Question: Dear Luise: I am in a new marriage, one year, that is getting really old, very fast. I can’t say a thing in the way of honest communication to my husband unless it is complimentary to him. Every single word that comes out of my mouth has to be about appreciation and happiness. Where is there a world like that? We are newlyweds. We have issues to address. We’re different and we need to work on those differences. My attempts to work with my husband all are perceived as criticism and he immediately enters a combat zone, a kind of psychological “kill or be killed” domain. This is really doing me in. Everything I have ever learned about making “I” statements instead of “you” statements is totally useless. I am new to marriage but entered it open and willing to learn and grow. My husband has horror stories about his first marriage that I am now beginning to take with a grain of salt. If I sound angry, it’s because I am. Is there any hope in this “Catch 22” arena? Rhea
Answer: Dear Rhea: There’s no hope at all if your husband continues to dictate how you express yourself. You can’t live that way, as you are beginning to realize. This is one for the marriage counselors. Getting him there may not be easy. It may not even be possible, but that’s where hope lies for both of you.
I continue to be appalled to read how many people enter marriage without any working premise. Not that I didn’t do the same thing, decades and decades ago, but I keep thinking that was then and this is now. Not so, I guess. Denial still seems to triumph over logic.
Surely you and your husband didn’t agree on every little thing when you were dating, did you? What did you do when you felt you needed to work on something, hold back so you didn’t ruffle his feathers? If so, that probably worked beautifully for him. And now, when you dare to speak up and take a stand regarding something that needs to be looked at more closely from your viewpoint, those feathers fly…don’t’ they?
You need to tell your husband that you are unwilling to live your life out being attacked for speaking up…and then not being heard when you do. Unfortunately, he needs to be approached that way, since it sounds like any attempt at negotiation will be blocked. It’s an either/or. To keep from being wiped out, you need to let him know that it’s either counseling with a satisfactory result or you’re long gone. Life as a non-person isn’t life at all. It’s death. Blessings, Luise