Following are leftover questions from my online chat, “From Love to Dislike” (Oct. 7):
Whenever my fiancée and I discuss future plans, she gets all defensive and accuses me of not really understanding her, or even loving her.
She wants a far more expensive wedding than we can afford, yet thinks my concern is criticism of her taste.
She’ll shout, say I don’t even know her, that she knows how to manage money, buys her own clothes, etc.
Same thing when we discuss any purchase – a car, a condo, whether to live in a trendy part of the city or further out, where it’s cheaper.
She’ll curl up in a ball of tears and say she’s not greedy but knows what she needs to be happy and I’m trying to control her. I’m not.
I’m trying to avoid huge debt that I know we cannot manage.
Is this how it’s going to be on every decision forever unless she gets her own way every time?
Yes, she’s behaving immaturely, so is likely also insecure - about the future, on how to balance your different tastes.
It’s clear she doesn’t know how to fight fairly. So she gets aggressive by shouting, or uses the pity approach by crying.
Perhaps, even though you’re more realistic about your budget and what you two can afford, you may also not be adept at discussion and compromise… which is pretty normal for most couples at this pre-wedding/marriage stage.
But her defensiveness acts as a roadblock, cutting off the ability for each of you to work through a decision.
You both need to take some responsibility here.
Yours is to say you don’t want to be the gatekeeper to all future plans, and you agree you’re always focused on the cost, so you’d prefer to look at the budget together and chart what’s possible.
Her part is to recognize that she can’t just keep pushing for more spending.
But some decisions have an emotional impact so, if she feels it’s that important, she must accept that a “trendy” address means a smaller place and higher taxes. That agreed, you can both decide if it’s worth it.
My husband of five years is very critical of me, about anything and everything. He seemed to think I was terrific when we dated, but now I recall he used to talk about my great “potential.”
Well, he now dislikes how I dress. He calls my cooking “third-rate,” finds fault with how I clean things, and constantly questions my parenting of our toddler.
He makes me feel so belittled that I also doubt myself!
I don’t want to break up my family but how do I deal with all this criticism?
Two approaches are essential: 1) Do NOT believe his putdowns, and stop doubting yourself.
2) Do NOT counterattack, so that his every remark becomes a major argument between you.
You need some confidence boosts to try to turn this dynamic around, IF it’s possible.
On parenting methods, you need support – it can be through a parents’ course or study group, a network of friends experienced with raising kids, supportive and reasonable family members, etc.
On your own self-esteem, counselling’s essential so that his belittling doesn’t cause you to become depressed.
Tell him that you’re open to discussion, but if attacking you is the only way he knows how to express an opinion, he too needs counselling or the marriage won’t last.
I really liked this guy. We had fun and great sex. But when I went to his place, the mess turned me off!
Old take-out food boxes and scraps on counters, and even on his couch, dirty laundry on the bed, etc.
I said I couldn’t go there again until he cleaned it. But, hanging out more at my place, his lack of personal hygiene became obvious.
He hardly brushes his teeth unless reminded, and he’ll wear the same t-shirt for days.
I became disgusted with him and ended it.
He showed no appreciation of the effect of his unclean habits on a partner.
He hadn’t the sensitivity to you or enough will to please you, to warrant your trying to educate him, for himself or the relationship.
Once you felt “disgust,” it was game over.
It’s an alert to others in early relationships:
It’s important to check out how a person lives, not just how he/she loves.
Tip of the day:
Controls, criticism, and counter-attacks all erode relationships. Find the confidence to insist on discussion and compromise.