Something that my late father and I have in common is we dig research and data. Back when he was alive, a lot of our email exchanges consisted of sharing random "Did you know?" info back and forth; the kind of stuff that probably only Jeopardy contestants would even remotely care about. Well, since a lot of my life consists of dealing with romantic relationships, I really enjoy reading scientific research that specifically relates to couples. Stuff that might seem like automatic common sense to some yet there is more than mere opinions to back the resolves up.
Today, let's tackle what keeps some people happier in their relationships than others. If after reading this, you can relate, please share your thoughts in the comments. If you never considered some of these things before, why not apply them ASAP? Love, on its own, is a beautiful thing. Oh, but when you're in love and happy in your relationship most of the time—life really doesn't get much better than that.
1. They Don’t Do a Lot of Texting (to Each Other)
There is literally only one person who has my cell number. Everyone else has my landline. A part of the reason is because I don't like the "I should have immediate access to you" impression that cell phones tend to give other folks. Plus, I write for a living. Texting all day long is one of the last things that I want to do. Meanwhile, it kind of amazes me how many married people prefer to text over talking over the phone. I don't mean simple stuff like, "Can you pick up some juice on the way home?" or "I'll be home at 7" kind of texts. I mean they will discuss serious issues, sometimes even have drag out fights that way.
There is one couple I know, in particular, who does it all of the time. When I encourage them to not only not text but to wait until they are face-to-face before getting all deep, they just blow the recommendation off. Yet—surprise, surprise—they rarely get matters resolved (definitely not in a timely fashion) and it's all because words are choppy and tone is left out when they text. When it comes to truly communicating with each other, what they think is a convenient method, actually…isn't.
That's why it comes as absolutely no surprise to me that research says that something happy couples have in common is they aren't big on the whole texting thing. You can click here to read the particulars, yet the gist is that women are not big on apologies over text and men think that doing a lot of texting is a sign of a relationship being a lower quality one. Just something to ponder if you and yours do more texting than actual talking.
2. They’re BFFs
Any couple who's worked with me before knows that I am a huge fan and advocate of husbands and wives being each other's best friend (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?"). There are two main reasons why. For one thing, ask any couple who has been together for more than five years and they're probably going to vouch for the fact that being "in like" is what will get you through the tough times when you don't feel quite like you're "in love". Not only that but people who are friends with one another tend to have a greater sense of loyalty and a desire to want to work issues—whatever the issues they may be—out. Plus, I'm pretty word-particular and "best" means of highest quality, standing and degree. How do you pledge to share your entire life with someone and they not fit that bill?
I'm not alone in this line of thinking. There are studies which support that couples who call their partner their best friend are twice as satisfied in their marriage as couples who don't. So, while some of you might have read what I said, rolled your eyes and was like, "Whatever. So-and-so is always gonna be my best friend"—one, so someone actually has a higher standing in your life than your own spouse? And two, science provides solid evidence for you to consider rethinking your stance. For the ultimate sake of your relationship.
3. They Have Sex (at Least) Once a Week
Whenever I have a conversation with church folks about the purpose of sex and the first thing they say is procreation, I'm the first to be like, "Yeah…naw." If you are a Bible follower, you can go to Genesis 2 and peep that Adam and the Woman (her name in the Garden of Eden) were given sexual instructions before leaving the Garden…even though kids didn't come until later (in Genesis 3). My point? Sex is about cultivating oneness and celebrating the love you and your partner have for one another, first and foremost. And why would you want to do that as little as possible (what in the world?!). As far as what science has to say about it, the current conclusion is the happiest couples have sex no less than once a week. And listen, when you stop to think about the fact that there are 168 hours in a week and that it takes roughly 30 minutes for a man and woman to orgasm together, how hard is it to make the time to strengthen your physical and emotional bond for the sake of your relationship's ultimate health and well-being? Real talk.
4. They Are Emotionally Close with One Another
I've shared in articles for this platform before that something I'm not big on using, when I'm talking about long-term relationships, is the word "vulnerable". Again, because I'm word-particular, I know that it means "capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon" and "open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.".
