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Love is a Battlefield: Turning Conflict into Compassion in Your Marriage

Episode #807

Are you and your partner battling more than bonding? In today’s episode, we dive into the age-old question of how to turn marital conflict into a catalyst for compassion and connection.

In this episode, Doug Holt discusses the common but challenging issue of conflict in marriages. He opens up about his own experiences and shares insights on navigating disagreements to strengthen rather than strain relationships. With a focus on fighting for your marriage, not in it, Doug introduces practical techniques such as the “hidden motives technique” and the importance of validation and empathy in communication.

Listeners will learn about setting expectations, handling miscommunications, and the significance of regular relationship check-ins to keep love tanks full. Whether you’re dealing with minor annoyances or major disagreements, this episode offers valuable strategies for creating a more harmonious and fulfilling partnership.

Tune in to transform the way you and your partner fight, turning every argument into an opportunity for deeper understanding and connection.

Hungry for more?

Head over to our BONUS page for special access to some of the deeper tactics and techniques we’ve developed at The Powerful Man.

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Doug Holt  0:00  

I want to teach you guys how to do is how to fight for your marriage, not in your marriage. All too often men are fighting in their marriage, but not for it. So if this is getting heated, I just removed myself from the situation, that’s the manly thing to do. That’s why I thought my wife told me that that was worse than physical abuse to her. It was emotional abuse to her. And I’ve heard this from countless women sent. And so maybe we’ll be upset with each other for an hour. But it doesn’t go longer than that. Because we’ve put these things I’m gonna teach you guys into place

Hey, guys, welcome back to the TPM Show. Today I want to talk about conflict in marriage, right? Love is a battlefield, conflict is inevitable in a marriage, right? But what I want to teach you guys to do is how to fight for your marriage, not in your marriage, right? All too often, men are fighting in their marriage, but not for it. And so I want you to be that difference, that difference maker into your world into your wife’s world, really doing? Look, my wife and I still argue there’s no secret about it, we still argue but when things were at their worst, an argument over taking out the trash or arguing over the dishes or something could create a disconnect between her and I for weeks, right? We’d be argued we were distant we’d shut down, and there’d be no intimacy. Now fast forward to today, we get an argument we argue, and we resolve it in seconds. And the worst minutes, you know, sometimes my teenager comes out when I don’t want to resolve it. And so maybe we’ll be upset with each other for an hour. But it doesn’t go longer than that. Because we’ve put these things I’m gonna teach you guys into place. Now at TPM, we teach the triad a connection, and I don’t have time to go over that whole thing. But you can look back through previous podcasts. If that’s something that you’re interested in. That is the best way to do a deep dive into this type of content is The Activation Method where a man becomes reactivated. If you’re interested in that program, go to the powerful man.com For slash Ford slash apply now, right, that’s the powerful man.com Ford slash apply. Now it’s a whole program that goes over how to do some of the stuff but I’m gonna give you some takeaways. If you guys have been through the program, this is gonna be some refreshers, maybe a few new things. But oftentimes, when we learn something we need to hear from a different angle. So hopefully this will help you guys as well. 

So when we think about, you know, conflict, right, really what’s happening here, oftentimes, when there is a conflict, it’s when expectations aren’t being met. Right? So there’s two main things that happen. One is miscommunication. Right? Something said it’s interpreted the way it shouldn’t be. Another one is expectations aren’t met are the mismatched expectations, you’re expecting to have sex she’s expecting to do the dishes. Mismatch expectation, right? Or, you know, you don’t communicate, you’re staying home from you’re staying late at work. She’s pissed at you. Now you guys are arguing and you start fighting about different things. Oftentimes, couples also do what I call stacking. They stack little disagreements, right? Your wife might upset you about something. Let’s just say, she doesn’t tell you about a birthday party that she’s going to with girlfriends. I’m making this up on the fly guys. And you let it go. And then a week later, something else happens. And a week later, something else happens. And finally, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. And you start stacking all of these conflicts, if you will, or are things that your resentments are really what they are. You stack these resentments. And then you blow up and you blow up over something. Like she left a rapper in your truck, right? And you get all upset about the rapper? How dare she leave trash on the truck? That, uh, it’s not about the trash. It’s not about the wrapper, right? It’s about all these other things you’ve stacked, and you start saying, oh, and then two weeks ago, you went out with the girls, you didn’t tell me and then you did this, right, you’re starting to stack these things. These again, resentments up, and that creates a wider conflict. So we want to nail them one at a time we want to go after them head-on. And the way we do this is a way that we call The Hidden Motives Technique

