I love my wife. She’s a very good person, great mother, attractive, friendly, always helping people.
She’s very involved with our daughter, 10 and son, 12, always responds to their needs.
But we have one main problem: Every decision I make, she overrides.
She does listen at first, but I can immediately detect her mind ticking over and finding some flaw in my plans. It’s as if, though we’ve been together for 15 years, she still has to prove that she knows better.
Her field of social service work is community-based and she’s great with her clients which, during the pandemic have included both individuals and groups, all done smoothly online.
I know that she uses good listening techniques and seeks compromises.
But with me, she’s almost abrupt. “That won’t work...” or “You’re making wrong assumptions...” are among her responses to me.
Whether it’s about something positive - e.g., a special family outing, or something practical like the need to replace our fridge, and even whether or not our dog needs grooming, she’ll stick to a different opinion.
It’s annoying, frustrating and has made me feel disrespected, though like me, I know she still feels love between us.
So, I’m stumped by what’s causing her resistance to my every decision. Any clues from this letter?
It’s hard to accept being both “loved” and “disrespected,” so, yes, something’s amiss.
Your wife is clearly smart, accomplished, with excellent communication skills with clients and likely with your children, too.
But as a partner, she leans towards controlling, perhaps without even realizing it. However, even if she strongly believes she’s “compromising” by given other views, she’s missing the point.
You’re raising personal, family-based, and household decisions, not “community” issues. What’s needed from her is mutual discussion for, against, and/or her reasons for other possibilities.
But this undertone of control/rejection may’ve caused you over time to deliver your suggestions as confirmed plans. If so, it goes against everything in her training and work life.
For two loving partners, your way of relating to each other over decisions, requires a re-set. But you both have to commit to it. Even short-term counselling would be helpful.
Or try it yourselves by jointly adopting a new rule:
Every decision that involves your relationship and/or the children, gets a period of each giving solid reasons, finding common ground, and closing further debate.
FEEDBACK Regarding people who are chronically late (August 11):
Reader – “Perpetual lateness is passive-aggressive, antisocial behaviour. These people will always be this way and usually twist things around to make others look bad.
“It’s controlling, smug, deliberate and pathological, not just being disorganized. They take advantage of others and are manipulative.
“Even if they’re family, I’d end it as there’s no relationship when they show no respect. Or, just adhere to your schedule since they stick to theirs.
“Do what you were intending and don’t wait. Don’t make concessions for them as they’ve shown such disrespect”
Ellie - I agree that repeated tardiness can be very annoying.
But your perspective on this seems especially harsh, since there’s no evidence of an actual diagnosis of the deliberate, nasty, pathological intentions you ascribe to all people who are repeatedly “late,” even family.
I repeat what I said to the original letter-writer, that the “antisocial signals should be considered,” along with the possibility of alcoholism/addictions as a factor.
“Hang in until the situation reveals something that you (two) can either understand, or simply cannot accept again.”
FEEDBACK Regarding asking people (or their hosts) whether they’re vaccinated (August 21):
Reader – “I now take total ownership for my health. I don’t hesitate to inquire about other’s vaccination status. I’m not prepared to take a risk, due to having family members with health issues.
“Unless I ABSOLUTELY know the other person is vaccinated, I maintain mask-wearing and distance. Having the other person feel uncomfortable is far easier to handle than to have family members get infected.
“Thus far I’ve not met anyone who’s reluctant to disclose their fully-vaccinated status. I readily reciprocate to assure their safety.
“But I refuse to associate with anyone who doesn’t disclose their status. There’s allowance for those unable to be vaccinated for valid medical reasons. I’m finding that these people are also taking alternate measures to protect themselves and others.
“This host who didn’t disclose that a guest who later hugged the letter-writer was unvaccinated, was totally irresponsible.”
Tip of the day:
Long-lived relationships thrive on trust, respect, commitment, and seeking compromises over being right.