Catholic FAQ


We were unable to reach our goal for the summer but we have reached 98%
Please consider donating if you can and keep us in your prayers.


Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Catholic Living > Family Life
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #1  
Old Nov 10, '10, 9:16 am
pacoenelsaco pacoenelsaco is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: October 16, 2008
Posts: 83
Religion: Catholic
Default How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

I've been married to my wife now for a little over a year and we've been together for a total of 3 years. We love each other very much and the majority of the time, we get along great. I honestly and truly see her as my best friend because I can talk to her about anything and everything and that's truly what seperates my relationship with her from all my past relationships.

That being said, one of the things (if not the biggest thing) about my wife that irritates me is the fact that she seems to get defensive everytime we argue. And it's starting to get on my nerves. Because almost everytime I try to talk to my wife about something she did that upset me, she always goes on the defensive and starts making excuses as to why she took the position she took. She does this instead of listening to me and trying to understand where Iím coming from. And thatís probably one of the biggest differences between me and her.

When sheís upset or upset with me, I always try to find out whatís wrong with her or what I did that upset her, and I apologize, and try to do things to make amends for upsetting her or to make sure I donít ever do it again. But her, whenever I try to tell her why Iím upset with her, she just goes on the defensive. I mean sometimes sheíll try to console me when I'm upset with her and sometimes she apologizes too for upsetting me. But most of the time, she doesnít apologize for hurting my feelings and she just doesnít listen to me.

All I really want when Iím upset with her is for her just to listen to me, and to be here for me, and to try to understand where Iím coming from, and to hold me, and comfort me, and tell me how much she loves me, and that sheís sorry for offending me, and that sheíll try her best not to let that happen anymore. But it seems like most of the time, I just get nothing but excuses as to why she did what she did. And I don't feel like itís fair, because I feel as though I go out of my way to try to correct my mistakes when sheís mad at me, so why can't she do the same? Sometimes I may get a little defensive myself as well, I'll freely admit it. But the majority of the time after I get defensive, itís usually followed with an apology to her and an effort to make her feel better and a promise that Iíll do my best not to do that anymore. But herÖitís a completely different story and I just donít like it.

How do you deal with something like this? Because it's really starting to hurt knowing that I can't talk to my wife without her getting mad at me just because I pointed something out that she did to me that hurt me or upset me.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Nov 10, '10, 10:14 am
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: March 26, 2008
Posts: 15,985
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

I will take my guess, but this is based on my experience in over 20 years of marriage, and not on a professional background.

I will warn you: I believe in apologizing for actions that are wrong, regardless of how they're interpreted. Show disrespect is wrong, even if the other person chooses not to take offense. Likewise, I don't apologize when someone gets upset when I did nothing wrong. I'm perfectly willing to amend my actions when I realize that a certain action carries a certain meaning with them, of course I express regret that they felt hurt, but I don't apologize for not being a mind-reader.

I tell any couple this when they ask for advice: "When you're wrong, apologize, even if you're not the most wrong." The person who is the most wrong usually has the hardest time apologizing. If I can apologize, it is as much a blessing to myself as to my husband. It frees me from the need to be defensive. I find the experience of being defensive very uncomfortable. Apologizing also takes me off the offensive, which makes his apology much easier to deliver and take the wind out of counter-attacks. On that account, whoever ought to apologize and can apologize should apologize, without taking into account whether someone else is more wrong.

Take this piece of warning, though: A real apology is not contingent on the idea that a counter-apology is forthcoming. If you apologize, look for forgiveness, and nothing more. Do not trade big-heartedness for score-keeping. It is a very bad trade. Do not try to act big-hearted when you are really smaller-hearted. If you give expecting applause and get none, a stingy heart will suffer wounded pride. Rather, give what you have to give, but don't give beyond your means, hoping to be repaid enough to cover the emotional bill you've run up in yourself. That is poison to a marriage.

