How One Website Is Helping My Relationship Stay Afloat

Sometimes we have to treat our relationships like a business arrangement. When traditional, lovey-dovey methods of communicating don't seem to get the job done, it's time to get formal. It's time to use things like "agendas" and "action items."

Since the start of my relationship—and especially because we are long-distance—we decided communication was crucial (my boyfriend is a lot better at it than I am). In order to keep the ideas flowing we have mandatory "check-ins" every other month. These meetings tend to be very formal (yes, we often have agendas typed up), sometimes include written questionnaires, and can cover serious topics like abortion. We set up this system so that all the big questions or issues that tend to build up in a relationship get released and resolved. Then, like any good team we have action items to work on until the next check-in. The Ultimate Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide [VIDEO]

Enter's TradingPost feature, which encourages you to haggle in the name of love. "I'll wash your car on Saturday, if you agree to give me a one-hour back rub." One person suggests a trade and the other half either accepts or negotiates the terms. Once a happy compromise is reached, you notify Tokii and then receive reminders when it's time to make good on your deals. There is also a wish list feature where you can clue your partner in on what you need/want (which could help you get the right goods from Santa this year—wink, wink).

Tokii's TradingPost is helping us make sure we complete our action items. For example, I hate to do ALL the event-planning during my guy's visits to New York. At a recent check-in, I asked that he take a more active role in making sure we do things together instead of staying in to watch Netflix movies. On the TradingPost, I asked that he organize one outing during his next trip, and in return I would cook him anything he requested (being a male graduate student, he rarely gets home-cooked meals). Upon his arrival he looked up the latest deals on LivingSocial, and I made fried chicken and black-eyed peas. All's fair with Tokii as the scorekeeper.

The TradingPost is like a mediator for couples—making sure the scales always come out balanced. This tool is great for couples who are too embarrassed to ask for what they want outright (ahem, like sexual favors). But how do you fulfill these trades when you are hundreds of miles apart? My long-distance boyfriend and I had to get creative—we turned our trades into IOUs. "The next time we are together I promise to make you breakfast in bed IF you skip work and stay in with me." Our most recent trade requires that we video chat once every weekend and talk on the phone at least twice a week. For two weeks we have been successful thanks to Tokii's reminder e-mails. Way to keep couples accountable, Tokii!

This year we will spending our second round of holidays apart. Last year we had a "Holiday Smash" in late January to celebrate. It included decorating a mini tree, a feast by the fire and streaking in the snow. I am hoping to use Tokii to get started brainstorming ideas for both Smash 2012 and his holiday gift... if he'd ever update his Wish List (hint, hint)!

Do you make trades with your partner? Tell us about them in the comments.

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