“He Asks Me ‘What’s Wrong?’ – and Then Gets Angry at ME When I Tell Him He Hurt Me.”

I am not an expert, a counselor, a pastor or a psychologist. My blog and posts may be helpful for you, they may not be. I mostly write for wives who tend to be controlling/dominating with passive husbands. Wives who have domineering husbands and who have trouble speaking their minds may not find my blog to be a good fit. Ultimately, each wife will have to pray and study God’s Word and decide what she believes God desires her to do in her unique situation. God’s wisdom is what is most important here, not my ideas or suggestions!

Here is a question I received from a wife.  I think this issue is REALLY important.   And I am extremely thankful that this wife is generously allowing me to share because I know that many wives are dealing with this and are frustrated – as are their husbands.  So let’s hash through this together and find a way to treat our husbands respectfully while still being true to our feelings.  It IS possible to do both of those things at the same time – share our hearts AND be respectful!  But it takes practice and some help to get there.  (I am not including the whole dialogue for privacy’s sake.)

NOTE:  I only address women on my blog and what we can change – ourselves.  I don’t teach men.  There are plenty of things in the below example that the husband could do to improve.  But we are only going to focus on what the wife can change and what she can control in this post.

**  If your husband is particularly abusive or controlling – please find godly help ASAP!  If there are mental disorders, drug addictions, alcohol abuse, infidelity, or serious issues in your marriage, please find local, experienced, godly help.  Those things go beyond the scope of this blog **

Hi April,

I have a question about the whole “sharing your heart” thing. smile

My husband gets very offended at the idea that he sometimes hurts my feelings, or that actions of his cause me pain. Even when he asks me what is wrong.  If I tell him how a particular action of his made me feel [hurt/scared/upset] he takes it as a personal affront and then turns it back on me and blames me, tells me I’m making a big deal out of nothing (his exact words quite often) and that I need to suck it up and get over it – and he inevitably goes off on a tangent talking about things that have nothing to do with what happened.  wink

My husband travels a lot with his job. He has a habit of telling me he will do something at a certain time (without my asking) – or within certain time parameters – and then not do it.

And when I express to him how important it is to me that he keep his word, he blames me for getting upset and tells me I’m making a big deal out of nothing. He starts to make excuses and inevitably starts saying hurtful things and belittling me.

FROM THE PEACEFULWIFE:

I am going to give some suggestions and options.  There are other ways to handle this respectfully, too – but I am going to give you some place to START.  And I am going to try to show you this husband’s perspective.  His viewpoint is KEY here.  We need to know what messages he is hearing when his wife is speaking and what is triggering his angry reaction.  

This wife is NOT wrong for wanting her husband to call her when he gets to each airport.  Most wives would want that.  And I actually don’t think her husband has a big problem with calling her.  The issue here is her APPROACH.

This wife was texting/saying things to her husband things like,

  • “So you’re not going to call me like you said you would?”
  • “You’re lying to me!!”/”You’re a liar!”
  • “You’re not a man of your word!”

In a  man’s world – this is a confrontational approach that insults his honor.

It all boils down to – THIS MAN IS LIKELY FEELING DISRESPECTED,  JUDGED, CONDEMNED and CRITICIZED and HE DOES NOT LIKE IT.  He is trying to defend his honor.  NO MAN would treat him like this – how on earth could the woman he loves and trusts most in all the world attack him this way?  It’s just beyond his ability to fathom.

WHEN YOUR HUSBAND ASKS, “WHAT’S WRONG, HONEY?” – WHAT DOES HE ACTUALLY MEAN?

  • He DOES want to know what is wrong.  And he wants to fix the problem, be your hero and make you happy!
  • He DOES NOT want to be thrown under the bus, blamed, humiliated, disrespected and insulted.

EXPECTATIONS CAN KILL A RELATIONSHIP

You know that his schedule is extremely variable. You know that your husband will “promise” you things but may not be able to or may not remember to follow through precisely at the time he had said.

You TOTALLY have the power to make this a non-issue. Yes, it would be awesome if he always called exactly when he said he would. But since you know that he has this tendency to say he will do things and then he can’t do it or it slips his mind – then please RELEASE HIM from your expectations

One reader shared a quote with me “expectations are premeditated resentment.”

