I love my wife of eight years most of the time …except when we disagree. She feels the same way about me.
I’m 38, she’s 34, we have two young kids. We’re both strong-minded, opinionated, smart, and usually 100 per cent convinced of being in the right.
When fighting, she’ll slam doors and yell, I’ll storm out for an hour. We later avoid each other, only speaking when the kids are around. Some of our arguments are never resolved.
Neither of us wants a divorce, but I don’t think we’ll last this way. We went to counselling a few years ago but were too busy with a young family to keep going.
Start a new approach to disputes, by recognizing the emotions you share - “mostly” loving each other, neither wanting to separate, both devoted to your young family. That’s far different from feeling your marriage won’t last.
Look at your physical reactions: She slams and shouts, you run out. These may be patterns from when you grew up or later insecurities, but have nothing to do with whatever you’re fighting about.
Instead, they show a mutual negativity about even having to face this disagreement.
Instead, create some signal by which you both understand that the topic needs some space before you face it together.
The signal can be as pleasant as “ice cream” and a moment to sit down and taste/think something pleasant.
Or, as many couples do, say, “walk” and find time to walk together to talk out the matter.
Not always possible with kids around? Then use “talk” to mean that this issue needs time to think through together, not battle to an immediate conclusion.
Counselling is still an option, separately. Uncover why you each lash out instead of listen.
Then have some couples’ therapy together.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding a mother’s fears about her narcissistic ex’s relationship with their daughter (January 22):
“My parents divorced when I was age seven. I adored my father. But there was emotional abuse as he manipulated my love and adoration for his self-serving purposes.
“The letter-writer is right to worry about the eventual disappointment, hurt and devastation her daughter will (likely) experience due to her father’s emotional neglect.
“There’s no "protecting her” from it, only helping her through it.
“The realization will begin once she becomes old enough to internalize his neglect, but not yet mature enough to understand that it’s about him, NOT about her.
“This critical stage happened for me between ages 12 to early 20's. It’s the period during which she may blame herself for his neglect and believe SHE isn’t good enough or deserving enough of his (and possibly, any other man's) love.
“Unfortunately, the last thing her father may be thinking about is his daughter’s feelings.
“So, with each hurt, the mother must tell her child in an age-appropriate way (and still respectful to the father) that she’s important, special, worthy and loved for exactly who she is!
“If the mother has a close and positive/healthy relationship with a male relative (father, brother, uncle etc.) who’d be willing to take on some of the emotional role of dad-by-proxy, that may benefit her daughter’s self-esteem growing up, and help her better understand her worth when it comes to selecting a future partner(s).
“If I had that as a child, I wouldn't have picked a husband just like my father, and watched him treat his daughters (from a previous marriage), just like my father treated me.
My “close” friend blocked me from her phone/Facebook, etc. after I took a landscape photo that included her dimly in a corner, without her permission. I hadn’t sent it anywhere.
I’d showed it to her, commenting on the unusual scenery where she’d been walking. Earlier, she’d been telling me her anxieties about her relationship with her boyfriend.
The blocked contact was a total surprise when she didn’t return my calls/texts for two days. She finally did answer, saying she didn’t need friends like me.
We’re not teenagers. I have no idea what she’s talking about.
Unfriended at age 43
You know her, I don’t, yet it seems that she transferred her anxieties about her relationship to you, instead of confronting the guy and hearing something negative.
More important is the quality of your former “close” friendship. If it was always more about her moods/reactions than an open, sharing bond, move on to truer friendships.
Tip of the day:
You can’t “fight fair” if you bring unhealthy/immature reactions to every dispute as a couple.