Laura Doyle Relationship Coach
From Quarrelsome to Content
“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” —Proverbs 21:9 (NIV)
I met my husband in college, and disrespect started early—even before we got married. He said he’d always dreamed his bride would come down the aisle followed by a long white train. I found a gown with a short train. He didn’t see until our wedding day that I had completely disregarded his wishes.
As newlyweds, I worked and he was in school, which created an awkward dynamic. Six months into marriage, I complained bitterly to my mom and sister that I couldn’t see any advantage in being married. He was spending my money, he’d go out golfing with his friends or settle into a book or play computer games at home, and I was lonely a lot. My expectations for a happy, fun, never-alone relationship were not being met.
I was miserable and told him so. I read marriage books, and we went to marriage retreats. I wrote him letters with lists of what I thought he should be doing, telling him to try to be a better husband or get help. I complained to his family members, asking them to tell him the same thing. I had lots of expectations and would frequently tell him tearfully how much he was disappointing me. He would say I was impossible to please so why should he even try?
As we began talking about having kids, we went to a marriage counselor, hoping to resolve some longstanding fights. She was more like a referee—I said my side and he said his, and there was an impasse so we quit going. While I was pregnant, he was invited to a guys’ poker game and got hooked. He started spending hours playing online poker and reading about it. He quit coming to bed at the same time as me. I felt even lonelier and more trapped with a new baby and a mentally absent husband.
In commiserating with a friend, she told me about the book The Surrendered Wife, and I read it. I related to Laura’s experiences and tried to implement some of her recommendations. I committed to rereading it annually. Later, I subscribed to Laura’s emails, eventually going to the Cherished for Life Weekend and doing coaching training. Slowly, I began to implement the Six Intimacy Skills™ more consistently.
Instead of complaining that we never took trips together, I began saying, “I would love a getaway.” We had three last year alone! Instead of managing the money (as I did when we were first married), then second-guessing him when he did it, he now manages the finances and I try not to interfere. I do state my desires then trust him, and he seems more confident and I feel much more relaxed. I had often criticized him in public and am working on reframing my perspective and my words.
The Intimacy Skill that seems to have made the most impact has been gratitude. Usually at bedtime, I reflect on the day and thank him for how he has helped. It has been magical in three ways: my mindset has shifted as I notice the positive, he seems much more relaxed and comfortable around me as he hears how much I like him and am thankful for him, and now he often comes to bed at the same time as me!
Through self-care, I have allowed myself to enjoy life more. I have workaholic tendencies and get a lot of fulfillment through achievement. Now, I plan and treat myself to tea dates with friends, pedicures, and just allowing some unscheduled time for relaxing. This has brought up my baseline happiness level so that I’m not relying on him to make me happy (or focusing on everything he’s not doing). It gives my mood a buffer against disappointments and frustrations.
While things haven’t changed in some ways (he still plays poker and has different interests than mine), my attitude has changed. I choose intimacy over being right and in control all the time. I appreciate what I have and what he does. When disappointments do come, through gratitude I bounce back more quickly and don’t find myself getting colds or headaches from them as much.
I was talking with a friend recently and mentioned that my husband was playing poker. She stopped me, shocked that for the first time she didn’t hear bitterness in my voice in telling her that. Now, instead of being across the house or across the room from me, my husband will often come sit beside me in the evening. His quarrelsome wife is gone—the respectful one, here to stay.
Laura and I want to help you rediscover the intimacy, passion and peace in your marriage. Click here to apply for your FREE Discovery call.