For instance, yesterday all day, my toe hurt like I had been stung and I couldn’t see what was wrong but it made my whole foot feel numb. I asked him if he would take a look at my toe to see if he could see anything; he touched the ball of my foot and said “Here?” and I snapped and said “No, I said my toe!” I saw that my snapping had upset him so I apologized and said I hadn’t meant to snap at him. He seemed upset still and I went to the kitchen and finished putting dishes in the dishwasher and washing up the kitchen. It took about 10 minutes and then I went back to the living room and he wouldn’t look at me or say anything so I asked if he was mad at me or going to be mad all evening and he, still refusing to look at me, says, “Nope.” Then a few minutes later he goes to the office for about an hour and a half. Around 8:30 he comes back, sits down and asks me if there is anything I want to do, so I say in a cheery voice that “I like to do lots of things!” This makes him mad so he goes back to the office without saying anything and stays there ’til after I go to bed around 10:30. Then he comes in the bedroom and tells me I was being childish for saying what I had when he asked if I wanted to do something. I told him I said it because I was tired of him avoiding me and then acting like everything is OK without even talking about it.
I really am tired of it. I do not know how to handle the pouty behavior and it makes me feel like we waste whole days over it sometimes. It is not like I am the only one causing arguments or snapping either, and I don’t want to make it seem that way, but when he snaps at me, I don’t stay mad and avoid him all night. Please help, what can I do to stymie this behavior or deal with it? — Sick of His Childish Behavior
Um. You guys are both being super childish, and you need to grow up and act like adults if you want your marriage to thrive. That means to take ownership of your behavior and quit blaming each other for stupid, inconsequential shit. For example, you said you apologized to your husband for snapping at him because you could tell he was hurt. Wrong answer! The right thing to do is to apologize because you were rude. You had your foot stuck in the guy’s face and then you SNAPPED at him because he didn’t find the exact spot where your mystery numbness was coming from. Do you not see how that was rude? Can you understand why he might be a little annoyed with you?
Then, after your husband did take some space — retreating to his office for an hour and a half — you couldn’t let it go that he dared to spend some time in another room and you proceeded to act like a first grader when he asked if you wanted to do something. “I like to do lots of things!” What? That wasn’t even his question. Obviously, you were pissed at him and rather than say in a rational, adult way, “Hey, I get the feeling you’re upset with me because of how I snapped at you a while ago. I’m sorry I did that, but I wish you wouldn’t have run off to your office while we could have been having a nice evening.” But you decided to be passive-aggressive instead. What kind of reaction were you expecting from that?
Notice that before he went to bed, your husband told you that he was annoyed with you for being childish. This is called asserting your feelings. He expressed himself in a rational, adult way. The proper response here would have been, “I was childish, but I was hurt that you avoided me for half the evening.” From there, you could have had a rational, adult conversation that hopefully would have involved brief apologies from both parties and a good chuckle over how silly you’d both been and how you probably need to get out more.
And that’s my main advice to you: Get out more. It sounds like you’re in a bit of a rut. Too much time at home, sitting around, wondering what to do with yourselves. Make an effort to spend at least one evening a week out doing something fun. Reconnect over meals either at your own dinner table or at a restaurant. Put some spice in your life with activities that push you both a little out of your comfort zone, take you out of your heads, and force you to work together. Enroll in a weekly dance class or team up for trivia night at a local pub. Go on a scavenger hunt, or take a cooking class together. The point is, this is obviously bigger than some dumb argument about a mystery sting on your toe or whatever. This is about you two being bored, not taking responsibility for your behavior, and looking for drama — because of the boredom — in your relationship rather than fun stuff that brings you together. Quit acting like children and start taking your marriage seriously … by having more fun with each other.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.
kerrycontrary July 26, 2012, 9:09 am
I agree with Wendy that the LW was being childish in the particular example she provided, but it sounds like her husband has a pattern of shutting her out which is a real problem. A lot of people need their space when they are angry. I know that I need to take 20 minutes when I get really fired up. But if her husband is consistently ignoring her and punishing her through the silent treatment then this is a more serious problem then just being in a rut. I’m also wondering why this is coming up now. If they have been together for 5 years this behavior has most likely been present since this beginning, why do people not address these things before they get married? I guess the LW is finally fed up with it. If you two can’t communicate then I would get a counselor/therapist to help you.
Muffy July 26, 2012, 9:15 am
Now that I read kc’s I actually agree with that. If you feel like when he does that he shuts you out or is punishing you, you need to talk about that. That being said I still stand by the fact that there is nothing wrong with taking some time away after a fight. I guess you just need to find the balance between feeling shut out and cooling down.
Caris July 26, 2012, 9:57 am
Maybe he needed time to cool off because he didn’t want to shout at her in the heat of the moment?
She snapped at him, SNAPPED, over something ridiculously stupid, and maybe she does that a lot, so if that’s the case I totally get her husband taking his time to cool off and then say why he was annoyed (which is what he did here), instead of just snapping back at her.
Muffy July 26, 2012, 9:12 am
I don’t see anything wrong with taking some space after a fight. It’s not childish at all – in fact, it’s probably better to cool down and then come back and discuss it.
kerrycontrary July 26, 2012, 9:15 am
Yeh but an hour an half of space for her snapping at him, which she immediately apologized for? It seems a little excessive and more like he just doesn’t want to be around her.
call-me-hobo July 26, 2012, 9:25 am
I don’t know- given the pattern of behavior on HER part, I would be super pissed and need the space.
I mean, he was trying to help her, and instead of her being thankful and cooperative, she yells at him. I feel like he was trying to be responsible and not snap back, starting a stupid argument. It makes me wonder how much she “snaps” at him in general- especially if he takes a lot of cool down time.
bittergaymark July 26, 2012, 9:34 am
Oh, and I’m so sure that apology just sounded oh-so-sincere, too. Especially since she isn’t apologizing for her behavior because she knows its wrong… Instead she is apologizes only because (in her mind!) he overreacts to her justified snapping it seems… Once again, some poor man is supposed to be a mind reader and gets reamed when (surprise, surprise!) he fails to be one.
Look, who would WANT to be around somebody who constantly snaps at you and then immediately blames you for reacting to it the way any human would? Wendy is right. Only I would take this one step further — the LW sounds seriously passive aggressive. Worse, she’s the type that routinely excuses her own bad behavior while relentlessly condemning some one else’s mere reaction to it. Not a good recipe for marital bliss, I assure you.
If she wants her husband to stop running away — maybe she should listen to herself more and stop sounding like such a bitch…
crazymary July 26, 2012, 10:21 am
rachel July 26, 2012, 12:54 pm
I want to like this comment more than once.
Fabelle July 26, 2012, 9:37 am
The LW does sound like she can be bratty at times, but I’m kind of with kerrycontrary on this– the husband seems as if he’s going the passive aggressive silent treatment route, rather than just maturely taking a few minutes of distance. I mean, snapping at your loved ones is obviously rude, but it happens– it shouldn’t result in one party stalking off for the whole night.
call-me-hobo July 26, 2012, 9:40 am
But he wanted to bury the hatchet! He came back and asked her if there was anything she wanted to do, and instead of letting it go and ending an argument, she said something catty so she could get the last word.
Fabelle July 26, 2012, 9:54 am
I definitely don’t agree with her response, but I’d be pretty annoyed if someone walked off in the middle of a spat. To me, that’s escalating it. And I think he should have at least acknowledged the fight when he returned instead of pretending like it never happened.
DebMoore July 27, 2012, 2:21 pm
People are different. I personally need to walk away from a fight when I feel it’s starting to get out of control, otherwise things are said that can not be taken back. Luckily for me my husband is the same way. We part, spend some time alone, then come together and discuss it when we have both had time to cool down and really think about the situation. Then we go about our day like nothing happened. Sometimes when we come together one person isn’t quite ready yet or still mad and the other just gives them a little time, but it never lasts long (the argument). How can you stay mad at someone who is giving you the time or understanding you still need? It works for us! So perhaps this isn’t about one person is right or another is wrong, they are just different in the way they handle a situation/argument. If you really love someone you figure out how to compromise. (not give in but compromise)
bittergaymark July 26, 2012, 12:24 pm
I so, so agree, call-me-hobo. Look, if somebody tossed my way that hilariously snide line: “I like to do lots of things…” — my immediate response would have been: “Yes, I know. Sadly, being a petty little bitch always seems to top the list…”
landygirl July 26, 2012, 2:15 pm
Yes but he is still avoiding his end of the problem. They are both childish.
bagge72 July 26, 2012, 9:56 am
My guess is that she does this all of the time for no reason, and he just gets sick of it. She needs to work on not snapping at him all of the time. Sometimes people need there space, and it’s better that he can let it go, and come back and have a normal conversation, but it isn’t good that this guy clearing his head, and not snapping back at her makes her angry and childish.
Kate B July 26, 2012, 10:38 am
Yeah, it sounds like the husband doesn’t know how to respond when she does this and so he eithers sits silently (what she construes as “pouting”) or leaves the room to avoid escalating the fight. Half an hour is not an unreasonable amount of time to cool down. (I have been known to take longer, but I have a bad temper.)
