For the last few weeks I’ve been madly embarking on a new writing project. I have a new book on marriage that’s due at the publishers in March (I’ll tell you more about it soon, hopefully in the next few weeks, once everything is signed), and I have thus been contemplating this strange and wonderful relationship called marriage.

Truthfully, I believe that for many people, it just isn’t that wonderful. For many of us it is, but quite a few of us are walking through life feeling as if the person who should care most for us in the world really doesn’t. They love and value what we can do FOR them, but they don’t necessarily love and value US–or at least that’s what it feels like.

They want us to keep the house clean, look after the kids, and care for their sexual needs, but they aren’t really willing to care for our own emotional needs, or to help out around the house or just show common courtesy. I’ve witnessed a lot of these relationships in real life, and it just makes me sad.

God did not intend for us to use each other. He didn’t intend for us to complete each other in the sense that we lose ourselves caring for another person who doesn’t care back. I’m not saying that if you’re in a relationship like that that the relationship is thus not valid, and you should leave it. Not at all. I’m just a little sad right now.

I’ve received some emails from readers of this blog commenting on my post “Lean on Me” from Monday, where I talked about how I needed friends. And I wrote about how I’ve decided I’m going to get together with other women more. But what do you do, they asked independently of each other, if your husband resents you going out? If he gets mad if he has to make his own dinner?

How do you reply to that? I sent some suggestions, and I prayed, but it’s difficult, isn’t it? If you have a wonderfully caring husband, that’s great, but the truth is that many of us don’t.

And that’s why I want to write this next book–to hopefully offer some suggestions that people can take early in their marriage, before these patterns of behaviour get set, that can help us establish a relationship that is truly loving, where both partners long to give to one another.

It’s not easy, and one of the hardest areas is sex. I don’t know very many couples who don’t end up fighting over frequency. One partner wants to make love more often than the other, and compromise isn’t always easy or even possible. What do you do when one never wants to, and one wants to all the time? And it isn’t always the man who wants it constantly–in about 30% of relationships it’s the woman with the larger sex drive.

But here is one thought to leave you with, if you’re struggling today: concentrate on an area of strength for you. If your husband and you often fight over frequency of sex, or over whether you get enough time for yourself, or whether he listens to you enough, let that go for the rest of the week. And ask yourself: what do we do well together? Do we play board games well together? Do we love debating? Do we have a great time working out together? Find something that you do well together, and then just do it. Often we relate so much in our areas of weakness that our areas of strength fall by the wayside.

So try, for the rest of the week, just to have fun, however you do that together. When you can build goodwill, then the other areas of conflict tend to either diminish in importance or become easier to solve.

Here, then, are your assignments:

1. Have fun with your husband in some way this week! Plan it, think about it, and do it.

2. Tell me, in the comments, if you’ve ever felt lonely in your marriage (or if you still do). What did you do to overcome that? Have any tips? You can comment anonymously if you want to.