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4 Happy Marriage Tips

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It's time to let go of these popular myths, says couples therapist Peter Fraenkel, Ph.D., author of Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage.

Myth: Planned sex is booooring.

Truth: You forget that exciting courtship sex was planned. It's just that the planning was fueled by the neurochemical trance of falling in love, so it was a no-brainer to save Friday night for your sweetie instead of staying late at the office. Sex should be planned—but within that block of time, you can be as spontaneous and inventive as you like!

Myth: If you were only organized, you'd have a clean house, healthy dinners, angelic kids, and hot sex.

Truth: True balance comes when you learn to say no to having it all, at least at the same time. If you try to straighten the house every day, and your husband likes to chill in front of the TV each evening, and you have a baby (or a couple of kids with busy schedules), something has to give. Decide as a couple what's most important. Maybe the kids can do one sport each on the weekends—not three. When it comes to scheduling, less is often more.

Myth: You have the power to make everything turn out the way you want, and if things don't, someone is to blame. 

Truth: Not everything is within your control. Even the best-laid plans may fall through, and it's nobody's fault. “It's easy to lay blame, but whatever it is that's interfering with your annual block party or long-awaited day at the beach—his supposedly ‘tyrannical’ boss, your ‘demanding’ stepchild—the best response is compassion for the person in the bind and a clear understanding of the forces at work,” says Fraenkel. In the case of a husband whose job interferes with family life, have a discussion about why he feels he can't set limits. Broaching a conversation with concern and empathy instead of accusation will help you avoid placing unfair blame.

Myth: The quality of couple time is more important than the quantity. 

Truth: They're both important, and one can't sub for the other. It's a nice idea to think that a monthly wine-and-roses night out will keep you connected for the next four weeks, but couples also benefit from extended time in each other's presence, even if they're not doing much of anything. Reserving a little time, say, on a Sunday afternoon to do nothing at all can turn into a delicious routine, when the kids get total downtime (creating a healthy boredom that can spark creativity) and you two can laze around and see what comes of it. “Even if you do wind up doing chores together, you're connecting,” says Fraenkel. Yet another good reason to get him to pitch in with the laundry!

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