What major changes happen during the first 10 years of coupledom? We surveyed 1,000 women currently experiencing the decade's ups and downs to find out. If you don't love what the numbers reveal, we've got the relationship advice you need right here.
You love your guy like a half-off shoe sale. But that's today, and everything still feels warm and fuzzy. What about tomorrow? What makes a couple happy for the long haul? "The only constant in love is change," says Linda Olson, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and relationship therapist. So ask yourself: Will you still be thirsty for his six-pack in eight years (when it's a two-liter bottle)? Will you want to trade pillow talk for separate duvets after five? And if tots enter the picture, will the cracks from year three become crevasses a decade in? Based on our online poll of 1,000 committed women (and the help of seasoned experts), WH peeks into the future of your vie d'amour and delivers the tips and tricks you'll need to feel mushy forever, and ever, and ever--God help us.
On Pillow Talk Survey Says:
During their first year together, 68 percent of couples talk and touch after sex. After five years, almost half are still into post-coital cuddling and conversation. But past the 10-year mark, only a third do anything other than nod off. Don't miss WH's tips to boost your bedroom's sexy appeal in "Sexy Bedroom Makover."
What gives? In the early stages of "us," we crave heart-to-hearts because, frankly, we don't know our partner very well, says Scott Haltzman, M.D., co-author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women. And it's after sex that you may feel closest--which means it's prime time to spill secrets, confessions, and goals. As years pass, mutual navel-Ã‚Âgazing falls lower on our to-do list. "After 10 years, couples are more involved with the world around them than they are with each other," says Haltzman. "They juggle PTA meetings, business trips--they don't have the luxury of staying up all night just to talk."
Love-sustaining strategy Before he falls asleep, ask him those "Have you everÃ¢â‚¬Â¦?" lovey-dovey questions again (we'll bet his answers have changed). It will "restore him as a fascinating, unknown entity in your mind," says Ã‚Âmarriage therapist Bethany Marshall, Ph.D., Psy.D., author of Deal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away.
On Getting Freaky Survey Says:
Until the one-year anniversary, 25 percent try new positions a few times a month. That number drops to 15 percent after five years. After year 10, only 11 percent experiment at the same rate which means your sexual relationship can start to feel stale.
What gives? There are only so many tricks in the Kama Sutra, Haltzman says. Early on, couples flex creative muscle to find out what turns each other on. As time passes, "finding new ways to do it isn't as much of a priority because you've already established what works," he says.
Love-sustaining strategy Even if you have no problem peaking, it's crucial to take different routes to the top. "Otherwise, you'll run on autopilot, and passion will fall by the wayside," Haltzman says. Doctor's orders: Create sexual resolutions for the next 12 months (who cares if the first few months of the new year have come and gone?). Discuss ways you'd each like to expand your repertoire and mentally schedule one night a month to try them out. From doing it in a stairwell to reenacting the K-Y wrestling scene in Old School, push your boundÃ‚Âaries enough to feel nervous but not so far that you feel anxious. Get your freak on!
On Sharing Funds Survey Says:
During years one through three, 75 percent of women keep their bank accounts separate from their partners'. Between years five and eight, 25 percent have three accounts (his/hers/ours). After year 10, 64 percent have just one joint account.
What gives? Dayana Yochim, author of The Motley Fool's Guide to Couples & Cash, credits chromosomes for the flux. "Guys are all about opportunity. But women of all ages are more concerned with financial security," she explains. Because your money MOs don't sync (he wants to gamble on foreign stocks; you'd rather buy low-risk mutual funds), it makes sense to keep things separate. But as you rack up collective bills--car payments, mortgage, baby furniture--a joint account becomes more convenient.
Love-sustaining strategy "Even if your relationship is going great, keep an account of your own," says Candace Bahr, cofounder of the Women's Institute for Financial Education, who prefers the his-hers-ours route. This way, you'll make long-term decisions and investments together while you continue to build your own credit and a separate nest egg should the relationship, ahem, not work out. How much do you drop in the collective pot? Yochim suggests an equal percentage of your salaries. And make sure there's enough in the account to cover bills for at least three months.
On Socializing Within Your Tax Bracket Survey Says:
During the first 10 years of being a "we," about half of the couples surveyed consistently choose to hang out with twosomes whose joint income mirrors their own.
What gives? You're not snobs. It's just that birds of a feather flock to the same bistro, says Jan Dahlin Geiger, a financial planner in Atlanta and the author of Get Your Assets in Gear! Smart Money Strategies. People who have the same amount of money to spend on restaurants, vacations, and sports clubs naturally bump into each other more often, and friendships are bound to develop.
Love-sustaining strategy Plan some outings where money isn't an issue--to a minor-league baseball game, for example, or to the park for kickball and sandwiches--and invite your well-off college buds as well as your underemployed actor friends, Geiger suggests. And don't trash invites just because a crowd is too fancy or frugal for you: Shelling out $20 for bourbon at the country club or squatting to pee in a dive bar is worth keeping your social circle from shrinking. "Spending time with friends who have a different economic status invites new ideas and experiences," Geiger says.
On Taking Out The Trash Survey Says:
Over all 10 years, 75 percent of women gripe that men don't help enough with household chores.
What gives? According to Michelle Janning, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, "women are socialized to be domestic, but we also have a longer list of criteria" about cleanliness and child care. "Our expectations differ about what's 'good enough,'" she says.
Love-sustaining strategy Tweak conventional roles. "A woman who tries to handle chores alone will only place the responsibility for change on herself," Janning says. Instead, split the to-do list down the middle: This means he's on diaper duty while you mow the lawn--and learn to put up with imperfectly folded laundry and dried egg on the dishes.
On Keeping Your Own Company Survey Says:
As your bond increases, you crave more alone time: Ten percent of women enjoy it during the first year; 10 years later, 23 percent insist on it.
What gives? "Women tend to dedicate all their free time to kids, husbands, and jobs--especially in the early years of monogamy," says psychologist Nancy O'Reilly, Psy.D. "After five years, they feel they've earned time for themselves." This doesn't mean that you and your partner are growing apart. "Once you've mapped out mutual interests, it's important to reconnect with your own passions," says Laurie B. Mintz, Ph.D., an associate psychology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. "Otherwise, you'll lose yourself."
Love-sustaining strategy Give in to your urge for solo adventures (provided they're not about skinny-dipping with the pool boy), and tell him to do the same. "You owe it to each other to stay Ã‚Âinteresting and bring new ideas to the table," O'Reilly says. "You need to stoke intellectual attraction, despite having talked to each other every day for years."