Relationship Connection: My wife won’t get off of my case

Question

I gotta admit I’m probably not the ideal husband – at least that’s the message I get from my wife of 10 years. I’m trying to break some bad habits and she is more than happy to help me do it. The thing is, her help doesn’t help me – it just makes me feel like I’ll never get it right. I’m really not helpless but the more she steps in and tells me what to do, or does things for me, the more I don’t care. I need to lose about 20 pounds, I don’t need her to embarrass me in front of people swapping out food on my plate with a pile of broccoli. I have slipped and had a few sodas when we were at a party, but when I hear her making excuses for me it just makes me want to grab the nearest coke and guzzle it in front of her. OK, there are other things – we were at a thing last week and my boss was there; I’ve been kinda pissed off at my boss riding me all the time. What does the wife do? She goes into a big old story about how I need to be reminded to help around the house, to call my mother, and that the key to getting me to do things is to push me. Yeah, that makes me want to bring her to the next company picnic. Am I wrong to want to tell her to get the heck off my back? P.S. I was single for a good 5 years before we got married, I thought I did OK managing my life then, I thought she thought so too or why would she have married me?

Answer

It’s time to talk to your wife instead of passively complaining about her micromanagement of your life. You’re not a victim and complaining about it silently or to anyone else other than her won’t do a thing for your situation.

I’m sure it’s not going to be an easy conversation. According to your explanation, she really believes she’s helping you by pointing out the things you need to change. It’s likely she’ll feel defensive about your irritation with her efforts to reform you.

You’ve probably spent the past ten years trying to prove to her that she can’t change you and, likewise, she’s spent the past ten years proving you’ve got problems. If you want to break out of this cycle, you might acknowledge to her that you understand she has legitimate concerns about your health, family patterns, and lack of initiative. You can explain to her that you want to get out of this unhealthy pattern of her picking on you and you feeling like a victim.

I recommend you own the fact that you often dismiss her concerns to the point where she doesn’t feel understood. You can also explain that when she brings things up this way, it’s very difficult for you to take her concerns seriously.

Most couples get stuck in a self-reinforcing pattern that creates more distance between them, even though their intention is to create peace. She comes toward you with her complaints to make things smoother in her life, and you ignore her to make her go away so you can have peace.

She needs to know that you take her concerns and you need to know she’ll respect you. I’m a big fan of Sue Johnson’s book “Hold Me Tight,” which includes some excellent exercises to help couples break these negative self-reinforcing patterns that keep them stuck.

You can do something about this annoying pattern between you guys. Pick up a copy of Dr. Johnson’s book and show yourself and your wife that you’re serious about making this relationship better instead of just passively complaining about it.

Stay connected!

 

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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11 Comments

  • JOSH DALTON September 4, 2013 at 9:36 am

    MY WIFE IS AWESOME! When she nags me its because I deserve it. I’m not kissing up, she does not even read STGNEWS.

  • Kolby Traveller September 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Nice advice! I like how it just starts by saying: “Quit complaining”

  • Craig September 4, 2013 at 11:16 am

    You’re a complainer, whiner and a wimp.You belong on Oprah or Dr. Phil.

  • Maggie September 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

    The wife and the boss both ride him? Ummmmmmm, perhaps a he really does have a problem. Maybe he needs a Franklin/Covey course in priorities and planning . Many people just do not set priorities or plan and life becomes very cluttered for them and the people around them.

  • Image Freak September 4, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Is she really concerned about just your looks and image? Does she have fake boobs? Tell her some of her clothes make her butt look fat. That ought to get her off your butt.

  • Discussion September 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Obviously a communication problem. Try using the language in this video and see if that helps:
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/video/andrewgauthier/the-worst-words-in-the-english-language

  • Better Idea September 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Find your balls and dump her. You don’t need her, and you will never change her. Let her find somebody else to nag to death. And if your boss doesn’t get off your butt, dump him as well.
    Life is too short to let small minded people push you around. Of course you have faults, we all do, (well, except for me of course.) So what? Be your own man.

  • eternaloptimism September 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Oh I am sooo a wife who does that… bad habits, especially when you have kids that need direction and attention like that. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that my husband isn’t my child and that while I think I’m helping, it’s driving him NUTS! It took a very hard conversation for me to see that, but when it’s all out on the table, it’s so much easier to deal with and resolution can be found on both sides.

  • DoubleTap September 5, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Everything was fine for the misus and me for the last 7 years. Well…almost everything. She would complain about not have nicer and newer vehicles to drive. She complained that she just had to have a brand spankin’ new BMW. I guess the 2004 VW Jetta just didn’t so it for her anymore. I really liked the gas economy of that Jetta. Nag about the “slowness” of the Jetta, the passenger side rear window would not roll down from the control panel on the driver door, the sunroof would only open half way, on and on it went. Finally I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I did what any reasonable husband would do. I got a brand new Ford F-250 for my wife….Good trade huh?

    • Betty September 6, 2013 at 8:47 am

      bahahahaha!! Now that is FUNNY! That’s the kind of man every women needs – confident and decisive! You go DT, you command your ship. You could teach these weenie “men” how to be the man of the house. Step up, be the leader and take NO crap from your wife or boss. Maybe you should offer a class at DSC. Heck, the catalog from DSC has a ukulele class, surely they could offer a “be-a-man” class.

  • Mom of 2 September 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post. We all have situations similar to this in our relationships. My problem is I either nag my hubby or I don’t say anything and am mad anyways. I tell myself everyday there are things I need to fix, so lets work on me before I start working on him, because after all, I really love that guy…We have had a couple of long conversations together about things we need to change. It is really fun to look back a few yrs later to see that we both worked at it together. I think that’s why we are supposed to be in it to win it in our relationships.

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