Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of Relationships. This section is an archive of Nancy Fagan ‘s weekly column featured daily on our homepage. Nancy Fagan is the best-selling author of ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Romance’ and ‘Desirable Men: How to Find Them’ has appeared on several hundred radio and television shows including Ricki Lake, Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, The Berman & Berman Show, FOX News. She has been featured in most major newspaper in the United States and worldwide as well as regularly mentioned in the nation’s top magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal (‘Can this Marriage be Saved?’), Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Men’s Health, Bride’s, Seventeen, Women’s Day, Family Circle, Women’s Own, BBW, Complete Women and dozens of others. To read more, visit www.ExpertDatingAdvice.com This column is reprinted with permission from ExpertDatingAdvice.com Send E-mail questions to Media@ExpertDatingAdvice.com.

  • Doc Love is a West Coast talk show host, entertainment speaker, and coaches men in his seminars. He provides us with a weekly column on relationships. www.doclove.com
  • Being a Man: Dr. Dennis W. Neder is the author of Being a Man in a Woman’s World.Got a love, relationship or man/woman question? He’ll answer all letters. Write dwneder@remingtonpublications.com for answers or visit: www.remingtonpublications.com.
  • Susie and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners from the Midwest who are committed to helping others create outstanding relationships of all kinds. Visit their web site at www.collinspartners.com
  • Nancy Fagan is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Romance and Desirable Men: How to Find Them. Visit www.ExpertDatingAdvice.com and send questions to Media@ExpertDatingAdvice.com
  • Tom Blake is the author of Middle Aged and Dating Again and author’s a weekly column in the Orange County (CA) Register as well as his own web site at www.tooterspublishing.com.

Pet Names Can Be Awkward

Using pet names is a difficult thing for some people. For some, it almost feels like they are making a commitment by using anything other than their partner’s first name. For others, they just feel too reserved to use an affectionate term. If this describes you, don’t feel like you are the only one, because others are uncomfortable with this form of intimacy as well. For some, using a pet name flows easily, and for others, it takes a little practice.

It’s always easier to practice over the phone if you are the slightest bit uncomfortable. All you have to do is answer the phone, and when you hear your partner’s voice, without hesitation, say, “Hi there, handsome/ beautiful!” Then take a deep breath and know that the next time will be easier. You can bet your partner, on the other end, will be smiling from ear to ear. She’ll feel so special just because you called her something special. It works every time; test it out for yourself.


Bringing Romantic Fantasies to life

One of the most enjoyable parts of having a relationship is being able to fulfill your romantic fantasies. You know, the one about being swept off your feet by a knight in shining armor or rescuing the damsel in distress?

Knights and damsels are a thing of the past, but romantic fantasies still exist. A romantic fantasy is something important to you that is missing in your love life. It’s what you think about in your quiet time. If only you had it, your life would be more complete.

In this article, you will learn how your romantic fantasies can come true by learning how to make them happen. All dreams need work to become realities. Whether you are in a relationship or not, you can still formulate your plan of action to make your romantic dreams come true.

Romantic fantasies are different for everyone. Each fantasy takes on a life of its own with a unique feeling, tone, and theme. Some people have simple fantasies; other people’s fantasies are very detailed. One thing that is common with all romantic fantasies is the element of desiring something that you don’t already have in your life and that can only come through a romantic partner.

Sharing Your Fantasy

Many times, both partners in a relationship have fantasies that they would like to share with their partners, but they don’t reveal them. Sharing a fantasy can make you vulnerable. Fantasies also can evoke strong emotions. For these reasons, fantasies are usually kept private. To present your secret thoughts to someone can take courage.

One of the biggest barriers to sharing a fantasy with your partner is erroneous assumptions. No one can read another person’s mind. Yet it’s easy to come up with many reasons why you think your partner would not want to live out a fantasy with you.

Telling Your Partner What You Want

How do you tell your partner about your romantic fantasies? It’s easy. All you have to do is be clear about what you want and then tell your partner. I know it sounds easier to do than it is, but what do you have to lose? If you have someone who loves you, that person may be more eager to make you happy than you think.

The first step to telling your partner about your romantic fantasy is to think about what you want. Then write the fantasy down in one sentence. Have your partner write his or her fantasy down, too:

Do you see how easy that was? Now that you have written it down, you should be clear about what you want. The next step is to share the fantasy with your partner. Go ahead, he won’t bite! I promise!


An Affair of the Heart, Mind and Soul

A romantic relationship is an emotionally intimate bond between two people. Such a relationship is best when it is with someone who knows you, understands you, and accepts you. It is enhanced through talking intimately about feelings, thoughts, and needs. 

