the right way to load the dishwasher…the right way to make the bed…). As you enter into this relationship. realize that you can create new traditions and new concepts of what exactly it means to do things the “right” way.
  • Polish Up Your In-the-Ring Technique. Having a good relationship doesn’t mean not fighting; it means fighting the right way. Instead of blaming your partner for your negative feelings, take responsibility for them. And then attempt to have a rational discussion about them, that does not involve slamming doors, blaming, walking out, etc.
  • Avoid the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These would be Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.
  • Present a united front. Some conflicts will seem insurmountable. Don’t take this as a sign that you should take your complaints to an outside party. This will only serve to undermine your relationship.

All of these books contain a multitude of couple exercises that you can complete with your partner, that are sure to provoke many enlightening conversations. If you’d prefer to purchase a workbook, filled with nothing but exercises, I’ve found that the one I received at pre-cana is good for those who are both religious and non-religious. I’m sure there are a number of options out there, but the one I have is this. Sometimes, we sit in bed and do one of the worksheets together, because we’re huge dorks. I mean, it’s either that or boggle.


4 Responses to 'How to Make Love Last, Even When He Refuses to Rinse His Dirty Dishes'

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  1. Sapphire said,

    Good advice

  2. Mike A. said,

    i emailed this post to andrei. maybe it’ll help him and alayna work things out.

  3. Alicia said,

    Matthew and I used the same workbook for our pre-cana. We totally brought it to the diner and dorked out over the activities whilst eating breakfast at 11 o’clock at night.

  4. divinespiritlove said,

    Thank you for posting this article. I also try hard to work on relationships as much as humanly possible and this article helps tremendously. My appreciation to you is in the highest sense.
    To show you my gratitude I would like to share with you a post I found that also helps with this:
    Thank you indeed. I hope it helps you and others who read this as much as this post of yours as helped, please keep up the incredible work in helping others!

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