Saturday, November 18, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Possible that husband's constant comments are concern, not just criticisms

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Adapted from a recent online discussion.

It's possible that comments are concern, not just criticisms

Q: Whenever I make a minor driving mistake, like misread a sign while driving, miss a turn and have to turn around, etc., my husband always asks, "Are you okay? Do you need to have your eyes checked?" Similarly, if I mishear something in lyrics or conversation, "Do you need to have your hearing checked?"

It's starting to feel like I get criticized whenever I make normal, human mistakes. Or is missing the street sign while driving past at 30 mph actually a symptom that I need a vision checkup?

Critical Partner

Carolyn: Depends. Has he always been this way, or is it recent? If the latter, then you need to have the okay-spit-it-out-already conversation: "(Husband), you've been doing this a lot lately — asking if my vision and hearing are okay, when I make what I believe are normal, human mistakes. What's up?" Any indication that you're making more mistakes than usual means, yes, time to have your vision and hearing checked.

If he doesn't have a larger concern or won't admit to it, then you're entitled to ask him to back off, please.

Just don't expect him to comply if he has always been controlling. If nothing has changed except your willingness to put up with his criticisms, then that's a problem with your marriage, not your senses, and your next step is to figure out how much of the negativity you're willing and able to brush off, and how much you aren't — and, then, how far you're willing to go to stand up to it and/or change the patterns between you.

Anonymous: Shouldn't this person be paying attention to her husband's concerns, particularly if she is older? As a relatively healthy 62-year-old, I know I have had to modify my driving in response to age. Notably, I cannot multitask as well as when I was younger, so I am very careful not to engage in conversations, etc., when I've got some critical task coming up, like looking for a turn.

This is likely not something others would notice, but I am aware of it. If others are aware that she is having problems, well, she probably is.

Of course, there could be some other weird dynamic in the relationship, but sometimes the simple explanation is the one to go with.

Carolyn: Sure, it is possible I'm hearing horses, not zebras, thanks. One way the letter-writer can tell the difference is by surveying other people she sees frequently, to see if they've noticed any change in her abilities.

She can also help her cause by overriding any impulse to be defensive. If she's willing to consider that her husband's concerns are founded, then she'll respond to them more rationally, and therefore better, even if he turns out to be wrong.

Best not to be too flashy at boyfriend's company dinner

Q: My boyfriend invited me to his fancy-schmancy company dinner next week. Can I get away with a classy, conservative little black dress and some crazy fun heels?

Shoes

A: Company dinner = don't call attention to yourself, in good ways or bad.

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