For years I have struggled with the memories of the arguments my parents used to have. My mother was the victim of my father’s temper and foul language….

I am now married and have three children, and have to admit that I have failed, in that I am repeating the same pattern with my wife. But what happened during our last argument was far worse than anything that has ever happened before. The pressure that my wife exerts on me because I don’t make enough money, along with her offensive words, caused me to explode in anger to the extreme that, in front of my five-year-old daughter, I broke the broom. And as if that weren’t enough, what little respect we had for each other was gone when my wife grabbed a knife and, again in front of my daughter, threatened me and practically chased me from the apartment….

I feel very badly about myself and for my wife and children. I don’t know how to deal with this situation.

Dear Friend,

You have done the right thing to ask for help. The problems that you are describing are indications that your marital communication has deteriorated to such an extent that you are no longer hearing each other. The frustration over not being heard leads each of you to take increasingly extreme measures to get the attention of the other. This cycle will only get worse if you don’t stop it now.

The fact that your daughter has witnessed this family violence is also cause for alarm. As a young child, she needs stability and security. What you are describing is just the opposite, causing insecurity and fear. The repercussions of those damaging emotions could last a lifetime, as you well know. Her young mind could find alternative ways of dealing with the stress, including a variety of acting-out behaviors and even emotional illnesses. This should give you additional motivation for resolving your communication issues.

Neither of you has learned to communicate in a positive manner. You need to seek immediate professional help. We don’t know what resources are available in your country, so we suggest that you contact a professional marriage counselor, a community mental health center, or even ask your medical doctor for a referral. Your problem cannot be fixed in a quick word of advice or even a list of steps to take. Please get help!

The Apostle Paul teaches us that wives should respect their husbands and that husbands should love their wives as Jesus Christ, God’s Son, loved the church.(1) But your situation is so emotionally charged that you are ignoring God and the principles of the Bible. God will not supernaturally teach you how to communicate effectively, nor will He instantly repair the damage that has been done while you have been violating Biblical principles. We encourage you to save your marriage for the sake of your children, even if you no longer feel that you love each other. If you were to break up and insist on remarrying, you would each take your same issues into your next marriages, causing even more upheaval for your children. So resolve to honor your wedding vows and put all your effort into improving your relationship.

We wish you well,

1 Eph 5:24-25