Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D. is best known as author of the internationally best selling book, His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage, here he writes about how one spouse can lead the other back to intimacy.
While demanding and arguing is instinctive in the state of Conflict, one spouse can lead the other back to Intimacy by resisting the Taker’s temptation to fight. It takes two to argue, and if one spouse makes an effort to avoid making demands and judgmental statements, and tries to be thoughtful and meet the other’s needs, the other spouse usually calms down and does the same thing.
Once they see each other’s caring efforts, and rebuild their Love Bank accounts, they re-enter the Intimacy stage. But there’s an irony that trips up some couples. Which spouse do you think is the first to move back into the state of Intimacy: the one who makes the first effort to meet the other’s needs, or the recipient of that effort? You may have guessed it. The recipient of care is usually the first to return to the state of intimacy, and not the one who make the greatest effort to save the relationship.
If you set a good example by meeting your spouse’s needs first, alas, that usually means that your own needs are met last. Your Taker is not pleased with this arrangement, and may try to sabotage it. You will need to make a deliberate and patient effort to override the Taker’s instinct to retreat back to fighting and name-calling. But if you resist that instinct to argue, and instead focus attention on behaving thoughtfully and meeting your spouse’s needs, your spouse will be encouraged to reciprocate.