Sunday, August 19, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Wife's teasing is more abusive than funny

Q: I know teasing can be a playful way to get close or nudge us not to take ourselves too seriously. But sometimes I feel my wife uses it to express an opinion about me without saying it straight out.

These exchanges always seem a bit off, like little sidelong digs, but if I look at her inquisitively she says she was "just teasing," implying that I missed the harmless fun. I end up feeling off-balance, like the episode served more to divide than join us.

If I'm misreading her, I want to stop and lighten up. If my sense of these situations is accurate, I want to respond more constructively. How do I know which is which?

Too Sensitive?

A: Read your letter, and note how distant you sound from the person you married.

It's a surmountable problem, though, once you learn to identify and stand up to it, and determine that your partner is a decent person who is acting unawares on unhealthy reflexes, as opposed to someone who knowingly seeks (and justifies) the upper hand.

She'll reveal which one she is when you articulate your discomfort with communication by snark.

If she responds with more blame, then you'll know she's not willing to build trust through openness. Counseling would make sense in that case — just you, though, not with a domineering spouse.

If instead she drops her defenses, enough to treat your feelings as valid then there is a constructive path for you to follow:

First, you find the courage to communicate clearly — "That sounds like a dig. If there's something you'd like to say to me, then please say it directly." Next, she finds the courage to accept that: "You're right, I wasn't being direct: It bothers me when you do X." Then you accommodate as you want to and can while remaining true to yourself.

This leaves plenty of room for harmless teasing — mutual, joyful, ulterior-motive-free.


Tell Me About It: Boyfriend dropped the ball on their party

Q: My boyfriend and I hosted a party, our first joint hosting stint since moving in together a few months ago. The party was his idea, and most of our guests were his close friends.Yet he did almost nothing to help me get ready for the party. We spli...
Published: 08/17/18

Tell Me About It: Mom waffles on adding to the family

Q: My husband and I have a 5-year-old girl, and are not planning more children ó primarily because we are easily stressed, donít do well when sleep-deprived, and arenít really baby/toddler people. Our daughter was not an easy baby.Yet, I always feel ...
Published: 08/15/18

Tell Me About It: Compromise and submission: a fine line

Q: As a woman (of any age) in this postmodern, "woke" era: How does one distinguish the fine line between "compromising with" versus "submitting to" a man within a relationship?M.A: Compromise is when both people give a little to their mutual benefit...
Published: 08/14/18

Tell Me About It: Instead of monster or martyr, try ĎMomí

Q: My sister-in-law, "Mary," has always been a mess. She has two kids with two different men who never see them, donít pay child support, and she doesnít work. Mary and her children lived with my mother-in-law, "Kate," until Kate moved into a 55-plus...
Published: 08/12/18

Tell Me About It: Introverted fiancee feels trapped by family

Q: My son and his fiancee bought a condo close to us, which then flooded. They moved in with us and repairs have taken longer than anticipated.His fiancee, "Laura," is an intense introvert. For that reason, I gave up my exercise, TV and craft room fo...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: Check in constantly with depressed friend

Q: I have this friend who lives close but I havenít seen in months. No one in our group of friends has seen her recently. Every time we make plans, she cancels, saying she is too sad or has been crying all day.Iím really worried. She moved here more ...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: An occasional push helps to stay on track

Q: What responsibility does a wife have to push her husband to be a decent friend? For years, my husband was close with a few guys from grad school. As they got married and started families, the frequency of their get-togethers died down and the frie...
Published: 08/07/18

Tell Me About It: Grandma finds no one wants her heirlooms

Q: My mother-in-law has spent much of her life accumulating collectibles, heirlooms and furniture with the rationale that she will give them to her children and grandchildren someday. Her four grandchildren are still in high school. Sheís decided tha...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: Couple ponders rolling the dice on a baby

Q: I mostly want to have a baby; my fiance mostly does not. Iím in my late 30s and have school-age kids; he doesnít have and never planned to have kids. Deciding to have or not to have a baby seems like too enormous a decision for mere mortals. Itís ...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: Boyfriend takes affection to the next level

Q: My boyfriend is responsible, thoughtful, and very very affectionate ó which is great for the first four hours of hand-holding, but which makes me want to shove him away and shout, "Just leave me alone!" by hour six. Before this, I thought I was a ...
Updated one month ago