Addie Pray July 26, 2012, 9:27 am
After a fight, sure, take some space. At least some mental space to think about it. … But to storm off in the middle of a spat — almost to avoid the fight — seems childish. One of my sisters will always hang up (and then avoid calls for days) when we are “fighting” and I hate that. Because we can’t continue discussing. (I put “fighting” in quotes b/c it’s not fighting what we’re doing, it’s me addressing things, calmly, that I do not like and I want to talk about it – but she hates the heavy uncomfortable stuff and would rather avoid it.) Well I hate that you. You make no progress that way. In LW’s husband’s little “storming off” and not speaking to her for a couple of hours is kind of like that – he shuts down and refuses to talk. I don’t think that’s healthy.
bagge72 July 26, 2012, 10:06 am
He didn’t leave in the middle of the fight though, he got up and left after. I’m willing to bet when she asks him if he is mad she isn’t so nice about it either, and he probably doesn’t want to deal with her, and he got up and left, because she wont let him just clear his head there.
Addie Pray July 26, 2012, 11:27 am
Right, well, I’m not saying she is lovely to deal with…But, I can see why his behavior annoys her. Not point in trying to figure out who started it – they both react childishly toward each other. Nip it in the bud and see if that fixes anything. (Wait, nip in the bud or in the butt?)
bagge72 July 26, 2012, 12:05 pm
Nip it in the bud! Like a flower!
Addie Pray July 26, 2012, 12:08 pm
Well I like it in the butt better.
[THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.]
[Does it count if I set myself up?]
bagge72 July 26, 2012, 1:10 pm
Haha of course! and I bet you do 😉
Addie Pray July 26, 2012, 9:14 am
I thought Wendy’s advice was really great. LW, you need to change your reaction to your husband by saying and doing what Wendy said. If he *still* pouts and acts childish, then I’d say… try counseling.
Also, I think it would be cool if I could put Wendy in my pocket and have her observe all my interactions with my coworkers, family members, dudes I meet at bars, etc. and then just lay it all out and tell me everything I am doing wrong. Wendy, what would you charge to sit at a table next to me on all my dates and eavesdrop and tell me everything I need to fix?
katie July 26, 2012, 9:31 am
…thats why we need a DearWendy Iphone app!!!
bethany July 26, 2012, 9:41 am
That sounds like a great idea, but the thought of Wendy calling it like she sees it scares me. Lately I’m starting to think that I’m really a huge brat, and I’ve been blind to it for the past 31 years.
iwannatalktosampson July 26, 2012, 9:48 am
YES! I agree. I feel like I should write in to Wendy because I have plenty of issues I probably need her advice on – but I’m too scared she’s going to tell me I’m a huge grudge-holding-asshole.
Lindsay July 26, 2012, 2:39 pm
Yeah, I theoretically could write in about how I’ve been sleeping with a guy for two months after he told me he doesn’t want a relationship. Buuuut I know what she’d tell me, and he’s really, really cute, so I’m not ready to hear it.
LK7889 July 26, 2012, 11:04 am
Yeah, I’m right there with you. I suspect advice to me would be along the lines of: “You’re being selfish, get over it.”
KKZ July 26, 2012, 1:19 pm
I know we already have WWS as a useful acronym, and I don’t mean to confuse or derail it, but I have another one that I carry in my head during the day: WWWS – What Would Wendy Say? And it’s totally cheesey, but I’m telling you, it works. Every time you start reacting out of a place of emotion vs. rationality, just take a breath, run a WWWS check, and proceed when ready.
Addie Pray July 26, 2012, 1:43 pm
I like it! Are you savvy with technology? Because a WWWS app would be AMAZING! Maybe you could create one?
KKZ July 27, 2012, 4:57 pm
Ha! Tech savvy, yes, but not enough to make an app, sadly.
Maybe Wendy’s intern could create a series of WWWS flowcharts, though, that can be laminated and carried in one’s wallet.
Are you in love? –> Yes –> Is there a “but”? –> Yes –> Can you work it out like mature adults? –> No –> MOA!
spark_plug July 26, 2012, 9:15 am
This is why I think that a lot of people should wait until they are a bit older to get married (not everyone of course!) when they are a bit more introspective about their own behavior and mature about conflict.
What irked me about this letter is that LW acknowledges that she snaps at her husband on a regular basis and that he gets up over it – and instead of saying ‘gosh, this behavior that I keep doing over and avoid again is clearly upsetting my husband, maybe I should stop’ – she writes in on how to get her husband to change. How about not snapping at him to begin with!
What’s that quote by Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?
cporoski July 26, 2012, 9:31 am
Some people are jerks at any age.
bethany July 26, 2012, 9:45 am
I don’t think she’s a jerk, per se. I think sometimes we’re just not fully aware of how our behaviors affect other people, or how they seem to other people. As I mentioned above, I’m sort of going through this right now… Where maybe they way I percieve my actions and they way other people percieve them aren’t lining up… If that makes any sense?? I’m not excusing her behavior, but she might not be fully aware of how bratty she’s being.
bagge72 July 26, 2012, 10:11 am
I agree, this could be how she has always been with her family, and it is something she is used too, so now she is just so comfortable with him that she is doing them with him as well. The thing is that he wasn’t forced to live with her while growing up so he doesn’t have to put up with it, but since he loves her he is, and he finds his own way to deal with it.
spark_plug July 26, 2012, 11:24 am
I don’t think she’s a jerk either and that is not what I meant to imply in my original comment. But I do think she’s naive… for a lack of better word. If you notice that snapping at someone on regular basis makes them upset – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together.
I also think that this something that often comes with maturity. When I was 25 I also reacted the same way. Then from jobs and relationships that didn’t work out I learned the lesson – as Wendy said – that changes begins internally.
6napkinburger July 27, 2012, 10:48 am
Though, (and see my comment below), I think that that can be something we cannot change about ourselves. For those who don’t respond like that, they don’t realize that some people just respond like that and it would require a significant of mental effort not to do that with your spouse, who is the person you should be able to be yourself with. I honestly can’t imagine living a life where I have to be so on guard for my reactions to things all the time with my spouse, rather than them understanding that this is how I respond and that I am not consciously trying to be mean or rude. He knew who she was when he married her and that’s why I think they need communication on how each should deal with the aftermath, rather than just telling her to not do it in the first place.
Some people can’t deal with being with this type of person, but some can.
ktfran July 26, 2012, 9:25 am
Sometimes it takes me 10 minutes to cool down. Sometimes weeks. People deal with their emotions in different ways. LW, it sounds like your husband needs space, where you would rather work it out. You two need to communicate and respect each others boundaries. And I second Wendy’s and Spark_plug’s advice. Really great advice.
Chicago-Dude July 26, 2012, 9:26 am
$10,000 says this marriage is headed for the rocks unless the LW takes a majority of the blame in their conflict resolution (or lack thereof) and proactively shows improvement in the “snapping” arena.
Unless of course she’s neck-snapping while snapping with a snapbackhat – then that’s just bloody sexy.
Wait, $10,000? Who the frick do I think I am, Mitt Romney?!
Agree with Wendy – although I don’t find his response (pulling away during conflict) as childish at all.
katie July 26, 2012, 9:27 am
yea, i think this is more of the husband does something and then gets “punished” by the LW, then he is mad so he “punishes” her back, and around and around you two go in the circle. you need to be able to break that cycle… you being both of you. if you do something mean to him and he has to take a minute, let him!
dont punish each other.
dont keep a score.
Diablo July 26, 2012, 10:48 am
Last week I joked about keeping score so that you know who’s winning, but the truth is a marriage won’t last unless you realize that nobody wins. You both have a point of view, you are both childish and obstructive at times, and if your partner is any kind of person at all, you can’t win because she’s up to your level and knows your tricks. Call it a draw, apologize for real and MOA with your life together.
PS to Wendy: As above, I think MOA can mean MORE than DTMFA!
ktfran July 26, 2012, 9:33 am
Oh, and that picture Wendy picked is awesome. All I can think of is na-na na-na boo-boo, stick your head in . . . well, you get it.
bethany July 26, 2012, 9:38 am
I’m in a similar scenario to the LW–I’ve been with my husband for 5 years, and married almost 1 as well. Last night when I got home from work and the grocery store my husband commented about how the grass was long (I’m the mower in the family). My immediate response was “Fine- make your own dinner, and I’ll mow the lawn” – in a very bitchy tone.
So childish and rude. I realized it right away, and then explained that I was sorry for being snotty, but that I had JUST gotten home from the store, and hadn’t even had a chance to sit down and unwind after work, and then he’s accusing me of slacking on mowing the lawn, when I had planned on doing it after dinner, and it upset me. He accepted my apology and we moved on.
That’s how you do it!!
