Couple(Love and Marriage theme song plays)

…goes together like a horse and carriage…

...and you can’t have one without the other...

(music slowly fades)

This song came to my head as I was writing this post and I thought it would make for some nice intro music. I’m happy to see Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) making his comeback on Modern Family. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here (click the link even if you do know what I’m talking about, it will bring back memories – especially the fountain).

Anyway, I can bet that you’re reading this post for one of three reasons:

1. You don’t get along with your spouse and hope to find something…anything that might help,

2. You get along well with your spouse and want to confirm your strategy with the ones in this article, or

3. You’re currently in a serious relationship considering to take the next step, have heard or seen horror stories about how marriage kills relationships and you are trying to get as much evidence that taking the next step will be ok.

If you didn’t come for any of these reasons, please leave a comment letting us know why you decided to read this article.

In the meantime, let’s move on.

I don’t like to get too personal but I have to admit – I’m one of those lucky guys who gets along with his spouse.

This doesn’t mean we don’t argue but in the rare times that we do, we don’t get angry, scream or give each other the silent treatment. We openly say what’s on our mind and then deal with the issue. Other times, we are just amazed at how long we’ve been together and have a good time enjoying each other’s company. We’ve even set up our finances to prevent money from ruining our marriage (Click here to see what we do step-by-step).

I consider myself lucky because from my experience and observations, this is more the exception than the rule.

I know I know, you are rolling your eyes thinking “I get it. You have a happy and blissful relationship. That’s nice but what about me? When are you going to give the guide that you promised?

Good point. We’re all busy people so let’s get to it.

Here are the key components you’ll need to get along better with your spouse immediately:

Make Getting Along Your Goal

One of the reasons couples fight is because they lose sight of what their goal should be. My goal is to have a happy and nurturing relationship. What’s yours?

I’ve found couples who fight often have bad goals. Their goal is usually proving themselves right and not building a loving relationship. Always keep your goal in mind and make sure your actions are aligned with your goal – this may mean resisting the urge to point out how right you are no matter how much evidence you have.

Accept Your Spouse

Most couples don’t get along because they are constantly wishing their spouse was someone else: a better listener, a thriftier spender, a sexier lover, etc. This type of wishful thinking is harmful to your relationship and will only lead to frustration because you can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change.

So if you are trying to do just that, stop right now and save your energy for something more productive. Accept your spouse for who they are and change your reaction to their “bad” habits. Keep in mind that just because you can’t change your spouse, it doesn’t meant they can’t change themselves. The important thing to remember is that it’s their choice and right, not yours.

Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt

Almost all disagreements between loving couples occur due to miscommunication. What’s ironic is that two people miscommunicating don’t know they are doing so or else they would stop. No matter how big the argument, keep in mind that you got married because you care for, trust and love each other. One of the best ways to handle miscommunication is to always give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and be curious why someone with good intentions would act the way they did.

So how do you become curious?

Ask – Don’t Interpret

Most fights happen because we misinterpret our spouse’s actions or expressions. Just because our spouse yawns while we talk, it doesn’t mean what we are saying is boring.  There is a good chance that it was a long and tiring day but then again maybe it was because we’re boring. The only way to know for sure is to ask. Hopefully by now, you’ve built up a trusting and accepting relationship where your spouse can tell you the truth without any negative consequences.

Be specific when you ask your spouse questions and don’t assume. Instead of “Why are you mad?”, you can ask “I noticed that you are pursing your lips and furrowing your brow, what does that mean?”

Of course that example may be a bit extreme but you get the point.

Before you assume you know what your spouse is feeling, ask them to clarify the specific actions (i.e. loud voice) they are exhibiting as opposed to reacting to your own interpretation of their action. You’ll be surprised at how many fights end because of open communication. Listen not only to the words but also the underlying emotions.

Men and women communicate differently and unfortunately they are really bad interpreters for each other. Let the other person translate for you because John Gray was right – Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.

Give Each Other Space

This may sound strange but one of the key reasons my wife and I get along is because we have our own lives outside of each other. That sounds bad but it actually works out really well.

We work in separate companies and have our own hobbies/interests. We have “common” friends whom we hang out with together and our “own” friends whom we hang out with apart. Striking a good balance between being together and being apart really helps to keep the relationship strong.

Would I hang out with my spouse 24/7? Yea I would be able to and I enjoy her company very much but for some reason having and pursuing our own interests just works.

I understand that this may still be a bit counterintuitive for you but I encourage you to try it and then decide for yourself.

The only time where giving each other space would be bad is if the purpose (and you know your purpose) was to get away from each other because you can’t stand each other. If that is why you’re getting out of the house, you really want to explore what makes you feel that way towards your spouse and to openly communicate this issue as soon as possible.

Respect, Appreciate and Admire

I used to take people closest to me for granted. The closer they were, the more I took them for granted. I rarely said thank you and I didn’t show them the appreciation they deserve.

Being aware of this, I strived to change my behavior and I can see a real difference in my relationship with those closest to me.

Here is the simple 3-step approach that I use with my spouse:

Step 1 – It really all starts with respecting the other person. There is no reason you shouldn’t respect everyone that you meet. It should be enough that they are a fellow human being but what really makes it much easier for me is the belief that every person is better than me in some way and I can learn something from everyone.

Step 2 – Once you genuinely respect your spouse for being who they are, appreciate them for what they do. My wife does many things for me without my asking and I like to acknowledge and appreciate her for doing that. Being on the look out to appreciate allows me to be more aware of all the things she does and this encourages me to reciprocate by doing things for her which she in turn acknowledges and appreciates. This creates a wonderful upward spiral.

Step 3 – Taking respect and appreciation once step further leads to admiration. When you admire someone, it’s really easy get along with them. I admire my wife for the person that she is. It’s not really about all the things she has accomplished and all the things she does for our family but who she is inside.

Even though this article was written in the context of a married couple, you can easily use these tips to help you get along with anyone that you encounter. The great thing about these strategies is that they begin to work almost immediately.

