August is Romance Awareness Month, so it's a good reason to talk about how to take your romantic fantasies and put them into action in your life. How do you make a relationship work? What are the secrets? It begins with you. How happy are you with the life you've created? Are you working a job you hate or building a career that resonates? If you haven't dealt with your own happiness all by yourself, stop reading now. If, however, you know what you want, this is for you.
1. Friendship is important, but having sex is just as important if you want to keep your relationship alive. There is no substitute for intimacy and satisfying one another. If you're in a marriage and not getting physical at least once a week, it's time to set dates and just do it. Not very romantic? There are times when that's very important, but sometimes sex is just about doing it.
Oh, and don't even think of telling yourself "he's the one" before you've had sex with him. It's not the 20th century anymore and this type of intimacy ignorance is Cinderella thinking that is romantic, but not practical.
2. Keep your bathroom rituals -- all of them -- private. The urge to know one another is fierce at first. You should always have space for yourself, whether it's to beautify and pamper yourself, or squatting to pee, moments your partner never needs to see.
3. Your relationship is between you and your partner. No one else should be invited in, including your mother. Have a fight and want to run to your best friend to tell her what a jerk your boyfriend is? Don't share details, none of them. It likely will blow over and then you'll get reminded about what you said that no one should have heard in the first place.
4. Be grateful for one another and gracious, too. Saying "thank you" to a man for taking you out to dinner may seem small, but it matters. A man should do the same when a woman is generous. Show your partner he or she is appreciated, do it often and mean it.
5. Don't be afraid to have a fight. Yelling and screaming isn't the best way to do it, though that happens, too. Air what's wrong or what happened that upset you and do so honestly. You have to respect your partner enough to tell them the truth. Don't be mean, but you have to be able to say what's on your mind and do so respecting that your partner won't crumble at the criticism or whatever pissed you off.
6. You both need to be in touch with a healthy lifestyle. It means a diet that has nutritional elements in it that feed your body, mind and spirit. Party time is also needed, but alcohol and marijuana need to be handled responsibly and in moderation. Too many intoxicants at high levels can alter a relationship pretty quickly -- and not for the better.
7. Have fun together as often as possible. A long-term relationship cannot survive without laughter.
8. Ego can save us, but it can also wreck a relationship. There is no room for Ego, keeping score and other petty point making in a relationship. You simply must be able to admit when you're wrong or your partner is right.
One last thing (at least for now) that takes us back to #1. Talking to a lot of men in the trenches, I've learned that one of the reasons they cheat is because they don't think they can get what they want with their partner. It's not about the woman, of course, it's about the man often placing his partner on a pedestal, something I know all about. There is nothing more powerful or sexy than a woman revealing her sexuality with a man.
Any man who thinks we're still in the days where women don't enjoy sex equally and as much as a they do is likely going to take a lot of re-education, and you've got to decide whether he's worth it.
Taylor Marsh is the author of the new book The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen - Relationship Secrets From the Trenches out August 5th.