Marriage isn’t a give and take, it’s a give and give. Sometimes even when you don’t want to, you need to apologize. You need to try to mean it, and you need to be an adult about it.
iwannatalktosampson July 26, 2012, 9:46 am
Wow props to you – I would have said it – meant it – and then cracked open a beer and turned on the TV. I am the queen of shutting down and not talking about fights. Unless they’re his fault then I want to talk about them. But if they’re my fault I just avoid him until he gets over it on his own. I am guessing this is not the way this is supposed to be handled?
bethany July 26, 2012, 10:11 am
In the past I might not have apologized for it, but my husband is so even keeled and rational that I think he’s finally starting to rub off on me. Also, he doesn’t deserve it. He would NEVER say something like that to me. He is way better of a man than I deserve, so I’m trying really hard to stop being such a brat.
camorzilla July 26, 2012, 10:19 am
I think I’m in the same situation with my fiance (we’re getting married in less than 90 days! eeeek!). We’ve been living together for almost a year and I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m being a bitch and need to apologize. He’s so laid back that it helps temper my need to control everything and everyone. Also, he’s pretty amazing and I hate it when he’s unhappy.
kerrycontrary July 26, 2012, 10:53 am
Bethany don’t be so hard on yourself, we all have faults. I sometimes snap but my boyfriend is very calm and can deal with my moods easily. I’m sure your husband has faults as well that he appreciates you for dealing with. But it’s always good to work towards self-improvement!
daisy July 26, 2012, 9:46 am
Another DW t-shirt right here, @Bethany! “A relationship isn’t a give and take, it’s a give and give.”
katie July 26, 2012, 9:58 am
what happened to this idea. i want one!! i dont want this idea to die.
bethany July 26, 2012, 10:13 am
I can’t take credit for that– I heard it in marraige vows last weekend! It really stuck out to me, and I’ve been trying to put it into practice 🙂
jlyfsh July 26, 2012, 9:44 am
WWS. You are both being immature and need to grow up . We all have times when we might snap or be crabby, but when it becomes the normal way you communicate with each other there is a problem. Eventually you’re both going to resent the other.
spark_plug July 26, 2012, 11:28 am
Second this! Yea, sometimes you have a bad day at work and just need to take the frustration out but for LW it seems like a regular way of communicating. I mean – her foot hurt? I’m sure she was in pain, but unless you broke your ankle and are screaming from pain, I don’t see why it’s so hard to respond with “No sweetie, its my toe that hurts”.
Furthermore, she says in the letter that she KNEW that her toe was hurting but her husband point to her heel. Um, did she even tell him that her toe was hurting? Or did she just say ‘look at my foot’ and expected him to guess that it was her toe? Because if so, that is 100,000,000% unreasonable no matter how much pain you’re in.
Budj July 26, 2012, 9:57 am
WWS. Also, LW, if getting some space is how your husband cools off have a talk about it. Communicate about how you both feel a respectful way to everyone would be for you both to handle your conflict issues / getting over it periods. If he needs some space, respect that, but request he doesn’t leave without at least letting you know where / how long he is taking a moment for himself and both commit to resolving the issue at hand when he gets back. I think with a little bit of work from both parties you two can smooth this stuff over.
Fabelle July 26, 2012, 10:04 am
Yeah, good advice– I think this is a basic conflict resolution issue that can easily be fixed as long as they both get over themselves long enough to have a talk about it.
Budj July 26, 2012, 10:18 am
To add perspective I need space myself. In the heat of the moment I don’t think rationally – things get said that shouldn’t and I am unable to grasp objective perception of the situation. If I take some time to think about it and sort through my thoughts it is way easier for me to “assertively” resolve the conflict and due to my over-analyzing nature I, ahead of time, try to see the other person’s point of view of the situation and that I think helps promote compromise later when the issue is being resolved.
KKZ July 26, 2012, 1:33 pm
I am so with you there. The moment I get angry, I lose the ability to think like a rational adult. My head just runs with spiteful, hurtful words and passive-aggressive attacks. Because I don’t actually want to say any of these things out loud, I tend to shut down and try to get away from the situation that is fueling my fire – and yes, this often looks like pouting or sulking (and/or involves stomping and slamming doors). And my husband, of course, always wants to talk it out – NOW. This used to cause a lot of problems but we’ve both gotten better about it, thank goodness.
Point is, it’s hard to break out of your default reactions to conflict. For me it really does feel sometimes like some other drive takes over when I’m mad, and it takes a conscious effort to curb it before it gets out of hand and I’m in full shut-down mode.
But I would agree with what others have said, that the BF’s reaction here is probably not so much about cooling off, but about passive-aggressiveness and avoidance. LW – you’ve gotten some great advice here, I hope you can use it.
sobriquet July 26, 2012, 3:23 pm
That’s just the thing. NOBODY thinks rationally when they’re angry. Oxygen stops flowing to the brain and you literally cannot think clearly. This is why they tell you stop and take 10 deep breaths. Science, man.
savannah July 26, 2012, 10:45 am
This was perhaps the biggest conflict in my last relationship. I wanted to talk things out right after they happened (if we had enough time) so I would not be thinking about it all day and my ex needed a day or two to even consider vocalizing anything about how he felt about a fight. I felt like he was just staling because he didnt have anything to say or had not yet come up with the ‘right’ thing to say. When I told him I didn’t want the ‘right’ thing, I wanted how he felt he said he didnt know what to say. I respect the time to process but not if I feel like your partner uses it to hide from the relationship or simply stall until they can figure out to not discuss the conflict. At the end of the day for me its about prolonging a sense of uncertainty within the relationship and building things up to an even bigger issue.
Budj July 26, 2012, 10:48 am
Days at a time is too long, I agree it seems like avoidance behavior at that point….an hour and a half (in this situation) seems reasonable to me. Enough time to cool off and think about the situation.
Fabelle July 26, 2012, 10:52 am
This is how I am, too– I feel the need to talk things out immediately, because if that doesn’t happen, I tend to stew about it & everything just feels worse.
Caris July 26, 2012, 10:12 am
Here is a story about my mom that I remembered when I read the letter. She will snap at me for absolutely NO reason, about the stupidest things. Sometimes I snap right back at her, which makes it worse, cause then it’s a fighting match where no one is listening to anybody and then she gets even more mad because I dared shout at her which then makes her apply the silent treatment on me. And sometimes I end up crying cause that’s how I react when I am frustrated, which sucks.
I’ll give you an example that happened quite recently:
I woke up, my cat was meowing cause he wanted to go outside so I opened the window and left it open while I went to the bathroom. My mom comes into the kitchen/dining area and sees the window open (she hear me opening it and knew that I had been the one to open it). She asks ‘who is the asshole that left the window open?’ I answer ‘I opened it cause cat wanted to go out.’
Outta NOWHERE she starts shouting that I am an idiot that my brothers cat was outside and that she probably had come back in and that she didn’t want her inside cause she had flea medicine on. So I say that I am sorry that I HAD NO FRICKING idea that bro’s cat was outside and was no allowed in, and that idk if she in or not cause I was in the br. She just kept shouting and calling me names. I shouted back at her and then just pretty much stayed all day in my room cause I really did not feel like seeing her or talking to her. A few hours later she starts talking to me as if she had not shouted or insulted me at all. And she never said she was sorry for getting mad at me for opening a stupid window.
(My mom is bipolar, has depression, OCD and might have schizophrenia. When she is not having her pills, which is what happened here, she goes crazy.)
camorzilla July 26, 2012, 10:23 am
Crazy is no excuse for mean. If she has all of those things, then she probably ought to be in therapy if she isn’t already. I have members of my family with all of those conditions so I do understand your frustration.
Maybe you should try therapy just to help you deal with your relationship with your mother and to have someone give you an unbiased viewpoint. It might help you handle your mother better.
And shitty home life sucks. Sorry 🙁
Caris July 26, 2012, 1:05 pm
She’s been going to therapy for like a year, but she keeps saying that she doesn’t see how going to the psychologist helps her so yeah. It does suck, I just hope the LW doesn’t do things like this to her husband.
oldie July 26, 2012, 10:27 am
I take the approach in reading the letters that the LWs generally cast themselves in the best possible light and slant what they say, in order to get a sympathetic response which supports their position.
That said, this is what stood out to me “he will be pouty and avoid me for the whole evening and come back and expect everything to be OK even after avoiding me all night.” In part, while it seems that he can be overly pouty, it larger measure it seems that they have different fighting styles. It seems he states his objection, or lets her know he is upset and then departs. Before he departs, she apologizes, but doesn’t feel she did anything wrong. When he returns, it seems that the fight is over in his mind. He has cooled off, is no longer upset at her, and thinks things are back to normal. She is still upset and she wants to continue fighting. What else can They both know they’ve had a mini-fight. They both know that things are only sort-of ok. He may know that revisiting the issue now What is wrong with everything being ok, again? If there are issues that need to be discussed further, do it calmly the next day.
I suspect that sometime in his past, husband has fought an argument to a conclusion, with her or somebody else, and carried things too far, verbally or otherwise. He has choosen the solitary cool off approach instead.
AmyRenee July 26, 2012, 11:09 am
THIS!! This is how my husband and I argue. He leaves the room just as I’m getting heated up, he cools off while I sit and stew, then when he comes back in the room I want to fight more, while he’s over it, so he leaves again. It’s something we’ve been working on – I’ve learned I need to give him space, and I need to take that time to chill myself and think about where we BOTH went wrong. LW, just because he left the room for an hour and a half, that doesn’t mean he pouted for that long. If he’s like my husband, he fumed for 10 minutes, stewed for 10 minutes, then sat down at the computer for an hour and surfed the web or watched an episode of a dumb TV show you don’t like. Meantime, you are still stewing, and when he comes back, now you are mad for what happened earlier AND for him walking out on the fight.
