Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2014 (Bloomington, MN) with:

The Business Of Making Love

By Ben Nadel on

I know that communication is one of, if not the most important aspects of a successful, long-term relationship. I know that. I believe that. So, why is it so hard to have open communication? In my relationships, why have I held back what I wanted to say? Why have I, time and time again, simply turned the other way when something was bothering me or bitten my lip when there was something critical that had to be said?


 
 
 

 
Unhappy Couple With Poor Communication - Not Making Good Love  
 
 
 

There's no doubt that part of this "holding back" is an attempt to avoid confrontation. But it's also an attempt to be the "better person" or the martyr; to be the one that doesn't get bothered by this or that. And part of it is about compromise - some sort of unspoken compromise that if I don't mention X, I can do Y and not feel guilty.

Part of it, and perhaps a bigger part of it than I realize, has to do with the magic of love. By that, I mean the fairy tale, head-over-heels, ga-ga feeling that we want love to be. Shouldn't everything be perfect? To paraphrase "Wedding Crashers", love is the recognition of our soul's counterpoint in an another. Why would something so wonderful, so bigger than ourselves need to be concerned with the nitty gritty of every day life?


 
 
 

 
Happy Couple Kissing Passionately - Making Love The Right Way  
 
 
 

I think part of what makes truly open communication in a relationship so difficult is that it conflicts with the magic and the ideal. If we have to express anger, dislike, resentment, or hurt, isn't that an admittance that what we have is not magical? If it was magical, wouldn't things just work? Shouldn't it just be easy?

The other day, I was thinking about the movie, "American Wedding" (the third installment of the "American Pie" series). In it, Michelle, the female lead, is having some pre-wedding jitters. Jim's dad, who is the voice of reason throughout the series, calms her with these words:

"Why do you think, Michelle, they call it 'making love'? .... I think they call it 'making love' because you have to make love work. You know, it's about compromise and sacrifice. And I think Jim has sacrificed for you. My god, he shaved his entire pubic region, which would baffle most cultures around the world. But, but, he did it, and, and, and he did it for you."


 
 
 

 
Eugene Levy In American Wedding Giving Advice On Making Love  
 
 
 

Humor aside, something about this strikes a chord inside of me. I need a large shift in the way I think about romantic love. Rather than let this concept of work ruin the "magic," I have to start believing that the ability to constructively work through problems is not a negative aspect, but rather part of what makes my relationship so magical.

With this new outlook, there is something epic that we need to wrap our heads around: we are not perfect. And as such, we cannot be expected to act perfectly of our own accord, nor can we expect that of others.

That might be the biggest problem with relationships - the illusion that we will all be perfect without any structure or framework to promote that behavior. The next biggest problem is probably that when the illusion of perfection is broken, it is met with resentment rather than with construction.

So, how do we fix this? Often times in life, when I am confused or unsure as to how to proceed, I take my problem and transfer it over to another domain, a domain to which I am less emotionally involved. Traditionally, this has been the domain of platonic friendship; when I am confused in the ways of romantic love, I think about how I would act if the situation were not romantic. This has helped a bit, but tends to either fall short or not get acted upon.

"Not get acted upon."

Even if we can make all of the required mental shifts in how we view romantic love, the inability to act will effectively negate all of our efforts. What we need is a framework in place that doesn't leave the decision to act up to us.

The second I had "framework" in my mind, I immediately thought about work. Here at Epicenter Consulting, we have amazing communication. And that's not because we are amazing communicators (although we are pretty good); we have great communication because we have a framework in place that forces us to have it. We have something called the "End of the Day Ritual". This consists of getting together at the end of every day and asking the following questions:

  • What is the next action for morning.
  • What is the next action after that.
  • Where there any emails communications of interest from the day.
  • What is the biggest constraint and how do we solve it.
  • Are there any changes in procedure that need to be addressed.

By performing this ritual every day, it takes the human factor out of communication; it's no longer a decision to be made or an action to be done - it's simply part of the daily routine.

So here's the breakthrough moment that I had not so long ago - if this works so well for business partners, would this not also work well for romantic partners? Imagine if every day, my girlfriend and I took 5 minutes right before bed to ask similar questions. I think just the act of setting this time aside every day would lead to a major improvement in communication for several reasons.

First off, I have a theory that if this becomes a ritual, it becomes less pressure. A sort of relationship version of "Don't hate the player, hate the game;" having something potentially confrontational to say will not be as scary once it is part of a framework, cause, hey, that's the way we "play" our relationship.

Secondly, by doing this every day, we would be nipping things in the bud that otherwise might grow out of control before they are even addressed. How many times have you become so irritated by something and then exploded when really the whole thing could have been avoided if you took two seconds 8 months ago to just say, "Honey, you know I love you, but would you mind not doing that, it gets under my skin a little bit."

Lastly, it will simply facilitate communication that otherwise might not take place.

But what questions should be asked? I think the questions need to revolve around solving problems or preventing problems from occuring. Here's what I propose (each question asked by each participant):

  • Is there anything you need me to do tomorrow?
  • Are there any upcoming events that I need to know about (birthday, dinner, play, girls/boys night out, etc.)?
  • Have I done anything recently that offended or bothered you?
  • Is there anything you'd like to do that we haven't done ever/in a while?
  • Are there any changes to our daily routine that needs to be addressed (wake up time, chores, picking up kids, etc.)?

When I think of all the points of friction in my past relationships, I think that the above list of questions would be effective in facilitating worthwhile communication.

At first, this might seem like a very awkward activity to do. It was for Clark and me. However, after you start to see the positive impact it is having, you will start go become more honest, which will of course lead to better overall communication.

I think the biggest push-back people might have for this End of the Day Ritual is that it takes away from the "magic" of love. After all, shouldn't my perfect girlfriend know when my birthday is? Or shouldn't my perfect boyfriend remember that the Christmas party starts at 5pm sharp! Shouldn't he or she just know that I hate it when he chews with his/her mouth open? I mean, come on, who doesn't know that?!? Why should I have to tell him/her that I'd like to go out dancing once in a while? Should he/she just know that I like to do that from time to time?

Well you know what - we're not perfect! Rather than worrying that this imperfection takes away from the magic of a relationship, let's embrace it and put a framework in place the helps to ensure that we all have the best communication possible. We're human. We're fallible. It's time that relationships get run with that in mind.


 
 
 

 
Very Passionate Couple Kissing Passionately - Making Love The Right Way  
 
 
 
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Reader Comments

Spot on, Ben. After being married nearly 18 years (yes, I do remember that my anniversary is next month!), I can vouch that love is work. There is the romantic love; from the moment I met my wife nearly 20 years ago, I knew, absolutely knew, she was the One. It took several months, over the course of a deepening friendship, until she came to the same conclusion, but so much of that is a feeling. It often comes back again, that feeling of romantic, soul love, but it's not a constant. What is a constant is that I love her.

