5 ways to affair-proof your marriage

Are you thinking that you shouldn’t have to affair-proof your marriage? Your partner should know better, right? If your partner has an affair, there’s something wrong with your partner and not with you!

That’s true.

But it doesn’t make finding out about an affair any less devastating. It doesn’t make it any easier to make that next decision: should we stay together or not? It doesn’t take away the pain, the hurt, and the anger.

More important, affairs happen, a lot more often than most people think. I know because I hear about them and I see them in progress. Married men quite often proposition me when I’m out with my friends. They feed me a load of crap like, “My wife doesn’t mind that I do this. She won’t have sex with me. Woe is me. I need an outlet.” Ladies: take comfort. I usually respond to such talk with this: “Well I completely understand why your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you.”

Note: Someone accused me of being a man hater in the comments after I wrote this post. I actually like men, but I don’t like when they think I’m dumb enough to fall for something like that. It’s an insult to my intelligence, which is why I use the insulting come back. I also really dislike using the he/she construction, which is why I often pick one or the other. So, for the rest of this blog, know that: men and women both cheat. Sometimes they have compelling reasons to do so.

Through this blog, I also hear from men and women who are contemplating an affair, who are in the middle of an affair, or who are feeling guilty about an affair.

Their spouses have no idea.

I also have heard from many people who are floored when their spouses walk out of the marriage, usually to start up a relationship with someone else. They never saw it coming and often say things like, “I don’t know why she left me. I gave her everything. I was the perfect spouse.”

Here’s the thing about affairs: they are easy. That’s why they happen. Getting a divorce? Not easy. Repairing your marriage and getting what you need from your spouse? Definitely not easy. Having a fling with someone who offers you the few things your spouse does not? Much easier.

That’s why you need to affair proof. You cannot take your marriage for granted. Here are 5 ways to do it:

1.    Have sex regularly. I often hear women say things like, “I get back at my husband by withholding sex” or “We stopped having sex a long time ago. It’s not important to us.” Here’s the thing: it might be very  important to him. If that’s the case and he’s not getting it from you, he’ll be more tempted to find another way to get it. And he’s going to feel justified about it, because you were the one who shut him out. The more often you have sex with each other, the less often either one of you will be tempted to have sex with someone else. Exhaust your sex drive at home.

2.   Never stop flirting. Part of the lure of the affair is the “I like you” and “I like you right back” validation. After many years of marriage—once we’ve gotten set in our ways—we forget to validate our partners and then the excitement and lust drains out of the relationship. Try to compliment your spouse everyday. Tell her that her butt looks great in her jeans. Mention something about how flat his stomach is looking lately. Eat each other up.

3.    Never stop dating. In the beginning, you probably planned fun things to do together. You saw movies. You went on weekend trips. You went on hikes. Then you had kids. Now your idea of a date is watching TV once the kids are in bed. Bring romance back into your marriage. Go on vacations without the kids. Bring back activities that you both love, but have stopped doing together. Find new ways to connect.

4.    Emotionally stimulate her. I’m going to go on one of my sexist benders here. Go ahead and complain about it in the comments area. Here goes. Men tend to have sexual affairs. Women tend to have emotional ones that happen to also be sexual. In other words, men tend to stray in order to get laid. Women tend to stray in order to have someone to talk to, someone who understands them. This is why a woman’s affair tends to end a marriage. She usually falls in love with the object of her emotional affair. Men: this is why you just can’t ignore your wife’s need for conversation and emotional stimulation. Yes, she needs a life outside of marriage. Yes, she needs emotionally stimulating friends. And yes, she needs you to talk and listen every once in a while. If you don’t, she might eventually meet someone else who fills that need.

5.   Continually work on your marriage. Once every so often rate your marriage on a scale of 1 (I wish you were dead) to 10 (I am thrilled to have you in my life). Talk about ways to get your marriage closer to 10. The happier you are together, the more invested you will be in your marriage and the less likely either one of you will be to stray.

Do you think it’s important to affair-proof your marriage? Do you have additional affair-proofing strategies to suggest? Leave a comment.

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What to do when your man doesn’t talk

Q: I recently got married to a guy who should have been perfect for me. The problem is that he doesn’t communicate at all. I feel sad and alone most of the time, and I never know what he’s thinking. How do I get him to open up? — Lonely and ignored

Dear Lonely and Ignored:

Welcome to my world! My husband is the strong and silent type, too. Your answer lies in a combination of acceptance and gentle prodding.

It’s important to understand that he may never become a talker. Some people are talkers, and some aren’t. Me expecting my husband to morph into a conversationalist is like him expecting me to suddenly develop an interest in car racing. Just ain’t going to happen.