I agree with above that it’s very possible he walked out so he didn’t escalate to saying something he didn’t mean, or even getting physical. My husband has told me more than once “I need you to leave me alone, because you are making me want to hurt you, and I don’t WANT to hurt you but I need some space”. Not to stereotype, but men typically grew up solving fights with their friends my physically fighting, while girls talked it out. He doesn’t WANT to physically fight with you, so he’s learned to walk away to cool off. And you need to respect that and not keep picking at him.
You need to resolving this difference in conflict style now. You need to learn to admit that sometimes you were both in the wrong, or sometimes it’s just you. And if you are even considering it, you need to work this out now, before you even think about having kids. Because having him walk out of the room after you’ve been fighting and now a baby is screaming too and you have to calm down yourself AND the baby just makes it 10000x worse.
Also, after a year of marriage, some of the honeymoon glow has started to wear off, and that’s ok. For the first year or two of our marriage, my husband and I were ALWAYS together. Grocery shopping together, cook dinner together, do a jigsaw puzzle or watch TV after together, go to bed together – all our spare time was spent together. Then eventually we realized that we occasionally wanted to both be home but doing slightly different things – one person read in the bedroom while the other watched tv. And there were some “why don’t you want to be with me?!?” thoughts on both sides. But it’s ok to spend a few hours apart at home occasionally doing your own thing. It takes some time to adjust to that, but it’s ok. It doesn’t mean that there is something worng with the realtionship or that you don’t love each other. So don’t look at his hour in the office as time he doesn’t want to be with you. Look at it as your chance to control the remote and watch something stupid and girly and chill out and have some refresh time.
And for what it’s worth, our 10 year anniversary is tomorrow, so there is hope for you, if you work together!
KKZ July 26, 2012, 1:51 pm
I’m not sure this is really a gendered behavior. It probably has more to do with nurture than nature. I am the “I’m too mad not to hurt you so I gotta step away” person in my marriage, my husband is the “Let’s talk it out – NOW” one. When I was a teen and my parents were yelling at me for doing stupid teen stuff, I felt powerless to talk back to them so I stayed silent and stewed, let all the angry mean thoughts run through my head but not come out, and retreated to my room as soon as I possibly could. In my husband’s family, his parents treated him more as an adult than mine ever did and he had no problem vocalizing his feelings during fights.
I am a first-born child, my husband is the second-born – I wonder if this might have an influence too? I have no idea what my younger brother’s fighting style is, we’ve never had a fight (as adults anyway). I wonder if his might be influenced by how I used to bully him sometimes because I was the older stronger sibling. Or maybe by the fact that he was witness to many of my fights with my parents and learned what not to do.
Obviously, there are so many factors that influence one’s fighting style – gender is one of them, but I don’t think it has more weight than the others.
KKZ July 26, 2012, 1:54 pm
Totally +1 to your comment about spending time together vs. apart at home, too. Been experiencing some of that in my own marriage (coming up on 3 years married, but we’ve been together as a couple since we were 14/15 so “honeymoon” period doesn’t really mean the same thing for us). Very good point.
Temperance July 28, 2012, 8:49 pm
That is an issue Mr. Temperance and I had. I told him that we had to work on another solution beyond him walking off because I couldn’t deal with it, and it was making a 2-hour fight into a 3-day nightmare because he would keep leaving the room if I wanted to discuss something. Him ignoring me lead me to scream, etc. etc.
It was SO HARD because he would say what he wanted to before leaving, and that was enough for him, and he was satisfied, so he wouldn’t consider my feelings. He thought that it would be fine because it was better than being like his parents, but his father is so crazy and off his rocker that we won’t end up that way.
Bossy Italian Wife July 26, 2012, 10:30 am
You both need to grow up and learn to communicate with one another. Also realize this: the first year of marriage, no matter how long you have been together, is HARD. Even when you are 100% sure that you love someone and want to spend the rest of your lives together, it is still HARD!
This could be some of the problem between the two of you. You need to learn to adjust to the newness of the marriage and learn some new skills for your new situation. I know you may be thinking “oh well we’ve been together 5 years, nothing changed,” but even after almost 7 years together, marriage was a kick in the teeth for my husband and I.
Despite your 5 years together, you are both also young and you need to learn to have better responses to one another; walking away when you are feeling angry is a perfectly responsible thing to do–as long as you can talk about it when you come back together.
The bottom line? The problems that you are experiencing are relatively normal and you need to learn to navigate them. This is what you signed up for, as much as that may frustrate you at times. Learning to work through it will make both you better at this marriage thing… so stop blaming him, take your piece of it, and learn to talk to your husband.
CattyGoLightly July 26, 2012, 10:52 am
Oh no. You are both children!
This is how I dealt with fights with my first boyfriend when I was 19! (though I guess you’ve been together since then, so maybe that has something to do with it?)
First off, realize that the snapping needs to stop. He doesn’t understand why he’s getting snapped at!
Second of all, I can understand your husband wanting some time to cool down, but I really think that he needs to cool down so that you guys can have a calm chat when he gets back. If he just shuts down, shuts you out, and then never talks about, that’s bad news bears. An hour and a half is kind of excessive.
Third of all, an opportunity was missed to open up a conversation when he got home. Instead of doing the whole passive-aggressive thing, you could have said something like “I’m really sorry I snapped at you earlier. It was rude, and it hurt your feelings.” and then try to get him to talk about it! Ask him how it made him feel or something! I don’t know, just start up a dialog about it!
Fourth of all, the opportunity was lost to start a dialog when he came home!
One last thing: Use the phrase “It makes me feel x when you do y” instead of “Well you do this wrong” and “You do that wrong too.” I find that this really helps when discussing something.
kerrycontrary July 26, 2012, 11:20 am
Yes, this whole letter gave me a flashback of my sophomore year in college with my then-boyfriend.
Eljay July 26, 2012, 11:10 am
Oh I so understand your frustration with the pouting. I cannot tolerate a pouty man. Ever. That is such a deal-breaker for me & it sends me running in the opposite direction at the first sight of if. However, LW, it sounds like you both have some maturing to do. When he goes away & sulks, then comes back hours later ready to engage like nothing ever happened, this is your opportunity to have a rational discussion. For example, when he went into his office the first time, then came out asking if you wanted to do something, a better response would have been, “Yes, I’d like to talk about what happened earlier…” Instead, you got defensive, passive-aggressive and that just escalated the already sour situation you were in.
I’d take Wendy’s advice, both of you. Good luck to you!!
Skyblossom July 26, 2012, 10:35 am
Please read the book “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail …And How You Can Make Yours Last” by Dr. John Gottman. You’ll find an explanation for why your husband walks away. Through his research, Dr, Gottman has found that men will have their blood pressure rapidly spike in a stress/arguement situation, he calls it flooding, and they need to walk away. Your husband isn’t trying to be rude to you, he is having a biological reaction to stress. In this situation, stress caused by you snapping at him. If you quit creating the situation (in this instance anyway) he won’t need to walk away.
You said you apologized but in my mind if you are actually sorry for your actions you will do your best to not repeat them. You need to show that you are sorry but stopping snapping. You shouldn’t be snapping at your husband or anyone else. Take responsibility for your actions and take control of your own behavior.
Also, Dr. Gotman’s research shows that marriages that succeed have a ratio of at least 5 times more good times than bad. Your entire evening last night was bad and to balance it out you will need to have at least 5 good evenings. Strive to treat your husband with consideration and appreciation. You could have directed your husband to your toe and after he looked at it you could have thanked him or you could snap at him like you did. You make choices about your own behavior, you choose how you treat those around you. You may think that because he is your husband you can treat him badly and he just has to take it but life doesn’t work that way. Some day, instead of stalking off to the next room, he could go out the door and not come back. It happens to real people, I know some of them.
Julesoola July 26, 2012, 12:03 pm
“You said you apologized but in my mind if you are actually sorry for your actions you will do your best to not repeat them.”
Agreed. My mom used to say “the best way to say you’re sorry is to not do it again”.
SweetPeaG July 26, 2012, 12:49 pm
Sounds like an interesting read! Good points.
I know that in my past failed relationship, the reason I left was because the bad times far outweighed the good. It makes perfectly logical sense. This couple needs to find ways to have more good times.
And Julesoola… wise advice from your Mom! I was once told not to apologize for things I don’t intend to change. How true.
painted_lady July 26, 2012, 11:39 am
Whoa! You guys sound like my students – my middle school students! They get so focused on what the other person did to them and how to get that person back that they forget – every time! – how not to act like an asshole. You’re both acting like assholes. NOT OKAY. Are you seriously so wrapped up in yourself that everything your husband does that displeases you is something to be taken personally and for which you should punish him? He’s not doing it to you on purpose, so I definitely think you need to take a long look at the reasons people get on your nerves. And your husband gets so caught up in his sulks that there’s never any communication of, “I need some time. I’ll be back in ____ minutes.” He absolutely has a right to be angry – apologies *should* be for the person who was angry, and not just so the person who screwed up gets to quit feeling badly. But hiding out for more than about half an hour? That’s just an attempt to punish you. You guys need to quit worrying about how to best one-up the other and focus on how you can operate when you’re angry that will be productive rather than each of you trying to prove how the other is more wrong. Leave that to the twelve-year-olds, k?
ktfran July 26, 2012, 11:59 am
Can someone please explain to me why cooling off for an hour and a half is excessive, or serving as some kind of punishment? I’m not trying to be mean, I honestly just don’t understand why one would think that.