WHAT HE IS HEARING

I believe he is hearing disrespect and that is why he is getting upset.  I realize you don’t intend to be disrespectful – you are upset because he didn’t call when he said he would.  But that is likely what he hears.  

Focus on your own pure feelings and on whatever he is doing RIGHT.  As he feels increasingly respected and sees your faith and trust in him, and you praise him when he does what you like – he will probably do what you want more and more often.  There may be times you need to address a shortcoming or sin (Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 18:16-18).  But, as much as possible, don’t blame him and label him.  Talk about your feelings and desires – then he can be the hero instead of being labelled the villain with no way to make things right.

WHAT WOULD WORK?

A great way to get him to call you sooner is to THANK HIM and PRAISE HIM when he does call you on time.

  • “Sweetheart, THANKS SO much for calling me as soon as you got to the airport! That makes me feel so loved. You are the best!”
  • “It means so much to me that you called me. Thanks for helping me not feel nervous about if you were safe.”
  • “I love it when you call me!  I really appreciate when you call me when you said you would.  Thanks for being a man of your word.”
  • “I don’t mean to worry when I don’t hear from you, but sometimes I do worry.  I really appreciate it when you call me.  You are such a wonderful husband!”

IF HE CALLS LATE:

Really, you can still thank him for calling even if he calls you late.  Your gratitude and FRIENDLINESS will encourage him to call sooner and to ENJOY calling you instead of DREAD calling you. 

IF YOU ARE GETTING WORRIED ABOUT HIM

You can text him and say,

  • “Just checking to be sure you are ok! :)  I can’t wait to be in your arms again soon!”

HOW TO SHARE YOUR HURT WHEN HE DOESN’T CALL

If he continues not to call on time and you are being very respectful for several weeks – you can share your heart in a non-threatening, non-blaming way by sharing your feelings in a very basic, simple way WITHOUT any accusations against him

  • “I’m nervous that I haven’t heard from you.”
  • “I want to be sure you are safe. I love you!”
  • “I feel scared/afraid when I don’t hear from you right away.”
  • “I worry that something awful may have happened to you when you don’t call me when you land.”
  • “I feel sad when you don’t call me right away.”
  • “It means a lot to me when you call me when you say you will.”
  • “I feel upset when you forget to call me.”
  • “I want you to call me when you say you will, please.”

 

Even if he doesn’t work on changing in the marriage AT ALL – just you changing and being respectful and cooperative will bless your marriage by the power of God. smileYou have SO MUCH POWER here! 
  • Proverbs 12:16   Fools show their annoyance at once,  but the prudent overlook an insult.
  • Proverbs 17:9     Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
  • I Peter 4:8  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
  • I Corinthians 13:4-8  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.
  • Romans 12:17-21  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”  says the Lord.  On the contrary:

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

    Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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18 Comments on ““He Asks Me ‘What’s Wrong?’ – and Then Gets Angry at ME When I Tell Him He Hurt Me.””

  1. Emily C
    October 24, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Another great post, April. It continues to amaze me all of the things that speak disrespect to my husband. As we continue conversation, he has continued to point it out to me much more often. At first it was really frustrating that he pointed out, but now I just realize how many things I didn’t have a clue were disrespectful.

    And sitting here and reading your responses, I am continually reminded how far I have to go as those responses are so far from what I even think about saying… but I continue to press on towards the prize :-)

    • peacefulwife
      October 24, 2012 at 7:38 am #

      Emily,

      It is SERIOUSLY like learning another language – although even more frustrating because you THINK you already know his language!

      Men and women have incredibly unique perspectives and different ways of looking at things. When we can accept this – that is a HUGE step towards unity. When I stopped expecting my husband to react like ME, and assuming he meant what I would mean if I had a reaction – things got a lot better!

      I am REALLY thankful that you are listening to your husband. The fact that he is telling you more about what is disrespectful to him is A VERY GOOD SIGN that he is feeling more respected and safer around you to share his needs. GREAT JOB!

      God renews our minds and hearts. It is HARD at first – and VERY counter-intuitive. But eventually, the new mind becomes “normal” and you won’t even think the old way anymore. :)

      I am SO excited about what God is doing in your life and marriage and your willingness to be humble and obey God!