That said, you do not have to continue to suffer in silence. Use this advice.

Ask him to listen.
 Explain that you don’t need him to chatter back at you, respond, or fix your problems. You just want him to listen with rapt attention. This will take the pressure off him to talk. If you want him to do certain things as he listens, tell him. Perhaps you want him to make eye contact, hold your hand, nod every once in a while, and so on. I know it sounds silly, but these are things that women and some men do automatically. Strong and silent types? They need an instruction manual.

Make a list of topics that you absolutely need him to communicate.
 For instance, you may want all financial purchases to be made jointly. You may want some parenting decisions to be made together (what time should Johnny’s curfew be?) and some not (whether or not it’s a good time to play catch in the backyard). Again, the ability to know the difference between Must-Talk-About-Now Topics and Better-Left-Unsaid comes naturally to some, and not so naturally to others. Teach him how to know the difference.

Let him talk when he’s ready. If you need to discuss something that will probably make him uncomfortable and shut down, bring it up calmly and ask, “When would be a good time to talk about this?” This allows him time to think things over, prepare a response, and calm down from the stress of being confronted.

Talk while you are doing something else. Do it while walking, while sitting in the car, or over dinner. This reduces tension, which may allow him to more easily open up.

When he does talk, reward him. This is important, especially if he is finally opening up for the first time. Hug him. Say thank you. Take him to the bedroom.

Talk about your loneliness. Explain that you want to feel close to him and you worry that you might turn to someone else for this closeness if you don’t get it from him. Ask him to help you affair-proof your marriage.

Don’t ask him what he’s thinking or feeling.
 You’re just wasting your creative energy on that one. The answer to, “What are you thinking?” is probably, “Nothing.” The answer to “What are you feeling?” is probably “I have no clue.” Instead, ask him very specific questions that cannot be answered with a yes or a no, questions such as:

  • Why do you root for the Mets?
  • Tell me about the most interesting thing that happened to you today.
  • If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?
  • If you could live anywhere, where would you want to live?

Find an outlet for your need for conversation.
 It will never be him. Find a group of girlfriends who love to chat. Get involved in online discussion groups. Sit at the local coffee shop, diner or some other hangout spot for a few minutes everyday and chat with strangers.

Do you have advice for Lonely and Ignored? Share it in the comments area!

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33 Surefire Ways to Screw Up Your Marriage

1.    When your spouse comes to you with a problem, you downplay it, saying, “Things will get better in time,” or “You’re blowing this out of proportion.”

2.    When something bothers you, you don’t tell your spouse because your spouse should know not to act this way without you saying anything!

3.    Your relationship with your children is more important than your relationship with your spouse.

4.    You refuse to compromise. It’s your way or the divorce court.

5.    You belittle your spouse because it makes you feel better about yourself.

6.    You constantly brush off your spouse’s sexual advances because you are “not in the mood.” You do not look into ways to get yourself in the mood. Thus, you can’t remember the last time you had sex.

7.    You treat your mother-in-law like vermin, even though you know this bothers your spouse.

8.    You let yourself go. You no longer take steps to make yourself sexy and desirable for your spouse. Sometimes, you don’t even brush your teeth or bother to make sure you don’t have B.O.

9.    You cook your spouse’s least favorite foods on purpose.

10.    You flirt with the opposite sex, even though you know it bothers your spouse.

11.    You refuse to give your husband the “atta boy” for doing mundane things like emptying the dishwasher simply because he never gives you an “atta girl” for doing the same thing.

12.    You never tell your wife that she’s sexy, beautiful or hot, simply because she never thanks you for emptying the dishwasher.

13.    You only hug your wife or grab her rear when you want to get busy. You never do it just to make her feel good.

14.    When your spouse says, “We need to talk,” you reach for the remote control.

15.    You stopped dating your spouse the day you got married or the day your first child was born.

16.    Your idea of the perfect vacation is one you take with the kids. You would never hear of going away somewhere just with your spouse, even though you have many viable baby-sitting options.

17.    You never notice when your spouse has a new haircut because you rarely look at your spouse.

18.    You don’t try to understand your spouse’s hobbies and passions.

19.    You refuse to give your spouse space, because space makes you feel vulnerable.

20.    You don’t take turns reaching each other’s dreams. You think your spouse is there to support you and not the other way around.

21.    You stopped getting to know your spouse years ago. In fact, you just read that sentence and thought, “What else is there to know?”

22.    You belittle your spouse in front of other people.

23.    You refuse to give your spouse a second chance. You hold every single indiscretion against him for eternity, no matter how many times he’s said, “I’m sorry” and no matter how successfully he’s changed his behavior.