Is spending an hour or two in seperate rooms really that horrible?
oldie July 26, 2012, 12:20 pm
It isn’t. Pouting in the same room is a little childish. I know. I’ve been known to do this.
Basically, she wanted to continue fighting deep down, because she had made an apology that she didn’t feel was justified. All the time he was away, she was likely thinking up her next zinger to prove that she was right and he was wrong.
As with our Eastern European LW yesterday, apologies that you don’t mean can lead to problems. In this case, LW should realized that she definitely did need to apologize.
ktfran July 26, 2012, 12:23 pm
Oh, I get it. I was curious to hear from all the commenters who are saying it’s excessive, or a punishment. I want to know why they think that.
Clare July 26, 2012, 1:18 pm
Cooling down to avoid a bigger fight is totally understandable. 90 minutes to cool down over a zinger about toe numbness seems like an overly long time… but by this point it is probably not just ONE comment that the husband is cooling off from, but a long pattern of this kind of behavior.
I think something that could be important for the LW is understanding her mood in general and not taking out any irritation or anger at something else out on her husband. In the example she gave, it sounds like she was tense because of the toe/foot pain and that probably contributed to her snapping at her husband, but it is not okay to take that anger out on someone who doesn’t deserve it and isn’t part of what caused her to be mad or annoyed in the first place. I had a roommate who did stuff like that — if he was mad about anything, he would snap at you, even if you had nothing to do with what he was mad about. The LW needs to not take things out on her husband, because that clearly just makes things worse.
bagge72 July 26, 2012, 1:13 pm
this is so true, she probably asked if he was still mad hoping to get a yes from him so she could argue more, or call him a baby.
kf July 26, 2012, 2:37 pm
I apparently disagree with everyone else on this; I think the fault is about 20% with LW and 80% with the husband.
I’m a Haxian on the silent treatment. It’s punishment because it’s controlling – you want your spouse to beg for or at least silently pine for your approval, which you dispense at your whim. You’re specifically denying contact because you’re unhappy with him or her.
Cooling down is *not* the silent treatment. Cooling down means telling your spouse “I need to take a walk/go to the other room/whatever” , taking the time to cool down, and then coming back to calmly discuss the situation. This LW’s husband is skipping steps 1 and 3. If it were me I’d seriously consider having to spend the rest of my life with this guy, and I would VERY SERIOUSLY consider whether it’s a good idea to bring children into this home.
Kristen July 26, 2012, 2:58 pm
This is exactly what I think, too. There’s a big difference between taking some time to cool down so you don’t say something you’ll regret, and making it clear that you’re purposely not speaking to someone. My dad uses the silent treatment almost exclusively, and it’s awful. He gets some kind of power trip from making you wonder what you did to upset him. And then one day, he’ll wake up, and he’ll be talking to you again like everything’s normal. And you’re expected to follow suit. This is exactly what the LW’s husband is doing, and it’s not cool. He needs to say, “You know what, I’m upset right now and need time to cool down. Let’s talk about this in (X time).” That’s much different than just ignoring her all night and being childish.
AmyRenee July 26, 2012, 5:07 pm
Did he really use the silent treatment though, or did he just leave the room? True silent treatment (walking through the room purposely ignoring the LW) would be unacceptable, I agree, but leaving the room for a while so the LW can calm down from her tantrum (because that’s what it sounds like to me, a tantrum) would not be ok. So while I can see the 20% LW/ 80% husband if what is written above is EXACTLY what went down and it was true silent treatment, chances are the LW is retwlling her part of the story in the best light and his in the worst.
That said, and while I believe no one should be controlling or hurting anyone physically or emotionally, LW it is also not ok to poke at your husband. Just because you had a bad day or whatever, it’s not ok to snap and him and make childish remarks, then get mad at HIM when he gets upset. You mentioned that you snap at him often – why? Can you recognize what makes you snappish and deal with it in advance? Even to just say to your husband “I had a crappy day and I feel snappish, please let me know if I start to get snappy so I can back off”? A little self awareness goes a long way. And on the same lines, tell him (when you are both calm) “It really makes me angry when you walk out of a room mid fight and I don’t know what you’re feeling or when you are coming back.”
kerrycontrary July 26, 2012, 3:45 pm
I 100 percent agree about the silent treatment being punishment. I had an emotionally abusive ex who did this, which is why some of my comments may be projecting, but I think the LW’s husband is punishing her.
Fabelle July 26, 2012, 3:57 pm
Yes, you said this much better than I did– especially the skipping steps 1 and 3 part, which is the difference between “cooling down” and doling out silence as punishment.
ktfran July 26, 2012, 4:29 pm
I hear what you’re saying. And I understand their being a difference between the silent treatment and cooling down. Although, if the LW speaks to her husband the way she claims, I can see him just giving up and leaving. For instance, if someone snapped at me, then didn’t sincerely apologize, I would honestly get quiet and not want to talk. Because if I did, I would start crying. I need time to sit on things. If that person continued to badger me until I was able to speak, I would be extremely pissed. And probably leave. Or start yelling.
Really, they are both at fault and need to learn how to communicate with one another and the best way to diffuse conflict in their relationship. I’m going to say it’s more 50/50.
They obviously need a class on conflict resolution. They also need to learn one another’s idiosyncrancies.
SweetPeaG July 26, 2012, 12:34 pm
I totally agree. I sometimes need to be alone when I’m mad. And I don’t think is unhealthy. I think it’s called cooling off and calming down.
I guess the only think the husband should do is say “Hey… I’m feeling a little annoyed and mad. I am sure it will pass… but right now, you need to let me have some space and time to myself. I’ll be in the next room. We can talk later.” It might be hard to think to do that in the heat of the moment, but still a good idea.
painted_lady July 26, 2012, 1:20 pm
It’s partly the time frame, but it’s partly the imposed radio silence without a time limit decided. Maybe the LW has nothing better to do, but for me, that would create a huge amount of anxiety. “He’s in there. When’s he coming out? I could totally go to the gym if he’s going to be in there more than an hour. Or go get ice cream. Or both, if he’s in there longer. But if he’s only going to be in there half an hour, and he comes out and I’m gone…that’s going to be so bad…so maybe I’ll wait…” Half an hour of waiting without a, “Look, I’m going to be a bit, so don’t wait on me,” isn’t bad, but if someone makes me wait longer than that without letting me know I don’t need to wait around, I feel like a chunk of my day’s been hijacked. And it makes me feel like, “Oh my god, he hates me. We’re breaking up. I MUST FIX THIS!!!” which leads to my not respecting that time and space. But a simple, “I will be ready to talk about this after lunch/in three hours/following an episode of HIMYM so I can cool down” will let me get on with my day. Otherwise, yeah, it sort of feels like, “I’m leaving you hanging so you can feel as shitty as possible about what you did, and by the time I am good and ready to talk to you, you will be so worn out from worry you will apologize for all of it.”
It doesn’t help that my mom used to do that shit to me when I was in high school. I don’t deal well with silence and suspense.
ktfran July 26, 2012, 2:00 pm
Thanks Painted Lady. When you put it that way, it makes complete sense and I get where you’re coming from.
So basically, the LW and her husband need to work on their communication. Both of them. Otherwise, it’s going to end badly.
Skyblossom July 26, 2012, 3:26 pm
If he disappears because he needs time alone it’s perfectly fine for you to go do something out of the house. It’s fine to call through the door that he’s closed and tell him you’re going for ice cream, you can even ask if he’d like you to bring some back for him. Or just call out that you’re going for ice cream and when you come back bring some for him, some flavor you know he likes. Or go do yoga or a go for a walk or call a friend. It doesn’t matter, you don’t need to put your life on hold while he takes time to cool down. If you do go out you’ll probably both be in a better mood and more able to talk calmly when he’s ready. You’ll be ready too.
Fabelle July 26, 2012, 4:02 pm
But if somebody just stalks off without explaining, you’re left questioning your every action. Like, is doing _____ or ______ going to prolong the silence?
ktfran July 26, 2012, 4:15 pm
Yes, I was thinking this could work too. Or leave a note that you know he or she will find. But, as lady said, it also wouldn’t hurt for the person who needs time to say something. Commuincate people!
painted_lady July 26, 2012, 4:21 pm
It’s the not knowing that makes me nuts, though, and that’s my personal thing and something I’ve always insisted on in my relationships – do what you want, but if you’re going to affect me, you better tell me. And yes, I absolutely *could* go get ice cream and don’t need anyone’s permission to do so, of course, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that making someone wait on you without letting them know what’s going on is really rude. I had an ex that would say, “Hey, let’s do lunch tomorrow after my meeting, the meeting’s at 11, so, you know, maybe an hour?” and then inevitably the meeting would be two and a half hours and I NEVER HEARD FROM HIM. And yes, I could go get lunch for myself, and yes, I could have texted him, but the fact was…that was really rude to do. And maybe that’s my thing, but it’s something that definitely wears me out and makes me feel very dismissed.
