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Sex with Dr. Jess


April 10, 2018

You’ve Got Relationship Questions? Jess Has Answers!

This morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show, Jess sat down with Jeff and Carolyn to tackle another round of relationship questions from viewers. Check out her advice below and watch her segment from earlier today.

My husband of 11 years doesn’t want me to have any male friends. He says I should only be friends with men in a professional setting and if I hang out with opposite-sex co-workers after work, he needs to come along to chaperone.

I think it’s fair for your husband to want an invitation to after-work drinks sometimes if he simply wants to hang out with you and get to know your work friends. BUT the notion of chaperoning is a red-flag.

You don’t cultivate trusting relationships through supervision or control. And you cannot address insecurities via supervision or control. And his desire to chaperone is likely rooted in insecurity (and perhaps inaccurate messages about what constitutes trusting relationships). In fact, the more you supervise your partner (check-in, read their text messages, try to follow every detail of their life), the more insecure you’ll feel.

It’s like anxiety. If you want to overcome anxiety, you cannot avoid your triggers. You need to gradually and safely expose yourself to situations that might result in anxiety in order to make friends with it and acknowledge that your greatest fears are unfounded. If you avoid anxiety-inducing situations, the avoidance only amplifies your fears. If you expose yourself to anxiety and survive, you can erode away at the cognitive distortions that uphold it.

Similarly, if he wants to learn to trust you and trust in the relationship, he needs to relinquish control and supervision — so that he has a chance to see that the relationship will survive without it. This should help to assuage whatever erroneous beliefs underpin his fear of your having male friends.

My wife and I have a good relationship, but somehow we get into little fights almost every day. I don’t even know what we fought about yesterday, because the issue was so small and we always resolve things pretty quickly. But how can we stop bickering so often? It seems like such a waste of energy.

Happy couples fight and some research suggests that smaller arguments can help to ease tension and address issues before they erupt into more significant conflict. Having said that, I understand your desire to cut down on the bickering, as it can be exhausting even in a happy, fulfilled relationship. This is a common question, so I’ll offer a few strategies:

a. Write down what you want. The minute you feel yourself ready to engage, grab your phone and jot down what you want out of the pending conversation. If you can identify something specific you want (maybe you want them to put their slippers away before bed because tripping over them at night is just one of your pet peeve), say so and explain why. BUT oftentimes with little bickering fights, you’ll find that there isn’t something specific you want from them. You might just be tired, frustrated from work, hungry or mad at your brother; identifying what you’re feeling can help to eliminate unnecessary fights.

b. Apply the 99 rule. Every time you feel yourself getting worked up or ready to lock horns, ask yourself, “Will this matter when I’m 99?”And if you take a minute to identify what will matter when you’re 99, it helps to put things in perspective.

c. A purposeful practice of gratitude can help to reduce your chances of fighting. Can you wake up in the morning and remind yourself one reason why you really appreciate your wife and can she do the same? I have to do this once a month when I’m moody, I simply say to myself. “I’m so lucky to have Brandon lying next to me. He’s thoughtful and considerate and I can hear his heartbeat and I’m so thankful it’s still there because it won’t always be.” (Morbid, perhaps, but it works.)

d. Some couples find that a ten-minute weekly check-in to discuss what’s going well (in life — not just in the relationship) and what’s frustrating them can help to reduce the number of fights they have throughout the month.