As a quick review, to get along with your spouse (or anyone):

  1. Make “getting along” your goal and make sure your actions are aligned with that goal.
  2. Accept your spouse for who they were, are and will be.
  3. Recognize your spouse has good intentions and give them the benefit of the doubt.
  4. Don’t assume or interpret, ask your spouse how they are feeling.
  5. Give each other space.
  6. Respect, appreciate and admire your spouse.

If you enjoyed this article, please share with it with others.

Also, I would love to hear your tips for getting along with your spouse or your experience in trying out these suggestions or both.

Photo by Angelo Gonzalez
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Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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59 Responses to 6 Tips to Get Along With Your Spouse that Work

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  2. jamie says:

    i believe what you are explaining here is to be true. but if all steps are not followed through then everything ends up crumbling all over again. i will take your advise with these steps and make my energy i use toward my relationship with my husband in a positive manner instead of yelling and fighting over who has been a better this and that, instead listen to eachother not just lable one another. i love my husband and im willing to appreciate him more so we can love eachother like we once did and enjoy life together. i think every aspect of life will be better for my whole family. thank you for giveing me hope it can and will change out from this rutt we have had for a number of years now. looking forward to haveing our life better.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Thank you for sharing.

      Have patience when you first start. Understand that it’ll take some time to break the negative conditioning that has been built up. Keep up the change in your thinking and actions knowing that it will eventually change his response and the entire situation. Always remember your outcome is to be loving and happy together. It is not to prove each other wrong or to prove yourself to be right. Also, check out The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

      Good luck.

  3. Fred Bassett says:

    You asked why I looked. My partner found your blog after we had the first miscommunication – or whatever it was – of our relationship. We are 60-somethings who both have had several long-term relationships and who found each other magically on an on-line dating service a little over a year ago. We began living together about three months ago. The fact that she was upset enough and committed enough in our relationship to search out your blog and share it with me means the world to me and gives me great hope and assurance that, with care, we will not fall into some of the traps of long-term relationships you illuminate.
    Because of our experience in relationships, we both are fully aware of and practice many of the hints you give, but, because of the differences in our experiences, are finding that we approach our relationship in slightly different ways.
    My most recent relationship was with my wife of 25 years (we were together 27) who died 6 years ago. I was used to spending nearly all of my time with my late wife. We worked together, played together, raised our children, and even home-schooled them through high school, together. For four years we spent nearly every spare moment building our own house together. This really worked for us. The times that we worked at separate jobs and were apart from each other for long periods were the most difficult.
    My new partner’s most recent relationship was a marriage of 27 years in which she and her husband grew gradually apart. In the end, she said, they were doing nothing together…two people living separate lives in the same house.
    So the chord that strikes the most harmony for us in your blog is the one about having separate lives. The challenge for us will be to find our own balance of together and apart time that satisfies and keeps the fires of love burning at home.
    Thanks for your thoughts and for sharing them.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you Fred for your comment. It is always difficult to adapt to new situations but it sounds like you’re both committed to making it happen. What I find helpful is to always realize that the other person has the best intentions and give them the benefit of the doubt. We get into trouble when we jump to conclusions and misinterpret the other person’s actions and words. When in doubt, ask – open communication is key.

      Best of luck to you.

  4. Mark says:

    Everything in this article I do. But if both parties aren’t doing the same thing, it’s a receipt for disaster. I’m kissing my wife’s ass all day while she is treating me like shit. And she knows she treats me like shit . She says its because I sometimes go out if my way to purposely do back to her what she dies to me that posses be off. How else would she know how it feels and attempt to stop doing what pisses me off.
    When I tell her about she could care less. She just continues to prove her point how she is right and I’m wrong. I just keep my mouth shut and say yes. When I open my mouth it’s a waste.
    Anyhow, thus article is well written and would probably do must couples well if both people complied. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Hi Mark,

      It must be frustrating when it seems like you are bending over backwards but the other person doesn’t move an inch. Fighting fire with fire never works. It leads to a vicious cycle where you build even more contempt for each other.

      People change when they want to change. We can only change how we respond to others in hopes that a change in our response will change their actions. Perhaps you can focus on not letting her actions piss you off. You may want to check out this article:

      Give her the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes it’s easy to find evidence for a crime that you’re looking for.

      I hope this helps.

  5. Job says:


    I’ve been married for 4+ years and I have a 3 year old son that is just a bundle of joy. I’m not an expert and I understand that every situation is different, but please allow me share my personal experience.

    Your story sounds very similar to my own. I felt (in the beginning of the marriage) that I was bending over backwards and got nothing in return. I felt cheated and used…and my wife even called me “selfish”. I fought fire with fire in hopes that I would get through to her, but that didn’t do much but perpetualte the situation.

    It wasn’t until I reached the cliff (ready for divorce) that I started to think about life without her. I thought about all the good times we had, all the things we did together, the trips we took, the memories we shared, etc. I knew I wanted to be with her, but I just didn’t know how to get through to her.

    A few weeks after, I realized (through reading books and taking advice from family and friends) that the key to it all was to start with myself. It wasn’t until I read a quote that said “Victory by surrender” that it all made sense. Surrendering yourself means to look for honest answers to the questions “Who am I?” and “Who do I want to be?” and then confronting your fears and imperfections head on.

    I realized that I was “inhibited” (unable to act in a relaxed and natural way because of self-consciousness or mental restraint). The moment I realized who I was, the burden seemed to have been lifted off my shoulders. Then I focused my energy on who I wanted to be…a caring father and a loving husband. My wife has seen and felt the change in me and I’ve noticed the positive “upward” spiral that this has brought into my marriage and my life.

    I’m glad to say that I’ve been through the peaks and valleys in my marriage and I’m looking forward to what the future brings. I would also suggest that you keep a good supporting cast around you because negative energy always pulls you into a downward spiral. I was extremely lucky to have a great supporting cast (my family and friends) and I can’t thank them enough for their guidance.


