Life Partner Relationships


A good marriage is driven by both partners trusting each other and making each other a priority.

Build on the relationship by fostering frequent, affirming habits with them.

Contrary to what anyone says, men and women are profoundly different, and working with those differences make very powerful marriages.

Marital conflicts are normal, but there’s a correct way to go about them:

  1. Raise your issues early.
  2. Consider the timing when you approach them about it.
  3. Respect them and their views.
  4. Stay on the topic you’re discussing.
  5. Make a shared plan to resolve the issue.
  6. Clarify what they mean to you.

A dysfunctional conflict pattern usually comes from psychological issues that bleed into the marriage.

When you move in together and share your life, your entire life will change from the experience.

Complacency is normal, and requires consistently reaffirming your love and making them a priority.

Sex isn’t as important as pop culture makes it out to be, and naturally flows out from the rest of the relationship.

Every marriage goes through a rough spot, and only fail when at least one of the partners completely gives up.

What makes a good marriage?

In healthy marriages, both spouses make tremendous sacrifices for each other:
  • From dating onward, you’re maintaining an intimate friendship and learning to love.
  • Your relationship can be fun, but it also comes with responsibilities.
  • Whenever possible, stay emotionally supportive and available for them.
  • Respect them and their decisions, even when they’re not around.
  • Their advice and input must be important to you somehow, or the relationship needs to change.

All relationships build on trust:
  • Every relationship issue can be fixed with open communication and faithful behavior.
    • As your relationship develops, you’ll always find more conflicts and disagreements you must sort out together.
    • Open communication shows each person the other’s thoughts and removes them having to guess.
  • If you don’t trust them with your life, they have no reason to trust you with their life.
    • Everyone is a little odd, so loving relationships require mutually accepting each other despite disagreements.

Building the relationship

Routinely express your love for them how they prefer it, not you:
  1. Quality time – completely uninterrupted time with them:
    • Every relationship needs at least 5 hours a week of meaningful discussion, with 90 minutes devoted to practical discussion about practical matters.
      • If you don’t discuss frequently, it creates a backlog of discussions and the relationship starts diverging.
    • Ask how their day was and actively listen to them.
    • Make a non-negotiable scheduled date night at least every other week.
    • Have fun and find humor with them regularly.
    • Create memories together by going to unique places and doing new things.
    • Even when you’re not on a date, set aside quality time with them at least every few days.
  2. Affirming statements – positive expressions of what that person is or does:
    • Every relationship needs each partner to share at least one positive thought about them per day.
    • Write a note to your spouse every day.
    • Avoid mixing in any constructive criticism or admonitions: only affirm them for who they are and what they do.
    • Take photos of each other at least every few months.
    • Take a picture every anniversary with last year’s photo in it.
    • Tell them you admire them in the way they admire themselves.
  3. Acts of service – doing things that improve their quality of life:
    • Every relationship needs 3-4 helpful tasks toward each other every week.
    • Avoid doing anything that irritates them.
    • When you live with them, it can simply be cleaning or organizing.
    • Get something done they hate doing at least once a week.
  4. Physical touch – intentional, gentle contact with them:
    • Each relationship requires at least an intimate greeting and departing ritual.
    • Greet them with a hug or kiss.
    • Hold their hand to affirm them.
  5. Physical gifts – objects that demonstrate you care:
    • Every relationship needs at least 1 gift a month from each other.
    • They don’t need to be expensive, but must be meaningful.
    • Give them gifts at least once a month.
    • Send love letters and poems periodically.

Slowly open up to them and observe how they respond to you:
  • Regularly expose them to your daily routines.
    • Go shopping and run errands with them.
    • Visit friends with them around.
    • Share your hobbies with them and get involved in theirs.
  • To learn who they really are, share all your opinions with them.
    • Openly accept their thoughts and core opinions as you discover them.
    • Tell them plainly when you dislike one of their thoughts.
    • Openly discuss your finances with them.
    • Your religious faith should mesh, especially if either of you want children someday.
    • While your preferences may differ, you should both share similar philosophies about life, and they may change.
    • By the time you’re considering living together or marrying, you should know approximately what they feel about most things.

