Types of Tension that Can Improve Your Marriage

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By Jenna Birch

1. Sexual Tension When you’re longing for your hubby, and vice versa, that natural, physical tension signals a need to be met. “We tend to think of sexuality as romantic, but sexual release is a human necessity,” says clinical psychologist Andra Brosh, PhD. So occasionally, be a tease; holding out can turn up the heat between the sheets. “This could position you in a healthy place of power over him.” Just don’t withhold sex to get your way or because you’re upset with him. Driving him crazy is only fun when it’s playful, not punishment. Related: Discover 8 secrets of sexually satisfied couples.

2. Conflict Tension If you finally argue about how he still hasn’t fixed the pantry door he broke-good. “Conflict doesn’t necessarily mean bad,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Carin Goldstein, founder of BeTheSmartWife.com. “Know how to argue well, laying out your feelings so your partner understands. Letting it endlessly fester is what’s toxic.” Dr. Brosh adds that butting heads can lead to make-up sex. “After, couples can be more patient and have more meaningful conversations than when tension is high,” she says.

3. Parenting Tension In parenting, you have to be on the same page. If you’re standing your ground with your kids, and not against each other’s parenting styles, the challenge is shared. “Surviving something hard, like taking care of babies, could bring you closer,” says Dr. Brosh. “Working as a team through stress promotes a ‘we’re-in-this-together’ attitude.” And gathering for a glass of wine or a romantic meal after having a tough time putting the kids to bed can deepen your connection, Dr. Brosh says.

4. Competitive Tension Game night? Get spirited about who’s winning Monopoly. Rooting for different teams in the NBA finals? Go ahead and razz each other. “A known competition is fun,” says Goldstein. “It’s an issue only if the competition is unspoken.” If you’re secretly trying to one-up him instead of understanding his side of an argument, you’ll lose, says Goldstein. Make sure your rivalry is friendly and out in the open.

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