When you run into someone who immediately leaps to make excuses for themselves and who cannot bear the thought of being wrong, you deal with it by figuring out "Why does she do that?" Does she do it because she does not feel safe being wrong? Does she have a need to think she is perfect? Does she do it in order to have superior bargaining power? Does she do it because your wording leads her the conclusion that you are making a personal attack? If you know where the minefield is that sets off the excuses, sometimes you can head off excuses by starting out with a caveat that protects the vulnerable place that the excuses are protecting. Should you have to do that? I don't know. Should you have to treat a wolf differently than a dog? What is, is. If you have a wolf, treat it like a wolf. Maybe it is not fair that you don't have a dog, but keeping your fingers makes the realization and adjustment more than worth it.

For instance, let us say that you criticize her with statements like "You always..." or "You are such a..." rather than "When you did A (one event that's under discussion, not her as a person), I became upset because it resulted in B." You are also talking about how you took it, which cannot be argued with, rather than assessing blame, which can easily become a subject of dispute. Besides, you're complaining about the one event, not her as a person. If she tries to move it off the one event, you are on ground to move it back, to deal with one specific complaint that you have. Second, you have framed the question in terms of how to avoid "B". You aren't making it about her imperfection. You are making it about how to avoid future occurences of "B". This will help you keep the conversation on the issue that needs to be addressed.

Another warning: we have a ironic statement we use around our house to snap ourselves back into perspective: "IN ANY CRISIS, THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT ORDER OF BUSINESS IS TO CORRECTLY ASSESS BLAME." This is of course nonsense, but it is how we often act in a crisis. What is instead important is to correct the crisis, then do a de-briefing to keep it from happening again. Were I you, I would choose to address her listening issue, and let the apology thing go. Let's face it: If she learns to listen, that is its own apology. An apology without listening is far less valuable.

By this method, before long you can use what air safety experts call "near miss reporting". You can report nasty mistakes that you made that almost lead to a disaster. The goal here is to figure out how to put in fail-safes so that one nasty mistake won't lead to that disaster. Does one person have a bad habit of leaving the back gate open, so the dog can get out? It is good to figure out a way to instill a good habit in its place, fine. But maybe there should also be back-up habits, like checking the status of the back gate whenever the dog is let out. The important thing is to keep the dog in. Rather than beat up on the person with the lousy memory, you say, "OK, we have a dog, we have person with a lousy memory, how do we keep those two things from combining to make a disaster?" The thing is, if you have a safe atmosphere for "near miss" reporting, there will be much less need for excuses.

But is this fair, that you have to do all of this and she doesn't? We have another saying at our house: Life is not "fair." Life is good. If you think about it, life can't be both. Thank the Lord things are as they are, because a good life is much better than a fair one.

If you change the atmosphere surrounding how mistakes and poor habits are dealt with, iyou may do a lot to get rid of excuses and replace those excuses with lasting changes that will prevent a recurrence. That is the main thing.

Finally: Be generous, realizing that your spouse will always falls short of you in some respects, remembering that she undoubtedly exceeds you in respects that you appreciate less. The Lord could have allowed you to marry someone far worse. Take the package as a package, and give thanks. That will get you a lot of mileage, too.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Nov 10, '10, 10:15 am
Barbkw Barbkw is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: August 18, 2010
Posts: 5,927
Religion: Cradle Catholic - Revert
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

"...about something she did that upset me."


It's a bit of a power struggle thing. Evenually, she'll wear off your rough edges.


Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Nov 10, '10, 10:23 am
adv1sor's Avatar
adv1sor adv1sor is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: March 16, 2010
Posts: 257
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

Don't tell her that what she did was wrong. Don't accuse her. If she does something that you don't like, tell her how it makes you feel.

For example, let's say she comes home late without calling to let you know where she's been. First, say a prayer to God and to Saint Joseph to help you be a better husband. Then, tell her how this makes you feel without accusing her of doing anything wrong.

Tell her, for example, "I love you and I worry about you when I don't know where you are or when you come home later than I expected you."

Then, leave it at that. Listen to her excuses. Acknowledge what she says without judgement. And leave it at that. Don't repeat yourself and don't argue.