As your relationship naturally grows, expect they’ll be more involved in your life:
  • You should be able to accept them as they are and not how you wish them to be.
  • In some way, you must be able to imagine that person fitting in with your future career and goals.
  • When you’re working off past trauma and afraid of losing them, seriously reconsider the value of your relationship and ask why you’re still in it.

Build daily and weekly rituals that include your partner, even if they’re seemingly mundane.

Don’t compare your relationship:
  • Everyone has their own unique experiences and had to make their own decisions, and each relationship combines two very unique people into a very unique pairing.
  • Unless you’re trying to improve yourself, comparing your relationship to others’ is a terrible idea.
  • Most people will compare their relationship to yours, but that’s their misery they need to work through.

Protect yourself sexually:
  • Sex allows people to “reset” how they feel about their partner, which is crucial with marriage’s constant conflicts.
  • If you ever break up, the deep intimacy that comes from sex will emotionally destroy you.
    • Only have sex with someone you’re fully certain you’ll be with for the rest of your life (i.e., marriage for life).
  • Even when you’re desperate, sex with strangers is never worth the emotional pain, risks of venereal disease, and risks of an unwanted pregnancy.

Gender differences

Contrary to what anyone ever says, men and women are distinctly different.

However, men and women can work very well with each other:
  • It’s often taboo to say, but the two genders work best with women detecting problems and strategizing while men make difficult decisions and fix problems.
  • Women often want men’s roles, but are too intelligent to have the confidence to maintain those roles.
  • When men are placed in a supporting role to women, they don’t have the mental ability to reason out possible risks or problems.

What men must learn:
  • Compared to women, men are unsophisticated and emotionally uninvolved.
  • Women crave close, personal affection and security.
    • Affirm her frequently, such as calling her beautiful.
    • Acknowledge her feelings without any context (e.g., “that feels sad”).
    • Show physical, non-sexual affection.
    • Perform small acts of kindness for her (e.g., opening the door for her).
    • Give at least two months’ notice for any large decision, including marriage proposals and children.
    • Always stay open to expanding your awareness of feelings and sentiments.
  • Usually, a woman will vent her frustrations, but do not try to fix it: just listen.
  • Learn additional self-maintenance to meet a woman’s standard.
  • Men are typically unaware of many situational risks, so listen to women.

What women must learn:
  • Compared to men, women are complicated and inefficient.
  • Men crave respect for accomplishments and challenging experiences.
    • Admire what he’s done, especially regarding his career and parenting.
    • Tactfully tell him what you really think and believe, because he won’t understand an implication.
  • Women usually experience feelings far more intensely than men.
  • Most women overestimate the intelligence of men.
    • Men don’t understand implications as well and aren’t trying to be rude or impatient.
  • Women tend to overcommunicate smaller risks because they think they weren’t heard, but they must learn to trust that men will tackle everything eventually.

Healthy conflicts

Conflicts are normal, and increase as the relationship grows:
  • Work or other family members can cause stress.
  • People constantly miscommunicate their thoughts and expectations.
  • While venting or complaining, people may feel anger at the listener’s lack of sympathy.
  • Expect trust issues between your partner and your parents, as well as you and theirs.
    • Conflicts become extremely complicated when someone values their parents’ views over their partner’s.

Marital conflicts strengthen us, but are also a necessary foundation to build toward the playfulness of romance and enjoying children.

A. Raise your issues early:
  • Ask yourself openly why you feel upset.
  • Don’t overthink it, since they probably see the problem from their point of view as well.
    • Gently approaching issues is difficult if you’ve spent lots of time thinking about it without feedback.
  • Expect they want to resolve the conflict as much as you.
    • If you have a grudge with them, they’re entitled to one with you as well.
    • Release your resentment with them, and openly express if you have any.

B. Approach at the right time:
  • It should be privately, away from others.
  • Leave everyone else out of it.
  • Make sure you’re both calm, undistracted, and focused on each other.
  • Handle and mitigate all emergencies, then discuss after the emergency is over.

