Stop the argument

Joey Garcia

I am engaged to marry a man who is five years older than me. My problem is that whenever we argue, he talks down to me. He talks to me as if I’m stupid or like I’m a child. I’ve talked to him about this behavior when we are not arguing. He apologizes and begs for my forgiveness, which I always give him. But the next time we argue, he does it again. I find it very painful. What can I do to get us out of this rut?

Stop arguing. When a disagreement begins, detach yourself from it. Don’t try to win or be right or even be heard at that moment. Agree to disagree, or at least agree to talk when the volume is conversational, not confrontational. If that seems impossible, attempt to reduce a few of the hot buttons in the relationship. If all conversations about money erupt into scream fests, for example, sit down with a financial planner and design a practical budget and retirement plan that you both respect. At the same time, create a plan of action to follow if one of you relapses into old patterns with money (the behaviors that initiate conflict).

Of course, you also can deal directly with your fiancé’s style of argument. His arrogance is the fruit of profound insecurity. When he behaves as if you are less than equal, he is actually using you to act out the dialogue that he has with himself in his head. He talks down to himself and treats himself like a child. Arguing with you provides relief from this, because, through the experience of the argument, he projects his inner turmoil onto you. His behavior will not stop until he is willing to investigate his need for emotional self-abuse and for inflicting that abuse on someone he says he loves.

You are not an innocent victim in this situation, though. Through this relationship with him, you choose to perpetuate the belief that (pick one) you are not good enough or spiritual enough or his true love. If you were, you could help him to stop treating you so badly. Right? Not at all. That kind of thinking is found in fairy tales (which aren’t reality, remember?). I suggest that, before the wedding, you seek counseling with a psychotherapist specializing in communication issues. You both need a neutral party with whom to work this out.

Why is it that married men hit on me, but single men don’t? It doesn’t matter where I am; it happens. Am I cursed?

A married man who is intent on betraying his soul, his wife, his family and his word will hit on any woman who even glances at him. He is driven by his neediness. Or, he is driven by refusal to take responsibility for failures in his marriage. Or, he is driven, psychologically, by a compulsion to engage in secret, high-risk behavior. Or, he wants a divorce but does not possess the integrity to ask for it, so he uses an affair to tear his family apart.

I hope the insights I’ve offered can combine with your own integrity to drive you away from any man who cannot give himself to you completely because he is split between you and his life. Here’s my advice: Instead of worrying about what pheromone you’re releasing to attract flies, step out of the barnyard. Make a concerted effort to place yourself in environments where singles abound. And, more importantly, work hard to create a life that is peaceful and fulfilling so that the presence or absence of a man does not determine your happiness. That’s 22nd-century thinking, and it’s a powerful way to live.

Meditation of the week
“It is not possible to open your heart when your mind is closed,” said Byron Katie, author of I Need Your Love–Is That True? How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead, during a presentation at East West Books recently. You can open your heart by questioning all of your sacred beliefs, like the ones about karma, reincarnation, soul mates, Social Security, psychics–gosh, the list never ends!

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