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Marriage 911

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Dr. David Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Center and has been helping couples in crisis restore and revitalize their relationships for more than 30 years.

At The Marriage Recovery Center, Dr. Hawkins promotes '3 Days To a New Marriage, Guaranteed!' Contact TMRC for a free 20-minute consultation.

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Arrogance Can Destroy a Marriage

There is nothing quite as attractive as self-confidence. On the other hand, there is little quite as ugly as arrogance.

Self-confident people tell you how they feel and what they think, while respecting your point of view. They never coerce you into thinking the way they think or feeling the way they feel. Self-confident people have good boundaries, understanding we are all different.

However, oftentimes self-confidence is confused with arrogance. Arrogance goes beyond healthy self-confidence, with characteristics that destroy relationships. In the name of self-confidence, they push their opinions on others, can be very manipulative, are often deceptive, and believe their way of doing things is the only way.

A recent email from a distraught woman makes a clear case for the destructive impact of arrogance and importance of mutual respect in marriage.

Dear Dr. David,

I have been married for ten years to a man who always has to be right. He thinks his way is the only way. If I disagree with him, he gets angry. In fact, when I disagree he calls me ‘argumentative,’ when it is actually he that becomes argumentative.

I’m not sure how to handle someone with such strong opinions. He acts very self-confident, but I wonder if he is really insecure beneath his arrogant attitude. He is pushy with his friends, but then they are pushy also. They treat women with disrespect and it is hurting our marriage. When I try to voice my opinion, my husband finds fault in it. I’m not sure he really cares anymore what I think and feel.

Am I supposed to be quiet and let him run over me, or is there a way to fight back? I don’t want to cause unnecessary problems in our marriage, but then again he is the one ruining it. I want him to respect me. Is this too much to ask? Please help!

No, expecting respect in marriage is not too much to ask. In fact, it sounds as though your husband has been neglecting his responsibility to love and respect you for some time. In the name of self-confidence and believing his opinions to be “right,” he has disrespected your opinions.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5: 21) Your husband also is to love you “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5: 25) There are many other examples in Scripture of the importance of mutual respect and honor.

Obviously, these are critical elements missing in your marriage. A marriage is a sacred covenant to love and honor one another. You are no longer two separate people, but one. You must look out for each other’s interests. You must sacrificially seek your mate’s welfare. Again, it seems that your husband doesn’t understand these principles.

I also am very concerned about his anger, which he obviously uses to control you. He appears to have little ability to tolerate differences of opinion, or to have his point of view questioned. This is a self-centered, immature character trait.

What can you do about this? I don’t encourage you to “fight back.” This will only add insult to injury. Don’t defend yourself or debate with him. Don’t get caught up in bickering with him. This only creates more animosity and arguing. Don’t get “hooked” into battling with him. You’ll lose and feel worse in the end. You don’t need to win arguments—you need to state what you think and feel. I discuss this in further detail in my book, Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life.

This is only a beginning step. Beyond this, you need to set boundaries with your husband. It sounds as if you’ve tolerated his coercion for too long, teaching him that it’s OK to treat you this way, when it’s not. You’ve probably given in to his anger, which only reinforces it. In a loving way, with a firm, strong voice, you need to repeatedly tell him you don’t appreciate being told that you’re wrong. Assert yourself, stating your opinion while not engaging in fruitless arguing. Tell him you will talk to him when he is calm and respectful. Let him know that you hear and understand his point of view, if you do, but make it clear that you see things differently.

Finally, seek counseling. It is very unlikely that your husband will change without professional intervention. It is likely that he doesn’t see or understand what he is doing. Hopefully, if you are clear, concise, and consistent with him, letting him know that there must be change in your marriage, he will agree to counsel with you.

What do others think this woman should do? How have you dealt with someone who is arrogant and pushy with their opinions?

. . . . . . . . . . .

Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my Web site, and You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency, rejection by your mate, and affair-proofing your marriage.



Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 3:50 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Arrogance Can Destroy a Marriage

This is not arrogance, it is an untamed behaviour that has been overlooked for many years and tolerated until now! It is only a fool that will be proud toward his or her spouse. In marriage, both husband and wife have become one, thus knocking out pride. I mean, if it is a proper marriage witnessed by families of both sides, friends and even the church.
'If the foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do?'. It is not arrogance, it is a faulty foundation right from the start!(Sorry).
So what is next? Allow your pastor to come in and offer a marital counselling for both of you. Its a shame that you have not said so much about him and his background and expecially if your home is cross-cultural. The background of a man can be a pointer to his behaviours and his handling of the spouse; not necessary the influence of his friends. The friends of JOB in the bible were unsuccessful in channging him; he kept his integrity, not even his wife (Job 2.9-10). Please pray about it . Shalom .
Left by Dr Abi Popoola on Jan 29, 2010 10:03 AM

# RE: Arrogance Can Destroy a Marriage

Many pastors are not equipped to give sound advice. I would find someone with a degree in counseling and as Dr Hawkins as said, someone with years of experience in this field. I have had too many ill equipped people try to tell me what I should or should not do. Seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit in all of this.
Left by jazz on Mar 17, 2010 10:31 PM

# RE: Arrogance Can Destroy a Marriage

My husband, a mason, carries a bible with him in his truck. He treats me and kids like crap. Everyone outside the home gets more attention and time than we do. I have stood by his side every step of the way. He has no respect for me at all. He threatens divorce if I don't take orders from him. He helps other women take care of their kids when our kids need clothes and shoes. He helps other women pay their bills when we have no heat or hot water(for over a year now.) I have to beg for money, yet this woman at work can borrow money with no problem. He would't even give me money to see my sister before she died. The same week, this woman at work needed money and he gave it to her. I am left with no money or gas, if he leaves me a car at all. Everyone outside our house thinks he is such a nice guy. This kills me. No matter how you put it, this is not love. He refuses to go to church with us. He refuses counseling. He lies about everything. It's his way, or no way! Isn't this enough?
Left by gcarter on Mar 18, 2010 12:34 PM


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