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The 4 Best Tips on How to Have a Good Marriage

Does anyone really know what makes a happy marriage? Turns out, author Jo Piazza does! The 36-year-old, who got married in 2015 and now has a baby on the way, traveled the world collecting advice from across 20 countries and 5 continents for her new book How to Be Married. Piazza sought out guidance from every walk of life — matrilineal tribeswomen, French women, Swedish stay-at-home dads and polygamous warriors — and has created a pitch-perfect guide for newlyweds. Read it and your spouse will thank you!

Piazza sat down with Us Weekly Video’s Christina Garibaldi to offer her top 4 tips on how to survive — and thrive — in the first year of marriage and beyond. She also dished out some truly amazing advice for our favorite celebrity couples (like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and Jay Z and Beyoncé). Watch and learn in the video above.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner: Relive Their Love StoryJo PiazzaJo Piazza

1. Be Your Husband’s Mistress

Seriously! While visiting France, women encouraged Piazza to keep the mystery alive by being your husband’s mistress. Huh? Well, the author advises keeping the romance alive by being the most alluring woman in every room! While she admits this may seem a bit antiquated, she tells Us it’s “kind of awesome because you’re bringing a little mystery and excitement to your marriage every day.” French women even suggest flirting with other people as well as your spouse. But most importantly, don’t forget to “throw out your really gross sweatpants,” something Piazza personally can’t fully commit to.

2. Talk For 5 Minutes Every Night

A marriage guru from Mexico swears that a nightly chat will keep your connection strong. Piazza explained that she and her husband, Nick, were instructed to talk to each other each night for five minutes, and reported back that it was “the greatest thing to happen to our new marriage.” However, there are some rules. 1) The other partner is not allowed to interrupt. 2) Whatever is mentioned cannot become a source of contention later on. 3) Nothing more than three weeks old is allowed to be discussed.

3. Be Your Own Person

Take care of yourself and remain your own person. In the chapter featuring wisdom from women in Jerusalem entitled “Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First,” Piazza writes that “You need to stay two independent people… You expect your spouse to be everything,” which sets unfair expectations for both partners. Don’t set the bar so high – your spouse can’t possibly be your therapist, best friend and the ultimate sexual partner. That’s setting you both up to fail! Piazza even heeded the advice to vacation sans her new hubby — and joked that the time apart led to less resentment when her husband left the toilet seat up.

4. Prioritize Your Marriage Over Your Career

Let’s look to the Netherlands, which is consistently ranked among the top five happiest countries in the world, for some tips on work-life balance. In Holland, couples choose to focus on their marriages rather than their careers, and Dutch women in particular, aren’t on the desperate hunt to “have it all.” In her book, Piazza writes that most women in Holland “value their life outside of work much more than they value a title or getting ahead in the workplace.” The majority of Dutch women, whether married or single, choose to work part-time in order to enjoy life, dedicating that extra time to partners, children, hobbies and well-being. Meanwhile, men feel it’s “totally OK” to not work five days a week and earn less money, because they define themselves by their relationships. Sounds good to us!

 

A Good Appetite: Beef Barley Soup Lightens Up

Most beef barley soups are like stews — so thick with grains and chunks of meat that your spoon practically stands up even when you’re not holding on.

This one, however, falls on the lighter, brothier side of the spectrum.

It still has the barley — velour-soft, nubby and soothing. And it still has plenty of tender chunks of juicy, brawny beef.

 

The beef stew meat is cut into half-inch cubes. Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

But it also has enough fragrant liquid to keep all the elements floating, instead of merging into porridgelike solidity.

This is especially good in this recipe because it allows you to really savor the broth itself, heady with spices. Coriander, cumin and paprika work together to give it a gently earthy, almost sweet scent, while a hit of fresh lemon juice and zest at the end brightens everything.

It may not be the typical flavor profile for this kind of homey soup, but it’s not so wildly different that it will scare beef barley lovers away from the pot. It’s just complex enough without being intimidating.

Even better, it’s fairly adaptable. Heat-seekers can indulge by adding the optional cayenne to the broth and some sliced jalapeños to the bowl as a crisp and fiery garnish. Those who prefer things on the milder side can easily leave out one or both. This soup is forgiving like that.

 

Using more vegetables than usual makes it possible to cut back on the barley without letting the beef dominate. Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

One thing that beef barley fans may notice is the absence of mushrooms, which I replaced with a host of other vegetables — fennel, turnips, parsnips, leeks, carrots and a large quantity of spinach stirred in at the end. The spinach, in particular, is crucial here, adding a dose of much-needed color and a silky texture. Baby kale works, too, though it may need to be heated for an extra minute or so to soften.

Using more vegetables than usual makes it possible to cut back on the barley without letting the beef dominate. And using a bit less barley also encourages brothiness. This is because barley grains are like little sponges, absorbing liquid as the soup sits. So what may seem like a perfectly liquid soup when you first make it inevitably thickens after a few hours, especially if it’s been in the fridge. But just stir in some water or broth when you heat it up, and it will be good to go.

NYT > Food