  6. Charlotte Quevedo says:

    This is very on point. I have had trouble getting along with lots of ppl and looking at tge steps above, I can see why. Getting along has never been my focal point. I also tend to assume the worst of ppl and not accept their limitations. The thing that annoys me the most is when someone insistently gives me advice without realizing that my situation is different, my opinion is different, and their advice does not work for me. I tend to take criticism harshly instead of owning up to stuff. I think I would get along better if I were more willing to change the things about myself that are the most difficult for me. Accepting that ppl want to help and be honest and sometimes that means having to look wrong, accepting that I can’t control others or change how they perceive me. I have been trying to research how to improve my social skills and this is the best article I have found.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you Charlotte for your kind words. I’m glad that this article provided you with some insights to help you with your relationships. Our lives are dominated by the stories that we tell ourselves. We give meaning to situations with these stories and we can change the situation by changing the story. A person who cuts us off on the highway can be both a jerk who has no respect for others or a loving husband rushing home to his pregnant wife. Your reaction will depend on which story you tell yourself in the moment. I’ve found giving people the benefit of the doubt has made my life both easier and happier.

      Best of luck to you.

  7. Shawn says:

    I read this article to gain a better and possibly ‘more sensitive’ approach to dealing with my marital arguments. I think getting along with and accepting my spouse for who she has become my first and most crucial step.

    We tend to be aggressive with one another when the going gets tough. Our life has changed dramatically since we had our daughter two years ago. She is a GREAT and smart child, but extremely willful, stubborn, and full of energy. Thus, we have NO time with each other, none.

    With nobody on her side of the family to help and nobody on my side to help, we are without support and/or guidance on being parents. We have no baby sitter either because my wife feels that since we decided to have a kid it is our responsibility to care for that child and sacrifice ALL things that we used to do for ourselves and with one another.

    So, I am being cultivating patience and hoping for a date night sometime in the next couple years :)

    If we can’t work on us, I fear that we will end up resenting each other.

    Any other advice on this matter?

    Thank you for your educational article. I will try to practice some of it’s key points.

    • Robert Chen says:


      Thank you for sharing your situation. It is not uncommon for parents to be overwhelmed when they don’t have help from their families. I’m sure it must be frustrating to handle the stresses of work, raising a child and keeping a happy marriage without time to decompress. I look at date night and other ways of relaxation similar to how I look at sleep – it is necessary to get enough of it so you can be more effective.

      If you and your wife don’t get along, it’s going to adversely affect how your daughter feels when she observes your interactions. Date night is good for the entire family not just for you and your wife. If you find it impossible to carve out time for date night, collaborate with your wife to come up with solutions to this challenge.

      I hope this was helpful and let us know how it goes.

  8. Silvi says:

    Hey thanks for the interesting article. I read cos we are having some difficulty after moving in together a year ago. We do all the points you raised – plenty respect, attention, great communication without anger, positive attitude, lots of laughing and equal time together and apart etc. We both feel loved wanted and make each other feel special. We love spontaneity on weekends.
    But we still do not get along! Maybe more a personality clash? I feel irritated regularly by my partners phobias and he talks incessantly about them every text, phone call, discussions every single day to the point I cannot listen anymore. He borders on OCD obsession with germs, illnesses, diet (overindulgence followed by detox every month), home security to superstitions eg taking christmas decorations down on the correct date otherwise bring bad luck on us. Seriously! I have a SOH & joke with him. But wearing thin now. I don’t like that our house is so sparse (he likes the minimalist look) I feel I am not able to express myself through colour, art, individualism and does not feel cosy or homely. We have talked hundreds of times about all of this but stays the same. If I bring some new thing into the house he gets very upset asking me to consult with him in advance even down to trivial items eg towels.
    I have tried hard but feel stuck.
    Everything else in relationship is great he is an awesome partner. We are good at supporting each other except for this issue.
    Some advice would be most welcome.
    Thank you so much!

    • Robert Chen says:

      Silvi – thank you for sharing your situation. Can you see yourself living for the rest of your life with your partner’s habits? If not, you may want to take a step back and think things through. You won’t be able to change your partner but at the same time, you have to ask yourself if those issues are really a deal breaker despite all the other great qualities of the relationship. It sounds like you both have clashing values which in my experience usually don’t end well in relationships. It’s not an easy decision so make sure you are putting this decision in the right perspective.

  9. Wendy Gale says:

    Why I read this article? I own and am looking for material for my blog Hope you dont mind if I link to your site. Feel free to check out my site. I’ll check out yours.

  10. Felicia says:

    I’m so glad I came across your article today. I needed to read that. For myself and my relationship. My boyfriend and I have been together for over three years and just recently moved in together. I know they say the first year is always the hardest, but I just don’t think we take into consideration the points you made. We’ve discussed them before when we would fight, but we go back to our old ways. I guess we’re lazy on the subject and selfish about it? I’m not sure why I’m saying all this either. I just really appreciate the post! I’m going to show I to him tonight & pray we ca. Really discuss it and live it out. He’s the love if my life, but things are really tough right now. Thanks again!

    • Robert Chen says:

      I’m glad you found this article helpful. I can tell that you really want to make this relationship work and I hope you’re able to apply these tips to help you. Let me know how it goes and if you want to delve into any one of these tips further. Best of luck to you and remember to focus on the outcome you want and whether your actions are aligned with that outcome.

  11. Primobabe says:

    My husband (of 23 years) and I truly love each other, and we both want to save our marriage and stay together. But, I don’t know if that’s possible.

    He has an overly-friendly, boisterous personality that often crosses the line to boorish. He can be very annoying and off-putting. (No, I’m not exaggerating. He once ruined one of my most valuable professional connections — I was forming a beneficial relationship with an extremely powerful and influential person — by behaving oafishly at a holiday party.)

    This trait infuriates me. I know that “accept your spouse” is one of the guidelines, that it’s impossible to force changes on someone, and that I’m the one who needs to adapt. Yet, he makes me feel uncomfortable when we’re in public and among other people, and I often rant and yell at him in private. When I’m honest with myself, I know that he was this same way when we were still dating; I thought that he’d mellow as he matured, and that I could grow to accept him for what he is.