To me, your significant other should be your very safe space, so if coming to them with your thoughts, feelings and fears has you believing that you're capable of being wounded by them or that you'll constantly be open to attack or criticism, you're in a really unhealthy situation. So, what do I think couples should be? Dependent. Dependent is awesome word because it means "relying on someone or something else for aid, support, etc." and y'all really—if you can't rely on your partner for aid and support, who can you rely on? Geeze.
Unfortunately, in the science and research world, dependence is used in an extreme sense (like being too needy or clingy). To me, that seems more like codependence or obsession. Anyway, the term they prefer to use is emotional closeness. In an article that I read on the topic, a clinical psychologist defined it as being the act of giving and taking so that you and your partner both feel fulfilled. Whichever term you choose to go with, the bottom line is emotionally relying on your partner while they rely on you is another key to being in a happy relationship. Because of all of the people in the world who you should be able to trust your feelings with, hands down, it should be them.
5. They’ve Got Similar Financial Values
Lawd. This one right here really can't be emphasized enough. When I wrote the article, "Please Be Clear On These 7 Things Before Getting Engaged" earlier this year, one of the points in it was how important it is for long-term couples to discuss their thoughts on money. It's no secret that two of the biggest causes of divorce, to this day, continue to be related to sexual incompatibility and financial drama. That's why it came as absolutely no surprise to me when I read that 1) far too many couples pick their financial opposite and 2) that leads to nothing but trouble once they do start to mesh their lives together. In fact, in an article on Live Science's website entitled, "Tightwads and Spendthrifts Attract, Marry, Fight", it stated that, unfortunately, far too many couples take on the "opposites attract" mentality when it comes to finances, only to get together and stay in constant conflict because their financial values absolutely do not coincide.
None of us can survive without money and relationships are a partnership. If you and yours don't see eye to eye when it comes to spending, saving and financially planning, it's gonna be really hard to stay together, let alone be happy. There is plenty of scientific data to prove it.
6. They THINK More than They FEEL
I can't remember which Black male manosphere podcaster said it (I listen to quite a few of 'em) yet this pearl of wisdom is something that I strive to apply to my life on the regular these days. He said, "The moment you start to substitute 'I think' for 'I feel', your world will be a whole lot better." He's right. As much as folks—and by folks, I specifically mean us ladies as it relates to this topic—like to rely on feelings so much of the time, the reality is that feelings can be pretty fickle. I mean, even the Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9-10—NKJV) And what is the heart? One definitely is the center of our emotions. The Bible warns that the center of our emotions can deceive—mislead, delude, falsely persuade—us. That's why I'm not big on the whole "follow your heart" thing. We've got a brain and common sense for a reason. It's far best to follow that.
Science agrees. There's an anthropologist by the name of Helen Fisher who once said that, when it comes to romantic relationships, our brains are broken up into three systems. There's lust (our libido). There's romantic attraction (romantic love). Then there's attachment (having a deep union with someone else). Well, when couples are not as reliant on lust and instead choose to focus their time, effort and energy on cultivating their attachment to their partner, their level of empathy increases, they are better at controlling their emotions and they are better able to maintain positive thoughts about their partner too. In short, they are happier and more fulfilled.
7. They Celebrate Each Other. As Much As Possible.
Something that's basically Parenting 101 is, when we're trying to get our children to learn something new and they do, we make sure to make a pretty big deal about it. We celebrate them as a form of inspiration and encouragement, right? Unfortunately, this is something that far too many of us lose sight of when it comes to nurturing our adult-level relationships. It's like, rather than becoming our partner's biggest fan, we instead turn into their biggest critic—always judging, picking (to the point of nitpicking) and criticizing. No one wants to be around that kind of individual and so, after a while, even if our partner stays with us, walls develop. And yeah, that ain't good.
