Dr. Wall lets his mind wander on the particularly depressing theme of the propensity of wives to complain and husbands to be defensive. He should probably keep his thoughts to himself.

There are two things that cannot stand,

Yea, three that will fall in the end:

A husband who is never wrong,

A wife who thinks her husband is never right,

And the Gates of Hell if these two are married to each other.

Dr Wall, after a particularly long day

When it comes to marriage it’s easy to get lost in the chicken and the egg scenario: Is he exalting himself because she’s putting him down, or is she bringing him down because he’s too high and lofty? Is he defensive because he’s being attacked or is she criticizing him because his defensiveness tells her he’s not listening to her? Does he never come home because she continually reminds him of his failure or is she lashing him because he never comes home?

Neither of these behaviors is very attractive. No doubt they feed on each other, like the verse in Proverbs that says a leech never has enough. You get two leeches sucking blood out of each other and then soon there’s no life left. Divorce won’t change this much. Each might go to therapy for a while. She’ll mourn to her therapist all the crap her husband did, didn’t do, said and didn’t say that was unseemly and hurtful. He’ll lament his inertia, that he let his world crash around him, while he frittered away his life in the garage or bar or deer stand or boat or surfing the eennernet or _______. Then they will marry someone else and do the same thing, only more of it. That’s how this works: You find a plan and do it and, when it doesn’t work, you do more of it.

If we had a contest, who would win? Is it worse to think you can do no wrong or to think someone else can do no right? What’s worse: Being defensive or criticizing someone? It’s a contest with no winners. It’s not just these two who are losing. Pile up the kids who are affected by these disasters and they’d reach the moon. Add up the tax dollars spent to try to put these kids back together and we could pay off the national debt AND the salaries on the New York Yankees. A downside of solving this problem is there’d be a severe increase in unemployment for lawyers. That’d be a bummer.

I’ve never been able to figure out what makes a wife a shrill. I keep asking myself what it is about being a nag that is even attractive? Where do wives get this idea that if they keep pointing out the faults of their husbands that somehow their husbands will be all warm and fuzzy and appreciative and repentant and change and walk in the ways of the wisdom of their wives? Where do they get this idea? I’ve never seen it work. And this isn’t just a modern phenomenon. It’d be tempting to think that modern women got this behavior from VH1 reality shows, but, dang, this deal goes back to Genesis.

At least Eve had enough savvy to veil her contempt of her husband by questioning what God had told Adam. Presumably, God told Adam about cooling it with the tree in the center of the garden and Adam was supposed to tell Eve. Somewhere along the line, the message that God said got messed up. God said not to eat of the tree of good and evil. When The Serpent misquoted God and said to Eve, “Hath God said you shouldn’t eat from EVERY tree in the garden,” Eve got her underwear all bunched up in a bun and became all flustered and confused and was suckered into this little debate with Satan. I take it from this event that starts out the Bible, that debating with Satan should not be high on our priority list, but if you are going to do it, you should at least quote the Bible directly and not add to it with little decorations and garnishes and flourishes, but Eve says, no, there’s only one tree we can’t eat. She got that right. Good for her. Then she added….and we can’t touch it either. Mr. Smiley Mouth had her now. He’s all grins with his snow-white teeth flashing. She’d never had a sales pitch before and it was more than she could endure and before the sun set she’s chowing down AND touching the one thing in the whole entire universe she wasn’t supposed to and selling her soul to the Devil along with her husband’s and yours and mine, too, all because she needed more. She had everything and that wasn’t enough.

It’s amazing the world fell from grace at the breaking of the 10th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Covet. What an innocent commandment to break. You’d think Eve would have gone for something a little more Hollywoody, you know, like Adultery (well, technically, this would have been difficult) or Murder, something that would make for good copy. But, noooo. We get this little matter of the heart, which, by the way, was instrumental in Paul’s conversion, when, as he was reading the Bible, it occurred to him that he could keep all of the other Ten Commandments except Thou Shalt Not Covet, because he could proudly say he never ever murdered anybody (Whoo Hoo for Paul!), but when it came to this Thou Shalt Not Covet part, he got all choked up and realized that he was a huge hypocrite and that the blood of lambs and bulls wasn’t going to take away his guilty conscience. The Tenth Commandment brought Paul to his knees. It got Eve on the first shopping trip without any money to pay the bill.

