His Wife Curses
Q: I'm 29 years old, been married for five years. I still love my wife very much, but lately I find that she's unable to maintain a base level of civility and respect. There's no more "will you, please?" and "thank you." She swears, too, and what bothers me most is that our two-year-old daughter is starting to mimic some of that behavior. I'm willing to admit that I may be too sensitive to some of it, but I can't stand that she gets defensive when I try to talk to her about it. I get responses along the lines of "we've been together for how long, and this is just now bothering you?" It's almost like she doesn't care about my feelings, even if I am too sensitive. To me, that does not bode well for a relationship. I'm thinking about leaving. What do you think? -Ger
Dr. Susan: Unpack that suitcase, Ger. You don't leave a beloved wife and the mother of your child because she's gotten sloppy in the way she talks to you. She's taking you for granted and doesn't want to be bothered with the niceties. Find a time when she's not preoccupied, when she's not doing anything bothersome right then, and bring up the subject. Let her know that you realize you're very sensitive, but you'd feel more confident of her love if she would speak more kindly. Explain that your buttons get pushed when you hear swearing, and that, yes, you've been together for years, but you find coarse talk more upsetting than you used to and would like for both of you to try to go back to the way you used to be with one another. Explain that you want to provide a good model for your daughter. I don't think your wife doesn't care about your feelings. It could be that when she feels criticized, she doesn't hear that you're really asking for very little. So speak gently, avoid threats, and use humor if you can.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.