Dear WholeFamily Counselor,
I feel like I am going to go crazy! I teach engineering in college and I am a training officer in law-enforcement. I am a combat veteran, saw lots of action and was listed as killed in action for few days. I have traveled extensively and been through lots, then met my wife and fell in love with her.
My problem is friends and family and my wife's tantrums when they're around. If I have a friend over she will make an issue out of it. I have had friends drive all the way from Georgia and she made excuses why they could not come to the farm or we could not meet them.
If my Dad and Mom come to visit, as they did this last weekend for the first time in nearly two years, there was a mood before they came and a tantrum after they left. She said it was because it put her out and I did not do enough. I purchased food, I cleaned some, I did some dishes, carried garbage, made several special trips for the visit, and helped with entertaining. If my parents want to play cards it is "mood time" and she has even refused to play. If her Dad and family want to play cards it is great and there are several conversations to plan and prepare.
I am not a slob, I pick up after myself, I help in every way I can. I try to think of little things to please her from ordering flowers delivered to her office the 1st of every month, to unexpected notes and cards. I fix for myself during the week when my shortest days are 14 hours. I can cook, wash, iron, and can be very self-sufficient.
I got into pro-rodeo calf and steer roping as a hobby for a while but every time I had a show it was feuding time until it just became miserable. I got into competitive body building and before every show it became a fuss and I was a nervous wreck over the feuding. I bought a motorcycle and rode with my best friend and I got into collecting pistols and firearms for my work and competition.
Every single thing I have done is a problem at some point. I work hard and play hard and it does not seem to matter what it is, she will bring it up in a fuss at some point. Inevitably I can not bring home my problems and begin to talk them out because her day and problems will have been worse. Any pain and suffering I feel was and is worse for her at some point in her life.
I am at a point where I want to cash in my chips and drive off into the sunset and to hell with it all!
Dear To Hell With It All,
Before you cash in your chips and ride off into the sunset, let's look at some ways that you can possibly change this situation.
It seems to you that every time you want to pursue a hobby or activity, she feels resentful. You feel like you deserve a break without her complaining and nagging you about it. I hear your pain and frustration. It seems to you that even though you do nice things for her it never is enough. You've convinced yourself that this is all about her but, as with any couple, it's really about the patterns of behavior that the two of you have gotten locked into.
You've convinced yourself that this is all about her but, as with any couple, it's really about the patterns of behavior that two of you have gotten locked into.
You feel powerless right now and I bet that she feels that way too. She might be feeling that she can only get your attention by making a fuss. When was the last time that the two of you sat down and had a real conversation about your marriage? And I mean a conversation. That means no yelling, no blaming, just a lot of "I" statements instead of "you" statements. For example, she might say "I feel really lonely when you're off with your buddies" instead of "You always go out with your friends without ever thinking about me".
I don't know how long the two of you have been married but it seems that each of you has so much resentment built up that it's almost impossible to approach a topic without a lot of old baggage being dragged into the discussion. You two need a referee. You're going to need help in getting through the anger and frustration that you're both feeling. I suggest that you get yourselves into marital counseling right away. To find a therapist you can ask your family physician for a recommendation or call your local psychological association for a list of referrals.
Now here's the good news! Neither of you has called it quits yet because you still feel passionately connected to each other. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. You two are anything but indifferent to each other! Find a way to take that energy and use it to express your love and commitment to each other. It's still there but it will require each of you to take responsibility for your own behavior and actions.
Dr. Louise Klein