Note the use of the word 'love' in that last sentence: it's the VERB, not the noun. A feeling is a noun, it's just a thing that happens, but love is a verb, it's an action, it's something we have to DO. There are times where one or both of us doesn't feel much love, nearly always when communication has gone out of focus, but we are always trying, working, making, doing, those things we think love requires. What so much effort? why all the work? why not the spontaneous 'let it all be good' hooey? Simply because we love each other. Any time I'm slipping or feeling out of sorts, I know that I need to focus on some of those things that she wants / needs, because that's what it means for me to love her.

So, basically, I'm saying that you're spot on when it comes to the communication, but you're also on the right track that the 'romantic' side of love, love as a feeling is fleeting but recurrent (yay!), but the act of love can be a lifelong commitment to work.

Last, but not least, IMHO the effort is worth it because it builds a real relationship worth having!

Jason Fisher

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I totally agree with your points on this. Though, I can't say I've managed to become I great practitioner of the end of day routine, I can definitely relate to problems it likely would have squashed early on.

As you may be familiar with, starting a company (or being part of a small company for that matter) can really throw some added variables into the mix and has no doubt given me some great habits and some crappy habits dealing with those stresses and managing the relationship with my girlfriend better. Many of which better communication would improve.

Thanks for sharing this post.

Mike.

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You show depth of thought in all of this post. It doesn't seem to be based on experience, but hey... we all start from somewhere! :)

Your business is based on a relationship you and a 'few' others have achieved. That same relationship won't work in every situation. In fact a good question is, 'What percentage of the time would it work?'. (And I am not claiming to have the answer to that question either.) The key concept is 'relationship'. People have different ways of 'seeing' (or hearing, or touching, or experiencing, etc.) the world. What does this mean... a marriage (ideal) is two distinct or similar personalities coming together for a unified/harmony. Business is mostly at the end of the day about acquired services, goods or resources (money being the most common equalizer).

You see, we know what we are trying to get out of business. The bigger issue is most people have no idea whatsoever they are trying to get out of marriage. Many get married so they can 'live happily ever after'. Whew... that's a formula for... err, uhm. WHO KNOWS! It's not a formula, it's throwing chemicals in a vat and expecting the love potion to come out the end of the process. Yes, my point is there are tangible gains for life long relationships. (Note: Some people don't want a life long relationship as a point of requirement... they look at those as 'trade-offs'.)

My wife and I have been married for over 20 years, and this summer my parents just had their 50th wedding anniversary. The grandparents were married till death did they part on both my parents side. This by no means makes me an expert as there are uncles and cousins who just didn't know how to make it work. The anger they had was because they wanted it to work and felt cheated.

What are some of the things that make things work for my wife and I?

* Spending "time" together
When you spend more time together you start to learn how each other thinks. This will be good for the most part but as you both get to know each other better there will be things you have to "work through". The better relationship is the one where the other person knows that even though some things about who I am on the inside are not initially pleasing, my live love is committed to getting through in spite of my imperfections. My love is going to be patient and understanding and as possible supportive even of differences of opinion. This will be something again that most relationships will either learn to work on or the point of failure for others.

* A common foundation
There comes a time were we all falter or have views that don't match even those who are our most intimate friends. With that said having something we both agree as being bigger than either of us has been good in both directions in our relationship. Yes, for us it is a common faith in God but I have known others who had other things that supported the relationships than in my own.

* Expect Change
You have a rare relationship if the person you live with today is the person you married. (I am speaking of more than physical change here.) One of the good things that can happen in a good relationship is as we age and loose control of our 'physical domain' we gain more control of our person. We transfer our life from dreams to visions. Dreams can make for frequent compulsive bursts of effort. Visions go beyond the need for compulsion to the steady undercurrent that pushes on to our values. In the tortoise and the hare the hare was the dreamer (literally also, lol) but the tortoise had a vision.

In relationships it's the shared visions that help walking through life in the long range much more than the need for a compulsive surge to motivate. One of the things that 'can' make for a deeper relationship is learning and following after common visions. Even if we don't achieve those things just the knowledge that we get to go through life with someone who shares our inner most being is awesome.

Enough said on that. Just remember men and women are typically different in how and what we think. Not just men and women aren't alike, but neither are two men or women. The magic is 'relationship' more than 'process'. We don't need to move "frameworks" into the relationships... we need to simple pursue our partners as the priority of our lives. Much can be learned on the path that cannot be learned by 'the wilderness guide to love'. :)

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I really like your end of day chat idea. I'd just have three bits of feedback:
1. Be patient. Like you said, we aren't perfect, so give eachother time to improve. Depending on the behavior in question, it can take anywhere from a few days to years to change.
2. Don't let this nightly chat turn into a scheduled fight. Make sure to talk about positive things as much (if not more) than the negative things you'd like to improve. And be willing to accept no for an answer. Sometime she just won't agree with your perspective, which is Ok. She'll eventually come around. ;)
3. Don't hammer eachother about every weakness you noticed throughout the day. I'd suggest you let your partner chose the behaviors THEY'D like to change, in themselves, and then use those as a starting point. Each night you can follow up on the day's progress. Also, it's probably better to pick a small handful of behaviors to focus on instead of trying to fix everything at once (which is overwhelming, and basically impossible).

</2 cents>

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You'd be surprised how many couples don't communicate effectively with one another.

Back in February, my wife and I passed 10 years of marriage - we both work from home, in different jobs, and we have lunch and dinner together nearly every day, and we talk about everything and anything.

I think it's part of the success of our marriage. I've heard all kinds of excuses - the worst one is "There isn't time in our day"

WTH? Theoretically, this is the *most important person in you life*. No time? Screw that, time to re-evaluate your priorities.

I'll stop now before this turns into a blog post instead of a blog comment.

Advice: Go talk to your man/woman.

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Ben,

I made first comment without really reading your post, just figured any guy that has the time to most this many paragraphs on a Sunday needs a girlfriend. :)

I have been married to the same girl now for 20 years this June. We have 4 beautiful daughters together. Our relationship can be summed up in just a few words. We are best friends. We can talk to each other about anything. Neither of us are the jealous type, we know that each of us loves the other with all we have.

You just haven't met your match yet. You will know it the day you first talk to her. I knew it at that party back in 1987 that this girl was the one I'd spend the rest of my life with. There will be no reason to set nightly rituals with your soulmate.

Trust me, I speak the truth.

Don

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Ben,

I could write the same thing as Don has right above me. All I would do is change the years (14 and 1993). I would also add 2 sons to the list of 4 daughters.

We are best friends, we talk about anything, no jealousy and we give everything we have.