  2. Nana
    October 24, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    This is one exciting issue. Yep, i’ve been there before too, and my heart goes out to this wife because it is a painful experience. God bless you for this wonderful piece of advice, and I pray this wife pays attention to all the concerns you raised. Cholerics can struggle sometimes with being gracious in their expectations from others, and can end up hurting themselves. You’ve said it all, April, and said it well. In my case, God told me to come and do all the complaining about my hurts that will make my husband rage when I try telling him, to Him. As a rule, I do not answer that question at all, even if I do in very few words and go quiet. Its really painful but God always comforts me. I don’t expect much from my husband and that leaves both of us with a lot of space and fresh air to enjoy. Its true as we lighten up our expectations and put up a positive appearance, our husbands also come around joyfully.
    God bless you richly, April.

  3. sholashade
    October 24, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    This is the Word of God! Thank you for sharing! I must admit when I read the question, I thought, ” How is April the peaceful wife going to get out of this one” :) You broke it down girl. Sometimes you have to release people from certain expectations and once the pressure is off, they literally fall over themselves, wanting to do it for you! I have seen it in my own life and in my own journey to “peacefulwifedom”.
    I pray for this lovely sister in Christ, that their marriage will stand firm and be joyful for them. Amen
    Keep up the good work.

    • peacefulwife
      October 24, 2012 at 10:05 am #

      Sholashade,

      Thanks for the comment! Ha! You put such a smile on my face. :)

      Thanks for praying with me for this precious wife and her husband.

      May God richly bless your walk with Him and your marriage for His greatest glory. :)

  4. Deborah Mangini
    October 24, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    I really appreciate this real life example. I have found that I have a harder time with EXPECTATIONS on others when I am not completing the expectations I have for myself. To not SHARE everything on my mind when I am asked is very wise. I noticed that my husband said the other day, I am kinda grouchy, I think I will go lay down and rest for a while. Wouldn’t that better than sounding irrationally upset over small potatoes??? ;)

  5. Deborah Mangini
    October 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    I thought I was educating my husband about my feelings, when really he was just trying BE understanding. I keep EXPECTING him to learn what will make me feel better but it’s just another way I am trying to be in control of our marriage. I need to trust that he has a teacher whose ways are higher than my ways. Praise God!

    • Emily C
      October 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      You know Deborah I so agree! I never realized how controlling I was being when I was trying so hard not to! I’ve actually realized that so much of my communication is manipulative and controlling… I hate it!!

  6. Ann
    October 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I try to ask myself, “Is this worth my marriage?” before I make a big deal about something. That’s not to say that my marriage will end if I bring up something (far from it!). But it keeps it in perspective. Also… whatever it is KEEP IT SHORT!! Men (and women) don’t have the time for ramblings. Outline it and leave out the drama (emotions).

  7. Crystal Blount
    October 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    I love this post. It is a warm reminder to not apply our (often excessive) expectations and our own fears onto our husbands and label them as being irresponsible or mean because we are the ones with fears and insecurities. I think in general, all of our husbands are trustworthy unless they’ve given us some major reason they aren’t- in which case simple rules in place to re-establish trust can help.

    In any case, learning to trust God and giving God our fears when we’re feeling worried, anxious, or lonely, releasing it and choosing NOT to worry is a big fix.

    Also, really important- I’ve had to examine WHERE THOSE FEARS CAME FROM. Why do I want him to give me so much attention, check in, and always be available? Why does my mind go to the worst after 10 or 20 minutes of lateness on his part? I realized at some point I was making my husband pay for the mistakes of other hurtful men, and also treating him like a child. It’s a mental challenge and fun mind game to see how long I can go without bothering my husband. I busy myself with other things, hobbies, work, and studying. And true to form, he always wants to be the hero, and comes looking for me :-) Even when i’m upset, I’m learning more to withhold my feelings until he asks, and then purely tell him my fears and insecurities and why I was worried without blaming him at all.

    Great post April. I’m learning everyday.

  8. MW
    November 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    For The Peaceful Wife: I have attended to God Adventures on WordPress blog through your website. Here is my question: my husband is verbally rude to my parents, my sister, her husband, my son and myself. My family of origin as I mentioned does not want any more contact with him, and they blame me for not controlling him (I have never controlled him, and I have respected him where many have noticed – to the point they say he gets respect that he does not even deserve). His family of origin will not engage him because he has been rude to them the same way. It is tiring to me and more so that my family holds me responsible (culpable). What do I say to everyone – his family and mine? I am exasperated.

