There’s so much dating and relationship advice out there that seems daunting, scary, and focused on the negative. Which is why we loved this post from writer Lydia Netzer so much. She’s been married to her husband for 15 years, and she’s compiled tips that actually sound…fun? Doable? Not annoying? Not difficult? In other words, they make us feel optimistic, rather than anxious.

Lydia says:

Our list does not resemble the one you will find in Cosmo or Ladies’ Home Journal. We have never had a regular date night, nor do we prioritize “communication” or play sex games or see a therapist. He doesn’t bring me flowers every Thursday, I don’t cook his favorite food very often. But we do have some other ideas.

Here are our ten favorites — all solid advice, whether you’re in it to win it right now, or plan to be at some point in your life.

1. Go to Bed Mad

“The old maxim that you shouldn’t go to bed mad is stupid. Sometimes you need to just go to freakin’ bed. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” is prefaced in the Bible by the phrase “Be angry and sin not.” [...] Whoever interpreted this to mean that you should stay up after midnight, tear-stained and petulant, trying to iron out some kind of overtired and breathy accord — was stupid. Shut up, go to bed. In the morning, eat some pancakes. Everything will seem better, I swear.”

2. Laugh if You Can

 ”If you’re fighting for entertainment, or because you’re just reacting, then you be the one to deflect. Fights are bad. Deflecting a fight whenever possible is a good idea. When you’re the one who’s being pissy and raw, and the other person helps you get out of it and brings about peace, that feels fantastic.”

3. Don’t criticize. Ever.

“Assuming you married someone intelligent enough to like you and sane enough to let you put a ring on it, trust that they are self-aware enough to know when they screwed up. It may feel good to you in that moment to say the critical thing, let it go ringing through the air in all its sonorous correctness, but it will feel awful to hear it.”

4. Be the mirror.

“Your husband is the mirror in which you see yourself. And the things you say to him give him an image of himself too, which he will believe. You want him to believe it, so make it good. Be a mirror that reflects something positive.”

5. Be proud and brag.

“Let your spouse hear you talking about them in glowing terms to other people. Be foolish. Be obvious. It will mean everything. You will stay married forever.”

6. Do your own thing.

“Doing your own thing, having your own friends, being completely insanely passionate about something that the other person has no idea, really, about, is awesome. It allows your spouse to be your cheerleader, uncomplicated by knowledge or personal investment. And it means you’ll always have stuff to talk about, because you’re not overlapping all the time. You don’t have to read the same books either. You don’t have to have the same friends.”

7. Get really good at sex.

“You’ve got all the time in the world to get really really good, not just at sex in general, but at having sex with your one particular husband. You should make it your life’s mission to become the perfect sex machine exactly for him. And he for you.”

8. Move.

“Live in different houses. In different parts of the country. Travel. Make it so that you can look back and divide up your life into the years you spent in different cities, or different houses. If you’re feeling stuck geographically or physically, you can confuse yourself into thinking you’re stuck romantically. See your husband in different places, in different contexts, in different countries even. Try it. Take him to a mountaintop and give him another look. Pretty sexy. Take him to a new city and check out his profile. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to change personally, or let your wife change as a person. Don’t worry about “growing apart.” Be brave and evolve. Become completely different. Don’t gather moss. Stagnation is unattractive.”

9. Do not put yourself in trouble’s way.

“Leave your ex boyfriends and girlfriends alone. I’m sure you’re very trustworthy. Aren’t we all? The thing is, there’s absolutely no reason to test it.”

10. Be loyal.

“All the crap you read in magazines about honesty, sense of humor, communication, sensitivity, date nights, couples weekends, blah blah blah can be trumped by one word: loyalty. You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team’s rules. This is okay.”

Read the rest of Lydia’s tips for staying together here.

[15 Ways to Stay Together, via Naomi Shulman]

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