Quote:
All I really want when Iím upset with her is for her just to listen to me, and to be here for me, and to try to understand where Iím coming from, and to hold me, and comfort me, and tell me how much she loves me, and that sheís sorry for offending me, and that sheíll try her best not to let that happen anymore.
Don't do this.

Imagine that she was writing this post. She might say something like,
Quote:
All I really want is for him to listen to me, to believe me, to take me at my word. To protect me, to protect my feelings. To understand me. To know that I'm not perfect but to accept me as I am and to love me.
Let me end with something that people will say is sexist, but I speak from experience of being happily married for more than 30 years. You are the man in this relationship. You are the head of the house, the authority, and the protector of your wife. You have to work hard to be all of these things and sometimes you have to put your feelings aside and just be there for her. This is as close to unconditional love as we humans can accomplish. It's not easy and it's not always fun, but it is what you are called to do. I'll say a prayer for you. Say one for me too please.
__________________
Love & Peace
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Nov 10, '10, 10:27 am
FaustinaClare's Avatar
FaustinaClare FaustinaClare is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: September 24, 2010
Posts: 258
Religion: Catholic- Former Baptist
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

This is coming from a "defensive wife".

Granted I've only been a wife for over 3 months but I've been in a relationship with the same person for quite some time.

I admit, I am a very defensive wife and I'm trying to work on it but I will try to shed some insight as to maybe why she does it? She and I are different people so I can't say this with 100% accuracy.

My husband's opinion of me is the most important out of all human relationships. I have a tendency to be a little insecure (again working on that). When he gets frustrated with me or tells me I'm doing something wrong (which is often) I automatically percieve it as criticism (not the good kind) and go into protect myself mode b/c it hurts. Sometimes I feel he has unrealistic expectations and is too judgemental. Another reason I get defensive.

I admit that my parents' relationship has contributed to the way I am and it has just gotten worse as I got older. My dad was always very critical of my mother. He would put her down all the time in front of us or as I got older I would hear about it later. He cheated on her left right and sideways and used his criticisms of her as an excuse. I will tell you his criticisms were unfounded. Whenever my husband says similar things to me I freak out in my head and start reliving my parents' problems. It isn't fair to him I know, which is why I'm working on it. It frustrates him to no end though b/c he feels we can't have an appropriate discussion without me freaking out.

Maybe your wife has some insecurities that need dealing with. She perceives your frustrations as a threat of some sort and goes into self protection mode.

Also maybe your tone of voice when you vocalize your concerns needs to be examined. My husband doesn't realize it but he can sound VERY harsh, even when he doesn't mean it. We come from different backgrounds and his family is very blunt and harsh with one another. Mine isn't (except for my dad).

Just a thought.
__________________
Jesus I Trust In You

Tiber Swim Team 2008

Please Remember the Souls in Purgatory.

Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Nov 10, '10, 10:36 am
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: March 26, 2008
Posts: 15,985
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FaustinaClare View Post
This is coming from a "defensive wife".

Granted I've only been a wife for over 3 months but I've been in a relationship with the same person for quite some time.

I admit, I am a very defensive wife and I'm trying to work on it but I will try to shed some insight as to maybe why she does it? She and I are different people so I can't say this with 100% accuracy.

My husband's opinion of me is the most important out of all human relationships. I have a tendency to be a little insecure (again working on that). When he gets frustrated with me or tells me I'm doing something wrong (which is often) I automatically percieve it as criticism (not the good kind) and go into protect myself mode b/c it hurts. Sometimes I feel he has unrealistic expectations and is too judgemental. Another reason I get defensive.

I admit that my parents' relationship has contributed to the way I am and it has just gotten worse as I got older. My dad was always very critical of my mother. He would put her down all the time in front of us or as I got older I would hear about it later. He cheated on her left right and sideways and used his criticisms of her as an excuse. I will tell you his criticisms were unfounded. Whenever my husband says similar things to me I freak out in my head and start reliving my parents' problems. It isn't fair to him I know, which is why I'm working on it. It frustrates him to no end though b/c he feels we can't have an appropriate discussion without me freaking out.

