Hostile marriage can become civil


Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 4:20 p.m.

Q: How can I get my wife to stop arguing with me? If I say the sky is blue, she says it’s bluish-green. If I say the sun is yellow, she says it’s light-orange. She doesn’t respect me as a man and is always going back and forth with me. It wasn’t always this way, because when we were dating, she was always meek, humble and obedient. After I put that ring on her finger, she completely changed! What can I do to change her back?

A: Short answer: Nothing. You have no capacity or special powers within yourself to make her change.

As a matter of fact, you probably have very limited to power to make yourself change, if you are really honest. Since I do not know your wife, I do not want to speculate what her side of the story may be. Instead, I’m going to give my advice based on what I am picking up from your letter.

You need to first realize that disagreement is not a problem. People disagree for many reasons, including different experiences, different values and different beliefs.

Since no two people are ever exposed to the exact same things or taught to react to situations the exact same way, disagreement in marriage is unavoidable. I personally believe that disagreement is a good thing. It causes you to think differently, to challenge your own assumptions about things, and to grow as a human being.

Disagreement is an amicable difference in perspective, where each individual respects the viewpoint of the other and shares their opinion for purposes of discussion.

But, when disagreement and pride mix, you have a much more lethal combination: Conflict. Conflict occurs when you disagree and believe that you have a “monopoly on knowledge.”

All of a sudden, you move from having a difference of opinion to trying to convince someone to adopt your way of thinking.

No two people have been brought up the same way, therefore trying to convince a person to think the way you think when their experiences and beliefs are counter to everything you are proposing is not only a waste of time, but dangerous.

The difficulty here is that I believe your marriage has past the point of conflict and has now entered the territory termed “hostility.” Hostility is sustained conflict that has penetrated your heart and mind.

In a hostile environment, your first inclination is to leave, get out, or somehow escape. When you are in a hostile marriage, you feel defeated and often times you feel worthless.

Your belief that your wife is disrespectful and argumentative becomes, in and of itself, a self-fulfilling prophecy because you will treat her as one who is disrespectful to you and you will label her as argumentative. It is unavoidable.

I suggest you do two things: 1. Check the attitude and beliefs that you hold regarding your wife and 2. Become the person you want her to be. Your wife cannot go back and forth arguing ALONE. An argument requires two or more people, so, you must be going back and forth with her. Therefore, you cannot judge her as wrong for doing the very thing that you do to her.

Bottom line: Become the change that you want to see in her. If you believe she should be more agreeable, then you be more agreeable. If you believe she should be more honorable toward you, then you be more honorable toward her.

You will quickly find that your requests of her or difficult for even you to fulfill. Your compassion, however, will make all the difference.

Got a relationship question? E-mail Nona C. Jones at NonaCJones@yahoo.com. Jones is a motivational speaker in the North Central Florida area and the author of “When the Soul Won’t Let Go: No-Nonsense Answers to a Broken Woman’s Questions,” providing insights on relationships. Visit www.MinisterNonaJones.com for more information.

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