The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What they Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship, written by sexpert Dr. Pepper Schwartz and Chrisanna Northrup, looks at what happy couples in happy relationships doing behind closed doors. (detailblick/Fotolia.com)
Interested in peeking under the covers? Wondering why they’re smiling and you’re not?
Well, you can bet there’s lots of handholding, kissing and pet names going on. And they’re having sex!
New stats reveal “our happiest couples still have sex three to four times a week even after 21 years of marriage - but 70% of our unhappy couples rarely or never have sex anymore,” says sexpert Dr. Pepper Schwartz, co-author of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What they Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship (Harmony Books).
And that’s not all going on behind closed doors, according to the comprehensive global web survey of 100,000 respondents.
Date nights, back rubs and I love yous go a long way to boosting marital happiness. And so does kissing passionately – outside of the bedroom.
“Simple, tiny things have a huge impact,” says co-author Chrisanna Northrup, a 41-year-old San Diego mother of three, who set out to find out how her lacklustre marriage stacked up against other people’s. Was the grass greener in her neighbours’ bedrooms?
“We all like to know if we’re weird or normal when it comes to our romantic relationship. We’re all curious about what other people are doing, especially those who are happy,” says Northrup, who conceived The Normal Bar after a marital crisis in her 15-year marriage.
Schwartz agrees: “We check on what other people are wearing, why wouldn’t we check on what other people are doing? Sometimes this desire comes from a troubled relationship looking for cues to help them out of trouble; other times a happy partner reads the data and realizes they are doing all the right things and feels happy but still looks for ways to be even better.”
The experts say plenty of people in the study ended up creating a “new normal” and saving their relationships, including Northrup, who adopted the techniques of those happy campers and “has never been more in love with my husband. We’ve gone from OK to spectacular.”
According to the survey, communication is the thing most valued by both sexes – and it’s the top thing lacking in unhappy relationships. Friendship and affection also rate high.
Surprisingly, says Schwartz, the survey revealed men want romance and affection even more than they want sex; however, 60% of men say they would really like more sex than they get.
Women normally are more critical about their partner than men are by a significant degree, she says, and it’s normal for even happy couples to think about breaking up over the years.
The most disappointing finding of the survey is that almost half of all couples are starved for romance, says Schwartz. “That date nights start to become rarer after 50 and that most people have never taken a romantic vacation.”
And the fact people would pick unlimited money over unlimited good health also disappointed the good doctor.
So where does money factor in? People who earn more than $250,000 argue more than people who earn less than $20,000, adds Schwartz. Actually, “the middle class argues the most but money really has no correlation with relationship happiness.”
Meanwhile, break your negative normal. Treat your relationship like a living, breathing organism or it’ll shrivel up, stresses Schwartz. “Be acutely aware of your own mood and your partner’s mood and if you are not happy, trace down the reasons for your feelings and discuss them and then adopt a plan of action.”
Do what happy couples do says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, co-author of The Normal Bar:
- Hold hands, kiss and snuggle
- Talk a lot about your life with each other, even your fantasies