Maybe your wife has some insecurities that need dealing with. She perceives your frustrations as a threat of some sort and goes into self protection mode.

Also maybe your tone of voice when you vocalize your concerns needs to be examined. My husband doesn't realize it but he can sound VERY harsh, even when he doesn't mean it. We come from different backgrounds and his family is very blunt and harsh with one another. Mine isn't (except for my dad).

Just a thought.
This is what I mean by knowing whether you have a dog or a wolf, and acting accordingly. There are things from our pasts and from our inborn temperaments that are changed only as they come to light in a safe place, if they can be changed at all, and then only slowly and usually incompletely. That is the way human beings are, bless us every one.

We should expect everybody has something. The person who has nothing is perfect, and the pressure of standing next to that is no piece of cake to have to live with, either! It took an extremely humble person to stand in St. Joseph's spot!!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Nov 10, '10, 10:54 am
tuscany's Avatar
tuscany tuscany is offline
Senior Member
Prayer Warrior
 
Join Date: March 2, 2010
Posts: 6,043
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

Is she the oldest child in her family?

Fair or not, the oldest normally are the examples for the other kids, and more is usually expected of them growing up, because they are "older and should know better". They keep trying to please the parents because it makes the parents happy.

The parents are new at parenting, and they are much tougher on the oldest, and seem to mellow out as the kids come along. The oldest are under a lot of pressure to be always doing the right thing.

If she grew up with this, it is still in her nature to try to do everything right, or perfect. When something she's done displeases you, she mentally goes back to being that little kid that tried so hard to do everything right, and it's hard to accept that she's messed up something. I think she may get defensive to try to show why she did what she did, hoping you will see it in that light.

First borns try so hard to please, and they are more hurt when they fall short, then you will ever guess. While she's being defensive on the outside, trying to defend why she did what she did (the trying to be perfect thing), internally, she is devastated for falling short in your eyes (the trying hard to please).

She needs to keep being told and reassured that it's O.K. to mess up, that you are still pleased with her. The more she sees that it's O.K. to not do everything right, and you are still happy and pleased with her, eventually she will start to loosen up and all that pressure to do everything right will become less and less.
__________________
If you're in the Military or a Veteran, "THANK YOU".
Pray the Rosary with others @ comepraytherosary.org

Last edited by tuscany; Nov 10, '10 at 11:13 am.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Nov 10, '10, 11:26 am
RachelKH RachelKH is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2009
Posts: 420
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

by EasterJoy
Quote:
Life is not "fair." Life is good. If you think about it, life can't be both. Thank the Lord things are as they are, because a good life is much better than a fair one.
i love this and need to remember this often.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Nov 10, '10, 12:17 pm
1ke 1ke is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: May 25, 2004
Posts: 24,239
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pacoenelsaco View Post
I've been married to my wife now for a little over a year and we've been together for a total of 3 years. We love each other very much and the majority of the time, we get along great. I honestly and truly see her as my best friend because I can talk to her about anything and everything and that's truly what seperates my relationship with her from all my past relationships.

That being said, one of the things (if not the biggest thing) about my wife that irritates me is the fact that she seems to get defensive everytime we argue. And it's starting to get on my nerves. Because almost everytime I try to talk to my wife about something she did that upset me, she always goes on the defensive and starts making excuses as to why she took the position she took. She does this instead of listening to me and trying to understand where Iím coming from. And thatís probably one of the biggest differences between me and her.

When sheís upset or upset with me, I always try to find out whatís wrong with her or what I did that upset her, and I apologize, and try to do things to make amends for upsetting her or to make sure I donít ever do it again. But her, whenever I try to tell her why Iím upset with her, she just goes on the defensive. I mean sometimes sheíll try to console me when I'm upset with her and sometimes she apologizes too for upsetting me. But most of the time, she doesnít apologize for hurting my feelings and she just doesnít listen to me.