    Now, I’m at a point where I need advice and input. I know that I can’t continue to belittle and berate him. I need either to stop my abusive behavior or leave the marriage and let him live happily.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Primobabe, thank you for sharing your situation. It must be frustrating to feel that you’re not being heard or taken seriously especially when something bothers you so much. When you belittle or berate someone, it usually makes them “dig in deeper” to their viewpoints because no one wants to be treated like a child, no matter how much you feel that he deserves it. Always respect the other person no matter who they are (and esp. if it’s someone you love).

      First, I recommend listing your husband’s good qualities so you’re giving a fair assessment to the situation before you decide you need to leave. I’m sure he has many if you decided to live and stay with him for over 23 years.

      Second, think of the positive intention for your husband to act the way he does. What does he get out of acting boisterous? I can bet it’s not to annoy you. Possible positive intentions for him might be to get your attention, to flex his independence especially if you’re telling him not to do that, to impress others – maybe he thinks he’s being sociable. Once you find the positive intention, then you can see if he might be open to another way of acting that fulfills that positive intention.

      Finally, I recommend having a crucial conversation with your husband where you give him the benefit of the doubt and get curious about how he sees the situation. The book “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson provides a nice guideline for these types of conversations. You can find a quick summary at this link –

      I hope this was helpful. Good luck!

  12. SomewhereinBrooklyn says:

    I have been asking for explanations for 42 years. The answer is always “I don’t know, how do you expect me to know why I did/said what I did? Harmful, humiliating, abandoning,embarrassing, dismissive, even cruel things, too much to list.
    Treats all others, even who don’t deserve it, with respect, benefit of the doubt, understanding, gets into their heads to understand why they have done a bad thing.He dismisses everything I say, feel or believe as unjustified, or as a feeling I shouldn’t have,”you shouldn’t feel that way”

    I have asked over the many years to get help, he has always refused. Too late now. Everyone in our circle of friends and family thinks he is “the perfect guy”. I can’t even get 3 minutes of his time in conversation, and he never supports me in difficult, life changing struggles, including death of a child and cancer. He’s there, physically, but abandons me emotionally, often with cruelty. I have been asking why, as you suggest, for 42 years. he shrugs. He says “all I know is I love you”. I have a bad cancer diagnosis now, I just wish he would explain before I go. I don’t expect him to change at this point, just let me understand why. Why is all I have ever asked for. Why? What did I do wrong?

    • Robert Chen says:

      SomewhereinBrooklyn, thank you for sharing your situation. I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis and the pain you’ve been going through with your husband. I’m sure it’s frustrating when you are not getting your questions answered. To you, it probably doesn’t seem like you’re asking for much.

      One thing to keep in mind that might help is that you may want to focus on what you can do to be happy despite what your husband does or says. His actions and words are merely stimulus and your interpretation of that stimulus is what makes the pain. If you can find a way to look at and change how you interpret his actions, it may lead to less frustration for you. I would recommend reading Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg for some good tips on having these types of conversations with your husband.

      I hope this was helpful. Sorry it took a while to get back to you.

      • SomewhereinBrooklyn says:

        Thank you for your advice. I have tried that, will try some more. Some things are just hard not to react to….. especially now.It hurts more than ever. When I do try calm talk, he gets defensive and angry. A man who never exhibits anger towards anyone else.Sometimes he interferes with me trying to be happy, tells me “you don’t really want or need to (do, buy, go to) that, do you?” He is, as I try jokingly to tell myself sometimes, a joy sucking machine..I will find the book. thank you again. We are still together, so we must me doing something right or I am a masochist! . It’s is superstar good guy image that I also resent. He saves the mean stuff for me.
        Sorry for going on, thanks again.

        • Robert Chen says:


          Sometimes the words you say matter as much as how you say it. No matter how good your intentions are if you’re not getting the response you want, it may be worthwhile to try another approach. Try to see the positive intention behind his words and actions and give him the benefit of the doubt even if it’s difficult for you. By doing so, it’ll change how you interact with him which may lead him to change how he interacts with you. It’ll take a while but if you persevere, you will see changes because you’ve changed how you react. Might be worth checking out “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman as well.

          Also, a simple guideline I try to keep in mind when interacting with others is “Ask, don’t tell.” If you find yourself telling more than asking

          • SomewhereinBrooklyn says:

            Mr. Chen, your advice to find positive intentions, perhaps you can assist me with that:

            1)when your husband is asked by a psychotherapist, in your presence, what his deepest emotions are considering the impending death of our daughter ( I had already just answered the same question from the depths of my soul) and his response is ” “The laundry is not getting done, and the house is not as clean as usual. And if you (me) think you are going to visit her more than once a week, I’m not doing it, do you know how much the parking will cost?” The family counselor we were seeing (mainly for my older child) sent him out of the room. She stated she had to, to avoid hitting him.

            2)When your wife’s cancer Dr. forgets to make proper notations after a 6 hour surgery, implants a device in her body that ends up never being used, she has her treatment changed suddenly based on undocumented, uncertain facts, that are later recanted, and your wife seeks answers from the Drs. involved, and asks her husband for support in that effort, he says “you seem to doing OK on your own”.

            3)When your wife (on her own, while on chemo) convinces a major NYC Cancer Center to take her on as patient, in light of mistakes made at previous center, even though it goes against their stated policy, and your wife is crying tears of joy for finally getting proper treatment, your husband says “you don’t need to change Drs. for medical reasons, just for emotional ones”.

            4)When you learn you have Stage 3C cancer with only a 29% chance of surviving 5 years, your husband, with a chuckle, says, “nothing can happen to you, who will do things for me!”

            I’m sorry, these are just highlights. There are too many to list. How do I “understand” the “positive intention” behind these comments? Am I not human? Why, again is it my responsibility to “approach” him differently, give him benefit of the doubt. Why is this my job? Do you give similar advice to men if their wives emotionally abuse them? I am guessing, no.

