I cannot win for losing....

nicksmomDecember 1, 2008

So, out of the blue tonight my husband says, "I've been thinking maybe we should go to counseling".

HUH? Wha? Where did that come from?

It could be that I asked him to open a bottle that he put the lid on so tight (AGAIN!!!). When I asked him if he could open it, he asks me "Did I put this on here?" Well, since nobody else in this house is old enough for gin & tonic, and you and I are the only ones that make them, and I certainly couldn't put the damn thing on this tight...I'd guess YES!...you are the one who put it on so tight. I am, of course, accused of "always having something to complain about". Ohhhh-kaaaay...whatever.

Then, "maybe we need counseling".

Fact is, I cannot win for losing. If I ask for something (to be done, to be purchased, to be fixed, etc....) and do not give EXACT, SPECIFIC details/requests/instructions, I can be SURE that it will be half-done, incomplete, inaccurate. Then, if I correct/fix/request completion, I'm "never happy", or "nagging" or "complaining".

So, I should just give specific requests, right?


Then, I'm condescending/biotchy/snotty.

And if I don't share his viewpoint or opinion, I'm contradictory, contrary, clueless....blah, blah, blah.

I just don't get it.

I am not particularly strongly opinionated about much. I'm not highly political, religious, etc. I spend most of my professional life listening to other's lives, opinions, etc. I think I'm the same way at home. I really think everyone is entitled to their opinion and it's ok to speak it at home.

He says he wishes I could hear my tone of voice. I'll admit, I don't feel the need to coddle a nearly 50-year-old man. I feel like I should be able to say what needs to be said, without walking on eggshells, etc. I will also admit that when someone (like my husband) asks me a stupid question (ie, one he already knows the answer to), I'm certain I get the "duh" look on my face. But seriously, life is way to short to be cluttered up with such silliness...really.

Just a rant I guess...he throws "counseling" out there, and huffs off to bed. Ugh! Maybe he has PMS, like our 15yr old!

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Well I think it is a good suggestion, can't hurt can it ? You could be heard by and independent party and so can he.

Everyone benefits.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 2:04AM
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Sounds like it would be a good idea!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 7:54AM
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I hear ya! You sound badgered to me (by someone looking to find wrong things!). Been there done that (I've also been with kind people who don't do this, luckily). Tone of voice my arse. First time around it's probably kind and finem, however, it's the next sixty times it does get less than coddling. Phooey on him! Feel free to rant. Let's just hope he understands (and here's where counseling will help benefit you) he plays a part in the scene by igorning you and treating you like your opinion and wants don't matter. They'd get that through to him. You'd feel heard then, right?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 8:53AM
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You've been put through the wringer lately, haven't you. Between fighting BM (on behalf of DH!) for SD and the accident with your dog (that thread got pulled before I could finish reading it, but I could guess where it was going), this seems like icing on the cake.

Go to a counselor. You are entitled to some venting.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:43AM
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Maybe you hit it on the head. Maybe we're both a bit over the edge. It was a long, tenuous custody thing. And yes, our dog getting hit was awful. Luckily, she's recovering fairly well...so far at over $2000, but she's alive and recouping!

It's just that he sees me as inflexible, and thinks I see him in the same light. Neither of which are true, IMHO.
I think he's a bit intolerant (of other's opinions, etc), but not inflexible. He's helpful at home (with laundry, cooking, etc), but expects praise for everything...even the mundane daily grind stuff (dishes, laundry, cooking, etc.). He's generally open to pretty much anything for dinner...eating in or going out, fish, chicken, whatever. He doesn't care who picks up kids, or who takes them places. So, I wouldn't say he's inflexible...and I never have said that. So, I'm not sure where he gets that.

He told me he thinks I am inflexible, but couldn't give me any concrete examples. For the record, I think I'm one of the more laid-back, flexible people either one of us know, work with or are friends with. Not only is he a high school teacher, but also plays in a very busy, up-and-coming band. They practice 1 or 2 nights a week, play most weekends (both Fri & Sat), and are on the road every couple months to Nashville to play, record and network. In addition, he announces hockey games 1 night a week. So, if you're trying to do the math, he's gone 4 or 5 nights a week. I NEVER complain, biotch or nag him about it. I know plenty of women who wouldn't be quite that flexible.

Not sure where he'd fit any counseling in anyways...

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 7:48PM
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Hey Nicksmom --

My husband said something like that to me once. Totally out-of-the-blue rant and vent. A laundry list - long one! I was really hurt and confused. Like you, I asked him for some specifics, which he couldn't provide. Then I told him I was very sorry for hurting his feelings, that I loved him, and that I hoped we could talk about it again after he had calmed down and could give me specifics. We ended up giving each other a little extra space for a day or two, then he apologized and said he was just having a really hard day and didn't mean a word of it. I just said that if there were things I did that did bug him, to please tell me before he reached the boiling point about it because it wasn't on purpose. That was a few years ago, and he's never had anything but minor (valid) complaints since, and we're still very happily married.