All I really want when Iím upset with her is for her just to listen to me, and to be here for me, and to try to understand where Iím coming from, and to hold me, and comfort me, and tell me how much she loves me, and that sheís sorry for offending me, and that sheíll try her best not to let that happen anymore. But it seems like most of the time, I just get nothing but excuses as to why she did what she did. And I don't feel like itís fair, because I feel as though I go out of my way to try to correct my mistakes when sheís mad at me, so why can't she do the same? Sometimes I may get a little defensive myself as well, I'll freely admit it. But the majority of the time after I get defensive, itís usually followed with an apology to her and an effort to make her feel better and a promise that Iíll do my best not to do that anymore. But herÖitís a completely different story and I just donít like it.

How do you deal with something like this? Because it's really starting to hurt knowing that I can't talk to my wife without her getting mad at me just because I pointed something out that she did to me that hurt me or upset me.
I suggest you take a good look at YOU instead of her. Because this seems to be all about you. You wanting to be held, comforted, and apologized to. Seriously?

How about you letting go of these things and offering them up? Re-read 1 Corinthians 13.

Maybe the book For Better... Forever by Greg Pocak would be a good read for you and your wife.
__________________
Pax, ke

ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Nov 10, '10, 12:30 pm
faithfully's Avatar
faithfully faithfully is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: April 22, 2010
Posts: 2,590
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

I'll just throw something into the mix. I know that I can be overly critical...and I've finally realized that it DOES go back to childhood. I went to Catholic School were ZERO excuses were allowed for anything. You were held accountable for every failure you were responsible for.

Hand in your homework. Everyone stand up. The teacher reads off the names of those papers in her hand. Those still standing may now share with the class why they are still standing. And then told that basically didn't matter. This was my life starting in the first grade.

I have a low tolerance for excuses on the job, and and even a lower tolerance at home. HOWEVER, I have learned, and still work on how to deliver disappointment without causing a war or destroying egos...

I did finally share with DH when I realized where I was coming from. I have the knowledge that he's fully capable of XYZ... and I am totally disappointed when he decides to halfA** his effort for US... when I KNOW he wouldn't do that at work for example...

At the same time, for whatever unGodly reason we seem to have a tendancy to take less effort and care with our duties and words with those that we love. Knowing they will forgive... but forgeting that it seems to display that those closest to us are not worth our full effort.

EasterJoy gives awesome insight here... and I would go with that...

I LOVE the idea of find the blame first... I'm going to start using that... I think it will really lighten up the moods when all holy heck has broken loose!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old Nov 10, '10, 12:47 pm
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: March 26, 2008
Posts: 15,985
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by faithfully View Post
I'll just throw something into the mix. I know that I can be overly critical...and I've finally realized that it DOES go back to childhood. I went to Catholic School were ZERO excuses were allowed for anything. You were held accountable for every failure you were responsible for.

Hand in your homework. Everyone stand up. The teacher reads off the names of those papers in her hand. Those still standing may now share with the class why they are still standing. And then told that basically didn't matter. This was my life starting in the first grade.

I have a low tolerance for excuses on the job, and and even a lower tolerance at home. HOWEVER, I have learned, and still work on how to deliver disappointment without causing a war or destroying egos...

I did finally share with DH when I realized where I was coming from. I have the knowledge that he's fully capable of XYZ... and I am totally disappointed when he decides to halfA** his effort for US... when I KNOW he wouldn't do that at work for example...

At the same time, for whatever unGodly reason we seem to have a tendancy to take less effort and care with our duties and words with those that we love. Knowing they will forgive... but forgeting that it seems to display that those closest to us are not worth our full effort.

EasterJoy gives awesome insight here... and I would go with that...

I LOVE the idea of find the blame first... I'm going to start using that... I think it will really lighten up the moods when all holy heck has broken loose!
I think one of the things that made the light come on with us was when the air safety people and the hospitals started to realize how counter-productive the blame game was. The idea of perfectionism in those professions has always been to save lives, after all. There was no room for error, so people who made errors could not be tolerated. Yet of course people do make errors. That cannot be changed. What actually happened was that people would hide their close calls, afraid to be found out and thrown out, and so endemic problems stuck around until there was a crash or a death.