So The Hidden Motives Technique is part of the triad of connection. And real briefly, it’s really about validation, and empathy, combined. It’s a way that a man can allow his wife to feel seen and heard at a deep, deep level. When you get this she’ll feel seen and heard at such a deep level that she starts thinking, Wow, he really gets me. This is a man like I’ve always wanted or always managed, imagined. We often hear from men and their wives will say, I feel seen and heard for the first time in my life. Imagine that. Imagine being the guy in her world that allows her to feel seen and heard, which then leads to desire. You know, for men, we often feel more connected after sex, right? At least I do. I started To feel that connection after intimacy, for my wife, she needs the connection to want to be intimate, not all the time, right? Both not all the time, but a large portion of the time. So if I can make my wife feel connected, often, right, she’s going to want to be intimate. Often. That’s a good formula, guys. Now you have passion in the marriage. And she’s getting her needs met. I’m getting my needs met. The kids are in a harmonious environment. Do we still argue? Yep, we sure do. If you ever meet me, I can be argumentative. I’m headstrong, and we get past those arguments really quickly. The Hidden Motives Technique looks like something like this. Let’s just say my wife is upset because I went out with the guys to grab a beer. And I ended up staying out three hours later than she thought I would have been. Now in this scenario that I’m setting, I’m setting the scenario very deliberately. I just said, Hey, I’m gonna go out with the guys and get a couple of beers. She says, Cool. No problem. I go out, but in her mind, she’s expecting we’ll be back at eight and I come home at 11. Let’s just hypothetically speak, she gets upset, oh, you’re out to all hours drinking and carousing? Well, I don’t even know what you’re doing out there. So she’s getting upset. Now, I don’t want to apologize, because I did nothing wrong in this case, in my opinion. So what I would do is say something to her, right? Instead of just arguing, like a typical guy would say go backtrack. 

The old dog would have said, Well, I’m just going with the guys I can be able to do what I want. I’m a grown man when she comes back and gills. Your grown man, I don’t know what you’re doing out there. You’re always out doing your own thing, leaving me with the kids. Then I can come I would come back with something like, well, I work my ass off all day. You know, I should be at least billed to go out with the guys. And she’s hurt. She starts crying. She goes into the room and slams the door. I go into the kitchen, I’m pissed off. We sleep in separate rooms, you get the scenario, right? I’ve been through it 100 times, and I’m sure you have something similar. Now what I would do now, right? So same scenario, Hey, babe, I’m gonna go drink a couple of drinks with the guys. She’s like, great. I go out of her mind. She’s thinking Doug’s coming home at eight, he’ll be able to help put down the kids, but it’s never communicated. Remember I said, unmet expectations. Miscommunication is the two biggest parts that arguments start typically speaking. So she’s expecting me at eight. We don’t talk. I’m having a great time, guys. I stay I come home at 11. And she does the same thing, right? Because her expectation was eight. So she comes home and I come home and she says something to the effect of

