I teach intimacy skills, but not to couples and not to men. I only teach them to women because we are the ones who have the power to make our relationships intimate. When a woman learns intimacy skills, her relationship becomes passionate and peaceful in about two weeks. Clients often say, "I feel like I have a new husband." But he's not the one who changed -- she did, and then he responds to her differently.
That's how it always is when a woman has a good guy. Of course, not all guys are good guys. If your husband is actively addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling, or is physically abusive, or not capable of being faithful, yours is a divorce I endorse. Safety comes first and you're not safe in those situations because his compulsion will always come before you.
But if he doesn't fall into one of those categories, he's a good guy -- not a perfect guy, but one you can have a wonderful relationship with when you learn the skills that contribute to intimacy.
Below are five ways that women unwittingly sabotage their marriages, along with the proven remedies for restoring the love and closeness you once shared.
1. Rejecting his efforts to make you happy
Husbands and wives bring different strengths and desires to marriage. For women, feeling cherished and desired is vital. For a man, respect and sex are of utmost importance. Men also have a powerful drive to make their wives happy -- it contributes to their feeling of success.
You might think that your husband is the exception -- that he doesn't care about delighting you -- but he may just be discouraged because he doesn't feel that he can please you. You have the power to transform your relationship by becoming pleasable, which means showing appreciation for his efforts instead of rejecting or dismissing them -- and by extension, him.
When you reject his efforts because they aren't what you had in mind (e.g., a present that isn't what you want, cleaning that's not to your standards, or a compliment you don't agree with), there's nothing he can do to improve the situation, but there is something powerful you can do: receive graciously.
Remedy: Try an experiment for the next two weeks: However small or imperfect his efforts, receive what your husband offers when he is trying to please or help you. Thank him for his thoughtfulness. Notice how quickly this creates more intimacy as you practice the skill of receiving graciously.
2. Taking the same approach at home as you do at work
We women can create a gratifying culture of intimacy, if we know how. If all we've ever been taught is how to get ahead in school and career, but not how to foster intimacy, it's pretty hard to change hats when the work day is done and we want a loving, supportive home.
At work we have to manage projects and staff, move the bottom line and get that promotion. At home the goals are different; we want to feel appreciated and wanted and get more help around the house. But if you treat your husband like an employee, he will rebel. Respecting your husband by saying what you want instead of telling him what to do gives him the opportunity to make you happy in a way that no amount of managing ever will.
Remedy: For two weeks say what you want, but not what he should do or how he should do it. Be patient and allow him to find his own way of pleasing you. Remember, he wants to. Let him, and he will.
3. Withholding sex
Most men need sex more than women to feel intimate. You are his only source for that vital form of connecting, and when you withhold -- whether to punish or because you're exhausted -- you miss a chance to receive the intimacy that you both crave.
Remedy: Over the next two weeks as you start experiencing more intimacy, consider making yourself available for sex at least once a week in support of your mutual goal of connecting.
4. Initiating divorce when the problem isn't insurmountable
Women initiate between 66% and 90% of all divorces. You might think that's because men do things to make marriage untenable -- like cheat or hit them -- but I hear about women divorcing because he didn't help with the baby, he was emotionally unavailable, or because they grew apart. Countless women tell me they divorced because their husbands weren't capable of meeting their needs.
When the women I work with learn intimacy skills, it changes the way they see a previous marriage. Some women tell me that they realize they were married to a good guy, but divorced because they lacked the skills to have a happy relationship. Sometimes it causes them enormous grief.
It is heartbreaking to see marriages end because of a simple lack of skills. It's no different than seeing someone try to drive a car without a single lesson: A crash is inevitable, but it's preventable.
Remedy: Consider taking divorce off the table just for the next two weeks, keeping in mind that intimacy needs safety to thrive. In my experience, any woman who has a good guy can bring her marriage back from the brink of divorce and transform it into a happy, loving relationship by practicing the intimacy skills. You can do the same.
5. Waiting for him to improve
You might wonder why there's no article for men explaining what they can do to improve their marriages. Even if there was, you couldn't make your husband read it or do what it says. You can change yourself, and he will respond to you differently.
Remedy: Instead of pleading, criticizing or demanding that your husband change, try the remedies above for two weeks. To learn how, get the free 17-page e-book Six Lessons for Lasting Love at LauraDoyle.org
If you want peace in your marriage, then let it begin with you.