C. Respect them and their views:
  • Respect they understand and know things you don’t, and vice versa.
  • No degrading language, swearing, or yelling.
  • Listen to them with the Speaker-Listener Technique:
    1. The person who feels the most severe pain at the moment is the Speaker and has the floor.
      • The Speaker must speak honestly.
      • To respect time and attention span, they only get 1-2 minutes to speak.
    2. The other person is the Listener, who must paraphrase whatever the speaker said after listening.
      • The Listener must edit out all responses or disagreements to the Speaker.
      • The Listener is simply trying to understand the Speaker, not solve a problem.
    3. The Speaker corrects the Listener on anything they got wrong.
    4. If the Speaker finds the Listener’s summary acceptable, they switch roles.
    5. Repeat back and forth until both sides feel fully understood.
  • Try to be correct instead of right.
    • If you’re wrong, very quickly admit it and try to understand how.
    • You’re likely both using different definitions for the same words.
    • Closely watch their body language and responses as you both speak.
  • Apologize when you hurt them and forgive them when they hurt you.

D. Stay on topic:
  • Stay on one topic at a time.
  • Conflicts are a shared battle against an issue, not between you and your partner.
  • Honestly share your thoughts and feelings.
    • Expect them to not understand the first time.
    • If it may hurt them, apologize in advance.
    • Staying distant or closed off will motivate them to respond in kind.
    • If you’re melodramatic about your feelings, they won’t take you seriously.
  • Own all your feelings, especially when you’re frustrated or angry.
    • When walking out or putting up mental distance, clearly indicate when you’ll revisit it.
    • If you’re overwhelmed or it becomes too severe, ask for time to calm down or reschedule the discussion.
  • Establish healthy boundaries.
    • If they say hurtful or abusive things, leave the conversation and specify when you’ll revisit it.
    • If they demand you stay in the conflict, reschedule a specific time when you’ll discuss the issue again.
    • If they press the matter and don’t honor your boundaries when you’ve indicated when you’re revisiting it, leave immediately.

E. Make a plan to resolve the issue:
  • Try to come to a shared compromise or understanding.
  • The plan should have sensible, attainable goals for both them and you.
  • Keep track of what they’ve done right and improved on, not what they’ve done wrong.
    • If you only track what they’ve failed at, they’ll lose the motivation to change.
  • The relationship will be held back by the person who cares the least about their partner.

F. Clarify what they mean to you:
  • Affirm a few things:
    1. You love them
    2. The conflict isn’t the end of the relationship
    3. Respect and repeat their hopes, aspirations, and desires back to them
    4. Why the agreed change is good for both of you

Keep envelopes for them to open the next time you have difficult feelings (e.g., sad, angry, need a hug).

You might get stuck in a conflict loop:
  • Marital conflict loops are reproducing old childhood patterns, and tend to happen whenever one of the partners has unresolved childhood trauma.
    • Conflict loops only resolve when both partners desire a resolution.
    • A hurting marriage only succeeds when both spouses apologize and accept they both have unmet needs and might be behaving wrongly about them.
  • Breaking conflict cycles are challenging, especially when you’re unaware they’re happening.
  • Look at your spouse as part of your team, which is difficult when your spouse is repeating a pattern from your childhood.
  • Don’t even think of divorce as an option.
  • Counter-intuitively, a relationship starts recovering when a spouse receives the first apology, not from giving one.

Many marital conflicts come from past psychological issues:
  1. At least one spouse feels continually rejected or hurt by the other, usually from expectations they set from their past relationships or how their parents treated them.
  2. That person’s issue keeps arising in conversation but never resolves.
  3. The spouse with the worst psychological projection holds fast to their views and won’t move or compromise at all.
  4. The conflict loses any humor, amusement or affection.
  5. Over time, both spouses treat the other one as an enemy, often once the other spouse reacts inappropriately to the first spouse.
  6. Both spouses hold progressively more extreme views and become unwilling to compromise.
  7. Eventually, they’ll both completely sever emotional ties with each other.