Oh, you’re out all night with the guys. I don’t know what you’re up to. I’m with the kids alone. And again, I don’t have to apologize. I don’t have to say Oh, I’m so sorry, babe. I should have I should have called you. That’s my bad. That doesn’t resolve the conflict. Right? Not in a manly way. Anyway. So what I would say in this case, is because I’m not sorry, I didn’t do anything wrong. So I’m not gonna apologize. However, I as the man as her man, her, the person who loves her wants to protect her and provide for her. I never want her to feel that way. I don’t want her to feel hurt. I don’t want her to feel scared. Not knowing where I am or what’s going on? No, that’s not my objective, right? My objective I want my wife to feel light, free, sexy, and happy. I want her to feel all those great emotions, right, don’t you? So what I might say there in that situation is like a beb. You know, I never want you to feel scared and not know where I am. You know, what I want is for both of us to always feel like we’re on the same page. And that we could go out and have fun with our friends and feel good about it. Right? So again, what I’m doing is I’m validating her feelings, scared of whatever else it might be. And I’m telling her what I want. I’m leading her what I want is this. And in this scenario, I might also ask for collaboration. How do you think we can do it in such a manner that we can go out and feel and have fun with our friends, while the other person can also feel good about being home alone or being home with the kids? Now we’re getting to collaborate together, right? I’m starting to lead that collaboration. Most likely, my wife is going to let her take down our swords and let her walls down. Right. She’s she’s going to put down her weapons. And instead of fighting she she’s going to be in collaboration, right? Because I’ve told I’ve acknowledged her feelings. I’ve told her I never want her to feel that way. never apologize for being home later. Never did. I just said hey, I’d never want you to feel that way. Babe, I’m sorry that I’m sorry, you’re feeling this way. 

Because that wouldn’t be I wouldn’t be sorry that she’s feeling that way. I’m not sorry for my actions. Again, two big distinctions, guys. And then I’m gonna lead her to what I want is the vision. Here’s the vision of what I want. I want us to both be able to go out with our friends, which is true. And while the other person still feels good at home, how can we do this? And she might say, Well, it’d be nice to know when you’re coming home or it’d be nice to know that you check in like, okay, and I would think to myself, Is that reasonable? And if it goes Yeah, you know, what we could do is why don’t we just set a kind of a fluid check-in time? and where it’s after, you know, two, three hours, we know what the when that person is supposed to be home. And if they want to stay out later they check in to make sure everything’s good at home. And she might say, yeah, that’s that. Let’s do that. Now we’re planning together. So I’m turning this argument that would again last probably two weeks, with my wife and I going through our roughest spots to learn this technique. Now I’m turning that into a connection. Remember what I said, when women feel really connected, they feel safe, when they feel safe. That’s when they allow that connection and that desire to come in. And if you’re also adding in the she feels safe, she’s feeling seen and heard. And if you add desire in there, and that’s up to you to do, but if you add the element of desire into that, it’s very likely that intimacy is a possibility. Maybe not that night, if you come home at 11. She may decide no, not tonight, but tomorrow. Let’s plan it. Right. So you need to have The Hidden Motives Technique, that empathy in there, you need to, there’s often that saying, first seek to understand then to be understood. Right? 

So again, I’m going to listen to her, I’m going to understand, what is it about me coming home at 11? That was really the problem. And you can kind of guess a lot of times what it is, I want to get to the feeling I want to put myself in her shoes. Hmm. My wife, I thought my wife was coming home at eight when she came home at 11 after being out with her girlfriends. What’s the fear here? Am I scared for her safety? My worry, she’s gonna cheat. Or am I just frustrated that I’m home alone, bored, or frustrated with the kids, I want to get into those shoes as quickly as possible. And then I can empathize. Right? Then I can go to that second step of empathy. Now another thing my wife and I have done is we have a communication plan. sounds super unsexy. And it is, except for the fact that it works. So we have agreements and boundaries around communication around arguments in particular, right? And just like the example I gave you, in that example, me and my wife hypothetically came up with a communication plan. What was that? Right? If you go back, I said, How can we do this? And she said, Well, we could, we could set at an expected time for each other to come home. And if we’re going to stay out later, we just check-in. That’s a communication plan, right? You’re coming up with an agreement and setting boundaries or rules of engagement if you will, and you want to do this. Another thing we have with my wife and I have is, that sometimes I don’t want to talk about something, she might bring it up. I’m like, nah, this is not the time or I get too heated, or she gets too heated. We don’t allow ourselves to walk away from an argument without setting a time that we’re going to come back and revisit the conversation. So what I mean by that is, if I get too heated, I’m like, Look, I need some space, and you go for a walk, I can say that. But I need also to say, I need to go for a walk. We’ll talk about this tomorrow, or we’ll talk about this tonight. 