            You also seem to not realize I have “persevered” for over 40 years, and have limited time left.

            To tell a woman that has been emotionally abused she may be “taking the wrong approach” and asking the wrong questions, missing the “positive intention” behind hateful comments is unbelievable. Would you tell a physically abused woman the same?

            I am so sorry I ever saw this blog. It appears to be a venue for men to sell books, products and gifts.

            You should rename this blog “how to blame women for their husband’s cruelty”

            I should have known better. I am certain you will not post this, I don’t care. Life is too short.

          • Robert Chen says:


            The advice I shared with you is advice I would share with anyone based on what I know about the situation. You have every right to think what you want to think and to do as you please just like I have the right to share my views. You don’t have to take my advice, read my blog or listen to your husband if you don’t want to.

      • SomewhereinBrooklyn says:

        Dear Mr. Chen, I re-read and re-read your message to me. I am very appreciative for your reply. I read excerpts from the book you suggested on Amazon, I am not sure it will be of value. I feel very lonely, even though I am never alone. Even the natural fear of my diagnosis, my husband says I shouldn’t feel that way. I realized this week, I have never, ever had a feeling or belief that I expressed to him that he doesn’t tell me I am “wrong” about and proceeds to tell me why I “shouldn’t feel that way”.

        And I do, honestly know that I have expended more energy over the years than I really should have in “understanding” why I don’t have an emotional connection to my husband. I may not have the luxury of time to figure him out now, observe his behaviors. I have tried to calmly observe and tell him that something he just said hurt me, and made me feel lonely and rejected. His only response is anger. His responses, inevitably, make me angry. He always ends with “it didn’t occur to me that you would be hurt by that’ “perhaps you heard it wrong” ” C’mon, you act like I said/did that on purpose, I don’t know why I said/did it”. He even admits that some of the things he says are heartless, just plain wrong, and cannot explain the motivation behind them….considering that he claims he loves me, that makes no sense to me. It’s very confusing to me.

        I am not sure this book is what I need right now, Mr. Chen. I will continue to try and be happy, and try to ignore my husband’s distance towards me. It is not recent, it has been this way from the beginning. It cycles into the same conversation, and he always says “All I know is I love you, don’t you know that?”. About 25 years ago, I realized I really don’t know that. He says it, but I don’t feel it. Maybe it’s my fault. I am unclear why it is my responsibility to figure him out. As I told you initially, I asked to go to counseling for many years. He adamantly refused. “What’s not to be happy about?” was always his response. I thought I was losing my mind, because I felt so bad, and he said we had a “perfect life”.

        One thing you are spot on about…..I don’t think I am asking for much. Just an explanation, whatever it is. Even if he really hates me, it would be better than this. I hope I learn the answer.

        Please, you don’t have to respond, I appreciate you tolerating my venting and I will keep trying. My faith keeps me going.
        Thank you again.

  13. Peter says:

    To lead a best married life understanding each other,giving space and time , and most importantly trusting is important. Greeting with smile and asking his well being makes both of us happy. I would like to share about a site, where we get products to gift spouse and make moments very special.

  14. breaking up says:

    Good info. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book marked it for later!

  15. ashley says:

    my husband always trys to argue even when im not but he says he lovea me all the time but at the same time he has a funny way of showing he loves me he be snapping for no reason and calls me name to bring down my self esteem and he doea bring down my self eateem but when we dont argue we always happy is this healthy

    • Robert Chen says:

      Ashley, thank you for sharing your comment. What would you like your relationship to be like? Healthy is hard to define as it may be different for each individual. For me specifically, I believe that spouses should build each other up and support each other. One belief I hold to be true that might help is that no one can lower your self-esteem but you. You husband may say words that undermine you but you allow his words to affect you. If the same words came from a crazy person off the street, you would disregard it. Know that you are the one that controls how words are interpreted for you. No matter what the intention is, you don’t have to let it affect you.

      I hope this was helpful.

  16. Sam says:

    I have taken your tips and written them out on paper. I now have them on my mirror in the bedroom, so that I am reminded of how to approach everyone in my daily life.

    My spouse and I had a difficult evening, where we began down the same road of misunderstanding and anger. He always ends up removing himself to the bedroom and sleeping, while I tend to our 3 year old twins – he doesn’t eat dinner, and basically ignores us all for around 4 hours. I don’t think this is good for our children; he doesn’t see them all day, and because of his anger, he punishes them by ignoring them and not having anything to do with them (and ultimately that becomes my fault – because I’ve caused him to be angry.) But, I digress. I put your tips up on my mirror, because they made me think. I was angry earlier, but after reading this, I was able to try to reframe my viewpoint – possibly, he removes himself because he feels that it’s better for the children to not have to witness an angry father who is upset with their mother. He works in mental health, so he’s very aware of how familial interactions can negatively impact behavior. Therefore, on reading your entry, I was able to reframe his behavior more positively. Instead of being angry and starting up another argument (which is what I tend to do), I went upstairs (after our kids went to sleep) and asked him if he needed anything. I was loving, as opposed to angry. He’s still not really talking to me, but I’m very grateful to have found this. I appreciate your words, and I fully plan on putting them into practice. Thank you.

    • Robert Chen says:


      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s great that you were self-aware and had the self-control to reframe the situation and change your behavior. If you have time, I highly recommend reading “Non-violent communication” by Marshall Rosenberg. He outlines a nice way to speak about what you want in a way that invites compassion.

      Good luck and I hope all goes well.

  17. Hi, and thank you. My husband and I have many deep seated issues, as a couple, and as individuals. But somehow, this hit home with me. I really think it will work. It won’t cure all of our problems, obviously, but I think it will help greatly, in getting along with each other. I love the clear, obvious, simpleness of this. That is what usually works best, is simple and obvious. Too often I make things more complicated than than they should be, thinking that’s the “right” way to deal with whatever issue is at hand.
    I love this.
    Thank you!

