question 3

My wife says
she wishes

I was more
willing to fight
with her. Whatís
up with that?
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James:
Believe it or not, your wife is saying she wants to be close to you. When she says she wants to fight, she means she wants to feel what youíre made of, and she can only get that when you push back.
Craig:
She wants to feel your strength, your steel—in short, your manhood. Conflict that comes from a place of compassionate strength makes a relationship grow. It gives a push-pull to a relationship, where two passionate people can co-exist.
James:
Yes. She needs to know that you have the willingness to disagree with her, to confront bad behavior, to speak your mind even when you know it will upset her.
Craig:
Thatís respect.
James:
And it's what we need from anybody we want to be close with. It may surprise you to discover that your willingness to meet her on the battlefield will comfort and reassure her in a way that soft words and compromising postures cannot.
Craig:
"Wait a minute," I can hear you saying, "if I stand my ground, won't she just get angry?"
James:
Absolutely. It wouldnít be much of a test of your strength if she didnít get angry.
Craig:
This is going to be new and surprising for her. This type of fighting takes practice, and requires partnering.
James:
Neither of you are likely to have much experience with high-integrity fighting, and at first she may think you're attacking her.
Craig:
It's important for the two of you to talk about this, so that she knows what you're working on.
James:
Absolutely.
Craig:
Eventually, she will understand that she is not being attacked, but feeling your inner strength, which allows you to stand your ground in a loving way. This builds her respect for you, and she begins to feel that she no longer has to take all the responsibility for conflict.
James:
Try this the next time it feels like your wife is picking a fight with you: imagine that she has just asked if she could feel your biceps. Pause for a moment and remind yourself that she is not trying to shame you, she is trying to feel your strength and your presence.

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