None of us enjoy conflict. None of us enjoy arguing or fighting with our spouse. But in my experience, there’s something much worse than a fight, and that’s a fight with no resolution.
- We go to our separate corners.
- We check out emotionally — either with busywork or social media.
- We ignore each other.
In the immortal words of Dr Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”
I do more than encourage and advise my clients, I help them become badass. I developed a roadmap to get there called 7 Core Commitments.” A potential client must agree to embrace and embody all seven or there’s no point in us working together. Here are a few bullet points from Core Commitment #4 – Bold Initiative:
- Strong husbands make the first move.
- Strong husbands make the second move.
- We step into the spaces we used to avoid.
- We don’t wait for opportunity, we create it.
That’s very different from the way I behaved most of my married life. I was a chronic avoider. Guys, nothing does more damage
to a relationship than avoidance! It’s not the fight. It’s not the disagreement. It’s not the misunderstanding …
It’s the distance. It’s the separation. It’s the deafening silence.
I spoke with someone last week who wants my help breaking the cycle that’s been in his marriage for decades. I asked him, “What’s the cycle?”
He explained, “She says something critical…I defend myself…she gets upset because I didn’t hear her…I get frustrated because she’s overreacting…then we go to opposite ends of the house and avoid each other for a few days.”
Stepping into the spaces we used to avoid means when she goes to her corner, you don’t go to yours. You go after her. You go find her. I’m going to tell you next week how to do that — including what to say and what not to say — but first, let’s square off against the two greatest threats to closeness and intimacy when there’s tension or unresolved conflict in your home.
THREAT #1: SILENCE
Silence is the enemy. Here’s why: In the silence of disconnection and hurt feelings and going to your separate corners, your wife’s inner critic is running his mouth off.
If her “opposite end of the house” is your master bedroom, she’s not alone in that bedroom. Her inner critic is whispering something like this:
“Damn, girl. This is not what you signed up for. You two are more like roommates than soulmates. Let’s face it, the spark is gone. And if you’re honest with yourself, it’s been gone for years. Can we please admit that now?! I mean, really, aren’t you tired of this? Tired of feeling alone in your marriage? It sucks. Especially when there are so many good men out there! Men who would love you and pay attention to you. Hmmm, what about Fabio? You and he had something really special back in the day. I bet he’d love to hear from you. Get on Facebook and see what he’s up to. Your husband? Pfffttt … like he’d care. He only notices you when he wants sex.”
You might be giving your wife the silent treatment, but her inner critic isn’t. He’s an opportunist. You sulking and staying away from your spouse is his opportunity to defile your marriage. To drive a deeper wedge between you.
THREAT #2: WAITING
Waiting is the enemy. Being passive is the enemy. Marriages don’t get better in limbo. They only deteriorate. They only get worse.
The truth is — after a fight with no resolution — your wife is the one who’s waiting. She’s waiting for you to pursue her. To come after her. She wants you to come after her. It’s part of her DNA.
It’s one of the biggest mistakes I made in my marriage. I interpreted my wife’s silence or anger or emotional distance as cues to give her space. To stay away. To leave her alone. I found out later I was dead wrong. She wanted me to come after her!
One of my closest friends—his name is Jonathan—owns a gutter business. During a lunch break one Friday, his foreman, Scott, shared the story of a fight he and his wife had the night before. The fight ended when Scott’s wife stormed out of the room, ran upstairs, and slammed their bedroom door.
That week Jonathan was reading my first book and said, “That’s so crazy! I’m reading a book written by a friend, and I just finished a chapter called ‘Women and the Fine Art of Door Slamming.’ It’s about what to do in that exact situation!”
Naturally, Scott asked, “Well, what does he say?”
“He says you’re supposed to go after her. He says your wife is on the other side of that door waiting for you to come after her.”
Scott replied, “Uh, no offense to your friend, but that’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. There’s no way she wanted me to come after her. [snicker] I guarantee it.”
Monday rolled around, and Scott approached Jonathan and said, “You’re not gonna believe what my wife said this morning. Let me back up … We had that fight, right? Well, we avoided each other all weekend. It totally sucked. The ice finally started to thaw yesterday afternoon. So before leaving for work today, I asked her, ‘Last week when we had that big blow up, and you ran upstairs and slammed our bedroom door… you weren’t waiting for me to come after you, were you? I know, it’s a stupid question, but my boss is reading this marriage book and the author says you were hoping I’d come after you. Were you?’ ”
His wife answered, “Buy the book. That’s exactly what I was hoping you’d do.”
Remember, it’s part of her DNA. She’s waiting for you to come find her. Do not wait for her to come find you! YOU ARE NOT THE PRINCESS. Masculine energy pursues. Masculine energy leaves the safety of the shore. Masculine energy is warrior and protector. If connection—if intimacy—has been broken, it’s your job to get it back. It’s your job to be strong.
Next week we’ll move from theory to practice (on your way to mastery) with two testosterone-boosting action steps.
And in the meantime, if you want to check out my latest book, you can grab a copy here.