,

What to Do When You Disagree With Your Spouse

These steps can help you manage the tension.

Ever had the same old fight over and over? Do you wonder why, or what in the world you can do about it? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is, disagreeing with your spouse is normal. The bad news? According to Dr. John Gottman’s research, 69% of problems in relationships are perpetual or unsolvable. Couples will return to these issues over and over again in their relationship. These are often grounded in fundamental differences between two people: differences in personalities, needs, or expectations. 

So, what do we do if all our problems can’t be solved like the fairy tales taught us? Gottman suggests creating a dialogue around them instead of attempting to solve them.

Sometimes, disagreements can bring a couple closer together. The key is how you and your spouse handle it when you disagree. Successful couples learn and grow together through difficult times. 

Here are some steps to take when you disagree with your spouse:

1. Don’t avoid the issue.

Disagreements are best handled when you acknowledge they exist. If you’ve been married more than a minute, you’ve probably run into a disagreement or two. Let’s be honest: Planning a wedding is full of disagreements, so why would we expect marriage to be different? If the best way to navigate disagreements is to create a dialogue, it’s best not to avoid them.

The more you practice managing your disagreements, the better you can stay connected and engaged as you navigate them.

2. Listen.

Becoming a good listener is essential if you want to maintain a healthy relationship. Far too often, people listen to respond, but the key is to listen to understand. Listen to your spouse’s viewpoint. Ask questions, don’t interrupt, and seek clarity. Good listening skills will help you recognize those perpetual issues. (READ The Art of Communication for more great info!)

3. Practice empathy.

According to U.C. Berkeley researchers Levenson and Ruef, empathy is the ability to accurately detect the emotional information being transmitted by another person. But empathy isn’t just understanding how they feel; it goes a step further. Empathy is an action. It’s feeling what your spouse feels. Don’t worry too much if you struggle with empathy, because it’s a skill you can learn.

4. Be respectful.

A common theme in our house is that everyone deserves to be treated with honor, dignity, and respect – not because of anything they have done but just because of who they are. This starts with our marriage. When you disagree, attack the problem, not the person.

We’re all individuals with our own opinions. Be careful not to belittle your spouse just because they don’t see eye to eye with you. Remember, we grow through our differences.

5. Seek a resolution.

People often say, “Let’s just agree to disagree.” That can be a great thing in marriage. Suppose your disagreement is due to a perpetual issue. In that case, you won’t find a resolution, but you may be able to compromise. You can agree that it’s okay to disagree and seek a compromise you both can live with.

Brush up on those negotiation skills and meet each other in the middle.

The goal of managing a disagreement isn’t to win. It’s to understand each other and find a mutually beneficial solution. Marriage is a partnership of two imperfect people choosing to build a life together and move toward each other throughout the journey. You’re going to disagree with your spouse, but you can use those disagreements to grow closer together.

Sources:

How to Improve Your Relationships With Effective Communication Skills

How Successful Couples Resolve Conflicts

Managing Conflict: Solvable vs. Perpetual Problems

I have been a resentful spouse. My spouse has also resented me. Coming up on 28 years of marriage, my wife and I have five children, and we’ve seen it all. From socks that never made it to the hamper, to financially disastrous decisions, to weaponized sex, to disagreements about parenting, to not getting simple tasks done around the house, to navigating personality quirks. And did I mention infidelity? Yup, infidelity.

There are tons more examples, big and little. It’s not a contest. Whatever brought you to this blog is the biggest thing in your world. Nobody is dealing with resentment exactly the same way you are. But no matter why or how you arrived at this blog, resentment is a tumor in your marriage, and without proper treatment, it will keep growing.

Tumor?! Why would I refer to resentment with your spouse as a tumor? Resentment is a negative emotion that builds up over time. If you don’t deal with it, it will poison more and more of your relationship. It will come to dominate your marriage, making romance, compassion, and intimacy all but impossible. And the sooner you catch it, the easier it will be to treat.

Resentment cannot be taken lightly, but it does have a relatively straightforward solution. Each spouse will have to communicate – probably in a series of conversations. Each will have to express themselves appropriately and honestly. And each will have to listen to the other in good faith. The goal is to compromise and implement a plan. The plan will no doubt be revisited and modified. Resentment should yield resilience

Compromise and a Plan

The beauty of compromise and a plan is that they’re tangible and measurable. Ideally, as you see your spouse working toward compromise and following the plan, you can be confident. Perhaps confident enough to let go of some resentment and rekindle that spark you once felt. And when your spouse feels that spark, it’ll feed their efforts. Watch that positive cycle go!

