I have been married for the past nine years. Mi wife and I argue and fight all the time. I am tired of it and want to leave her; but I have two children whom I love dearly, and I stay because of them. However, I can’t stand her any more! What can I do?

Dear Friend,

We congratulate you on making your children’s welfare a higher priority than your personal preferences and comfort. You are making the right decision to remain in their lives.

If you were to move out and leave your wife, it would be expensive to support your children and also pay for your own housing. The expense is why selfish and irresponsible fathers who choose to leave often stop the financial support of their children. They place a higher priority on their own comfort than on the good of the children that they have helped to create. They abandon their families because they are too self-centered to stay and work things out with the woman that they once loved.

Instead of the expense of living separately, invest the money in marriage counseling. The two of you need to learn how to resolve your differences by constructive negotiation rather than the destructive habits of accusation, name-calling, and belittling that are usually involved in marital conflict.

Here are some things you can do to make your disagreements more productive and less confrontational: Make time to listen to your wife so that she feels that you care about her opinion. Listening shows that you value her and that you respect her, even if you later disagree with her about the details of the situation. However, many men close their ears because they believe that they are too tired or too stressed to do the hard work of negotiation. This leads to many wives becoming emotionally distraught and to arguments that escalate into raised voices and disrespectful words. Once anger enters the argument, solutions are much more difficult to find. Wise Solomon said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”(1)

Decide together that you will keep the discussion centered on one actual problem. Don’t bring up past disagreements or other problems that need to be solved. Take turns listening to each other, without interrupting. Make a list of all the potential ways to solve the problem, and then negotiate with one another to find a solution that is acceptable for both of you. Make it a practice to give up some of what you want so that your wife can get some of what she wants. She will then be more willing to give up some of what she wants so that you can get more of what you want. You can find ways of negotiating just like companies and countries do.

When you consider leaving the home as a possible solution, you are less likely to be willing to stay and work hard to make your marriage successful. So make a decision that you will stay, no matter what. Commit yourself to your family, and don’t consider any other option.

It is very likely that both of you have offended one another with your harsh words, and that a wall of hurt has been built up between you. Even though you are probably both guilty, you take the first step of apologizing for your angry words and asking for your wife’s forgiveness. Your wife will very likely follow by asking for your forgiveness. Just as we must repeatedly ask God for forgiveness of sins, we must often ask our spouses to forgive us for our unloving actions and words. Forgiveness is like a reset that helps us start over.

We wish you the best,

1 Pr 15:1