Watch for 4 unhealthy defensive behaviors:
  • Criticism: attacking their partner’s personality or character
    • Usually intended to make someone right and someone wrong
    • Diagnoses others’ failures, but not oneself
    • Uses generalizations:
      • “You always…”
      • “You never…”
      • “You’re the type of person who…”
      • “Why are you so…”
  • Contempt: attacking their partner’s sense of self
    • Intended to insult or psychologically abuse
    • Communicating from perceived superiority:
      • Insults and name-calling
      • Correcting their grammar
      • Hostile humor, sarcasm or mockery
      • Body language and tone of voice involve sneering, rolling eyes, and curled upper lip
  • Defensiveness: seeing oneself as a victim
    • Can include any method that wards off a perceived attack
    • Makes excuses for behaviors
    • Meets complaints or criticisms by disregarding theirs and striking with an unrelated charge of their own:
      • “That’s not true, you’re the one who…”
      • “I did this because you…”
      • “Well, I was doing it because…”
  • Stonewalling: withdrawing to avoid conflict
    • While they often think they’re staying neutral, they legitimately want to be uninvolved.
      • Stonewalling elevates heart rate even without any outward expression.
    • Stonewalling conveys disapproval, distance, separation, disconnection, and smugness:
      • Stony silence
      • Monosyllabic mutterings
      • Changing the subject
      • Removing oneself physically
      • Silent treatment

In most marital conflicts, you’re safer when you lower your defenses (not raise them) because it converts your partner from an enemy to an ally.

When you’re both miserable, it’s often wise to simply postpone a conflict until you’ve both somewhat rested and recovered.

Marrying and living together

Living together romantically without marriage is risky:
  • Marriage has religious origins, but it’s also a legally binding commitment.
    • Moving in together, even if you separate assets, is still sharing life and possessions together.
    • If you have no religious background, always get a prenuptial agreement.
  • Even if you both made a lifetime non-marriage commitment to each other, you can back out at any time because you didn’t hold a public declaration of it.
  • Assuming opposite genders, sex always has the risk of bringing children, which adds much more responsibility to your lives.

Marriage is a huge commitment:
  • Once you’ve married, every major life decision now includes your spouse.
    • Your spouse will share the glory of your successes.
    • If you’re fighting any misery, you’ll eventually harm your spouse’s happiness.
  • The most important person in your life has transitioned from your father or mother to your spouse.

Marriage involves sharing every aspect of daily life with your partner:

By living together, conflicts intensify:
  • Because you both own things together, money and budget issues inevitably arise.
    • Money symbolizes security for females, but an opportunity to exercise freedom for males.
  • Both partners must decide who has to do unpleasant tasks.
  • Designate specific household tasks to the one who finds it least unpleasant.
    • Traditional gender roles are useful for assigning the many tasks for running a household, then reassigning based on each person’s personality.
    • Routinely revisit those designations, especially if a chore stays unfinished.
    • Make a “honey do list” for each other to complete.
  • Differences in religious, political, and philosophical have far-reaching effects on your relationship.
    • While you can live indefinitely with someone who has different views, it’s only to the degree you both can accept a difference of opinion.
    • Parenting an infant causes even more stress than anything else you’ve experienced, and the conflicts become far more pronounced when your children get older and you disagree on what’s best for them.

Your extended families will play a role in your shared life:
  • Outside of cultural norms, you can involve or exclude your family as much as you want, but it’s a shared decision with your partner.
  • If your in-laws aren’t destructive or abusive, find value in time you must spend with them.
  • Say “no” to any boundaries they cross, especially about large decisions that affect your family.
  • Generally, keep conflicts between the adult child and their direct extended family and away from in-laws whenever possible.

