I used to be an arrogant nagger. I loved to fight with my wife mercilessly. But then, the tables turned.
As I write this, I’m worried my wife is broken. Our relationship is in great peril because of the things that I have done to her since the start of our marriage.
You see, I used to be one of those men who always enjoyed pointing out faults in others. I just couldn’t help it; my mind was on autopilot. It became an instinct, an instant reaction to something someone else said. All I saw was people’s imperfections. My remarks were often cunningly sarcastic, blunt, and venomous. I took pride in my sharp intelligence and deep insight into everyone's "stupidity." It was part of my identity. It had become so ingrained in my personality that it was difficult for me to stop doing it: I found such perverse pleasure in acting that way towards others, it became too intoxicating.
Why Is My Wife Always Angry?
After going through all of these difficulties with my wife, I realized there were a couple of big reasons that she became angry with me as a result of my actions.
- Under-Appreciated: I never complimented my wife or made her feel special, all I did was push her away. Treating her like this only drove her farther away from me, and it made her feel unappreciated in the relationship. I didn't treat her with the respect she deserved.
- Being Taken Advantage of: I used my wife as an emotional crutch, and I threw all of my problems on her. I took advantage of our emotional intimacy and lashed out at her, making her feel like she was the cause of the problems in our marriage.
- Being Controlled: My wife felt like she had no say in the relationship, so she felt helpless and powerless to make decisions. She knew that I would say harsh things to her if she went against my desires. I felt that by lashing out at her and pushing her buttons, that gave me more power and control in the relationship, which was wrong.
- Ignored: Throughout all of this, I ignored the emotional needs of my wife. I refused to listen to her and instead berated her for speaking out. I realize now that doing something like that made her feel ignored and it only served to cause a greater rift to form between us.
How I Ruined My Wife
When I first met my wife, she struck me as the most gentle and kind lady I had ever met. Her feminine and soft qualities were intoxicating to my deep-rooted cynicism and amour-propre. It was a perfect case of “opposites attract.”
Even though I was a bit of a jerk with my smart-ass arguments, she fell for my otherwise joyful nature and my good sense of humor. All was fine and dandy for a couple of years, but then things started changing.
I don’t know if you experienced this, but there seems to be some universal curse about this type of thing happening eventually. Some of the things that you initially adore about your partner tend to transform into irritants that drive you absolutely mad years later. Isn’t it funny how this happens? The very qualities that made you fall in love end up being the ones that make you fall out of love.
Anyway, I had my own skeletons in the closet. Little did my wife know that my mood could flip faster than a switch. If my wife managed to push my proverbial buttons, I would lash out at her with the utmost insolence. I mean I would furiously bulldoze her "arguments" using the most sensitive aspects of her psyche. This was something that I instinctually started doing to my wife whenever we would get into arguments, even though I would feel terrible about it afterward.
Often, that experience would leave both of us incredibly shaken. It was an awful, embarrassing, and cowardly way to deal with personal arguments. Possibly, I will regret it for the rest of my life.
I Tried Changing My Attitude to Be More Positive
God only knows why she spent those years with me so I can only speculate. Could it be that her love was stronger than my poison? Could it be that she was too attached and too insecure to make the right decision? Or perhaps there was a case of a victim mentality subconsciously feeding off of the aggressor in me? Perhaps there's no clear answer, and perhaps there's a bit of everything.
Things began changing when I started having an existential crisis at age 28. I started reading a lot about the nature of mind, after death experiences, and so on. As my knowledge and understanding grew so did my questions about more profound aspects of life. Spiritual literature from Eastern Philosophy turned into lessons of unrivaled psychology. My worldview changed and my newly acquired insights inspired me to learn meditation. It was the start of a process of refocusing my energies into a more positive direction.
Three or four years passed, and without even noticing, I started treating people, including my wife, very differently. As I slowly learned to manage my energies and my mind, I became more tolerant, patient, and relaxed. My fiery temperament and arrogance were melting away and being replaced by the sheer joy of newly-found skills of self-control.
I thought to myself, “Finally, my life and relationships will only improve from now on.” Little did I know the damage I caused in the past will come back to haunt me when I least expected it. As my demeanor was changing from a prideful lion into a domesticated cat, my wife’s emotional wounds were only starting to grow some monstrous fangs.
The Damage Was Already Done
My wife was more and more irritable, nagging, and unhappy. She would unwittingly use my exact same verbiage and tactics from the past to punch me below the waistline. Having fully realized my spiritual ambitions, she knew she could wage a full out verbal assault. She knew I would no longer retaliate, so she was free to slowly and painfully exact her revenge.
It was mean stuff. Even she admitted to being baffled as to the source of her demeanor, but that didn’t stop her from further driving a wedge between us. She knew it was a mistake, but she couldn’t help it, the cyclonic forces within her were too strong. Much like I use to be, my wife had fallen prey to the intoxicating high of lashing out and putting someone down. After years of having the same thing done to her, she couldn't help herself but turn the tables on me.
One day, following an honest retrospection, it hit me: my wife has turned into me from years ago. I am the true architect of this walking Frankenstein that I could no longer recognize or relate to.
We’ve had many healing conversations since but we've come to realize that words leave the deepest scars. Our baby daughter has brought us closer, but I feel some of our ill habits remain.
I must give my wife more credit because obviously, she is more tired due to her demanding schedule of being a mom. She has even less time for her own mental health, but I know she’ll come around, especially if I accept the burden of my own creation and keep cool. It is hard work, and I wish healing for both of us were a faster process, but it is what it is. We must face it and live with it.
I would like to encourage all men to do everything in their power not to make my mistakes. But most importantly, I invite you all to be patient with your ladies when they turn into you years later. Many times their behavior is nothing but a reflection of our own previous actions. They deserve to be loved and forgiven now more than ever.
How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship
After this experience with my wife, I realized the need to maintain a healthy relationship. Here are some steps that I have found helpful.
- Admit Your Faults: It's totally ok to admit to your spouse that you were wrong and that you acted inappropriately. None of us are perfect, so you have to own up to your mistakes.
- Accept Responsibility: You control your actions and your reactions, so you have to be aware of the responsibilities you have in accepting those. Understand what is causing you problems and deal with it.
- Respect Your Spouse: This is critical, you have to respect your spouse for who they are as a person, and accept the fact that you are two different people who may have disagreements.
- Fight the Right Way: Disagreements happen in relationships, the important thing to do is to focus on resolving the issue and not letting the argument get petty. Don't go seeking vengeance or trying to bring the other person down.
Can My Marriage Be Saved?
If you are willing to work together with your spouse to figure out a way to fix your problems your marriage can be saved. There are a few things to keep in mind when doing this.
- Respectfully Listen: It is critical that you understand where your spouse is coming from and that you make an attempt to actively listen to what they are saying.
- Be Open to New Ideas: Sometimes you realize that the way you were going about things is not the correct way to deal with the situation. Keep an open mind to new ways of working through conflicts with your spouse and accept that you may be in the wrong at certain times.
- Prioritize Your Marriage: If you are trying to save your marriage, then you have to prioritize time during the week to work out your issues. This can involve going to marriage counseling or trying to just work through your issues between the two of you.
- Be Patient: It will take some time to fix your marriage, so don't expect that after a few counseling sessions or a few weeks of working on your marital issues that everything will be resolved. It may take a significant amount of time to work out your problems.
Are You Having Trouble?
Let me know if this ever happened to you and how you are managing it the comments section. Also, if you have any advice or criticism for me I'll be happy to hear it.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Mateus Brava