Photograph by Clara Balzary

Passion, Intimacy—and Why a Little Hate Is Normal

Standing up to each other is just as critical to a relationship as compromising, says Boston-based therapist Terry Real, the author of The New Rules of Marriage. “You know you’re in a real relationship the day you look at this person and realize they’re exquisitely designed to stick the burning spear into your eyeball,” he says. While a partner uniquely positioned to take you on might sound like torture, Real says it’s a sign that your relationship definitely has a chance. The number one passion killer, he finds, is when partners stop taking each other on—when they might tell themselves that they’re compromising but in actuality they’re settling. “People generally do in the bedroom what they do in every other room,” he points out.

Because we can’t get enough of his poignant, no-BS advice, we sat down with Real in the podcast studio, and he talked about why normal marital hatred is more than okay. Then, in the video studio, he told us the single most important thing we all need to do in our relationships.

1. Why should intimate relationships be hard?

2. What’s the biggest passion killer?

3. How do struggling couples pull through together?

4. What’s one thing every couple should do more of?

Terry Real is a family therapist, speaker, and author. He founded the Relational Life Institute (RLI), which offers workshops for couples, individuals, and parents around the country, along with a professional training program for clinicians on his RLT (relational life therapy) methodology. His bestselling books include I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women, and The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Make Love Work. Real has also served as a senior faculty member of the Family Institute of Cambridge in Massachusetts and is a retired clinical fellow of the Meadows Institute in Arizona.