Does It Seem Like Your Wife Always Picks Fights? You’re Not Wrong

 

If it feels like your wife always picks fights – there’s a reason …

Your Wife Always Picks Fights

Why Does a Ridiculously Trivial Quarrel Blow Up into WW3?

Paul … his wife, Bethany … and an incredibly trivial quarrel about whether he should be on his phone during dinner.

This in a 17-year marriage with 3 kids!

It does sound ridiculous, but we’ve all been there. That silly fight that all of a sudden blows up into WW3.

Paul felt like Bethany kept pushing and pushing … even on things that seemed trivial to him … even after he agreed to whatever it was she wanted … until he couldn’t take it anymore. It was like she just couldn’t let go of a conflict. It was one of the things that precipitated him into contacting me.

What Bethany (and the majority of women) don’t get is just how much men hate relationship conflict; that there are times when a man would almost rather separate instead of facing seemingly unending arguments.

And what Paul (and a lot of men) don’t understand is exactly how deep is her need for closeness; that there are times when she’ll blow things up just to know that you value her and desire some level of connection with her.

(Of course, sometimes it’s the man who starts conflict, but usually for different reasons.)

 

As it turns out, there’s actually a biological basis for the differences in how men and women handle relationship conflict. Understand the differences and you can put a stop to much … not all … but a lot of the conflict.

Once he cooled down, Paul was able to think more clearly, but the argument took a toll on him. He told me that he had lost respect for his wife and felt withdrawn and distant for the next week or so.

Not the same for Bethany, though.

In fact, the very next morning, she was unusually amorous.

So, what’s that all about?

If It Seems Like Your Wife Always Picks Fights

Does it feel like your wife keeps picking fights over the smallest things? That she simply can’t enjoy being peaceful together?

You’ll be chugging along happily, and she’ll blow things up seemingly out of nowhere. And she just seems to want to go on and on with it, long past the point where you want to be done with it. In fact, it seems like she’s not happy until you reach the point where you lose your cool.

 

Do you get the sense that conflict actually revs her up and makes her feel happier, while for you, the never-ending arguments just drain you and make you want to distance yourself?

Well, your instincts are right on target, because it turns out that men and women respond very differently to conflict.

Want an example?

Real quick … which partner said this, husband or wife:

Your Wife Always Picks Fights

Yup. You got it.

That’s the wife talking about her husband.

This is a couple I work with, Kyle and Christie.

But here’s the deal …

Christie’s not a bad person. And she really loves her husband. She’s not trying to make him crazy.

In talking with Christie, turns out she was concerned that she and Kyle weren’t resolving their issues. She was convinced that Kyle had all these hidden resentments, but was purposely avoiding arguments in order to keep the peace. She felt that this lack was making them lose connection.

What she wasn’t getting was that while conflict makes Christie feel closer and more connected, it absolutely drains Kyle. He has a high-conflict, high-stress job and when he’s done with his day, he just wants peace at home.

And all those things she thought he was resentful about? He wasn’t.

What Kyle mostly wanted was peace. And sex. Those were the two things that created connection for him.  

 

My goal was to help Christie process the reality that even though she starts feeling more connected if they’re engaging in conflict and resolving issues, the same isn’t true for Kyle.

Why?

Because resolving issues tends to make women feel more connected while men overwhelmingly view conflict with their wife as negative.

Christie wasn’t understanding the basic differences that lie between men and women. And Kyle wasn’t understanding her need for emotional closeness.

Why Your Wife Always Picks Fights

There’s been a lot written about relationship conflict and why it happens, but there’s a really simple reason your wife picks so many fights.

It’s counter-intuitive, but …

Your Wife Always Picks Fights

 

Conflict Helps Her Feel More Connected

Here’s Why Your Wife Always Picks Fights

 

Men & Women: How They Each View Conflict 

This doesn’t make sense to most men, but your wife can actually enjoy arguing with you because it makes her feel more connected.

That’s a difference between men and women.

Studies show that a man tends to feel best when he can tell that his wife is happy. He feels like he’s ‘done his job’.

This is intuitive to most men, but what they don’t realize is that women are different.

The reason your wife always picks fights is that women tend to want to engage through conflict.

For her, when the two of you argue and she can tell that you are upset or agitated, she actually feels closer and more connected.

Not because she’s evil, but because when you are attuned to her emotions, she feels like you care.

She argues with you because it feels good to her to engage and she’s simply unaware of the disconnect she’s creating and how much all this conflict is bothering you.

This is why she tends to escalate arguments quicker than you do.

She’s Not All Wrong

Some Conflict is Necessary

And while you may really hate conflict, she’s not all wrong.

While too much conflict hurts a marriage, conflict avoidance can also do some damage.

We know that couples who avoid important relationship topics are less satisfied and less committed to the relationship, and that women are more negatively affected by conflict avoidance than men.

Her desire is for more relationship openness, so when you withdraw and distance yourself, she starts questioning the strength of your partnership.