24.    When you fight with your spouse, you try to get other people around you—your kids, your friends, your parents—to take sides.

25.    If your spouse asks you for a favor, you say, “No” because you don’t think he deserves one.

26.    You only practice random acts of kindness with strangers. You don’t do it for your spouse.

27.    When you see your spouse struggling with exhaustion, depression, anxiety and other issues, you do nothing.

28.    When something is bothering you and your spouse asks you about it, you shut down, even though you know this bothers your spouse.

29.    You can’t bring yourself to say, “I’m sorry” even though you know you were wrong.

30.    You can’t bring yourself to say, “You’re forgiven,” even though your spouse has said he’s sorry.

31.    You’ve told your spouse so many lies that you need to write them down in order to keep track of them.

32.    You are living a secret life that your spouse does not know about.

33.    You make fights with your spouse about “who is right” rather than about “how can we fix this.”

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How to train a man to do housework

Q: My spouse sits on the couch and watches me cleaning like a cave girl high on Windex. Does he move? I wish I could hook him up to a battery charger. I just want a clean nice home, you know, one where I can open the door to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and my mother in law. I am searching for a formula that will work. There must be one. Am I fighting a losing battle? Should I surrender to the mess? — Seething Windex Wife

Dear Seething Windex Wife:

I hope it’s somewhat comforting to know that what you are going through is very common. Nearly all of the married women I know struggle with the same problem. “My husband is a hopeless slob” ranks pretty high on most women’s complaint lists, with “he can’t get his lazy ass out of bed to deal with the kids” and “he communicates his desire to have sex with me by rubbing his boner on my thigh” running a close second and third.

And there’s hope. I once had the same experience as you. I’d spend hours scrubbing my husband’s pee off toilet seats and removing his dirty underwear from the hallway floor. He’d occasionally look up from whatever was on TV and say things like, “Thanks for cleaning the house, honey,” assuming he noticed at all. Now, he unloads the washer, runs the vacuum, and picks up our daughter’s toys without being asked. And when he sees me cleaning, it’s an automatic trigger for him to get his butt off the couch and help.

Here’s what I suggest.

1. Try to see things through his eyes. He probably doesn’t see or care about the mess. Asking him to care about a clean house is similar to him asking you to care about the color and height of the grass in your yard. Women notice dust and fingerprints. Men notice crabgrass and yellow spots. It’s just one of those weird genetic differences between the sexes.

Most women are taught how to clean from a young age, too. My mother, for instance, had a dust rag in my hands by age 10, and she supervised my work. I also happened to work as a hotel maid one summer between my junior and senior years in high school.

My husband? His mother did everything in that house, and no one lifted a finger to help her. He did not work as a hotel maid, or any other job that would have taught him how to clean fast and effectively. I once showed him how to make hospital corners when making the bed. He stared at me as if I were from Mars, wondering why the heck anyone would care about making perfect corners in a set of sheets.

Cleaning makes many men-especially those who have not been taught how to do it-feel inadequate. It’s similar to how we women feel when we have to dispose of a rodent caught in a glue trap. Sure, we can do it, but we’ll avoid that poor critter for as long as it takes, in the hopes that our lovely husbands will take care of it first.

I’m not saying that you should just accept his slovenly lazy ways. I’m only saying that, if you learn how to understand it and see it from his perspective, it might help lower your anger a notch, so you can address the problem more civilly.

2. Understand the Law of Household Entropy. All houses naturally fall into a state of chaos over time. You simply cannot keep a house clean and orderly every moment of every day, especially if you have children or pets.

Because of the Law of Household Entropy, you must be willing to come to a compromise with your spouse. How much chaos are you willing to have? Do you want your entire house clean once a week, with it gradually falling into a state of complete disarray by week’s end? Or would you rather always have one room that is clean and presentable (that you clean up daily), and others that you let go most of the time (cleaning only in the moments just before the mother in law visits)? What types of household chaos bug you the most? Perhaps you are okay with dust but you really can’t stand having mold in your toilet. Once you understand what bugs you most, you’ll more easily be able to ask your husband for the help you need.

3. Think about why you value a clean house, and go beyond jokes about Jehovahs. How does a disorderly house make you feel? How does it affect your mood, energy, and sexual health? Being able to put this into words will help your husband to understand your point of view.

4. Hold an intervention. Sit down when you are calm (probably not while or just before cleaning). Talk about how a clean orderly house makes you feel: happy, stress free, calm, like having sex. Explain how you feel when you clean it up while he watches TV: unloved, taken advantage of, exhausted, angry.  You might say, “I don’t like feeling taken advantage of. I don’t like feeling this way about you. I really want us to have a good relationship, and I really want to feel calm and stress free in my house. Can you help me with this?”

