How to Stay in Love by James Sexton

  • How much I’d Recommend: 9/10
  • Date finished: 5/27/21
  • How to Stay in Love, Recommend borrowing from your local library

Main Ideas:

  • Hit send now: If you are unsatisfied/angry/pissed/upset/annoyed with your spouse on some specific thing they did, communicate immediately. Don’t wait. Write an email and send now. 

Justice deferred, they say, is justice denied. . . Hit Send Now is meant to combat or neutralize the natural inclination of so many of us to not express the true nature of what we are feeling. And – no small bonus – it makes you feel much more as if you are living in the moment, becauso you are expressing yourself in the moment.

  • You can be right or you can be happy: Shoot for resolution rather than full satisfaction. Stop worrying about being right.
  • Expectation vs. reality: Admit to yourself how much time you have to devote to the goals you are trying to achieve as a parent or partner, and what you are doing with that time. Be honest about the aspects of partnership and/or parenting that you enjoy and the ones that you loathe.
  • Tight grips and loose arms: It’s scary to let go of your spouse. It’s scary to let go of illusions about your marriage, marriage in general, or even yourself. . . Perhaps by letting go, you’ll find yourself establishing a much stronger grip.
  • Reading minds and accepting appearances: Your partner can’t hear what you don’t say, and vice versa. Ignorance is rarely bliss for long. If you care enough about your relationship to want to keep it, be sure you are checking in with your partner on a regular basis. No one is good at mind reading. There is no such thing.
  • Pretend you are not married: appreciating the things you take for granted that your spouse does for you.
  • Did you spend more time shopping for your car or for your spouse?: Our grandparents didn’t lease cars. They bought a car and drove it as long as they could. They took care of it and they appreciated the fact that their car was reliable. They did what they needed to keep the car healthy in the long run. What if you can only pick a car for the rest of your life? Would you change the criteria of what kind of car you want? 

If you want permanance, don’t stand in front of people and recite marriage vows. Go to a tattoo parlor.

  • Prime your spouse to do things you like: i.e. have sex on vacation so he will take more vacations.
  • Remind yourself from time to time that the only rules defining marriage, as an institution, are those that we as a culture have made.
  • Think about divorce.
  • Know that a marriage can end without the marriage itself ending.
  • One of the pillars of marriage is sex. Be honest with yourself, and with your spouse as to what you want.
  • Sometimes the bad guys win. The only thing more expensive than a good divorce lawyer is a bad one.
  • Divide and conquer: everybody should do something about everything, and neither of you should do everything about anything. Don’t relinquish the control of being independent. Always know a little bit of everything you need to be on your own.

I bet you’ll be surprised at how much your spouse does. What would you miss if they were suddently gone from your life or from the home you share together? Perhaps some imagining of that loss, while we still have what we have, is in order.

  • It’s easy to express commitment to a principle; it’s tougher, and more important, to ask yourself whether your actions demonstrate that commitment.
  • Don’t lie. Or if you are going to lie, don’t lie to yourself. It’s far better, on and off any witness stand, to be painfully honest with yourself about what you’ve done, what you could be doing, and what you sometimes failed to do.
  • There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, so don’t make yourself crazy.
  • Know yourself: One of the most important traits that the strong possess, from what I see, is knowing their weaknesses. Being able to do that for yourself is a virtue.

My professional experience gets me to the same place, if from the back end: I’m in the business of weaponizing intimacy, to dissolve marriages. Those who are in love and want to keep it that way should try to see the ability to weaponize intimacy not as a threat, but as proof of its power. Not just for ammunition on the witness stand. Power that can be used for good.

  • Make the holes you dig shallow because the deep ones are hard to climb out of.
  • Identify the subject – don’t drag old laundry out
  • Don’t start something that has no end – Don’t argue with him about how much better it would be if he were taller.
  • Write a letter to your partner. List at least five things they do that you appreciate. Tell them a few things they do that upset you. Tell them what you are craving but not getting from them. Tell them a few things you are getting and are incredibly grateful for. Tell them a story from your shared history, in as much detail as you can, that you remember fondly. Maybe write a mini-chronicle of your marriage. It’s been said that the unexamined life is not worth living. My experience has taught me that the unexamined marriage is not sustainable. 
  • Use a “yours” and “mine” accounts: 1. preventing ignorance while maintaining privacy, 2. creates opportunities for autonomy, 3. it can easily be converted into a legally binding system. 
  • When is the last time you and your spouse discussed what it specifically means to be “happy” and how you each define that term? When was the last time you discussed, in specific terms, what a “satisfying” sex life is for each of you? These should be conversations you look forward to! They’re about being happy and about fucking, for fuck’s sake!
  • Sometimes it’s nor worth trying to save something, because the saving requires you to be miserable. It’s not worth doing CPR on a dead body. If it’s dead, bury it. But if it’s not dead. . . let’s not bury it.
  • I hear you. I hear your frustration. I get it.
  • Hate can eat away at you at least as much as it eats away at the object of your hate.
  • It’s hard to end things; it’s hard to keep things together.