Confronting to Connect: Why Would You Do That?

In his Love and Respect Live Marriage Conference DVDs, Emerson Eggerichs says of women, “She confronts to connect.”

The first time I heard that I wanted to turn to my dear wife and say “Why would anyone think that’s a good idea?” Men see this as just plain crazy because for us confrontation is a fight or flight situation. We fight to win or fight till we’re proven wrong. Or, we leave – which can be physically leaving or just tuning out.

Confronting to Connect: Why Would You Do That?

For men, confrontation sends one clear message: I’m right, you’re wrong, and you better agree with me. When our wife confronts us we see no good option. We don’t understand our wife is looking to connect with us. We don’t understand she’s motivated by the hurt she feels over a lack of intimacy. We process her actions with our male minds. How we choose to respond isn’t going to be what she wants and odds are it’s going to make matters worse.

Do you confront to connect? If so, how can you communicate your desire to connect in a way he won’t see as adversarial? 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and sometimes women totally baffle me.

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52 Comments on “Confronting to Connect: Why Would You Do That?

  1. There are a handful of unresolved issues in our marriage. To me, they contribute to a breakdown in intimacy, but to him, sweeping them under the rug helps clear the room to build intimacy. He doesn’t want me lifting the rug to ask him about what’s underneathe. That’s just digging up old dirt. But to me, the issues are still there, dirtying up the room. It isn’t clean until removed.

    • Yes, libl! I could not agree with you more!! The rug sweeping thing is INFURIATING and COWARDLY! Deal with something, for crying out loud! I do not understand how anyone can think problems will go away if we “just don’t talk about it.” That is NUTS and it drives me insane.
      It’s not “confrontation” as in “I’m here to go against you” – it’s more like “we need to work this out. I’m hurting and you don’t care.” There is no greater expression of NOT loving your wife, than when a man walks away in the middle of an argument. That says “you are the least important person to me, I have no time for you, you are not worth it.” Argh! I’m getting aggravated just thinking about it.
      And answer me this, husbands. How is it that my husband, who is big, and strong, and runs crews filled with big, strong, tough, rough men every single day – and commands their respect – and isn’t afraid of them – and deals with all the issues on these big million dollar jobs – can’t handle little ol’ me??? I’ll tell you why. Because I am of no importance to him. Work is important, coworkers are important, I’m just a nuisance – so let’s walk away. Well then do NOT tell me you love me because we both no I am worth nothing to you if you can just brush me off so easily.

      My husband and I are actually getting along pretty well right now, I’m not even upset. But just thinking about this got me all fired up. That’s how mad his responses when I want to discuss something can make me feel. Whew!

      • Dear B,

        You gave your own clue in your second sentence. You said the rug-sweeping thing is “cowardly.” If you meant nothing to your husband, he would easily be able to handle “little ol’ you.” Consider that perhaps he brushes you off because you are TOO important to him, and he is afraid of the thought of being disappointing to you in some way. He doesn’t care nearly so much about the big strong tough rough men, and therefore is not constrained with cowardice. If he didn’t care about you, it would be easy, not fearful, to discuss issues with you.

      • @B “It’s not “confrontation” as in “I’m here to go against you” – it’s more like “we need to work this out. I’m hurting and you don’t care.”
        Of course, it is – but does he see it that way? Does he hear “come let us reason together?”
        I am in no way suggesting anything should be swept under the rug. My posts her and on TGH about keeping secrets should make that clear.
        The issue here is how it’s done, and some women do it in a way that’s not good.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Change Your Life: Identify and Break Limit ChainsMy Profile

        • Paul, I appreciate you, and I think you have a better grasp on women than most men. And I’m not looking to be confrontational, but…

          You’re jumping to conclusions. Never, ever did I say YOU suggested things should be swept under the rug. I was referring back to libl’s comment.

          To me, that automatic defensiveness is a guy thing, and stems from not listening (reading) what I’m ACTUALLY talking about.

