Chapter 7: What Can Go Wrong?

“Eighty percent of married men cheat in America. The rest cheat in Europe.” – Comedian Jackie Mason

“I know nothing about sex, because I was always married.” – Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor

“A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald, but if he has fire, women will like him.” — Mae West

Relationships will not last if the basic needs of each person involved are not met. These needs might range from praise and adoration, to financial security, to a commitment, to clear communications, to a sincere interest in one another’s passions. And sex.

All of those people who think sex is not important need to get over it. Now. Sex is a basic need. Among the men I interviewed who were happiest in their relationships, the most frequently cited reason for their happiness was a satisfying sex life. I did interview a few men who weren’t all that interested in sex. They, of course, are a good fit for someone as well. But they don’t make up a majority of men by any means.

Whatever your basic needs might be, you must tell your partner what they are in order to have any chance of having them satisfied. Expecting your partner to read your mind is a losing game played by the self-absorbed. You’ve got to be clear about what you need.

The reasons for breakups vary wildly. One man I interviewed revealed that, years after his divorce, his ex-wife told him that if she had it to do over again she would still be married to him. She said that in hindsight the problems that led to their breakup were not as big a deal as she thought at the time. Had he been able to get her to tell him what she needed and given him the chance to satisfy those needs, he said, they could have saved the relationship.

As we get older, we should gain the wisdom to pick our battles and to be more tolerant of each other. With any luck, we discover that many of the things that bothered us when we were younger aren’t that important in the long run.

Kids go away. Our financial and career situation improves. And with these changes many other stressful factors cease to be issues. So, in theory, it should be easier for older folks to focus on each other later in life. Unfortunately, by the time wisdom arrives, the relationship may be so badly damaged that we are not interested in making it work with the original spouse.

Sometimes it is not weariness, but the fantasy of greener grass that wrecks a long-term relationship. Guys and girls get infatuated with the idea of a new partner. So much exciting stuff goes on in a new relationship. It’s just so easy just to get sucked in by new mysteries, new discoveries, and new sex. Working on the fundamentals of an existing relationship is hard work and might seem dull by comparison. If you are beginning to fantasize about a new partner, think a little about what might be causing those thoughts.

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