Skyblossom July 26, 2012, 4:27 pm
Definitely, getting stood up for lunch is rude but I don’t think it’s the same as someone taking time to cool down. You don’t have to worry about why he’s upset, you can talk about the what and why of it all when you talk later. If you can’t talk later then that is a problem.
painted_lady July 26, 2012, 4:40 pm
And I know that seems silly that I would also need at least a rough estimate of “I’m not going to be able to talk about this for at least x minutes/hours, but that is something I need. I need to know estimates of time in most things. I’m weird, probably. I don’t need people to talk about things before they’re ready or to get up and walk out of meetings, but I don’t think it’s unfair for people to give time frames and to update when that time frame changes.
painted_lady July 26, 2012, 4:34 pm
And yeah, also, the way my brain works in situations like that, specifically with my ex, it went:
12:00 – Okay, he did say about an hour. Jeez, I’m hungry. Give it a few minutes, weirdo. Quit being so clingy and impatient. It’s lunch.
12:10: Any minute now…quit being impatient. *About* an hour. He said *about* an hour, so go read a book, don’t text him and ask him if he’s out anytime soon,
12:20: Oh come on. Well, I guess the meeting must be wrapping up, because there’s no way he’d leave me hanging like this indefinitely, so, yeah, he’s going to call with an apology in just a few minutes…
12:30: Well, it’s only been another ten minutes, so I’m sure very, very soon. Because after all, who leaves someone hanging?
12:45: Yeah, it’s been almost a two hour meeting, so that would be ridiculous for me to go get lunch because this thing cannot last much longer. Besides, I’m sure people are taking bathroom breaks, he will definitely text me from the bathroom.
And I kept telling myself – and I do this with everything, not just my relationships – that there was no way I would have to wait another ten minutes, because, really, who the hell wastes your time like that? No one is that rude.
katie July 26, 2012, 1:23 pm
i think that its not good behavior in this situation because it is not being used constructively.
if it was healthy, he would explain that he needs to cool off, go cool off, come back, and then hash out the problem.
what he is doing is just running away, perhaps cooling off, and then completing ignoring the problem when he comes back.
SweetPeaG July 26, 2012, 12:30 pm
Wendy, you’re on fire today. That advice was perfect.
I think the LW should keep in mind that not everyone reacts to being mad the same way. While she would rather they talk about it/fight it out if need be, some people need to be alone when they are pissed. LET HIM.
And then fo realz… do what Wendy says. I think this is a good chunk of the reason couples fight. Cabin fever, boredom, etc. Go get a life and find ways to create more joy within your marriage. Immediately.
FossilChick July 26, 2012, 12:41 pm
There’s definitely a communication issue here. First and foremost, people should be allowed to deal with conflict in their own ways, so long as it’s reasonable AND they can explain it to the other person. I’m definitely a hide-out’er — not that I’m avoiding the conflict, but I know I get overly-upset if I’m yelled or snapped at and I need some time to myself to relax, maybe put on music or a funny show, and then come back to the issue. So a few hours alone after being berated for doing nothing wrong doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.
What DOES seem unreasonable is that once he’s cooled off, he pretends like nothing happened. From the LW’s letter I get the sense that these spats are pretty frequent, and she says they both snap at one another, so he’s not doing himself any favors by ignoring it. I get that she’s annoyed by his running off, but I have to wonder how she’d react if he came in from a cool-off session and really wanted to get into the internal dynamics of their fights. If he knows he’s going to get nowhere, he’s probably just given up on dealing with it. She asks Wendy to help her “stymie [his] behavior or deal with it”, not solve the underlying issue. Both people have to be willing to have a productive discussion.
Caris July 26, 2012, 1:17 pm
Ok, so I gave an example on how my mom snaps about the silliest stuff and how shouting back does NOT work.
Now, my parents always fought so at the beginning of my rs with my bf, whenever I was mad about something I would act in the same passive-aggressive way my mom did. I’d either give him the silent treatment and hope he’d magically guess what’s wrong, or I would shout. Now my bf does not put up with shit like that, so I realized how telling him in a calm manner what the problem was, was the best way to go, and that way we can both communicate how we feel about a certain situation. If I start shouting he leaves to give me time to calm down, he already told me he does not deal with shouting so I know why he is leaving, and I know he does not mean to make me angrier.
If you snap a lot about everything he is probably feeling very upset, and when you say you are sorry it doesn’t seem like you are cause you keep snapping at him. I suggest you control your urge to snap, and mean it when you say you are sorry. Also, don’t try to go for the last word, it’s childish and doesn’t help anyone. The reason your husband is leaving the room, like I mentioned before somewhere is because he doesn’t want to start a shouting match.
Rachel July 26, 2012, 12:47 pm
Are you both immature? Yes. However, you also might have different fighting styles.
There was a study done a while back based on 20,000 married couples. The study found three distinct types of fighting styles and the biggest indicator as to whether these couples would remain married or divorce was whether both spouses had the Same fighting style.
The three styles are:
1. The Avoider – these folks will avoid conflict for the sake of the greater good (harmony in the relationship)
2. Volatiles – These are the folks that scream and fight loudly, the hot heads, they perhaps throw things, and tantrums, but they also have passionate make up sex to end the fight, etc.
3. The Validators – this is the type of fighter every therapist tries to get their clients to become, these people don’t get a hot head, they are able to sit down and rationally talk about the situation or issue and work it out directly and calmly.
Maybe he’s an immature avoider and maybe you’re an immature volatile and never the two shall meet longterm? Just a thought.
Here’s one link describing the styles I mentioned above. Also, grow up!
rachel July 26, 2012, 1:11 pm
Whoa, there’s another Rachel. Just thought I’d clarify, in case anyone thought that Toby now has lovely curly hair. (Seriously, I wish I had curly hair, my hair is so boring.)
Laura July 26, 2012, 3:19 pm
You should totally just change your name to Dr. rachel. Just sayin’ 😉
sobriquet July 26, 2012, 3:08 pm
Ooh, interesting. I’m both a validator and an avoider. I’m an avoider when fighting with a volatile, but that’s because you can’t calmly and rationally talk about the situation when someone is yelling and screaming! Yelling and screaming is just the worst.
Lindsay July 26, 2012, 1:55 pm
I’d say the LW and her husband have equally problematic habits. I’m curious, though, did this not start until they got married? Maybe the husband is being immature, but he really shouldn’t have THAT many situations in which he feels hurt by things the LW is saying. I’m not placing the blame solely on the LW, but if snapping at your husband less will make him stop doing something you find annoying, isn’t that an incentive? But in terms of talking to him about how his behavior affects you, maybe set aside some time to talk when neither of you is upset, instead of waiting until he’s sulking. Some people are really sensitive when other people snap at them, and that sort of person will not take well to you criticizing them when they are already upset.
Maybe you guys need some outside hobbies, too. I snap at people a lot when I spend too much time around the same person. I haven’t had that problem with a boyfriend before, but it often happens if someone stays at my home for more than a few days or something like that. Not that I’m suggesting you guys “take space” or anything ominous like that, but if you are spending 24/7 with each other, it might not hurt to take a yoga class a few times a week or call up some friends for brunch.
landygirl July 26, 2012, 2:12 pm
This is why I advocate not getting married so young. Both of you need to grow up and quit blaming each other. See a therapist for ways to improve your communications skill.
p.s. Hello from Chicago. It sure is hot here.
ktfran July 26, 2012, 2:20 pm
It is! Yesterday was disgusting. Going home from work last night, I got an an el without air. It was bad. Really, really bad. And stinky.
But I’m not complaining. I will take this over February any day.
landygirl July 26, 2012, 2:44 pm
I’m not used to the humidity here. My husband used to live here so we went to his old neighborhood this morning (Wicker Park) and saw where he used to live. We had breakfast at The Bongo Room, I highly recommend it.
katie July 26, 2012, 3:10 pm
the humidity is werid, and kind of weird to adjust to, but… i dont hardly ever have to put lotion on myself anymore! i used to live in colorado, and i would seriously have to lotion myself after every shower or i would dry up like a prune… it is so nice not to have to do that anymore!
ktfran July 26, 2012, 4:19 pm
I LOVE the Bongo Room. I’ve only been to the others – in the South Loop and Andersonville. I’ll be in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area tomorrow night eating at my favorite BYOB sushi place – Coast. So delicious and fresh.
It has been super humid. Today is bearable.
Lindsay July 26, 2012, 2:22 pm
Yeah, this really just sounds like a case of learning how to handle being married to another person.
sobriquet July 26, 2012, 3:00 pm
Oh! This used to happen with my ex!
Near the end of our relationship, I just didn’t want to deal with inane fights anymore. We couldn’t just have a stupid moment of bickering and move on with our lives. I would just leave the room and come back later when things had cooled off, so as to not exacerbate the situation. As this became more frequent, I took more and more space… and we all know where that led!
