The two things couples seem to be most curious about are 1) how to hold their sh*t together in an argument and 2) how to keep the sex and intimacy alive in a long-term, monogamous relationship. The simplest answer to these two queries? Keep your marriage scream-free EXCEPT in the bedroom.
When you are in the middle of World War III (or the next cold war) in your marriage, you are certainly not having scream-filled sex. In fact, the bedroom can be the most boring, most lonely spot in the house for many couples. Why? Because people feel a strong pull towards predictability and comfort in marriage. And great sex is all about novelty and discomfort (although not necessarily pain, unless you’re into that kind of thing).
Keeping Screaming out of Your Marriage isn’t Easy
If managing conflict was easy, the divorce rate wouldn’t be 50% and couples counseling wouldn’t be so frequently sought after. The hardest part of managing conflict is turning the focus from your partner to yourself. Screaming matches are often a blame game. But the truth is that you can only change yourself. Now I know that this is a hard pill to swallow when you’re mad (and justifiably self-righteous) but stay with me here because it’s the recipe for a much better relationship.
First, Calm Yourself Down
Take some deep breaths, count to ten, tell yourself “I love this man/woman,” or whatever else you need to do to hit pause on the rapid-fire thoughts and the runaway train of arguing. After you’ve hit pause, you’ll want to take a step back and think things through. Here is where you try to discern what is REALLY going on. Is this an isolated incident? Or is this a pattern that you two are often in? Very rarely do couples come into my office because of something that happened once. Patterns are what keep us feeling locked in and hopeless.
Second, Own Your Part
What is the pattern that you’ve gotten yourself into? In particular what is your ROLE in the pattern? This is not about blame, it’s about taking responsibility. And next, you want to ask yourself “why?” Why are you taking on this role in the pattern? What is it about you or your past that has led you to doing this? And why does this pattern carry so much emotional weight for you? Again this has NOTHING to do with your partner. Because you are the person who is trying to make a change here. So what is it that you want most? Connection? Support? Feeling like your partner has your back?
Third, Communicate and Connect
Now that you’ve had some (hard) realizations, it’s time to share with your partner what you’ve learned. Again this is about YOU not them. You calmly share what you learned about yourself and what you want most. By doing this, you open up the door for your spouse to do the same.
Hopefully this helps keep screaming out of your marriage. If you’re interested in taking this a step further and seeing how this can help you with sex, intimacy, and having red-hot monogamy, check out my workshop “Fall Back in Love” on Thursday November 16th!