A reader who wishes to remain anonymous asks: I request you to please help me sort out my problem.
I have been recently married to a girl with whom I have been in love. She is deeply in love with me and I love her too, but she keeps fuming about small mistakes.
I am unable to argue or explain my point to her because her anger crosses the limit by then.
I have been trying to stay calm but then, if I say a word that becomes a big issue.
My wife had been through a lot of stress for a long time in her life because of her family. She seeks love and care, which she claims I am unable to give.
I have been trying my best to put each and every patch in its place, but I feel I am always guilty.
She complains that I am unable to give her time and speak to her politely.
I work in shifts. I am stressed out most of the time. I can't bear my wife's anger.
I request you to help me sort out my problem. I want to give my wife all the happiness. But, when she complains I react to her complains with mild aggressiveness.
My wife feels that I have no love in me for her and that is because I don't show much of it.
I would like to remain anonymous and request you to help me. I desperately need your help in saving my relationship and I feel that the worst part is my act in it.
Carey Kirk (Program Coordinator for the Raymee Grief Center and a licensed counselor with The LightHouse Arabia, Dubai) replies: While there is a lot I do not know about your situation, the fact that you are reaching out for help indicates that you genuinely care about your wife and that you are invested in finding a way to improve your relationship. Caring about your partner and having a desire to see things change for the better is a very important first step in any marital work.
What is clear to me is that both your wife and yourself are under a lot of stress from work, family, and each other and that you both are having a lot of difficulty communicating with each other. Your wife's anger may be caused by many things, the specifics of which I cannot properly identify without more information.
What I do know is that anger - in general - can occur when a person holds a set of expectations about a situation (realistic or not) that are not met, when they feel an important goal they have is being blocked, or when their feelings of sadness are too painful or difficult to express. Could it be that your wife held expectations about what your married life would look like and is finding the reality different to what she had imagined? Is she going through some personal problems that she doesn't know how to communicate to you?
I appreciate your willingness to explore the role you are playing in this problem, but I will caution you against taking all the blame in an effort to ease the situation. This stance will not stop the situation from occurring again and, no matter how much you love your wife, it will eventually cause you to feel resentment towards her. This build up of resentment will make it harder to communicate effectively with each other.
I suggest trying to approach your wife and - without blame - express to her how you are feeling about this problem.
- Use I-Statements such as "I feel really concerned about our relationship because we seem to argue all the time." This will set a non-judgmental tone for the conversation.
- Avoid using statements that begin with "I feel that" or "I think that" as these express a judgement or opinion and can make people defensive.
- Have this conversation when you and your wife are feeling less stressed and when things are calm between you. This way, both of you will be able to think more clearly.
I am not sure what you mean when you say that you react to your wife with "mild aggressiveness".
In order to establish open communication, it is very important for both partners to remain as respectful as possible to each other when talking. I recommend making a ground rule that if either person begins to feel overwhelmed or act aggressive during a discussion, they will take a 5-10 minute break to calm themselves down and then return to the conversation.
Some of your wife’s anger and your frustration about the situation of your relationship may come from not having established your identity as a married couple. To do this, you need to ask each other questions such as:
- What does being married mean to you?
- What roles will each person play in the relationship?
- Who makes decisions in the relationship (you, your wife, or both of you together)?
It may be that you and your wife have very different answers to these questions.
Establishing an identity as a couple also means learning how to fulfill each other’s needs. You mention that your wife claims she does not receive the love and care from you that she is seeking. Do you know what she is looking for? You stated that you don't show much of your love to your wife.
How would you show her your love if you did? We all have different ways in which we express and interpret love. Maybe you tell your wife that you love her but she feels that actions speak louder than words and feels most loved when you hug her, do something thoughtful for her, or give her your undivided attention. Alternatively, you may do things for her to express your love when all she really wants is to hear you say “I love you.” It is important for you and your wife to identify what makes you feel loved and communicate this to each other.
If you are unable to have this type of conversation (or any other) with your wife without it escalating into a fight, I recommend seeking marital counseling from a licensed counselor or psychologist who has experience working with couples.
Write with your concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org and selected questions will be answered by a panel of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists. Your contributions will be modified for length and appropriateness, and will be open to other Gulf News readers to comment and suggest solutions. Let us know if you would like GulfNews.com to withhold your name from your letter should it be published.
Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of psychiatrists are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.