Valentine’s Day is looming. You are perturbed watching starry-eyed lovers pirouetting to their cars clutching roses and champagne to their chests. Things aren’t so poetic in your household. Your marriage is in a downward spiral.
The level of seriousness with marriage problems vary and each situation is unique. I cannot even remotely suggest that your problems could be solved in 700 words or less. But, I do have a small suggestion.
Call a Valentine’s Day Ceasefire.
Are you familiar with the WWI Christmas Truce? It may seem a far-fetched correlation, but marriage conflict can seem like war at times. In 1914, during Christmas week, the British and German opposition on the Western Front called a truce. Wikipedia says, “The truce (of 1914) is seen as a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of modern history.”
It’s good to have a ceasefire to reflect upon the reasons you fell in love with this person. Restore some humanity to your marriage.
Draw Up a Declaration of Intent
Communicate that you would like to try this. You BOTH have to agree to the idea and to the terms of truce.
BOTH of you agree to the rules of the day, such as:
- No discussing past arguments or injustices for 24 hours
- No discussing issues you know are hot buttons for 24 hours
- No words are used that are hot buttons for 24 hours
- You will say 10 admiring phrases throughout the day to your spouse. (i.e. You put the cap on that toothpaste tube like nobody’s business!)
Decide your Activity
Will you be going out to dinner or dining in? (I suggest NO movies, as a couple you need this peace-agreed time to talk and reconnect on an emotionally positive level. Movies aren’t an activity that promotes thoughtful discussion.)
Will you be taking an after dinner walk? (I suggest a walk because physical activity releases positive brain chemicals. Hold hands and stroll downtown, in your neighborhood or one of the local parks.
Set the Stage
The intent of the ceasefire is to promote interactions where fear of dispute is not present. Let’s do things that will increase our comfort and confidence. Part of this could be tapping into positive memories.
#1, TOP PRIORITY: Turn OFF all cell phones, iPads, and laptops. If you MUST be in contact with work, let your co-workers know that your marriage tonight has top priority and it WILL be off for three hours (unless your career is in medicine and you are on-call for the evening. No other excuses.)
- Wear the same perfume or cologne you wore while dating.
- Go to a restaurant where you have good memories. Or go to a restaurant neither of you have been to. Or, if eating at home, set the table with a few extra touches and include candles.
- Men, bringing her favorite flowers would be a nice touch.
- Ladies, wear his favorite article or color of clothing.
- Both of you being open to sexual intimacy would be a positive factor.
Things to talk about over dinner
- NOT the kids
- Reminisce about first date or fun wedding memories or first years together.
- Take turns sharing the nicest thing your spouse ever did for you.
- Talk about future dream vacations or future plans to renovate your house or where you would like to retire together.
- Do you know why pain killers are good for healing? Because, when the stress of the pain has left your body, your body can focus on healing. If the stress of conflict is abated, for even one night, maybe your marriage can start to heal.
I hear some of you, “This is like putting a band aid on an open-heart surgery wound.” You’ll never know if this respite will work until you try. If you try, you must be committed to the parameters.
I’m not suggesting you delude yourself into thinking all is hunky-dory just after a few hours of peace. But maybe the calmness of the truce will spill over into the next day, and you can discuss your plan for overcoming your marriage issues in a non-judgmental and non-accusatory way. Maybe, just maybe, a V-Day Ceasefire could lead to permanent healing and restoration.
Here is another great resource regarding a marriage truce: http://www.marriagemissions.com/calling-a-truce-marriage-message-121/