So how can you put together a plan and work toward compromise? Here’s a 6-step process you can use as a guide. This isn’t an end-all-be-all on how to stop resentment. But instead, use these steps to help guide you and your spouse toward a compromise and a plan you both agree on that works for your relationship.

A Plan for Working Through Resentment With Your Spouse

1. Catch it early.

It’s much easier to manage and process through resentment before it builds.

2. Communication is everything.

This assumes you feel safe communicating in your marriage. You might need an older, wiser mentor couple. You might need a therapist or counselor. And you might need to establish some rules:

  • Each person gets to speak uninterrupted for 10 minutes. 
  • Try to separate the person from the behavior. 
  • Use “I” statements: I feel, I need, I’m hurting. 
  • Don’t escalate with volume, tone, sarcasm, or words meant to just inflict hurt.
  • Focus on being a good listener. Remember your body language.

3. The source of the resentment in your marriage needs to be front and center.

  • “When you do _____ it makes me feel _____.”
  • “I’m having a hard time moving past _____.”
  • “I don’t think you understand how much _____ hurt me.”
  • “We’ve talked about changing _____, but it hasn’t changed.”

4. Compromise is the goal. Both spouses need to win so the marriage wins.

5. Develop a plan for handling the situation(s) in the future. Write it down.

  • Think through different scenarios and have a plan for them.
  • Set goals.
  • The plan is the accountability and enforcement, not the spouse.
  • You can always revisit the plan and modify it where necessary.

6. Last but not least, start again with a clean slate. In good faith, you move forward.

The clean slate is going to be the hardest part. You’re hurt and you’re defensive. You’re in survival mode. Trust may have been broken. But if you really want to deal with resentment in your marriage, you have to move forward in good faith, with patience, believing the best, and extending grace. And hopefully, you will watch the downward spiral of resentment slowly stop as the positive emotions pick up some momentum.

For my wife and I, we’ve gone so far as to say, “THAT marriage is over. We start a new marriage TODAY.”

Other blogs:

6 Tips for a “Til Death Do Us Part” Marriage

Infidelity and Forgiveness

How to Divide Household Chores Fairly in Marriage

Is It Good To Fight In Marriage?

I think one partner in every marriage has heard or thought the phrase, “You don’t care.” I’ve learned to interpret that in my own marriage like this: I’m not showing any compassion. 

Compassion is where empathy meets action.

It’s the difference between caring and showing care. You want your spouse to know you can feel their pain, and you’re willing to do something about it. And studies show that you’re better off for showing compassion whether your spouse acknowledges it or not.

Do you want to be more compassionate to your spouse? Sure you do! Here are some tips.

Put your energy into understanding.

Compassion starts with listening for understanding. Listen, not for how you can fix it or be right, but to understand your spouse’s thoughts, emotions, and desires. The Gottman Institute’s research tells us, “Most of the time, when your mate (or anyone) comes to you with an issue that has made them upset, they don’t immediately ask for advice. They are silently asking for your understanding and compassion. They want to feel that you are on their side.”

Action: Respond in a way that demonstrates you understand or that you want to better understand. Avoid trying to fix the issue.

Step outside of yourself.

Things affect people differently. You may not react to disappointment, pain, or betrayal the way your spouse would. If you respond differently than your spouse, try laying your preferences down and allowing your spouse to be true to themselves. Accept them as they are and support them.

Action: Validate your spouse through words, physical affection, and comfort. 

Never forget: your spouse is human, too.

He’s your husband. She’s your wife. The parent of your children. Your knight in shining armor. Your queen. All that may be true. But they are also a person with emotions, ups and downs, disappointments, and unrealistic expectations at times. They make mistakes, and they might have a lapse in judgment here or there. In other words, we all have our imperfections. Treating a spouse as though they shouldn’t make mistakes will block compassion.

Action: Give your partner space to be human. Give them grace when things don’t go their way. Avoid placing unrealistic expectations of perfection on them. Don’t treat them like a title: husband/wife, parent, provider. Instead, treat them like they’re your favorite human on the planet.

