Last week I wrote about cheaters, and in particular why a man may choose to cheat…

and let’s be clear, it IS a choice, it is ALWAYS a choice to cheat. We are all adults here, so don’t let any psychoanalyst tell you some mumbo jumbo about how your man just couldn’t help himself. Hogwash! However, you may be pushing him further and further away from you and into the arms of another by your actions, words and the choices that YOU make. There are many topics to cover when talking about how to keep your man happy, so I am going to break them up to one at a time or a few at a time. Today let’s talk about communication! This is an important step to maintaining a happy home life.

“Studies show that married couples spend less than a half-hour a week talking to each other.”

-Deborah Tannen, PH.D.

As I have written before, communication is key between couples. And for both men and women, that doesn’t mean talking at your mate, but talking to them, and listening to what they have to say in return. So many of us are in the habit of rattling off our needs that our mates should solve for us, i.e. take out the trash, pick up the kids from soccer, pay a bill and the list goes on and on. This is what married couples often consider communication. This turns into an ongoing nag session where we often criticize our mates and then blame them for what we feel has not been completed to our satisfaction. This is NOT what I am talking about when I am referring to communication.

A typical negative conversation might go something like this:

Woman: I asked you to put gas in my car last Friday.

Man: I am sorry. I forgot with all the things I have going on at work. I’m really busy right now.

Woman:  (Ignores what he says and continues on with her agenda) When are you going to have time to put gas in the car? Also, the trash needs to be emptied, the AC guy never showed up and Steven needs new soccer shoes.  When are you going to do these things? I am sick of asking you over and over. Because you didn’t take care of this I will have to cancel my trainer tomorrow and stay home waiting for the AC guy. You know I have to pay the trainer because I am cancelling less than 24 hours in advance. Jeez! You are so selfish. I have a life too, you know!!

Notice the listening part of the communication has all been forgotten in this conversation. Perhaps the wife should have said, “Really, what is so stressful at work right now? Is there anything I can do to help?” That way the man is off of the defensive and understands that his wife is concerned not only about the things that need to be taken care of at home, but also about him too. He is just as important. Showing care and concern for another human being will always make them want to help you and do things for you, because you care about them as much as your own needs being met.

We need to take time for each other. Keep apprised of your significant other’s interests or changing interests. For example, my husband loves soccer and plays on a local “Over 40 Soccer League” in Dallas. This is his passion and I know it, along with photography among other things. Asking him about his game, or even better, attending his game every once in a while,  shows him I am considerate of his likes and dislikes and respect and love him enough to make time for him. Now soccer is NOT my cup of tea, but my husband is worth it, and he sacrifices enough things in his life(most often attending an ongoing slew of charity events and pre-parties that would make any man cringe) to make me happy, that this is the least I can do for him.

Communicate with your spouse about his work, his hobbies, new friends he has made or even what turns him on…yes that changes too after you have been married for a while and you want to keep it interesting and spicy, especially in the bedroom. This will show you are making him a priority and your relationship a priority. My husband surprised me last week when I came home late after writing my Real Jane article. I told him it took me a long time to write and I had sent it to him from the office when I had finished. He said, “Oh Really?” and then began to recount some exact lines in the article that I had mentioned, which made me feel appreciated and important because he took time for me by reading my article, which was important to me. This is a big one for him. You see my husband is a photographer and not a reader or a writer for pleasure. He is a visual person and has an incredible eye for beauty in what he sees, however, his love of reading and writing is akin to my love of accounting, which is virtually nonexistent. I would rather pull my eyelashes out one by one than compute numbers! So, it was so touching that he took the time to read my article because he knew it was important to me. It’s  the little things in life that touch our hearts and keep us wound together and bound together for the long haul and when trouble arises.

We all must have the perfunctory conversations about the doldrums of everyday life and what needs to be done to keep our lives and homes in order, but perhaps scheduling that once per week and taking the time to sit down and discuss these obligations and who is willing to take care of them can ease the stresses of having to mention them over and over several times in one week, which can make your mate angry and resentful.

Find things you enjoy doing together and make time to do them. My husband and I work out together, we like to dine out often and we love art, music and the opera. There are a lot of things in Dallas that we can do on a date night that is fun for us. In addition, our love of travel brought us together in the first place, so we take a big trip once per year to celebrate when we first fell in love, in India. That is where my husband saw me live in a tent surrounded by about 60 million other people, and he thought if I could handle that then everything else was a piece of cake!

Being away from home in a foreign land for us is the best time we ever spend together. My husband loves that I can leave makeup and hair extensions at home, and let everything go so to speak. There are no expectations. I am slowly learning to pack a little lighter too! I love that we both are athletic enough at this time in our lives to be able to climb tall monuments and walk throughout the day to see important things that peak our interest. These are the moments we cherish with each other.

On another note about communication, there will be fights. That is just part of the deal. However, when fighting with each other don’t bring up the past. Let it go and fight only about what is relevant. If you constantly remind someone of a mistake they made 10 years ago then they can’t move on because you obviously have not moved on, and your relationship hasn’t moved on. Fight fair and fight about what is important. I have often said; leave your baggage and your resentment in the garbage where it belongs.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

-Carrie Fisher

Get help for what you are angry about and then get over it or get on with your life away from your offending mate, but don’t bring it home to haunt your relationship so that you will never have peace in your home.

Communication is one key to a happy marriage or a happy relationship. Keep the lines of communication open and ask your mate often about what they are interested in now and what is going on in their life. This will give you a lot to talk about and you will constantly be learning about each other, which will never be boring. You might feel like you are dating a new person if they find a new hobby or interest. Do not manipulate the conversation to get back to you and your interests. Practice listening and being still. Listening was hard for me and still is, but I am aware of it and I practice it on a daily basis, especially with my husband. I think for me it will be a lifelong challenge, but at least I know it and I am ready to keep practicing and loving him for being the new creation I discover every day.

Communication is the key to great sex too, but I’ll discuss that next week! Stay tuned!!