Battle of the tongues between husband and wife


During an argument the other night, my husband made a comment saying sex with me "wasn't all that so whatever", in response to me stating that the reason I was reluctant to be intimate with him, was because he treated me badly. I was stunned, and all my old insecurities bubbled up. I asked why he didn't leave me then, and he said "don't worry, it will happen soon" — another shocker. I now feel like he is planning his exit, and is tired of me. This is a man I built a life together with, from nothing. He recently started college and is doing well in his job, so I guess he now wants to move on. Our marriage has had the usual problems, but lately he has been very emotionally abusive and distant and I just feel so abandoned and unappreciated. Is there a way out for us, or should I just plan my exit before he leaves me?

He has hurt you deeply with those two statements. You feel frustrated and unappreciated. Understood. It's reasonable for you to be cut up by what he said. There are some very common issues I hear in what you say though. It's the catch-22 situation in which many couples get caught in: Unpleasantness of a husband = Little to no sex from his wife. Little to no sex from a wife = Unpleasantness from her husband. And round and round it goes. There is a way out.

Regarding hurtful words, as was learnt by a person who joked around and said "jump" to a suicidal man, standing on a ledge. The man indeed jumped to his death. A word, a statement, has the power to hurt someone, but similarly, the power to heal. The Bible says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:22). Therefore, we must be careful and purposeful with how we speak.

My advice:

Reject any despair: Do your utmost to pluck yourself out of any spirit of despair. I remind people that 'Gratitude destroys darkness'. Practice finding any and everything to be grateful for. Then watch what happens. Do it frequently and you'll experience a renewed sense of purpose.

Read between his lines: He sounds as though he's hurting. He may not actually mean what he said. So don't plan to exit just yet. Yes, you're hurting too, but it does sound to me as though he's hurting and therefore lashing out. Let me suggest something radical next.

Try "dating" him: It may sound silly and unreasonable, but before you throw in the towel, you'll want to feel you've done everything possible to salvage things. So, do for him what you'd want him to do for you — be genuinely nice, caring, and facilitating. Find the strength to try this. Woo him as if he's still the man of your dreams. Fanning burning embers can be tiresome and tough, but it's wonderful when the fire erupts all over again. Use your feminine powers. See if it kickstarts his chivalry and even his apology. You deserve to be respected, appreciated, and honoured. Be patient while you help him come to his senses.

Give us a call: Yes, I say this regularly — contact a counsellor. Sometimes the issues are not too difficult to resolve. Often an objective third party who can create the condition for honest meaningful discussion is what's needed. Plan for individual sessions and joint sessions. If you'd like to engage me directly, do so at

Believe the best things: The Bible prescribes this, Mark 11:22, "So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God"." It's said "Marriage is big-people business", it takes work to have that next-level bliss it offers. Ultimately, whether your hubby comes around or not, trust that you'll be happy and successful.

I pray that you'll have the strength and the resolve to attempt to re-engage your husband.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to

Christopher Brodber

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