One more study that I came across stated that when two people who are in a relationship act like they are just as excited for their partner's triumphs and achievements as their own, they find themselves to be way more satisfied with each other in the long run. I really can't think of a better place to end this article. Praise your partner. Cheer them on. Honor their achievements. Encourage reciprocity in this area. When you know that the one you love most is the most thrilled for your progress, how can you not want to stay in their space? For real, for real.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The first big leap was moving to a new city and getting settled into my new home. The next big leap? Was finding community and belonging. Moving to a new city excited me! I looked forward to having my own apartment, decorating it, and exploring what the city had to offer. I also found excitement in the thought of meeting new people and expanding my connections. When it actually came down to it, I felt nervous. I heard that making new friends as an adult can be hard because we all have different responsibilities and schedules that may not align. I knew in order for me to really feel at home in my new city, I had to create community.
Having a community of people who I can share memories with, lean on in times of need, and inspire each other is something I always valued. I took a moment to truly center in on what I desired from the new friends I would make. Then I realized it all would have to start with me. I had to be centered and confident in who I was to attract who I desired to be aligned with. As someone who moved to a new city and established quality friendships, I gathered these six tips that helped me feel grounded and create community in hopes that it will help you, too.
6 tips to start building community and making new friends in a new city:
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Be true to yourself
Do you know who you are? If someone asked you to describe yourself in three words, what words would you use? In order to develop deep friendships, you must be a friend to yourself first. Know what refuels you and what zaps your energy. Self-study your habits and why you do the things you do. All this will be important to keep in mind when looking to create bonds with others. Every day there’s all kinds of people telling you who you should be, how you should act, or what you should wear. At the end of the day, the only opinion about yourself that truly matters is your own. Spend some alone time with yourself indoors or out at an event you like to truly discover who you are in this season of your life.
Pray about it
Before you step out into the world and cross paths with all kinds of people, it’s important to pray about building your community. God outlines what true friendship looks like in numerous Bible verses such as "Iron sharpens iron." - Proverbs 27:17 and “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. If you desire friendships that last, pray about what you seek in friendship. I remember praying for mentally stable, happy, and whole women who moved through life with abundance mindsets. Take a moment to journal about the community you want to build and then pray on it.
Go to fun events to meet people who share your interests
Most metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Atlanta are known to have strong young professional communities and events where you can connect with others. I highly encourage you to attend events in or near your community to see what the city is like and meet people. It’s likely that the people at the event have the same interests as you, which is a great way to start a conversation. You can start by searching for events on Eventbrite or following Instagram pages that highlight events happening in your city.
Carlos Barquero/ Getty Images
Accept that you won’t be compatible with everyone you meet
While living in your new city, it’s likely you’ll meet a variety of people. Please know that everyone you meet will not bud into lasting friendships, and that’s okay! You are uniquely created and not made for everyone. Then you’ll meet people who are good for only surface-level connections, and then you’ll have your girls who you can get deep with. I think sometimes people can look down on surface-level friendships, but not everyone needs to fully know you. That’s a privilege to have and to accept within yourself. Continue to check in with yourself and be real about who you crave to spend more time with and who is nice to see for a monthly or quarterly catch-up.
Join Facebook groups & GroupMe chats
If you haven’t used Facebook in a couple of years, it’s time to dust your profile off. Facebook Groups is a great place to join online communities for people who just moved to a new city like you. Typically, you have to agree to the group’s guidelines, and then you can join. For example, you can search for groups in the Facebook app by using keywords like women, Black girl, or [the name of your city] foodies. With the GroupMe app, you’ll have to be invited to join an already existing group. While you’re out and about networking, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re in any online groups/communities they recommend you join too.
Be friendly to folks in your neighborhood
When I first moved to my new apartment, I spent the first week walking around the complex and working in the community spaces to get a better feel of it. I was able to meet people in my neighborhood, enjoy small talk, and learn more about what the community has to offer. Step outside of your comfort zone and work in your apartment’s community space or a local coffee shop to connect with others.
Overall, you may feel alone in your new city, but I guarantee you’re not. There are other people experiencing living in a new city too, and all you need to do is find each other. I hope these tips help ease the nervous feelings you have about building a new community and inspire you to make a new friend today!
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