Then, get solution focused. Maybe he takes on some chores and you do others. Maybe you clean together. Be creative. Whatever you do, make sure your solution is specific. Remember: he’s blind to the mess. He needs an instruction manual, as in, “I would like you to pick up everything on the floor-including your empty beer cans, socks and banana peels-every night before you start watching TV.” Leave no room for misinterpretation.

5. Whenever you notice him cleaning, reward him.
 Hug him. Say, “Thank You.” Jump his bones. Make him want to clean again.

Tips for Training Really Stubborn Men

So, let’s say you do all of that and your man resists. Let’s say he claims, as my husband did initially, that he already does plenty of housework.

Hold a contest. Create a big chart and list all of the indoor and outdoor chores. Over a month’s time, check off which chores you complete and how long it takes to complete them. At the end of the month, compare results. I did this with my husband and it really blew him away. He truly thought he’d been doing more than he really was doing.

Here’s another excuse that might pop up. He might accuse you of being too uptight. For instance, he’ll whine, “I work hard. When I come home I just want to relax. What’s wrong with relaxing? Why do you have to always be working?”

This is when you tell him that you want to relax, too, and you just can’t when your house is messy. Ask him to help you come up with a compromise that will make both of you happy and relaxed. Maybe, for instance, the two of you clean the house while you are dressed up as a French Chamber Maid. Then, once the house is clean, the good lazy boy gets a nice reward.

Just saying. It might get you a really clean house. In fact, your husband might want to clean the house every night.

Do you have advice for Seething Windex Wife? Leave a comment.

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26 Things No One Told You About Life as a Parent

What no one tells you: Babies rarely look like this!
  1. Many, many mornings at 5:30 a.m., you will spend inordinate amounts of time bargaining with God for just one more hour of sleep.
  2. here is no painless way to extract a baby from a womb. You will spend lots of time arguing with other mothers about which is less painful, a C-section or a vaginal birth. In reality, they both hurt more than any other hurt you’ve ever experienced in your entire life. But it’s the kind of pain that’s worth it, for the most part.
  3. You will become so used to touching your child’s bodily fluids-snot, urine, poop, spit, and blood-that they will no longer gross you out.
  4. You will become an expert at the art of “poop reading,” which is the ability to tell whether your child is sick based on the size, color, shape and frequency of his or her bowel movements.
  5. You will develop a condition known as “momnesia” at the moment of conception. Experts say it lifts about a year or two into parenthood, but any honest mother will tell you that it lasts a full 20 years, at which time you will develop senility instead.
  6. During pregnancy, you will find all sorts of crud in your underwear, crud that makes your worst yeast infection ever seem very, very, very tame.
  7. After you give birth, you will begin to hate your spouse and wish he or she would just drop dead.
  8. Your child will embarrass you on a deeper level than you’ve ever been embarrassed in your life, especially when you are standing in line at a store and your 3 year old exclaims, “Whoo-wee Mommy, you farted! It stinks in here!”
  9. Your boobs will look Pam Anderson fantastic during breast-feeding. Love it while it lasts. As soon as your child weans, your boobs will deflate faster than a balloon with a hole in it. And they will get saggy, too. This is the single most common reason why many women decide to have more than one child.
  10. Not long into parenthood, you will trade off your goal of being the “perfect parent” for the goal of “just help me survive this experience.”
  11. There will be a day at some point after parenthood when you find yourself out in public and realize any or all of the following: a) your shirt is inside out b) there is food on your shirt c) you forgot to brush your teeth… and your hair d) you forgot to put on your pants.
  12. All of those expressions you learned from your parents that you swore you would never repeat? You will say them to your child, and you will say them many, many times.
  13. If you did not curse before parenthood, you will afterward. If you cursed before parenthood, you will curse even more.
  14. Your child will start to manipulate you starting around 4 months, a process that will last until your funeral. You will learn to see this for what it is: how your child displays his or her love for you.
  15. You will find yourself Googling all sorts of oddities, from, “How to teach a kid to poop on the potty” to “I have a crush on my pediatrician. Is this normal?”
  16. You will ask yourself, “Is this normal?” many, many, many times, and you will never really know the answer to that question. For instance, while eating dinner at a restaurant, your child might slip his or her hands up your shirt and exclaim, “I’m touching your nipples!” Is that normal? I’m still not sure.
  17. You will realize just how much you really do not know, especially when your child asks you, “Whose head is on the quarter?” and “Why do Zebras have stripes?” and “Why can’t I put my hands up your shirt when we are out in public?”
  18. You will constantly worry that someone will call Child Protective Services on you, even though you are truly a good parent. Your child is just clumsy.
  19. Time will become your most precious commodity, and you will haggle with your spouse over it as if it were gold.
  20. You will learn to fear birthday invitations.
  21. Grocery shopping will never quite be the same experience again.
  22. If you had extra money before you became a parent, you won’t have it afterward.
  23. Diapers cost more than you would ever imagine. Daycare costs even more, and don’t even think about the cost of a college education. If you do, you will probably decide not to have children.
  24. The expression, “All shit stinks” is inaccurate. The poop of newborn breast fed babies doesn’t stink. Poop only starts to stink once babies start eating solids, and some solids make it stink more than others. You will soon become an expert at sniffing poop and knowing exactly what food led to that precise odor.
  25. You will find yourself throwing away all sorts of things that make you feel guilty, such as your child’s artwork.
  26. The day you give birth, your hair will start to gray and you will start to grow a mustache. It happens to the best of mothers. Thankfully, there are plenty of cheap hair removal products, not to mention dye.

