Challenge Day 5

Rinse and Repeat!

If despite using your best practiced approach yesterday, there was no agreement or compromise, it’s time to practice a post-mortem discussion.

Many make the mistake of giving up on their dream if this doesn’t go exactly as expected. But the storm is still threatening!

Maybe your wife:

-was caught off guard

-not feeling her best

-felt criticized (even if you said it perfectly 🙂 )

-wanted to discuss something else…

Seriously, have you never handled someone’s request or need in a way you regret? We are all subject to this because we are flawed humans and your wife is no different.

At the same time, your feelings about it all are also legitimate. If your talk went south it’s normal to feel angry, hurt, sad, needy, etc.  Stay aware of these feelings, do not berate yourself for them, bury them or punish your wife for them.  

Remember, the problem is still the problem.  Not you or your wife.

To help you with this let’s recall the formula for getting your needs met  when it’s clear you’re on separate pages from Challenge Day 3.:

We have a problem. I want X and you want Y. How can we resolve this?

Let’s expand on the middle part of this now to read:

Kindly express your need X + Empathically listen to your wife’s need Y. 

Let’s focus on the ‘Kindly and Empathically.’

This means: 

  • fully and  respectively to her need
  • Understanding her need fully
  • Taking her need seriously

It also means:

  • Stating your need gently 
  • Being concise about your need
  • Removing all judgement words when stating your need

What ‘Kindly and Empathically’ doesn’t mean:

  • Agreeing 100% (or at all) if you don’t
  • Pretending to listen by shutting her down or tuning her out
  • Displaying non-verbal negative signs (sighing, eye rolling, jaw clenching etc)
  • Gathering verbal or written evidence to support your need or argue her need
  • Bringing the topic up in a public arena or around other distractions

You and your wife are separate people with different wants, needs, hangups, strengths and backgrounds.  It sometimes takes a while to agree on solutions to a problem so that all parties are satisfied.

To help you be kind to yourself and to empathize with your wife, here are some scientific facts:

  • Men and women’s psychosexual developments are different.  

Women’s develop in the oral phase (1st stage) when babies are focusing on consuming and all the senses that go along with that such as sights smells sounds that favor consuming.  In sum this means women tend to be more focused on the setting of sex.

Men’s develop in the anal phase (2nd stage) when babies are focused on eliminating and all the places and methods that go along with elimination. In sum, this means men tend to be more focused on the act of sex. 

  • Our society tends to condem woman for wanting/having sex and celebrate men wanting/having sex.  No woman has ever high-fived another woman in a locker room for having sex. The word “whore” is always pejorative and the male equivalent “stud” is always complementary. And if you think it’s easy for women to simply rise above this societal view, try walking around with a skirt on one day!

So, neither of you are right or wrong here. You’re just two different people.

Because you’re in love and have a contractual relationship, it’s imperative that you keep working on the problem no matter what that problem is.  

The scale base/arm is cracked, the pans are fine.

The other unspoken part to this formula we need to examine is creating a private time and space to have these discussions.  

I know you know of at least one power couple that fell apart when the kids went off on their own.  They may have looked like the perfect couple and family but guess what? They powered right through their family life without stopping to consider their relationship.  So, all those base/arm problems built up and were too big, or many, to surmount and the whole scale fell apart.  

It’s imperative that you make private time, at least weekly, preferably daily, for you and your wife to consider the relationship and to discuss any problems. Couples who argue or bury a lot tend to avoid this because they are afraid discussions about problems lead to “something bad.” But they need  the space to talk through problems the most, so they don’t become a bigger problem!

This doesn’t have to be something formal, fancy, time-consuming or even devoted to talking.  Here are some ideas:

~My husband and I have coffee and read the paper in bed for thirty minutes every morning before rising. 

~Mr. L, one of my Intimacy Heroes, has breakfast on the porch with his wife every weekend morning for an hour.

~The P’s, my friends, do the dinner dishes and share a glass of wine after the kids are in bed most evenings. 

These private rituals create time to reflect on, and discuss, any potential relationship problems

If your Challenge Day 4 did not end with an agreement then do the following: 

Set up an agreed upon private ritual with your wife today.

Repeat challenge 3 using the expanded formula:

We have a problem. Kindly express your need + Empathically listen to your wife’s need. How can we resolve this/compromise?

Some examples:

I don’t want to argue again, but I need your help resolving this problem so it doesn’t build and destroy our relationship. I told you I need to have more sex with you  and I heard you say you don’t. Can we please discuss a compromise?

I’m sorry our conversation about my need for more sex went off course.  But it’s still a problem between us. I understand this is somehow upsetting to you and I want to understand that better so we can reach a compromise.

The way I told you about my need for more sex did not go as I planned.  I should have said it more kindly and taking into account your need. Can we please revisit this, so we can find a solution together?

If it goes south again, kindly end the conversation and revisit when things are calm again.  Don’t give up until the problem is resolved!

Additional note:

I hope this challenge has given you new tools and insights to increase your intimacy. While I’ve addressed the most common problems on this subject in these five days, I know I couldn’t possibly cover every single problem that’s out there.  

So please, if you are still having problems increasing the intimacy in your relationship, give me a call.  You don’t have to be in Virginia to work with Team Dabney. We have lots of options to help you and we’ll gladly share those with you on a 15 minute call.  

Cheers to you for completing the challenge!

Dr. Laura Dabney

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