Becky asks: My husband uses anger to avoid solving problems with me. When he does this, I get more and more discouraged about our marriage. Do you have any suggestions?
That is unfortunate to hear Becky, yet I am going to give you a few ways to get started.The first thing I want you to think about is how to elicit cooperation. This is always the first step in these types of situations. This will require that you put your own anger and resentment aside, if you can, and decide that you want this marriage to work even if you have to make some changes too, i.e., stop blaming him. If you have any difficulty doing this, I would suggest you reach out to a counselor or clergy for assistance.
Next, how to elicit cooperation? To do this you have to invite your spouse to engage in the marriage in a way he can’t refuse. Not knowing your spouse, I can’t tell you what will work, but there will be something that gets his attention. This is NOT an ultimatum or a threat. This is connecting with another in a way that benefits you both and creates excitement, connection and purpose to come together on the mission to improve your marriage, its longevity and your happiness.
There are multiple books, courses and even YouTube videos to educate you both in this regard. I often suggest two authors: Dr John and Julie Gottman; and Drs. Gay and Kathline Hendricks. Both are exceptional teachers in the area of healthy relationships.
The Gottman’s suggest in the book, The Seven Principals that Make Marriage Work, that the below things have proven successful in happy marriages: 1. Spend time getting to know each other – don’t think you already do, ask new questions. 2. Express your fondness and appreciation often and daily. 3. Turn your attention toward your mate, not away from them. 4. Be willing to listen to your spouse and let them influence you. 5. Solve the solvable problems. 6. Overcome any gridlock. 7. Create shared meaning and direction for your lives’ together. The most important thing you can do, Becky, is to get started in moving forward today. Healthy marriages require willingness to change for both persons; a willingness to heal the past; and a willingness to learn the skills that it takes for you two to be happy. All the best, and you’ve got this.