Stop what you’re doing and go “all-in.”

Sometimes when your spouse is having a difficult time, you have to just turn the TV off. Silence those cell phone notifications. Cancel a social outing. Remind your spouse that the world can go on, but right now, “my world is stopping until you get what you need from me.” Do this before there’s a panic attack, nervous breakdown, or an explosion of pent-up anger.

Action: Ask, “What do you need from me at this very moment?”

Be helpful.

Each of you brings different strengths and tendencies to the relationship. Our tendencies can sometimes leave us vulnerable to mistakes. For instance, your go-getter spirit can cause you to overcommit your time, which causes stress. Your kindness can allow others to take advantage of you. You often have the choice to criticize or be compassionate toward your spouse. 

Criticism will help point out all their “flaws.” Compassion will look for ways to cover their blind spots.

Action: Be the spouse that recognizes blind spots. And with a generous spirit, help fill the gaps. For example, be the friend to your spouse that they are to others. Do a little more housework when your spouse is stressed. 

Pillow talk and morning coffee…

Compassion is at its best when we intimately know the recipient of our compassion, a.k.a. spouse. We don’t learn them through osmosis. Sometimes the only way to get the answer to being more compassionate is to talk about it. This is the perfect kind of conversation to have at night while lying in bed.

Action: Give your spouse undivided attention before bedtime or during morning coffee. Ask, “What does the word compassion mean to you?” What does compassion look like to you? What do I do that makes you feel cared for or understood?”

Sometimes we can be our kindest, most understanding selves toward strangers, but I’m here to tell you: it should be the other way around. The ones closest to us should be the first recipients of our compassion. Admittedly, it takes intentionality. Remember that your favorite human is the one you said “I do” to. And now that you remember it, treating them like it will help them believe they really are your favorite.

Sources:

Tis’ Better to Give, To Your Spouse

Expressing Compassion and Empathy

MOST POPULAR LINKS ON TOPIC:

The Most Important Quality in a Marriage Is…

30 Ways to be a More Compassionate Spouse

7 Tips on How to Communicate With Your Spouse In a More Compassionate Way

,

5 Tips To Keep Sex Healthy In Your Marriage

Build intimacy, connect and do life well together.

How’d you get stuck in a sex rut? It’s just life. It’s normal and to be expected. More importantly, how do you get out? You know, fun, passionate, surprising, and playful sex!

Here are some tips to keep sex healthy, hot, and happenin’ in your marriage.

1. Talk About Sex. 

This is the gateway right here. Many people just aren’t comfortable talking about sex with their spouse. Create an environment where it’s safe for both of you to be honest and vulnerable about your sexual thoughts and feelings. Easier said than done? Probably. 

Here You Go:

Option 1. Make a game out of it. Sexual Truth Or Dare

Option 2. The internet. Is full of questions. To help couples. Get talking. About sex.

Pro-Tip: Keep it positive. No complaining. No judgments. Take turns listening.

2. But What About The Kids?

Isn’t it ironic that you (typically) have kids by having sex, but by having kids, it’s harder to have sex? Again, totally normal, but Kids-In-The-House-Sex: Quick. Muffled. Vanilla. It’s like Splenda. Sure, it’s sweet, but it’s not that pure raw sugar.

The Workaround:

Option 1. Hotel Sex. It doesn’t have to be a vacation or your anniversary. It can be because it’s Thursday and you have a babysitter. You don’t even have to go out of town or somewhere nice. Make it part of the family budget. Best money you’ll spend. Repeat a couple of times a year.

Option 2. Stay-At-Home Synchronized Sick Days. Or take vacation days. Go through your typical morning routines and dress for work. Take the kids to school or daycare like a typical weekday. Nothing going on here. Then meet back at the house. Take your time. It’s not all about sex. Talk through some “get to know you” questions. Go for a walk, then shower together. Have a great day of which sex is just a part.

Pro-Tip: Tell your spouse to take such and such day off. (Don’t tell them why. Plan a fun day.)

3. Don’t Have Sex. Yet.

Anticipation is a powerful stimulant. 

Wait For It:

Option 1. Agree to have sex in 24 hours. Spend that time flirting. Leaving love letters. Texting what you’re looking forward to doing. Engaging in some non-sexual touch. Teasing. Then, finally, pleasing.

