Marie and her husband were going out on a date for the first time in several months. To make matters worse, life had gotten very hectic and she had not even had a chance to talk with him for a while and there were some things that were bothering her that she had been wanting to talk about. They were going to a benefit that was a 45 minute drive from their house. Marie figured, “hey I have Franco alone for 45 minutes. We can finally talk, then we can have a great time together. ” Meanwhile, Franco is driving the car. He is excited because he is actually going to go out with his wife and have fun. No kids. No hassles. Marie starts to talk about what Franco has been doing that has been bothering her. He is taken by surprise. He immediately reacts and accuses her of always ruining anything good they do together. Marie immediately reacts to his reaction. A fight ensues and the evening is ruined.

There are several ways that Marie and Franco could have dealt with this differently. She could have asked if he was willing to talk about an issue for a little while. That might have given him a chance to prepare. He could have taken a breath and not gotten so reactive. But, let me suggest one principle that you can use to prevent this type of mishap. Protect your positive times together by not bringing up relationship issues on the way to, during, or on the way home from your dates or outings. Just don’t do it. Or more accurately, just don’t do it then. If you have something important to discuss pick a different time to do it.

Most couples do no do enough positive things together. When you finally do go out and spend some time together do not talk about relationship problems. It simply is too risky. Jealously protect your good times together. Research has shown that couples who have fun together are much more satisfied in their relationships.

So what do you do about the problems? Never talk about them? In order for everyone to get their needs met, agree to talk about problems or concerns at a specific time and place. Make it a business meeting of the (your married name here) corporation. Put it in your calendar. Limit it to a certain amount of time and discuss them then.