Your old friendships will change:
  • As your relationship intensifies, especially when you marry, all your friends’ roles will change.
    • Your single friends will be more distant, especially around your spouse.
    • Your newly married friends will compare their life with yours.
    • Your dating/engaged friends will start considering either a wedding or breaking up.
    • Your “veteran” married friends will often patronize your limited marital experience.
  • Your spouse won’t meet all your needs, so stay in touch with the friends (especially same-gender) who do stick around.

Your spouse will affect how you think:

Preventing complacency

You will eventually take your spouse for granted:
  • If you’re dating someone, they’re new and interesting, but they become familiar and sometimes forgettable.
  • Romantic passion never lasts more than 2 years, no matter how much you foster it.
  • They’re no longer “new” anymore to you, but that’s the beginning of marriage and the end of simply dating.

Keep the romantic passion alive:
  • It’s natural for both marriage partners at different times to feel sexually inadequate, so consistently communicate what you find attractive in them.
  • To keep life exciting, occasionally break routines for no reason.
  • Do something new, silly or unplanned with them.
  • Date them at least once a month (preferably once a week), and set time aside for intimacy and sex.
  • Since sex always makes both of you happier, never withhold it or use it as a negotiation tactic.

Consistently reaffirm your love:
  • Praise them or show your appreciation at least once a day.
  • Write love notes.
  • Give a massage.
  • Let them have the last piece of food.
  • Take over childcare or chores.
  • Find new ways to show you love them.
  • In loving marriages, both partners believe they got the better deal out of the relationship.

Keep learning about them:
  • Ask about them and their thoughts, then actively listen.
  • Find new things you like about them.
  • Discover what your spouse values, then learn more about those things.
  • Learn about their friends, potential friends, and rivals.
  • Recollect significant past events with them, or get involved in their upcoming activities.
  • Learn more about their stresses, worries, hopes, and aspirations.
  • Even when you want to distance yourself, keep yourself open to a dialogue with them.

Don’t compare your marriage with others’:
  • Each marriage story is uniquely different because it’s two lives merging together.
  • In time, your marriage will eventually look at least a little bit like every other marriage.
  • Marriage is a long-term life commitment, and most romance stories set false expectations of its long-term implications.


Pop culture has destroyed sex:
  • Sexual satisfaction is the peak of physical intimacy, and mostly reliably comes from a healthy, close marriage.
  • Sexual pleasure is intense, but it’s fleeting and only lasts a few minutes.
  • However, sex is a shallow way to self-identify and has very little correlation to almost any other competence or success.

At first, everyone is bad at sex:
  • Being a virgin is only shameful in a community of very shallow people.
  • Two virgins marrying means they learn everything about sex together.
  • Unlike movies or porn, real-life sex is awkward, filthy, and silly.

Men associate more identity with sex than women:
  • Men are psychologically, physically, emotionally, and socially involved in sex.
  • In their lives, many men will suffer an extremely depressing period of impotence.
  • While women attach some identity to sex, they care far more about looking beautiful, and sex is more a consequence than a measurement of performance.

Men and women treat foreplay differently:
  • Men reach orgasm more quickly than women.
    • Men don’t usually need much foreplay, and it usually only happens for them in the bedroom.
  • Women typically need foreplay to build their experience up to a climax.
    • Women experience foreplay from as far back as the beginning of the relationship and frequently include experiences from years ago.
  • Men can improve their wives’ foreplay by any gestures of affection or kindness throughout the days and weeks prior.

Sex eventually becomes boring:
  • Explore new things:
    • Dress up to make foreplay more exciting.
    • Try new positions or silly ideas.
    • Make one person give directions.
    • Talk sensually or harshly to your spouse.
    • Schedule “sensual time”.
  • Be spontaneous and open-minded:
    • Take it out of the bedroom.
    • Find new toys and positions.
  • Go as fast as possible, or as slow as possible.

It may be tempting, but never use porn:
  • The easiest way to fall into porn is to prioritize almost everything else over sex.
  • Porn destroys relationships by setting unreasonable expectations.
  • It also reduces your spouse’s commitment in the bedroom, since they can consume at their leisure.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, women have as much of a problem as men with porn.