Option 2. Same as above, but 72 hours. (Yup.) Crank up that sexual tension. Enjoy it. Don’t neglect the biggest human sexual organ — the mind. Have some great conversations. Do some fun things together. Strengthen your bond. Talk about your relationship.

Pro-Tip: Put your energy into connecting with your spouse in non-sexual ways. Pressure, or wondering if sex is on the table, is off the table. (But you know it’s coming.) Get emotionally intimate in the meantime. When you do connect sexually, it will be more profound.

4. Roll Play.

Equipment Needed: Two dice. You. Your spouse.

The Roll Rules:

Option 1. First dice: (1.) Caress. (2.) Kiss. (3.) Tickle. (4.) Lick. (5.) Nibble. (6.) Roller’s Choice. Second dice: (1.) Neck. (2.) Hands. (3.) Mouth. (4.) Chest. (5.) Tummy. (6.) ???

Roll the dice, feel something nice. Time limit per roll? Hey, this is your game.

Option 2. (I think you can see how this game lends itself to modification.) 

Pro-Tip: Roller with the highest score after 4 rounds gets to “make a request.”

5. Play Doctor.

Sorry, not THAT playing doctor. Have weekly or monthly “check-ups” or “check-ins.” Coming full circle, talking about it is the best way to improve sex and keep it healthy in your marriage. Connecting on levels beyond the physical enhances sex. Connected couples who talk about sex have more satisfying sex lives. Talk honestly about your sexual health. Discuss sexual frequency. Talk about what’s working and what might need to be modified. 

Don’t turn to the internet with questions like, “How much sex should couples have?” Turn to your spouse. Sex is best when you don’t just focus on “doing it,” but doing life well together. 

Other helpful blogs:

How Often Should We Have Sex?

7 Questions Every Couple Needs to Ask Each Other to Improve Their Sex Life

3 Ways Good Communication Can Enhance Sex In Marriage

4 Reasons Why Sex Matters In Marriage

,

What Does It Mean to Put Your Spouse First?

It starts with a desire to see them happy, at peace, and connected.

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. The Puzzled Look on my daughter’s face turned to a smile, and then came the proverbial rolling of the eyes (and that’s a good thing).

Here’s the conversation:

Daughter: You’re really not going to be at our basketball game Saturday? (Said with disbelief.)

Me: Nope. I’m taking my wife (who happens to be your mother) on a marriage retreat.

Daughter: Can’t y’all go anytime?

Me: Doesn’t matter. We’re going this weekend. What you worried about? 

Daughter: Nothing. I just… (Shrugs her shoulders.)

Me: If anyone asks where your parents are, just say, “At a marriage retreat acting married.”

Daughter: (Rolls the eyes.)

Me: Don’t worry. We love you, and we hope you play well. But I love that fine-looking queen of mine more.

Daughter: (Walks away smiling, rolling her eyes, and I’m guessing, processing what’s just happened.)

She’s witnessing me putting her mother, a.k.a. my spouse, ahead of her. 

What does it mean to put your spouse first? 

It doesn’t mean that you miss every sporting event, never hang out with friends, or never work overtime. It starts with the heart. And your actions and thoughts will reflect the contents of your heart.

A priority is something we treat or rank as more important. Putting your spouse first above work, children, hobbies, birth family, or other responsibilities means prioritizing your spouse. It doesn’t mean we neglect work, abandon our children or don’t do the things we love. It means that we make sure our spouse knows that we value them more than we value all those other “good” things. 

Here are some ways you can demonstrate that you prioritize your spouse.

Ask Before You Make Plans

When making plans and decisions (particularly ones that affect where you spend your time, money, and energy), ask your spouse for their thoughts and opinions. This shows that you don’t want to do things that may negatively affect your spouse or marriage.

Example: Your co-workers are going out for drinks after work. You want to go. 

Prioritizing Your Spouse:

  1. Call to tell your spouse the situation.
  2. Ask how they feel about it. “What are your thoughts?”
  3. Ask how it will affect the rest of the day. “Anything happening that this will change?”
  4. Understand that turning down the offer may be the best move for your marriage.

Message Sent: Asking shows your spouse that he or she matters. Their feelings matter. How your decisions or plans affect them matters.

Pay Attention to Your Spouse’s Needs

Your husband’s or wife’s needs come first. That’s where your strongest commitment is. Be aware of how easy it is to want to help everyone else and think your spouse can handle everything themselves.

