My husband and I have been married almost 20 years and, like most long-married couples, we fight over and over about the same things. Just recently, he got discouraged about our relationship because of the fact that we still struggle with the same old issues. I assured him that lots of couples were in the same boat and that our marriage desperation could lead us to marriage restoration. As we talked, we agreed to try a two-step process to rejuvenate our marriage.
1. Accept your “same old” Issues.
Marriage expert Dr. John Gottman says that two-thirds of arguments are “perpetual.” So what can you do about those—just keep arguing? No. First, come up with a list of your go-to fights; are they about money, your mother, sex? As soon as you start arguing about one of these say out loud, “Okay, this is one of our hot-button topics.”
Then, choose to accept that you and your husband can agree to disagree. He feels like you’re not affectionate enough and that you two should have sex twice a week. You’re fine with the affection level and only want sex once a week.
Don’t name call or blame or demand; verbally show your husband you hear him and understand his point of view, “I know you think I could be more affectionate and you’d like sex more. I’m okay with the way things are…”
This is where you both aim to be kind and loving to each other and compromise; that way, you avoid a lose-lose where anger just festers. In this case, it would be, “So if you want sex twice a week and I want it once, how about if one week we have it twice and the next once?”
So you accept that this issue will be ongoing, but you can handle it better each time. As Dr. Gottman says, if the problem is truly unsolvable, it’s better to spend your time compromising than trying to fix the issue once and for all.
2. Commit to a Fresh Start
Your husband has done things to make you unhappy. You’ve done things to make your husband unhappy. You two could spend all day rehashing and blaming, or, you can offer each other a fresh start.
To do this, assume the best about your husband and his intentions. Sure he might get in little digs on purpose sometimes, but overall he probably wants to make you happy. Try to see him as a good guy who messes up sometimes, instead of a loser who gets things right sometimes.
Life is short and it’s a waste of time to stay mired in the hurt and anger from the past. Make today the day you and your husband start fresh. Talk to him about it without accusing him or bringing up his past mistakes. Commit to communicating with kindness and love when problems do arise.
Tell us! How might this two-step process help your marriage?