Romantic relationships, like elderly pets and large boats, require maintenance. Keeping the spark alive is a struggle that's long troubled humanity, often inspiring couples to seek the wisdom of others. Luckily, you live in a time when you can get advice on sex and love straight from Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.
Yes, that's right, the parents from 19 Kids and Counting recently sat down with Today Moms and shared their hard-earned wisdom. And here you thought your only Valentine's Day gift from the universe would be House of Cards and possible power outages.
I'll give credit where it's due—some of the advice is basic common sense, like recommending couples make time for date night and pointing out men shouldn't feel obligated to play the strong silent type. Fine. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
But then you get something like this, which starts off sounding reasonable but then just gets weird:
Perfectionism kills romance. While many of us are trained to be detail-oriented and strive for perfection at work, Jim Bob says bringing that attitude home can be a relationship-killer. Withholding praise makes your loved ones lose that loving feeling. "Expectations ruin relationships," Jim Bob warns.
Admittedly, I don't have 19 kids, a television show and a side gig as a GOP celebrity, so pardon my boldness, but I'm pretty sure it's not expectations that ruin relationships. The way it's phrased, it sounds like Jim Bob is saying, "I'm not going to pick up my dirty socks so don't even bother asking lest you ruin this beautiful thing we have together."
Mostly, though, they want to underscore the importance of doing it all the time, no matter how tired you are, no excuses, ladies. Michelle relays a piece of advice she got from a friend as a newlywed:
"She said, 'In your marriage there will be times you're going to be very exhausted. Your hubby comes home after a hard day's work, you get the baby to bed, and he is going to be looking forward to that time with you.'" — she's talking about sex, just so everyone's clear — "'Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.'"
At the time, as a young bride-to-be, Michelle says, she couldn't imagine ever not wanting to "be available" for some quality married nookie. But with kids, she soon realized, exhaustion can easily extinguish romance.
Lord have mercy. Let's leave aside, for the moment, the assumption that no woman has ever wanted sex more than her husband. Even knowing that the Duggars' eldest daughters are forced to help take care of the kids, you've still got to figure Michelle spends much of her day herding a small preschool's worth of children. Then she's supposed to be Jim Bob's 24-hour McDonalds for sex, too? And there's a big disconnect between these two statements:
"That has been such a lifesaver for our marriage," she tells TODAY Moms.
Seems to be working for Jim Bob, too: "We're like a newlywed couple every day!" he enthuses.
Of course HE thinks they're like a couple of newlyweds!
They do press pause sometimes, though, specifically when Michelle's on the rag (congrats, you know that now, no take-backs), and they also wait for very specific periods of time after childbirth, based loosely on the Old Testament—40 days after a boy, 80 after a girl.
And that's what the Duggars have to teach you about love and sex. Go forth!
Photo via AP Images.