Make Love Not War

When we’re married, we sometimes forget the old adage of making love and not war. A couple I know uses this phrase to help defuse bad situations between them. In fact whenever they begin to have a disagreement, argument or debate – they say this to themselves either internally or out loud to each other. I sat down with them recently to ask them a few questions and they agreed to answer them.

Question: What is the phrase that you both use whenever you are disagreeing?

Answer:: Make love, not war. My grandparents used to say that whenever my dad and his brothers were fighting. They were raising five boys and they were all a year a part in age. They used to be the best of friends or the worst of enemies. My grandparents used to tell them to make love, not war whenever they started devolving from genial arguments to fist fighting.

Question: How does it help you cope with your arguments?

Answer: The first time it happened, we were dating and in college. I’d forgotten about a date that we had because I was playing some football with friends. When she showed up at my dorm, she was pretty pissed and rightfully so. She called me a few names and pretty much ripped me a new one. In the middle of it – I just took a deep breath and said make love, not war.

It stopped me cold. I’ll never forget staring at him and a part of me was wondering what the heck? Where did that come from? Talk about your total non sequeter

Yeah, she stared at me like I’d sprouted a second head. The next thing I knew, she was laughing and so was I. She was still mad, but she wasn’t yelling anymore and when I asked her if I could make it up to her and that I’d take her to see any movie she wanted – she agreed.

I couldn’t help it – I couldn’t stop laughing. I did make him take me to total chick flick and that was fun too.

Question: So you’ve been using this phrase as a bid to reconnect and defuse your arguments long before you were married; does it work the same way now?

Answer: Yes and no. The first time it made me laugh. It actually made us both laugh for a while and the first time I said it to him – he snorted a milkshake up his nose.

Yeah, that was hilarious.

Even when we didn’t laugh, it was like a great way to say to the other one, I don’t want to fight. And it was like holding up a huge STOP sign in front of the argument and we both stop fighting and start listening to each other. About two years after we started dating, I spent a week with his family over Christmas. I heard that phrase used a lot. But they didn’t just use it when they were fighting, they used it when they disagreed on sports scores, sports plays or memories that conflicted. I was sitting in the kitchen with his mom and she told me that her husband believed so fervently in the phrase that when he heard it – he felt compelled to sit down, make amends and make it work – no matter how large or small the disagreement.

Question: How do you feel when you hear the phrase from your spouse?

Answer: I love that she understands it. We do fight and we do disagree. But our fights don’t get ugly and my parents taught me that debate is healthy, disagreement is healthy – both have a place in making love – but we just have to remember we are making love, not war.

After ten years of saying make love, not war – I feel good about our relationship even when we’re disagreeing with each other. It also helps us to keep our disagreements in check – we don’t spontaneously bring up old issues and we have a tendency to resolve our issues at the time we’re having them. We’re teaching our kids this phrase now and I use it in the classroom when I am teaching my students. It’s a great way to teach kids to not devolve into fistfights and hair pulling. It’s amazing how well it works.

Shawn and Chris have been married for ten years and together as a couple for fifteen years. They met their second year in college and have been together ever since. Together, they have three children and Chris teaches Kindergarten. Whenever their disagreement is getting out of hand, they say make love, not war and that helps them defuse the negative feelings and keeps their arguments positive and problem resolving.

Do you have a similar phrase in your relationships?

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.