Two years of constantly fighting

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker


My wife and I are almost 30. We’ve been married for two years,and I can count on my fingers the amount of times I have had a peaceful time with my wife. Here again are the holidays and all hell is breaking loose, evidenced by the finger scratch marks on the side of my neck from a fight last night. I have been faithful to my wife, i have tried to take care of things around the house to the best of my ability but she is constantly unhappy- says “I’m not happy.”

She fights with me alot and calls me often on the phone at work picking a fight. Every morning, its very uneasy around the house because she’ll start getting mad, then she’ll start yelling at me about something that happened a week prior. I try to be kind in the morning and hug her, but she’ll push me away, or call me repulsive. The other day she said i had a wierd looking body.

When the fighting starts, I am no saint, I throw things or get angry- she keeps coming with the insults, and when i try to walk out of the house then she says , “Come back.” But its only to get yelled at some more.

She works in a pretty demanding job and is on call most weeks and weekends, its dealing in the medical field, so she doesn’t see a pretty sight at the other end. I know some of the stress is from that. Also, she has a medical condition which puts her at risk for having children, so she is afraid and marriage is essentially sexless- I am okay with it, because she doesn’t want the anxiety, also, its hard to be romantic when my mornings and nights are filled with fighting.

When fighting isn’t going on and she is quiet- I get nervous because I don’t know if she is in a good mood or bad mood. I also found that the reverse affect is happening, and I am getting quiet. In previous relationships, I would have my moments with my significant other, but for the most part, I had a great time and holidays actually were a ton of fun. There is also a family element, she hates my mom, and her brother has gotten into 3 arguments with me already, in one case the cops were called, he’s pretty uncomfortable to be around- he tends to pace alot and i never know if he is being sincere about things or just fake because he can’t stand me. One time we took the argument over to her families, and pretty much her dad and brother came at me and her mom had to hold them back. That was the last time i took any fights into their house.

She started counseling for anger, and wants me to go as well, I have been to one counselor but they make me feel uncomfortable, so I haven’t sought anything- I am pretty much okay until i am instigated, I don’t have the power to walk away from a fight- and if I did, I’d be walking out the door almost everyday.
I don’t know if i fooled myself into believing i love her because i put up with this nonsense, or if i will put up withit because i don’t want to go through the stress of a divorce. We both talked with a counselor, the one she is seeing again, he thinks we are at the periphery of a normal relationship and that i have something called disrhythmic aggression- I can’t recall the exact wording, but its basically if my life gets out of sorts or something gets messed up, i tend to get really angry.

A: You two must have something going for you to put up with all the fighting. That gives me hope for your marriage. But even the greatest love can be worn out by constant conflict. Let me see if I understand what you said. I think you said that when things are easy, they’re easy. It’s when you’re “instigated” that you fight. Sounds to me like this is a problem. It’s when things aren’t easy that we find out what we’re really made of. You two have a very limited repertoire for dealing with emotional upset or stress. You either walk out or cause such a dustup that the original issue gets lost.

Of course counseling makes you uncomfortable. Counseling asks you to sit with your feelings and to deal. The discomfort means you are actually beginning to do the work you need to do. My best advice to you is that you and your wife stick with the counselor. Let him see how you fight so that he can understand why issues are so sensitive that you’d rather fight than deal. Your counselor will then help you learn some new ways to understand each other and some new tools for managing emotions. If you do your share by listening and practicing, you and your wife may yet be able to make a peaceful marriage.

I wish you both well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Two years of constantly fighting. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/25/two-years-of-a-constantly-fighting/