          • @B – I should have addressed the comment to libl, not you, my bad.
            I suppose I was a bit defensive, but it’s more a blogging thing than a male thing (or it’s a male blogging thing maybe?) I’ve learned that not clarifying you didn’t mean something will result in someone thinking you do mean it.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…Change Your Life: Stop Being Who Others WantMy Profile

  2. I think that sometimes women feel that they’re out of options. They have tried to ask, talk, pray, explain, etc. and nothing has changed. And I’m not sure that confronting always says “I’m right and your wrong.” I think sometimes it says, “I am desperate for a change to take place in our marriage.”
    Gaye @CalmHealthySexy recently posted…Welcome to the Let’s Get Real Party #154My Profile

    • @Gaye – Another great point. I’d start with “I’ve tried to communicate this but have not felt you have heard me…”

  3. Try applying something I learned about 10 years ago (wish I had learned it sooner!). Don’t listen to her words so much as listen to her heart. Men tend to communicate facts, women tend to communicate feeling. For example, my wife’s anger is often rooted in fear: fear of being left alone if something happens to me, fear of losing my love, fear of not being financially secure, etc. In my XY mind, I think those fears are unfounded, but I have to reexamine them, and sometimes her fears are valid, and the confrontation makes me address things that otherwise would be stuffed down and hidden away.

    I grew up in a family that didn’t confront real issues but tended to hide them away. Glossing over problems says to the one bringing it up, “You’re overreacting, you’re blowing it out of proportion, maybe you’re just plain wrong.” Not confronting the issue is a form of disrespect. My family hid things away until they couldn’t be hidden any longer and they blew up, damaging relationships almost beyond repair.

    Do I wish that my wife would confront me in a gentler way? Of course! But I’m working hard at becoming an Ephesians 5 husband, and my bearing the anger and the confrontation is an echo of Christ bearing the wounds of my sin. I try to avoid the fight/flight/mentally-check-out model because I have another choice: look past the surface of anger and confrontation and try to hear her heart. Once the storm has calmed a bit, then it can be dealt with in a more rational (XY-friendly) manner. And I have found so many times that what my wife was confronting me about was, nine times out of ten, valid, something I really did need to address. And then I thank God again for blessing me with this amazing woman. And I bless God again for being more concerned with sanctifying me than making me feel comfortable. And I thank God again that though my wife is usually a mystery to me, I have the great privilege of exploring that beautiful mystery, with all its richness of peril, depth, and love.

  4. So, if we want to resolve the issue…we have to let it go or…?

    • @Jen – Not at all. But how it’s approached is important. We tend to fall into patterns, and those become traps for both us and our marriage. Our own defensiveness is often a huge part of the problem. If I expect pushback I start of harder than if I don’t. It’s natural, but it’s not helpful.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Change Your Life: Stop Being Who Others WantMy Profile

  5. I imagine there are many interpretations of “confrontation.” One definition: a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation between opposing parties.

    Thinking back about the times I likely came across this way with my tone of voice and choice of words, I wasn’t looking for an argument, and I wasn’t looking for connection. I simply couldn’t continue hiding my true feelings. And as Gaye shares, I was desperate for a change in our marriage. I could have been less confrontational in my delivery, but doubt he would have heard me or sensed the urgency in my message.

    I also think we tend to use this delivery method when we feel trapped. When DH knows DW cannot leave because she and the children are financially dependent on him, she is powerless and he knows he doesn’t need to listen to her. A trapped animal is a fierce animal. This was my reality for many years.

  6. I have been taught so strongly, from childhood, not to be confrontational, and it’s detrimental to communication, to be honest. I would say more problems are caused by women being indirect in order to avoid confronting, than by women being confrontational. I am lucky to have a gentle and tolerant husband, but he doesn’t know how much he unintentionally hurts me at times – for example, telling me it’s too hot for the 13-year old grandson to mow the lawn but not turning a hair at his 58-year old wife doing it. Well, what would I get out of confronting him on that? He’s not able to do it himself and generally not willing to pay someone to do it. That’s not going to change. But, did I let him know indirectly that I was unhappy about it? Yes, I did, by making a big deal about being hot, moaning and groaning, etc. What did I really want – well, partly, not to have to mow the lawn, but that’s not an option. Mostly, I wanted to know he cares as much about me as about the grandson. Well, of course he does! By the way, I’m glad I decided before marriage that I would never ‘sulk’ by refusing affection, sex, or sharing the same bed.

    He’s not perfect, but I’m even more imperfect. Still, deciding when it’s ok to ‘confront’ will always be difficult for me. We have financial issues that are genuinely unfair to me and I would probably be justified in confronting him, but I knew it would be like this when I married him, and I did it anyway. As my mom would have said, I made my bed, and now I must lie in it. I have a wonderful marriage with just that one real problem, money, and it shows a lot about his commitment and my commitment that we’ve never had a serious argument about it.