    • peacefulwife
      November 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      MW,
      This is a difficult situation. :( Especially for you because you can’t make him behave a certain way.

      What kinds of things does he say to you and your son?

      Is it possible he is feeling very controlled or disrespected by his parents, your parents or you?
      Is he a believer in Christ? Are you?

      As his wife, you are commanded by God to give him respect that he doesn’t deserve. You don’t have to respect sin or rudeness, but you do respect that he is your husband and that God appointed him to be the head of the home.

      Please check out the top of my home page about disrespect and respect..

      Usually – you will let him handle his relationships with other people – that is the respectful thing to do.
      You may privately tell him VERY RESPECTFULLY if you have concerns.

      But my first question would be if he is feeling attacked or disrespected? And is there anything else going on like any mental health issues, addictions, major sin, unemployment?

      I’ll be glad to work through this with you and do my best to point you to Christ.

      What does your husband want to do about the family relationships?

  9. Liz
    November 21, 2013 at 4:40 am #

    Thanks a lot for your blog peacefulwife. for sometime now have been wondering what this respect thing is all about. I thought I respected my husband but he has complained very many times of being disrespected. I was confused until I cried to God to teach me specifically what respect is to a man. God has answered my prayer through you. The specifics is what I needed. The Lord bless you. I have been through this dilemma of sharing my feelings only to get my hubby’s anger. I keep complaining that he doesn’t want me to express myself. This blog has taught me the godly selfless way to handle it.

    • peacefulwife
      November 21, 2013 at 6:35 am #

      Liz,

      This is the information I desperately needed 19 years ago – but I didn’t have it. Those posts at the top of my home page about disrespect and respect are so precious to me. These are the specific examples I needed 5 years ago when I began this journey and was totally clueless about what was disrespectful and respectful.

      I’m so glad this blog has been a resource and a blessing to you. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you my friend!

  10. Rebecca
    January 27, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    I’m not leaving a comment. I’m laying in my daughters room trying to figure out how to talk to my husband. I’m at a loss. We started dating in 1999. I was 15 he was 18. We got married in 2004. We have had many trials in the past 14 years. We have come along way from the girl looking for a savior and the boy needing someone to protect. Or maybe I have come along.
    The problem that has been there and never fixed is this… Things will go great for a week or 2 then something will happen. I will forget todo something. He has a bad day at work. Any of a number of things set him off. It is like I have never changed, like I will never be better. He talks about he never has any help. He is tiered of carrying my dead weight. How he is alone in our marriage.
    These are text I get from him when he is in this mood.
    From my husband –
    1-Your lack of interest, lack of respect and lack of intent have reached a level I’m no longer interested in stomaching. I was clear direct and specific about the need and my desire to resolve issues you’ve pleasantly ignored and disregarded for the last number of weeks. You chose this evening, you chose the time and even without a secondary party are too prideful, area famy and selfish to engage.
    2-I have no more patience and have lost empathy for your struggle. I’ll be seeking counseling and intend to work on other relationships and goals until you decide you’re ready to accept responsibility accountability and pursue our relationship.

    I feel that anything I say is condemning me. I have tried writing I have tried texting to tell him that he is hurting me. I do not believe him any more when he says “you are a great mom.” ” I’m lucky to have you.” Because all it takes is one bad moment and I’m disrespectful. I’m so tiered of him doing this. How do I respond to a text like this. How do I talk to a man, who know that how he is acting is not ok, but feels validated in his actions because I have pushed him to his breaking point as he says it. Please help.

    • peacefulwife
      January 27, 2014 at 6:19 am #

      Rebecca,

      I am so sorry things are so difficult! Goodness. :(

      What is your relationship with Christ?
      What is your husband’s?

      What was your parents’ and his parents’ marriage like?

      I would love for you to check out the posts on disrespect and respect at the top of my home page. At this point, I can’t tell exactly what is going on yet. So I need a bit more info, please.

      After you read those, we can talk some more my sweet friend! :)

      If you prefer to email, you can, aprilc@sc.rr.com

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  1. This Will Help So Many Wives | GodAdventureinMarriage - October 24, 2012

    [...] be a respectful, honoring, peaceful wife.  Here’s her thoughts about conversation today.  Peacefulwife’s blog I hope that you will find this as helpful as I [...]

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