What would you do?

chancetogrowDecember 16, 2009

I'm married to an outstanding man who is great at everything. His career (trial lawyer). His friends (lots of them). His family (close-knit, and he's the star of all the kids.) His hobbies and interests. (too many to name, but he is good at all of them and also knows a lot of fun facts and history about them.) His music (he doesn't perform professionally, but could if he had the time). His FUN (definitely a social person who enjoys dining out, getting together with friends, hosting parties, attending parties.) He also is a wonderful cook and ENJOYS cooking on top of that, so he tends to do the grocery shopping and preparation of most of our meals.

It's exciting to be married to someone who is so talented, well rounded, and interested in such a variety of things!!!! That's one reason I was attracted to him when we began dating. He is truly an exceptional person. Life feels so FULL when you're around him and it can be very energizing.

As you can imagine, it can also be draining. A lot of what we do revolves around his activities. We stay, very, very busy. And for the most part I'm fine with that, because I share a lot of the same interests and we have fun together along the way. Not to mention, I knew going into it, that things would probably be busy and I would have to be okay with him "shining"! But also knew I was a confident person and that I could excel in plenty of my own ways too!! But...lately, at the risk of sounding pity-partyish, it feels like he takes up sooo much space being good at everything that there's hardly anything left for ME to be good at.

I'm wondering if I'm reacting the same way as plenty of other people would, when placed in my shoes. Or, am I just asking too much and getting aggravated at things too easily/being too sensitive?

See the examples below.

A) I'll be watering my flowers in the backyard, and he'll come all the way outside to remind me not to trample them when I'm dragging the hose over. (This happened three different times and I finally asked him to inform me of WHEN I have ever trampled them and WHY I would trample my own flowers?)

B) I'll be cooking something, and he'll ask why I didn't use such and such ingredient instead or pull out a certain bowl from the cabinet, saying that size will work better than the one I was using. (Why can't he just sit on the couch for an hour and zone out on sports like the rest of the male population?)

C) I'll mention that the repairman didn't fix something correctly and if it's his second time out for the repair call, I might complain for a few minutes.. (knowing that means the guy has to come back out to fix it again, meaning I have to play phone tag with him again to set it up, then on the day we schedule the appointment...rush home from work again to meet him, RE-explain the problem for the third time, etc.) and instead of sympathizing with my frustration for 2 seconds, my husband defends the repairman, saying perhaps he didn't understand the instructions and reminding me we're pretty spoiled to be in our thirties and able to afford a repairman instead of doing it ourselves like most people our age. (Both good points, but why can't I just be frustrated for a couple minutes?)

D) I explain my thoughts to him about a complicated situation at work, and how the other manager and I are trying to get to the bottom of it. But when I share with him what my initial conclusions about the situation are, instead of just saying "Well, that's certainly likely...you might be right!" ...he chooses to harp on the fact that the other managers and I need to do more research and get more evidence before jumping to decisions. (I appreciate the free legal advice, and I TOLD you we were going to do more research, but why can't I just share my hunch without starting a debate?)


I've tried talking to my husband about how sometimes he can be "the expert" on everything, and how I would appreciate it if he could tone it down a bit, and give me some space to handle things myself (i.e. the flowers, the cooking, the repairman) or express myself and recieve a little support (the work example) rather than receive criticism or "the opposite point of view" in return. I don't think he realizes how often he is like this, and when I try pointing it out when it occurs, he either denies it and says I'm being unreasonable or admits it and says "Well if I'm right about something, I'm going to let you know."

I guess my mind is just fast-forwarding and I'm getting worried about down the road when we have kids and there are bigger decisions and more serious matters going on in our lives, is my opinion ever going to count? Am I ever going to be able to make a decision about something without him questioning me or saying the other option would have been better? Is he ever going to stand beside me when I happen to know more about something than he does, or is he always going to think HE knows more, no matter what? Are the kids, from their perspective, going to think mommy has no say-so in anything, when they hear daddy correct her all the time? What parts of our lives will I be able to contribute to and be proud of--aside from his participation?

The fact that we share a lot of the same responsibilities and our roles sort of blend together (both take care of household stuff and both work)....that's our generation! But it's not our parents' generation! So our role models growing up were modeling a different type scenario... with our moms having "their place" and our dads having "their place." Marriages aren't as clear cut as they used to be. (And I know, obviously, those kinds of marriages had their own kind of challenges.) But how do marriages like mine work? I feel like I'm flying by the seam of my pants and not doing a very good job of it. With roles blended and marriages consisting of two individually accomplished, fairly opinionated people, how do we know who contributes what and how much is enough? I feel like my generation has grown up so selfish and spoiled and therefore we take each other for granted easier, and don't know how to share!!!!