  7. I used to sometimes pick fights with my husband because it was the only way I could see his heart and feel connected. You ask how we could communicate the desire to connect differently. I often told him that I wanted to connect with him, that I needed to spend time with him, that I was feeling disconnected–and he almost always responded with a gruff, “Then you should have sex with me” or, “Why is it always about you?” Then he would either tune me out or make a move for sex.

    Confronting him was the only way I ever got him to pay attention to me other than sexually. The connection I got wasn’t what I really wanted, but it was far better than what I got without it. An adversarial connection was better than none at all.

    I understand now that he felt just as deprived of connection as I did because of my resistance to sex–but at the time, I felt like I had to pick a fight in order to get to a point of being able to want to have sex with him.

  8. I think a lot of it comes down to men calling something “confrontation” because it’s something they don’t want to deal with. I think a lot of us here have tried soft approaches — “hey, can we talk about X?” “I was doing X and I really need to figure out Y,” sending an email or text, whatever — and if there is absolute resistance, then we feel pushed to be demanding. Metaphorically block the door and say I need to talk about XYZ.

    If men equate forcing a conversation as confrontational or even bringing up an undesirable topic as confrontational, then they are definitely going to feel like they’re constantly under attack, but it’s largely on them and their perspective. And I’m with B — after awhile, that continual resistance is going to affect my perception of how much my husband loves me and not in any kind of positive way. You suck it up, buttercup, for work and for friends and for things you’re invested in. If you’re not treating me or our home the same way, I am not going to assume it’s because I’m super important.

  9. I’m probably going to get reamed over this, but in reading Paul’s article and the replies, a thought occurred to me: would you approach an authority in the manner that you approach your husband?
    “Pastor, we need to talk.”
    “Boss, we need to talk.”
    “Mayor, we need to talk.”

    I know that this invites a “but he’s not over me” response, but I would ask if your husband is less worthy of your deference than an authority? I get that the “we need to talk” is not intended to be confrontational, but if this ain’t working, it ain’t working!

    Paul’s reaction is not unique; just this morning, another article came across my Twitter feed saying that “We need to talk” are THE four words husbands dread most.
    CSL recently posted…Almost Finished!My Profile

    • I have said “Pastor, we need to talk” and “Boss, we need to talk” and the conversations have been welcome. I hold positions in which I am expected to bring situations to their attention and to collaborate with them toward solutions. Perhaps therein lies the difference. The conversation is not viewed as a personal attack or discussion of our relationship. Instead, it is viewed as a necessary step in resolving a situation or issue. They hear “we have an issue to resolve” whereas husbands may hear “I have an issue with you.”

    • Yes, yes I have addressed Pastors and bosses and principals and professors, and so on, with “we need to talk.” And like IntimacySeeker, it has been well received and an adult conversation usually ensues. I speak respectfully to almost everyone (at first, anyway. :))

      My husband absolutely has my respect and I defer to him most of the time. I am more than willing to listen and accept most of his decisions, if he will explain them. We have discussed this, and often, if he knows his reasons for anything, he thinks it should be obvious and that I should somehow just know them as well. But it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes a simple, respectful conversation is all it takes. Give me the courtesy of discussing it with me.

      The most painful example is the few years when my husband’s sex drive tanked. No reason, no explanation, no other woman, no porn, no obvious reason at all. So I was convinced that he no longer loved me, he did not find me attractive, he had no interest in me whatsoever, and he must have found me completely repulsive. It’s a much longer story than what I’m sharing here. I am still the higher drive spouse and it’s still hard, but as his drive started to come back, and he was FINALLY willing to talk a little bit, he seemed shocked to learn that I felt so completely worthless and that I was sure he felt so negatively towards me. I tried talking to him about it probably 100 times over four years, but he would just shut down, walk away, or worse – get angry. Which I read as hatred. It got pretty bad, and it could have been resolved so much sooner if he had just been willing to talk.

