If there's one thing the editor in chief of Self magazine, Lucy Danziger, knows, it's that there's always room for self-improvement. But sometimes the nagging feeling that you're not good enough is the biggest problem of all. She and Catherine Birndorf, MD, a women's mental-health specialist, interviewed hundreds of women about personal fulfillment. Now, they're ready to help us clean up the emotional messes in our lives in their book The Nine Rooms of Happiness.
Of course, most people turn right to the bedroom chapter, which governs relationships and sex. So, we asked Lucy, "How do we know we're with the one, or at least a pretty good one?" Here are her four signs that your relationship is on the right track.
- There's conflict.
This sounds like a downer, but the root of a relationship is to relate. If you can have conflict that leads to a resolution, then you'll be able to move forward when you hit a rough patch. It's not "either/or . . . it's both/and." This is a strategy in The Nine Rooms, meaning, it's not "either" we agree on everything "or" can't be together — it's I can "both" disagree with him "and" still love him. Conflict is OK; in fact, it's part of life.
- You don't complete each other.
You are not the same. You don't complete each other; you overlap, as a two full circles coming together in a Venn diagram. The overlap is the relationship, and the parts of the circle outside are your individual lives apart (work, outside friends, other interests). Ask yourself if you feel better in the relationship when he's not around? You don't complete each other; you complement each other.
To see the other two,
- Sex isn't rock star every night.
Once you are in an ongoing relationship or, like me, married, you'll have nights where one of you feels like having sex and the other doesn't. Sometimes I-love-you sex is enough, and it doesn't have to be rock-star sex every time. The movie sex we all love to watch is entertaining, but it sets the bar high. Have sex, even if it's just to say "I love you" sometimes, and then plan to connect with more quality sex another time. If you wait for the perfect beach vacation or date night, it could be a rare event.
- You don't try to change him, but you do change how you react to him.
Whatever you are lacking, sometimes the sex you're not having is what you crave. You can't change him, but you can change how you act. And that starts with being vocal. The relationship equation is A + B = C, meaning you are A, he is B, and the relationship is C. Change A, and you change the outcome. You have what it takes to be happier in the bedroom. All you have to do is speak up.