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Good post -- You've explained yourself very well, and IMO, seem to have analyzed the situation very capably. Which makes your concerns very reasonable...

From what I've read, I understand that most men have a tendency to jump in and try to 'fix' things for the women in their lives. So if you share a problem, his natural instinct is to 'fix' it for you or show you how. If the repairman didn't get it right the first time, maybe you need to explain it better... (I understand your frustration.) So the first thing I would suggest is a general "I know you want to help -- but please don't always try to fix it." conversation. Tell him that sometimes you know what to do -- You just need to vent, and that his job in those situations is just to listen and nod sympathetically. Then the next few times you do that, tell him in advance that you're just venting, that you already know what to do, so he shouldn't tell you -- that all you need from him is understanding.

For the pre-emptive and unnecessary corrections, I'd simply tell him that you know how to do whatever it is that you're doing, and when he gives you instructions, you feel like he's implying you're incapable. Tell him you know he'd never hurt your feelings on purpose, but that when he gives you advice you don't need, that your feelings do get hurt. If he doesn't seem to get it, ask him how he would feel if you offered lots of advice (be specific) about how he should do his hobbies, or if his boss gave him lots of really basic advice about how to do his job. It's OK if he thinks you're oversensitive about that (I don't) -- just that he acknowledge that those are your feelings and agrees to try not to hurt them in the future. (He'll need help with this, I suspect.)

The bottom line seems to be that he's trying to be Mr. Perfect all the time; and he's so capable that he hasn't yet fully realized the impossibility of achieving that goal. What you seem to want is for him to be on your side -- even when your way is merely 'good enough' rather than 'perfect'. And if that's the case, I'd explain it in just those terms -- That you really appreciate his superior competence, but that most often, your way is more than good enough. And unless it's expensive, dangerous or really really important, he should show support for your efforts too.

(FWIW, I was married to a Mr. Perfect once too, and he was unable to change. So gradually, I stopped doing many of the little chores that I couldn't seem to do to his satisfaction. He'd complain that I didn't do things -- I'd say I'd happily do them if he would agree not to complain about how I did them. He refused. Impasse...)

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 1:41PM
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Thank you so much Sweeby for your response!!! And for understanding!!! I don't feel as crazy now!

I've read similar things about how a man's natural instinct is to try "fixing" vs. listening/and simply "being there." I think telling him in advance that I'm just venting /not needing a solution is a good idea. Unfortunately ,though, I tried that just last night and it didn't go so well. And actually, it was with the repairman situation I refered to in my initial post. Maybe I can try again in the future and carry it out better, but here's what I said. I started out by saying "I know it's not a big deal for him to come back out, all I'm trying to say is that I am disappointed he didn't do the repair correctly especially under the circumstances of us expecting 60 guests this weekend for our christmas party at our house, in addition to the stress I'm under at work this week. All I need is for you to agree with me or acknowledge that this has become an additional hassle that I really didn't have time to deal with this week and yet it has to be done before our party." (And that's when he proceeded to say how maybe the repairman didn't understand the instructions. And I said "That's possible. However, I walked through the issue with him very clearly and slowly, knowing I wouldn't have time this week for him to get it wrong. Unfortunately, I could tell when I gave him the instructions that he was in a hurry, and that he was eager to just "start working on it" and he would handle it." (another male for ya!!!)

With the pre-emptive situations.... I let a lot of them go cause I just know that's how he is and he won't change and most likely, he doesn't mean to hurt my feelings. But (after my feelings started getting hurt one too many times) I recently I started asking him --Do you really think I don't know how to do what you're telling me to do ?
Because I've read where pyschologists, etc. have proven that asking questions during a misunderstanding is good, so as to clear up any communication issues over what is heard/interpreted vs what is intended.) And his answer was (for the cooking example)...If I happen to be standing right there and I know a way to do it that's faster, I might as well help you out. I said "Yes, but sometimes I want to learn on my own. Cooking is trial and error and people approach it differently, and I need to figure out my own ways to make it faster if by chance I am doing it a slower, more methodical way than he would have done." His answer to things like the flower scenario is: "I just didn't know whether you realized that you were close to dragging the hose over the flower bed...that the sheets needed one more round of 20 minutes in the dryer...that the cat had been left out of the house for too long...that the door could have been scratched when I hung the christmas wreath..."

