When tension rises in your relationship do you make demands or withdraw from your partner?
Relationships are complicated. Often, you and your partner enter a dance where one person pursues the conflict and the other pulls away from it.
One person who has avidly analyzed this common relationship dance is Sue Johnson, a researcher of marriage therapy. She says, “Everyone needs secure attachment with the others, and for most of us, we expect t he most secure and deepest attachment from our mates. If one partner sees the other’s withdrawal as a sign of a weakening attachment, great energy and fury can flow into pursuit. The withdrawer hears more threat and pulls away further and the pursuer turns up the volume.”
In other words, if your husband is pulling away, you’re more likely to hit the accelerator and pursue him. It’s your way of resolving conflict and his way of avoiding it.
Melissa, a Relationship Suite subscriber, experienced this recently in her marriage.
She said, “I have been in a relationship for 6 years with my partner and I cannot seem to get through to him when a fight escalates. He shuts down and withdraws from me, which makes me feel extremely anxious and angry. I go after him and pursue him which makes him clam up and withdraw even more from me. It’s at the point where I wonder if he loves me. I am confused! Does he withdraw from me as a power move? A way to avoid conflict? Or is he just being passive aggressive? He tells me I’m a nag and trying to control him. Help!”
My advice: First, take a deep breath. Know your partner cares about you and is committed to you. He’s not avoiding the intimacy; he’s avoiding the conflict. Wait until you both decide together that it’s the right time to discuss the issue. Doing this will avoid the emotional dance and help you move past the conflict faster.
Another person who has done tremendous research on what happens between two partners during a withdraw/pursuit dance is Andrew Christensen. He calls this the “demand-withdraw pattern.” It’s strongest when the woman feels more responsible for how the relationship is going. She feels it’s her job to bring up the issues and try to resolve the conflicts.
Both you and your partner want to make changes, even when you’re stuck in this demand-withdraw pattern. You both want to fight less and you both have a common goal of resolution.
When your partner shuts down, it’s an effort to avoid the conflict – not you.
When the timing is right (when you are both ready to discuss), approach the conversation in the same way you’d approach a friend. Talk calmly and stay relaxed. Listen and try to understand what your partner is feeling. When you do, you’ll find the answers to why he withdrew and what you can do to avoid this dance again in the future.
And don’t forget to pay attention to the little things. It’s often in the small statements or an action that he shows you how much he still cares.
Is this dance a consistent struggle in your relationship? You are not alone. Click here for a free lesson to learn how to avoid the distance and resolve conflicts faster with your partner.
Do you or your partner watch porn? If so, you’re among the many people in the country who do.
The pornography industry is one of the biggest in the country generating $13 billion each year. Many people – both men and women – watch it. One study found that the vast majority of men watch porn at some point in their life. About 30% of porn viewers are women.
Regardless of gender, it brings up a good question – is watching porn considered cheating?
Kathleen wasn’t worried about this until recently. She has been with her partner for seven years and he has always watched porn. It never bothered her until a group of her friends brought it up. She says, “There was a debate and some of my girlfriends felt that watching porn is unacceptable if you are in a relationship. They believe this is a form of cheating. This made me feel anxious. I never thought of my partner as a “cheater.” Can you please give me advice on porn? Do you think it’s a form of cheating on your partner?
My advice: There is no definitive yes or no answer to this question. It’s subjective. Consider how it affects your relationship before you decide if it feels unfaithful or not.
Kathleen’s girlfriends probably feel that intimacy shouldn’t be shared in any capacity while in a relationship. Or, they might worry that their partner will get caught up in the fantasy world of porn, making it harder to get excited when it’s time to be intimate.
On the other hand, others may not be concerned about their partner watching porn. Instead, they might find that the fantasy world of porn inspires and may also satisfy their partner particularly, if they have a stronger sex drive.
Neither side is right or wrong.
In some cases, porn can help relationships by inspiring sexual experimentation and discussion. Many of my male clients have said that they felt watching porn is not necessarily about lusting over the people but using it to get excited. They compare this to the way women use romance novels to get excited.
Here are the main questions to focus on when trying to distinguish what’s best for your relationship:
• How do you feel about your relationship?
These are revealing questions that can help you gauge whether porn is a problem in your relationship or not.
If you and your partner have a satisfying sex life and are happy in your relationship, watching porn now and then probably isn’t a concern. However, if you’re struggling with intimacy and your partner is watching porn more often than you’re being intimate, you might need to address this issue with your partner.
If you are looking for an effective strategy to improve intimacy in your relationship, CLICK HERE