I'd give him a few days to process, then ask if he really meant what he said and if he thinks counseling would be a good idea. If he did mean it, then counseling would be a good idea. But if not, that'll give him a chance to acknowledge and apologize and get you both back on track. (Though knowing you, you've probably already done something like this...)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 10:09AM
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As usual, you are the voice of reason. And you know, come to think of it, he had had a bad day. He never gets sick, but had been feeling a little puny for a few days...nothing major, just a little "off"...upset stomach, slight headache. Monday morning he got up and felt awful...didn't even go to work, which is unheard of for him. By evening he felt much better, but maybe his "loss of common sense" was just an accumulation of all we've been through and him not feeling well.

Of course, he seems fine now...like nothing ever happened. I'm still a bit miffed...and perplexed. And he hasn't apologized for being a twit. So, I'll give him another day or so, and if he can't come to his senses, I may have to prod him in the right direction. But an apology loses some of it's luster if one must ask for it.

And I'm not opposed to counseling. I just don't see the need for it, personally. But if he felt strongly that it was necessary, I'd go.

I guess the bigger question/point here is: How do I handle the fact that he thinks I'm nagging if I simply ask him to do something? Generally, he does plenty of the day to day stuff. But when we have company coming over, or the housekeeper coming, some extra stuff needs to be done....and that seems to be a problem spot. Again, if I ask for something to be done without giving specifics, I'm too vague. If I give specifics, I'm nagging. How do I balance that?

Thanks once again for your sage words of wisdom, sweeby!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 9:19PM
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Maybe have a conversation and settle exactly what constitutes nagging. He may concede that you have a right to ask him to do something just once and to give specifics at that time. You can keep to that by writing it out, showing the note to him, and posting it on a bulletin board, if you have one, or the fridge. It may continue to do the nagging for you, if he looks at it.

After that, it's up to him. You may have to give up on a chore, sometimes, but you will at least have expressed your wishes.

It might also help to tell him a few things that need to be done before company comes and let him choose which ones will be his. However, experience has taught me that even if I give specifics, things do not always get done in a way that completely suits me, but I have come to chalk that up to the difference in the way men and women think. Sigh. I entirely agree that it is maddening, but I really think that their minds work differently. With some men, a sort of mulish passive-aggressive resistance to being told what to do by a woman may also be at work.

But to get something done imperfectly (from our point of view) is still preferable to not getting the help at all, don't you think? Sometimes I still have to fight to hold myself back from complaining the way DH does something. If I can point it out humorously, sometimes I do that, but more often, I just leave it as it, or fix it myself. I think it is true that the more we fuss, the less inclined a man is to do anything.

I completely agree with you about how maddening it is to have something not done completely or not done right, though!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 10:41PM
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I've been through this type of 'nonsense' before. It's aggravating, to say the least. It sounds to me like passive-aggressive behaviour but I don't know why he would be acting this way. Do you suspect anything else? I'm just remembering things the way they were for me.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 10:05AM
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Nicksmom, honestly, what I get from your post is that you are angry. Perhaps this is why he mentioned going to counseling. Perhaps you are angry because of your perception of things he does. In the end, if you are angry, you will have a "tone", (I can hear it in your post), you will be sarcastic. Im not saying he's an angel, its probably both of you. Counseling can't hurt.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 8:18AM
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I agree with Linda. You do sound angry and condescending, and nobody likes to be treated like that. I doubt the idea of counselling was out of the blue either. He might even be waiting for that comment to sink in and for you to ask him why he thinks that way. Why would you ask him for an apology for suggesting counselling? Sounds like there is a problem and he's looking for a way to solve it.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 10:04AM
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I'm not angry...more annoyed. And not that he suggested counseling. I'm annoyed that he suggested that I am inflexible!

And I am sarcastic by nature...most assuredly! And I know that I often have a sarcastic tone of voice. But not always. And not then.

And he really isn't much of a problem solver, as a rule. He huffs & puffs around the house for a few days...does the silent treatment thing...then he feels better. I think that's the way he was raised. His parents never addressed anything head-on. I, on the other hand, would rather just say what needs to be said, and get on with life. No reason to drag something out for days on end. But confrontation isn't his strong suit. And that's ok. I can live with it. It's just annoying...and time consuming...and perplexing, at times.

And again, I'm not opposed to counseling. I'd go, even if I didn't feel like it was necessary. If it was important to him, I'd go. But like I said before, he's gone 5 nights a week. Not sure when he'd fit that in.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 10:44AM
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Is the relationship and marriage solid, and you guys just need to tweak communication and reactions, change your dance?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:04PM
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Yeah...I think so. I think it's been a rough few months with extraneous stuff, and maybe we're both just a bit on edge. We are rock solid partners and parents.

You may have just hit it on the nose...we need a "tune up", of sorts. Or a tweak, here and there.

