Married to a mule

scarlett2001March 12, 2008

Does anybody have advice for coping with a STUBBORN spouse? Whatever I suggest, he has to take the opposite position. Not that we have to think alike on everything, but if I say "Good morning" he says "It's night". Okay, fine. But we, as a married couple, have certain decisions we need to make together and he just will go to ridiculous lengths to take the opposing viewpoint. I have tried using reverse psychology, which helps a little. I feel that we are suffering some financial reverses now due directly to his stubborn opposition.

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The personality/contrary thing I'm not sure what to do with, but......

Financial stuff -- which involves numbers and arithmetic, for the most part -- pretty much speaks for itself. The figures say what they say. If you can lay it out and let the thing do it's own talking, perhaps there won't be any room for the contrariness that pops out everyplace else. Maybe there's a way in via that door.

Also, be advised creditors don't much care if you're stubborn or contrary or wear zebra-striped shorts. They expect performance. The numbers are all they care about. If they say you owe them and you say you don't, they'll come after you every time. Arguments and opposing viewpoints don't pay the bills.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 7:27PM
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What I'm hoping is that somebody here can help with the underlying reason a person does this.

Usually I just walk away from it, saying "I really don't care to have an argument over the color of the tulips or whether red sauce tastes better than white sauce." But he keeps it up, so most of the time I just remove myself physically. He's watching TV in the den and I'm finding stuff to do in the living room, almost every evening.

My "inner child" would like to smack him in the kissser and yell, "You stupid jerk, you're ruining the communication in our marriage!" But we are adults and civilized, so I have to find a way to deal with him on an adult level. That's why I need to figure out WHY he does this.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 11:36AM
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What does he say when you speak to him about it?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 11:45AM
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He says I am wrong and he never does that! Then he tries to "win" by raising his voice and getting a pi$$y tone with me, which pushes my buttons because I am not going to be cowed by a louder voice. If I keep my cool and point out that he is doing it RIGHT NOW, it just escalates. Applying reason does not seem to help. That's why I think there is something behind his behavior. Does he feel some kind of need to dominate? Because he sure has the wrong woman for that.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 11:56AM
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If this characteristic is as consistent and intense as you've described, it's psychotic -- and maybe even dangerous. Have you discussed it with any professionals?

At this point, I have to drop out. Your description puts it over my head. I've never understood such people. In my own life, when I've encountered such people, "understanding" was impossible for me. My solution was to not be there. Suspect that opinion not what you're looking for.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 12:15PM
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My oh my, that sounds like me posting this thread. If I said it's nice and sunny out today, the comeback would be "there's a cloud over there." I could not even say positive things about his grown children, he would just grunt. The hardest part of my marriage was his moods. When I turned and walked away, he would come after me and make up for his mood. Once he apologized and said, "that was a stupid thing for me to say".

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 4:27PM
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I really think its immaturity.

Something to do with their childhood, I suspect.

I think I have a touch of that in my situation.

Does he just hate being wrong ?
Does he ever say "sorry" ?
Has he heard of the word "sorry" !

Read up on it, my friend, and arm yourself with appropriate responses to put him in his place.

Sorry I am not more help.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 2:50AM
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Popi I'm interested in what you would say? You're very good with this type of thing. Let's say he's decided it's a good time to buy a car, but Scarlett2001 knows it'd dig too far into the vacation budget and she was really longing for the beach. How would you approach the situation?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 8:47AM
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I recently watched a show on PBS with Daniel Amen. I think it was called "Change your Brain, Change you Life". He went through different personality types and situations (and actually used a case similar to your husbands as an example) but I can't remember specifically how he said to solve you problem. I think it did include using reverse psychology.

I don't know how much I personally buy into Amen's thesis, but he had MRI scans of people and pretty much said these personality problems are often due to specific brain area problems in different people. He went over specific regions and noted what problems would happen if those parts of the brain showed damage (some people will argue about anything, some are always negative, some have little empathy, etc). Brain abnormalitites can be caused from Brain injuries (even very minor), drugs, alcohol abuse, etc... Almost everyone's brain has at least some damge somewhere. Amen seemed to really stress exercise (both physical and mental) and even mentioned why different people need different diets (some people need high protein, some high carbs, etc) depending on their specific brian area damage.

Again, not sure if this guy is just selling beans, but he was worth watching and it was a different way to look at and at least try to resolve personality problems.

You can look Daniel Amen up by his name or his book which is titled the same as the show name if you seem interested in him. Maybe his ideas will give you some insight and possible resoltions and/or at least provide you with a different way to look at things.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 9:53AM
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Thanks for the input, everybody. DH has never abused drugs or alcohol but he does eat a tremendous amount of red meat. Maybe that is affecting his brain. My female friends at work have assured me that the I-know-it-all attitude is practically a male epidemic. Maybe it has to do with women becoming more independent, do you think? Maybe it's just a bad habit. Asolo, it's nothing as dramatic as you suggested, just really annoying. Thanks, though.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 11:22AM
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Curious -
Does he just always need to be right?
Or does he also need you to be wrong?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 12:34PM
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I am new to this forum, but I read many of the other forums regularly. I have been reading the marriage forum for a few weeks.