Which makes me think of another example of his perfectionism...first week of Decemeber when I did the swag of garland down the staircase and once it was finished with the ornaments and the lights and it looked BEAUTIFUL and it got me in the festive, Christmas Spirit...he walked by and I said, doesn't it look good? He said, yeah but people might bump into it. HONESTLY? Hundreds of homes across america have swags of garland up the staircase during christmastime...it's pretty, it gives me a creative outlet and makes me feel like I'm making our house a home...GO WATCH A FOOTBALL GAME AND LET ME DO MY THING!!

Like you said, bottom line...he is trying to be Mr. Perfect all the time. And what's ironic is he is suuuch a perfectionist, but yet when I wanted something to go smoothly and perfectly (like the repair) he can't relate to the disappointment I had! (Whereas if he had tried hard at making something go smoothly and for some reason someone else involved was at fault for dropping the ball, I would have been glad to hear him vent and would have understood his frustration!)

That's interesting what you said about how you were married to a Mr. Perfect once and you stopped doing certain things he had criticized. I've tried that too, thinking it would be reverse psychology. But either he doesn't notice, just ignores it, or I start thinking it's ridiculous that I have to play those games and I resume doing those certain things and just say to myself he'll have to get over it.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 2:53PM
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Me again. Sorry. But I just re-read my post and have a clarification as well as an addition to make.

Clarification: That part in caps about go watch a football game...That's what I was thinking. That's not what I said. In that particular instance, I let his comment roll off my back and didn't say anything, because I had had fun with my little decorating project and didn't want my satisfaction to be ruined.

Addition: When these type of moments build up and then ends up leading into a drawn out discussion/disagreement...a lot of times he ends up saying that I complain too much. This is ironic to me because he is the one with all these criticism/perfectionist issues!! If it's true that I have been complaining more often recently, it's probably because I feel like I have no voice and therefore have to try harder to assert myself/be heard (and I could see where that could be interpreted as me complaining.) How do I clear up that issue?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 4:08PM
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I know men have the reputation for being "Mr Fixit" and in my case this was a revelation to DH. It has taken him a long time to understand this...and it did cause arguments and misunderstandings, over the years, particularly with our daughter.

My point is, that he was able to understand the ramifications of his "fixing" and my need, for him to just "listen' and let me vent. I remember him saying to me many years ago regarding our very upset teen daughter "you know I think she tells me things and just wants me to listen" this was a Eureka moment !!

You are right to be concerned about your situation and I feel for you. Do you think your DH has the capacity to change his thinking ? Perhaps you could both think about some counselling or read some books together on the topic.

You are right to sort this out now, because children will certainly put stress on the situation and you really need to arm yourself with advanced communication skills !!

How does he act with his parents, or other family members ? Is his family perfectionists ?

From what you have said, he seems to have a complete lack of faith in what you do, is he ever proud of you or gives you compliments ?

Just a few thoughts from me.

Take care.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 5:33PM
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I don't have much advice but this reminds me of something I heard on a talk radio advice program that really stuck with me. A woman called in saying how she was the perfectionist and couldn't stop critisizing everything her fiance did, from doing dishes properly to not dancing correctly. The host said she would advise the woman's fiance to run for the hills. The woman was dumbfounded and the host went on to say that if she kept it up she would make her poor fiance's life miserable and he deserved better than to put up with her perfectionism. The host said she wanted her to think really hard about what was more important, perfectly washed dishes or a wonderful, yet imperfect man to spend her life with?

Your husband is going to criticize you into a miserable person. He needs to get his priorities straight. I understand that this is just some people's personalities, but he needs to decide if a happy wife and good marriage are more important to him than a scratched door and a few squished flowers. When he is on his death bed, is he going to regret wrinkled sheets or running off his wife with his need for control and for everything to "appear" perfect? None of these nitpicky things matter in the big scheme of things.

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 5:52PM
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Oh my - I feel for you. I agree that you have stated your issues well. I see a huge ego in your husband; it seems to me from what you've written that he thinks extremely highly of himself, probably was treated that way all of his life because he is, after all, "perfect". So if he has been fed that all his life his head is bound to have swollen out of reasonable proportion.

But that doesn't give him a green light. It sounds as though he feels that he's "all that" and that nobody can have a better idea, do something better, handle something better, or be better than him. Either that, or he's incredibly INsecure and it manifests itself by his enormous ego. I've known both personalities and regardless of the cause it's very unpleasant.

