Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Afraid of confrontation with spouse ( No Answer,   9 Comments )
Subject: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
Category: Relationships and Society > Relationships
Asked by: hopeful_ca-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 27 Nov 2004 03:39 PST
Expires: 27 Dec 2004 03:39 PST
Question ID: 434672
I find myself afraid of taking action or standing up due to fear of
getting criticism from spouse and subsequent confrontation. My spouse
criticizes me a lot (on practically aspect of life such as what I
wear, how I stand, how I talk and walk, how I deal with children, when
time of the day I call my own parents on the phone etc) so over the
years I am unable to speak up because I am afraid this will lead to
confrontation. I am unable to stand up even when I know I am doing the
right thing.

What is the reason of my weakness and defensive behaviour? Why am I so
afraid of confrontation? What can I do to overcome my fears? Any
insights and suggestions on books to read is welcome.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: mast-ga on 27 Nov 2004 09:34 PST
Hi, Hopeful_ca. Great name! :) You have done well to be able to put up
with such conditions for so long. I can empathize; my own family has
been very negative and critical for most of my life. I have read many,
many books on subjects related to this and also studied counseling and
psychology. I can tell you that most counseling leaves you feeling
worse. Counsellors get you to rethink the bad times over and over. All
that does is reinforce them in your mind and make you expect them
more. And when you expect them, you will even subconsciously move
towards them. If you do see a shrink, see someone who offers Cognitive
Behaviour Therapy.

With the brief details you've given it would only be speculation on my
part as to what exactly causes your behaviour. The good news is that
you don't absolutely need me to tell you why the problem is there to
be able to break free from it. Chances are that the biggest reason for
continuing this way is simply that you are used to it. Fear is another
cause. You said yourself that you feel afraid of taking action. I'm
sure that there are consequences - real and imagined - that would
happen if you do take action.

It is difficult to shake off criticism, especially from people we care
about. There are techniques to learn, however, that will help you. In
the end, although you may wish for your spouse to change, you can't
force your spouse to, so your only guarantee is that you will change.
But that's good too.

I'll recommend some books for you. Each of these books is extremely
helpful in its own way. It would be best for you to read all of them,
but I will list them from first- to third-most helpful.

Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself
by Florence Littauer (Amazon link:

Change Your Life in Seven Days : The World's Leading Hypnotist Shows You How
by PAUL MCKENNA (Amazon link:

How To Win Friends And Influence People
by Dale Carnegie (Amazon link:

In the meantime I suggest that you try to discuss how you feel to your
spouse. Explain it in a way that emphasises how you feel, rather than
how they make you feel. So instead of saying "When you do this you
make me upset", say something like "When you do this I feel upset".
Small difference in print; big difference in meaning. I also suggest
that you pray. That's not the typical counsellor thing to say, but
it's quite effective.

All the best!
Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: steph53-ga on 27 Nov 2004 16:04 PST

" My spouse criticizes me a lot (on practically aspect of life such as what I
wear, how I stand, how I talk and walk, how I deal with children, when
time of the day I call my own parents on the phone etc"

Your comment above sounds to me like your spouse is emotionally abusive.

Please refer to this link below to learn more:

People that are emotionally abused fear "speaking up" because, after
years of being belittled and criticized, they lose whatever
self-confidence they may have once had.

I know because I've been there......

Think hard on this. 

Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: kohmatsu-ga on 27 Nov 2004 22:32 PST
Your weakness stems from learned behavior. Live in a cardboard box for
a while, and soon you'll believe that the universe in only as large as
the box. Realize that to get what you want, means you'll need to break
a few heads. Know that some situations are answered by sitting still,
but others require activeness. Overcome it by learning how to think
outside of the box, and breaking your learned behaviour eg. take a
different path to work in the morning, eat something you don't
normally eat, talk to someone you wouldn't normally talk to. Learn how
to let go, so that when the confrontation arises, your not going to be
busy thinking about what who your going to hurt/what your going to
lose. Enter the situation with an 'I don't give a stuff attitude'
(though it's not true). Think clearly 'is this the logical choice?'.
When your emotions start trying to think for you, concentrate on your
breathing. At all times keep your awareness on your breathing, and
when you have sufficient awareness on it, that is where your mental
clarity will be, then complete the confrontation with no regret.
Mediation will definitely help.
Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: hopeful_ca-ga on 28 Nov 2004 00:54 PST
Thanks for the comments! After reading them I think two factors are
contributing to my situation. The first one is that the constant
criticism has eroded my confidence. Secondally, I (and probably my
spouse as well) have become used to my behaviour of fear and reticence
and and thus it continues on.