For more momspiration, check out the Best Mommy Blogs over at Andrea Howard’s Parentise site. By the way, her site is a very cool place to go for reviews of various services and products that all parents need.

What did you learn about parenting after the fact that you wish you had known before? Leave a comment.

If you like this blog, consider signing up for free email updates. It’s free. It’s safe, and it’s almost as good as a free, live in baby sitter. Just type your email address into the “subscribe by email” box in the upper right column. I will never sell your email, and I will never spam you.

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9 stages of an unhappy marriage

If you are making this for him, you’re probably still in Stage 1.

This morning, I woke up before my husband, looked in the fridge and found only three eggs. I eat eggs for breakfast nearly every morning. So does my husband. This was a problem.

I did something that surprised even myself. I made myself a frozen waffle and a smoothie. Later, my husband, who was having a very difficult time getting out of bed, asked, “Are there any eggs?” I said, “There were only three eggs left, so I didn’t eat any. I saved them for you. You know I love you now.”

He smiled and said, “I do.”

Now, let me be honest here. Not long ago, I would have eaten all three eggs, and I would have done it while I thought, “If he got his lazy sorry ass out of bed on time, then he would have beat me to the eggs. You snooze. You lose.”

It made me realize that there are 9 distinct stages of marital disharmony. In these stages, I’m using eggs as an example, but it might be chocolate or English muffins or something else that you and your spouse both love and also tend to run out of before it’s time for the next grocery store run. Note: I’ve written these stages from the female point of view, because, after all, I’m a female. For the most part, you could insert “he” for “she” and “she” for “he,” except in a few somewhat obvious places where you just can’t.

Stage 1: Dating

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You drive to the store to get more, so you can make you and your special love interest omelets. You want to prove to him that you have special kitchen skills because you are hoping that, one day, he might want to marry you because of your special kitchen skills.

Stage 2: Serious dating

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You stare at them for a while. You think about eating them. You don’t. You leave them all for that special guy who is sleeping upstairs, because any day now he might get a notion to pop the question. You don’t want to do anything to dissuade him from that notion. See? Aren’t you marriage material? You leave the last three eggs for him! Who wouldn’t marry a woman who does that?

Stage 3: You just got home from the honeymoon

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You sigh. You wake up your husband and explain the egg situation. He says, “Oh, honey, why don’t you eat them? I’ll just have a slice of toast.” He’s under the misguided impression that he’ll get morning sex for this gesture. He may or may not be disappointed, depending on how many weeks have passed since the honeymoon.

Stage 4: The honeymoon is definitely over

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You split them with your spouse, but you are not happy about it. You stare longingly at his eggs the entire time he’s eating, thinking that any moment now he’ll turn back into that man who once gave you his eggs. You pledge to never have sex with him again, no matter how excessively horny you might become.

Stage 5: The honeymoon is so over that you can’t even remember why you ever wanted to travel with him in the first place

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You eat all of them nearly raw. You weren’t even planning on having eggs this day, mind you. You eat them so he can’t have them, because he doesn’t deserve them.

Stage 6: Marital therapy

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You throw them at your husband.

Stage 7: Martial therapy just might be working

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You eat them, but you feel guilty about it.

Stage 8: Wow, marital therapy actually worked!

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You make something else for breakfast.

Stage 9: You have achieved the much talked about but rarely experienced state known as “Marital Enlightenment”

You wake up. You realize you only have three eggs. You make something else for breakfast. You make the eggs for your spouse.