Brian

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Thank you all for coming here and sharing your intimate lives with me. It is touching, and it is nice to know that posts like this are not lost among my general readers.

I understand what some of you are saying about not needing a framework; my problem, I suppose is that I am just not the best communicator. If I have not found the "one" yet, then at least I can try my best to learn my past experiences and use that knowledge to not screw it up when the timing is right.

I guess the problem is that if I know I habitually do something wrong, and fail to be able to fix it just, I need to have something in place that will make that easier.

So last night, I ran this concept by a wonderful female friend of mine. At first, I have to say that there was a lot of push-back. There was a lot of "your idea is stupid and I will start picking it apart with little arguments." Like so many arguments that people get into, she was concentrating on the one or two times that it might not work, ignoring the possible validity of the greater concept. Slowly and calmly, I walked her through the pros and cons of my idea (as there are definitely trade-offs) and I have to say by the end, she actually thought it was a good idea.

The one change she suggested was to not do it right before bed. The conversations are not meant to be heated in any way, but it would be best to allow some cool-off time prior to sleep if they go awry. I think that is a good suggestion.

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I came to a similar realization in my late 20's. I think I wanted each relationship to work so desperately that I ignored problems, or pretended they didn't exist, hoping they would go away, but eventually they all became big problems. After countless girlfriends I started to think long and hard about this and I finally attributed it to my incorrect belief that there must only be one perfect person out there for me or that good women were scarce, so I tended to place too much hope in the person I met and ignored or pretended that incompatibilities didn't exist. Deep down I had a hard time picturing myself with them, but I ignored it, even though there were big things that were deal breakers. I finally figured out that I must communicate more and speak my mind to expose these problems earlier. Good women are not scarce, they are plenty, but being honest with myself and my girlfriend by addressing the problems right away would have at least resolved issues before they became big, or parted a relationship with out huge fights and hurt feelings and before wasting a lot of time getting too deeply involved. It was much easier to speak my mind and expose deal breakers before a relationship even got started by weeding out some incompatible women quickly so I could get along to meeting a good one. So, I worked hard at this and I'll admit at first I felt really weird, but the results were surprising and it immediately became easy because wadda ya know?..., girls like talking like this. I got on to serious relationships with women that were more compatible and finally met someone I'm marrying in two weeks. The issues we have are easily resolved, we understand each other more and know the why's about what we do and have more empathy and understanding for each others imperfections. I guess that is a really vague generalized explanation of my experience, but anyway, you're right. It works, but take a few tries to get over the weirdness before you realize it ain't so bad as what you first thought.

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I'd like to add a bit more to my previous comment after (you guessed it) talking about it with my wife.

Communication is very important, but even more important is that it be with the right person.

For many years, I've said that people should marry their best friend - who usually is the person you can talk about anything with.

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@WTL,

Amen to that. My wife and I were nearly inseparable friends even before we became 'involved', and we're still closer to each other than to anyone else. Not that we don't have other friends, because we both do, but at the end of the day she's still my closest friend, and it makes a huge difference in how we view each other and how we respond to issues in our relationship.

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Ditto (Adding a few thoughts)

I have also seen a few comments about "working on your partner". Most of us will work on ourselves if we feel loved and accepted. This business approach to relationships again may work for some, but I stand more in doubt that is the right approach over all. Yet, once we establish the love and commitment I spoke of in my last post the barriers to sharing a 'flaw' in our spouse is taken more easily as being concerned about them rather than about ourselves. Many changes people want in their spouse are changes to fulfill private fantasies. A good marriage is about love and belief. Yes, as we are able for our spouses benefit we should help them better themselves. Yet, if we married them because we were 'head over heals in love' then why are these changes so important? Or do we think if we say, make these changes and I will marry you that the person underneath will not just change back?

With that said, it has come to the attention of my wife and I that a BIG issue in marriage relations is 'how we pursue marriage'. People try each other out and when it fails they dump the other person. We get to intimate (aside from my social beliefs) to fast and then when things aren't working we jump into another relationship often without resolving the one we are in. One of the marks of this free thinking is a lack of personal commitment. (I am not saying this 'never works', rather that it creates a relational 'facade'... couldn't resist the framework term, LOL.)

My take is when I married my wife she was the only one for me. The things that were in her life at that point were enough and that raises a question. Do I want the changes because of me, or for her? I am far from perfect and obviously none of us are aware of all our flaws. Therefore, how important is this flaw to our 'relationship'? I want love and acceptance where I am and with the progress I am make, but do I offer that in return? It seems to me we tend to put 'life goals' ahead of 'relationship goals'. You have to make a choice in your priorities, what is is more valuable to you... the life goals, or the relationship.

In summary... I think the questions in the original blog post are good. Yet, the routine would be what I question. As we spend time together we see each others needs. If we are taken by surprise it's because we lack intimacy not because we aren't asking routine questions. If we are intimate and still miss them it is because we are focused on our benefit rather than the benefit of our spouse. There is much more that goes into this... but relationship building is something humans are good at mastering. Mastering relationships on large scale is a rare skill but we all can become master craftsmen at personal relationships.

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A wise woman once said...."What's love got to do, got to do, got to do with it? What's love but a second hand emotion"

A riddle wrapped in a mystery, if you ever work it out, let us know.

Cheers,

Davo

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@Davo,

An earlier post said it. Love is a verb, not a noun. That woman wasn't wise. I like my wife and she likes me, most of the time. Hopefully we love each other as much as possible even in seasons where there may be something we don't like. The mystery of love is acting with the other person's benefit in mind above our own.

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@John,

This is a very interesting point you bring to light:

It seems to me we tend to put 'life goals' ahead of 'relationship goals'. You have to make a choice in your priorities, what is is more valuable to you... the life goals, or the relationship.

I guess my gut reaction to this is, Why should this have to be a choice? Why do these have to be conflicting ideas? I am not saying that they are not - I know from personal experience that they can be very conflicting. But, I guess the question is, should they be conflicting in the right circumstances?

I like to look at my parents' marriage. My parents were together for over 30 years before my father passed. I remember him occassionally looking at me and saying, "I hope you find someone one day that you love as much as I love your mother." They were very much in love. But at the same time, I don't think either of them sacrificed their passions in any way. My dad worked long, grueling days (I often saw him only in the mornings), but he did was he loved all his life. My mother, on the other hand pursued her love of art, taking classes and creating an art studio at home.

They were both very happy (as far as I know) in this situation.

So what can I take away from this? The core message that I see is that you have to be with someone who is also passionate about *something*. If you both have "life goals", then I think that those can easily exist in parallel while maintaining a solid relationship. If, however, you are with someone who does not have a passion or a life goal, then I think it is too easy for them to make the "relationship" the primary goal, therefore forcing your goals out of alignment.