Sometimes when the qualities of a romantic relationship are not met, one or both partners seek them outside the relationship in an affair. An affair can be as exhilarating as it is destructive to the relationship. When a person in a relationship feels the temptation to have an affair, it’s usually because the romance in the relationship has stopped being important. Keep this thought in the back of your mind as you search for ways to inject more romance into your relationship.

Make Your Relationship an Affair to Remember

When you think of an affair, what comes to mind? Passion? Romance? Attachment to another person? That’s exactly what an affair is; however, the downside is that it is typically associated with a limited duration, not to mention, causing a great deal of pain to your primary partner. But, what if you could extend an affair and make it an everyday and lifelong occasion with your partner? You can do it; it’s just a matter of decision.

The way to make this happen is to turn your relationship into an affair. The first step to doing this is to know just exactly what needs are met by an affair: feeling desired, being loved, feeling needed, sexual fulfillment, being understood, close friendship, intellectual stimulation, feeling complete, attachment, and being listened to.

Look over these characteristics and ask yourself which of these qualities you provide for your partner. The ideal way to use this list is to sit down with your partner and take turns putting this list in order of which characteristics you feel the strongest, down to those you feel the least.

When each of you has completed your list, compare notes with your partner to see the order you put the characteristics in. Pay special attention to the last few items because they will tellyou the areas that you need to work on with your partner. The goal of this exercise is to identify the areas that are holding you back from having an affair with your partner.

You can do the same with your partner. Look at the feeling that he put on the bottom of the ranking list. Then ask him what he needs that would help him get a stronger sense of that feeling. You’ll be surprised at how this simple exercise will illuminate important feelings that your partner has been experiencing. This exercise many times reveals feelings that are new to both partners. When you are able to strengthen your weak areas, your relationship will be the love affair you always wanted.


Making Your Relationship a Fairy-Tale

Fairy tales have become a part of our image of what romance is supposed to be like. This image not only deceives women, but also men. One of the definitions of the term “fairy tale” in Webster’s is “a made-up story, usually designed to mislead.”

Fairytale

On one hand, everyone k-nows that fairy-tale romances are make-believe. On the other hand, fairy tales inspire us to believe in happy love stories. For this fact alone, they have given us something we need for building our own love affair: hope. Many people have lost hope, and it’s time to get it back.

Modeling Love on Fairy Tales

Some people think that fairy tales create a false image for a real partner to live up to. The next time you read a fairy tale about a love affair, look to see the characteristics that form the foundation of these stories. What you will find are characteristics such as the following:

  • Looking for unconditional love
  • Wanting to be loved by someone
  • Seeking understanding
  • Looking to be accepted by another

These stories also show that life is happier with someone as opposed to being without someone. What they show is the humanness in having a mate. People innately gravitate to others for a sense of completeness. We are relational beings, with a need to relate to others. In a fairy tale, these themes are conveyed simply in a fantastical setting. In fact, fairy tales serve as wonderful models to use when deciding on what you want in your relationship.

Regaining a Belief in Fairy Tales

How can we make romance just as magical as it is in the fairy tales? All you have to do is create your own love story, the greatest love story ever known. This means cherishing the one you love as though he were a prince or she were a princess. It means making your relationship a priority by including romance as one of its basic ingredients. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a kiss a day keeps others away!


Creating the Greatest Love Story Ever

It’s easy to be fascinated by other people’s love affairs and desire to have what they have, especially if the relationship is intense, happy, and seemingly problem-free. These great love stories epitomize an ideal that everyone would love to attain. 

However, keep in mind that you are seeing only the public image of the relationship. You don’t see the work that goes on behind closed doors. All relationships take effort to be successful, especially great love stories.

Would you like to make your relationship the greatest love story ever? Of course you would; everyone would. If you would, just keep reading along and learn how to do it. Before you know it, you will be transforming your good relationship into a great one. Learn from Happy Couples.

The best way to learn about how to have the greatest love story ever is to listen to how other happy couples do it. All you have to do is ask or read about happy couples, and you will learnthe tricks. For instance, in the book The 30 Secrets of Happily Married Couples, author Paul Coleman tells how happy couples stay happy. His findings are based on many research studieson marital happiness. Basically, his 30 secrets can be summarized into three main goals that all couples should have:

  • Practice good communication. Communication skills include considering the part you play in the problem, trying not to be defensive, and seeing the issue from your partner’s perspective.
  • Have realistic expectations for a long relationship. Realize that change involves ups and downs and appreciate the effect that major changes, such as having children, will have on your relationship.
  • Make time for each other. Make regular dates, have fun together, and take every opportunity to be affectionate.