It also doesn't sound as though he goes around boisterously proclaiming how great he is, but is more subtle about pointing out his way being better. That is very controlling and I applaud you for trying to point it out to him now and for anticipating bigger problems when children arrive.

I'm sorry that I don't have any real advice, just support. I, personally, would have a hard time in that relationship not because I have a huge ego but simply that I deserve to be validated when appropriate (as do you). I don't do everything right, but I do occasionally, and even when I don't (like not using a certain bowl or ingredient, to use your example), who cares, what does it matter, and what I did was just fine.

I am afraid that you will just gradually overlook these things and eventually become invisible, insecure, and dependent; from the sound of your posts, that's not you.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 5:58PM
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I could be way off base here -- Hope I am, in fact. But some things in your follow up posts and in Jennmonkey's response got me to wondering.

My Ex Mr. Perfect was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and his perfectionism, criticism and lack of empathy were all red flag symptoms of his narcissism. I have no idea if this is the case with your husband, but if you do some reading on the subject, YOU will be able to tell very quickly if it's an issue or not. (I hope not.) But for many trial lawyers, politicians and performers, it is.

I'm attaching one link. If it seems to fit, there are many, many others out there for the Googling, and several threads here dealing with NPD.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mayo Clinic on NPD

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 9:53AM
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Sweeby may be on to something. I've got a friend just like this. The OP's husband sounds mild by comparison, however.

He's a fine fellow, really. Very smart. I enjoy our conversations -- but only one-on-one. I long ago cut him out of any situation involving more than just the two of us because he always poisons the party. Begins sooo many sentences with "....you probably don't know this, but...." Steers every conversation around to his own topic, then holds forth.

What's most annoying is his utter unwillingness to back off even a little bit when its demonstrated that he's mistaken. In a normal social context, he's known as an insufferable boor.

I enjoy sparring with him from time to time but can't imagine being married to such a person. I've called him on it countless times but he doesn't understand what I'm talking about. I'm convinced he never will.

I hope OP's husband is less dense than my friend. Seems to me somebody that smart otherwise should be able to "get it".

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 10:21AM
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I really appreciate everybody's feedback. It helps to "talk" this out. I think the last two posts don't really pertain to my situation, but I'll google some info. on that and keep it in mind going forward, if I notice further red flags.

Popi--It's nice to know it takes other men a while for that "eureka" moment. And yes, he does have a few other perfectionists in the family although without living with them day in day out, it's hard to compare how alike they are as far as what degree they carry out that personality trait. I think reading some books or counseling might help. I certainly hope so. As far as the total lack of faith thought---I wouldn't say it's total. There are definitely some times he's proud of me or compliments me. But, just like his perfectionist remarks, they are subtle. And as Suzieque pointed out, that almost makes it worse...or at the very least, harder to "read/interpret" what he really meant by saying or doing XYZ and also how sincere it is.

And I think Suzieque also has good insight to suggest that in time, I might start overlooking these things just by getting used to it/numb from it. I have a feeling I have gotten numb to a lot of it already, because what has clued me into it more recently is the fact that lately there have been times I've been legitimately stressed with our house move. And if he can't give me a break on some things during a time like that, then will he EVER give me a break here and there?

I agree with jenmonkey--my husband has got to decide whether he wants a happy wife and healthy, enjoyable marriage or whether he would rather continue being nitpicky over stupid stuff. The old saying "you reap what you sow" totally applies. Part of that will require him coming to terms with some basic principles of marriage: it does take work and it does require "give and take." (And the more you master the "give and take" part, probably the less work that's required.)But it seems like those concepts are hard for him. It's like he just wants to float through life and never have conflict, and just let everything "be easy." By no means do I want to suck the fun out of everything and make life harder than it needs to be by constantly talking things out, but when issues do arise, we need to be able to deal with them together and say "I'm sorry, I'll work on that" instead of turning it into a debate and pointing fingers back at the other person.

I love my husband very much and there are so many wonderful things about our relationship. I think part of the problem is when I bring up these things that "bother me", he interprets it as he's failed...i.e. he hasn't achieved "perfection." Knowing perfection is what drives him, maybe I need to do a better job of communicating by saying something like: "I'm not pointing this out to make you feel like you didn't achieve some sort of expectation or perfection from my point of view...I'm pointing this out to let you know that I was a little hurt by what you said and in the future, there might be a way to avoid causing me that hurt."