Abstracting this out, perhaps, it is easy two love someone and be happy with them when they do not make you and the relationship their only source of happiness.

Just some thoughts.

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@Ben,

Some people live on Islands and live off the sea. Others live in New Jersey and live off the city culture. Relationships are not complicated but they are often a surprise. They don't have to conflict, but relationships are about a mix of two outlooks. The two outlooks change over time. Keeping the relationship a priority is the choice we are talking about.

I personally think being married awhile and having children expands understand that life goals are not easy for everyone to nail down. One of the big reasons Franklin Covey does so many seminars is they help people discover both their personal and professional goals. Your parents sound like they found the harmony between relationship and life goals. I am SURE there were conflicts that had to be worked out. Perhaps they were mindful of this from the start and learned the mix before you were old enough to know this. I can say this... just look at the divorce rate... it isn't caused by lack of life goals. :) Everything goes into the mix, and you seem to be looking for the magic mix. Life and relationships are about living more than formulas. I think knowing formulas help in the day to day living routine, but life is full of things that don't get solved by the formulas. (Or you could marry a robot and be happy.)

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@John,

Of course my parents had their issues to work out. Everyone does. But I have seen people who are in relationships that are very uneven in terms of "life goals" and that puts a noticeable strain on the relationship every time.

I am not sure about the idea that life and relationships are more about living than formulas. Think about it - I brush my teeth after I wake up and before I go to sleep. I eat three times a day, roughly at the same time. I get my fruit salad at 11am. I take my vitamins. I have a workout routine that is scheduled in my week (roughly). When I go to movies, I like to arrive at least 15 minutes early to get good seats. I like to eat at quiet restaurants. I don't like walking around holding things in both hands (I like a free hand at all times). I have my electric and phone bill paid on direct-deposit. I have my calendar remind me when people's birthdays are coming up. I have my site email me every morning with random posts. I have a list of things I need to do at work. When people text me, I need to try to text them back within 24 hours. Every 6 months, I need a dental checkup. If I haven't seen a friend in a while, I should try to see them. I should try to take a vacation every X months. I'd like to see a movie at least every two weeks.

I could go on and on. Many things in life run efficiently because they have some sort of formula behind them. I think a lot of people can agree with this. Sure, a lot of this is day-to-day things, but isn't that what makes up life? ... of course, even if people agree to this, there is still something about relationships that makes people stop and think, Wait, I can't put a formula to this, this is special.

But is it really? What about all the self help books and the seminars? Isn't that really just a way of creating formulaic relationships? How to communicate, how to "hear" the person, how to be open to change, how not to fight, how to fight constructively, how to share chores.... I think all of these things serve the purpose of finding ways to automate that which is difficult in life.

Living is only worthwhile if it makes you happy. And, I think it 100% OK if that happiness is facilitated by architecture.

Just thinking out loud.

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The foundation of a good relationship is Love. And to maintain that love there has to be a little something called balance. My soon to be ex husband's passion was Soccer and so because I loved him I learned the game, went to the game, and supported him because that is what he loved. Unfortunately for me, my goals/dreams weren't supported. I think that when you love someone things have to be 50/50 I support you, you support me. I communicate with you, you communicate with me. There is no I in we. I am a woman and I believe that you need to please your man as much as you want to be pleased. It should never be just about you or just about him. Nothing makes me happier then to see my significant other happy. Therefore, my two cents is that without love and balance relationships just don't work. But hey what do I know I am about to be divorced :)

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@Jazzy,

I agree. Balance is key - it has to be a two way street, especially when you do something very time-intensive like give up a few hours to go to a soccer game. I was in a relationship once where I, on a weekly basis, was giving up hours to go to a Volley Ball game. It was fun, and I enjoyed doing it. But after a while, I felt like I was giving up too much of my time and started to attend less and less. Meanwhile, she was not coming to any of my activities (not that I really had any). But the point was, there was no balance. I was giving up hours of my time (of which I always feel like there is a scarcity) and she was not reciprocating in any way. It was quite unbalanced.

And then, as I attended less, it became a big issue. It immediately become one of those "Remember when you used to do X,Y, and Z?" talks. Remember when you used to like me and you would come to my games? Yeah, I also remember not having enough time to work on my hobbies. You think just because I don't ask you to watch me code that it is not time intensive? Why is it ok for me to give up my time for you and not ok for you to allow me time to work on my stuff.

Of course now, I am just sounding petty, most likely. But my point is that it needs to be balanced, as Jazzy says. You have to make sure that the "giving" and the "sacrificing" is not all in one direction. That's when it starts to feel like a chore... which may turn into resentment.

Of course, all of this might be avoided with great communication... if only there was a framework in place for it ;)

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@Jazzy,

So sorry to hear about your situation. I think you speak from a position of understanding, though, and your point ties in nicely with what John Farrar was commenting on earlier: the key is supporting each other. Balance needs to be as close to 50/50 as possible, and I love it that the comments here realize that doesn't mean that we each do 50% of each thing ... that would be dumb. My wife does all the cooking (she's really good at it :), but I can't necessarily always do the dishes even though I try as often as I can. My time is often spent with work, and I earn 97% of the income. In other words, we don't fight to split every little task 50/50, because it doesn't even make sense, although some in an earlier generation tried to teach that approach, but we do work to support each other, just as John mentioned earlier. Your attempts to share your husband's passion was a recognition of that; so sad that he was unable to see the other 50 and take ownership of a share of your life in the same way.

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Ben-

Exactly, and I am all for that framework :)

JFish-

I totally agree, balance for the important stuff. Although I am sure your wife is utterly grateful when you do the dishes every once in a while. :)

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I've been married 14 years and I have to agree with you entirely. I also have to say that your recommended discussion points will come in real handy and I'm going to start trying this approach with my wife AND my boss.

And, ummm, I'm just going to keep putting the following identical comment on some of your posts:

You are a fine writer. I sincerely hope you will seriously consider writing professionally some day! If you don't know the story of the guy writing the Get Rich Slowly blog, you should check it out. He's a very smart guy.

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@David Droddy:
That's a cool blog which I'm gonna add to my bookmarks. I noticed at the bottom of the page there is a blog post about relationships and talking to your spouse about money. Very cool.

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@David,

Thank you for the kind words. Who knows, maybe one day I can formalize my thoughts into a fixed volume :)

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Here are my questions...

1. I would like to know if someone can find a women or especially a group of women who agree to the concepts laid out in the original post.

2. How long have they practiced this routine with regularity and consistency? (Of course asking the same question of the guys who believe in it would be interesting also.)

3. Do those who achieved both 1 and 2 above feel after 3 or more months that this is a big help, a problem... or what is your take?

