My Husband and I Argue All The Time

"All couples argue," says Roland Trujillo in a recent radio interview. Read the whole interview

"All couples argue. Because you have two different people with different needs and different opinions, arguing is inevitable.

In fact (and this is controversial) men and women live in different worlds. So again, disagreements are to be expected.

If it is any consolation to you, arguing is very common in marriages. You could almost say that all the squabbling and arguing are "normal." I would venture to say that if a couple isn't arguing--something is wrong.

If there is silence, then it is usually an eerie silence, with buried resentment and hostility underneath. Or it's a marriage in name only (like some celebrities get married just to further their career). Or perhaps one person has completely capitulated and has become a repressed doormat.

Arguing is par for the course. Men and women are different and live in different worlds. Someone once said that a good marriage is a good fight. Yes, there will be arguments. But there is such a thing as a good fight.

A good fight is when what is right wins. A good argument is when-instead of sniping, anger, violence, or a game of one upmanship--reason prevails.

But when one or both parties do not understand what love and marriage are all about, the argument will be angry, resentful, petty or hurtful. When both partners, and especially husband, do not have their emotions under control, the discourse will deteriorate. When both are basically selfish and egotistical, how can love and understanding prevail?

Just as bad is when bad decisions and wrong choices prevail because one partner, especially husband and father, is weak and lets wrong prevail.

Father cannot be violent, nor can he be a wimp or door mat. If he wants to win a popularity contest and is afraid of rocking the boat, how can he stand for what is right? If he has a cigarette in one hand, how can he lecture the kids about marijuana?

Error must be addressed. Wrong behavior must be exposed and opposed. And because it is the nature of people to deny their wrong and defend their errors, there will be debate and disagreement.

But most of us are so busy worrying about our own needs that we fail to see our own wrong. Many of us are selfish and do not see the other person's true needs. Many of us are not right ourselves, so we are defensive and guilty. We get upset and irritated over little things that don't really matter; and we clam up and say nothing about important things that should be addressed.

We must learn how to argue the right way (where what is right wins, not who is right). And we must learn to make our points without resentment and anger.

And before I go any further, let me say that it is basically the man's fault. I personally think that women suffer more because they are more aware of something being wrong. Men tend to be kind of dumb in such matters. Men tend to think that just going to work and taking her out to dinner once in a while is all that is needed. He just doesn't get it. .

But it is ironic that the man is supposed to be the dispenser of wisdom. The man is supposed to have understanding and wisdom, and from it longsuffering and patience. Instead many men are like big kids. So, men, please read what Coach Roland has to say. .

If he could learn to be more fatherly and stop demanding that she support his ego; then she could stop playing the role of tease or nag. If he had real love, she would not have to tease him for it (only to be disappointed again). And when she was finally assured that he loves principle more than anything in the world, so that he would never fail her, she could stop giving him such a hard time. All the bickering could stop, and they could be very, very good friends.

Ladies, now that I have placed responsibility for what is going wrong squarely on the shoulders of the man, let me say that your problem is most likely that you just can't resist judging him for his failings.

Yes, all men (including the author) have failed women, and so they are ooooh so judgeable. But I have to say that judgment is a terrible sin. It fixates you to the object of judgment, and by way of guilt (for the judgment) locks you into an endless cycle of love and hate. It leads to deterioration in one's being and to bitterness.

When we become quite resentful and judgmental, we find it almost impossible to be objective. A resentful wife can become so hateful toward her husband that she literally cannot see any good in him. Even if he improved, she would not see it.

The ability to stand back and look at the situation objectively is of absolute importance. That way, error can be observed without resenting what one sees. Another's wrong can be observed without judging (hating and condemning) the other for it.

