By Tony Chen
You may – occasionally – feel like your wife is being a little unreasonable. It’s bound to happen in a relationship; men and women are doomed to be at odds with each other by their very nature. The things that you want in your life are implicitly different from the things she wants in hers. You want video games, sports, poker night: she wants romantic movie nights and window curtain treatments. We can both seem unreasonable in our desires to the opposite sex, especially when surrounded by the stress that accompanies our jobs as parents and providers.
Some people, of course, are more unreasonable than others. There are many reasons for irrationality, but most are simply wired that way. In relationships, spouses with bi-polar disorder, antisocial personality disorder and other types of mood disorders can seem extremely unreasonable to an otherwise mentally healthy partner. If the spouse doesn’t have a history of mental health issues, it is impossible to know whether there’s something larger at work behind the irrational behavior. Not everyone who makes unreasonable demands is mentally impaired, though. Sometimes your wife is just under the influence of other certain feminine factors that, say, impair her judgment in some way or another. At times, women who are experiencing this phenomena tend to make sometimes angry and irrational demands. They may want you to change your behavior suddenly, or they may expect that you understand their condition and prejudge their moods before speaking. Men are not exempt, however; we have our moments. Expecting the wife to keep the entire house clean while she juggles the kids and a full-time job and after-school activities, all so you can play video games? That’s unreasonable.
Being indignant toward her for trying to take away your free time or your youth? That’s unreasonable. In a nut shell, we can all be pretty selfish human beings. We all have to deal with unreasonable people, and we all fall victim to being irrational, ourselves. Here are some tips to help you through the mire: When dealing with unreasonable people:
- Resist the urge to fight back – Irrational people thrive on conflict. They create tense, confrontational situations for any number of reasons: to shift blame, to validate paranoid beliefs or to avoid revealing other emotions. They are also generally very good at arguing. When your wife turns to you randomly and attacks you for something ridiculous, your instinct will be to fight back with logic. You will inevitably lose the battle, though, because irrational people don’t operate based on logic. Instead, you should:
- Remain cool and calm, but be assertive – If your wife demands something unreasonable of you, she is obviously setting you up for a failure she can later criticize you for. Rather than just going along with her demands, however, try another tactic. Allow her to finish speaking, and then calmly ask her what she is upset about. Offer to help fix the problem. If she insults you, calmly explain that you’re willing to fix the situation, but you won’t be insulted. Be unbelievably reasonable, and stick to your guns.
- Stop and take a breath – Emotions are powerful things, and they can often sweep us up and carry us away. If your argument with your wife has gone into the red zone, step back and take a breather. Consider the situation. Is she being unreasonable, or are you maybe being a little outlandish, as well? What kind of demands are you making of her? Consider the reason for the argument. Did you start it, and if so was it worth the screaming? Being angry over something legitimate is one thing, but starting a fight just so you can fight with your wife is unhealthy. Think about what you’re doing before you head back into the fray.
- Don’t get personal – Arguing with your spouse once in a while is perfectly healthy. Everyone has different viewpoints, and sometimes those perspectives collide. Share opinions, question motives, make observations – just don’t get personal. You are an adult, and you’re having an adult conversation. Name-calling is not an effective argumentation method, and it will do nothing to improve your defense. If you feel like you’re headed down that path, take a minute and consider the previous tip.
Even the sanest among us can be a little unreasonable sometimes. It’s part of life, and it’s something we all have to deal with. There’s no point in letting it harm our relationships, though, and we should all be aware of how to handle an irrational situation, no matter which side of the coin you’re on. — Check out our other articles and conversations on marriage and family.