Note: I have not reached stage 9. I’ve only heard about it. When I again walked into the bedroom this morning (yes, he was still in bed), my husband asked, “Are you almost done making my ham and eggs?”

I said, “I don’t love you that much. Get over it.”

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How to tell a friend from a frenemy

What makes a true friend?

One of my Facebook friends recently friended one of my real-life friends. My real life friend said, “You were the only friend we had in common, but I still wasn’t sure if I should accept the friend request.”

I replied, “Oh, don’t assume a Facebook friend of mine is a friend of yours. Remember: on Facebook, Eddie Murphy is my friend.”

It’s true. I’ve friended a number of celebrities on Facebook, just to see if they would accept my gesture of friendship. They all did. That doesn’t mean these celebrities are my true friends, though. In fact, I’m not really friends with many of the more than 300 people who have friended me on Facebook. This is not to say that I don’t like them or that I no longer wish to have them as friends on Facebook.

It just means this: my definition of “friend” is a little different than Facebook’s definition of friend. My definition has evolved over many years, years filled with numerous friendship breakups and disappointments. My definition was particularly fine-tuned during my quarter life crisis in my 20s and my post-partum depression in my mid 30s—both times when I found myself nearly friendless.

To me, a friend is more than someone I know. It’s more than someone I do things with. It’s more than someone who hangs out with me. It’s more than someone who went to school with me or who has lived with me. (Note: most people who have lived with me don’t consider me a friend. I’ve learned from many years of trial and error that I don’t make the best of roommates. In my perfect world, my husband would be my next door neighbor. We’d still be married, but we’d live next door from one another and would rarely sleep together in the same bed. This, however, is a topic for another day.)

The characteristics of a true friend

My true friends are people who know that I am a type A workaholic and who find this endearing. They know I tend to dream big, take on too much, and occasionally suffer the consequences in the form of burn out. When I’m sick, tired, and in need of a self-esteem transplant, they rarely say, “I told you this would happen. I told you that you were working too hard. See where this led you?”

No, they don’t say this, even though they might think it. Instead they give me the self-esteem transplant I need by reminding me of all I’ve accomplished and all that I will accomplish soon—once I allow myself to just take a few days off already.

These are people who know that I think parenting is quite boring and who do not judge me because of it. They are intrigued that I’m willing to tell just about anyone about my sex life, but they are not appalled.

They are capable of giving me an honest assessment of any given situation, but they know me well enough to not offer that honest assessment until I ask for it.

In three words: They get me. In seven more words: they love the woman that they get.

Who is a frenemy and why?

Frenemies (a combination of the words “friend” + “enemy”) are a different story. Despite the term, frenemies are not necessarily bad people. Most are capable of being wonderful friends, just not with you. A frenemy is someone you hang out with—either by choice (because you mistake the person as a friend) or by accident (you work with them, they hang out with your other friends, and so on).

Someone is your frenemy if:

  • You feel tense when you think about the person.
  • You can’t relax when this person is around.
  • You have a hard time being yourself around this person.
  • You don’t enjoy this person’s company.
  • You are in dire need of a self-esteem transplant whenever you see this person.

It doesn’t matter why these things are true. It’s possible that this person is competitive with you. Maybe he’s always trying to get in the last word and one-upping your every story. Or perhaps your frenemy is a gossipy backbiter who will make fun of you as soon as you leave the room. She could also be one of those controlling types, the type of person who is always spouting off unsolicited advice. Perhaps this person is negative or sarcastic or any number of other characteristics that you worry might be contagious.

Yet, it’s just as possible that this person is perfectly nice and wonderful. You may be at a complete loss when you try to figure out why this person rubs you the wrong way. Her very presence may make you feel uncomfortable, but she’s not doing it on purpose! In fact, she may think you are the cat’s meow and desperately want to be your friend.

It doesn’t matter why someone is a frenemy. It just doesn’t. You can spend your time second-guessing yourself and feeling bad about your odd dislike of this person, or you can just do what I do. Trust your instincts. If you chronically feel badly whenever you are around this person, she’s not a friend. She’s a frenemy.

Friends don’t let friends hang out with frenemies

You do not have to pretend to be friends with your frenemies! This lesson took me a long time to learn. For years I hung out with people who did not make me feel good about myself. Then, one day, I asked myself, “If I was on my deathbed, would I want these people to visit me?”

The answer, of course, was no. During my last moments of life, I want to feel good. I want to be able to say whatever I want and be whoever I want. I want to be able to play my 80s rock and pop music and not worry about what the people around me think. I want to wear my fleece. I want to be able to crack my most off color, so-not-politically correct jokes.