How marriages fail

Marriages need a strong foundation:
  • Healthy marriages are based more on commitment and trust than sentiment, feelings or love.
    • Love in marriage is wonderful and exciting, but commitment keeps spouses together through all their lives.
  • Mental disorders and personality defects don’t necessarily ruin marriages, but a spouse’s response to them will.
    • Practice good boundaries and stay their friend.
    • Don’t complain about them to casual friends (e.g., coworkers or online).
    • Doing everything together can foster unhealthy codependency and destroy both your happiness, but doesn’t necessarily end a marriage.
  • Shared interests alone don’t keep a marriage together.

Every single marriage eventually has a rough period:
  • On average, marriages will hit a lull around age 40 or around the seventh/tenth year, but will improve afterward if the couple sticks with it.
  • They will reach out to peers or older friends to find answers.
  • Even when they both feel very little hope, they’ll both make their marriage a priority.
  • And, because of their commitment and devotion, they get through it.

A marriage “crisis” is the buildup of small issues:
  • An unhealthy marriage will draw children, friends, and extended family into the conflict and force them to choose a side.
  • Dysfunctional marriages end in divorce when one of the two has completely given up hope that they can resolve the relationship’s conflicts:
    1. Both spouses imagine divorce is not even possible.
    2. They realize and become discouraged that marriage is harder than they expected.
    3. Both spouses find the marriage tedious and frustrating, but are waiting for improvement instead of talking out their feelings and concerns.
    4. After a while, they both feel desperate to make the marriage work.
    5. At least one of the spouses loses hope that the other spouse can meet their desires, but maintains it from a sense of duty.
    6. Someone or something else meets the private needs a spouse is supposed to fulfill, outside the marriage:
      • While it can be a lover from a social circle or workplace, it can also be an addiction to a substance or a detached lifestyle from their spouse.
    7. After a while, a cheating spouse will often hide details from their spouse (e.g., place their phone face down on the table).
    8. The rift between the spouses grows and the cheating spouse will suspect the faithful spouse of cheating.
      • They will suspect them to the degree they distrust them.
      • The faithful spouse will have no clue and be puzzled by the others’ behavior.
    9. Eventually, unless they both start expressing more vulnerability (and sincerely apologizing and forgiving), the marriage will become a hollow existence or lead to divorce.

The best way to stop the risk of cheating is to increase your transparency with your spouse and encourage them to do the same.

If your partner is resentful or angry, you can’t do much about it:
  • Seek forgiveness, but release it if they won’t forgive you and won’t communicate what you must do for them to forgive you.
  • The only way for them to change is through their own decision to release and forgive.
  • If you’ve openly apologized and done everything you can to improve the situation, and they still won’t change, all you can do is wait for them to have a life-changing experience:
    • A near-death experience or death of a loved one
    • A religious experience
    • If you keep trying to invest into the relationship, you will likely become resentful or angry yourself.

Even in a loveless marriage, staying married has some benefits:
  • Beyond religious reasons, there are many logical reasons to not divorce:
  • The best way to keep a loveless marriage is through detachment.
    • Detachment is setting difficult boundaries that treat the spouse like a respected stranger.
    • Don’t give advice or try to change them or their decisions.
    • Disregard things that irritate you.
    • Don’t comment on their behavior and let them live their own life.
  • When possible and safe, connect with them casually.
    • Enjoy meals together.
    • Bond over shared experiences like the children or television.
    • Keep conversation topics lightweight and neutral.
  • For your own happiness, however, you must move on from a loveless or abusive marriage.

Marriage is an investment

Marriage is investing your entire life into another imperfect person, which can build a meaningful experience if you’re both willing to work through it, but it requires a lot of work and hardship.

Healthy marriages require setting aside room for another person, then removing all agendas, expectations, and desire for control.

When done right, married people are significantly happier than their single peers, but aren’t as close to other friends as much as singles.

Like any investment, it’s possible to over-invest and lose parts of your own personal growth.

Unlike other things like possessions and material success, everyone wants a happy marriage even after they’ve attained it, and that persistent happiness extends to children.