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My wife - she just cannot handle any 'criticism'- big nor small- HELP

(687 Posts)

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Husband99 Wed 03-Jun-15 14:00:53

Things are pretty rough. I just cannot raise anything with my wife without her just getting angry and now I'm stuck to know what to do. It seems I either just shut up- no matter it is- or it will kick off. The former just doesn't seem like a sustainable way to live.

Mostly things that come up are just petty. For example, I hate being late. She is always late when we have to leave for things. That puts me in a grump; I know it does- and need to get perspective- but I also do not think these things are the end of the world. What makes these situations far worse is how she reacts. Then it becomes her angry reaction (that always happens) that we argue about the reaction, and not the tiny thing that initially caused it that becomes long forgotten.

Basically she flips and loses her temper every time I raise even the tiniest issue and things immediately switch and she says that she is the one hard fine by having to deal with this. It just puts me in a position where I cannot raise any issue with her or else she will just flip. She never quietly considers a point, reflects, try's to appreciate where someone else (i.e. me) is coming from. Her instinct is always to just get angry and go on the 'attack'- every time.

I do my best to remain calm in these instances, but she quickly raises her voice and slips into personal insults like calling me a 'prick ' - I'll admit, I resort to saying things back at times. I am not perfect- my patience is not infinite and I know this is damaging to our relationship. To be honest, I do this as I feel bullied. I am forever in these instances saying 'but I am the one whose is upset with something you have done- why are you shouting at me?'. I just don't understand. We do discuss this, but nothing changes.

She doesn't seem to see that she makes things more significant than really need to be by her angry reactions. Because I don't react this way in reverse, she also feels that I raise a lot if things with her and just fails to see that I am not more pedantic, I just am able to listen when things that she raises are said to me. They get quickly forgotten and aren't even remembered because I don't get angry- I take heed and listen. It's just when I am upset or frustrated with something, her reaction is so predictably extreme and aggressive that I think it becomes memorable. There is always an excuse. How I raise things; the things I raise etc - what is consistent is the angry reaction not seeing that I have tried everything. My one option that I feel I have is to just not say anything.

Let me explain how crazy this can be. On occasion, just recently, we were travelling in the car and playing a game to pass the time- 20 questions. My wife got frustrated, thought I was being patronising as she was having difficulty guessing who it was (I know- I cannot believe I am writing this!) and she said 'God you are a wanker'. I was a little stunned and calmly said, 'ok- I don't want to play anymore'. Because we were on a car journey, I couldn’t take time out to get away and collect my thoughts, so I just plugged in my ipod- all calmly. She did say why did I want to listen to my ipod, and I said I didn't want to just sit here in a her moody silence (yes- she got moody with me despite it being her calling me a personal comment) and I just wanted to zone out and relax. No shouting - all very calm. I was upset.

This ended up being a blazing argument - I just don't understand why a moment of reflection doesn't arrive where she calmly, genuinely says sorry and feels sorry for what she did. Instead she gets angry about the fact that I am upset/ annoyed with what she did.

Ultimately I keep saying to her that I am allowed to feel a certain way if things (big or small) happen and I want to be able to share that. I am want to feel like I am allowed to raise things if I feel a certain way, but these see not an attack. There's no need to react like this. I am on her team. But her constant anger is so tiring. I don't respect it. I feel like I have to walk constantly on egg shells and that I am unable to share anything without it being a blazing argument- big or small.

Its horrible.

PlumpingThePartTimeMother Wed 03-Jun-15 14:04:48

I'm sorry, but it doesn't sound like she likes you or respects you.

Do you have children? Because if not I'd leave tomorrow. If you do have children, start planning a divorce because this will be damaging them.

Allstoppedup Wed 03-Jun-15 14:08:44

It sounds awful.

She sounds abusive, getting angry and verbally abusive over virtually nothing. You shouldn't have to walk on eggshells for fear of setting her off and if you can't have a reasonable, calm conversation about how you can both communicate better or how her reactions upset you there isn't much future in the relationship.

I'd seriously question whether you can spend the rest of your life like this.

darkness Wed 03-Jun-15 14:08:58

erm - wow !
So what sort of things do you feel free to raise with her that she is getting angry about
and how often?
also
when someone RESPONDS aggressivly to an action - this is defensive - not attacking behaviour. Attacking is an initiating behaviour.

