Men are simple creatures, and they're useful and charming, but they do require management.
Men left unsupervised get in trouble. There are 3 rules for managing men.
1) No blame (criticism, sarcasm, accusations, etc.).
2) Lots of appreciation (and hugs, holding, praise, empathy, acceptance, etc.).
3) Time alone is what a man needs when his attitude is focused on anything but how he can please his sweetie and make her life better. When he's lonely, his attitude will self-correct. Men are happiest when they're devoted to someone, so it's in his best interest.
Women are complicated creatures, and they can't be managed in the same sense that men can. But when they're unhappy, something needs to be done about it. No one can deal with an unhappy woman, but anyone can get along with a happy one.
1) No blame, of course, but also no excuses or lack of follow through. These drive women crazy.
2) Lots of treasuring ( and non-sexual holding, praise, empathy, acceptance, etc.).
3) When a woman's unhappy, we need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk. "Tell me everything that's troubling you, dear." I just listen and empathize. I don't try to solve her problems.
It isn't material things that make a woman feel secure. A woman will live with a man in a cardboard box on the sidewalk and be happy about it if she feels secure. The most powerful way to make a woman feel secure is non-sexual holding, so it's a good idea to do it every day. And it's important for her to see strength in her man, see him taking action, seeing effort to make her life and the family's life better. Part of strength is humor and resilience. Success is less important than perseverence.
It's vital that I regard my sweetie as perfect. Let the rest of the world criticize her. Anything I see as a fault in her, I "reframe." I find a way to look at it that makes it a virtue. I had a girlfriend who made huge meals for us. I was critical of that till I decided to regard it as generosity, a gesture of affection. Then I noticed she was cleverly freezing the leftovers and taking them to work for lunch. Aha....
This doesn't mean I can't give my lover feedback. "Sweetie, this particular strategy you're using at work doesn't seem to be working for you. How about if you tried this...."
The foundation of a relationship is safety. Until the relationship is safe, we're still trying to get to the starting line. One way to build safety is make agreements, and then keep them or renegotiate. Another is to stop all abuse, both given and received. And another is active nurturing.
One of life's paradoxes is that (in the beginning) you need self defense skills the most with the one you love the most. By using non-violent self defense, you can stop the abuse they're doing to you in a way that doesn't hurt them, not even their feelings. And at the same time you're teaching them how to treat you well. Once the abuse is stopped, then you no longer need self defense skills with your loved ones, and your nest is calm and sweet. Out there in the world, you still need self defense skills, but your home is an oasis of peace and acceptance.
Expectations are different from agreements. They don't have to be agreed on, but they do have to be aligned. If agreements are the skeleton of the relationship, then expectations are the muscles. They drive you toward your dreams. If I'm expecting a long term relationship in which you will act like a "wife," and you're expecting a casual affair, somebody's feelings are going to get hurt. The principle that works here is "win-win."
When couples get together, they often make a classic mistake. Typically they'll trade his freedom for her security. That lasts about nine months usually, and then he goes crazy. Of course he does. No one can give up freedom. That's like trying to hold your breath for a year. Actually, what's needed is that both people should feel secure, and both should feel free. Being together in a couple should make each person more free, not less free. And it's as important for the woman to feel free as for the man. So each couple has to negotiate a way that both people can be safe and secure, and at the same time both people can be free. There isn't a recipe. Each couple has to find what works for them. Good luck to you!
A relationship that works is the best thing there is in life. "Working" means we communicate and play, complain while problems are still little, see each other as perfect, support and praise and nourish each other, share feelings and hopes and fun and dreams. We share the good life.