Adapted from a recent online discussion.
He's too touchy with his touchy-feely wife
Is it verbal abuse?: My husband is not as touchy-feely as I am. Sometimes when I initiate touch, he will snap at me angrily, saying something like, "Stop it! Get off me!" Afterward he is always very remorseful that he hurt my feelings and promises to do better in the future.
No amount of talking has solved this issue. His irritation is not restricted to certain behaviors I could just avoid. It might have been fine to have my hand on his leg an hour ago, but when I do it again he snaps at me. It's been frustrating and hurtful. Touch is really important to me, and he won't initiate it, so I have to risk getting my head bitten off or do without.
I'm at a loss for what to do to change this situation, but I cannot continue the way things are.
Carolyn: The two most important questions to answer are whether his reactions are voluntary or involuntary, and whether you're both willing and able to accommodate each other's needs.
In other words: Oh my goodness you two need therapy. Together and apart.
A little butting in may be called for, a very little
Anonymous: Should I say something or butt out?
My brother is in a long-term, committed relationship with a lovely woman. They haven't chosen to get married, mostly because my brother is afraid it would ruin their relationship — she would rather be married.
Now there is the possibility of his relocating for work to a place where his S.O. could not work (long story) — he is hoping she will come with him and hang out, pursue her interests, etc. This would likely be for a few years.
I think that if he's going to ask her to do this — which is in some ways a sacrifice for him, taking on supporting her financially, but is a HUGE risk for her — it ought to impact the "do we get married" decision, because of the additional financial security marriage would provide her.
I'm not sure he has considered this from her point of view. Should I start a conversation with him about it? I suspect his girlfriend would hesitate to bring up marriage again.
Carolyn: Next time he talks to you about this, by all means, say, "If you're going to ask her to give up her entire safety net for you, then I think it's only fair that you give her the safety net of marriage in return." We each get to speak up once to people close to us, especially when they invite us in by discussing their plans.
Not for nuffin, though. It is her job to say something to protect herself; she is an adult and knows her relationship better than you do. If she hesitates to stand up for herself because she's afraid she might scare him off, then that's her big mistake.
In fact, the only reason this answer isn't a blanket "Butt out" is that I believe it's okay, and often important, for the inner circle to butt in occasionally to call a loved one on something, especially on thoughtless behavior. They just have to choose their moments judiciously and take care not to harp. Butting in is useful in inverse proportion to the amount of butting in you do.