This Surprisingly May Cause the Most Conflict in Your Marriage

This Surprisingly May Cause the Most Conflict in Your Marriage September 7, 2018

Ever been in the middle of a mild disagreement with your husband when he started acting like you just said, “I drained our bank accounts and plan to run off to Belize with the UPS guy”?

Okay, that’s extreme, but his reaction seemed excessive for the situation?

That’s exactly what happened with us last week.

Let me explain.

I was enjoying my Krispy Kreme maple-glazed delight as we drove down the interstate discussing the pros and cons of a car we were considering buying.

It was just a car. I was just asking questions. I was just expressing why I thought it was not a good buy.

That’s when he got ticked.*

He was clearly overreacting, I thought.

I pulled out my phone and started Googling anger management with my sticky fingers, thinking “What is his problem?”

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Super Sensitive

That’s when I came across an article by Shaunti Feldhahn about men, respect and anger.

I began to understand what had just happened.

What I’d just interpreted as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Super Sensitive was actually his response to feeling disrespected.

You might think, “My husband would never act like that.” That’s great, but he’d be in the minority.

Shaunti says in her book “For Women Only” more than 80 percent of men will get angry during a conflict when they feel like they’re being . . . disrespected. And a lot of times, their responses seem disproportionate to the situation.

The article seemed almost prophetic. It read: And while he’s feeling ticked off because he feels disrespected (which he was) . . . we girls are thinking “you don’t love me!” (which I did).

Has your husband ever reacted like this? He’s seemed too mad for the situation. And you’re left thinking, “Wha…?”

Here’s the deal: When men feel disrespected, they’re likely to get a little ticked. That’s what men do. Like it or not, we’ve got to give our men room to be human.

Instead of thinking he’s breaking the rules of engagement for marital conflict by getting angry, we’ve got to accept the way he’s made.

Shaunti says wise women will learn –with practice– to translate his angry words or behavior during conflict as a signal he feels disrespected, and she’ll back off.

Eventually kisses, hugs, and I’m sorry’s were exchanged. He felt bad.

But so did I.

All anger isn’t bad

Respect is huge for men, and I don’t want to ever make my husband feel disrespected. Unfortunately (unintentionally) I do.

Whatever I’d said or done had seemed innocent to me, but it had computed as “disrespect” to him. And he responded like a man: He got angry.

All anger isn’t bad. So, the next time your guy’s feathers get ruffled during a disagreement:

  1. Take a step back from the discussion.
  2. Instead of accusing him of being overly sensitive or irrational, interpret his behavior as a response to feeling disrespectful or hurt.
  3. Revisit the discussion later (after he’s calmed down) and try to identify what caused him pain.
  4. Rephrase your responses or questions more respectfully in tone and words. Remember, he’s wired differently.
  5. It may even be necessary to apologize and affirm your respect for him (even if you don’t feel like you’ve disrespected him).

My barrage of questions and comments shooting down his ideas most likely made him feel like I don’t respect his opinions, and I think his ideas are dumb, which I don’t.

Here’s the thing: I know this. It’s not like we walked down the aisle yesterday.

I still mess up sometimes.

The next time a mild disagreement takes a turn down Ticked-Off Street, instead of feeling hurt, plotting revenge or pouting for days, let him be a man and interpret his anger for what it is–hurt because he somehow feels disrespected.

Looking back, I should’ve framed my questions and responses in a way that was less confrontational and critical.

It would’ve helped if I let him know I respect his opinion instead of acting like I was using his ideas for target practice and just shooting them down.

Instead of indicting him when he gets ticked  during conflict, take a different approach.

Let him be human, examine your words, and modify them (if necessary), so he interprets them as more respectful.

*NOTE: This article is not referring to physical or verbal abusive. If you are being abused, seek professional help right away. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 800-799-7233.

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Also known as the Not So Excellent Wife, Sheila Qualls understands how tiring a tough marriage can be. 

She went from the brink of divorce to having a thriving marriage by translating timeless truths into practical skills. She’s helped women just like you turn their men into the husbands they want.

After 33 years of marriage, she’s a  coach  and a speaker whose passion is to equip women to break relationship-stifling habits and do marriage God’s way. And you don’t have to be a doormat to do it.

She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota with their five children and their Black Lab, Largo.

In addition to coaching, Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network.  Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian,, The Mighty and on various other sites on the Internet.

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13 responses to “This Surprisingly May Cause the Most Conflict in Your Marriage”

  1. This took me years to learn. In fact I remember one time my husband said he felt disrespected. That was a bell going off. But it made no sense to me until I learned men want respect and women want love. Two different things and two different ways of seeing the same discussion. But I still forget, and sometimes use his ideas for “target practice” (love this image). Yup, need to step back and think about the argument from his point of view next time steam starts emerging from his ears.

  2. Sheila, this posts sounds exactly like my aha moment the first time I read Shaunti’s book. Since then I’ve recommended it to numerous woman and frequently make it part of the homework when I’m counseling someone. It’s always the same response when they come back the next week.

    For the most part, we really don’t have a clue how our “discussions” make them feel disrespected. For Women Only is a great tool that God can use to open our eyes. I know it did mine. Great post! Pinning on my Marriage Made in Heaven board.

  3. Thanks, Donna. The book was an eye-opener for me, too. Read it many years ago, but I still need constant reminders as proven by this post. LOL!

  4. Wow! This just makes complete sense. Now I get it. I never thought about it from this perspective. I never even thought about the possibility of him feeling disrespected. Because honestly, that’s not my intention at all. But now I can totally see how when he seems too mad for the situation, he could be feeling disrespected. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing article!

  5. You’re welcomed, Isabel. I don’t think most of us “get” it. We don’t intend to disrespect and have the hardest time understanding his response.

  6. Thus is an “aha” post for me. It really explains so much. I know my husband feels this way too but u don’t know what I do or say that makes him feel disrespected. I also know he’ll have a hard time articulating it to me. I hope to learn more about the types of things that make men feel disrespected so I can change

  7. Sheila, This was excellent!!! Thank you so much for sharing!! I too have experienced this and have been blindsided by a disproportionate response. This makes sooo much sense!

    Your insights for coming along side our husbands afterwards when things have calmed own were great too!

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