Thank you for all your posts and support! I usually don't post on message boards, but I would feel like I'm being unfair to my husband if I were to share some of my frustrations with friends in real life. After all, he might be able to improve. And then those friends would always have that awful impression of my husband in the back of their minds. Plus, our life looks so picture perfect on the outside. I would sound so ungrateful. And like I've said, in many ways, it IS wonderful. I can't imagine being married to a bump on a log who had no opinions whatsoever, and never wanted to do anything fun and be interested in anything other than one or two things. There IS a middle, though, between perfection/over interest and laziness/disinterest. And THAT'S what I hope my husband and I can come to on some of these things.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 11:44AM
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My DH and I have similar issues. We are doing a lot of remodeling, and he is MUCH better at most of the things than I am, of course. I absolutely resented him telling me how to do things for nearly a year and got pretty built up angry about it.

Then I started telling him that when he micromanages me it makes me have a bad reaction. I also tell him when he starts making his suggestions to "just tell me how to do it, and I will do it your way". At first he was a little miffed "I'm just trying to help you.... I know an easier way.... etc". Now, after me trying that tactic for a month or so he's started to realize what he is doing and has asked if I want his opinion/advice.

Most EVERYONE wants to help their mate and show them easier ways and be the hero and and and... but most of us (women) feel we have a pretty good grasp on what we are doing, or we would have asked for help!

In my case I think it helped that I reassured him that I appreciated his help, and his opinion, but that I had my way of doing things. And, sometimes, I had to go back and say "you were right, I should have XYZ". Sh*t. LOL.

..."Well if I'm right about something, I'm going to let you know."...

That is what worries me. Maybe you are right, not knowing how to share may be a big issue. If he was the "star" kid and now a "star" adult he may really think he knows best. But sometimes it really doesn't matter who knows best, it's the process.

Example: With kids, it is often tempting to "fix" something for them. Fix their clothes, fix their drawing, fix their project, etc. But if I am always fixing it, my dd will never learn to get the scissors to go straight, the laces to stay tied, the clothes to match. It's good to guide, but knowing when to step back and let her tumble off the bike or go without a jacket because she didn't listen and is now cold. How can they learn to stay within the lines if I won't let go of the crayon?

For her Santa picture this year I wanted her to be dressed up. I got her ready one day, and it just didn't happen. Then she was with a relative and not dressed up and I got the call, do you want the picture anyway? I said no, I want her in her dress. When I picked her up she was really mad. I told both my DH and my boss about it and they both said, it's about Santa, not about the picture, not about the dress. I realized I was making it ALL ABOUT ME when all my 7 year old wanted was to see Santa and get the candy cane. How selfish of me! The third time we tried we got to the mall and had her dress, but guess what? She didn't want to wear the dress. She wanted to take the damn picture in her jeans and turtleneck. I dropped my need for the dress (swiping a comb across her bangs as she ran toward him) and let her go without making too much of a fuss. She was happy, I have a funny story, and y'know, with the long pink turtleneck and she's standing up, it *almost* looks like a dress :)

If he can't, or is unwilling to *share* I think you have a valid concern. We are all unconscious about some things, it is hard to express our feelings in kind ways, we let things go to make peace. But if he has a pattern of, and a need for being the "right" one, you will never be equals. It means his need to be right is more important than your need to feel heard, valued and a valid contributor to the family. And I don't think I could live like that.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 12:03PM
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I can't help wondering if the "perfectionism" isn't just another word for control issues. He's doing it under the guise of knowing more, wanting things to be perfect, but what he's really trying to do is control how you do things -- to do it the way he wants it done. I'd be concerned, personally.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 2:09PM
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Control issues point towards NPD. Which is what asolo and sweeby were getting at. If it is control, that's never good. And leaving a controlling person doesn't make you crazy (which is whaty you're saying, "Am I crazy/silly/strange for leaving a man who sounds so wonderful?"), it makes you smart. NPDs are all about the outside looking great to the world, but at home, they're a whole nuther person. Not trying to be right, but I do know what you're saying. It could be hard to admit that you want to leave (and my reason would've been because, I had to admit I made a mistake.)

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 4:07PM
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"... It could be hard to admit that you want to leave (and my reason would've been because, I had to admit I made a mistake.)..."

you took the words right out of my mouth Rob.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 4:35PM
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Yep. Been there, Rob333...
How crazy was I to leave a marriage that looked so wonderful?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 5:03PM
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I almost used the word "controlling", too. I agree with Rivkadr - yes, I am concerned that at least some of this is about control. Control and unhealthy ego (meaning either too egotistical or too insecure) - two inter-related and dangerous traits.

