Sex -- More and Better "Good sex" is the only good-marriage ingredient husbands say they care about more than wives do. We do care -- we just don't give sex the priority men do: 75 percent of men versus 62 percent of women say good sex in marriage is "extremely" or "very" important.
Yeah, we know what you're thinking: Isn't that just like a guy, to have nothing but sex on his mind? But hear out the experts on this: They say men have sex and then feel close, while women like to feel close and then have sex.
"A woman can't fathom how a man would want to have sex with her if they haven't bonded first through talking," says Weiner-Davis. "The only thing she can imagine is that sex is just like scratching an itch to him. She misses the mark completely -- that for men having sex is feeling close. When a man doesn't have sex with his wife, he feels hurt, he feels rejected, he just shuts down emotionally. And then, guess what: He doesn't feel like spending time with her. My message is: 'Hello, women! There's a way around all that!'"
In other words, take a man's love of sex as an expression of closeness -- and use it to get the emotional closeness you both want. And while you're at it, consider that seven out of 10 men and women already give their own marriages an A or a B on "good sex." Not bad for busy parents!
What Needs Work: You Want Better Communication Nobody's marriage is perfect, of course. So when we asked you to grade your marriages and say what would make them better, we uncovered other areas that need work:
Nearly everyone in our survey believes communication is important -- yet 31 percent of women and 26 percent of men think their marriages barely pass muster in this department. Which comes as no surprise to the experts, who say that trouble talking things out is universal -- it exists even in the best marriages.
John Gottmann, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, has identified in his "love lab" the communication patterns that determine which couples will stay together -- and stay happy. Happily married couples, he says, largely succeed in avoiding these four negatives in their conversations: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
They also tend to practice these positive techniques in conversation with their mates:
Take turns talking.
Don't give unsolicited advice.
Show genuine interest.
Communicate understanding of the spouse's problem.
Take his/her side.
Express a "we against others" attitude.
Validate the spouse's emotions.
If your mate doesn't exactly make a habit of practicing these conversational techniques, you can influence him for the better by trying them on him.
What Needs Work: You Want to Resolve Those Nagging Conflicts More than a third of men and women believe their marriages would improve if they could fight less and agree more. Most of us don't realize, though, that not every conflict can be resolved. Gottmann's research indicates that even in happy marriages, most fights are about "perpetual problems."
"I toot the horn about this," says Weiner-Davis, "because so many people have misconceptions that can lead them to divorce. They think if they were better suited to each other or more skilled, they would not
have these issues. But there are some issues that will not be resolved. The peace comes from knowing this is so." You may feel, for example, that your husband's work keeps him away from home too much -- but you know the two of you can stay happily married even if you never quite see eye to eye on this issue.
There is more....keep on reading: 2,100 Couples Confess - Redbook