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How do I express my feelings without my spouse feeling like I'm criticizing her? 26

Posted Dec 14 2008 8:29pm

Brian Haskell

Thank you so much for the articles you have written on the relationships blog. It has helped me understand the reasons I am upsetting my wife, and why she and I have been "communicating" in such a destructive manner lately.

Let me setup this scenario (ok, this really happened... to me... not 'somebody I know')

I have lately been retreating into spending more time at the computer, at the expense of my wife and family. There are a whole mess of reasons I have been doing this, including extended unemployment, financial difficulty and just plain old feeling really down about things lately. As I said, it is a mess of things.

The interesting thing is, I feel a lot of support from my wife in the big things, like the job search. She is there when there is a rejection, and she suffers right along side of me while we are waiting to hear back from a potential employer.

But recently, it has been statements such as...

"Why do you always rev the car when you drive?"

"Why did you pull into that fuel pump at the far end of the gas station when this one is so much closer?"

And now for the dangerous ones...

"Why don't you like spending time with me anymore? Don't you like me? I know you LOVE me, but do you LIKE me?"

"Why don't you talk to me? I feel like you just ignore me."

"Oh, we could enjoy spending this time together, if you really wanted to be with me."

"You like being on the computer more than you like being with me."

"Now I know why you don't remember everything in that TV program you were watching with the kids, you were on the computer at the same time. <wink as if it is a joke>."

I really do help around the house, she's not upset at me for that. I'm a pro at laundry, dishes, and man, I can clean a bathroom like nobody's business. She just wants me to be a better husband and father. I WANT to be a better husband and father, and I know that I need to more attentive to her.

I just got myself into a bit of trouble though...

We were watching episodes of Heroes together trying to figure out which ones she had seen, and I had watched a few of them with my kids, but wanted to wait and watch them in order with her. She mentioned the computer thing (see above). I asked her why she did that, and that I felt that lately, she has been getting in quite a few little jabs about my behavior. She told me that she will just shut up from now on, and won't ever say anything at all about how she feels and that she is sorry she is such a terrible person. We tried talking about it for a bit, and I tried to express to her that I don't feel like she's terrible, and I'm sorry I shut off, and I will try to be not just a better husband, but a better friend.

This is why I don't talk much. Much of what I say is misinterpreted and I end up in more trouble than when we started. But if I don't say anything about how the little statements really get to me, I just end up bottling it up and I feel worse.

I need to better learn how to communicate in a non destructive manner. I know I can't pull out of my funk in a flash, but I am working at becoming better, perhaps more like what I used to be. I value my wife more than I can say, and I don't ever want her to think that I feel she is a "terrible person".

I will take the things you mentioned in your blog, and try to be more responsive to her. I just now need to know how to carry on a decent conversation without "opening my mouth and removing all doubt" about my communication shortcomings.

Anyhow... Maybe I just need the chance to tell someone how I feel. I hope I haven't killed you with this wall of text.



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