Question: Dear Luise: Two days ago I asked my wife if she needed any help with something she was doing. I didn’t hear her answer or she didn’t answer, I’m not sure which, so I went into my room planning to get something and come back out and ask again but instead I fell asleep as soon as I sat down. She got mad at me for not doing the dishes or helping her. Than she got mad because I didn’t make a phone call the instant that I got a bill only is in my name. And now she refuses to talk to me or even be in the same room as me. She has done this before and I always make peace. I can’t do that anymore. I am tired of swallowing my pride. I was tired and I fell asleep. I don’t do that very often. She does it all the time and I know its because she’s tired. It doesn’t bother me when she falls asleep when we are supposed to be doing something. How do I get her to talk without swallowing my pride? If I have to do that again I will just plan for a divorce instead of what should I do? G.
Answer: Dear G.: One of mysteries of the unique makeup of each and every one of us is that what bothers one person, doesn’t bother another…and visa versa. When your wife falls to sleep on her feet…you understand but when you do it, it’s a crime.
You are not to blame for your differences…you are just being human. So is your wife. You don’t need to swallow your pride to admit that, because it’s a well-known fact. We are all fallible and we prove it every day. Perfection is something unattainable but we are more inclined to see the lack of it in others than we are to see it in ourselves.
Please re-read your first two sentences carefully and you may see where the first incident could have been avoided. You say, “I didn’t hear her answer or she didn’t answer. I’m not sure which.” That was the time for you to stop and clarify the issue. When we put something off, others often feel upset. You needed to ask again, immediately, to be sure you were heard and that you got a response.
On the other hand, it is probably unrealistic for your wife to expect you to handle your mail and bills the same way she would, (unless you are one of those people who loses track of them and doesn’t perform responsibly.) You are how you are, not a puppet waiting for her to tell you how you should be.
And the silent treatment is the height of childishness. Give me a break!
You don’t need a divorce, but both of you sure need some new communication skills. The best way to do that that I know of is with a counselor. It’s an art and to stay married, you both need to work on verbal self-expression and you will also need to develop some patience toward the each other.
Marriage isn’t a “be right” contest. One way to look at it is to see it as “a way to partner with another person that is much better than living alone.” (Otherwise, what’s the point?) It takes work but it’s worth it…or it could be. Blessings, Luise