So, if you are like most couples, you are arguing all the time. As long as there is no violence, then perhaps all you need is to let go of resentment. When resentment is gone, you will be able to see clearly what is going on, and with a little understanding, interpret it properly. Maybe your husband is wrong; maybe not. Maybe your wife is out of order; maybe not. Until you let go of resentment, judgment, and blame--you would be able to know for sure. Your perceptions are currently clouded by resentment, judgment, anger, hurt feelings and blame.

Because men and women are different, because most couples bring baggage to the marriage, and because there is so little wisdom out there--many young couples don't have much of a chance (without a little coaching from someone with understanding like me).

Probably you have bought the cultural foolishness about what love and what marriage are all about. Love is not sex; nor is it just hearts and flowers. Nor is marriage just for pleasure or getting our needs met. If we buy into the popular misunderstandings about marriage, then we will feel cheated, deprived of getting our needs met, and we will be resentful.

Before I go any further, let me just say that sometimes one person is a violent disturbed or terrible person. This is exceedingly difficult for the other. You need professional help. But in this article, I will address the more common situation, where both are basically decent--not perfect, of course--but decent. There is always hope in such a relationship that a positive change may occur. .

Let me also say that when misunderstandings occur--and they will occur--both sides often become so fixated resentfully on the other's wrong that neither really looks at their own attitude. So, for the moment, put aside picking apart the other's wrong. Stand back and see if you can look objectively at the relationship between men and women in the light of what I am about to say.

If received with a spirit of humble inquiry, it could be a life changing break through for you. You will see that all couples around the world are in the same boat: they are struggling without understanding. And so, they begin to resent each other, instead of understanding what is really going on.

A whole lot of soul searching, a change of heart and willingness to give up resentment, judgment and blame are part and parcel of maturing and learning not to be selfish. Then perhaps all you need is a little "basic training" about the nature of women and the nature of men, and a little understanding about our fallen human race. 

Some say it's a myth, but I think it all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam was ambitious and failed. Instead of loving Eve, he used her to further his ambition. As a result, Paradise was lost. Today's Adam uses his mate to support his ego, and the potential Paradise of marriage is lost.

With some new understanding and a more forgiving attitude, you might be able to make a fresh start, salvage your marriage, with the two of you becoming very good friends, and perhaps living happily ever after.

The evidence that what I say about the man/woman relationship is true is all around us. You probably know couples among your friends and family--who you know for sure are nice people-yet who are making terrible mistakes, fighting and hurting each other. You wonder why they can't just stop arguing and just love each other. It is only in the light of understanding that their error makes sense. You will be able to avoid the same mistakes, and perhaps one day even help them.

Marriage is not just two animals coming together. People have souls, and the human race has a history. And marriage has a purpose. It is an institution ordained by God to bring children into the world, and a framework within which to learn not to be selfish.

There is an ancient mystery between men and women going all the way back to the Garden of Eden. And there is a legacy of misunderstanding that is passed down from one generation to the next. It is hard to convey all I wish to say in just a few paragraphs, but I can provide a few hints to get you thinking along these lines.

Divorce is not the answer. Just living together is not the answer. Just lovey dovey flowers and candy is not the answer. What is needed is understanding.

Abraham Lincoln once said that two people can disagree without becoming disagreeable. Arguing, especially if done in the right way, gets things out on the table and is better that the typical eerie silence with resentment and secret hostility underneath. If one person is unreasonable--it should just draw forth more reasonableness in the other. Remember: what is right is more important than who is right. When right prevails, then it is a win-win for both.

We must also wake up to see that we have been resenting and blaming the other person. Most of us are basically selfish. We have an agenda we want to impose on the other. When our needs are not met, we become resentful and begin to look elsewhere.

Some people are troubled by their own selfishness. They wish to understand what is going on and seek true answers. It is for these people that I write. Don't expect a lot of help from the world. Most of the so-called experts give more of the kind of advice that obviously isn't working. They may be well meaning, but their advice is ego supportive. What we really need is the Truth that awakens and corrects aberrant egos.