      • @B – I would guess your husband was feeling shame and self-loathing for his lack of sexual interest. He avoided the discussion because he didn’t want to face his own stuff.
        Men do seem more given to “if we don’t talk about it, it’s not really there” than women. I know exceptions on both sides, but I do see a gender difference.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Change Your Life: Stop Being Who Others WantMy Profile

    • @CSL – Part of the issue is the baggage those four words may or may not carry. If those words usually proceed something ugly and painful, they make a guy defensive, which is a bad plan.
      Of course, it’s possible his bad reaction to those words is from a previous relationship, but it’s a bad lead in none-the-less if it counts as a harsh start.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Change Your Life: Stop Being Who Others WantMy Profile

  10. My husband once confessed, “I knew if we discussed it and you knew how I really felt, the damage would be done. I tried to drag it out as long as possible to avoid it. I hoped maybe you would have decided to not care about it so much in the meantime.”

    We had this conversation while discussing a divorce. There really are some things worse than a confrontation although they should be discussions done in love. Men and women need to realize that not talking about it any more is a BAD sign. It means that your spouse may have given up on you. I assumed his refusal to talk meant, “I don’t care enough about you to care if I am making you desperately unhappy. Just shut up and get over it.”

    When he told me “I’m so glad we are getting along so much better.”, he was crushed when I told him, “I’m weighing my options. We don’t have a marriage. I think maybe it’s time to stop pretending we do.” When he asked me questions, I quietly told him, “If you don’t already know the answers, that makes things so much worse. I’ve been telling you for six years or more. Just stop talking before you convince me that your hopeless and that I should file.”

  11. This parallel strikes me just now:

    A woman learns that sex is bad and if she has sex, she is bad, and if she likes sex, she’s exceptionally bad. Then she gets married and suddenly the rules change. She mus learn to like sex and feel good about it. Otherwise, her husband won’t feel loved and connected.

    A man learns that showing being emotional is unmanly, that showing emotions is something to be ashamed of. Then he gets married and is suddenly expected to show his emotions. Otherwise his wife won’t feel loved and connected.

    • Learning about the love languages has helped me a lot. After several years of growing distant with each other, we finally figured out that we were often talking past each other. I really believe that most men are really very emotional but afraid to show it, since we’re told from childhood that “big boys don’t cry” and a lot of other stupid things. We’re programmed by society to shut down when confronted with something that will force us to express emotions openly. It often comes out as anger or defensiveness. Once I learned that my wife really needed to talk about things, I mean REALLY TALK, and I started learning to hear her heart more than her words, I began to understand a lot more, and even began to be more open about the inner recesses of my soul verbally. (She laughs at me now sometimes, saying that once I get going, she can’t shut me up!) All of this to say that maybe women need to realize that men tend to communicate differently, so maybe choose your words better or watch your tone of voice. And men need to sometimes “get over it” and really communicate verbally with their wives. After all, guys, isn’t she the one you say you would die for? Can’t you take a little heat if it will draw you closer?

      • Both the Greek (agape) and Hebrew (hesed) words translated as “love” carry the idea of ” I’m seeking your good at my expense.” When I give to my wife in some way that is WAY out of my usual comfort zone of communication (or when she does the same for me), we are really echoing the sacrificial love of Christ. All of us need to get past the chains of the lies we have been told all our lives, and seek, with God’s help and power, to truly love our spouses with that kind of love. We took vows to do just that when we married. Do we have the integrity to live up to those vows? When confronted, whether in harsh tones or not, try not to go with your initial emotional reaction to fight or pull away; listen, really listen, and then work on solving the problem.

  12. IntimacySeeker, thanks for the comparison. It’s so true. Even I cringe at the words “We need to talk,” because it generally means, “You’re about to get yelled at,” if not with an actual raising of voice, you’re usually in for something you’ve done wrong. Usually if I need to bring something up, I will ask my husband, “Can we talk for awhile,” or something like, “When would be a good time to talk?” I also try really hard to use what I once heard called “I statements” to voice the problem, so it’s less likely to come across as an attack. I’ve spent years behaving in passive-aggressive ways toward friends, family, and premarital partners alike, and really started to try to turn that around about two years before I got married. I spent years not seeing that the behavior I so dislike in others was one I was guilty of. Once God revealed that to me, I’ve worked very hard to be assertive, but also kind, and constructive.

  13. I didn’t read all of the comments, but I think there is a gender gap in how we see this. Because from my female perspective, I feel like men are confrontational all the time with each other. I’ve seen men in business meetings be aggressively opinionated with one another, trying to work an issue to a good and consensus conclusion — and, after a steamy uproar, they walk away from the meeting still acting like great buddies.