 

One of women’s two major complaints about their relationship is that ‘there isn’t enough emotional connection’.

 

On the other hand, one of men’s two major complaints about their marriage is there’s too much fighting.

 

Given the distinct contrast between men and women, how do you ever resolve this basic difference?

Your Wife Always Picks Fights Because Sometimes It’s the Only Way You’ll Engage

 

Your Wife Always Picks Fights

What you want to do is to create the emotional connection your wife desires in happy ways, so she doesn’t need to pick fights in order to feel close.

And I know it can seem like a huge pain to put this into action when sometimes after you get done with work, all you want to do is chill out, have sex, and get to sleep.

But she has as strong a need for verbal and emotional intimacy as you have for sexual intimacy.

In general, sex opens a man up and allows him to connect more easily, while conversation opens a woman up and allows her to connect sexually.

Luckily, when done well, you can both get what you want.

Help Her Understand the Negative Toll Constant Conflict is Taking

I promise you your wife doesn’t understand the toll all this drama is taking on your marriage.

Most women don’t.

Honestly, the only reason I do is because of the men I’ve worked with over the years who have shared their thoughts with me.

I’ve also done a lot of work with couples where the woman is genuinely flabbergasted when her husband finally explains just how negative he feels about constant conflict.

How it makes him withdraw from her in an effort to protect himself.

Until Paul told Bethany how much the constant spats were bothering him, she really had no idea.

I’ve worked with so many men in this position. This week alone, I’ve heard something along similar lines from three individual clients, all males. (Which is what inspired this article.)

It’s really hammered it home for me.

She needs your help to get it.

So, here’s what you do this weekend …

3 Ways to Increase Connection

What To Do When Your Wife Always Picks Fights

Your Wife Always Picks Fights

 

How to Fix It When Your Wife Always Picks Fights

1.   Set Strong Boundaries around Conflict

First off, tell her how you really feel about all the arguing. (Show her this article if you want.)

Tell her how damaging it is to your sense of closeness. How it makes you want to withdraw and distance yourself.

Let her know that together you two need to keep arguments calm and productive.

Lovingly explain that you can’t tolerate disrespect anymore. That it’s damaging for both of you. Help her understand that it doesn’t matter how valid her message is if her tone is disrespectful.

Explain that in the future if either of you become heated or disrespectful, you’re going to call a time-out and remove yourself.

In other words, just take that soggy-chip option off the table.

2.   Create Connection Rituals

At the same time, create intentional connection, so she doesn’t feel the need to introduce drama.

Three Daily Connections

  • Morning Connection

This can be a cup of coffee on the porch or a simple ‘How did you sleep? What’s your day going to be like?’

Look at each other as you speak. Eye contact connects you.

  • Coming-Home-from-Work Connection

When you two get home from work, touch base with each other, don’t jump right into making dinner or doing chores. Make your kids wait.

Look into each other’s eyes, and ask, ‘How was your day? Are you doing okay? I’m glad you’re home. I missed you.’

 

  • Evening Connection

After you get the kids to bed, sit on the sofa together for ‘LapTime’.

LapTime is kind of cool. A couple I work with actually came up with this one, and it was so helpful I started using it with other couples.

This is where you take turns sitting on each other’s laps (guys, you can just put your legs over hers when it’s your turn). And ask each other questions.

Your Wife Always Picks Fights

You can also do affirmations some nights.

Your Wife Always Picks Fights

Use eye contact.

It may feel awkward and contrived at first, but it will gradually start feeling natural.

 

One Weekend Connection

At some point during the weekend, set aside 30 minutes to talk about plans and goals.

For a lot of couples, it’s Sunday mornings when there are no kids’ activities. Or Saturday night after the kids are in bed. Outside by the firepit with a glass of wine is great.

Use eye contact and hold hands.

3.   Have Fun Together – Your Insurance Policy Against Conflict

Want an insurance policy against negative conflict?

Start having fun together!

We know from multiple studies that couples who spend time together having fun or doing novel activities are significantly more satisfied with their relationship.

 

Spending as little as an hour and a half each week doing something you don’t typically do … plays, concerts, hiking, or dancing … makes you feel more connected and more satisfied with your partner and with your marriage.

A 90-minute investment isn’t much when you weigh it against the amount of time you’re currently spending on conflict …

Having fun together also makes your inevitable conflicts less volatile and more productive.

The caveat?

Leave the ‘Relationship Talk’ at home!

It may be hard for your wife to let go of trying to hash out the latest conflict; it’s become habit for her.

You’re probably going to have to help her. Remember, conflict is innately rewarding for her.

Make a rule … you both have to keep it light and keep it fun!

Innate Differences Between Men & Women

There are innate differences between men and women and the way they relate to conflict, that our society doesn’t do a good job of explaining them.

Understanding the differences doesn’t magically solve the problems, but it does go a long way toward helping you figure out better solutions.

Set your boundaries, build connection in more positive ways, and have fun together!

You’ll see a significant improvement in the quantity and quality of your conflict.

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