What I desire most is the feeling of freeness and spontanity in my
life; to be able to make a decision myself and not be afraid of what
my spouse might think of it or criticize it. I realize that I need to
be mentally stronger. I have begun to spend more time with kids
(school work, play, reading book etc) which is helping. I have also
begun to read books on the topic of keeping positive attitude.
Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: augusta-ga on 28 Nov 2004 17:52 PST
I think that it is very easy for a power imbalance to be created. If
spouse A wants to preserve the marriage and family and all costs and
the spouse B knows this, then the spouse B can use this to bully the
spouse A.

Spouse A, fearing and avoiding confrontation because it means
disharmony and the potential break up of the family, is at a grat
disadvantage. Spouse B may use the threat of confrontation and break
up as a power tool to get what he/she wants.

In this case I recommend that spouse A put his/her dignity first, even
at the expense of family unity. Often when spouse B sense this
willingness to break up, he/she will back away from the abyss.
Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: kohmatsu-ga on 29 Nov 2004 01:26 PST
trying to keep positive is just as deluded as trying to be negative.
Be realistic instead, don't try to change it to your way of viewing
things. View things as they really are.
Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: timespacette-ga on 29 Nov 2004 14:38 PST
hi hopeful!

This book is a very good one to add to your list:

AND I would read the  end chapter and really evaluate whether it's
best to stay in this relationship

Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: askarz-ga on 29 Nov 2004 21:26 PST
Youre afraid of denial, I'm the same way. You don't want her "the one
whos loves you "  to speak badly becasue you will feel hated.  I am
the same way and it sucks. Hopfully you can just stand up, and talk to
her about it, and everything will be ok. Good luck!
Subject: Re: Afraid of confrontation with spouse
From: capitaineformidable-ga on 30 Dec 2004 15:28 PST
Dear Kohmatsu, you are just playing with words. Hopeful_ca-ga has had
the courage to look reality in the face and this is the reason for
this discussion.

I don?t know if you have the British TV programme ?Keeping up
Appearances?, in your area. It?s the domineering wife Hyacinth Bucket
(pronounced Bouquet) and the henpecked husband theme expanded to
ridiculous proportions. One of the reasons it is so successful is that
nearly all men can sympathise with the long suffering Richard because
everybody has been there at some point in their lives. Sadly, real
situations are far from funny.

What you must realize and what you already know, is that nothing will
change unless you make it change and dealing with that is the problem.
I have not read any of the knowledgeable authors in the links provided
above, only my experience in the University of Life, as it is known.

The cycle as to be broken somewhere and you can try one of a number of
approaches all of which involve putting the ball back in your wife?s
court in some way or another.

Firstly, there is the straight discussing of the problem approach.
?When you say such things to me as you have just done, it makes me
feel sad and hurt. I feel as though another brick has been taken out
of the wall of our relationship and although the wall will still stand
up with a few bricks missing, if it goes on, a point will be reached
where there is not enough left to hold it all together. I don?t want
that to happen so what do you suggest we can do to put the bricks back
and make our relationship (wall) strong again??

Another approach is to find a positive aspect of every negative thing
she says to you.
?Why do you believe that my parents wouldn?t be pleased to talk to me
now? I?m sure they would love a call?.

?Look at the way old Fred in the house opposite dresses on a Sunday
afternoon. If you didn?t know he was a bank manager you would give him
a couple of dollars for a cup of coffee. You must agree I look better
than that.

Expect to be dismissed with bored sounding ?Don?t be argumentative
dear? Don?t be dismissed. Just keep coming back to the point and play
broken record. Above all, only you know your wife?s style of argument
(negativity). Plan your responses to her responses at least three or
four steps down the line (more if you can). If you know 90% of what
she might say beforehand then you only have to think of 10% on your
feet; don?t let it be 100%.

If all else fails you can put your coat on in the middle of the
discussion and when she demands to know where you are going you can
tell her that you are trying your best with this and getting nowhere
and that you are going out for a couple of beers and after that you
might drop down the hoar house. More than likely though, you won?t use
this one for the same reason that I?ve never used it.

Anyway, best of luck, I genuinely hope things work out for you.


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy