Ask the Loveologist: How Can We Keep From Growing Apart?
Q: I have been married for almost seven years.† I do love with my husband but it feels like between our two young kids and the demands of work and family (both of our parents live near by) we just grow further apart. We fight about stupid little things more and more and I donít even know where to begin.† Our sex life has always helped bring us closer together, but now even that feel like a strain. What can I do before its too late?
A: I once read that people hurt each other most when they are trying to kill their own pain.† Fighting about small things in life is a common outlet that couples use to avoid talking about what is really happening.†† It sounds like your daily stress levels are such that probably both of your own personal needs are frequently not being met.†† Your situation is totally understandable and yet, given the same situation, you could also choose to find a way to be each other allies in this difficult time.
Disagreements are not the issue here.† There are times when having conflicts that are fair and allow you both to be heard is the healthiest thing you can do for your relationship.† However picking fights, or using sarcasm is not productive and only draws your attention away from the real problem for moments at a time.†† This kind of negative communicating also eats away at the foundations of the relationship that you have both spent so much time building.†† If you need help to language the real issues going on for both of you, consider short term counseling.
Sex is almost never the real problem between people. †Often it is the sign that people pick up on first, but usually the communication and safety has left the relationship long before the sex totally stops.††† It is also true that sometimes, the best communication you can have with your partner is after you have connected physically in a deep and satisfying way.
I applaud you for asking the question and looking for solutions.† Remembering that love is a direction, even on the days when you canít recall what it is you are working towards, will make it last over time.
Keep in mind too, that another great benefit of learning to have fair fights with your partner is that they can actually fuel your ability to express the fiery passion that makes intimacy sizzle. If you can’t disagree safely about day to day matters, it is pretty unlikely that either partner will feel safe allowing their aggressive sexual energies to show. Passionate sex happens between two people who aren’t hiding anything.
Wendy Strgar is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. She helps couples tackle the questions and concerns of intimacy and relationships, providing honest answers and innovative advice. Wendy lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, a psychiatrist, and their four children ages 11-20.†