It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle that is life, that we lose sight of the bigger stuff. And it's so easy to fall into the habit of "keeping score", isn't it? But when you put it so simply, you are right. Our marriage is solid. Sure, we have our little issues here and there, but all-in-all, it's a good life. I guess maybe these little annoyances must come along every now and then to make us step back and take stock.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:24PM
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i think if he feels this way, then his feelings should be validated. maybe his feelings are irrational but he feels it and it is important. as about tone of voice, of course, maybe he exagerrates, but it is very important how you say it, not only what you say. i think that all of us can speak to people a bit softer, a bit gentler etc. sarcasm and eye rolling etc although is OK at times but it can hurt, it builds up a little by little.

from what I could see in a stepfamily forum you sometimes come across as angry, sometimes condescending and rather rough type of woman, not a gentle type. maybe he feels it on a daily basis and he does not like to be treated this way. public forum is anonymous and what do we care, we turn off the Internet and go about our busines but he cannot turn off his family life, he sees it every day. it didn't come out of the blue, maybe he felt your harshness for a long time. if he suggests counselling, you should go wiht it before it builds up even more in him. especially if he is not a problem solving type, if he suggests counselling it is pretty serious for him.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 8:55AM
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well said finedreams. For a man to suggest counseling, well I imagine it is a rare thing indeed. Nicksmom...re-read finedreams post, and then read it again. Can you then just ponder if there is any truth that you need to hear within her words?

I am finding we are all so quick to dismiss (or defend) "our stuff" - and I find few people who have the guts to really listen, hear, and ponder what they perhaps need to really "hear" and to learn from. It seems instead that we all want to "justify" what we do, or explain it away, instead of stopping and really listening to how someone else perceives what we are doing. And to consider how we come off to others, and do we really get it, and are we willing to really hear, and use it as a road to change and growth?

It seems to me that few people have the guts to simply listen without defending, justifying, making excuses for, finger pointing, (or becoming angry at the person who said something) etc., - to simply stop and listen. And to ponder whether there is any truth in the words, and are they willing to make a conscious effort to change habits or behavior that perhaps needs to change.

When you come across someone who is willing to do this...I think it is impressive.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:16AM
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"It seems to me that few people have the guts to simply listen without defending, justifying, making excuses for, finger pointing, (or becoming angry at the person who said something) etc., - to simply stop and listen. And to ponder whether there is any truth in the words, and are they willing to make a conscious effort to change habits or behavior that perhaps needs to change. When you come across someone who is willing to do this...I think it is impressive."

Well said, bnicebkind. This is where I am right now, and I will freely admit that I don't have the guts, because I'm trying to figure out if there is any truth to the words being told to me, or if I'm being manipulated.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:24AM
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men usually don't like confrontation so they usually say nothing to women, they build it up, but then it all explodes.

so if man keeps quiet it does not mean nothing bothers him, he might just avoid an argument especially if a woman is an argumentative type.

there are other things that men do to let women know when something is not right. if they don't want to spend that much time at home and find number of activities to do at night, it is not a good sign. it actually is the first sign that man would rather be somewhere else. it is great to have activities outside the home and we all need it, but when it goes to extreme it is a bad sign. 5 nights a week and then on the weekends not to be home is a lot and I wonder if it is his way to let you know there is a problem.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:59AM
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Again, I agree finedreams. Who wants to have conflict, especially with a spouse that may be far better at arguing. If he avoids conflict, it may not be because there isn't conflict...but perhaps he just doesn't want to get into it...again.

Pay attention to the "subtle" signs men give off. Or the subtle backhand comments. They may tell far more than you realize about what your husband is "really" thinking or feeling.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:20PM
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"Who wants to have conflict, especially with a spouse that may be far better at arguing. If he avoids conflict, it may not be because there isn't conflict...but perhaps he just doesn't want to get into it...again".

Reverse the genders in the above sentence, and you have my situation.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:43PM
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I don't particularly care to argue...neither of us do, really. However, when a situation arises, I definitely tend to say what needs to be said, deal with it and get on with life. I don't dwell on things and let them continue to fester. He does...usually. Not that either method of dealing is better...just different methods, likely learned by our parents.

I certainly don't think I'm "an angry person or a rough woman". Do I speak my mind? Yes, indeed. Do I lean a bit toward sarcasm (which may be perceived as consdescending)? Yep. I don't think either of those things make a person "angry" or "rough". Just not a doormat. I do agree with you though, that if he feels that counselling is necessary, I will most certainly go. In reality, I think he spoke out of anger or frustration...which is typical.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 6:33PM
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Can totally relate-my ex was the same way. If I didn't call on the way home from work, he'd yell because I didn't call. The next day I call and wake him from his nap and get yelled at for waking him up. Just one example of how I couldn't do anything right. I couldn't even slice butter without him showing me how to do it correctly! We didn't do the counseling thing...Can't hurt if he is willing. Best of luck!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:16PM
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