How to deal with disagreements

eezelpreezelOctober 25, 2003

Hi all. I've been in this forum reading alot, but this is my first post (other than on the Garden Web). My husband and I were married last year. One of the things I knew about him going into this was that he doesn't like to deal with conflict head on. He'd rather just clam up until he "gets over it." Anyway, I can deal with that. My problem is that EVERY time I disagree with something, he gets mad. I'm not allowed to have my own opinion without paying a price for it, namely the silent treatment. This is true for any type of difference, as small as what color towels to buy and as big as money issues. I don't feel its fair to be "punished" for having my own opinion. How should I deal with this? The worst part is, even if I end up seeing I'm wrong and apologize, it doesn't matter. Once he's mad, he won't communicate until he's ready to, period. Part of it is my fault because I sometimes just don't know when to shut up. Mostly I just try to get him to say that we agree to disagree, but he won't even give up that much. If it's not how he thinks or feels, then it's wrong. Any advice?

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I think it is probably how you handle disagreement. Your husband is a smart man, IMHO. He is allowing himself to calm down before discussing something in anger. The best time to discuss things of this sort is AFTER both parties have had a chance to think it through and then discuss it like adults in a calm, non-confrontational manner. Also, it is so important to "pick your battles". Decide how important this disagreement really is in the large picture. If you agreed with everything, you would have a very dull relationship. Diversity in ideas makes for a strong partnership.

If you are both giving at least 60% to the relationship, you will be amazed at how few conflicts you have!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2003 at 9:47PM
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Eezel, do you feel like it's a power struggle? Does he seem to feel that if you disagree with him you are challenging him in some way? It's hard to diagnose this one. You need more information about why he get so bent out of shape over little differences in opinion.

I would try to nip it in the bud though, because this type of mystery doesn't just go away. What would happen if you had a disagreement about a big thing, like children or a money problem?

You two need to work together to communicate in a non-emotional manner. And if he can't deal with it or doesn't seem to understand himself and his own behavior (most people don't), you may need to get the input of a counselor to help you figure out how to help him turn this around.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2003 at 7:57PM
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My mother used to use this "silent treatment" when we did something that she was unhappy with - like disagreeing with her. As much as I hated this and thought it was cruel, I unfortunately have this tendancy. I have to kick myself and try and talk it out, even if I have to say that we have to wait to talk until I cool down. This sure sounds like a power trip by your husband. He knows that it bothers you, so he does it until "you come to your senses" and agree with him. I would tell him how much it hurts you and that it only causes resentment (because it really does). Most likely, he was never allowed to have an opinion when he was growing up, so when you don't agree with him, he uses this tactic. If talking to him doesn't work, try ignoring him and going on with your business as if nothing happened. This will either get him to see that he is being stupid and selfish or it will pi** him off more.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2003 at 3:58PM
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My DH can drive me crazy when we disagree!

The many moods of DH when disagreeing:
~ Sometimes he sneers and silently walks away mad.
~ Sometimes he's a bulldog barking (still has that sneer on his face). Many times I find that he is so busy talking he just doesn't listen! I have learned at times to just tell him we will talk about this later and try to talk with him later when he is calmer and more apt to really listen (rather than bark).
~ Sometimes when he goes off on something small or insignificant I tell him flat-out that I'm not fighting about this it's too ridiculous to fight about.

I tend to be the kind that thinks before I talk while in disagreement and usually remain pretty calm BUT every once in a blue moon he just pushes it too far and then I go off (not a pretty site and you wouldn't be there for this).

And I have learned sometimes to lead my bulldog to the water and let him think that it is his idea that he is thirsty.

Most important I have learned to pick my battles.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2003 at 1:58AM
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Thanks for the input. I have pointed out to him that this "clamming up" is a control tactic, but he does not see it that way, or at least he doesn't want to see it that way. My view is why does he always get to decide a conversation is over? I've also pointed out to him that it was hurtful to me, and I've asked him to at least tell me (when it's one of those big issues) that he's not speaking to me because he's upset, but he'll get over it. See, that's the biggest problem about this issue. It's when he's REALLY mad about something and just shuts up, I don't know what he's thinking and so of course my mind wanders and I end up thinking the worst, which is excruciating. I'm working on not trying to "change his mind" when in a disagreement, and I think that if I can accomplish that alot of this would go away, although we'd still disagree about things. Maybe this is just one of those things a young marriage has to figure out through trial and error.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2003 at 5:21PM
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This is definitely a control tactic - probably subconscious on your part. It could be worse.
My husband has the same problem with disagreeing - he will NOT agree to disagree - it has to be his way, right down to how I should be feeling, much less my opinion. However, instead of the silent treatment, he blows up and holds on like a pit bull. Nothing said (or unsaid) makes any difference. The only end comes from one of us leaving. He won't even hold off until our four year old is out of the room. When our son starts to get upset, he tries to transfer the anger over him. I don't let him of course, but still, I think that I would rather have the silence.
I agree that you should try to tell him hw he makes you feel. It might be easier (for both of you) if you wrote it all down and left him to himself to read it and really think about what you are saying. I can offer nothing else for you, but to just keep trying to let him know how you feel.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 1:54AM
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The silent treatment he does so he gets his way is called being Passive Agressive, do some research on it. It is a control tactic.

He needs to learn how to communicate. I'm not sure how you do it, but I statements are good. When you don't talk to me I feel like my opinion doesn't matter. I don't like it when my opinion doesn't matter. DO NOT use hidden YOU statements....I don't like it when YOU. THis can be hard to do, but keep things focused on I. When you don't talk to me (a physical act, can be seen/heard and is objective, not subjective), I feel XXXX. Not You always stop talking to me (subjective, it is not ALWAYS, and the you points a finger), and because YOU don't talk to me YOU make me feel bad. Do you see the difference. I can be subtle, but it is there.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 10:35AM
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Excellent advice Vicky!

I am also a proponent of the "I" statements. " I feel ...when you say...."

I have found a lot of aguments happen because people think they are being "blamed" for something or other.

If you can see the argument as a separate entity, or rather just a problem with nothing, or nobody to blame...then go on to solve it with that in mind...I find this works a lot better. Just focus on dealing with the problem and not who did what, who is to blame.

Works well at my house...but it is still a work in progress most of the time!

It good that you can discuss this on this forum.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 3:27AM
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