Now it is realized that close calls and even failures can be turned into learning experiences. Of course, people still have to be careful where a pattern of sloppiness is too dangerous to be tolerated. Nevertheless, when it is figured out that the 100 mg strength gets mixed up with the 10 mg strength because the bottles look too much alike, or that pilot errors can be headed off when the culture in the cabin allows the pilot to be corrected without any shame to him or her, the workplace can be made safer without blaming anyone. You change the colors on the bottles. You make co-pilot verification part of the protocol. You do what you can so that it takes a perfect storm of several mistakes by several different people before a preventable disaster can happen.

"Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself." Gal. 6:1-3
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Nov 10, '10, 1:28 pm
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: March 26, 2008
Posts: 15,985
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ke View Post
I suggest you take a good look at YOU instead of her. Because this seems to be all about you. You wanting to be held, comforted, and apologized to. Seriously?

How about you letting go of these things and offering them up? Re-read 1 Corinthians 13.

Maybe the book For Better... Forever by Greg Pocak would be a good read for you and your wife.
OK, oversensitivity is a spiritual fault, and that is a point well-made. Still, is his wanting to be held, comforted, and so on necessarily oversensitivity? Even if one could put him in a pigeon-hole that could be justly marked "Oversensitive", is it really best for him to hide this from his wife? It is admirable to give up our wants out of sacrificial love for our spouses, but only if we can really give them up. If we're holding on, IMHO, we may well have a need. Even if the need comes from our own lack of spiritual perfection, I think it is best to humble ourselves and to admit we have it. I don't mean in a demanding way, with a sense of entitlement. In a good marriage, it doesn't take that. I mean to say, "Here. Here is where one of my tender spots lies."

Maybe he talks to his wife, and she is slow in responding or won't respond. That hurt can be offered up. That is how certain issues end up being dealt with in the end, and we need a reserve of grace for that. You make an excellent point there. Nevertheless--again, this is IM"H"O--you don't "offer it up" when maybe all that is going on is that the spouse does not realize where you fall short of perfection yourself.

Marriage is all about cobbling together one life from two imperfect people. You can't bear each other's burdens unless you know what the burdens are. You can't know what they are unless you communicate.

That doesn't mean: "I told you once how much that bothered me, but you never changed, so I stuffed my resentment over it." That is a recipe for a very nasty volcano, a volcano that will blow up someday at the worst possible time. (When do we ever say, "I've had it!", except when times have gotten to their worst?) Sometimes, the route you are suggesting is what we just have to take, absolutely. God will not let our real needs go unmet. If no one else will meet our needs, that poverty must to be taken to God, and not left as an opening for the devil.

John Gottman's books aren't perfect, but they have some good stuff teaching couples to learn how to complain and how to handle complaints. Most libraries have them. I really recommend them as a good source of ideas.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Nov 10, '10, 6:57 pm
taben taben is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 29, 2010
Posts: 133
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

RE; "one of the things (if not the biggest thing) about my wife that irritates me is the fact that she seems to get defensive everytime we argue. And it's starting to get on my nerves. "

Well, it will probably get on your nerves even more as the years go on. The things we love about our spouses we tend to grow and love more. The things that irritate us begin to irritate us more and more.

Haven't read the replies, but I suggest that you learn to overlook this. Let it go, say the Rosary and move on.

You sounds like you are a kind man and this will be okay.

Taben
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Nov 10, '10, 7:14 pm
mark a mark a is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2004
Posts: 7,203
Religion: Catholic, Roman Rite, religious not spiritual but trying
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pacoenelsaco View Post
I've been married to my wife now for a little over a year and we've been together for a total of 3 years. We love each other very much and the majority of the time, we get along great. I honestly and truly see her as my best friend because I can talk to her about anything and everything and that's truly what seperates my relationship with her from all my past relationships.