I want to be me, and I want to feel the love in the room because I am being me.

It would be a small gathering, but I’m okay with that because everyone at this gathering would be my true friend.

Here’s the thing: you never know when you are going to die. I like to think I will have some warning, but who knows? I might be out at a gathering, have an aneurysm burst, and, just like that, my final moments will be upon me. Do I really want to be with a frenemy in that moment? No, of course not.

Refusing to hang with your frenemies does not make you a snob. It does not make you mean. It makes you you—the very you that your true friends love, honor and respect. Most important, it makes you happy.

How do you define a frenemy? How do you define a true friend? Do you hang out with your frenemies? Leave a comment.

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How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Until very recently, my husband and I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Occasionally, I’d say, “Happy Valentine’s Day” in much the same way I’d wish him a happy birthday. We rarely, however, went out to eat. He stopped buying me flowers years ago.

Until this year, we didn’t do these things for two reasons. One: we’re both practical people, and practical people don’t spend twice as much on flowers on Valentine’s Day just because everyone else does the same thing.

Two: until somewhat recently, I didn’t enjoy my husband’s company very much. Valentine’s Day was just a cruel reminder that I’d married the wrong person.

Now I no longer feel as if I’ve married the wrong person. My husband is right for me in every way. I love him more than ever. For the first time in years, I find myself wanting to celebrate this great day of love of ours. Here’s my new complication: money. We’re on the tightest budget imaginable.

So, as we’ve done in year’s past, we won’t go out to eat. He won’t buy me flowers. We will, however, celebrate Valentine’s Day with what I’m going to call Free Acts of Loving. Who needs flowers when there are back rubs to be had? Who needs dinner at a restaurant when there is wine to sip in bed? Who needs chocolate when there’s sex?

Who needs a store bought card when there’s Haiku? In my Win a Wii contest, I challenged all of you to write Haiku, which is three lines of poetry that do not rhyme. The first line contains 5 syllables, the second 7, and the third three. For my husband, I’ve written the following 5 stanza Valentine’s Haiku. (Note: we will be judging the contest next week. Stay tuned.)

Ode to Mr. Strong and Silent

I wake up sleepy.
I bitch and complain a lot.
You bring me latte.

I have a hard day.
I stare at the wall and cry.
You bring me wine.

My pants are too tight.
I ask you if I look fat.
You say I am beautiful.

I think bugs are gross.
You kill bugs and rodents.
I thank God for that.

I make you bacon.
I tolerate your mother.
You know I love you.

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How to win a Wii

want this?


I want all of you to feel as happy as I do. That’s why, for the next two weeks, I’m running a Win a Wii Promotion at Project Happily Ever After. To win a Wii, a $100 gift certificate to Om Aroma, or a pair of really cool earrings from Esculon, read on.

All you need to do is amass the most points by the end of the day (midnight) Friday Feb. 13th. The person with the most points wins.

Here’s how you can earn points:

20 points: Write a paragraph about why all of your friends should check out www.projecthappilyeverafter.com. Send your email to 10 friends, including a link to the site in your email. You MUST copy Alisa Bowman at alisa@projecthappilyeverafter.com on this email in order to receive your points.

Please note: SPAM or other unsolicited emails will not be tolerated during this promotion.  Please make sure that the persons to whom you are sending this email have given you permission to email them.  If it is discovered that you have sent unsolicited emails in furtherance of this promotion, you will forfeit all of your points and shall be disqualified from the promotion.

20 points: Subscribe by email to the ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com blog. Use the Subscribe by Email box in the right column. Make sure to activate your subscription when you get the confirmation email from Feedblitz. Note: If you are already subscribed by email, there is no need to subscribe twice. These points will be counted.

50 points: Write a blog post on your own blog about Alisa Bowman or about the ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com blog, linking back to the ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com blog at least twice. You MUST email the link to your blog post to Alisa Bowman at alisa@projecthappilyeverafter.com in order to receive your points.

25-100 points: Win the Project Happily Ever After Haiku contest. Write Haiku (three lines of poetry that do not rhyme) about marriage, relationships or sex. Submit your Haiku in the comments area here (found at the bottom of the page). Haiku will be judged by a panel of three judges. First place will be awarded 100 points, second place 50 points, and third place 25 points.

Note: Please use the same email address for all of the points gathering strategies to ensure all of your points get counted.

Prize Descriptions

First Prize:

Nintendo Wii video game system

Quite simply, this is the coolest gaming system on the market. You can create your own characters, play life like games such as bowling and tennis, and according to my friend Julie at Cool Mom Guide, lose some serious weight with this system. From the Nintendo site:

“Why do I need Wii?

