Can you give us example of some of the most mind-blowing, counterintuitive findings from the book?
There's so much to list! I have hundreds of pages of data that's not in the book and a lot of the most fascinating stuff is in the book. Here's the top five that come to mind first:
1. Homosexual couples. I truly thought we would be able to write a second book on the Normal Bar when it came to love relationships for gay and lesbian couples. I found it interesting that this was not the case. Not at all. Gay and lesbian couples almost always fell right in line with heterosexual couples. Just because gay and lesbians have a different sexual preference it doesn't make their relationship any different. We all love the same and have a very similar normal when it comes to relationships. We touch on this throughout the book.
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2. Happiness. People were a lot happier than I ever expected. It was fun to see what really made a difference in our happiest couples. For example, going on vacation together without the kids is extremely important. My husband I didn't go on a vacation without the kids until I started the research for the book and this came up. We went to Kauai for a week together (no kids) and had the time of our life. I can see why our happiest couples vacation alone together once a year, because it is important and it's awesome!
3. Communication. How much you think you know what your partner wants or needs to be happy and how out of touch you might be. This could change over time and if you don’t talk about it, you don't know. You could be wasting your time doing something you think is important, that you think makes him or her happy and later find out it doesn't matter. Communication was the number one reason why our happiest couples were fulfilled and also the number one reason why people said they left their last relationship. I would have thought it was sex or affection… focusing on communication is way more important than having more sex to be happy. Although, the sex comes when communication is working right!
4. Fantasy. That men fantasize more about their wife or girlfriend than other people. They fantasize about things that they don't think their partner would be up for.
5. Disconnect. The large disconnect between men and women. Throughout the book we can see men and women want the same things out of a relationship and just don't know how to go about it. The book not only makes this clear, but makes it easy to discuss with their partner. A great example of this is men and women both said they want more variety in their life sexually, but neither one of them do anything about it. This theme carries throughout when it comes to romance and affection too.
Based on your own experience doing so, how can couples translate the collected wisdom from the book into positive changes in their own love lives?
Use the book to get a better idea of what other people are doing and figure out what you want. Whatever you want your normal to look like, make it happen! You are in control of your own normal, nobody else.
Our relationship prior to The Normal Bar was very unstable. We were not in touch with what we both wanted from the relationship, each other or life to be happy. So, we kept just doing what we did day after day, figuring that we just needed to brush our issues under the rug and move forward. If we tried to tackle any of our issues it would turn into a big argument or one person would feel criticized.
By using data and research from our study, my husband and I not only discussed in great detail what we wanted out of life and from each other, we became more in line (the bar) with each other. We eliminated the gray area and made it more black and white. I don't wonder or guess what my husband needs, I know, and he knows what I need. We respect it and support each other’s needs. This doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen very quickly with a lot of long talks and negotiations. This all comes very easy when you have a resource.
Our normal went from extremely hectic and not spending any time together to still very hectic with spending a lot more quality time together. We have so much fun together and as a family. We changed our normal from all work to a lot of work and a lot of play. We go away almost every weekend after our kid's last game to the desert to camp and ride our desert toys. Our kids are thriving more than ever too! We make time to do fun stuff. My husband and I make time to go out and enjoy each other and talk. I now have the normal that I always dreamed about and my husband is a million times happier too. Relationships are work, but they shouldn't be that much work. Our relationship is so much easier now. We can talk about anything and everything (just like I always wanted) and we are more in love than ever.
I hope other couples can learn from The Normal Bar just as we did. I hope couples can find that talking about the research, learning from data, or using any of our suggested tools will take their current normal to a happier more fulfilling one. It did for us!
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