Or we can talk about this this weekend. I’m creating, I’m closing the loop for her. And she needs to do the same for me when we get to have this conversation because it’s clearly an important one if, if it’s heated, it’s a conversation that needs to happen. But you have to close that loop. You can’t just Stonewall stonewalling is closing down internally. I was a professional at that. Right, just shutting down. Because I thought honestly, I was being more manly by shutting my emotions off. Because I wasn’t yelling at her. I wasn’t leaving. And these are things I did in previous relationships. I just leave, you know if it’s got too heated, like, look, you know, I’ve never had a woman. So if this is getting heated, I just removed myself from the situation. That’s the manly thing to do. That’s why I thought my wife told me that was worse than physical abuse to her. It was emotional abuse to her. And I’ve heard this from countless women since since. So if I decide to walk away now what I say is, look, I got to go for a walk. I’m getting a little too steamed here. We can talk about this in two hours. Right? Does that work for you? Again, I have to get confirmation. She could say no, it doesn’t. But she can’t tell me I can’t leave. So she had no two hours doesn’t work for me. But we can do it in three, right? So as to be a later date than I set. Right. So two hours is my minimum. But as soon as I’d come back, she can say no two hours doesn’t work because maybe she’s got an appointment or something else is going on. Or maybe she needs more space. But we agree upon a time even though we’re pissed at each other. We agree upon a time when we’re going to come back. And again, using the tragic connection. My wife and I almost never do this. I can’t even think of a time when we’ve had to use this in recent memory. Because I used the try to connect so frequently with her. So connections are always there we still argue but it’s not it never gets to the point. We have to walk away literally from arguments like that. Most of the time sometimes they can take minutes, right? Or if I’m being stubborn, I might just take an hour, but it’s very rare. So have a communication plan and then sit down with your wife go out to dinner on your date nights and talk about kebab you know what, I don’t want to be one of those couples that argues all the time to you. She’s gonna say no, right who does? Like, let’s come to the commune. vacation plans. So when arguments happen, and they’re inevitable, what can we do together? How can we communicate together? Right? Cuz that’s an adult thing to do, isn’t it? And business, I would do that you would do it. So do it with your wife and come up with a communication plan to do that. The third thing, right, the third thing I want you to do is establish regular check-ins. This is something I did when my marriage was on the brink of collapsing. One point is we started establishing connections. And it was really interesting. It was really interesting in two ways. One is oftentimes I was surprised by my wife’s answer the second time. And the second thing is sometimes I thought it was used as a power trip, and I’ll explain. So I might say to my wife, what I use all the time was a baby, just wanna check at what level is your love tank at one to 1010 being the most right? And she might say, a seven. Okay. And first, obviously, I have a number in my mind of Why think hers is, right? So she might say a seven, she might say a two, she might say a 10. You know, whatever it is that she says. Now, if she says anything below an eight, what I’ll typically respond with it. So she says, mine’s a seven right now. Like, what? What’s the one thing I can do to help bring your love tank from a seven to an eight, right? And then she’ll tell me, ideally, maybe it’s leave, right? But she’ll tell me what it is. And then I can choose what I want to do it. But I’m checking in. So I know my wife’s at a seven, which is a 70%. It’s a C, right? I’m gonna see students I’m not here for average, I’m here for excellence. So what is it like, she’ll tell me that I can ask her point, then ideally, she asks me, right now, I might say, you know, three or whatever. Some, if she’s at a seven, I’m gonna three, we got a problem. There’s a huge gap that is right, we need to figure out what that is. Now, sometimes I’ll flip that around. If she says she’s at a three and I say I’m at an eight, there’s a huge gap. But her love tank could be empty, because of something else, right? Tragedy in the family or something. She just does not feel like that bank account, that emotional bank account, she’s feeling its own, it’s withdrawn. For some of you guys, your wife might say it’s a negative 10. Right? Because you’ve, you’ve taken too much out of that bank, and you have put the deposits in, you