I am reaching my limit. I have been married for three years, and the problem is that my wife has a bad attitude and gets upset about things I don’t even know about. I am not the kind of man who argues, and I really do love my wife; but she seems to try to find whatever way she can to provoke me so that I will tell her to leave….

I want to hear counsel that will help me deal with this situation. I agree with what the Bible says, “till death us do part,” but I don’t know what to do.

Dear Friend,

We congratulate you for honoring the vows that you made to your wife on your wedding day, and for your desire to follow the Biblical teaching about marriage! You are wise enough to know that problems can be resolved and that, just like you, most married people have to work through difficult issues. When couples break up because of these kinds of conflicts, each of them usually carries the same communication style and pattern into their next relationships, causing those relationships to also end badly.

Many men will identify with what you have told us. They want to provide financially for their families, be the leaders of their homes, take care of the household business, and then have well-deserved rest when they get home. When their wives have a different plan, they come to believe that the women purposefully try to rile them up and start arguments.

Women, on the other hand, have a need to communicate that men often don’t understand. Wives want to talk about their day and hear about their husband’s day. They want to share feelings and know that their husbands care. They try to engage in conversation with their partners, but the men don’t want to talk or listen unless there is something that needs to be fixed. Husbands want to be left alone, and wives don’t want to feel that they are alone, so naturally, conflicts arise and then escalate.

After an evening of conflict, many men want to have physical relations with their wives. But the wives feel rejected and unloved because of the lack of meaningful communication, so they are not interested. Husbands get angry and come to believe that their wives are rejecting them on purpose to spite them.

The fastest method for resolving these differences is to attend marriage classes together. Many churches and community agencies offer free classes. Getting together with other couples that are facing similar struggles gives hope. Alternatively, individual or group marriage counseling are excellent ways to learn how to communicate effectively.

As in other conflicts, both parties must love enough to be willing to compromise. When a man truly loves a woman, he will make time to listen to her and talk to her on a regular basis. When a woman really loves a man, she will understand that he needs time to decompress alone after work. When a man and a woman love each other enough to get married, they also love each other enough to make small sacrifices for each other.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles