I noticed something utterly fascinating watching a show called "Bill and Guliana" - Bill Rancik was Trumps first apprentice.
This is what I noticed:
- Bill is the nice guy
- Guiliana is the alpha in their marriage
I watched an interview with Guiliana after the show launched and this is what she said "It was really eye opening WATCHING myself with Bill. I interrupt him a lot and don't treat him as well as I should".
If you put a hidden cam/tape recorder in your kitchen your W would legitimately get upset. BUT you can accomplish "almost" the same thing in certain situations.
Wife: Snaps at you
You: Quietly look at her until she is looking at you or you say something like "hey" to get her to look at you
You: Repeat what she said in as close to perfect tone/pitch and definitely verbatim on the words
You: Look at her silently with some body language that makes it perfectly clear "that" type treatment is not going to fly.
If she starts to argue - gets aggressive - just hold up your hand and firmly shake your head. Do not say anything - she understand perfectly what is happening. This interaction is NOT about communication, it is about bullying your partner. Her attempting to bully you. This will silently convey that "there is no WAY in hell are you going to get away with doubling down on this". If she continues just walk away and do NOT make the peace on this.
You need to get your W to UNLEARN the habit of taking her bad days out on you.
If you back off enough - while remaining fun/playful maybe even a little edgy SHE will come to you. And she will love you MORE. She wants an equal.
No matter WHAT you do with her. Practice a blend of very few words and reinforcing body language.
Do NOT talk about your feelings about HER behavior even if she asks. Her behaviors are all:
- not ideal - followed by a brief/brief suggestion as to how you would prefer she handle that situation in the future
"You are better than that" is the adult version of parent/child guilt. Works like magic - if not overused.
When she asks "what is happening" just smile.
Wow, MEM, it feels like you've been looking directly into my mind. Everything on your list strikes very close to home, other than #12. When my wife first slipped into depression, she had a really difficult time getting aroused and asked me not to initiate sex and to let her do it. Years later I've been so well-trained to not initiate that even after we've discussed it and I no longer "have" to wait for her to initiate, I still find myself mostly unable to do it. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that I am very good at reading her body language and unless she is initiating, her body language is radiating "no."
Excellent post though. I have to admit that I have built up some degree of resentment over the years, feeling a bit "ripped off" that I don't get the level of affection that I give and that overall I feel that I've been more emotionally invested in our relationship. When I've talked to her about wanting more affection that she was giving me, she basically told me that I was being too needy and that if I backed off and stopped wanting it so much that she'd feel more inclined to give it to me. I got angry about this, because she was going off of her anti-depressants at the time and for 3 or 4 months had been rather cool towards me, criticizing me and taking out her anger on me on a near-daily basis. I had the whole martyr thing going; I'd been patient and tolerant and loving, doing everything that she asked me to do, and all I wanted was a little more affection -- and she treated me like dirt instead?
Now, the part about me needing to back off and stop asking for her to be affectionate was absolutely true, and is an important part of this whole "man up/nice guy" stuff. At the time, it just felt like something else that she wanted me to do, and that was how it was taken. It didn't seem fair that I even had to ask for her to be more affectionate -- it should have just been a given that she would return my affection. I understand now that I need to not ask for her to be affectionate, but that is because I need to be responsible for my own happiness and it is not simply yet another request of hers in a seemingly endless stream of them. Of course, she didn't tell me that I also needed to back off and demonstrate less love and affection towards her, but it is clear to me now that this is the other half of the equation.
When she's feeling emotionally crowded or overwhelmed and as a result isn't emotionally available to me, I need to cool down both the level of affection that I expect to receive from her and the level of affection which I am demonstrating. She was emotionally overwhelmed and had nothing left to reciprocate, and I just amped up the amount of affection that I was demonstrating towards her.
And I understand now that this is at the core of the whole "nice guy" problem. When our partner pulls back on what they are contributing the the relationship -- be it affection, sex, demonstrations of love, housework, or whatever -- our natural response is to contribute even more in the hopes that it will somehow motivate them or convince them to do likewise. I see clearly now not only that this doesn't work, but that this actually makes it worse and perpetuates a cycle.