Jeni from Pensacola, Florida: Fighting With Husband (Q & A)

Dr. Bryce Kaye gives advice to a woman who is too frequently fighting with her husbandQ:  My husband and I have been married for 6 months now. We have been fighting more frequently than ever lately. Actually, we used to never fight. We had little arguments, but we never fought though. It’s like all we do is hurt each others feelings. I’m one that is scared to tell someone how I feel because I’m scared it’s going to hurt him. He tells me all of the time that he wants to know how I feel about something. Well, I have begun to tell him now. And ever since I have, he yells at me and tells me that I’m being selfish and unfair. I can’t help how I feel about some things. Recently, his mother has begun a fight between us. My husband has always wanted a motorcycle. His brother is selling his bike and his mother told him about it. He was really excited about it when he found out, but he told his mother that he wanted to talk to me first before buying it. I told him that I don’t want him to buy it because I feel as if they are very unsafe and I don’t want him to get hurt and he understood why I didn’t want him getting the bike. Well he went back and told his mother that he did not want to buy the bike. And that’s when we starting fighting. His mother now says that I control his life and I tell him what he can and can’t have. But I don’t though. I tell him how I feel about something and that’s when he decides what he does and buys. Well, I told my husband that it hurt my feelings when his mother said that I control his life. When I told him that, he said that I was being selfish and inconsiderate. I don’t know why he said that, but he did. His mother said that I’m not good enough for her son and that I have an anger control problem, in which case I do not. My husband is a big time mama’s boy. He’ll admit to that also. I feel as if his mother comes before me. He takes his mom’s word before he would even consider mine and does things that only his mother would want him to do. It’s like every time I express how I feel about the subject, he just says I’m selfish and unfair and he throws it back in my face. I’m scared that she’s going to come between us and we’re going to split up because of it. I love my husband with all of my heart and soul, but I just don’t know when or what to say to him anymore. I’m scared that if I keep telling him how I feel, he’s going to yell at me and we’ll start fighting again. He never gets mad at his mom for criticizing me or making me sound like the “bad guy”. But it’s like when I say his mother is being unfair, he stands up for her and protects her. I want him to do that for me. Everything he does in life is for her. We are moving into a house that is across the street from her.   He’s not reenlisting into the military because she doesn’t want him to, and we put off alone time because he doesn’t want to leave her just in case something happens to her. I understand that he doesn’t want to leave her alone by herself because she’s 82 years old and has bad arthritis in her bones. But there are times that I would like to have my husband’s complete and undivided attention. So please, tell me what I should do!! I need help fast, because if I don’t do something soon, I’m going to be a heartbroken woman!! I definitely don’t want that either. Thank you!! Jenny

A:  Jenny.  First of all, don’t even bother responding to the issue of whether or not you’re selfish.  Just assume that you are “healthily selfish” and that it’s OK.  Your husband has to learn to negotiate with you about your “selfish” needs and to avoid invalidating them.  Unfortunately, it sounds as if he doesn’t understand a lot about relationships.  He needs to become clearer about what areas of decision-making and communication are private to your marriage and are beyond the range of Mom.  Conversely, you need to let go of any tug of war for his affection.  He deserves to love his mother and you don’t need to act out any jealousy about that. You should especially avoid derogating his mother to him.   Instead, focus on getting him to agree to some rules for what communications and areas of decision should remain private for the two of you.  If he can’t do that, then you both will badly need a marriage counselor to help you to stop the fighting and accomplish this task. – Bryce Kaye 

For information about Helen and Bryce’s Love Odyssey marriage retreats visit  where the strategy behind these couples retreats  is described in detail.

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