Example: It’s nearing your kids’ bedtime. They’re fussy, whiny, and being difficult. You’re having a deep, meaningful phone conversation, helping a friend.

Prioritizing Your Spouse: 

Tell your friend, “I know this is important, but it’s bedtime, and I need to jump in and help get these kids down. Let me call you back.”

Message Sent: You have your spouse’s back. Even though your friend has a pressing issue, so did your mate. You just demonstrated where your priorities lie. Jumping to help fix everyone’s problem and only helping your spouse when it’s convenient shows they aren’t the priority. We want our spouse to be the first one we support, not the last.

Consider the Impact on Your Spouse

After marriage, your life isn’t just about you. Significant changes affect you both. Be upfront with your spouse about changes and let them prepare for how it will affect them.

Example: A major project will require you to work overtime and use a lot of mental energy.

Prioritizing Your Spouse: 

Address it head-on from the moment you sense this is a major time-consuming project. Tell your spouse about the overtime and potential stress. You might say, “I don’t want you to feel neglected. As soon as it’s over, we can make up for some lost time, if you know what I mean.”

Message Sent: You’ve considered the impact on your spouse and shown some vulnerability. You’ve recognized what you will lose and indicated a desire to gain it back because you’d rather be with your spouse than work all those extra hours. 

Couples experience different seasons. You may both have heavy work seasons and superactive kids’ seasons where you feel like taxicabs. Dealing with sick family members can also pull lots of time away. 

Putting your spouse first starts with a desire to see them happy, at peace, and connected. 

That’s what my daughter took away from us missing her basketball game. 

Interestingly, research shows that putting your spouse first provides the security, comfort, and stability that helps children thrive. And, when couples put each other first, it sets the stage for a fantastic relationship where each person feels loved, supported, and secure.

OTHER HELPFUL BLOGS:

When your relationship has a high level of emotional intimacy, you share your feelings, needs, fears, successes, and failures knowing you will continue to be loved and cared for by your partner.

Building strong intimacy in your marriage can give your marriage the satisfying fulfillment you desire. 

Here are 6 exercises to strengthen emotional intimacy in your marriage:

1. Do something new and engaging together. 

  • Prepare new, exotic meals together from beginning to end. Search recipes for some cuisine the two of you would like to try. Together, buy the groceries, prepare the meal, and of course, eat together. 
  • Learn a new language together. Focus on learning relationship-specific words that will help you express appreciation, be affectionate, and flirt.
  • Create a marriage bucket list and then get started on completing your list.

Research shows that doing new activities can reignite the passion in your relationship. They help the two of you experience challenges, successes, and failures together. You’re able to see each other’s authentic self without the pressure of being perfect. 

2. Show affection. 

  • Each day, give each other a deep, passionate kiss for at least 20 seconds. Your body will release chemicals in your brain helping you to increase the connection between you. (We aren’t responsible for whatever happens next.😉 )
  • Each day, give each other a great big hug for a minimum of 20 seconds. This has a similar effect of increasing the bond and connectedness. Just good, old-fashioned affection.
  • Cuddle. Yes, that simple. Cuddle and rest in each other’s presence.

3. Do marriage enrichment together. 

All are good ways you can invest in your marriage to help you share, grow closer to each other and strengthen emotional intimacy.

4. Make time to talk.

  • Practice focused, uninterrupted talking and listening. Take 15-30 minutes each day to share whatever is on your heart. Your one goal is to make sure that each of you feels heard and understood. Some days the conversation may be a rundown of the day. Other days you may each reveal deeper levels of transparency and vulnerability. 
  • Be curious. Ask each other questions. Be vulnerable and transparent as you share your thoughts. Increase your intimacy with these 200 conversation starters for couples
  • Set aside regular time to connect. Dr. Linda Duncan, a marriage researcher and Professor Emeritus at Tarleton State University, shares that couples can build intimacy by intentionally connecting at four distinct points throughout their day: 1. When you wake up. 2. Before you depart for the day. 3. When you reconnect after work/school. 4. As you go to bed. 

How you connect at each of these four moments can have a tremendous impact on the intimacy within your relationship. “Connecting” can be as simple as getting your spouse a cup of coffee and saying “Good morning,” giving them a kiss goodbye, and saying “I love you,” giving them a hug when they get home, and some pillow talk before saying “goodnight.”

