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Sex with Dr. Jess


July 5, 2019

What We Fight About & 3 Ways We Resolve Arguments

Episode 114

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In this episode, we talk about a fight we had the other day and our top three strategies for resolving conflict in our marriage. We also discuss Airpod sex, Canadian open relationships & millennial marriage with reference to two recent studies.

***Please find a rough version of this transcript below.***


We had a short fight about pretty much nothing last weekend and it reminded me that I had committed to talking about how we resolve arguments, so today we’ll be talking about our arguments and how we resolve them.

But first. A new study suggests that 20 percent of people with AirPods wear them during sex…

And a Canadian study is on my radar today too. Researchers from the University of British Columbia looked at data from a nationally representative survey of about 2,000 Canadian adults. They found that four per cent of those in relationships reported being in an open relationship, while 20 percent reported having been in an open relationship in the past. Meanwhile, more than one in ten (12 percent) reported that open relationships were their “ideal relationship type.” Does this surprise you?

And I also want to mention another study suggesting that millennials are giving up a big milestone in order to save for a home. They’re skipping marriage because of the cost of real estate. Rather than buying an engagement ring and spending tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding, they’re skipping the wedding and saving for a house.

But here’s the thing: a wedding doesn’t have to cost you tens of thousands of dollars. You can save for a house and get married if you want to if you stop making your wedding a financially burdensome affair.

If you think the institution of marriage is outdated, I hear you. And you don’t have to get married. But if you want to get married and you’re avoiding it because of the costs, just remember that a wedding doesn’t have to break the bank.

And as I said last week, please stop planning your weddings and start planning your marriages. If you think planning a wedding is stressful or you find it overwhelming, you’re probably going to find a lifetime of commitment, cohabitation, cultivating intimacy and possibly co-parenting even more overwhelming, so forget the menu and the flowers and the napkins and the seating arrangements and redirect that energy into talking to your partner about how you plan to spend money for the rest of your life, how you plan to integrate your families in your lives, how you plan to have kids if that’s in the plans and how you plan to have sex potentially with only one person until death do you part.

Now back to the matter at hand or the one I’m avoiding — our fights and arguments. Over the weekend, we were in Montreal and we got into a tiff on Saturday afternoon over pretty much nothing. If I tell the story it’s going to sound ridiculous. So I’m going to try to tell it.

1. We admit when crankiness is to blame. Sometimes arguments are about nothing. They’re not indicative of an underlying issue. They’re not intended to move the relationship forward and improve understanding.

They’re simply a result of a mad mood or a lack of patience. And it can be hard when you know you’re the one at fault to step back and say mea culpa. It can feel overwhelming to take responsibility when you’re physiologically flooded and you’ve been diving in for the past ten minutes about some ridiculous issue. In fact, it can feel ridiculous to backpedal after you’ve been trying to prove a point or show just how right you are and admit that everything you said makes no sense at all and you’re sorry.

This only works if your partner isn’t in it to win it. If you have a partner you is focused on winning an argument or being right, you’re not going to want to stop and say, “Yeah…I’m sorry. I’m being unreasonable. Forgive me.”

You need a partner who’s willing to look past your temporarily irrational behaviour and see the big picture and say “I get it.”

This doesn’t mean your behaviour is excused. But it’s understood. It’s not okay to lash out. You need to apologize. And hopefully you have a partner who is willing to let it go not because they excuse your behaviour but because they understand it.

Maybe you’re cranky because you’re tired or hungry or just worn out from all the emotional labor you do on a daily basis. And so they understand. Maybe you’re hormonal. If you can admit it and you have a partner who is willing to let it slide sometimes and accept that you’re human and imperfect, you can resolve so many of your arguments without hours of bashing things out.

2. Sometimes, of course, you will have to hash things out. Sometimes, you will have to talk about the underlying feelings, fears and insecurities. You’ll have to have uncomfortable conversations and admit to ongoing frustrations, anger, sadness, neediness and resentment. We’ve had many of these hashing-out arguments and conversations over the years. Some have been calm and some have been more explosive and most go up and down. You think you’re coming to the end and then bam there is another curveball.

But when we have these conversations, I try to stay focused on three things:

1. I want to express why I’m upset.

2. I want to tell you want I’m asking for.

3. I try to admit my part and what I can do to address #1 (why I’m upset).

I wish that I could reverse the order of number two and three so that I would take responsibility first and I’m work working on it.

3. So we resolve arguments by admitting that they’re about nothing more than a bad mood. We resolve arguments by talking about what’s bothering us, what we want from the other and what we’re willing to do ourselves. And then I’d say that a good chunk of our arguments are resolved with something really simple and really easy – something anyone can do if you let go of your ego and get over the need to win, prove your point or be right. And Brandon taught me this from the very beginning of our relationship. You resolve arguments with physical touch. You simply come over and touch me. You hold me.

This won’t work for everyone, but it works for us. And it’s not some sort of magic touch. It’s really the willingness to push through the anger, push through the hurt, push through the need to be right and simply touch because you care.

Benefits of touch: lowering cortisol levels to reduce stress, improved sleep which enhances mood, energy, rational thought, cognitive function, feelings of closeness and relaxation,

This podcast is brought to you by Desire Resorts.

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