An otherwise deletable email came from the infamous women's mag Redbook today. Like most suckers, I clicked the link to their “How Lying, Flirting (with someone else), and Fighting Can Make You Closer.” Will walking these fine lines have a positive effect on your relationship?

There are only 38 comments to this shock-and-awe piece published at the Redbookmag's website. This is a bit disappointing, since at least 39 things came to mind when skimming through this provocative but slightly shallow “advice” to readers in a long-term relationship. Thinking upon my marriage (and relationships passed), I had to scratch my head. While there was validity in some of the claims, in others there was a nagging doubt that any of it was necessary. Here's the premise behind the piece, and how it could be taken horribly out of context:

Flirting – Author Amy Spencer gives us a few reasons why it is OK for women to flirt with other men. It adds a level of excitement. It can make a man jealous (and that's a good thing?) It also has the opportunity to raise your self-esteem. This could also be a Pandora's Box just waiting to be opened. My rule has always been the Golden Rule (If you wouldn't want your man flirting with other women, do him the same courtesy.) Women have come a long way to not have to define self-esteem by what a horny stranger thinks of them....

Being selfish – The article claims that women owe it to themselves (and their marriage) to be a bit “selfish” from time to time. Expect something from your partner purely for the purpose of meeting your needs. (Last time I checked, this was called “communication,” and it is perfectly acceptable. Whether in matters of the bedroom, or just when you need a break from the kids, I would expect any intelligent woman to ask for what she needs. And I hope she would reciprocate.)

Lying – The article goes on to say that sometimes a lie can be helpful in a relationship. Um, yeah... it's called a “little white lie” and it's similar to telling someone that their baby isn't ugly (when really they are.) Don't hurt your hubby's feelings... even if it means not sharing intimate details of past relationships or being less than frank about his new haircut. Next topic, please.

Whether you loved or hated this article, one thing is for certain. Mutual respect is important in a relationship, and if you are doing anything that would betray that code of ethics, it's probably NOT going to help you get closer to your mate. You might also want to think about the best way to model real grown-up relationship behavior for your kids (would flirting with the FedEx guy accomplish this?)

(Note: This article has comments from December 2007. What does this mean? It wasn't that big of a hit then, and needed to be “reintroduced” to readers via email today – and with a titillating headline, nonetheless.) Ironically, the article closes with a set of old standby's for keeping the love alive (saying “I love you,” keeping physical contact, and letting the petty things go.)

I guess the really good advice doesn't need a racy headline.