  18. Shina Thomas says:

    Hi , This is the first time I read ur post and its really good…in r relationship, my guy don’t want to change at all… I know v love each other and do respect but in d beggining of our relationship he was too good but now hardly got time to even speak…and don’t wana spend time with me at all… I wana try all does tips but den m fed up of compromising nd adjusting all the time….

    • Robert Chen says:

      Hi Shina,

      Thank you for sharing. Don’t see the tips as a compromise, see them as the new way that you act to build better relationships. There is nothing we can do to make someone else change. The only thing we can do is change ourselves hoping our different actions will lead to different results.

      I hope this helps.

  19. Trella says:

    Mr. Chen,

    This is excellent advice. Ive been trying this for a few months and everything has improved.
    Unfortuntely I am extremely upset and sad. I have so many mixed emotions, Ive been praying and asking God HOW I should feel. I don’t know how to feel.
    My husband has complaints that are truthful like that I call him out a lot and that Im not gentle with my words. Those are the complaints of my husband for a long time that Ive been working on although he never sees any improvement. If he doesn’t like something he will always call it either disrespectful or something that he doesn’t like. I feel that everything is always up to me. If Im perfect THEN he will be okay and thats not right.
    My husband has a very low self esteem and so requesting anything from him is a huge hit to him and leads him to curl up in a ball and then blame me. An example is, I was admiring him the other day in bed before sleeping. I was telling him how great he was and I said that I wished I could just help him all day long and not need anything from him but that I found out I can’t do that. I told him how I found out that I just couldn’t give up being loved no matter how much I wanted to just be there to help him all day long without needing anything. After about 5 minutes of admiration I told him many things and the last part was the one thing was the only thing he commented on and started complaining about it. By the way he was half asleep. And all he thinks I told him was that He didn’t love me…????
    He has such a low self esteem that anything that might be a request from me or a petition makes him feel like he has failed in some way and therefore he flips out and surely doesn’t give me what I ask and then blames me for the entire thing. He is a very sensitive person but this is too much. I can’t do anything about this but keep working on changing the way he thinks about me by being good and kind to him. I can’t fix his self esteem, I can only help him, and I can’t carry the weight of his happiness and then mine too. Its like, Im married to a child not a husband. He is incapable of being strong when I am weak because he is weak, specially when I am weak.

    Now, Im speaking about a 24yr old man that was in the Navy and that has a great vision and purpose in life. We’ve been married for more than 5 years, Im a year younger than him and we love each other very much. But at the same time I hate him because he is so complicated and if things aren’t done his way then nothing is okay and he’s miserable. I have now asked him for some space and asked him to move to another bedroom with all his things because I think we need some personal time apart and space but the truth is that I asked this of him because I hate him and don’t want to even see him, thats why I want him out of the bedroom. At the same time I love him so much and want to love him and be with him. This is tough, I need advice.
    We have sex like once or twice max a month and we haven’t actually kissed for years except for little kisses. were very affectionate though all the time and want to be together. He used to be very bitter and grudgeful but he has changed that. I just want this to work, I want to be a good wife but I don’t know what to do, i feel so horrible like I hate myself and everything because I really don’t blame him or me but It doesn’t seem to work.
    He’s always offended at something and Im sure his story would be much like this ” My wife is very insensitive to me and invalidates my feelings. She’s very harsh with her words and she’s not a safe place for me”… and thats his excuse for him to do everything he does. But I can’t agree with him because he puts everything that is not pleasing to him in the same basket like… to manipulate…

    • Robert Chen says:

      Trella – thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear about your frustrating situation. It sounds like you love your husband and you’re trying hard to make things work. At the same time, he doesn’t seem to be making that easy for you.

      Start by thinking about what you want as your end goal. If it’s to be with your husband, what does a happy life with him look like? One of the beliefs that has helped me be more effective in my relationships is knowing that I can’t change other people. I can only change my own beliefs and actions. I can choose to interpret other people’s behaviors in a different way to help me better deal with the situation. I can also change my actions in the hope that it’ll change how people around me behave.

      This may be tough for you but find strength to take time to listen to what your husband is saying. Many times people just want to feel heard and felt. You may see this as unfair since he’s not listening to you and that’s understandable.

      It comes down to what you want – if you want to re-open up productive communication, you have to keep on listening even if you’ve listen a lot already. Show that you’ve listened through your actions and not only your words. If you’re tired of listening or don’t want to put up with it any more, that’s your choice as well.

      We can’t fix anyone, we can only fix ourselves in hopes that it may change how other people behave towards us. Look for the positive intention of your husband’s actions. He may be acting the way he does because he thinks this is the best way to keep the relationship.

      Again, this advice may not be much help because it’s based on this snapshot of the situation but I do wish you both the best of luck.

      • Trella says:

        Mr. Chen,

        Our little experiment worked wonderfully. This is the best time we have had in our entire marriage. My husband and I took some days away from each other, giving each other space (something that we never liked to even think about doing) and I started feeling incredibly wonderful. We talked and we are amazed at how that worked so well. We were able to spend time taking care of ourselves and remembering who we were individually and this is a miracle!
        I received a burst of creativity and joy in just being who I am and being kind and loving my husband without needing anything in return confident with being myself…. and he did the same!
        Our main problem had always been that we would try so hard to always be together and never want to be away from each other but this is actually good! In just 2 days of caring for ourselves we have rediscovered our identities as individuals and remembered why we came together in the first place, enjoying our differences. This is a great testimony.
        We’ve had arguments after that but we have understood so well that we are both doing this together and we are both on the same page so the arguments have been very smooth because were interested in understanding each other and **he knows I am not his enemy.**

        I read a post of a divorce lawyer recently where he explained that the big reason why the majority of his clients have gotten divorced is not because of money or other matters but because they say “Ive lost myself and my identity”. This is true! everything starts to go downhill when you forget yourself and lose yourself in the other person. We need to learn to be happy with ourselves first and work on ourselves in order to have something to offer, to bring to a marriage not expecting the other person to make you happy because that always ends in disappointment. Because of this my husband has never been able to help me when im weak because his anchor or happiness has always been in me and when Ive been weak he has become weak too unable to be strong for me. And the spirit of offense takes over and blinds people.

