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Help! Everything I Do Or Say Starts A Fight Or Argument!

by Greg Baker  
4/13/2011 / Marriage

You feel you are at the place where everything starts a fight. Even the good things you say or do are taken wrong. And no matter what you do, it's like starting World War III in your marriage. This article explains the typical causes and what you may be able to do to improve your situation.

There are basically three reasons why people react negatively to positive actions. Both are indicators of serious problems in your marriage and will need to be addressed appropriately.

First Reason: Guilt

Guilt shades every action, every word in colors of your guilt. Someone with a guilty conscious is automatically on edge. They are looking to protect their secret and anything they perceive to be a question of their integrity is attacked viciously.

Even positive actions and words can be construed as an attack when you are feeling guilty or attempting to hide something. It is amazing how much guilt can dominate a person's life and perceptions.

If, for example, a spouse looked at something on the internet he or she was not supposed to view and is questioned, even innocently with a statement like, "I saw you were on the computer. See anything interesting?" the guilty one may respond sharply with, "Don't you trust me! What's wrong with you! Why do I have to answer for every little thing I do!"

This type of reaction is typical of someone with a guilty conscious. Everything is an attack. Everything is an affront. They may even get upset if you just happen to walk into the same room unexpectedly. They may react as if you are spying on them or trying to control them.

What can I do in this situation? You need to involve a third party as soon as possible. Preferably, someone your spouse trusts. You will need to be forgiving and accepting. There is a chance that, once revealed, you will be hurt by what your spouse is hiding from you. You need to prepare to love your spouse anyway. Make the marriage more important than your feelings. Love covers a multitude of sin, the Bible teaches (Proverbs 10:12).

Second Reason: Insecurity due to emotional injury.

This reason is just as common as the first one. I would be careful trying to attribute 'guilt' all the time. Someone hurt by another automatically puts up defenses to prevent being hurt again. They become suspicious of even your good intentions, feeling as if they are nothing more than temporary bribes to trick them into trusting you againonly to be hurt by you once more.

Someone expecting to be hurt will be wary of everything you say or do. Wonderful actions like bringing flowers or writing a loving note will be seen through the eyes of suspicion and doubt.

Here are some common phrases you may hear if this reason is true:

"It won't last."
"You'll go right back to the way you were!"
"I don't trust you."
"You don't really mean it."
"You're only doing this to win me back."
"I don't believe you."

This position is very difficult because on the one hand the hurt spouse is hoping for, desiring, and even praying for change, but on the other hand suspicious and mistrusting of any evident change as nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

What can you do in this situation? You need lots of time and patience. You need to prove your changes are permanent. You need to demonstrate you mean business. You can't get frustrated when your efforts are dismissed, attacked, downplayed, or not trusted. Involve a counselor or pastor to help the both of you through this.

Third Reason: Power struggle.

In some cases, there is a power struggle within the marriage. This reason is rarer than the others but can't be left out. Two people (or even one person) positioning for dominance, authority, or even security will invariably be put off even by the positive things another does.

I recall an instant at a job where I was being careful not to abuse my 'brake time'. I left to go on break when I was supposed to and I returned when I was supposed to. Another employee who had gotten used to abusing his breaks approached me and demanded, "Are you trying to make me look bad?" Doing right can be seen as an attack when there is a power struggle going on.

Power struggles are not just about who has the authority, but who has the upper hand and therefore the justification to act on a specific action. Some spouses want out of their marriage, but don't want to look like the bad guy, so they look for any reason, any excuse to justify their desired action. Therefore, even the positive things done or said by their spouse will be construed negatively to help provide that excuse.

I witness many power struggles between already divorced couples who are trying to gain the upper hand with their children. They will attack even the positive things their former spouse does for the children in an effort to gain the 'upper hand' with their children.

The reasons for power struggles are many. Sometimes it is because one is looking to get out of the marriage. Sometimes it is due to insecurity and feeling as if he or she has a reduced role in the marriage. Sometimes it is the result of a misunderstanding.

What can I do in this situation? Involve a good counselor or pastor. The Bible teaches us that in counsel purposes are established (Proverbs 15:22). It is hard, when you have an emotional stake in a relationship, to be objective. A third party has more ability to help often than you do.

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