by TODD MCFLIKER
When my wife Mary first suggested that we try out an online relationship skills exercise, I figured the web-based interactive menu would be fun. After five years of marriage, I could point out my better-half’s silly weaknesses to work on. Perhaps she may actually try one of the “snore pillows” that I had heard about. However, I soon learned that the online activities can be rather serious. In fact, the exercise helped us both realize how we can take our relationship to a higher level of intimacy. The new information is already helping us make our marriage better and improve as spouses who live together, eat together and sleep together, despite the loud snoring.
Scanning our vast options of online marriage enhancement apps, we were intrigued by such titles as “Early Love Messages,” and “Five Questions to Clarify Relationship Expectations.” Nevertheless, we were drawn to the “Will You Pass the Love Test” for adults only. The exercise invites couples to rate their relationship in six vital areas; sensuality, sexuality, intellectuality, emotionality, friendship/trust/shared interests and what’s been built together. I assumed we would breeze right through it, as we still fool around four or five times a week. It’s not like the good ol’ days when we were a couple of animals in the sack, but it’s definitely better than some our married friends with children who tell us they’re lucky to make whoopee once a month.
Going through the exercise, I was asked personal questions about being a good partner. I was surprised to see how many of my answers varied from Mary’s responses. We each received plenty of stink-eyes from one another. When the App asked if I am a good listener, my wife gave me a one out of five. Ouch! Right away, I was wondering if the exercise was supposed to start an argument. Rather, the questions simply opened the doors of communication between us. This led to a sincere conversation about my listening skills and encouragement for me to try out the “Good LIstening” App. I realized that I have to make more of an effort to listen to my wife, even if the Miami Heat are in the middle of a game. “Yes dear” doesn’t always cut it. And while a card in the mail is a wonderful treat, I can always show more gratitude for taking care of me, the house and the dogs.
I was surprised to learn that my wife does not care if I dress up nice or shave my face. But she insists that I put on deodorant every day. Doh! Mary also explained that keeping a lean frame is always fabulous. Yet, she won’t love me any less if I grow a little beer belly. For the time being at least, she would rather me be overweight and happy than thin and miserable. That was nice to hear. My wife also expressed how much she enjoys holding my hand, kissing on the lips or even grabbing my butt in public.
Mary and I know that we don’t always share the same interests. She would rather listen to booty music than Led Zeppelin, or watch a new episode of CSI before an old Seinfeld. The Mrs. is a pessimist, while I am an optimist. Still, that kind of stuff is arbitrary when it comes to family values. Raising a happy and healthy family is the Number One priority for each of us. The same can be said for honesty and monogamy. While we share the same passion for world traveling, giant roller coasters, gangster flicks and Labradors, it is our family values that bind us together.
The “Will You Pass the Love Test” App helped me realize where I can improve as a husband. As soon as I show my better-half more appreciation, Mary and I will make a spectacular pair.
Todd McFliker, a special contributor to Fatherhood Channel, is author of “All You Need Is Love to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb: How the Beatles and U2 Changed the World,” available on Amazon.