    So then it turns around to we ladies shouldn’t “confront to connect” with our husbands. WHAT?! How else are you supposed to work through an issue if you don’t put it out there? And what happened to him being able to deal with issues head-on so easily with others? Perhaps you might see how this strikes some women are a bit, well, sexist-ish. Because if guys are confrontational all the time, and then we do it and dinged for it…?

    Actually, however, I agree that it’s all about your approach. In fact, I believe most husbands (and wives) want their homes to be a respite from all that one-on-one stuff out in the world. They want to feel like the woman in their house is on their side. So yeah, we should watch how we communicate and not be argumentative in how we discuss issues. I’m sure you’ve read resources from The Gottman Institute in which they talk about needing to have a soft start-up to difficult conversations. And of course, our demeanor should always comport with the Christian definitions of love and grace.
    J. Parker recently posted…Q&A with J: Why Doesn’t My Older Husband Want Sex?My Profile

    • @J. Parker – You are right about how men can argue and still be great friends. Lori hates it when I do this with a couple of my friends. But this is not confrontation! I don’t know how to explain that because I know it looks like confrontation. Perhaps it’s about the issues, which are not emotional, intimate, or relational. We argue about how to do a project or theology or politics and it’s all good because it’s not personal. Our relationship is never on the line.
      With our wife, it feels very personal, and it feels very much like our relationship is on the line. That may not be reality, but it’s how a guy feels.
      Basically, a guy invites you to go skeet shooting, your wife wants to play Russian Roulet!

      As for Gottman, I mentioned “harsh startup” in one of my replies above. “We need to talk” is not seen as a harsh startup by women, but most men see it as such and it puts them on the defensive. In this case harsh and soft are very much gender issues. A guy calls me stupid and a waste of space as he starts up and I know he’s just playing. But if my wife says she’s hurt I go into full defence mode and expect a nuke to be dropped.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Sit, THEN TalkMy Profile

      • And for hubby, anything emotional, intimate, or personal feels threatening because he has learned that men are not supposed to be emotional, intimate or personal, except via sex. A wife’s expectation that he verbalize emotions, make deep eye contact, cry, hug, etc. threatens his masculinity. Not only is the relationship on the line, his masculinity is on the line. Thoughts?

        • @IntimacySeeker – What you say is very true for some men, and somewhat true for many more.
          I try to address this on TGH, and I see a growing number of “be a man” ministries which are discussing this in good ways. It’s a difficult thing for him and a very delicate place for a woman to go. I’ve scheduled a post on this for Sept 12th. Hope God gives me some great wisdom by then!
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Better Date Nights: You Plan, She PicksMy Profile

      • Reminds me of the times when I got a note or email from my principal saying “We need to talk.” Every time it was unpleasant, every time I got defensive. But every time, it needed to be done. In retrospect, it was worth dealing with the nerves and sweaty palms waiting until the dreaded meeting, and worth the stress of the meeting itself. Because every time something positive came out of it and I became a better teacher. And I actually had a better professional relationship with my principal. But those horrible words “we need to talk” sent my blood pressure sky high. Maybe find some different words to get the ball rolling. Any suggestions?

        • @Bobthemusicguy – I suppose making it more two-sided, as in “There’s something I’d like to discuss with you” might help. But if the intro always leads to difficulty, the emotions will be there regardless of what’s said. Learning to deal with things better is the real solution. That will include not avoiding things but rather dealing with them soon before they get out of hand.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Is Busyness Your Drug of Choice?My Profile

          • @Paul A couple thoughts: maybe don’t preface it with anything but honestly get to the real point (I feel distance between us, you’re avoiding sex makes me feel undesirable, I really need more help with the kids, etc.). The intro makes many men feel like they’re about to get lectured by a boss or parent, when the intent is really to relate with your mate as partners in marriage.

            On the other hand, when my wife said something like, we need to talk, I found that she often really meant WE NEED TO TALK! I often get back to the love languages. I never realized that one of the things she really needed was for us to talk. For me to really listen to her and not try to solve a problem, to talk back from my own heart and connect that way. We men need to remember that talking isn’t just about problem solving, and sometimes the talking itself IS helping solve the problem.

