Dear Manay Gina,
Through the years, my husband and I have seemingly developed this habit of arguing on many issues, big and small.
When I express the hurt I’m feeling, he becomes defensive and he accuses me of mothering him. How can I communicate my hurt and anger without becoming more hurt and angry? And what can I do to get him to listen to me?
As painful as this problem is, it is exactly the kind of relationship hitch that can be easily resolved with the help of a competent marriage counselor. So my initial advice is to get some help identifying your communication styles and learning to talk and listen in ways that work for both of you.
However, if you’re not able to see a counselor together, you can still work on improving the communication with your husband.
You say he feels like you’re “mothering” him. Think about what that means. A mother checks up on a child because she lacks the trust that the child is mature enough to get things done. Whether or not you actually think your husband is mature, something is making him feel mothered.
A good rule for communicating with your husband would be – a lot of affirmation and a little confrontation. If you can provide big assurances of your love and trust for him, and give only small doses of criticism, you may find him more receptive to what you are saying. He would understand that you are not attacking him, but that you just want to deal with a particular problem.
Eventually, as your husband feels less threatened and more assured of your confidence in him, he may be able to handle bigger doses of “reality” – talking about problems and your painful feelings.
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“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain
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Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org (Gina de Venecia)