And you (chancetogrow) said some things in your most recent post that make the flags go up for me.

>> "maybe I need to do a better job of communicating"
You are accepting responsibility that I don't think is yours. Maybe HE needs to do a better job of listening.

>> "I would sound so ungrateful" (if you shared this with friends.
Again, this sounds to me like you're deferring to your husband again, like you have no right to have frustrations. You DO!

I'm afraid that you are already losing yourself because your husband is (allegedly) Mr. Magnificent. Well, who are you? You must be somebody pretty darned wonderful yourself for someone as great as him to fall in love with you. Don't let him take that away from you and control you or minimize you so that he stays on the pedestal he's built for himself. You are every bit as much a person as he is and, frankly, I suspect that you are the one that he aspires to be, and that his facade is simply that.

Take care of yourself - don't lose yourself.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 6:00PM
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Seems to me quite a bit of piling-on. She did did say he was quite a wonderful fellow except for this annoying trait. I keyed on the interesting NPD thing but I haven't read enough from the OP to get excited yet.

Could be a pattern or trait or habit that's not too difficult to change. I'd be interested to learn what a simple sit-down might accomplish. From her description, he's obviously in-tune with normal social interaction. He knows other people have to breathe. Could be a simple behavior mod that he could understand readily enough.

Don't know. Just uncomfortable with some of the leaps I'm reading.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 6:33PM
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I'm uncomfortable too, Asolo, but will defer to the OP's judgement about whether or not Hubby has a narcissism problem. Either she's right, and he doesn't have a problem with it, or possibly she's wrong, but not ready/able to see it yet. I'm inclined to believe her assessment since she doesn't sound 'beat down' by the situation. (Chance -- If you're wrong, and he IS a narcissist, 'beat down' is exactly what your future looks like. If you feel that happening, get help fast.)

OK - So you said you talked to him about the issues. But it sounded like you talked to him about it during or right after an episode? The time to talk to him is when he's calm and relaxed -- when you both are.

Whenever I talk to my wonderful Hubby about something he's doing that hurts or annoys me, I always start out with What a wonderful and considerate guy he is and how much I love him and appreciate him, and how I know he would never hurt me or annoy me on purpose. (The absolute truth -- Hubby's the kindest man I've ever met.) So I need to let him know that when he did this-specific-thing, my feelings were hurt, and I knew he'd want to know so he could avoid doing that again. (At this point, I reassure him that it's not a BIG thing -- just a little thing that I'd love it if he could remember so we don't have a problem with it down the road.)

It usually takes a few little reminders for things to change 100%, but eventually, they do. Hubby had the hardest time learning to NOT put ice in my drinks! He likes his drinks FULL of ice, and I prefer NO ICE at all. He just felt awful preparing a drink with NO ice because he'd hate it that way; and conversely, I have to fight the urge not to put TOO MUCH ice in Hubby's drinks -- even though to him, there IS no such thing.

Treat your conversation as a 'pre-emptive positive' rather than a 'corrective negative' and you might get better results.

If that doesn't work, haul his heinie into counseling before your self-esteem DOES get eroded to the point where your life is diminished. If he's such a great guy, he should do this for you.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 10:43AM
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You've gotten some great comments and advice above so I'm going to keep my comments very short.

The one word that kept popping into my head as I read your first post was "controlling". I think silversword hit it right on the head when she talked about her child. It's not ABOUT having it done perfectly, it's about the child receiving encouragement AND doing it herself. I've seen parents do EVERYTHING for their kids and I've seen those kids get bored and frustrated and angry. It's not healthy. And that goes for parent to child as well as for spouse to spouse.

The best thing I can recommend is to get counseling. A counselor might say the very same things you've said, and that were said above. But hearing it from the professional sometimes can get the message across when hearing it from the one he's emotionally involved with - you - might not.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 5:57PM
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If every man who has this problem would turn green? The country would look like St. Patrick's Day. It's that common.
I don't know if he has serious control issues or not, but you have to establish boundaries, every couple has a few. TALK with him, use examples, use repetition and find some hobbies or areas of interest totally outside his expertise.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 12:11AM
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I don't think this is a gender-specific problem, NPD exists in both sexes. It's true, though, that men tend to want to 'fix' things rather than just accept something as venting. I suspect it's partly environmental, partly brain structure.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 1:28PM
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Wow, lots of responses to address. Thanks everybody, for taking the time to give me your input.