(end questions)
Part of what makes a relationship work in many cases is we are looking for someone who will get to know us so well they don't have to be told. We are looking for people who not only don't have to be told but are not assuming wrong things about us. It is also common that people like to share experiences. Most of all we like to share the things we enjoy knowing someone else enjoyed not just us but sharing those things also. Common interests and individual personality that doesn't harshly cut against our ethical grain is something we all appreciate. We enjoy someone with integrity when there is not a different outlook from ours.

Now for reality... if we just need to find someone with a vision and character then could the CEO of Ford have a lasting relationship with a life long peace core worker? Perhaps, but asking routine questions might not be the glue to bring it together. Both of these people may have 'personalities' that attract one another. They are both compulsive to the degree that they sacrifice for life goals and visions. Yet, in this case the visions are in conflict. I say it is possible for this relationship to work but with humanity it will be unlikely to rise to the occasion.

I do believe asking those questions or others can be appropriate in seasons. My thought is the questions we should ask (and shouldn't) will change from relationship to relationship, from season to season. It's like the old adage that we need to be clean shaven, wear a white shirt, dark suit and certain type of tie to be successful. We have learned that 'business think' put bad people in charge of good people to often. Sometimes it worked, but it took the personality out of the work force. At work and in our search for friends and mates personality is very important. We ought to develop the personality of our mates. And I am not of necessity saying the 'routine questions' would always work against that. That is what the three questions are for above. To move the theory into statistical evaluation. After all, wouldn't we want to evaluate business concepts to make sure they had a real ROI? :)

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I guess the logical question to ask after reading your profound insight on relationships is.....Are you single?

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@Lvlyheart, Married to one wife for over 20 years. We have a large family and we are not without flaws. I am not sure personal experience at making something work by sticking with it and letting each other learn is more valid to be classified as 'profound'. We have a large number of children which means we often are asked questions perhaps because we survive the crucible of dealing with those challenges. We didn't get it all right the first time... but we did hang on to each other and we are getting better. My point is that we have experience talking to others who also have struggled but choose to hang on through rough times also untill things were generally sweet from day to day. (Of course again, nothing is perfect all the time... lol.) Hope that answers your question.

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hmmmm....the formula/framework for the relationship seems a bit stiff for a relationship. While it is good you are recognizing a particular trait that could be improved upon...communication...it may not be something that would best be solved by a rigid formula. Often, logical men see in terms of black and white...ones and zeros...and that's it. With relationships, there are a lot of in betweens. And relationships, in my experience of them, are rarely ever logical.

But some good thoughts, nonetheless. I think people have different approaches to things, and your formula might very well work for you, whereas it may not work so well in another relationship. I am fortunate enough that communication usually isn't much of a problem in my relationships and for me. You've said before you are introverted...it may have SOMETHING to do with that. I am an extreme extrovert. It may work very well for you, in your case, to find someone who is the opposite of you in this way...an extravert where you are introverted, as the two could possibly compliment each other well...

just few thoughts...

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@Anna,

I am not sure there is a link between introvert/extrovert and communication abilities. Just because someone is quiet does not mean that they are poor communicators and just because someone wants to be in the spotlight means they are good communicators. In fact, I think someone who always needs to be in the spotlight might be a horrible communicator because the communication can be very one way (which is not truly communication at all).

I think what you are feeling about my rigid system is purely emotional, not logical. Take a moment and see if you can list out a real negative reason for using such a system (given the assumption that you are in a relationship were communication is not mastered). I think this will be a fun thought experiment.

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@Ben,

I can think of a logical reason where rigid systems are not logical. "We don't know everything." Over time things change and we need to give our significant others seasons to figure out what 'they' think without having to pass everything through us. There is a whole realm of study on co-dependence you might find interesting. It is not likely you or I would agree with all of it or even on the same points. Yet there is still truth there for either of us to draw out. That truth is the better a person knows themselves and feels about themselves (without regard to getting into the subject of dimentia of course) it is normal for them to interact in a social or relational situation in a positive way.

Also you might do some research on 'learning styles'. Some people learn better with visual teaching and others learn better with auditory teaching. Regardless of the question of exactly how many learning styles there are it has been proven over and over that different communication of material to be learned works better according to people's learning styles. The point here is in a relationship you have two people with different learning styles and over time it is also known that people's learning styles can change or even broaden. This means the 'rigid' framework can make your partner feel like you are relating to them as who they were rather than who they are.

Also, emotions are based on reasons. Not always good reasons but that was a unkind slight on the emotions.

Note: I am not saying you can't figure this out with your framework. I am saying your framework fits better in some situations than others and @Anna was trying to tell you the same thing. You debated her point on where you saw it was wrong and didn't acknowledge where it might be right. That isn't the type of communication skills required to make a relationship work... it's a bit controlling. Open up not just to what @Anna is saying but what she means. You don't have to agree with her to look for truth in what she says. :)

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@John,

Maybe we are just looking at the "ritual" differently. To me, there is nothing really rigid about it - it is merely a platform on which communication can be facilitated. It's like taking class attendance - the ritual is like making sure everyone shows up for class; after that, it's up to you as to how you spend your time in class.

And, I agree that we don't know everything. But, I think that is what makes having a platform for communication even more important. The less we know, the more crucial it is that we have an open and dependable stream of communication.

When I think about reasons why I would *not* want to follow such an architecture, there is only one: fear. Fear that:

1. It will force me to communicate when I am emotional.
2. I will hear things from my partner that I don't want to hear.
3. I will hear things from my partner that I find hurtful.
4. I will have to evaluate feelings that I would rather bury.
5. One of us might come to the conclusion that the relationship is not working.

So much of why humans don't communicate is fear and I am not above this. I suffer from just as much fear as the next person. But, is fear a valid reason for not communicating? Are any of the above points valid reasons for not communicating?

To me, even though it sounds painful, I'd rather get any discomfort out in the open in a structured way; the sooner it can be addressed, the sooner it can be fixed or the sooner both parties feel that it would be better to move on.

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@Ben

Relationships ARE emotional, and very few are logical. I am rather left-brained for a chick, but it's likely that most chicks are very right-brained. Most men are very left-brained. The total left-brained logical approach does not necessarily work in a relationship between two people when one of them is extremely right-brained. In all honesty, it's only taking ONE person's point of views and approach into consideration, without even considering the way the other person wants to approach things. What if the other person doesn't really like your system and doesn't *really* want to do it, but just does to make you happy and to appease you? And what if his or her heart isn't REALLY into it?

Also, what if you have to end up skipping a day? Or two? What if one or both of the people are extremely busy and can't make the meeting for the night? What if one of the partners is on a business trip and is in meetings/working til very late into the night? These things happen in a relationship. It may or may not mean the person is not into you, it may just mean the person is extremely busy. And maybe the opposite is true...maybe it means the person is VERY into you and is working so hard to provide a life for you so that you don't have to work. And because of them being so busy, they can not make the talk a night or two out of the week.