That being said, one of the things (if not the biggest thing) about my wife that irritates me is the fact that she seems to get defensive everytime we argue. And it's starting to get on my nerves. Because almost everytime I try to talk to my wife about something she did that upset me, she always goes on the defensive and starts making excuses as to why she took the position she took. She does this instead of listening to me and trying to understand where Iím coming from. And thatís probably one of the biggest differences between me and her.

When sheís upset or upset with me, I always try to find out whatís wrong with her or what I did that upset her, and I apologize, and try to do things to make amends for upsetting her or to make sure I donít ever do it again. But her, whenever I try to tell her why Iím upset with her, she just goes on the defensive. I mean sometimes sheíll try to console me when I'm upset with her and sometimes she apologizes too for upsetting me. But most of the time, she doesnít apologize for hurting my feelings and she just doesnít listen to me.

All I really want when Iím upset with her is for her just to listen to me, and to be here for me, and to try to understand where Iím coming from, and to hold me, and comfort me, and tell me how much she loves me, and that sheís sorry for offending me, and that sheíll try her best not to let that happen anymore. But it seems like most of the time, I just get nothing but excuses as to why she did what she did. And I don't feel like itís fair, because I feel as though I go out of my way to try to correct my mistakes when sheís mad at me, so why can't she do the same? Sometimes I may get a little defensive myself as well, I'll freely admit it. But the majority of the time after I get defensive, itís usually followed with an apology to her and an effort to make her feel better and a promise that Iíll do my best not to do that anymore. But herÖitís a completely different story and I just donít like it.

How do you deal with something like this? Because it's really starting to hurt knowing that I can't talk to my wife without her getting mad at me just because I pointed something out that she did to me that hurt me or upset me.
I would take a close look at her upbringing. She learned this behavior through observation.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Nov 11, '10, 8:57 am
Ellyakamommy Ellyakamommy is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: April 5, 2007
Posts: 269
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: How do you deal with a spouse who seems to always get defensive?

I am a defensive spouse. Here are a few of my thoughts that you may want to consider when approaching your spouse in the next disagreement:

1. The Five Languages of Apology by Gary Chapman would be a very good book for you. You mention that at times your wife does try to apologize but you brush it off and want something different from her. It means the way she apologizes and the way you want to be apologized to are out of sync and this book can really help with that.

2. I am very sensitive to the language and body language used in a disagreement, much more than my husband is. I do apologize when I've done something to wrong my spouse, but constructive language (even if it feels clunky to use) makes such a difference. Once the my defenses go up, it's hard to get anything through except more hurt.

3. I, too, grew up in a house where my parents criticized each other often. They'
re marriage was eroding, and critical comments weren't constructive criticism to help a situation, but personal digs. Its really hard not to see a comment coming from my spouse (who knows me and who I've made myself vulnerable to) as not containing an element of personal criticism/attack. We've discussed this, I am working on it. It helps when my husband can see where his language is unnecessarily critical (see #2), and when I can see that a question is just really just a question.

4. There's the issue and then there's how to discuss the issue. You may need to decide if its more important to discuss an issue (or let it go) or work on how the issues are discussed. Trying to bring something up, then also get upset about the way she's reacting to it is truly a recipe for a fight. If my spouse came to me with a beef, then had a beef with the way I responsed, I'm thinking what recourse do I have? I can put put up my defenses or completely withdrawal because I really don't have a way to engage with my husband. IN what way is she supposed to disagree with you?

And finally, I have a question for you, while she get defensives, is that the place she stays? If you gave her a little more time, would she drop the defenses and be willing to get to the heart of the issue? If I can get past my initial defensiveness, then a constructive conversation is much more possible and sometimes a little time and a little restraint are good ways to get there.

Just a few thoughts from a defensive wife.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Catholic Living > Family Life

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8295Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: eschator83
5059CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: Vim71
4348Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: Marla Frances
4032OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: lucia kay
3848SOLITUDE
Last by: tuscany
3598Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: RJB
3254Poems and Reflections
Last by: PathWalker
3210Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: 4elise
3177Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: Amiciel
3062For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: Kellyreneeomara



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:34 am.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2014, Catholic Answers.