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Wife demands compliment, is upset that it fell short

Compliment-fishing expedition doesn't live up to expectation

Q: My husband and I have been married 2 1/2 years. We have a good marriage, but this winter over a casual conversation in front of the TV, I was fishing for a compliment and he responded that he considers me "an eight" (out of 10) in terms of looks.

I got really upset.

He claims that he was trying to make an unsuccessful joke and that he thinks I look great.

I have a hard time seeing the humor.

I told him he needs to make it up to me. He's done nothing. It's been over four months, and I'm having a really hard time with this.

I've been taking it out on him by being extremely critical lately. I'm not a very secure person to begin with (thus the fishing), though I definitely consider myself attractive. I don't know how I'm supposed to live the rest of my life with someone who could tell me I'm an eight to him, even as a joke.

He's otherwise a great husband, and he's been making an effort to compliment me a lot lately, but I have a hard time believing him.

Lost in D.C.

A: That's funny, I'm feeling lost in D.C., too. But that could have something to do with how hard my keyboard just hit my forehead.

For one thing, "an eight" for most of us isn't just a compliment — it's sweet and awww-inspiring grade inflation.

And, what you call fishing for compliments, I call picking a fight.

Or looking for drama where there isn't any.

Or asking someone to fill an unfillable hole.

None of these is the work of a healthy adult.

In your months of anguish, have you given any thought to the thankless job you've given your husband? He chose to marry you! Your good marriage says he still loves you! And to thank him, you … set him up to fail, punish him mercilessly when he does, and then scoff as he tries to make peace?

As you worry about living the rest of your life with Mr. He-Called-Me-an-Eight, I wonder how long you'll have that to worry about. Alienation of affection goes both ways, and with your beating him down the way you are, your husband might eventually tire of being in a marriage where everything he says is the wrong thing and his love isn't deemed credible.

You openly admit you're insecure, and I certainly don't mean to pile on. However, you are using your vulnerability as a get-out-of-responsibility-free card for your cruelty to your husband. You have high expectations of your husband's behavior but low expectations of your own. How is that fair? Compassionate partners reverse that formula for each other, and are tough on themselves while cutting their mates a break.

Please recognize how you've cornered and punished your husband over these long months.

Please admit it to him, and apologize.

And please consider getting professional guidance on exploring and repairing your deep insecurities. It's not fair to ask the people in our lives — not even the innermost circle of loved ones — to fix every bad thing we feel inside. Some things, we have to fix for ourselves.

Wife demands compliment, is upset that it fell short 06/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 31, 2010 5:07pm]
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