Build a fort. Start talking.

Inside the fort.

Without exception, every breakup story I hear has to do with a breakdown in communication.

A while back I wrote a post urging couples to supervise their relationships. Have scheduled talks that I call “The Huong Phat.”

While this concept freaks out most every man I know, my response is “so what?” Would you rather open your eyes one morning to see your girlfriend sitting on the edge of the bed shedding tears because, to your surprise, she is about to throw the breakup bomb at you?

Yes, it can feel intimidating to carve out time to talk about your relationship. Why open a can of worms? Because, like it or not, those worms have already made nests in the crevices of your mind.

When two people get together, they create a third wheel called “the relationship.” The relationship has a life of its own and wants attention or it gets cranky and mean. Suck it up and talk to your partner about important issues before they become problems. Give them a place to air out and breathe.

Turn the intimidation into intrigue.

Build a fort and have your Huong Phat inside. Your fort is a judgment-free, respectful, safe zone where anything can be said or done.

The first time, make your Huong Phat fun and light. Ease your way into the concept of scheduling time to hang out in the zone. You might talk about a future vacation … or recount sexy moments from your past. It’s a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

If you need to address serious matters, learn how to start a difficult conversation here.

As a kid, didn’t you build forts with walls made out of sofa cushions and blankets so you could have a private place to go for secret meetings? I did, and those feelings of being on my own planet came rushing back the moment I stepped inside the fort my boyfriend (at the time) built for me as a surprise using found objects from my living room. We felt closer to each other as soon as we entered the cozy space. Once inside, we had an overdue and meaningful talk about our relationship (which surprised me and led to a memorable amorous tryst).

Do not underestimate the safe and intimate feelings inspired by a cozy and comfortable space. The outcome is usually unexpected and welcome.

It is easier to leave your mundane troubles behind when you walk into your own private space. Consider it a stay-at-home getaway.

You don’t need a fort to talk. You do, however, need a special place and regularly scheduled times to talk about your relationship. The Huong Phat is preventative medicine to help keep your relationship healthy and thriving.

How to Build Your Huong Phat Fort

This is the makeshift fort I just created at my friend’s house using the couch, floor lamps, and other fort-like items I found:

Entry to the fort.Closed entry to the fort.The structure I used for the fort.

After you build the first fort, it is easy to rebuild.

For an instant fort for time-sensitive folks, get a pop-up tent, then throw sofa cushions and pillows on the floor, hang scarves from the ceiling (you want that harem tent feeling), and bring in a soft-light lamp or flameless candles.

House items to consider using: the couch, couch cushions, floor lamps, shoji screen, large sheets, shawls, down comforters/throws, sleeping bag, pillows, small, low-light lamps, office binder clips (to clamp the sheets/shawls). Only flameless candles!

Click here to buy everything you might want to build your fort (I searched for lowest priced items that were highest in ambiance).

If it sounds painful to throw sofa cushions on the floor to sit, then build the fort around the couch. Build the ceiling and walls first.

I tack one side of a large sheet to the wall over the couch, tacking it a few feet from the edge so it hangs to form the wall. To create the opposite wall, I clamp the other side of the sheet to floor lamps or a shoji screen (you need something tall). You might clamp on a few shawls to lengthen the walls, depending on how much sheet length you left hanging.


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