Also...it's really hard to put a time limit on when a person "needs" to talk...especially about stuff like this. It may be that we talk tonight, and then, by tomorrow, nothing's changed. It may be I don't really "need" to talk about "the relationship" for another whole week. Maybe I'd rather spend that hour experiencing something else with my partner instead of hashing out the relationship when nothing's changed and we just talked about the exact same thing the night before. And then, maybe there's a day where I need to talk more than once in one day about all of this stuff. Maybe something new comes up in the middle of the day.

And also, a lot of women are not that rational. Not a cut on them, it's just a fact. So you talk to her about this tonight, and then something comes up tomorrow during the day that totally changes her mind, and by the end of the day, she does a total 180 on you, changes completely irrationally taking the exact opposite view. For instance, today, say she hates your clipping your toenails when you're watching a movie together. That gets on her nerves SOOOOO bad. So she tells you. Then, tomorrow, during the day, she starts thinking about it, and realizes that it really doesn't bother her that bad. But that thing you do with your lip when she's trying to talk to you about something important....now THAT'S annoying. So she throws you for a loop. Every night, it something different. So, if you had just given her a week to think it out, maybe she wouldn't have been so rash to point out certain things on a whim, but because she feels she need to talk about the relationship every night, she brings up something new every night. You're on pins and needles during the day, wondering what it's gonna be tonight.

One more thing to take into consideration: a woman's hormones!!! I am lucky not to be that affected by this...but man!!! Some women! Most times of the month, even keel. But that one week. Every other week, you have this talk with her and everything's fine. But that one week out of the month rolls around, and she can't say enough about your pesky little habits that she hates. And she's flying irrationally all over the place, not even making sense. And then, next week, everything goes back to normal. For about a month. Same thing next month. A woman's hormones are not rational. In any way, shape, or form. lol

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@Anna,
Thanks for sharing that from a ladies point of view. You seem to have done much thinking on this subject. One of the things you didn't mention that Ben might bring up is in an entertainment based society we tend to prefer to follow a plan and get council rather than thinking. You are right that we all need time to think... and daily chats are dangerous. Considering the weekly chats is another thing that can be dangerous in regards to the monthly issues you mentioned some deal with. I have been married once... still married. Not bragging because many times we have both been the source of the problem at the same time. Quite honestly not talking about things in one season is the worse approach. In another season that could be the best approach... delay conversation. Your way of expressing that point was wonderful.

@Ben,
Anna's point about being emotional an irrational does play into this. Even a strong left brain person may be wrong and not see it. Sometimes a left brain person has a VERY PROFOUND thought and the profundity of it pushes out other considerations. Here is something I would ask of you... in order to have these conversations work what does it take? (regardless of how often you have them)

In watching this thread it seems like you are promoting "Making Love" is a business process for you. At least the sustainability of it is. I am very curious when you think it is right to tell your partner you "love" them. What is love? Perhaps before we get into the business of making something we ought to define what we are making. Do you have a love prototype? :) How would you tell a woman to know if a guy is genuine when he says he loves her? (I have daughters and seriously consider the views of others on this... single or married.)

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@Anna,

First off, I think we need to get one thing out in the open that I think we can all agree on:

Not all relationships are meant to last

This makes sense right? Not everyone is right for everyone else. If that were the case, all of us would only ever get into one relationship. Ok, so that's a fact.

That being said, if one person had a system that they strong believed in and their partner had no interest in it, then should one person do it just to appease the other person? I would say no - rather they should question whether or not the given person is right for them.

>> Also...it's really hard to put a time limit on when a person "needs" to talk...especially about stuff like this.

I don't think we should put a limit on when people can talk. People should talk whenever they want. A system like this is not meant to limit people at all because the simple fact, I believe, is that most people do not have the problem of over-communicating. Rather, I think most couples suffer from under-communication. As such, this is a platform that helps to ensure that couples communicate at least sometime during the day.

And, if you miss a day or two or whatever, it's not big deal. Just pick it up again. As emotional warriors, we must accept that fact that we are not always capable of doing things and must simply pledge to do our best.

>> Maybe I'd rather spend that hour experiencing something else with my partner instead of hashing out the relationship when nothing's changed and we just talked about the exact same thing the night before.

If nothing has changed then the conversation should be really short. However, how can you know if nothing has changed for BOTH people in the relationship without making a huge assumption. Maybe nothing has changed for you, but something huge happened to the other person; the daily ritual ensure that both parties get to communicate.

>> And then, maybe there's a day where I need to talk more than once in one day about all of this stuff. Maybe something new comes up in the middle of the day.

That's great - talk more than once. Remember, this is not about limiting people in anyway.

>> by the end of the day, she does a total 180 on you, changes completely irrationally taking the exact opposite view

Part of the point of this emotional exploration is that we will be changing our views. Throughout our lives, I think we should hope to constantly be improving ourselves; as part of that, we are going to be changing and evolving our thoughts and ideas, making sure they align with our true set of values and beliefs.

Of course, on the other hand, if someone is totally irrational and is constantly flipping their opinions... well then, I ask the bigger picture question - is this someone you really want to be with? How is that going to wear on you long term? How is that going to affect your patience? How is that going to affect your life in general?

>> One more thing to take into consideration: a woman's hormones!!!

According to the Four Agreements, a warrior never suppresses his emotions; rather, a warrior expresses them only when it is appropriate. In our search for mental strength, I believe that we should never use emotionality as an excuse. If we do, then I can come home, angry from work and take it out on my wife. But, does that make it right? Can I always just say, "Oh, well I didn't mean it baby, I was just having a bad day."

I don't believe so; I think as part of our search for mental strength and control, we need to learn how to express our emotions in positive ways when it is appropriate. To simply let our hormones control us is either a sign of a sloppy life style of a physiological problem.

@John,

>> You are right that we all need time to think... and daily chats are dangerous.

If you need time to think about a problem that both people are sharing (ie. there is tangible friction between two people in a relationship), then I think that communication is still better. If I sense that my mate is angry at me for a week, I certainly know that it would be better to be talking about it rather than in the dark. Even if she were to say something like:

"I'm still really angry at you; I am just not yet sure how to resolve it".

At least then, I know that she is working on it, and hope is on the horizon.

Plus, let's remember the power of "classroom learning". Sometimes the greatest ideas are not made by us but by people commenting on the things we say. Talking can always lead to innovation and new insights into a situation.

>> it seems like you are promoting "Making Love" is a business process for you.