5. Celebrate your togetherness

  • Stroll down memory lane, revisit memorable date nights, or look at pictures and videos while reminiscing on the experiences you’ve shared. 
  • Take 15 minutes to exchange genuine compliments or express appreciation for each other.

6. Make the most of pillow talk

  • Eliminate the tech devices and potential distractions. Invest that time into one another. 
  • Give kids a bedtime or at least a quiet time when they are in their rooms for the night leading up to bedtime.
  • Share with each other how they can make you feel safe, cherished, and valued.
  • Talk about what arouses each of you.

Each of these 6 exercises on their own may not strengthen your emotional intimacy. However, if you do these with a heart of gratitude and appreciation toward your partner and you make them a habit, you’ll begin to feel closer and more connected. You’ll find yourself sharing more of yourself and getting to know your partner more fully. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

DISCOVER DEEPER INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

Does this describe anyone you know? Avoids conflict at all costs. Hates when someone is mad at them. Shuts down when emotions get intense. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to describe your spouse. I was describing myself. Though I justify the behavior sometimes, I know it’s not healthy. I know it affects my marriage in so many negative ways.

Since your spouse and I have a lot in common, let me give you some tips on how to deal with a spouse who can’t handle conflict.

Look at yourself first.

Are you combative? Is winning the conflict more important to you than the relationship? Do you approach every small issue like it’s a big deal? You may have come from a family where everyone fussed, cussed, and discussed while your spouse may be more reserved. Create a safe, nonjudgmental space to discuss differing opinions. It’s important that both of you are heard, valued, and respected. 

Tone of Voice Matters.

Yelling, screaming, and an overly aggressive tone will lead to your spouse shutting down. Express your thoughts and emotions with your words and a quieter intensity. That way, you’re better able to focus on the issue.

Ask, “When is a good time to talk about this issue?

Some conflict-avoidant people experience anxiety just engaging in disagreements. Give your spouse the opportunity to mentally address their anxiety, get their thoughts together, and enter the conversation with a more relaxed mindset.

If your spouse says something like, “I don’t want to talk about this right now,” don’t hear that they don’t want to talk to you. Instead, keeping in mind that tone of voice matters, ask when is a good time? Your spouse will feel respected while you’re getting a commitment to address the issue. 

Be Patient.

Your spouse continually has internal battles. Their desire is to engage wholeheartedly and resolve the conflict versus their tendency to shut down, become defensive, or stonewall. Where you may be much better at communicating your thoughts, emotions, and wants, your spouse may bounce back and forth from being defensive to being vulnerable. Revisiting conversations that you thought were resolved isn’t unusual when your spouse is working to do better at engaging in conflict. Be understanding if they share more of themselves in a follow-up conversation. Of course, you’d like them to have shared it the first time, but they may have been more focused on avoiding the conflict than resolving the issue the first time. 

Encourage your spouse to speak first when possible.

People who avoid conflict will often change their thoughts because of what their partner has already said in an effort to keep the peace. Encouraging your spouse to speak first increases the likelihood they will express their true thoughts and desires.

Don’t talk over them or finish their statements.

This sends the message that you don’t respect their perspective or opinion. Your spouse needs to communicate their perspective and not have it done for them.

Start with “I,” not “You.”

Instead of accusing, (You always…) use an “I” statement that reflects your own feelings and subjective experiences. Avoid criticizing your partner, because fights are often not about our partners. They are usually about our feelings and expectations.

Focusing on what you know, think, feel, and want as opposed to making statements about what you believe your spouse knows, thinks, feels, and wants leads to better communication and understanding during conflict.

Together, decide on a plan to deal with conflict.

There are many techniques available. The speaker-listener technique  is a good one. Learning a technique, even though it may not come naturally at first, can help you focus on the issue and the solution while ensuring that both of you feel heard. 

Don’t expect change, but celebrate growth.

Your spouse will most likely never begin to lean into conflict the way you do. It may always be an effort for them to engage in disagreements. By building a track record of resolving issues, being heard, and overcoming their anxieties, they may become more willing to come to the table and work through any disagreements. Affirm and celebrate progress.