I do know what you mean about entire evenings being wasted, but that’s only the case if you are sitting around being angry. Taking space to yourself should not be a waste of an evening. Paint your nails. Read a book. Take a bath. Catch up on Bachelor Pad. Take a deep breath and realize you are not always right and that it’s okay if your husband needs some time in the other room. Spend less time together and I bet you won’t snap as much.
Lili July 26, 2012, 3:11 pm
Shout out to Bachelor Pad! Love that show.
SweetsAndBeats July 26, 2012, 3:39 pm
You know, the biggest thing that stuck out to me in this letter was the toe thing. Did you specifically ask him to look at your TOE? If you did say something to the effect of, “Please look at my toe, it’s been weird” and he poked the ball of your foot, that says to me that he either is trying to play Dumb-Cute, or doesn’t listen. If it’s the Dumb-Cute thing, then maybe try to appreciate it, or have an honest and non-accusatory talk to let him know that it is a peeve of yours. If he just plain doesn’t listen (and that leads to fights)… Like everyone is saying above, it definitely sounds like there are communication issues going on here. But I think that Wendy’s last paragraph is very helpful, and would probably do that as my first round of trying to fix the situation. If nothing seems to help, then perhaps trying a few sessions of couples counselling might help. If Wendy’s suggestions in that paragraph don’t help, I’d be inclined to believe that there are significant issues here, and therapy might help. It can teach you both to express your feelings/preferences/needs in a way that doesn’t hurt the other person, and also will teach you two how to be compatible despite your different coping styles.
LW July 26, 2012, 6:38 pm
Hello I am the letter writer.
I do not know why everyone is writing about how I am constantly snapping and why would he want to be around such a bitch? I never said I constantly snap or that I am the only snapper or even the one who snaps the most. It just so happened that I gave that example because it was the one that just happened. Everything went down EXACTLY like I wrote, up to me specifying that it was my toe that hurt before he looked at it. I would say this situation happens about once every 2 months and his reactions are like this even when I am not snapping at him. If I was going to write a dishonest letter, wouldn’t I write what happened in a better light for myself?
I can see why some people would not want to write in because of the scathing comments. Also for the curious, I wrote this letter just over a week ago.
Thanks to those who gave helpful advice.
theattack July 26, 2012, 8:33 pm
People are responding that way because of the example you gave. If you had given an example where he was the one that snapped and you were the one that walked away, the responses would be very different. From your comment here, it sounds like both of you need to work on these things. You two need to have a very serious conversation about what your relationship has turned into (or always was, I don’t know). You both need to make a plan and commit to stop snapping at each other, because no matter who’s doing it, one or both of you, it IS childish, and it is already starting to rot your marriage. Get to marriage counseling if it’s too much for you two to work through together, but either way, you both need to think through what you’re saying before you speak, and taking that extra time out to calm down sounds like it could be beneficial to both of you. You can’t be upset at your husband for getting angry when you snap at him, just like it would be reasonable for you to be upset about it too. It just needs to stop no matter who started it.
theattack July 26, 2012, 8:38 pm
I also just want to say that if you get angry at something he’s trying to help you with, you should probably rethink what is worthy of anger and be a little more thankful for your husband. I know my fiance would not be incredibly excited about looking closely at the bottoms of my feet, so doing it when I needed him to would be an act of love. Although this one example doesn’t show everything that’s happening in your relationship, it does indicate to me that you might not appreciate the things that he does for you, which could contribute to him becoming angry and needing time away from you.
iwannatalktosampson July 26, 2012, 8:47 pm
🙁 I make Ethan drive to his parents house if he has a splinter he can’t get out. Dealing with gross medical issues is totally an act of love. And I’m a jerk. DW is seriously teaching me about all my flaws.
theattack July 26, 2012, 9:18 pm
haha! Well everyone has their limits. Nothing wrong with that! But I think anyone who is willing to deal with it is doing it out of love for sure.
jlyfsh July 26, 2012, 8:41 pm
To be fair you said, “Whenever he is upset about something, like if we had an argument or I snapped at him about something”. Kind of makes it seem like maybe the snapping happens more often. The example you used only reiterated that fact.
And truly the fact that you’re not even willing to think about whether you are also partly to blame says a lot. A marriage takes two people, fighting takes two people, and it takes two people to learn how to communicate well. You both have to be willing to give. If you’re not, you’re not ready or meant to be married.
iwannatalktosampson July 26, 2012, 8:44 pm
I think it’s weird that you’re so defensive considering the comments were pretty much 50/50 thinking you’re kind of a b and thinking your husband is childish.
FWIW I get your frustration. But you need to get some hobbies so you have less time to snap at him and vice verse. I just had a convo with Ethan about this last week actually. I’m going out of town for a girls trip this weekend and we are BOTH excited about it because of the time apart.
I don’t think your problem is a crisis – but you should both at least communicate on how you plan on fixing it going forward – because it’s going to happen again. People bicker about stupid shit. Maybe he leaves for an hour and a half and you would like him to say specifically “I’m going to go cool down so we can chat about this calmly.” and then you say “okay great, then I’m not going to sit here and stew”. It could be that simple. He needs to let you know he’s just cooling off and you need to spend that time cooling off too – not just getting pissed that he’s “avoiding” it. Or maybe you can tell him you like to solve issues right away.
You both need to figure out the game plan going forward together – whatever it ends up being.
But seriously – the defensive tone is weird because just as many people thought he was childish as you – and I think the overall agreement was that you both are being immature.
bittergaymark July 26, 2012, 9:18 pm
If this REALLY happens once every two months, then I really don’t see what the problem is…
The bottom line is that I am around A LOT of married couples — both gay and straight — and I am frequently just shocked at how bitchy people treat their partners… It often simply astounds me how snippy some of my best friends get with their partners. So often I am left thinking… Damn! And I’m the single one? Really? WTF?
theattack July 26, 2012, 9:23 pm
Really? I wouldn’t enjoy it if I fought with my SO once every two months. That seems pretty often to me. I would want to fix that.
iwannatalktosampson July 26, 2012, 9:26 pm
I guess it’s what you consider a fight. What she explains happening shouldn’t have even been a fight. When he came back in the room they both should have just apologized and then started watching gilmore girls.
So yeah I think actual fights every other month is too much – but I mean weird little snotty comments shouldn’t count as fighting. They should be apologized for and forgotten about immediately.
theattack July 26, 2012, 9:28 pm
Agreed. I definitely get randomly snotty for no reason once every two months, but it doesn’t end up going anywhere like this did. He calls me on it, and I realize how unnecessary it was and apologize. No big deal. But if they can’t find a way to deal with those misdirected comments and they turn into fights – well, that’s a big problem.
theattack July 26, 2012, 9:26 pm
I guess I just don’t see things worth fighting over that frequently. If there’s that much worth fighting over, is your relationship even worth fighting for? Of course everybody goes through rough patches, but if this is a regular thing then it sounds like a lot of unnecessary negativity going on.
bittergaymark July 26, 2012, 10:38 pm
Honestly, you must be very, very young, theattack. I certainly don’t know any married couples who don’t have at least some sort of disagreement every two months…
theattack July 26, 2012, 10:45 pm
Haha, I’m 23, so yes, I’m young. But I’ve maintained a very healthy relationship for about two and a half years, and we’re getting married in the Spring. I certainly don’t know everything, but I do know that I would be very unhappy if we were having fights that often. Disagreements, sure. We disagree over things all the time, but it doesn’t have to go anywhere like this LW’s issue did. I just think adults should be able to accept and resolve their disagreements better than to end up in a fight or even an argument every two months. That seems absurd and not even worth doing to me.
theattack July 26, 2012, 10:48 pm
And yes, marriage changes things so that disagreements are more likely to turn into arguments which are more likely to turn into fights, but seriously. Learn and practice some mature problem solving skills in your relationship BEFORE getting married, and maybe it won’t happen so often.
iwannatalktosampson July 26, 2012, 9:24 pm
I am shocked that they would act that way around company. I save all my bitchy moments for in private – because even while I’m being bitchy I know I’m being bitchy and I’m embarrassed. Why would you humiliate your spouse like that??
katie July 26, 2012, 9:32 pm
BGM, i agree so much. its terrible the way that some people treat the people they love just because they are there and they know that they are just going to “drop” them, like you would a casual friend or something… its like, as soon as people get married, they think that it doesnt matter what they say- your married, right? they wont leave because of one bitchy thing… its terrible.
ive seen it too. it makes me sick.
bittergaymark July 26, 2012, 10:41 pm
katie, the crazy thing is that in my experiences, it’s not just lovers that get treated like shit, but husbands and wives. Usually husbands. I don’t know why, but I am a seemingly constant witness to husbands being bitched at. Both gay and straight — husbands (or in gay relationships, its almost always the husband who makes the most money that gets treated like shit, which, um, baffles me…) often seem to get the brunt of this sort of behavior.
katie July 26, 2012, 10:54 pm
well its that “nagging wife” sterotype… and sterotypes do come from something, right?
its terrible. if/when i get married, im putting something in the vows to promise ill never be like that. i never want to become that.