These three goals sound like such a simple recipe for living happily ever after, but they require something that many people forget: daily commitment.


Daily Commitment Is a Privilege

How many times have you heard someone say any of the following: “I have to remember to get her a card,” “I must buy him a present,” “I should take her out for dinner,” or “I need to call him”? Couples commonly say these phrases. Having the greatest love story ever is not built on things you “have to do.” Rather,it’s based on feeling privileged to be able to do them. This difference in perception isthe difference between a happy couple and a super-happy couple.

Building the greatest love story ever is work that is never complete. Love is a living, breathing thing that requires daily attention to keep it alive. Just remember, if you put in the minimum work, it will be reflected in the degree of happiness and satisfaction you feel in your relationship. If you put in 100 percent, you will have a relationship that gives you 100 percent fulfillment. This is the kind of relationship others admire and strive for. Taking part in the greatest love story ever requires a ifetime of privileged work—and what an honorthat is to take on!


Using Music to Draw Out Romance

“I love you; you love me; we’re a happy family ….” Do you remember that song from childhood? You may even recognize it as the popular song Barney sings. Through music we explore and learn about myths, ideals, and the parameters of love. 

With each year, our understanding of what we hear and feel in music deepens, especially as we begin to experience love. We hear thoughts similar to ours being sung on the radio. We listen with curiosity and hope of happy endings or perhaps guidance to help us.We learn that music intensifies our feelings, triggers emotions, and binds memories forever to songs that are associated with our love lives. We learn that music is our friend and our teacher. Because of this, music has attained a central importance in the world of romance and romantic relationships.

Musical Inspiration

Music can inspire or influence romance in so many ways. It’s hard for music not to inspire; it stirs the emotions when singers sing about love’s emotional extremes. When you hear a song that says, “I’m in the mood for love simply because you’re near me,” it’s hard to resist having an emotional reaction to what you hear. Music facilitates romance between you and your partner by moving both the intellect and emotions.

Music: A Course in Love

Now that you know how music can naturally foster romance, the following tips will help you to use music in your own relationship to increase romance between you and your partner:

If you are out and about doing something with your partner and you hear your partner say, “Wow, I love that song,” don’t just let the moment pass.

Find out what the song is and buy it. Add it to your romantic collection.

If you attend a Broadway show or a romantic film that moves you emotionally, buy the soundtrack. This way, you’ll be able to bring back the intense emotions you experienced again and again with your partner.

Jump at the chance to dance together when music moves you.

Going to concerts—especially by singers well known for romantic ballads— can put you in the middle of emotional moments that are bigger than life.


A Book in the Hand for the Courting

Romantic storytelling came into vogue about the time that the troubadours began to composesongs of love and yearning. As time passed, the invention of the printing press produced massquantities of books, making them available to just about everyone. With this change, many people became literate and took up reading as a form of entertainment. 

Couples also began to use reading in their courting. Both men and women took turns reading their favorite passages or poems aloud. Through books, lovers found the words they couldn’t say on their own. Lovers would spend hours searching the texts for just the right words for theirpartner and an equal amount of time reading it to them.

Books were given as gifts with special words highlighted and dedications written to make them more special. Lovers had discovered a way to tell each other their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams through printed words.

Reading Builds Good Communication Skills

Why not pick up reading as a new aspect of your courting? It will make life more interesting. Reading is a form of communication training that naturally develops effective listening and communication skills. When you know how to communicate effectively, your relationship will stand a better chance of being a happy one.

If you think about what reading to your partner teaches you, it’s worth more than anything you can do for your relationship. It teaches each partner how to take turns listening, and then speaking, and then giving feedback about what you’ve heard. This is a wonderful way of communicating. Reading to your partner will not only make you feel closer, but it will strengthen your relationship as well.

Encouraging Your Partner to Read to You

People have different comfort levels with reading out loud, so you need to be sensitive to this. The best way to get your partner to read to you is to first let him or her know it’s what you would like. Second, encourage him or her to do it.

If your partner is uncomfortable reading or you suspect that he or she is, follow these tips to make reading to you more desirable for your partner:

  • Don’t read over your partner’s shoulder.
  • Don’t correct your partner’s mispronunciations of words.
  • Listen without interrupting.
  • Praise your partner afterwards for reading to you. (For example, say, “You made me feel so special by reading that to me.” “You have a great reading voice.”)
  • Close your eyes as your partner reads to you.
  • Give your undivided attention to your partner.

