How to Stop Fighting with Your Husband

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The Sex Fight

The Battle: Sex is at the top of Thad's to-do list, trumping food, shelter, and beer sampling. In a perfect world we'd get busy several times a week. When I beg off he hears a terrible -- and totally untrue -- message that I'm no longer attracted to him or don't love him. But sex is at the bottom of my (very long) to-do list, right below "schedule dental checkup." So when he suggests some pre-bed nooky after I've spent the day running around like the family's personal assistant, I snap, "You expect me to take care of everything and have sex?" (See: The Housework Fight.) He mumbles, "I was just asking," as he rolls over.

The Subtext: "The biggest predictor of marital satisfaction for men is how much sex they have," says Dr. Coleman. "But they don't do a good job of explaining how much it means to them." Typically, husbands think the sex itself does the talking (sex = intimacy = communication). Women don't talk "sex"; they talk "talk" (communication = intimacy = sex).

The Fix: Everyone has a particular language in which he or she expresses love, explains Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages. For a marriage to succeed, you have to be willing to speak your spouse's. For many of us women, that means we have to stop putting off sex and just do it. For men, it means setting aside Angry Birds and asking, "How was your day?" or "What's on your mind?" or, best of all, "How can I help?" (Dr. Gottman actually conducted studies that prove that the more housework a man does, the more interested his wife is in sex.)

The Upshot: While I appreciate the fact that Thad is turning off the TV more often in order to chat with me, the most effective aphrodisiac is when he pitches in. A few nights ago he packed the kids' backpacks without being asked and, just like that, I was revving -- and actually initiated sex. The more he does, it appears, the less stressed I feel and the higher sex moves on my to-do list.

Continued on page 4:  The Parenting Fight


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