My wife is simply impossible to live with. Every time we have a conversation about anything significant, it ends up in a fight, […]
My wife is simply impossible to live with. Every time we have a conversation about anything significant, it ends up in a fight, because she must have it her way. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the pattern is the same. I always feel invalidated when I talk with my wife, because she’s always right and I’m always wrong. As the man in this relationship I’m of the impression that God expects me to be the boss. But with a woman like my wife, I don’t believe it is possible to accomplish God’s purpose in our marriage. I would appreciate your thoughts on our situation.
We are so sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing. It must be difficult and discouraging to live the life you have described. As people who have been married to each other for more than 30 years, and worked with scores of couples around the world, we know that marriage can be challenging, even difficult. However, even difficult marriages can be turned around and become great marriages if the couples involved are willing to change their approach.
Someone once said the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. If we apply this to your marriage, it means that if things are going to change for you—and we are talking about improving your marriage—it is necessary for you to respond differently than you have in the past.
While we hear you say that your wife is impossible to live with, we know that things can get better if you choose a different response to whatever she has been saying or doing. After all the Bible says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matt. 19:26).
The future of your marriage is in your hands. Most people believe it takes two to make a situation better; it really takes only one. One way to illustrate this is by thinking about the chemical properties of water expressed as the formula H2O. Essentially, there are two particles of hydrogen and a particle of oxygen. However, if you remove a particle of hydrogen from your equation, you end up with HO, which is not water.
If the pattern of your relationship is such that you are driving each other bonkers by the things you say or do to each other, trying a different approach will increase your chances of having a different result. John Gottman, a leading marriage researcher, offers that the first three minutes of a conversation between husband and wife at the end of the day when they arrive home will determine how the remainder of the evening goes.
For this to go well, one of you must be intentional about having a positive conversation when you see each other at the end of the day. And since the only person you can control is yourself, you can change the quality of interaction with your wife. Instead of responding negatively to whatever your wife says, push yourself to say something positive, or validate what she says by letting her know that you heard her and understand her.
As you make up your mind to change the framework of your marriage relationship, remember that you have to see and do things differently to get a different result. We encourage you to also remember the message of the proverb: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
Trust God for the next steps in your marriage, and remember that with God on your side you cannot fail. You will continue in our prayers.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, MA, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.