I agree with the comment that perfectionism can just be another word for controlling. And really taking the time to analyze this whole challenge I'm up against has led me to recall several other examples of times where I've been hurt by this personality trait (flaw!!) Some of them are just so obvious to me, I truly can't believe he doesn't realize the damage he causes!!!!

Ex: When we moved a few months ago, I had been boxing up everything we owned for two days straight. And in the days prior to that, making all the runs to U Haul to get boxes, bubble wrap etc. By Friday, I was exahusted. Only our toobrushes and a few pairs of clothes remained. We could barely walk through our house, because the boxes were stacked so high--that's how steadily I had stayed on task. My back, my legs were so sore from all the leaning down and lifting, my fingers had paper cuts and I felt worn down, unshowered, and just flat out exhausted. (And I'm NOT a housewife---all that was ON TOP of putting in a full week at work.) All I wanted to do was get out of the house and go see a movie to relax and unwind and reward myself. But my husband's sister was in town with her two little kids for the weekend, and my in-town in-laws had already made a reservation for all of us at a restaurant--in an hour! I told my husband I was NOT feeling up to a long night out with everyone, and actually that I was pretty awed by their insensitivy and expectations knowing we were in the process of MOVING. I offered to visit his sister the next day after I had gotten some rest. But no, he wanted to go through with the big dinner, said that "the moving would get done." I told him it was easy for him to say when all he had done while I was breaking my back was make little runs to Lowes or Home Depot, coming back with a roll of tape or a new hammer, etc. (By the way, I hadn't complained at all about him being gone because I knew if he was around, I wouldn't have been putting things in the boxes the right way or I would have been using too much bubble wrap or taping it the wrong way, etc.) Anyway...point being, one of his famous quotes during times like that is "Don't worry, calm down, It will get done." HOWWWWW does he think it will get done if we don't spend time on it? Are all the lamps and paintings and cookware and china supposed to find their way into the boxes themselves??? And WHHHYY is it so hard to tell his family "Look, we can't make dinner tonight, she's been packing for 2 days straight and is totally worn out. I'm gonna take her to the movies so she can relax. We'll see yall tomorrow instead." P.S. We had just seen his sister about a month earlier, so it's not like we hadn't seen her in a year or anything!

Ok...back to the present.

I think, as yall suggested, it's a good suggestion to talk with my husband about all this on a day when we're calm and "an episode" hasn't just happened. Because our most recent talk DID happen that way, and it's always hard to stick directly on topic when recently angered.... Then we just end up on other tangents, and make the situation worse.

I bought a book over the weekend called "Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget." The author (Legato, probably mis-spelling it) sounds very qualified and a lot of her analysis includes scientific backup--about how literally the female brain, female hormones, etc. operate so differently than the male brain, etc. I thought this approach might reach my "smart" husband better than "just another self help book with a woman writing about male vs. female communication." And it IS quite interesting. Talks about how men and women handle stress differently,and gives reasons why. Like how oxytocin and cortisol are produced at faster rates when women get stressed or upset. Enabling us to feel the situation more deeply, and also remember it in greater detail ( No wonder I can still recall our fights over the past year as if they happened yesterday!) And as for why "men never remember" there is lots of info. on the basic "instincts" of how males operate. How they are "wired" so to speak, NOT to remember...going back to the days of men being the hunter gatherers and if they remembered every detail of the last battle, they wouldn't have the bravery to go out there and do it again!

Anyway, after reading a few pages and some of the anecdotes of husbands and wives, I was relating and laughing...and read him a few. We both laughed a little and I think it kind of broke the ice. Hopefully it will lead to some more conversation.

The other day I tried what one of you posted..about praising him for the positive/wonderful things first and then stating the issue that's bothering me next. That seemed to reach him a little bit.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 10:35AM
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When he tries to correct you, how about saying, "Thanks for stating the obvious, Superman, but I got it, and I'm doing OK" with a smile, of course. Or "thanks for the suggestion, Mr Picky. How about when you're cooking, you can use whichever bowl you want, and I won't say a thing". Smile. Or use my husband's line, when I get too close to his action: "don't you have something else to do?"

It's often a wife's job to keep her husband's head from getting too big, so respond lightheartedly, but keep it real. This guy needs to learn boundries. He wouldn't do this to any of his friends, would he?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 2:39PM
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he sounds like my father...my mom got used to it and over the years just ingores it or tell him to shut up. LOL

people don't change.

develop some tactic of tuning him out not listening to him or learn directly tell him to be quiet.

