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Q. My wife and I seem to argue a lot about how to raise our children. I’m strict when it comes to discipline and she’s a bit of a pushover. What can we do?
A. Second only to money, differences in parenting styles are the most common reason married couples argue. The challenge is even greater for military couples, particularly when one spouse has never been in the military or didn’t grow up in a military family. Why? Although this doesn’t apply to everyone, military members tend to be more rigid and rule-bound than the average person. Order, planning and follow-through are valued traits. And these traits infiltrate all parts of a service member’s life, to include parenting. If the nonmilitary spouse has a more relaxed or laissez faire parenting style, conflict is almost guaranteed.
The key is to recognize and respect each other’s styles and find some common ground. Both parties will need to be flexible and open to parenting techniques that may be outside their comfort zone. But, in the end, the best of both worlds will come together and the result will be a happy and healthy child.
Q. I’ve noticed that my husband and I don’t seem to have much of a sex life anymore. I think it’s somehow my fault, but I’m not sure. How can I tell if it’s something I’ve done or haven’t done?
A. Most couples at some point in their marriage will notice that the romance and sexual intimacy that were so powerful early on have started to fade. There are many potential reasons for this — and something one spouse did or didn’t do is generally not one.
Over time, things change. For example, in both men and women, levels of certain hormones drop which can lead to a reduction in a person’s sex drive. If this is the case, hormone replacement therapy can be helpful. But what I believe most often happens is that over time, the relationship becomes more mature. Where sexual intimacy was a large part of the relationship’s foundation in the beginning, it’s replaced by other things like friendship and a shared sense of life purpose.
The only sure way to find out what’s behind the dimming flame is to ask. My guess is that it will have little do to with one person and more to do with a natural progression of life.
Bret A. Moore is a clinical psychologist who served in Iraq. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Names and identifying details will be kept confidential. This column is for informational purposes only. Readers should see a mental health professional or physician for mental health problems.