I bet most of us women can relate to the movie "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."
The 21-year-old me in 2003 couldn't help but shudder a little when Andie showed up to guys' poker night and cried about the love fern that Ben let die.
Yes, Andie was a bit much and slightly crazy, but there definitely were some underlying truths in her actions. While trying to push Ben over the edge, she executed exaggerated versions of all the things women often think, and in extreme cases do wrong, in relationships.
Having been there in a failed marriage, I've learned some valuable lessons in making relationships work and some things women do that contribute to destroying them.
1. Trying to change your man.
This is perhaps the most common fatal mistake we can't help to make as women, but do anyway because it's in our nature.
Don't do it. No, no, no, no, no. For whatever reason, you love and chose this man to be your partner. Yes, this may have been when you were in the euphoric stage of a new relationship, however, when you decided to enter into a relationship with him, you signed up for accepting him as he is.
He may not need changing, and if you think he does, and that he should and will for you, you are sadly mistaken. While there are things that can and need to be worked on in relationships as they grow and change over time, it's important to remember this is a two-way street and takes work on both parts.
Do not tell him he watches SportsCenter too much, drinks too much beer, needs to lose weight or that he should not wear that ratty, 15-year-old T-shirt he loves. Because before he became your man, chances are, you knew all these things and probably even thought they were cute.
Don't assume now that you have him, you can mold him into a slightly improved version of himself. If he is genuinely good to you, compliment him. Make him feel good about himself by pointing out more of what you love about him, not what he can do better.
2. Trying to control your man.
"Well we wouldn't fight if you just did more of what I ask you to do."
Yes, I've said it, we've all said it -- guilty as charged. This is a great way to not only make your man resent you, but also to get him to do a little more of what you don't want him to do just because he's "not allowed to do it."
Controlling a guy is a great way to encourage him go behind your back to do something he just feels like doing, even if it's something completely innocent.
When you don't trust him enough to hang out with his friends or do anything without you or your approval, there's something seriously wrong there. You aren't his mother or keeper, you are his partner.
We also aren't 18 anymore and worried about our man going to the club and blacking out and bringing home a girl in a crop top. And if you are, you should probably re-evaluate why you would even worry he would do this to begin with.
Being secure in your relationship means you don't need to control his every move. If you're controlling him, you are insecure, and that's really not an attractive quality.
3. Not giving him enough sex.
Let's face it: Guys want it all the time. Unlike most women, they typically don't need to emotionally attach or invest to get off.
As women, though, it's much easier for us to withhold sex. One of the biggest reasons we do is when we are not feeling fulfilled emotionally, or are simply pissed off at him, so the last thing we want to do is put out.
But there's another angle to consider here. You can probably get more attention and more emotionally fulfilled from him if you give him what he wants in the bedroom, and more often.
I am not talking about rolling over on your side in the morning and letting him do what he wants to you. That lack of effort is pretty obvious and easily forgettable by him once he's done.
And I'm not referring to the half-ass oral performance you gave because he did the laundry. I'm talking about giving him something to think about all day when he's at work.
This does not include the type of sex (of any kind) that just gets the job done. I'm talking about the kind that blows his mind. Girls, you probably have some serious skills tucked away and my advice is to use them. Watch how quickly things change and sit back and enjoy the ride, literally.
4. Letting yourself go.
As wives and mothers, the day to day hustle and bustle is no joke, and most of the time we put ourselves last. With that, it's very easy to let yourself go. I've been there.
When you're tired and too busy to even pee, the last thing you want to do is coordinate outfits, blow out your own hair or fit in an hour at the gym.
However, making the time and extra effort to look good is really not just for him, it's for yourself. When you're confident about how you look, and get praise for it, your mood can very easily improve, no matter how miserable your day was.
Ever walk into work feeling defeated, but someone asks you if you lost weight or says they want your hair? If so, think about how you felt in that moment. The answer is probably damn good.
If you look and feel damn good, he's going to like that and want more of it and you're going to want to give it and get more of it, which will drive you even more to keep up with it.
So, make a daily visit to Pinterest -- yes, it's that easy. Find the latest hair and fashion trends and just work with what you already have. You'll both benefit; it's a win-win situation.
5. Coming between him and his family.
Repeat after me, "I will not tell him his family sucks." Don't do it.
They were there before you and are genetically bonded to him for life. Yes, there are situations where your man's family might be terrible, but he doesn't need you to point that out because if they are that bad, he most likely knows already.
If there's a conflict there, and it involves you, it's best to let him settle it. If you go up against his family, you become public enemy number one and tables can turn on you very quickly. Take the high road because you love and respect him. Keep it classy. Don't fuel the fire and let him put it out, or don't even start it to begin with.
Sometimes I look back at some of my behavior in past relationships and think, if I only knew then what I know now. It's very easy to focus on all the things he's doing wrong, which don't get me wrong, he probably is really doing.
However, as a therapist, I can tell you that one of our biggest golden rules is to focus only on what we are doing and thinking, not on someone else's actions. If you change how you feel and your reactions to others' behaviors, it's much easier to change the situation.
But most importantly, try to remember and feel thankful you have a man who loves you. Do your part to keep that. Plus if you do, you can never say you didn't try, and then you can blame his ass when it doesn't work out.