Wii is not just a gaming console, it’s a reason to get together with your friends and family and play today’s hottest games. Wii offers legendary Nintendo franchises like Mario, Zelda and Metroid, as well as all new classics like Wii Sports and Wii Play. Create your own Mii character to star in Wii games. Play friends online over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection or use the Internet Channel to surf the net from your sofa. You can even download classic Nintendo games using the Wii Shop Channel.”

Retail price: $279.49

Runner Up Prizes:

Esculon Golden Dotty Earrings: Designed by my good friend Alexandra Mihaescu, everything at Esculon makes you feel as if you are wearing the expensive one-of-a-kind bling you see on celebs, but it all comes with an affordable price tag. From her site: “Wild gold-filled wire and a touch of pink make up these perfectly fun stud earrings. The pink is a cultured, dyed pearl. The studs measure .5″ in diameter.”
Retail price: $35.00




Om Aroma



Om Aroma Gift Certificate: Founded by Angela Jia Kim, everything from Om Aroma is made with pure, organic ingredients. This chemical and preservative free line of creams, lotions and more has won gold medals at the 2008 Beauty Olympics. Everything in this line is made in the US.

Retail value: $100

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How long great sex really lasts

Are we done yet?

A few months ago, I was surfing around a discussion board for moms when I noticed this intriguing question, “About how long does it take you and your DH to do it?” I clicked through, and I immediately felt inadequate.

Mom after mom was claiming to “do it” for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and even two hours on a regular basis. These women were describing a “quickie” as sex that lasts for 10 to 20 minutes. A few even complained about short sexual encounters, whining, “I wish my DH had more staying power.”

I wondered, “Who are these women and why are they allowed to type such nonsense on the Internet?”

In my bedroom, a typical session lasts about 10 minutes, and that includes the taking off the clothes part and the clean up.

This, by the way, is not my husband’s fault. His staying power should probably be documented in the Guinness Book of World Records. (Note: His friends read this blog. My husband will now love me forever. He’d also like me to stipulate that the length of his, well, you know, is legendary.)

Our constant use of the quickie is all my doing.

I simply can’t imagine going at it for an hour. An hour?! Two hours?! When I think about having sex for that long, the following words and phrases come to mind:



“I have stuff to do.”

“Are we done yet?”

It’s possible that we completed a few sexual marathons years ago, when we first met. Those were the days when we used to think it was fun to gaze into one another’s eyes. My memories of those times have mostly been erased by a chronic case of momnesia, though.

In any case, we no longer have time to eye gaze, not to mention drag things out in the bedroom. Now in the AK (after kid) era, there’s simply no time for such frivolity. We have a 529 to fund, a daycare bill to pay, jobs to do, a house to clean, toys to fix, and meals to cook. Sex has become something we slip in somewhere between the daycare drop off and a mad dash to the bank.

Still, even if I had all the time in the world, I’m not so sure I’d want it. If sex lasted an hour or more, I’m quite certain I’d need to take ibuprofen for a few days afterward. I’m just not in that sort of shape anymore.

And even if I was in shape, I’m not sure I’m genetically blessed with the ability to go at it for that long. I’ve tried to turn myself into a better sex partner. I really have. For instance, I’ve tried doing it with my husband a lot more frequently, with the idea being that more frequent orgasms would lead to a better ability to delay them.

It sort of worked, too. Instead of 10 minutes, our sessions dragged on for about 12.

I’ve tried to focus my thoughts on nonsexual things, too, like how I planned to straighten up the bedroom as soon as we wrapped things up. I’ve even begged my husband to ease up. “No, don’t push me over the edge honey, I want to see… Oh, it’s too late now.”

It’s like that.

I thought about asking my real life mom friends about their sex lives, but I held off. I figured they might all be marathoners, too. I didn’t want everyone in town knowing that I was a sexual sprinter.

Then yesterday I was doing some research for a heart disease book that I’m writing and I stumbled across a Penn State study. It found that the most sexually satisfied couples usually had sex for just three to 13 minutes. In fact, the psychologists, marriage therapists and sexperts who were studied said that anything longer than 10 minutes was “too long.” (And if you wonder what that has to do with heart disease, all I can say is this: Google isn’t perfect.) The researchers were quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, today’s popular culture has reinforced stereotypes about sexual activity. Many men and women seem to believe the fantasy model of large penises, rock-hard erections and all-night-long intercourse.”

I thought three things:

1.    Hallelujah!

2.    Penn State rules!

3.    Bring on the quickies!

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