Many people respond negatively or in a stubbon manner because they don't really 'like' the person with whom they are with and they want to make the person miserable every chance that avails. A person who loves his/her spouse takes advantage of every opportunity to make his/her spouse happy. Do you feel that he loves you? Does he show you that he doesn't like you every chance that he gets? Are there other issues that he carries and does not talk about? Is he as stubborn with other people? Has he always been the way he is now? Very often stubborn spouses are responding to something much bigger that the present issue.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 4:20PM
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ah scarlett this so sounds like my life... Ithnk there are amultitude of 'things' that cause them to be like this... probably he's got some deep seated resentment about something... and you may never figure it out... or some day it will just pop out of him... My husband is always right (whether her REALLY is or not) and I am always wrong... so long ago, I started taking a totally neutral position as my 'opening ' move... what do you think about xxxx for a vacation this year? I don't really know anything about xxx... tell me why I might like it... or how about a new car??? do you think there is something wrong with one of the ones we have? what are you thinking aobut for a car?

getting my idea here???? I turn around the topic and let him start , it gives me time to see where he's coming from and then plan my 'defensive' moves accordingly...

another example... my 19 year old refridgerator died... Oh dear... what are we going to do about this? he says he intends to call for repair! (on a 19+ YO fridge???... I keep my mouth shut and get him the number for the local repair guy, and head out to work ... he works form the house).... later he calls and fumes over how they want ~$100 just to come to the house and btw they doubt it is 'repairable' at a cost to make it a 'smart' move, probably better off to buy new... but he really doesn't want to do that... I say so what do you really want to do... mind you I WANT a new one.. the other has had it's share of minor 'issues' for a while.... so he decides he wants to go 'look' at new ones and talk with the repair guy at the smae time at the local appliance store... now I am pretty confident based on what he has said that the guy is going to steer him to a new model... so I tell him than go do that... btw IF you look new these are things to keep in mind I would want a new one to have.... and off he goes... again with the phone call at work... the guy has convinced him new is the way to go... and btw he doesn't llike the 'looks' of what I told him to get (black to match the rest of the kitchen.. they only had textured and the old one was smooth... he doesn't like the texture...) much head banging on my desk at work by this point... long and short was he ended up buying what I wanted for a model...but in stainless ... not my prefered choice...but acceptable... and mind you he paid a good buck more for that color choice!...

long story..but you can 'manipulate' the I am right attitude if you 'play' it right... he did not, no way, no how, want to spend the cash for a new appliance... but ended up spending more for the one he 'liked' once he was convinced (decided) to buy a new one... now if I had said up front... are you crazy, they're going to charge you ~$100 tjust to come look at our 19+ YO appliance and then they will probably tell you you are crazy to repair it... he would have TOLD them to come and look at it... just to do the opposite of what I said and "prove" he was right... that it COULD be repaired... yep it could have been repaired,b ut that wouldn't have been the 'smart' move... by letting him be the one to 'discover' that didn't make sense... made him willing to hear that news...

now does this make me CRAZY??? you bet... but over time, you adjust yourself to it and play along...

btw... it took years but I have finally discovered the 'resentment' in our case is over the fact that I left my job to stay home with our children... and now that I went back to work part time, and he now has some minor child responsibilities... it's making him totally crazy... but let me assure you that there is now way i hell I would ever stop working without him expressly saying to do so... even though I doubt he will ever do that... even though he is going crazy about having some responsibility for th ekids... I just keep reminding him I'll be at work, he' pormised to step to the plate IF I was working and now is the time for him to do so... unless he'd prefer I stay home???? now I know he's not about to eat that crow... and I know I have over scheduled highly busy children, between classes, lessons, sports, and just friendships, plus the oldest working but not driving yet (no where near any public transport).... so I know this is KILLING him.... I just bide my time....

so yes, I agree with blondiel in that this stubborness you are experiencing is mostlikely a response to something else... but... so you know... trying to figure out what that is may take a long long time....

good luck... learn to play the game and use the psychology when you need to.... think of him as an overgrown 3 YO having a tantrum... how do you get around that????

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 10:10PM
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You're a smart lady Plumbly!

I finally realized I had to do exactly that with my Ex when it came to our son. I could lay out a bunch of facts and concerns, but if I suggested anything, that pretty much ruled it out! I learned the hard way that if I wanted things to go a certain direction, I had to steer the facts that way, but act "utterly clueless" what to do about it. Then accept with grace when he gave me the condescending "It's obvious!" speech, because that was what he needed to do. It sucks, but at least it's infrequent nowadays. (And even better, his wife is on exactly the same wavelength! We usually get together beforehand to agree on a solution, then help him 'discover' it.)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 11:03PM
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What an incredibly annoying characteristic! I don't know how any of you bear it.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 5:23PM
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Plumbly, I know I asked Popi, but you answered it well. Discover it on his own. Steering him is the hard part, but you seem to have figured out how to do that in your relationship. Awesome!

Sweeby, your point is interesting, but what more could it mean to be both right and the other person be wrong? Do you think if it they only seek being right they're "just insecure", but with added together present a greater humiliation angle, like much deeper anger? Interesting.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 9:04AM
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I guess that's sort of what I mean. Some people always need to build themselves up. Annoying, but not destructive really. Others need to build themselves up by stepping on you, which is destructive.

Just my opinion, but if the shoe fits...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 7:04PM
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