In my house, the developments leading to a fight in my marriage usually look something like this:
I voice my opinion on something, she disagrees with SED opinion, I tell her of course she does, she asks me what the hell that’s supposed to mean, I say it’s not enough that she always disagrees with what I think but she also never respects where I’m coming from, she spouts off about how I’m too sensitive, and off we go.
Two hours later we are still going at it, almost like a competition as to who can be the loudest, (I never win that one) hashing out all our old shit, neither of us remembering what the original argument was about.
How about that?
I can’t be the only one with this marital issue. The good news is, the further I trench into the sacred grounds of this marriage, I’m learning our relationship is all about respect and communication. When we fight it’s because of a lack of either or both.
When we hit a certain threshold in an argument I lose all respect. I start saying nasty things I don’t mean, that I know will just hurt and anger her, and I do it in a manner in which no man should ever talk to his wife under any circumstance. I always realize this later, but in the moment I’m gone…Completely backed into a corner and defensive about everything, as the sane side of my brain and mind go out to lunch.
Where my wife errors during this critical time often comes before that threshold is hit. I can sense it coming and warn her I can feel myself about to blow up. I’ll tell her I need to get away for awhile, whether that’s a drive around town or some time spent alone on a lawn chair in the backyard, to gather my thoughts and settle down when I can feel this eruption coming. Her error is not letting me go. She wants to get everything resolved right then. Her mindset is we’ve already started now let’s finish. I’m not placing blame on her, I still shouldn’t do some of the things I do, no matter what. Frankly, if we’re a strongly married couple, the blame should always be on both of us. Easy to say when things are going well. It’s always her fault in the midst of the storm.
The next day, as I’m sure is the story of many married men, I’m always the one to apologize.
It also seems fairly elementary, but a lot of the reasons for past fights is pent up frustrations we have with one another boiling over and coming out all at once. As difficult as it can be, I try not to let anything that bothers me go a full day without being addressed. If something she says or does pisses me off I’ll do the following things: The first thing I do is think about it for a little while and determine if it’s something that has just rubbed me the wrong way or if it’s something that’ll bother me long term. If it’s not something serious I write it off to ‘that’s marriage’, commit to forgetting about it, and move on. If it’s a long term issue I’ll politely bring it up a little later when she’s not in a bad mood, committing to stay calm throughout the whole process. Even if it makes her mad, that’s okay. As long as it doesn’t turn into an argument I’m fine.
If for some reason she gets hostile don’t take the bait.
“I’m not bringing this up to start a fight, I just wanted to simply let you know it bothered me, and I thought you’d respect me coming to you with it calmly now, versus in an argument later.” Something close to that is ideal to say if she comes back looking for an argument.
I’ve found that every single time I’ve had the discipline to take that approach she’s never gotten mad. I’m usually hit with immediate gratitude, followed by a pleasant discussion.
No matter what she has to respect your approach. And those who give respect, earn respect.