Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I don’t know what the deal is. For the last few weeks, my wife of ten years and I have been at each other constantly. She seems to take every single thing I say as if it’s some sort of dig at her. I can say, “yeah, me too,” and she will turn on me and yell “stop competing with me, I’m trying to tell you how I feel!” then stomp off in a huff. It seems like every word I say is interpreted as me “dissing her.”
Last night, she told me I had no respect for her when I “gave her a look” after I apparently answered a question the wrong way. She slept on the couch. I have no idea what kind of a look I gave her.
What is going on here???!!! I am being very careful of my words and I know I am not saying anything inflammatory.
But this is irritating me so me so much I just want to walk off myself.
In long term relationships there is a phenomenon whereas, over time, a couple just starts to annoy each other. The cause of this is often tone of voice. One person starts complaining about the tone of the other but ignores their own tone. They feel their own words are not inflammatory then feel justified in their annoyance with the other: “I did nothing wrong…it is THEM.” Both partners can be doing this at the same time.
This phenomena is easier to see if we observe it in another couple, but in our own lives we are often so busy and overwhelmed it’s easy to miss. It takes time and patience to step outside what is going on in the moment and see the bigger picture. Unrelated outside factors can spill over into the relationship if the couple hasn’t had time to process or talk about what’s really bothering them. That annoyed tone begins creeping in and BAM! The inferno is lit. Both are too caught up in their own issues and begin to react instinctively and blame the other without thinking.
Take a moment to ask your partner what is going on. “I am not any more annoying than usual but it seems to be bothering you more right now. Is there something on your mind that has been bothering you? Did something happen?”
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: it is always easier to see the truth of a situation if you can step back and be an impartial observer. Unfortunately, nobody is impartial about their own agenda. Not only don’t they see what is right in front of them…they are also listening to the emotions and involvements inside their own heads. As a result, all sorts of extra baggage gets dragged into the mix.
If a person could take a step back and observe their own life as if it were a civilization that happened five thousand years ago, it would be obvious what was really going on. But this is impossible when someone is right in your face. Sometimes if things are getting heated between partners, a little distance is more effective than thrashing it out. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Familiarity breeds bickering.