So, what if you are in a troubled marriage now? If you are the man, chances are you are angry. She is not happy with anything that you do. She is in charge of your life. You have seen that anger does not work. Express it and you look bad, get in trouble, or become a tyrant. Repress it and you get tummy aches and headaches or worse. Plus everyone has contempt and walks all over you.

Of course, anger management helps. But only as a quick fix to teach you some behavior modification skills or how to transmute your anger in work or sports instead of violence. But what you really need is understanding: you need to see and be sorry for your selfishness. You will see that anger is born in selfish. But you will also see that wimpiness is copping out from your role of dad and father. If anger gives her power, then wimping out and handing control over to her does the same.

The man must search for the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job. He must learn how to stand for what is right in a no-nonsense way, but without anger. He must learn to be kind and considerate. He must learn to stand for principle. He must learn to be more fatherly.

Of course, a good aunt, grandma, or uncle's advice can be very helpful. They have been there, and they have the wisdom of years. But for the most part, your journey of discovery will be a solitary one. You must learn to stand back and observe, with objectivity. Seeing the big picture of a situation will permit you to see why you must not become angry. Why you must not resent. Why you must seek in your heart for what to say or do.

If you do not know how to stand back to get the big picture, get the meditation we have at the Center For Common Sense Counseling. It will teach you how.

What is needed is understanding. You need to understand what is going on, so that you won't over-react. For example, gentlemen, if you begin to see your wife as a person instead of an object of use, your understanding will begin to mitigate your behavior. You will become more considerate, less angry, and more fatherly.

Ladies, perhaps your searching will lead you to see that what you are really looking for is the father you have never known. Most dads lack an inner bond with the Creator. Most men are women oriented. They do the best they can, perhaps being good providers; but without the inner bond, they cannot give the love they do not have.

What we all need is agape love, emotionless love, the kind of love that comes from God. This love is not a feeling. It is corrective of our ego excesses. It leaves us feeling chastened and throws us back on ourselves. In the Light of Truth we see our error, and we become self corrective. True love has a humbling quality to it. And afterwards, a sense of joy and freedom. True love is liberating. Such love can come through a person (who gets their ego out of the way). But it is not from the person. It comes through them.

If we see it in another, especially our father, it is a wonderful thing. But ultimately, we must search within, and if we are blessed, find it within. Here is a hint: You may find it when you are willing to drop your judgments and resentments against others. When you forgive others, then your Heavenly Father forgives you, and when you no longer seek the ego supportive love of the world, you are rewarded with His warm love from within.

The truth with love is supposed to set us free. But few of us have the love to set others free.
I once had a listener who could not understand why she so resented her husband. He was decent, hard working, honorable, always there, and kind. But he lacked something special (a love that comes through him from God). I explained to her that she was looking for something from him that he could not give. He cannot give what he does not have. This was a profound insight for her. She realized that he had not found love from God. Thus he too was empty and suffering. When he was a little boy, he was hurt and damaged; and he never fully recovered. He could not give what he did not have.

An insight like this, if realized deeply, can lead to being able, for the first time, to drop resentments against the other person. And when you forgive the other person, then your Heavenly Father forgives you. Just beyond forgiving others and dropping our grudges and judgments, comes the healing fulfilling love from God to warm our soul.

Ladies, you cannot make a man into a man. Even if you were to succeed, he would be in your image, with you as his god.

Men, do not look for love from your wife. Give love instead. Become more fatherly. Look upon others as if they were naughty school kids. Set a good example. Be forthright, but kind. Do not have expectations as to what the other person should be like or do. Be there for your family.

If your partner also develops understanding, then your relationship can become heaven on earth. If only you become more aware and mature in your understanding, you are still much better off because you will be able to deal gracefully with situations, and spare yourself the upset, frustration and emptiness you now feel.

Roland Trujillo, MS, D. Pastoral Psychology, is the author of 16 books. He is host of a radio advice program that currently airs in Southern California and around the country for 25 years. 

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