I suppose it is; just like everything else in my life that I seek to improve. When I examine my life as a whole, everything that I want to make better has logic and structure applied to it. At work, we are always looking to put better processes in place. At the gym, I am always trying to get the most gains with new routines and exercises and program evaluation. In my programming, I am always trying to refine techniques and learn new algorithms.

It is only in the most sloppy parts of my life where I lack good structure. I feel like this cannot be a coincidence. It is in these areas where I see the least amount of improvement.

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@Ben
It seems you have some assumptions in your business logic. One that your other is needed to work out every problem. That is called codependence... do a google search on it. Second... you appear to be defining love as a relationship. The title of the post was the business of making love... not the business of making relationships work. I would comment on a few other things you said but clearly we are not on the same page when it comes to our definitions of love. It also makes me very curious when you would advise someone to say, "I love you."

Your answers to Anna show a hard exterior. Your home shouldn't be a war bud! LOL Though based on your answers perhaps someone might have to be one to endure the harsh natrue of your views. It will be interesting seeing how you deal with children when or if that blessing comes into your life. It changed a number of my outlooks. Your a pretty smart guy... and I am guessing you will find out that not everyone is suppose to be a warrior. (Love isn't a battle field... but during tough seasons love may help us overcome a few battles.)

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@John,

I regret if I come across as harsh. I want to assure that I am neither combative or argumentative at home or at the office. I feel that if you were to hang out in my office you would find that our environment is extremely supportive and we do everything that we can to facilitate improvement. Now, I say be in my office rather than my home only because it is the very positive conditions and life style at the office that inspired me to transfer that mentality to my home.

In my home, I feel that I am equally loving and supportive. Plus, if you look at the questions that I have outlined, none of them are about attacking. If anything, they are all self-deprecating in an effort to create the best communication possible. All in the all, the questions are all about how "I" can be better, not how "You" can be better. This is meant to be a very supportive environment.

Also, I want to make sure that when I refer to a "warrior" mentality, this has nothing to do with how others are treated. The warrior mentality is in regards to one's own journey for self-improvement and that battle one must wage against one's own weaknesses and fear-based behaviors. The warrior mentality is all inwardly-directed.

As far as what will happen when I have kids... this is a very interesting question and one that I cannot even guess at. When I read Ayn Rand's books, I definitely am inspired by her ideal outlook on behavior; however, I am very conscious of the fact that her books never involve children. And, I wonder how they would change if they were to involve children.

I think perhaps children become such a huge part of your own happiness that by living for them, you are still fulfilling your own happiness. I cannot really say as I cannot speak from any experience in the matter.

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I honestly don't think you are hostile as much as perhaps prematurely confident about the concept. There are good points to your communications but the rigid requirement and references to emotions and fear don't reflect the type of strength that reflects a supportive mindset. My guess this is not because you are not supportive but because you are not versed textually to the same degree you are with verbal and eye to eye communication. :)

This discussion has been thought provoking and good for those involved. Your views have been focused and there are many people who you can find a working relationship with these views. Finding love is more to me than a relationship but until we agree on a definition of love that is not meaningful. Oh, boy does the child equasion change things... nurture, train, you try and keep them off the wrong tracks, then at times you try to get them on the right tracks again, then the joy of when they get past the (my parents are so yesterday... and out of touch) to (wow... they don't know everything just like I don't know everything but they have more experience)... then in those early 20's it's like the lights start coming on for the older ones. And depending on family size and situations maybe sooner or later in the case of others. We have always had a pretty close family... and I am not sure if we taught the children more or we learned more having children. Either way... it will be interesting reading your blog on that subject in the future based on this post.

Thanks for the chat either way... will be looking to meet you at CFU this year if you can make it.

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@Ben:

I think that if the person had that system, and it was some sort of requirement for a relationship, and the other person was totally and completely against it, yeah, that may be a sign that those two were not meant to be together. On the other hand, if you think something someone else is suggesting is not going to work, and don't believe in it, but if you want to be with that person strongly enough, I see nothing wrong with someone compromising for a bit and trying something out for that person, if they see it as worth it.

I personally perfer a more relaxed, easy-going approach to my relationships, and to talk about things as they come up and to not have an obligatory talk every night to answer a set combination of questions, that's all. But I am glad at least you made some concessiosn for if the person was out of town or couldn't do the talk for whatever reason, etc...

Anyway, I don't really have so much of a problem with talking things out, so I probably don't need a structure to it, but I could see where there might be a need for it if you were with a person who struggled with that type of thing. Just my 2 cents...

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Hi Ben,

This is a very thought provoking blog. I just happened upon it while doing a Google search with the word "love" among other things. I was actually looking for a nice image to use for a love note email to my boyfriend, which is kind of funny, considering the topic of your blog.

Anyway, about your nightly talk proposal and treating a love relationship like a business relationship - I'd like to add my viewpoint and hopefully show another way to look at things.

I'm in love, deeply and totally in love for the first time in my life. I'm 47 years old and divorced and have had a few other relationships in my life, so when I say I'm "really" in love for the first time, you can be sure I know it. There is something intrinsically different about everything.

Now, having said that, I will also add that our relationship (11 months) has not all been a bed of roses even though we are passionately in love with each other. We are extremely compatible in many ways (values, world outlook, sense of humour, tastes, need for space, social needs, sexually)and we naturally function on a day to day basis (living together, shopping, chores) so easily and smoothly it's almost unbelievable sometimes, especially considering our very different backgrounds. We just fit together well.

But, here's the caviat - and you knew there would be one! ;) LOL

We are both extremely good at communication, BUT we communicate differently and we deal with our emotions and fears differently.

Reading through your blog and your subsequent post, I get the impression that you are similar to my bf in that you are a problem solver by nature and see most things in systems and structures. You used the word architecture as well. What if I were to say, that when you find true love, it's more like a beautiful big redwood tree then it is the Empire State Building?

It's a different philosophical way of looking at it. I don't believe we can "build" love in a manufactured way. We love first, unconditionally, and then it grows by itself, organically from there.

So, taking my little analogy, is this an idealistic rose-coloured glasses way of looking at things? No. There are always problems inherent in living. Storms (bad moods, daily stress), droughts (financial or career problems), pests (that's a no-brainer LOL), clear cutters carrying chainsaws...ok I'm getting out of control with my analogy. I think I made my point.

Here's the thing, a love relationship is NOT a business relationship, or IMHO it shouldn't be. It's qualitatively different.

Trying to foresee or prevent problems, as you put it, in your intro to your discussion points, illuminates a negative and distrustful outlook on the relationship. I'm of the view that some problems are not preventable, they are only workable and in a good loving, trusting and respectful relationship, those problems should be minimal. And, when I say minimal, I don't mean unimportant, sometimes they can be huge issues, but they are not the day to day things that are most of the discussion points you mention.

