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I love my children. I’m so grateful I had them.

But I’d be lying if I said they didn’t make things difficult.

It’s harder to find time alone. It’s harder to want to be intimate when one or both of us recently changed a poopy diaper or is covered with some other malodorous body fluid. The sleepless nights. The fatigue.

Romance can be harder to attain, and my husband and I are not alone in this.

Studies conclusively prove that having children leads to a steep decline in relationship happiness.

It’s important to note that a decline in relationship happiness

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As a Relationship Coach and a female human, I’ve read so much dating advice directed at women. I’ve found that too many can be damaging, sexist, or easily misinterpreted.

If you’re a woman who’s newly dating, young, or just need a reality-check, here is the advice you should roll your eyes at:

1. “They’re only being mean because they like you.”

I was probably 9 when someone first advised me on the “ways of love.” I had a crush on a neighbor boy named Evan who frequently kicked me on the playground.

I didn’t understand why he’d sometimes be so mean to me. …

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We all judge our partners in bed. We’ve all had terrible partners. We’ve (hopefully) all had good ones too. We might even have special ranking systems that we’ve assigned to particular partners (very good at being dominant, liked to try new things, super sexy, etc.). All of us do it.

But I’ll tell you, as a woman and as a Relationship Coach, ALL of my women and women-identifying clients have judged their male partners in one area in particular.

And if you’re thinking it’s penis size, you couldn’t be more wrong.

“I know I’m small,” he told me. …

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On my article, “Why Dating Smart Women Is the Best Decision You Could Make,” a reader commented,

“A man’s lizard brain has about as much use for an intelligent female as a dog does for a sweater.”

He’s not wrong, but let’s break down why that shouldn’t matter to you today.

The “lizard brain” is the nickname given to the amygdala, that little lump at the base of your skull. It is what it sounds like: the part of your brain that has the same mental capacity as a lizard.

Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur, and public speaker dubbed “America’s Greatest…

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At my six week check-up following the birth of my youngest, my OB said, “You can have sex physically, but only have it if you feel comfortable.”

I wasn’t comfortable honestly. My body still felt like it wasn’t my own. I’d lost barely any weight since the birth, and I couldn’t stand looking down at my stomach whenever I put on clothes. I also was nursing exclusively, not sleeping, and covered with some kind of bodily fluid nearly 24/7.

My husband told me, “When you’re ready, let me know.”

I knew it wasn’t rational, but the fact that my husband…

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I grew up believing a healthy relationship was all about finding the right person. If a couple wasn’t healthy, it simply meant they weren’t “soulmates.”

What I’ve learned, as both a human and as a Relationship Coach, is that healthy relating skills are learned. Some of us are lucky enough to learn them as children from our parents and caregivers. Some of us (me included) learned them with the help of a therapist or coach, and some of us never learn them at all.

While having positive habits is important, not having bad habits is what really separates healthy from…

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I first heard heard of a “Fair Fighting Contract” over a decade ago when my ex-husband and I were in couples counseling. We’d made the appointment because we fought in ways that were disrespectful at the least, and mean at the worst.

“A fair fighting contract?” I scoffed.

Our therapist looked at me for a moment and then said, “Yes, a contract, that you both agree to, with the behaviors you won’t do in a fight.”

I didn’t like the idea of it at all. I believed, at the time, that relationships should be about feelings and emotions and other…

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“That sounds pretty one-sided,” my friend said after I’d described an interaction with my partner that was much like many of our interactions.

She said it so casually, as if she was telling me her shirt was red. Yet, that day, it struck me like something much deeper. It struck me like it was truth.

Very few of our relationships start out one-sided because why would we choose to pursue being with them if that was the case?

But sometimes, for various reasons, a relationship will become one-sided. Someone slowly gets smaller and smaller while the other gets larger and…

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“You don’t appreciate me,” my husband said.

I winced.

As a Relationship Coach, I work with many couples on improving their relationship, so it’s a particular sore spot when my husband points out that I miss the mark too.

He was right, of course.

I’d been stressed and hadn’t said much more than a “thanks” when he’d brought me my morning coffee for the last week.

My first response to his statement though was to be defensive: “Well, you don’t…!” …

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My husband and I had been married less than a year when we decided to drive to Crabtree Falls in Virginia to see the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. We shared a love for hiking, and there seemed to be something romantic about seeing the -est of something together.

I imagined a long uphill trek. Panting, we’d finally make it to the top and clutch each other’s hands while watching the violent rolling of a great feature of nature.

We parked at the gift shop and walked until we saw the “Falls” hiking trail sign. …

Tara Blair Ball

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