This is a common email I receive.
A wife asked for help. She felt stuck in her marriage and wanted me to give her advice. While I do work with individuals in a counseling and coaching relationship, I was curious in the way she was wording her email so I asked her to send me some details of her situation to learn more.
Here is a condensed version of her reply:
“We’ve been together for 15 years and I feel stuck in a sexless marriage. We’ve never really had an intimate marriage and I’ve wanted to go to counseling but he refuses saying it won’t help. I need to know how to encourage him to want to make things better for our marriage. I’m just not sure how.”
What do you think her mistake is?
In my mind, the biggest mistake she makes is wanting to control something she doesn’t control … her husband and his choices.
So, lacking more specifics, I gave the advice that was obvious to me (and perhaps you if you’ve listened to SMR for a while):
“What is your role in how things continue to unfold in your sexless marriage? If you want to seek counseling or coaching to help improve your side of the marriage, then do so. Invite him along if you choose, but you have no control over his choices – only yours.”
“I appreciate your response. And it makes total sense that I am focused too much on my husband and his lack of interest in improving things. Thank you.”
This seems obvious from an outside point of view, but it actually happens a lot when we’re in the middle of relationship dilemmas. This is the proverbial time when we can’t see the forrest through the trees.
A better framework
To succeed in getting unstuck, or even grow to the next level in your marriage — you need a better way to frame things. You need a better understanding of the dynamics that are at work in every relationship.
Added to this it is also important to have a detailed picture of what your role looks like, concentrating on how you have helped co-create your current situation in marriage and how you can make better moves for your part in possibly creating a better one.
The framework is perhaps most important — it’s one of the few areas where having the right view of what’s going on in your life and marriage can make a big difference. Our upcoming video courses are designed to help you change the way you view what’s going on in your marriage and present you with a better lens that I think is more accurate.
But, in addition to your framework, the map is essential. Importantly, you need to have the details about your role and possible next moves to make.
Mistakes Too Many People Make
Being able to create an accurate map is one of the skills I emphasize in these courses. Indeed, we spend a great deal of time explaining how we are blind to what is really going on, and how we constantly want to take the easy way out.
Obvious Mistake #1: People mostly ask for advice usually meant for their partner.
Asking better questions about your role in the dynamic of marriage is the first step. However, us humans still default to focusing on what it is our spouse is or isn’t doing that causes us frustration or disappointment. What gives?
The answer is that if you want a make better moves, you need to ask the right questions. Learning to self-confront is the key to better coupling in marriage.
Obvious Mistake #2: We think a bandaid will heal a deeper issue.
How often should we schedule a date night? What apps are there to spice up our sex life? How can we communicate better? None of these things really matter on a deeper level …
Another mistake you can make in your framework is looking at surface characteristics — obvious habits, mannerisms or beliefs that you think other couples follow. Instead, you have to look at your specific marriage characteristics. Each person is unique, yet the dynamics and tensions you feel in marriage are similar. For example, you can not not communicate in marriage. Every couple faces this fact. Question is, how do you navigate it better?
Obvious Mistake #3: You plan a strategy that’s easier, even if it’s not pointed at your goal.
Often the kinds of efforts that will move your marriage forward are hard. They are uncomfortable. Even scary. They require doing things that you (currently) have no idea how to do.
Many people hope for quick fixes to life bigger dilemmas. Or they settle for the slow creep of chronic stress and frustration hoping the current marital strife will pass whenever the next stage finally occurs: the kids begin school or launch, busy season at work ends, in-laws move out, etc.
How Can You Avoid These Pitfalls?
Knowing how to view what is happening in your marriage is the first step. The second is knowing how to navigate it. How to confront yourself, and then eventually your spouse is the next one.
I’m launching some brand new resources in the coming weeks …
The Connection Matters Course (already available)
The Desire Matters Course (coming next month)
The Sex Matters Course (coming next month)
These courses are designed to help you do exactly these steps. You will be able to work through the sessions at your own pace from wherever you are in the world.
*****Be on the lookout for our launch … we are offering a FLASH sale for the first 48 hours the courses are available. This will be the only time you’ll be able to get the courses at almost 1/2 off the full price when you bundle them together.
Connect With Other Passionate Listeners
Join our dynamic, engaged community of married people, who are the real heroes that make all this possible. And get access to some free eBooks. How cool is that?