            • @Bobthemusicguy – I suppose part of it is whether you mean talk right now or make time to talk. For the former, yes, just get to the point.
              For the need to talk, what she really needs is to be heard. So saying that might be better.
              Paul Byerly recently posted…Better Date Nights: You Plan, She PicksMy Profile

      • I want to say this made me feel much better, but: “With our wife, it feels very personal, and it feels very much like our relationship is on the line. That may not be reality, but it’s how a guy feels.” So wait, we wives are supposed to change how we do things because he’s not living in reality and just feels like that’s how things are?

        Honestly, I still agree that we need to pay attention to where our spouse is and try to approach each other with love, grace, and generosity…so I agree with your conclusions. But the reasoning of “that’s just how he feels it is” strikes me as something I’d never let a friend get away with. How is it fair to just declare a feeling based on non-reality and demand your spouse deal with it? That strikes this woman as “just plain crazy.”

        Sorry for being so confrontational ( ;) ), but I know we both can handle a back-and-forth on this issue. We definitely come out on the same side of caring for your spouse’s needs and honoring God in marriage!
        J. Parker recently posted…The Beatitudes in the Bedroom: The MercifulMy Profile

        • @J. Parker – I stopped with explaining it and failed to suggest how to deal with that. There are a few possible reasons for him to feel this way. It could all be from some past relationship. It could be that the wife has in the past done things to make this feeling reality based, and it could be she still does that. And it could be a combination of those things.
          If she has ever done things to support his feelings, she needs to be sure she’s stopped and offer a heartfelt apology. Then when he’s had time to process that, or if she’s never been guilty of acting in a way to make him feel his relationship is in danger, she can gently approach him about his feelings not based in reality. Help him work through it so he can function in reality. (BTW, this is the same process I suggest to both men and women for a number of situations where one is over reacting or not reacting from reality.)

          And J, you know I love the engagement! Keep it coming – along with grammar correction.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Better Date Nights: You Plan, She PicksMy Profile

  14. Hi Paul, I’ve followed your blog for years and have even sent support to you and Lori before. I’ve never done that for others, so that speaks to how much I value your ministry. I’ve also never responded to a blog post before.

    But I just have to say, on behalf of women everywhere, that your article and advice on “Confronting to Connect” was just plain stupid.

    OK, there, see? I did what you did when you said, “men see this as just plain crazy . . .” And yes, I said the above simply for effect.

    When Emerson Eggerichs states, “She confronts to connect,” he’s not saying that a woman will become adversarial so she can force you to connect. Or that this adversarial attitude is the M.O. of choice she uses to make a connection with you.

    What he is saying is that she is wired, by her creator, with the extreme need to be connected to her man. And in those times when issues come between them and are causing a disconnect in the relationship, she is wired to face those issues and deal with them – to remove them – so that there will remain no obstacles between her and her man. And so that they will be whole again, and one.

    But, he is also saying that, when she does this, it will feel like personal confrontation to you (her man). But that it’s NOT. It’s her God given drive to reconnect and remain connected to you. And what Emerson is also doing is asking men to see their woman’s heart, and understand that what ~FEELS~ like a personal, adversarial attack to you, is not adversarial, and it is not personal.

    Paul, in so many of your posts in The XY Code, you ask women, again and again, to understand that their man is different, and he is simply like he is, because he is wired by God to be this way. And that we need to accept the beauty of that, and meld our feminine universes with that. You just used this rationale in your post, The Way to A Man’s Heart is What? when you said, “What’s more, I’m sure most men are this way because it’s how God wired us.”

    Yet we women weren’t offered the same grace and understanding of this rationale you commonly ask us to give our men. Instead, in this article, you basically told women that this God given wiring makes us “just plain crazy.” Then you put the onerous on us to fix this God given problem by saying, “how can you communicate your desire to connect in a way he won’t see as adversarial?”

    Yes, women need to understand that men tend to look at confrontation as personal, so therefore we need to grow in our awareness of that, and be sensitive that our approach not seem personal when bringing up issues. But nonetheless, that women confront, “I’m sure most (wo)men are this way because it’s how God wired us.”

    Instead of this question to women, maybe the advice should have been to men, stating, “So guys, remind yourself that when you feel your wife confronting you, that what you’re feeling is not a personal or adversarial attack. Instead, what she sees are obstacles that have become a hindrance to your oneness and her ability to connect with you. All she’s trying to do is remove those obstacles in the path of the relationship to restore oneness with you. Because, after all, that’s just how God wired her.”