Allstoppedup Wed 03-Jun-15 14:12:33

I disagree darkness someone can be defensive but still turn a reaction into attacking behaviour.

I've seen my mother get upset/angry at apparent 'attacks' on her and she has come back initially defensive and then been like a dog with a bone and continuing a verbal or even physical assault for hour hours afterwards. Some people have a hair trigger and will take any opportunity to react.

flipflapsflop Wed 03-Jun-15 14:14:29

its probably more deep routed than she doesn't like you.

the whole always being late thing is indicative of a lack of empathy with others. we are all of us sometimes late, but always (I assume you mean more than 50% of the time) is just plain bad manners. the reaction, as a criticism, implies very poor self esteem.

going head to head with this, and responding to anger with anger, whilst sort of understandable, won't help.

you can control your reaction, so please start with not engaging with slanging matches.

and don't resort to silence. clear boundaries are required. don't deny your own needs to accommodate her. immediately, you need to build 30 mins extra in to any deadline to mitigate that source of conflict.

the 20 ques thing, I don't now how you deal with that. but please try to be kind to her, she has problems and there is no quick fix.

NewTwenty Wed 03-Jun-15 14:14:55

It sounds as if you are both trapped in an unhealthy pattern of communication. Her use of personal insults is pretty poor.

But do you really need to raise some of the things you do? It can leave someone feeling very 'got at'.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 03-Jun-15 14:17:00

Do you have kids?
If not then life is too short to put up with this shit.

darkness Wed 03-Jun-15 14:18:51

Hmmmm
Withdrawing behavoiur (car)
Failing to believe his wife has the same rights to her emotions he does ( last paragraph)
Claiming he listens to her complaints and acts on them - except when he dosnt and calls her names (4th paragraph)
and thats just 3 examples of controlling / dismissive behaviour

actually - I think defensive is right.

Spell99 Wed 03-Jun-15 14:21:47

She is abusive, LTB.

Husband99 Wed 03-Jun-15 14:23:29

So no children as yet.

Melonfool Wed 03-Jun-15 14:24:39

Do you give her positive feedback too?

I can't help thinking this has built up from some long history and it's going to be hard to change.

Joysmum Wed 03-Jun-15 14:26:50

The biggest question for me is:-

Is she like this only with you? Can she control herself around others?

adarkwhisperinthewoodwasheard Wed 03-Jun-15 14:27:13

Your description of your wife could have been me a year ago (except the personal insults). It was a combination of low self esteem, being deeply unhappy in my marriage, and also married to someone who was generally judgemental/critical about everyone and everything, and quite arrogant. Because of that I took every little request and comment as a personal attack, any compliment as patronising. In my case I stepped back and realised I was frustrated and unfulfilled and we are now separated. We are actually better friends now and better parents to our children as we're not so angry all the time.

It might be worthwhile looking at how you deliver things and sitting down to talk when you're both calm and rational. If you want to stay together you're going to have to change the way you communicate. If, deep down you don't then leaving is probably best

theworkofsatan Wed 03-Jun-15 14:27:52

I used to be with someone like this and it is horrible.

It might not sound like much to someone who hasn't experienced it but it's soul destroying. The constant walking on eggshells, the fact that it is never the right time/tone of voice/phrased in the right way when you bring things up. Any hint of criticism is met with anger and rage which is completely disproportionate to what you have said. For example you could say something completely innocuous and the response is a massive blow up and then a week of being completely ignored.

All of this is designed to keep you in your place and to stop you having any say in your own life. Ruling by fear basically.

OP this will not change. Only you can decide how you are going to deal with it but you have my sympathies.

Husband99 Wed 03-Jun-15 14:28:52

Darkness- I am not certain whether defensive or attacking is crucial as a description- I just want to be able to share a frustration, niggle or even a big matter like adults and not it always resort to a raised voice, verbal abuse etc

missqwerty Wed 03-Jun-15 14:30:42

I think you fail to see your behaviour in this too. Putting your head phones on and blocking somebody out is very rude, like a passive aggressive way of punishing her because you feel sad. Counselling for you both might be a good idea

FenellaFellorick Wed 03-Jun-15 14:33:19

I used to respond very aggressively to any hint of criticism. Or anything that my mind could possibly twist into any sort of criticism!
In my case it was cripplingly low self esteem. A difficult life. Years of having been bullied (as a child. Ending with me trying to kill myself) I hated myself and I thought everyone hated me. I'd spent so many years being a victim that I flipped and attacked everyone so that I'd never be anyone's victim again.
It took another 10 years to rebalance and become more assertive and more able to listen and to not be hyper sensitive.
I am off on the school run in a bit but later if you are interested or if you think it might be useful I could tell you some of the ways that it was helpful to communicate with me so that I didn't feel attacked.
I was able to analyse my behaviour and explain why I felt attacked and tell my husband what I needed. That was the breakthrough.