Before I get to the points you mentioned in your nightly discussion idea, I'd like to address a comment you made regarding your opinion on the amount of relationship communication that goes on between most couples. If I got it right, it seems that you believe most couples don't communicate enough openly about things and that scheduling time to do that would "solve the problem". That gives me pause for thought. Because in my experience, it's the other way around, especially for the Gen X generation and younger. We've been conditioned and brainwashed, if you will by pop psychology to believe that we need to discuss things to death and not only that, we need to discuss things by some set rules. IMHO, THIS has probably screwed up more relationships than anything else.

The mere act of talking does not in and of itself "save" relationships.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against communication. I'm for it. But, the communication should come from the desire to show love to your partner, or in other words, it should be a natural instinct and not some external drive.

Do we all do that naturally 100% of the time? No, most us don't. You touched on why, and there are two main reasons for that. First of all, there's fear and insecurity. And, secondly there is different communication style and our busy lives and schedules.

Going to your discussion points - there are five points of discussion you list. Three of them are timetable, schedule, chore type issues

"1. Is there anything you need me to do tomorrow?

2. Are there any upcoming events that I need to know about (birthday, dinner, play, girls/boys night out, etc.)?

3. Are there any changes to our daily routine that needs to be addressed (wake up time, chores, picking up kids, etc.)?"

I would call these lifestyle/daily planning routine type issues. We all have different styles in dealing with stuff like this. Where problems arise, is when one partner doesn't recognize the other's style (ie. the way we process and function on a day to day basis - is your partner visual or verbal or do they need something put in front of the door to remember? Do they hate being reminded of something repeatedly? This all comes out of focusing on the partner instead of the self). The other thing is possible communication differences, especially between men and women, but it's not always so cut and dried.

There are few people in my opinion, that are going to want to sit down every night and go over the next day's schedule. It's tedious and if you make an effort to know your partner and work out a routine way of getting things done, it's not necessary to do this that often.

There are many ways of working this out, including a monthly planner/calendar that everyone can fill out and see or a Sunday evening chat about the upcoming week and what needs to get done.

Your other two points are quite different in that they address emotional issues. First there's this one:

"Is there anything you'd like to do that we haven't done ever/in a while?"

This is a great question to ask your partner. It shows that you love them and are thinking of them and their needs and you want to please them. Once again, though, if you love someone, that would come naturally. I understand that a lot of people need to be re-trained, if you will, to not think selfishly and remember to think about their partner. As far as that's concerned I think it's a great suggestion, but I would put it this way - I wouldn't say that it's necessary to ask this nightly. But, when things get hectic as they are wont to do in our busy lives, and we're feeling like we need to reconnect with our mates, to have a list of questions like this that we can go to read through and they should all be partner-directed, not self directed, and then go to our partner and ask whatever question(s) seem relevant.

Now, I'll get to the 5th question

"Have I done anything recently that offended or bothered you?"

I'm not sure why any couple would need to ask a question like this on a nightly basis, unless there was already something seriously wrong with the way they are interacting. (ie. lack of understanding, trust, fear of being open)

I think it's a valid question on a case by case basis when one partner notices that the other is out of sorts. In that case, waiting for an appropriate time when the other partner seems relatively relaxed and free of distractions, simply and non-defensively asking them if anything is bothering them would be my way of dealing with it.

I've gone on forever in my reply, but I'll just say one last thing, something that I feel would be very helpful for all couples is having a pet peeve discussion where all the cards are put on the table non-judgmentally. For instance, my boyfriend told me early in our relationship, way before we just moved in together, that he hates being reminded of things repeatedly. So, I don't do it. I find other ways to make sure things get done. He hates being late. I have an elastic relationship with time and schedules, but when he needs to be somewhere, I make sure I'm on time. I hate analyzing and talking things out when I'm feeling very emotional. I need some space and time for myself for a while. He's come to understand that and give it to me and not see it as a threat. I'm a big procrastinator and generally only get things done under the gun. I warned him of this and he warned me of his flaws. We find ways of dealing with them because we accept them and don't try to change them.

I think when you find someone you love that much, you don't need to sit down on a nightly basis and make yourself ask these questions, you do it in your own way and in a loving and trusting way. Not because you foresee a problem, but because you love your partner.

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@Katie,

I think it's awesome that you are very much in love. I am quite happy for you; that is a wonderful place to be. I will try to keep my response short.

My primary take away from your response is that "you don't need a structure that facilitates communication if you already communicate really well."

... Yes, I agree with that completely. My concern is that from my own personal experience I don't communicate well. As such, I do need something that helps facilitate communication. Remember, this whole concept was meant to solve a problem. If you don't have the problem, then you don't need the solution.

Also, one thing that I think you really got wrong was this comment:

I don't believe we can "build" love in a manufactured way. We love first, unconditionally, and then it grows by itself, organically from there.

... I am not trying to *build* love here at all. As you feel, I believe that the love should be there already or at least be growing on its own. All I am saying is that this structure would help prevent a deterioration or a derailing of the love that is there.

Also, I am not sure how trying to foresee problems indicates any negative outlook on a relationship at all. In fact, I'd say that it's just the opposite. If you want to be proactive in a relationship, it's specifically because you *want* it to succeed - you are really into making it work for the long haul.

As a final note, remember that this conversation could take 1 minute if no one has anything to discuss. People seem to have the feeling that this thing always has to take a long time. Maybe the question to every answer is NO for a given night or week or month. That doesn't make it irrelevant - it only means that there's nothing to discuss.... until there is, and then suddenly the structure is already in place to ensure that no assumptions or misunderstanding are made.

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ok, Ben. I hate when I am wrong and to admit it. But I can say you were right. And I wasn't totally wrong...I stand by the comments I made about relationships for the most part, but it just really depends on the relationship, and the people in the relationship.

It seems apparent to me that you are passionate about making a relationship work, so I can infer that you are single by choice or not single. :-)

I will add 2 more cents (that brings us to 6?). I think your idea about the conversation is 100% valid for some people, and some people SHOULD do this really. And, I think another hurdle here is that there are some people who may not "want" to do this, and sometimes, those are the people who especially should do it!!! But it's good for you to recognize that it is a good thing for you to do and to be willing to do it.

I, for one, know that if I were in a relation ship with someone and really cared for them, and if they decided this or something like this was a good idea, I would do it. Not "just" to appease them, even if I didn't initally come up with the idea, but because I cared about them and really wanted to make it work.

One of my biggest problems, and it would affect this conversation, is that I get WAY too distracted. I had a relationship in the past where, if we had this conversation every night, we would probably have skipped to the question about what haven't we done in awhile that we want to do, (and "awhile" would be the night before), and then we would get distracted and just start doing that and disolve into a puddle. lol. just my .02, though I think now it is up to about .08. :-)

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