Thursday, May 24, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Man needs to break cycle of wife's harmful one-uppings

Man needs to break cycle of wife's harmful one-uppings

Q: So my wife is a one-upper, and after 30-plus years of marriage, it is really getting to me. And I know for a fact that we lost a close friendship of a couple over this issue — I'm still friends with the husband — and it's been brought up by other friends, too. (No, I do not solicit complaints.)

I don't want to be the corrector, but it's gotten like fingernails on a blackboard to me. She gets very defensive about it when I do, and I'm sure I leave something to be desired in the diplomacy area.

A Hot Place

A: The facts you provide are tips of icebergs. Your wife is a one-upper and defensive when challenged (tip), which says she's a deeply insecure woman (iceberg). Friends have complained to you about her (tip) even though you haven't solicited such complaints (tip), which says your receptiveness to third-party wife-bashing is apparent in other ways (iceberg). You are long married (tip) and beyond diplomacy (tip), which suggests this has metastasized into generalized alienation of affection (iceberg).

It doesn't take much imagination to envision an insecure mate reading your negative body language and saying, "Oops, you're right, I'll stop dominating conversations!" No — she's going to fortify her defenses and churn out one-uppings to keep pace with her need to feel good.

If my interpretation is accurate, then you have only two choices: Perpetuate this cycle, or break it.

To break it, I suggest you summon the will to drop your defenses, and keep them down no matter how loudly nails meet chalkboard. Force yourself to set aside your anger, your hopes she'll transform, your desire for vindication, all of it. You are kindness, forgiveness, peace.

From there, the most straightforward approach is to look at your wife not merely as the host of this conflict, but instead as the whole of the person you love. Unfortunately, looking for what's wrong with other people tends to come naturally, once the pheromones back down, especially when you're trying to justify your side in an ongoing conflict.

So try instead to forgive her insecurity as her built-in flaw — the kind everyone has, the suck-it-up yin to her lovable yang. In fact, as a thought exercise, think of your own best qualities and the baggage on the flip side of each.

Think fully about her for the specific purpose of renewing your appreciation for her.

Disposing yourself more kindly toward your wife is the most reliable way to draw out her best. Should she soften, that in turn will likely dispose others more kindly to her. It's not a promise of sunshine and flowers, but this can ease you back from the brink.

If you haven't the affection or patience to pull that off, then you'll need the have-it-out conversation, where you start with a "When you do X, I feel Y" statement, and then you ask her how she would like you to handle this. The "help me" approach welcomes where the "do this" approach repels.

This doesn't guarantee anything, either. However, both strategies ensure a change to what you bring to the cycle. Since that's the only part of it you control, and since you're the one seeking a new outcome, that's where any productive path has to start.

Comments
An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

Recently I was asked to create a playlist for a summer beach party. An opportunity to procrastinate and mess around on Spotify for a few hours? Yeah, totally, when can I start?I like playlists that are diverse, not just in terms of genre (pop, hip-ho...
Published: 05/24/18
9 things to do indoors on this rainy Memorial Day weekend

9 things to do indoors on this rainy Memorial Day weekend

It’s hard not to think of the Forrest Gump line: "One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months." If you are looking for something to do while the current deluge continues, we have some suggestions. There are obvious choices, like ma...
Published: 05/24/18
Top things to do this weekend: Margarita Festival, Rays’ Kiermaier as Star Wars figure, Nintinder

Top things to do this weekend: Margarita Festival, Rays’ Kiermaier as Star Wars figure, Nintinder

LIME TIME: Tampa Bay Margarita Festival This year, there are twice the bartenders and a new RFID wristband system for less waiting at the two-day Tampa Bay Margarita Festival with a margarita flavor for every taste. Music headliners are the Wallflow...
Published: 05/23/18
Top things to do for Memorial Day weekend in Tampa Bay: Concerts, festivals and memorials

Top things to do for Memorial Day weekend in Tampa Bay: Concerts, festivals and memorials

Our editors' picks for things to do this weekend.
Published: 05/23/18
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

It’s been 50 years since John Fogerty wrote Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since. "Back in the ’80s, I had a couple o...
Published: 05/23/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

SHORTS: Art and Short Film Mini-FestA fundraiser for the [email protected] brings an Art and Short Film Mini-Fest to the studio tonight. There will be four short films, an exhibit of artwork by Corinne Leavengood and photography by Diana Lucas Leavengood. P...
Published: 05/23/18
A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

THE BEATS GO ON: Sunset Music FestivalAt last year’s Sunset Music Festival, the focus was all on crowd safety. After two fans died from drug overdoses at Tampa’s largest annual rave in 2016, organizers heightened security across the board, yielding a...
Published: 05/23/18
5 things to do under $5: Sand mandala construction, Blast Friday, get outdoors at Bass Pros Shops

5 things to do under $5: Sand mandala construction, Blast Friday, get outdoors at Bass Pros Shops

1 Tibetan Monks’ Mandala: As part of a Sacred Art Tour, eight Dalai Lama-sanctioned monks from India will be at the Florida CraftArt Galleries for a week to create a sand mandala of the Green Tara, a female representation of the Buddha of Compassion....
Published: 05/23/18

Tell Me About It: Mother-in-law is a habitual line stepper

Mother-in-law is a habitual line stepper"target="_blank">Mother-in-law is a habitual line stepperQ: My son and his family recently moved back to our area. I feel I’ve missed so many milestones, though I did make the effort to visit them every month ...
Published: 05/23/18

Tell Me About It: Can she trust her new beau not to cheat?

Q: Is it really true that "once a cheater always a cheater," even when the cheater didn’t cheat on you?A few years ago, I left my husband after I found out he was a serial cheater. We are now divorced. I have been seeing someone new, and he seems lik...
Published: 05/22/18