So the first sin was the sin of discontent and the sin of discontent has been getting people kicked out of gardens ever since. Eve had everything necessary for human happiness and joy and fulfillment, including coffee breaks with God when he walked in the Garden (not sure how this looked), except she didn’t have what she couldn’t have and what she couldn’t have wasn’t enough. Isn’t that a kicker? But what really is a bother is what was Adam thinking? Like, did he lose his brain somewhere along the line? The Bible doesn’t say that Eve even talked him into it. To quote the passage directly:

(She) gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

You‘ve got to be kidding, right? She never said anything to him? Just gave it to him? Adam never said anything? She didn’t even have to talk him into it? No debate? No questioning? Not even a little argument? You’d think, Adam would say, well, hey, what about what I told you God told me and all? He says nothing. Like he could care less? Cavalier? No big deal? Whatever. If Eve’s first sin was the sin of discontent, Adam’s was he couldn’t bother with this religion deal. Indifference. Poopooing the very Word of God. He didn’t even care that God SAID what He said. He even KNEW God existed, chummed around with him in the Garden and stuff and he didn’t care?! YIKES! At least Atheists have an excuse: “Well, Geez, God (I suggest on Judgment Day, you don’t say “Geez”), I didn’t even know you existed. If you’d only have given me a clue, I’d a listened for sure.” (I also suggest on Judgment Day you don’t blame God. Probably won’t be a good idea.). Adam was just created and lived in the most wonderful place in the world, the universe for that matter, except for heaven itself, and he’d seen all the animals and even named them, but he’s still all alone, so God takes his rib and makes the most beautiful creature this side of the Euphrates, and the other side, too, and he’s talked with God and he’s hung out with his new bride and they’re groovin’ on the ultimate honeymoon and he just shrugs his shoulders and says, whatever, nonverbally, and, just like that, out of all the animals in the world and on the Discovery Channel, the only one that will have anything to do with any of us anymore is a dog or, if you sit still long enough, a cat, and most of the rest of the others want to have our hineys for dinner. And don’t even get me going on all the other things that came to be because of Adam’s apathy and Eve becoming the first hoarder: Jails, banks, keys, door locks and police, just to get the party started.

And we’ve been living in this dynamic ever since. If any of us are not careful, nothing’s ever good enough for her and he could care less. Curiously, he’ll listen to his wife and he’s all grins, if his wife wants him to do something evil and wrong. But if it’s something that could help her out? Once in awhile he’ll acquiesce and do what she wants without complaint, but mostly he’ll just ignore what she says, smile and think about something else, or pretend he’s engaged, while his mind is a million miles away.

Of course, this doesn’t work and the average Eve isn’t going to take that for long, so too many of them get really mean and say nasty things to their nonchalant husbands, who will take it most days, but after a while, it gets a little too much, and they freak and anger comes as the Wicked Witch of the West (or is it East?) and turns these husbands into werewolves and they destroy their families all the while saying, “She pushed my buttons.”

Right. Try that excuse in front of a judge and see how far it gets you. I bet that’s a popular saying around the chow tables in prisons.

This isn’t any way to live, but if you are going to do it a different way it’d involve some humility and giving up the right to have everything your way, and being able to compromise and work things out and a servant’s heart and finding out a way to be happy even though you have desires that go unfulfilled and being kind and forgiving and listen for a change, but that would involve actually loving your partner as a choice and not let your negative feelings control you instead, and it’s hard to get there unless, like Paul, it brings you to your knees.

Things look really different from there.


Check out these other blogs by Dr. Wall on similar themes:

Dr. Wall laments the behavior and attitude of unhappy wives and proposes their unhappiness may be due to their search for happiness in all the wrong places:

Wives and The Curse of Happiness

Dr. Wall proposes that instead of letting little things bug us and ruin our happiness we find a way to appreciate what we DO have:

Content in Small Things

Dr. Wall explains that there are two sides of anger: a good side and a bad side.  We need to learn how to listen to the good side of anger and ignore the bad side of anger:

The Dark Side of Anger

Dr. Wall discusses the untapped gold mine of disagreements in marriage.  Couples often fight when they disagree.  But Dr. Wall explains that disagreeing in marriage is actually a major strength of marriage.  He suggests that instead of fighting, we stop long enough to hear the wisdom our spouse is saying:

Rejoice When You Disagree

Dr. Wall looks at how hard it is to be nice to people who look down on us. It’s really the only option, though, unless we want to go to therapy forever:

The Insult Stops With Me

Dr. Wall looks at the subtly of blame in:

Blame as a Lifestyle


Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa.  To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.  For more information about Dr. Wall click here.

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