Caris July 26, 2012, 10:18 pm
Ok, so I read all the comments I think and most ppl are saying you are BOTH being childish, I am not sure anyone specifically called you a b. You do have to recognize that snapping at him for something as silly as not going for your toe like you asked him will bring problems to your marriage. You BOTH need to work on your communication, not just you.
bittergaymark July 26, 2012, 10:46 pm
Well, truth be told, I did say that she should stop “sounding like a bitch…” And it got 72 likes, so that is probably why she is so defensive about that. Please note: however, that I did not say she WAS a bitch… But rather probably just sounds like one — and trust me, there is a big difference!
sobriquet July 26, 2012, 10:23 pm
If it only happens once every two months, I don’t see why you had to write in about it unless you were still stewing about that stupid spat. The letter, this comment… you seem really unhappy!
Seriously, though, feel free to list other examples since you’re here. You say he does this even when you don’t snap at him? Then what is it that triggers him? Really think about it and see if there are any behaviors that YOU can change. I’m not saying your husband isn’t acting like a mopey brat, but we already know that you aren’t Little Miss Perfect, either. Seriously. A bit of introspection can go a long way. You can’t focus on his faults without caring to work on yours.
Meredith July 26, 2012, 10:06 pm
You can’t control your husband’s actions or reactions, you can only control yourself and the way you talk to, react to and treat him in general. A marriage is give and give. That means owning up right away when you’ve said or done something that wasn’t nice, it means being the first to apologize and being sincere about it and really letting your anger go once you’ve talked (which means not bringing it up in subsequent fights even though it is really tempting to keep score)
So I got married young too– we ended up in counseling after a year and a half for various issues, mostly stemming from our inability to communicate. He was the type who walked away and i would resent the hell out of him for avoiding/ignoring me and I went into counseling thinking maybe this lady would make him see what an ass he was and he’d change his ways. Well six months into she said “Why don’t you try changing what you can change and see what happens.” So I started being really nice and sweet and forgiving and apologizing right away (sincerely, not the half-assed bullshit apologies I’d given before) totally expecting to come back the next week saying “See I’ve been amazing and he’s still an asshole” When low and behold, my husband responded in kind…communicating, apologizing, giving…total 180. Then I realized…be the change I wish to see in my marriage. Be the kind of spouse I want to have, treat him the way I want him to treat me. Total lightbulb moment.
Sometimes we get so caught up in what our spouse is doing wrong we forget to look at ourselves and the part we play in our marriage. I’m not saying he’s doing this right, your husband is not communicating well. But the second you stop focusing on what he’s doing wrong and start focusing on what you can do to be a good wife, every day and every way, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the change you’ll see in your husband. My marriage is so happy now, my husband and I rarely fight, and he treats me like a queen. You can have this too if you put down your sword, stop keeping score and pointing fingers and start working really hard to have a great marriage.
6napkinburger July 27, 2012, 10:32 am
I have a couple of comments.
First, make sure this isn’t a sign of underlying contempt you have for your husband. Two of the issues I had with my ex was that it seemed like we talked on different planes of understanding and that he seemed perfectly content in ignorance about the world and general knowledge. I know that at the end of my relationship, when I was fed up with this, everything that he did that might reflect a lack of understanding set me off, no matter how minor — it was more proof of how “stupid” he was and how much he could “never” understand what I was saying. Make sure that this isn’t how you are feeling, because it will corrode your relationship.
Second, I think I disagree with a lot of people in that I believe that some people are snappy/trigger angers and some people don’t. It really isn’t something that can be controlled 24/7 and it tends to come out around people who you love and whom love you, because it is the only place it can without getting you fired/killed on the street. I don’t think it means that people like that shouldn’t get married or have families, but i do understand that some people don’t want it in their lives, which is their call. If this is you, then it is important to communicate about it and understand the process. If you snap and he needs space, then you should agree in advance that both responses are ok and after he’s done and you apologize, you can go back to normal. Or whatever works for you — maybe its him coming out of the kitchen after doing the dishes and you saying, “we cool?” so he knows you’re back normal so he can be back to normal. With me and my sister, it’s apologizing whether or not you think you were wrong (“her: are we still fighting? me: yes. her: ok, I’m sorry. beat. me: ok, what do you want for lunch?”). It’s about acknowlegding what the other person needs to hear to get over it. If you are a trigger anger, he married you knowing that, and you guys need to work out a way to deal with it that doesn’t end in ruining a whole night.
Last thing I want to say: There is a HUGE GIGANTIC difference between someone with a trigger anger and someone who is just a bitch to their spouse. Maybe I’m being defensive, but I know I am a trigger anger and I genuinely feel bad about being mean approximately 3-7 mins after being so. And I’ll almost always apologize, even if I was “right”, my delivery method in those situation was wrong. However, I know people who are just plain mean to their spouses and
I can only imagine it is worse in private than in public. Maybe its contempt for them or maybe its just unhappiness or maybe they’re just a bitch. And in those situations, I don’t think any level of communication will help because it seems clear the bitchy one just plain doesn’t like their spouse or at least doesn’t respect them. In those situations, the spouses shouldn’t stay around to be receive the incessant insults. But I really truly do think that is a different situation than “trigger anger” people and that “trigger anger” people just need partners that understand this aspect of their personality as a flaw to be accepted and allowed for, rather than a sign of dislike/disrespect. (I personally also think it matters if they trigger anger with outbursts in public (around people you know), because I find that about 10000 x worse).
lauren July 27, 2012, 11:09 am
sometimes when I am reading a DW letter, I get really especially pumped for Wendy’s answer because I know its going to be awesome. like this one! great response and I especially agree with “get out more.” whenever my live-in bf and I seem to be kind of snippy and annoyed with each other for no real reason, its ALWAYS better after going out to a bar for a drink, or going for a drive or a walk to explore a new neighborhood, or having dinner somewhere. you realize that the initial problem was just part of daily life (yes! people are annoying even the ones you love!) and its like pressing a reset on why you like each other in the first place.
DebMoore July 27, 2012, 2:31 pm
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard is “Treat your significant other like you would your best friend” would you have talked to your best friend that way and expected them to continue to be nice to you?
Temperance July 28, 2012, 8:40 pm
Mr. Temperance had a pattern of doing the same thing – he would absolutely shut down when we would argue, which would make me go NUTS. He would say his piece, as calmly as possible, and refuse to hear me out, giving me the silent treatment for an entire night sometimes. As you can imagine, this made ME insane, because he was getting it out, and I wasn’t. Finally, we were able to figure out why he was doing that, and that he wasn’t trying to silence me or assume he was right because he was a man (something that set ME off because my dad did it – he was very “king of his castle, and one of his rules was that he always had the last word in any argument). He was doing it because he was afraid we would repeat what his parents did.
His father is a crazy asshole who is not above mental abuse and stalking. He is not his father, but I can see why he would not want to trigger this.
Temperance July 28, 2012, 8:56 pm
I accidentally hit SUBMIT before finishing.
My advice to you, LW, is to talk to him about it. NOT when you are fighting, but tell him how it makes you feel when you have a stupid argument and he runs from the room and gives you the silent treatment.
Grownup July 17, 2018, 5:53 pm
Try this on for size. You two are individual people with individual interests. You came into the world alone and you will leave alone. Now be appreciative that a human being wants to spend their 100 precious years of life on earth with YOU. Now tell them you hate everything that they do and snap at them when they touch your feet to examine them for YOU lone soul. Grow up and take responsibility for your own self and soul and value the husband GOD gave you. There are millions praying for someone to serve not someone they can kick around. Grow up.
Anna Daniel March 12, 2019, 7:14 am
Almost everyone here is focusing on the wife for “snapping” at her immature/infantile husband when the ROOT of the problem is his FAILURE TO LISTEN to her! She clearly said her “TOE” and the buffoon grabs her heel. That would annoy the dog crap out of me. There’s the root of the problem right there. I don’t see anything wrong with her other than being HUMAN. The husband is 100 percent at fault in this scenario. He needs to grow up and get out of the diapers. This is a two fold problem and apparently the deficet is on the husband’s part: Communication and Immaturity,
David Lang Wardle May 5, 2020, 7:41 am
You seem to have a basic problem with reading comprehension. LW wrote: “. . . my toe hurt like I had been stung and I couldn’t see what was wrong but it made my whole foot feel numb. I asked him if he would take a look at my toe to see if he could see anything; he touched the ball of my foot and said ‘Here?’ and I snapped and said ‘No, I said my toe!’ ”
The husband didn’t grab her heel, he touched the ball of her foot. She thought she might have been stung, so if she were correct, it’s entirely possible that there was a puncture mark of some sort on the ball of her foot but none on her toe. If, in fact, she had been stung on the ball of her foot, right below the toe, any resulting swelling would have affected (hurt) the toe more because there’s much less room for expansion (swelling = expansion => pain, particularly if there’s little room for expansion). LW was quite possibly snapping at her husband for finding the exact source of her foot numbness. She then lied to him — “. . . I apologized and said I hadn’t meant to snap at him.” — because of course she meant to snap at him; she apparently does it at least every couple of months. Why wouldn’t the husband still be upset? What I can’t understand is why the husband hasn’t dumped this whiny abusive woman; however, that wasn’t the question presented. What the LW can do to deal with her husbands behavior is to do him the favor of MOA. Her husband isn’t the doormat she’d like him to be.