Marriage Blues >>
Sorting Out Marital Issues

It's probably true that more men like to watch sports, while more women like to shop. That men like to build, while women like to decorate. And we can probably just accept these differences. But why settle for simple understanding when you can actually utilize these distinctions to enhance your love connection?

Sorting Marriage Issues To do this, start out by viewing male and female preferences not merely as differences to be understood, but as analogies that you can use as a vehicle to build closeness. Consider these three aspects of your relationship, and the gender differences for each:

Issue - Likes and Preferences

Sorting Marriage Issues
After work he likes to collapse in the den and watch TV news or sports for hours. She prefers to get into her pajamas and lay on their bed watching her show.

Solution - Likes and Preferences

Sorting Marriage Issues The next time your partner is engaged in one of his or her "likes," avoid getting annoyed or irritated. Instead, think about your analogous "like," then say something like, "You really love hanging out and relaxing in the den, donıt you? Thatıs the way I feel about the getting into my pajamas and collapsing on our bed."

Though your partner may just grunt at you ("Yeah, OK," or "That's nice"), in a very subtle way youıve started to grease the skillet for more friendly, relaxed conversation. This is due to the fact that youıve slipped in understanding, acknowledgment and acceptance -- all of which can slip away unnoticed from a relationship if you donıt make an effort to retain them.

Sorting Marriage Issues
Compare the result of this positive exchange with that of saying, "So, I guess youıre just going to stay glued to the tube down here! Well, that certainly puts an early end to our evening together!"

Issue - Fears and Resentments

Sorting Marriage Issues When discussions heat up and begin to turn into debates on their way to verbal wars, he starts to shut down. He pulls away, ends the conversation and begins to avoid her. She, on the other hand, pushes harder for an answer -- or at least a response. And the more he pulls away, the more she pumps up the intensity.

Solution - Fears and Resentments

Sorting Marriage Issues The next time you are feeling one of your "resentments," say something like, "I was just thinking how much it bothers me when you donıt give me a clear answer. Then I start acting resentful toward you as if youıre being sneaky. But you probably feel just as bothered by me when I raise my voice and start acting pushy and intrusive. Isnıt that so? What do you think we both could do to become less sensitive to those things?" Few partners will refuse such a gracious invitation to improve a relationship.

Issue - Making Love vs. Having Sex

Sorting Marriage Issues He likes sex. She likes love-making. Or, by the time couples become middle aged, the situation may be reversed -- she may now feel that she has the right to sexual fulfillment, while he may feel on the downside of his virility and just be seeking her affection.

Solution - Making Love vs. Having Sex

If you are the woman, say to your guy, "When we rush through sex, I donıt get a chance to develop my feelings. Instead of warming up to you, I get turned off and become cold inside." Then look your guy in the eye and say with firmness instead of anger, "And I donıt think you have any idea how scary it is for me to feel ice cold toward the man I love. Now do you have better understanding of why I like to ease into sex?"

Sorting Marriage Issues If you are the guy, say, "I know sex is about closeness and intimacy, but it's also sometimes about getting some immediate relief from the tremendous tension and stress at work and in other parts of my life. If we make and take the time to have sex, complete with the love-making that makes us feel closer, would it be OK to have an occasional 'quickie' just to relieve stress?" Most female partners will agree to this as long as their mate keeps his promise to mix-and-match love-making done for closeness with sex done for release.

When confronting your own relationship's gender differences, remember to use an analogy. If you can't come up with one, share with your partner the analogies described in the above scenarios. Then ask him or her to come up with one for the feeling or situation about which youıre trying to communicate.

Whatever words you come up with, just going through the process of this exercise will improve the connection between you and your partner.