need to put deposits in on a daily basis. Communication is the number one way to learn the style. And some methodology guys, this is a proven methodology that works for men to be able to communicate with women, right? It’s a methodology. So it works every time when done, right? So we wanted to do is figure that number out. Now I did say we are like Doug, you said there was a power struggle. I noticed when I first did this with my wife. My theory was that sometimes I’d ask her and she go, Well, you go first. And she’d be waiting to hear what I say. So she could drop a bomb. So if I say Yeah, mine’s a six. And that would shock her, I’d see the look of shock on her face, because she thought it’d be higher. She might go, Well, mine’s a three, you know, and it started be like this competitive thing like I need, I’m worse than you. But you’re doing a worse job as a husband or as a partner than I am. And so we got over that pretty quickly. You know, but you know, I still follow the same thing. So Oh, three, really? You were just Singing love songs earlier? So what can I do to bring it from a three to a four? That’s simpler than I did. If I laugh at I’d be light rather than taking offense to her number. I can still play that game. Right? I can still play with her. But these regular check-ins are important. I know a lot of couples we teach guys to do Hey, well, once a week, once a week, do a relationship check-in. There are a lot of questions we give our men that can go through it. It’s almost like a meeting, right, or relationship meeting. I prefer this question more personally. It’s quick. It’s easy. A baby on a scale of one to 10 where yet today, I don’t even have to say love tank to my wife anymore, because we’ve done it for so long. And she met me I’m a nine right now. And I’ll just riff on that. It’s awesome. I love that you’re a nine. What can we do to make you you know, make you attend sexy, I might say some fun and light. And a lot of times my wife goes you just did? You know, just by asking me, you raised it. Because you show that you care. Right? That’s all it is. She just wanted to know that I cared. But sometimes my wife’s down, right? And she might say a five and again, guys, what I’ll respond with is how can I help you go from a five to a six? And if we’re fighting, it’s hard, right? Because right now she’s thinking nothing you can do you jerk. Right? She might be thinking that in her head. But we’ve done so consistently, right? We know it works in our marriage, that that she’s gonna give me an answer. And she could say you need to apologize for something. Now if I didn’t feel like again, going back to the validation, right had most technique. If I didn’t feel what I did was wrong. I will apologize for how what I did landed on her because that wasn’t my intent. Which is true. You’re not usually trying to make your wife cry. You’re not actively trying to make her cry. You’re not actively trying to piss your wife off. You’re not actively trying to hurt her. But it happens out of our actions. Are our words, right? Most of the time, sometimes some, some of us can be jerks at times, right? We all can be jerks at times we want to be, but you get what I’m saying you don’t actively drive it. So you can apologize for the way what you did landed on that person. Right, you can apologize for that aspect of it, and still maintain your dignity, still maintain your authenticity. And they’ll feel better, like, okay, they realize the impact of their actions, they realize that coming home late, made me scared or made me feel less than now I feel seen and heard, and then you can move forward and lead them to the promised land. So that’s it, gentlemen. So I’m gonna give you those three things, right? One is to use The Hidden Motives Technique. Two, you’re gonna have your regular check-ins, right, you’re regularly going to check in with your wife and daughter’s stat or where her status is. And three, you’re going to put a plan together of how you’re going to communicate, especially with conflict. Right? You don’t really have to put a plan together of how to communicate when things are good. But it’s when conflict happens. What are your rules of engagement? Because you’re gonna fight, right? Love is a battlefield right as the song goes, and conflicts happen. So use those three things. And I can almost guarantee you that conflicts, although they’ll still happen, they will lessen and if you practice the skills that we teach at TPM, my guess is like most of men, eventually when you’ve mastered the skills, these conflicts turn into intimacy. And that is a fun place for you to be it’s a fun place for your wife to be and it’s a great energy for your family to be so as always say in the moment of insight take massive action. We’ll see you next time on the TPM show.