When encouraging your partner to read, make his or her attempt as rewarding as possible. Sometimes people are uncomfortable reading out loud because of bad experiences in the past. By following the preceding tips, you will show your partner that reading to you is a positive experience.


The Magic of Three Little Words

Saying “I love you” is the most beautiful gift you can give to your partner. These words are the most treasured a person can hear. You can say it a million times, and your partner will still want to hear it again, and again, and again. 

The First Time

Does anyone know when the perfect time is to say “I love you” for the first time? It’s hard to say if it should be said after a week, month, or year after knowing your partner. Logic doesn’t seem to be a part of it. Instead, this is one decision that is usually dominated by pure emotion. You will know when the time is right. Like a baby that’s ready to be born, there’s no holding it back. If you are at that point in your relationship and feel unsure about doing it, just use these tips to help guide you:

  • If there is a strong affection or warm attachment (not just sexual), love is not far behind.
  • Choose a quiet moment so your partner can hear you.
  • Be sober when you say it.
  • Say it as you are either holding your partner’s hands or stroking his or her face.
  • Look your partner straight in the eye and say it.
  • Mean it when you say it.
  • Don’t waste any time once you realize how you feel.
  • Be sincere.
  • Say it in a foreign language first if you don’t want her to understand you. This way you will be able to test it out and see how you feel.

Uniquely Yours: Wedding Vows

The wedding vow is the most well-known demonstration of verbal love. A vow is a line of words that are a solemn promise, or assertion, someone makes that binds him or her to an act, service, or condition. In the case of a wedding, it’s a declaration of love. 

Because religion plays a significant role in many people’s lives, some of the more traditional vows were created by individual churches. Each vow has a slightly different way of phrasing the dedication words to make them fit each belief system better.

Wedding Vows

The following are some of the more common religious vows:

Roman Catholic: “I, Olivia, take you, Craig, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

Muslim: “I pledge in honesty and with sincerity to be for you an obedient and faithful wife.” “I pledge, in honesty and sincerity to be for you a faithful and helpful husband.”

Jewish: The groom says, “Behold thou art consecrated unto me by this ring according to the law of Moses and Israel.” The bride remains silent, as is customary, and they are married.

Carpatho Russian Orthodox: “I, Craig, take you, Olivia, as my wedded wife and I promise you love, honor, and respect: to be faithful to you and not to forsake you until death do us part, so help me God, one in the Holy Trinity and all the Saints.”

Traditional Hindu Mantra Baha’i Faith: “I am the word, and you are the melody. I am the melody, and you are the word.”

Protestant: “I, Olivia, choose you, Craig, to be my husband, my friend, my love, the father of our children. I will be yours in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, in failure and in triumph. I will cherish you and respect you, comfort and encourage you, and together we shall live freed and bound by our love.”

United Church: “Olivia, I take you to be my wife, to laugh with you in joy, to grieve with you in sorrow, to grow with you in love, serving mankind in peace and hope, as long as we both shall live.”

Personalizing Vows

Many couples choose to continue with tradition and repeat the vow just as others in love have done for thousands of years. However, a contemporary trend has been for couples to write their own vows.

Because the heart of the wedding ceremony is the exchange of vows, creating your own can be a wonderful opportunity to share aloud just why you have chosen your mate.

This declaration of intent is specifically what the ritual is about anyway. To help you begin to formulate your ideas about what you will eventually write as your wedding vow, use the following tips. They will guide you to the most beautiful, loving words designed for your wedding day:

You don’t have to completely rewrite the traditional vows; you can simply replace certain words, phrases, or sentences to fit your thoughts.

Ask the officiator about ideas he may have, guidance he might offer, or what’s acceptablein a vow.

The library offers many books on how to write personalized wedding vows. Read as many as you can so that you get a good feeling about how to write yours.

Collect phrases that you like

Attend weddings and make notes about the words you liked in others’ vows. Sit down with your partner and write your vows together. Even if you don’t share what you are writing, the collaborative effort will be bonding. Begin early before the crunch of the wedding consumes you and you no longer have time to write something meaningful. Saying traditional vows is nerve-wracking enough, but the thought of reciting personal vows can be absolutely terrifying for some people. The fear of forgetting something causes some people to choose not to write personal vows at all.

You don’t have to let this fear come between you and what you want to say to your partner in a vow. It’s common to have the person performing the ceremony to read the vow and have you repeat it after him. Most wedding ceremonies are performed this way, so you won’t have to worry about fully memorizing your lines.