  20. trram says:

    I don’t even know where to start. I constantly hear everyday how much he can’t stand me and doesn’t want to be with me. He always says sorry abd he still loves me. Now that the kids are older he doesn’t hold back. He will cuss me out to say the least. I know it’s abusive but cannot get out because I do love him

  21. Lost in Space says:

    Mr Chen
    I read your article after searching the Internet after yet, another argument with my wife. We have been married for five years, together for eight, have a 19 month old and another one on the way. I don’t know where the problems started, but they did. My wife never really dated until we met. I would say she doesn’t have much experience in that field. It seems she always finds a reason to disagree with what I say. From the smallest reason to the biggest. I say red, she says blue. I say blue, she will say red. It’s very frustrating. Some stressors in the house obviously include chores and maintanance. I do all the work outside while she only does laundry and pay bills. Therefore, I’m forces to do the temainder inside. Though this doesn’t bother me (that much) it seems unfair. I have told her my concerns but it always leads to another argument. As far as intimacy goes, the emotional and physical both aren’t there. It sucks. I love her and I tell her all the time. The response is either, no you don’t, or the sarcastic, yeah me too. I try to run her feet or hold her hand and she says, don’t touch me. It seems whenever I try, I’m blocked by a barrier. I fell in love with a woman who is loving, selfless, giving and fun….to everyone else, but, me. It almost like she expunged all of it to everyone else and there is none left for me. As far as when we argue, I think she definately crosses the line. She usually starts the swearing at me with f— you and your an a——. After which I walk away. Then she responds by texting, yup texting, me nasty hurtful messages. I tell her that is rather her tell me than text me, but, she continues. Also, when I tell her I’ll help out with whatever, she finds it necessary to tell me when, how, where, and why do do it. To the point I just get so frustrated I tell her, than you do it. I can be a jerk sometimes and I admit that to myself and especially to her. To no avail. When we are faced with conflict, and when we get to he pint of coming up with ideas for resolution, she always ends it with, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It never gets solved or tried to be solved. And then of course, I’m bombarded with texts.

    It’s to the pint my health has been affected and my motivation at work has been affected. When I told her about my health issues (hypertension) she yelled at me saying it was my fault. If I never have time to do anything for my self, how can I “de-stress”?

    I’ve read some of the posts and they are inspiring. I hope I can post sometime in the future of my success. I just don’t know. I will say this, divorce is not an option. Infidelity is not an option. I believe in marriage and I believe they can be worked on. I believe we can work it out, I just need some sound advice.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Dear Lost in Space,

      Thank you for sharing your situation. It sounds like you’ve been pushed to your wits end and it’s great that you still want to work to make this work. Consider reading Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. There is some really great info to help with this situation. Crucial Conversations is another good book.

      They key ideas that have helped me:
      – you won’t be able to change the other person so you can change your own actions and your interpretations of the other person’s actions
      – separate your wife’s actions from the your wife and imagine a good friend of yours doing the actions; then figure out why a well meaning person would act the way they do; there might be information about what your wife is dealing with that you’re not aware of;
      – listen first before trying to solve the problem; it’s hard to find the right solution when you’re not clear on the problem

      Also, notice the times when things are going well – what’s the difference between those times and the times when things are not going well?

      I hope this helps.

  22. Crystal says:

    What if I am.the only one in my relationship who will read this article. I cannot force him. I’ve suggested counseling, as we just got married but we just can’t seem to get along a week later, and I’ve made us an appoibtment, which he did not object to at first. However, now.he says it won’t help, I’ll only lie about what’s happening, and he’s basically going under protest. I love him with all my heart, as.I know he does me too, but we both seem miserable under stress.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Hi Crystal – there isn’t much you can do except change your actions with hopes that he’ll respond differently to what you do differently. Relationships can be stressful for any couple at times and it’s important to not make assumptions and keep communication open. Sometimes it’s the story we tell ourselves that end up straining the relationship as opposed to the actual actions and facts of the situation.

  23. SarahPage says:

    My partner and I met a year ago. We fell in love and moved in together after 2 months… from the get go I had in my mind the man I wanted to spend my life with. I knew exactly what traits I wanted him to have and I never wanted to settle for anything less. Then I met my partner and we started having problems early on because I set my self high expectations from him which I felt angry and let down if he could not deliver. We ended up splitting up and moving out because I was pulling him one way and he was pulling the other.. We’ve been separated 2 months now and I’ve learnt a lot. I never realised that I actually tried to change him untill now. Acceptance is the one thing I believe I need to focus on to better my relationship. We are now both giving it another go, it’s been tough trying to work out our problems and solutions. It what I’ve finally realised is I need to not rely on him for my happiness. I need to accept him for how he is, loving affectionate kind caring funny loyal honest trustworthy with good intentions, & not ask for material things or gestures which will prove he loves me if he is not in a position to do so. I would love our end goal to live together again and be more accepting of each other and to one day get married and raise a family together. We both love each other and are willing to try anything.. so hopefully that’s a good starting point. Thank you for your article.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you for sharing Sarah. I’m glad you’re giving this another go. Knowing that you can’t change others does help to focus on what you can change. Hopefully changing your approach will change the results you get. Best of luck to you!