Few days ago my dad called me and asked where i am at, i was at wallmart, he asked what i am buying, i said a new pot. he asked why, i said because my old one of a the same size burned. he said he saw some better deals elsewhere, they have a lot of pots that i could take, i could put that pot on christmas wish list etc etc. so somehow
decision of buying a rather cheap pot was not the best decision ever, like I am buying a car. LOL

i tried to explain that I need specific pot, for this specific prize and that's what iam going to do. mind you i am 43, he is 72, I've been on my own since I was 20 and do not depend on his approval. yet he gave me 15 minute long speech. LOL It used to upset me but no more, it is just funny.

I am not saying you have to put up wiht it, but you have to develop your ways of dealing wiht it. it might get better but he is who he is...

    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 2:05PM
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My standard answer to DH when he is trying to teach me to suck eggs is an old fashioned look and, "Who is robbing this coach, me, you or Ned Kelly?" (Ned Kelly was an Australian outlaw in the late 1800s.) This means, "Butt out, I'm doing this and I don't need your input." It can always escalate to, "Well, if you're so good at this, it can be your job now," but hasn't needed to in I can't recall how long. Don't let him tell you how to do everything. One thing I have learned in life is that no one person can have all the good ideas and no matter how smart I think I am others still have much to teach me. Your DH should be disabused of the notion that he is the world expert on everything as soon as possible.
It took a while but I did eventually teach DH that women vent and men fix and when women vent they don't want men to fix. Now he will actually say, "You don't want me to fix this, do you?" and I'll say No and then he makes sympathetic noises, which is what he knows I do want. You're allowed to be frustrated and to vent.
As for the moving episode, if in those circumstances my DH had said what yours did I would have told him, "Yes, it's getting done because I'm working my a$$ off to get it done while you sit around and do Sweet Fanny Adams. You want to go to the big dinner, fine, but I'm not doing anything but staying here and having a rest. Have fun."
Frankly, I don't think your DH is Mr Wonderful at all, the time he spends belittling you and being insensitive to your needs and feelings cancels out all the good traits in my book. Let him know he has to lift his game or he can spend the rest of his life in lonely prefection while you go off to find someone who appreciates imperfection. (And BTW, I remember reading many many years ago that while Muslims strive to be their best they don't strive for perfection, for only God is perfect and to think that you are is an offence against God. Good philosphy, I think.)

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 9:37AM
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I dont think you are over reacting. You need to feel as an equal in your marriage and it sounds as you are not. You have to get this sorted out before you have children. If you think it is hard now it will be even harder after you have children The biggest influence in a child's life is the same sex parent. You dont want to raise a daughter who will be a door mat or a son who feels men are superior to women. Nip it in the bud now.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 4:22PM
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No matter who you are married to--its always something. I'm an attorney and my husband has developed ways to humorously stop me asking him questions unnecessarily. He'll say "are we practicing for a quiz show?" "Do I need my own attorney?"
You married him because of all those great traits but it can be hard to live with somebody like that unless you develop a strategy that works and promotes the marriage as well. My husband is an all round talent and I'm happy to have him. I have clients whose husbands beat them, don't work, drink, play golf, etc. I didn't want that. So when my husband makes suggestions I try not to turn it into anything else. Since your husband is so successful in his thirties you are lucky he is happy with home activities because there are plenty of women out there who will be happy to tell him how wonderful he is. I am not suggesting you be a doormat but people shine and are talented for a reason--they want to be appreciated. You are in your thirties--you are just beginning a life together, learn to manage these problems --they really are minor compared with what you could be contending with.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 5:08AM
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^ Marge is on the right track. You so want to make yesterday's disagreement or "he did this" thing so huge and its so very, very tiny in the scheme of 50 or 60 years. I know. I was 30 once too.

What I discovered are things like fidelity. Character. Hard work. Provider. They are the things that matter.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 2:57PM
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I disagree. While fidelity, character, hard work and a provider are exellent characteristics in a partner, when they are embodied in a person who needs to micromanage you and continually correct you until you have no self esteem left because you've been convinced you can't do anything "right", that is not a good marriage.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 9:41PM
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I agree Colleen. If this is a trait you can laugh off... he sounds like a great guy otherwise. If it is affecting your self esteem, etc.... not healthy for you.

My DH actually came out and told me how to water plants the other day. ROTL (lawn) LMAO.

My response? I handed him the hose. LOL. He got to water "his" way and I got to do something else (giggling the whole time).

"please don't throw me in the brier patch!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 12:13PM
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