Men and women have different ways of expressing themselves, as we all know. When your wife is giving you a hard time, chances are she isn’t trying to pick a fight, but has some issues with the way you are treating her (or not treating her). For a lot of men, though, it’s tough to determine just what she might be feeling, and the misinterpretation can lead to some pretty big fights or her just walking out on you (Think Katie Holmes).
The good new is not all conflict is bad. Experts say time and time again that a little bit of disagreement is healthy in a marriage – it’s when bothersome things go unspoken that larger problems can form. If little arguments are inevitable (and even good for your relationship) you should know exactly what you’re getting into, how to make them healthy and productive; not damaging.
So, here you go, guys. For your benefit, we’re going to help you crack the code. Assembled below are some of the more common argument topics, what she’s trying to tell you, and what you can do about it. Check them out. You’ll probably get a whole lot closer with your wife!
When she says, “We never go out anymore,” men often mistake the statement for a complaint about entertainment, spending money, or indulgence, when it really has much more to do with spending time together in public.
Going out in public with your wife lets people know that you’re proud to have her on your arm – she wants to know that you still find her attractive, that you can enjoy her company without distractions.
To keep this feeling alive, make a point to get out once in a while, at least once a month. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Focus on a little bit of novelty – visiting places you’ve never been before or planning surprises for your wife. Public concerts, cool little cafes, and new spots around town are great ways for you to spend time together out in public, and by all means be affectionate! Hold her hand, give her a kiss, walk with your arm around her shoulders. All of these actions will show her (and anyone else who happens to notice) that you’re happy to be there with her.
And in case you were wondering, this little bit of PDA (aka Public Displays of Affection) might just count as some foreplay…
If she’s second-guessing the things you want to purchase, or you’re taking heat for the new flat screen you just brought home, it’s important that you realize that actual dollars may have very little to do with why she’s upset. It’s much more about responsibility, security, and self-control.
Most women want to feel protected, to some degree, and frivolous spending makes her feel like you are not in control. In a marriage with joint finances, your purchases threaten her financial security.
To combat these squabbles, get on the same page about your finances. Balance the budget together, and if you’re going to splurge, make sure you both agree. Maybe this month you can get that new gadget you want, and next month she can get the coat she’s been eyeing in the shop window. It’s all about maintaining a balance. This way, you can both keep each other’s spending in check, and get some of the things you really want in the process.
Despite huge changes in child-raising dynamics, plenty of men still feel like taking care of the kids is primarily a woman’s responsibility. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if she’s a stay-at-home mom, she’s working just as hard as you are all day and really wants to see you doing your part when you get home. More often than not, she’s putting in long hours at a job too, and when it gets to be the end of the day, you need to work together to take care of your family.
If she’s complaining that she does all the work or that you don’t spend enough time with the little ones, she’s probably right!
You’ve got to treat your at-home responsibilities like a job: divide responsibility, set deadlines, and get things accomplished. If you’re both putting in the effort to make dinner, clean up, get the kids in bed at night and up for school in the morning, your home will be a much calmer and happier place.
If she’s saying to you, “Why do you want to spend your time with those bozos?” or “I don’t understand why you guys want to play pool in that stinky old bar…” it may sound like she’s criticizing your pals, but she may just be feeling excluded. She may doubt your decision making when you’re with them, or worse, be suspicious of what you’re up to when it’s time to hang out with the guys.
This one has a pretty simple solution: invite her along! This guarantees that she’ll meet and get to know the people you spend your free time with. Much like going out in public, she wants to know that you are proud to have her as your wife. Bringing her along is a chance to show her that there’s nothing to be suspicious of. Once she realizes that hanging out with your buddies isn’t that exciting, she’ll have nothing to worry about!
If she’s ever said, “Why is it always about sex with you?” you may be missing something huge in the intimacy department. Over time, it’s not uncommon for lovemaking to lose some of its passion, or for men to slip into a habit of assuming every affectionate touch is going to lead straight to the bedroom. Intimacy is a lot more than physical contact, and affection should exist for the sake of showing affection! Let’s not put the cart before the horse.
Women want to feel connected, and if sex seems to be more about your gratification than anything else, it’s pretty tough for them to be gung-ho about it. Be a man she wants to sleep with, not just someone she’s willing to. Helping out around the house, giving her compliments, and showing affection without assuming it’s going to lead to sex are great places to start.
It’s important to ask her what she wants and needs to feel connected in your marriage. Find out how to connect with her on an emotional level, talk to her about what intimacy means to her, and act accordingly. The sex will come naturally.
So there you have it! Now you know what’s really behind those fights. And while it’s perfectly normal to disagree from time to time, the real point should be to understand where you are both coming from. This understanding will lead to a deeper connection and peace in your home.
Arguing wife: Do you have a hard time understanding where your wife is coming from? Do you get in arguments but you don’t know why? Let us know in the comments!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com