When Oprah Show viewers wrote in to ask if their daily activities are normal, there was only one man to turn to for answers. As television's straightest shooter, Dr. Phil McGraw isn't afraid to tell it like it is.
One of the biggest questions couples face is how many times a week they should have sex. "There's no right or wrong number," he says "What you have to do is negotiate what works for both of you. And 'negotiate' doesn't mean whining, begging, pouting or guilt-inducing your partner."
Dr. Phil says if both people can agree on the frequency, then that's what's normal for the relationship. "Here's the real key to increasing it. Research says that the average time between when a man thinks, 'Aha! It's time to have sex,' and when he is finished is two and a half minutes," he says. "For women, it's 14 minutes. So that means the guy's got to figure out something to do for 10 or 12 minutes in there or it's not going to be working out very well for her."
To have more sex, Dr. Phil says you also need to limit distractions. "Your sex life goes down 50 percent if you have a TV in your bedroom," he says. "So turn the TV off if you want to increase it."
After being happily married for nine years, Staci and Mark are finally ready to share the secret to their relationship's success. They've been sleeping in separate bedrooms since Staci was pregnant with their first child eight years ago. "I just was so uncomfortable and just needed a lot of room, so I started sleeping upstairs," she says. "After that, I just found that getting a good night's sleep made me such a better person during the day."
Staci and Mark aren't alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, one in four American couples sleep in separate beds. By 2015, the National Homebuilders Association predicts 60 percent of custom-built homes will have two master suites.
Dr. Phil says the arrangement seems to be working for Staci and Mark, but he encourages them to spend time together before and after sleeping. "My concern is what you're missing," he says. "Because when you go to bed at night and you're able to comfort each other and you're cuddling and you're together, then I think that's a really important part of your relationship."
Mark says he and Staci work at having that kind of intimacy. "I will go into her room, or she'll come in my room," he says. "She'll come down into my room in the morning."
A number of viewers have confessed to telling white lies to their children. "I tell my daughter during bath time if she drinks the water, her hair will fall out," a mom named Jessica confesses. "I feel bad."
Dr. Phil says this is a very typical aspect of parenthood. "Robin and I lied to Jay and Jordan. Every time a hamster died, we had to come up with some reason the hamster went to the farm or we got a new hamster and he got a haircut," he says. "I mean you tell [children] things to kind of ease them into the reality of life. So it's normal."
Pam wrote in to find out if her husband Cliff's football habit is a major fumble. "He loves the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he acts like he's a part of the team," she says. "He only works out during football season because he feels like he has to stay in shape in order for the team to win."
Between watching the games live, watching replays of those games and taking in all the commentary, Cliff estimates he watches 40 to 50 hours of football a week. A USA Today poll reveals that the average man watches between three to six hours a week.
Dr. Phil says Cliff's football habit is not normal. "But what really matters, and I think your wife will tell you this, that the important thing is when that game is over, do you go look her in the eye, and say: 'What would you like to do? How can I spend some quality time with you?'" he says. "If you're doing that, she's not going to care whether you're watching football or whether you're not."