    • @ALMA – Please understand this post is aimed at women, and as such suggests what they might do to make a difficult situation easier. When I talk to men about this (see Confronting to Connect I suggest what they can do to make it easier.
      Actually, your comment is a blessing because I routinely get comments from men saying I expect them to deny how God made them and always asking the men to change to fix the issue.
      If either husband or wife make an effort, things work much better. If both do, it’a great!

      And many thanks for the support, it’s greatly appreciated.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…7 Ways to Encourage Morning SexMy Profile

      • @Paul @Alma. Yes, men are wired this way. And yes, women are wired this way. That’s part of the beauty of this dance called marriage. There is give and take in any dance. Back in the prehistoric times when I was a boy, I had to learn to square dance. Hated it then but learned one thing. You have to have skilled dancers who know when to make the move and when to yield. But the thing that makes it all work is the Caller, the one who plans the moves and keeps it going smoothly. God is the Caller in our marriage dance. Give and take, with mutual respect, humility, and submission in love are what is required. And we have to listen to the Caller. “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” And as a man to other men, let’s treat our wives as the wonderful creations they are. If you need to swallow your pride and get out of your comfort zone, isn’t she worth it?

  15. Seems “we need to talk” might be as offensive to hubby as “are ya’ horny?” is to wife.

    I also see where it can break down trust if hubby assumes wife has been withholding information that should have been shared earlier (similar to the annual job performance review). However, wife may have been putting her emotions in check and using her knowledge to gain perspective and now feels she can have a fair conversation with husband.

    I asked a colleague why the phrase “we need to talk” is a problem. He said “it means she’s been doing research.”

    • @IntimacySeeker – You have a skill for making things so clear – thanks!
      “Been doing research” is a good point. Some women do a lot of research, and polling of friends before they talk with hubby. Puts him at a distinct disadvantage and makes him feel the whole world knows his business before he does.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Better Date Nights: You Plan, She PicksMy Profile

  16. Maybe this is strange, but I have incorporated a script. “I am not arguing, fighting or criticizing you. I am not complaining. However, we have an uncompleted task that has failed to be addressed. It is vital that we complete it by DATE because REASON. May we discuss it now? Or when is good?” An “issue” can be anything from my car needs repairs to how much you hurt my feelings this morning.

    The usual response is get is a string of questions before an “Okay” and a request to circle back in a few days. Or a frustrated, “Can we not wait until the last minute to discuss this?” If I have brought it up before, I will say, “I have already requested action on this topic X number of times previously. I have been informed that bringing it up repeatedly is considered nagging. I am now being told that not bringing it up is negligent. Which irritation do you prefer on this issue?”

    After I get my feedback, I say, “To recap, the task BLAH. The deadline is DATE. The reason is BECAUSE. You have requested NAGGING. Is this topic closed? Or should we have on-going discussion? Fine, I nag you on DATE if you do not give me an answer on or before dinnertime on that day. Are we in agreement? Excellent. Conversation over.”

  17. WOW! Re-Reading all these confrontational scenarios leaves me with a big question: What happened to a marriage when the two can’t even interact like two adults? Especially Christian adults. When a marriage gets to the point of the bitterness that seems to explode in these situations, it didn’t happen overnight. How many little things did both of them ignore over the years? these little things fester and turn into marriage cancers with often disastrous results. We need to pray for each others’ marriages. The hurt and pain that are so evident in some of the situations that have been described break my heart. It surely breaks God’s heart. Wives, try not to lecture your husband like he’s a little boy. And husbands, don’t behave like a little boy who won’t take responsibility for his actions and attitudes. Let’s apply some 1st Corinthians 13 to our marriages.

  18. Best way to deal with this thing for both colleagues and husband for me is to politely get in their faces with all of the facts. I seem to be surrounded with am extraordinary number of men who like to avoid/ skirt around or act passive aggressive about issues. Which leaves me no choice but to confront. Confronting with bland statement of all pertinent facts seems to work pretty well though. I recently pretty much told an unreasonably professor to f off in a very polite email: I listed all relevant facts. Pretty much told him the situation was out of my control, he was wrong, and he should deal with it. He backed off.

    And I’m with J on this. I’m at a university. I’ve seen professors rip each other’s work/ ideas/ students to shreds and then go out for a drink. DH is in exact same profession and has personally criticized the crap out of my presentations. It seems awfully unfair to then say women can’t ask why or confront in their marriage. That smells fishy.

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