My Ever So Excited Wife

Question

As salamu ‘alaykum :

I have been married for 28 years, my wife gets upset on small things, and when she does she yells, makes baseless accusations about me, and claims there is nothing wrong with her behaviour. I have explained to her many times that I do not like her behaviour – she does not even apologise. I cannot take it any more so as a result I have stopped talking to her, because that’s the only way I can avoid this.

 

Answer:

By Karima Burns.

[Kristie Karima Burns has been counseling as a Homepath for over 9 years. From the U.S. she is a doctor in Naturopathy, a Master Herbalist, and teachs with inspiration from the Waldorf school. She uses art, health and education to heal others.]

There are a few possible ways to look at this situation to help you explore more suitable solutions. It sounds like you could be a victim of emotional abuse or it could simply be a different way of responding to situations in life.

For now your solution is suitable assuming that you are “not talking” during the period of anger only. People in general (women or men) need to respect their partner’s limits. If a partner says “I cannot handle the yelling right now” or “I do not like it when you call me names” that needs to be respected by the other party, also it needs to be respected that she too has limits. If the other person refuses to respect your limits you need to make the line “firmer” using a gentle form of resistance such as refusal to participate.

Each time a person resists engaging in a fight or angry confrontation with another they need to make it clear why they are leaving or disengaging in the “battle”. To be fair you should say each time, ‘I need to stop talking right now, and take a time out from this conversation as I do not want to become angry as well” or “I feel I do not deserve this emotional abuse. When you feel you would like to speak to me in a respectful manner we can talk”. I am giving general advice here for anyone who is directing emotional abuse at you. Of course you need to decide what to say based on who they are – wife, husband, boss at work, friend, parent, etc…

However, the most important thing is that your own response to them is respectful. To refuse to respond to an angry or unreasonable person is sometimes the best way to prevent more anger from surfacing on both sides. It is also a way of being respectful of your own human rights. However, if you also engage in disrespectful behavior, you are entering the “battle” with your own form of emotional abuse. If you are refusing to speak to her for hours or days on end then this is also a form of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can be passive as well as aggressive.

Another possibility to consider is that she may simply be seeing life in a completely different way, and is not behaving in any way that seems unusual to her. People have different temperaments and different ways of dealing with life. For example, people of the choleric temperament are often very dramatic in their speech. They may use exaggeration, drama and a raised voice when they speak. To someone who is not of the choleric type this may seem “unreasonable and yelling”. However, to them they may simply be raising their voice slightly and being dramatic. Since their normal way of living is dramatic they do not feel they are doing anything wrong. And they are not. A person of the phlegmatic temperament may get angry by becoming firm and quiet. This can be frustrating for those around them who can feel they are being “stubborn and not listening to them”. However, this is simply the phlegmatic person’s way of dealing with anger and is not “wrong” either.

You do not mention that she is using bad language or attacking you physically. You also don’t mention how loudly she is yelling. In my work with people I have noticed that people’s definitions of yelling can range all the way from a “slightly raised voice” to “screaming”. Some people even consider if a person is directing an intense conversation at them that the person is “yelling” even when the voice does not rise at all. It would help to know what category she is in. Is she really yelling or is she simply using a slightly louder or more intense voice?

Lastly, you mention that she is making “baseless accusations”. Could you be more specific?

Are these always the same?

Does she use bad language or are these accusations completely unrelated to anything?

Are some of the accusations accurate or partially accurate?

If she is making the same accusations over and over, you may want to sit and talk about each of them when she is feeling calm. If they are random accusations that are always different then this would be another sign of possible emotional abuse.

If you can honestly conclude that she is being excessive in her yelling there is little you can do about it until she realizes she has a problem. However, any problem that is discussed must also be discussed with a willingness on your side to also admit the problems you might contribute to the conversations. To be fair, most conversational problems have two sides. Sometimes the more aggressive person can seem “more wrong” or even “the only person that is wrong” but negative passive behavior can be destructive too.

Until things change the best thing to do is accept the way she is with love. If she does have anger management problems then realize compassionately that these are not your issues, and her anger is not completely directed at you. Help her to heal and find better ways to communicate with you. She is trying to communicate, but does not know how to reach you. Help her know how to reach you in the best ways.

In sha’Allah this is helpful.

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