Billingsley’s Bullets: How to spot a troubled marriage

By From page A5 | July 11, 2012

Bob Billingsley

A marriage where either spouse or both spouses feel like they are constantly “walking on eggs” is in trouble. These “walking on eggs” relationships usually occur when one spouse has an explosive temper, and you never know when they will blow up. When they blow up, they are usually insulting to everyone around them.

• The spouse and the kids in the explosive relationship experience ongoing fear or nervousness because the anger is not always predictable, and the results are always scary.

• Bad-tempered spouses can fly off over spilled milk at the table or someone leaving the garage door open. They do not care whom they hurt or insult when their anger takes over.

• If your home has a “walking on eggs” atmosphere, it’s time for a confrontation with the angry one. Of course, it will be scary because these immature people are also very defensive about anything you say to them. Nevertheless, you need to take the risk for your sake and for the kids’ sake. If the angry one refuses to talk or to change his bully behavior, it’s time to leave.

• Life is too short to live in fear or constant anxiety. A person who is absolutely unwilling to change or to compromise is a person to move away from. Who wants to spend a lifetime with a bully?

• Don’t be a volunteer victim to an immature bully. When you fail to confront him, he believes these temper fits are OK and appropriate.

• Bullies really don’t understand their victim’s patience or love. They do understand confrontation, and sometimes they change.

• For you younger readers out there, you can spot the angry ones, the bullies when you are dating them. They blow up easily. They break things with their fists, and they apologize often. Don’t go on another date with these losers.

• A marriage that is full of uncomfortable silence is also in trouble. It often means that your spouse has given up, has quit trying to talk to you. The spouse has decided that talking to you has a lot more disadvantages than benefits. When he/she tried to talk to you in the past, he/she felt inadequate or insulted after the conversation. It didn’t pay to even try to discuss things with you. There were no positive payoffs.

• There is such a thing as positive silence. When couples are reading or listening to music they enjoy, the silence is comforting and creates inner peace and harmony.

• The silence of indifference is different. This silence means at least one of the parties no longer is willing to entertain put-downs or insults. He/she has concluded that you will not change. A marriage filled with indifference and ongoing silence has given up on passion, love and kindness. What you have left is an overt politeness that really isn’t polite at all.

• Do you encourage your spouse to talk with you? Do you keep your mouth shut until he/she finishes talking? Do you have to win every argument or always get in the last word? Are you defensive before your spouse even finishes a sentence?

• Decent conversation requires a patient listener. Rewarding conversation requires a “give and take” atmosphere. You must believe that his/her truth is as important as your truth. Never end a negative statement. Also, learn to shut your mouth just before you are about to be critical. Kind, gentle conversation is best.

Bob Billingsley is a columnist at the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly. 

Bob Billingsley


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