  24. Phillip says:

    I went looking for some answers on how to get along with my wife, so I Google it and I clicked on this article. My wife is type A and I am very type b. I can just live life with out a care in the world, with exception of life limb or eye sight emergencies. What makes it hard for me is how we handle issues that arise in our life. My wife is a wonderful person inside and out. She is very productive in societies and a real go getter. She is a veterinarian, and I labor my life away with work. I respect her stress at work but she never seems to respect mine. We spend a lot of time arguing over what I don’t do, around the house and I respect her enough that I never bring up what I really think is her short comings, again because I respect her, her work stressors and her level of responsibility at home. I wished we could enjoy time with our own friends and enjoy our own hobby’s because we do have some different interests. But this is never the case, because she feels family time should come before own time, and when professionals work there is never any time for just us together or just us alone away with friends. We hit many snags in our relationship. I wouldn’t say she nags all the time, but I can agree with her when she calls me am asshole, its just who I am. I guess where I am going with this comment and my understanding seems to be inline with most that have commented here, if both sides are not following these steps it really doesn’t work well. Ideally I wished our relationship could be how it was when first met, yet I know that isn’t rational, but I want us to get along because sex happens then, laughs are more and louder and just enjoying each other is a lot more enjoyable. Respect comes naturally and so does the ability to understand each other. I don’t not want to change the level of asshole I am, because that protects us outside the house , but at the same time I want to be able to find that admiration, affection and understanding again.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you for sharing your story Philip. It does take two to make a relationship work. At the same time, both of you are not mind readers so it’s important to communicate openly so you can find out why you both are doing things that the other person doesn’t really “get”. I recommend reading “Non-violent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg and “Crucial Conversations” by Kelly Patterson to learn a framework for communicating in a way that will allow you to better understand where they other person is coming from which will then open them up to being open to where you are coming from. Someone has to take the first step to start and keep the conversation going – why not give it a shot.

  25. calori says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I will utilize this great advice. My marriage is what i shall say bittersweet at times. My husband can be my best friend and my wrost enemy at times. I do believe we have alot of personality and ego clashes. We knew each other for 10 years and been married for 1 1/2 years. He can be sweet one min and controlling and insecure the next. I know im not perfect (i have bi-polar but im in therapy now ) i have my moments, but i try to keep the peace in the house. I really believe he is going thru something or he may have an anger issue im not quite sure cause he manipulate situations alot when we argue, he makes everything seems like its my fault and constantly claim im heartless and im not, i just know my limits and i dont want to argue and hear all that bs…. he is a debater, even if i say i don’t want to argue or try to defuse the situation he will try to bring up some old dumb shit, i forgot about. When we make up he likes to buy my forgiveness. I’m not going to lie, before we we’re married even before we got engaged i was seeing someone else, i didn’t really take it seriously cause i was im bad realationships in the past and i was just tired of being hurt so i stayed single for a while and the funny part is he knew this and still try to push his way in. After i broke it off with this guy . I did finally give my now husband a chance but til this day he still brings up the other guy. On weird ramdom occasions. We even have a son now lol looks like him and he still wants to pry and start up again. He doesn’t like his mother and wants me to stay away from her (due to his abusive childhood) likes thats my problem… she’s a changed woman and she’s doing her best to live by those principals and he can’t accept that so he tries to manipulate a way to make it seems like we both being selfish.. I’m just tired of it and i don’t usually speak about it but coming to this site was my breaking point cause im kinda starting to hate him and i dont want to but he can really be an asshole and i dont think he likes my 6 year old daughter. He wont admit it but i know he don’t and the only reason why he deals with her is because of me. So i play both father and mother to her because she needs it. So I will take your advice alone with prayer and hope this works. Thanks again

  26. Vince says:

    I get all that you are saying but it is very hard to do this if both parties are not trying for this equally. I understand i can take accountability for my mistakes and also keep my mind on the main goal of the relationship(which in my case is giving my son the best life i can possibly give him) which in turn means having a healthy relationship with my significant other. But it makes it near impossible to do when im thinking along the lines of this article and she is still doing the same old same old. Then it drags me back down to the immature level we were at in the first place. And i know i should not let myself be brought back down but i have an anger issue i guess because no matter how hard i try to have a mature loving kind relationship i always get so mad at the immaturity level of her. Dont get me wrong she is a great great mother to our son but just so so immature within the relationship. Is that judgemental of me for saying that? Or just a keen observation? Whos to say. I feel like if i follow the advice of this article fully then i will not only be perceived as but also feel like an absolute pushover. She is not mature enough to grasp these kind of concepts so i think in the end its either be insanely unhappy raising a child with someone who is completly incompatible with me or split up and gove my child an equally unhappy childhood of joint custody. Any suggestions on where i would go from here??????

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you for sharing Vince – you might be able to glean some ideas from the comments section as others have brought up similar issues. This might not have to be an either-or situation where it’s either you stick with someone you’re incompatible with or your child goes through an unhappy divorce. I recommend reading Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg and Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson and having a conversation with your wife on how you feel. I don’t think she intends to be immature in your relationship and she probably doesn’t see what you see. Have these upfront conversations the right way first and then you can decide what you want to do. Until you get her side of the story and look at how you might have contributed to this situation, you haven’t given the situation a fair chance. As always, it’s your choice to do what you want – just know that you’re responsible for the consequences as well.

  27. Gary says:

    Good day

    My situation is a tuff one me and wife have been married 1 year together 5+ we had a ruff relationship I was very immature I cheated got caught but we managed to patch things up no matter what we also have a child together because I’ve hurt her so much before I don’t kno how to make it work I really feel like she can do better and deserves better than me our baby is one year old I would also be crushed for her to have another guy around her so I’m trying to work it out we had a break up she moved out but we still talk I chose a smaller apt in hopes that I may take the time to fix myself and get back with her but when she found out shit got more upset I haven’t signed the lease but the apt is mines to have in a week so now I’m caught between back out of that and maybe taking away from the separation needed and losing her or giving up the apt and moving back I don’t kno how to solve it cause I think I look at other women like I can have her or do better it’s a major problem I don’t kno how to cure my lust for the opposite sex I see and I do love her but I also see other attractive women to I really hate that any ideas to help thanks

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you for sharing your story Gary. It might be helpful to get clear on what you really want and understand that to get what you want, you need to make sacrifices. If you want to be a good father and husband, behave in a way that fits your definition of a good father and husband. Stay away from behaviors not consistent with what you want. There are a lot of temptations that pull us away from our goals whether personal or professional. To manage those temptations, I’ve found it helpful to stay away from situations where I might be tempted. Hope this helps Gary.

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