Q. "My husband accuses me of not fighting fair and using 'drama queen' tactics. How can I handle our arguments better, so he doesn't get so wounded and mad at me?"
A. In the midst of a heated debate, my husband once declared, "Shannon, you'd make a great lawyer!" It wasn't a compliment. Sadly, he recognized that winning was far more important to me than understanding his feelings.
Learning to fight fair is one of the best ways we can show respect for each other. The goal of any disagreement should be to understand each other's feelings and strive toward an amiable compromise. With that goal in mind, let's consider …
9 Below-the-belt Tactics to Avoid:
- Dragging others into the argument ("Well, my mom says …");
- Giving the silent treatment;
- Yelling or crying to get your way;
- Spewing destructive criticism ("You suck the joy out of everything!");
- Using sarcasm;
- Issuing threats and ultimatums;
- Getting defensive;
- Using buzz words (always, never, hate, divorce);
- Expecting him to read your mind.
You and your husband need to set productive ground rules for fairer fights:
Establish a proper time and place to hash things out, then limit the discussion to one topic. No dredging up old issues.
Express your emotions calmly. It's better to say, "I felt angry when you did this" than to rip his head off and scream down his neck.
Validate his feelings. He has a right to them, just as you have a right to yours. Rather than responding, "I can't believe you feel that way!" consider, "I may not understand your pain, but I'm sorry I caused it."
Remember that a winner doesn't need to emerge from every disagreement. With unity as your main goal, agree to disagree when necessary without letting it dampen the relationship.
Conflict isn't a bad thing. The important issue is making sure you handle it in a healthy way. In other words, communicate calmly, seek to understand, strive toward unity, and come out intimately connected. Then you'll remain Mrs. Right rather than Mrs. Always-Has-to-Be-Right.
His Higher Libido
Q. "My husband wants sex a lot more often than I do. Why can't he just be happy with once a week like normal people?"
A. Newsflash Each person's sexuality is as unique as their fingerprint, so there's no such thing as "normal" when it comes to the human sex drive.
Many men think about sex dozens of times a day, and that's just before lunch. This doesn't make them animals, but merely healthy, high-functioning sexual males. These men spell love "s-e-x." Physical connection equals relational security. Lack of physical connection equals relational insecurity. This is just how God wired men, and women hold tremendous power to affirm their husband's sexuality rather than make them feel abnormal. As one wife sympathized, "If I don't clean, he can hire a maid. If I don't cook, he can go to McDonald's. But if I don't meet his sexual needs, where can he go?"
Indeed, God created marriage as the place where we can meet our sexual needs in healthy and holy ways. If your sex drive is lagging behind his, consider the power of the "Big O" hormone—oxytocin. When we're touched tenderly, oxytocin is released, causing us to feel connected, which makes us crave more. If we aren't releasing this hormone regularly, however, we may feel an overwhelming temptation to withdraw emotionally and physically, creating a downward spiral.
So a great remedy for not feeling like you want to be touched is to touch anyway. Go through the actions, and your feelings quickly catch up. Oxytocin production ensures this will be the case. I'd never be so cold as to say to any woman, "Just get over it, and get naked," but you do the math. One naked, oxytocin-producing man plus one naked, oxytocin-producing woman equals one intimately connected couple.
Shannon Ethridge, M.A. is the best-selling author of numerous books including the Every Woman's Battle series and The Sexually Confident Wife. She lives in east Texas with her husband and two teenage children.
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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