“You can’t compare yourself to others,” is a common and reasonable attitude on our own individual paths to happiness. When it comes to coupledom, however, it’s hard not to compare — and according to a new book on “what is normal” when it comes to love and sex, there are plenty of things couples can learn through comparison to other couples — especially how to implement the practices of “extremely happy couples”.
In the brand new book The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship, written by Yale sociologist Pepper Schwartz, Harvard sociologist James Witte, and wellness specialist Chrisanna Northrup, the trio discovered some fascinating wisdoms when they pulled back the bed sheets and opened the doors into the lives and relationships of nearly 100,000 people. In an interview on CBS This Monring, Schwartz reveals one critical factor in relationship success is “the affection [happy couples] give each other in little ways: hugging, kissing, [saying] ‘I love you’ every day … holding hands, public displays of affection. We really need a lot of fuel for our relationship.”
When the mountain of data began to come in, the authors discovered, without taking age into consideration, extremely happy couples report they have sex “three to four times a week.” But Schwartz was quick to add, “If you’re 50, it’s a couple times a week. I think the idea is that they feel that way about each other,” Schwartz continued, “Not that that’s some kind of standard everyone has to do but they’ve got that connection.”
One of the biggest factors in a healthy relationship is strong communication skills — and surprisingly men crave it just as much as women do. “Everybody said communication because in fact if you’re not talking well, if you can’t talk through things together, everything goes downhill,” Schwartz said. And with regards to the “seven year itch” phenomenon, CBS This Morning writes: “Speaking to the commonly-held notion that the ‘seven year itch’ kicks in after the first few years of marriage, Schwartz said there is typically a shift in attitudes within a marriage ‘six to nine years in,’ and explained it is not necessarily ‘an itch to go outside’ the relationship, but more likely an itch driven by the point at which things start to get habituated and people stop working at their relationship. So I think people know when that kind of thing might start to grab the relationship … that would be the time to re-up and start to remember all those things you used to do when you were courting,’ Schwartz said.”
You can watch Schwartz’s appearance on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell below. To purchase your own copy of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship simply head over to Amazon.