By Benjamin Deu, MA, LMHC, Seattle Christian Counseling
References “Intimate Allies” by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III
You and your spouse will fight. This does not necessarily mean you will have screaming matches up and down the hallway; it just means you won’t agree on everything. No two people do. However, you may be able to reduce your number of altercations and how bad they get by being aware of what couples tend to fight about, why they fight about them, and how to deal with these issues.
It is a universally acknowledged truth that in every relationship one partner wants sex more than the other. But that doesn’t mean one of you is sexually deficient or that the other is a sex maniac. It just means you have different preferences. Just as you have different hobby or work interests, you have different opinions about how often to have sex and what to do during it. The trick is learning how to discuss the sexual part of your marriage instead of fight about it.
A lot of times, when couples fight about sex, they are fighting for control. They feel controlled by how much sex their partner wants and how they want it. When there is already a lot of tension in the relationship, sexual conflicts are exacerbated. Spouses may begin to feel sexually steam-rolled by their spouse either wanting too much or too little sex. They feel they can only have sex on their partner’s terms. Marriage problems ensue.
Sexual problems are often rooted in other conflicts in the marriage. If you are not good at compromising outside the bedroom, you will not be good at compromising inside it. Marriage depends on you and your spouse being able to put yourselves second for the sake of your relationship. This is not to say treat yourself like a doormat, rather that you cannot have your way all the time. A successful marriage is like enjoyable sex– some parts of it are asking your partner to do things you like, and some parts of it are doing things because your partner likes them.
“In marital sexuality we gift our spouses with our bodies’ power to bring pleasure to them.” (311) But there may come a time when you no longer want to give your spouse the gift of sexual pleasure. This leads to two scenarios, either you stop sex altogether, or you become so indifferent to one another sexually that sex becomes just another thing you do, like taking out the garbage. (312)
Both of these scenarios are triggers for conflict. Spouses will use their sexual problems as weapons to attack one another’s shortcomings. Don’t do that. If you and your spouse spar over sex, find a Christian marriage counselor in Seattle. A counselor will help you to put your sexual problems into perspective, and recreate the deep, passionate love sex is meant to represent.
2. Limited Time and Money
The stress of finite resources strains spouses. You worry about getting everything done, getting it done on time, and then paying for it. The pressure of worrying about all this weighs on spouses until they begin to fray and snap at one another.
As with sexual desire, both of you have different preferences about how to use your time and money. How much to spend on bills? How much to save? How much to spend on entertainment?
And what about your spare time? Who uses theirs to chauffeur the kids? Who gets to pick the vacation destination? You both have different opinions about all this, and only so much time and money– it makes sense discussions might get tense.
It does not help that during arguments about time or money, people are often also fighting for power. “The typical fight over who ought to pick up the kids usually is about whose time is more valuable, who works the hardest, and who is least appreciated.” (318) While spouses have been known to take each other for granted, both need to step back and assess what they’re actually arguing about. A humble servant’s heart can go a long way in a marriage. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Phil 2:3-4 (NIV)
Christian Counseling for Marriage Problems
Conflict in marriage is not the end of the world. It is just a reminder that you and your spouse do not agree about everything– which is only natural. However, if you and your spouse struggle to compromise, find a Christian marriage counselor in Seattle. A professional Christian marriage counselor will help you both see how you can better talk about your differing preferences and make choices that respect both of them.
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