Q&A: Changing attitude towards my spouse

Q: I know I’ve been overly critical of my husband in the past, and as a result, we’re now basically living separate lives under the same roof. How can we turn this situation around and move forward in our marriage?

A: An anger cycle is set in motion when a perceived need doesn’t get met. In this case, your husband likely feels his need for respect has been violated; your hurtful comments have stirred a strong emotional reaction within him. Once established, this bitterness builds on itself and only becomes worse.

The good news is that it only takes one person to slow the cycle. And real intimacy can be re-established if both parties are willing to take responsibility for their own feelings and behaviour. As the offender, you’re in the best position to make the first move in that direction.

You can initiate a positive dialogue by citing particulars. For example, you can say, “I realize I hurt you when I said _____.” Once you’ve taken that step, be as honest as you can about the negative emotions that are continuing to keep you and your husband apart. You might tell him, “When you sleep in another room, I feel lonely and unloved.” It’s okay if his first response isn’t all that you might hope; it’s simply an indication of where he’s at emotionally. You can move forward by asking him what he heard you say. Then clarify what you meant, and invite him to express his own feelings in greater depth.

Counselling is an important aid in your efforts to get to the heart of the problem. A professional therapist will be able to help you identify destructive relational patterns and avoid them in the future. If you could use some help sorting this out, call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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