Many people are familiar with the frustrating experience of dealing with someone who thinks he's never wrong. When that someone is your husband, however, the experience is worsened by the fact that if it's never his fault, he'll typically see it as yours. While such combative behaviors may seem to be focused on you, the real issues likely lie within him. With some helpful tools and understanding, you may be able to turn the situation around to bring greater equality to your relationship.
1. Understanding Why
It's important to understand why your husband believes the issues in your marriage are one-sided. He may recognize his flaws but may be insecure about the relationship and hopes to avoid the reality that he is a less than desirable partner. Or, he simply may not be in the habit of considering your point of view as fully as he considers his own. In other words, he may be internally considering his own excuses and reasons for bad behavior while only considering your behavior externally. Check yourself to make sure that you are not reproducing these negative patterns yourself; if you are, improvement in this area will likely improve trust in your relationship, which will help him feel safe in addressing his own poor behaviors.
2. Address His Approach
Address your husband's approach. Use a collection of statements he has made in the past that strongly demonstrate his tendency to find you at fault for all issues. Point to these and ask him if he truly believes that you are the problem in all of your issues. If he admits that this is not the case, tell him that you need him to begin admitting his faults and addressing why it's difficult for him to do so. However, if he says yes, ask him why he believes he should stay married to you if you are at fault for every single negative occurrence in your relationship. Tell him that you simply won't accept an ongoing belief that he is superior.
3. One Issue at a Time
In future arguments, do not introduce or allow any discussion of matters unrelated to the specific situation at hand. Understand that when this happens, the argument can only go downhill. Once you cease to discuss the single issue at play, it is easy to move into an argument about who is always right and who is always wrong. If you husband attempts to introduce unrelated complaints or arguments, calmly say, “That's another argument and we should talk about it another time. We need to stick to what's happening right now.” Repeat yourself if necessary and refuse to engage in a destructive discussion.
4. Abandon the Defensive
Refuse to take the bait when your husband insults, blames or belittles you. When faced with an unsolved problem which he tries to blame you for, remind him that focusing on where the blame is won't actually solve the problem. Avoid responding to hurtful statements with similar statements of your own. Ignore his attempts to shame you so that you are not rewarding the negative behavior. Keep discussions focused on how to solve your problems, not on who is right or wrong.
- After Psychotherapy: Defenses Against Shame
- "Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage: How Healthy Conflict Can Take You to Deeper Levels of Intimacy"; Greg Smalley.
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