You should also be honest with yourself about how you communicate. How you could change the way you communicate in order to get the outcome you both want.

MorrisZapp Wed 03-Jun-15 14:36:34

Really, missqwerty? If your DH called you a wanker in the car you'd continue being polite and chatty? Fuck that. I'd be putting my headphones or or metaphorical equivalent.

Odd to suggest the OP needs counselling for being annoyed at being called a wanker during twenty questions game.

madwomanbackintheattic Wed 03-Jun-15 14:37:01

But you haven't answered the question about what issues you are 'calmly rationally raising for discussion' which is triggering the defensive responses.

If it is 'why haven't you made the beds? Done the Dishes? Called my mother? Picked up my suit from the dry cleaner? Bought me favourite soup?', then my response would be very different.

Are you relentlessly nitpicking about things that you could have (should have?) done in a more equal relationship? Or is it the more petty 'you left the towel on the bathroom floor again' type of irritating moaning?

To be clear, I absolutely share your wife's characteristics. I hate criticism, whether warranted or not.

also to be clear, it seems that you also share my husband's characteristics, of also not taking criticism.

In a relationship where both of you are always right, and neither of you are ever wrong, you do need to actually get that realisation, laugh about it, and move on with the rest of your lives.

And if you were patronising me in a car, I had objected, and then you had put your ear plugs in - for the record - I would have got out of the fucking car and walked off. 'I don't want to play any more'. Are you 8 years old?

Husband99 Wed 03-Jun-15 14:37:32

I don't know about that, missquerty- I do see what I do; I appreciate that plugging my ipod in takes me out of the situation- it is a withdrawal, but she gets so annoyed there (at least feels) like there is nothing I can do in these scenarios except act totally normally- which I do- but doesn't his condone???

Wanting to zone out with my ipod was simply about self preservation in a circumstance where I have no other option (we were driving- we had to get to the destination- I was just called a wanker for no reason and felt shit about it). It wasn't an aggressive 'tit-for-tat' act at all. I was just gutted.

plantsitter Wed 03-Jun-15 14:39:56

It's so difficult to judge this kind of thing when you hear only one side, but it sounds like the main problem is that you approach conflict differently. For example I can imagine saying 'God you are a wanker' to DH in similar circs if I thought he was being patronising, but I wouldn't expect him to be properly upset about it as we both use hyperbole a lot. I'm not saying either of you are wrong, but if you want to stay together it sounds like you need professional help because otherwise whenever either of you tries to raise issues one or the other will become v defensive in your different ways - she explodes, you withdraw.

ImperialBlether Wed 03-Jun-15 14:42:32

I couldn't live like that. I would feel the other person didn't like me, didn't respect me and was two faced as he/she could communicate perfectly well with other people yet went from 0-60 with me and expected me to put up with it.

Love, honour, cherish - where is all that in this relationship?

Can you see advantages to getting out and being on your own for a while?

pictish Wed 03-Jun-15 14:44:15

I couldn't live with an angry person. I've done it, so I know. Who wants to share their life with someone full of contempt, anger, disrespect and vitriol?
Walking on eggshells is miserable and diminishing. Constant negativity is draining. Casual rudeness is soul destroying. Frequent arguments are exhausting.

You've no kids. That's something. Go...go find someone who can behave and with whom you will be happy.

Husband99 Wed 03-Jun-15 14:45:48

Madwoman- I wasn't patronizing in the car- whether she interpreted me as such is of course different- nevertheless- we were playing 20 questions! Feeling patronised during a game of 20 questions surely doesn't justify calling soeone a wanker, right? As you say- we are not 8!; why would you have got out re: the ipod? If you had just called me a wanker, wouldn't you have the epiphany that that was a bit out of order? That's what I see as our problem (aside form perhaps things that sit beneath all of this)- that calm moment of knowing she had massively overreacted just doesn't arrive and it becomes a horrible spiral.

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