You and your spouse are wired differently for a variety of reasons. What you may think is a peaceful conversation or debate may be causing your spouse anxiety because they see it as conflict. Never forget: you’re on the same team. Conflict is inevitable within marriage. Your different personalities are meant to complement one another. It will take effort and time for both of you. Your challenges are different. Patiently loving one another and gently working together to work through the issues you’re sure to face will strengthen your relationship and pass on a healthy legacy to those you influence. 

I’m sixteen years into my marriage and no, I still don’t look forward to conflict. But the understanding my wife and I have for each other has helped us to tackle and resolve some large marriage and family issues TOGETHER. We’re better for it and so is our marriage.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Everyone knows how to do “it,” but few people know the secrets to body-aching, soul-connecting, “I feel closer to you than ever” sex. What if sex wasn’t just doing it? What if sex was more satisfying physically AND emotionally? (Maybe it wouldn’t only be a Saturday night thing?) Here are 10 things EVERY married couple needs to know about sex.

1. Foreplay Begins With Each New Day.

Great sex starts outside the bedroom, long before the first button is unbuttoned. If sex is the high point of how the bodies and emotions of two people become connected—start that connection early and often, without expecting sex (or anything) in return.

Connect Emotionally: Listen, share feelings, do the dishes, help with the kids, don’t nag, give a sincere compliment, say “thank you.”

Connect Physically: Hold hands, give a quick shoulder rub, sit with your arms around each other. (In other words, sex shouldn’t be the only time you touch.)

2. Do Your Sex Homework.

  • Know what turns you on!
  • Know what turns your spouse on!
  • What kills sex dead for you?
  • What kills sex dead for your spouse?
  • Talk with your spouse about these questions. 

(This takes the guesswork out of sex.) 

3. Talk About Sex.

Talk about your sex life, what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’d like to try. Do some things make you uncomfortable? Are there things your spouse could do that might make sex better? What brings you sexual fulfillment? How often would you each like to have sex?

(This DISCOVER INTIMACY TOOLKIT can get those conversations started.)

4. New Is For You!

Keep sex fresh and adventuresome! Excite your partner by doing the unexpected. Don’t approach sex in the same way or do the same things in the same place! That’ll leave you and your spouse bored, unsatisfied, and in a rut.

5. Expectations Are Everything.

People are wired differently—that includes libidos. Sexual interest can be affected by stress, fatigue, medication, season of life, and problems in other parts of the relationship. Some people need to connect emotionally before they can connect sexually. Some people need to connect sexually before they can connect emotionally. Communication is the key!

6. Sometimes, Focusing On Having More Sex Will Get You Less.

Remember, sex is not an end in itself. Sex is a means to an end. The “end” is deeper intimacy, a stronger connection, and a healthier relationship. Focusing on other ways to increase intimacy, strengthen your connection, and grow your relationship frequently results in more sex! Nothin’ wrong with that!

  • What are three activities that make you feel close to each other?   
  • When do you feel closest and most connected to your spouse? 
  • When do you feel most loved?

7. Sex = Give & Take!

Sometimes, you might not have sex when your spouse doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes, you might have sex when you don’t feel like it. Understanding this and respecting each other will set the stage for some great sex! Sex shouldn’t be transactional. Sex should be intimate and treasured. When sex is “weaponized” or becomes a demand or entitlement—you’re not gonna have a good time. (If that’s frequently the situation, talk about it or get help from a counselor.)

8. A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action!

When you finally have time alone, talking about finances, kids or in-laws can kill the mood. Don’t get me wrong—there are important marriage and family things to talk about. But if you want to get down to the business of love, leave those conversations for another time and take time to enjoy each other.

9. Keep Sex Fun and Playful

Sex is serious business, but if it feels more like work than fun, it’s less likely to happen! Playing together helps you associate fun and good vibes with your spouse, and that’s a good thing. Little things like winking at each other, using that signal that says, “Let’s go somewhere private,” or flat-out flirting can do wonders. Perhaps you’ve seen the TikToks where people simply walk into the room in their birthday suit while their spouse is playing video games. That’s an attention-getter for sure. And there’s always strip poker…

10. Less Stress = More Sex

The things that take up your mental and physical energy can impact whether you’re in the mood for love. Helping each other out can lighten the load and make you feel more like a connected team. So that means getting that to-do list done in half the time by working together frees you up for a little party later on. (Note: Sex can also relieve stress, too!) Give these four little magic words a try: How. Can. I. Help. Then watch what happens.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com